Daily Archives: December 13, 2020

New Life for a Briarlee Stroller Illustrious Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a smooth Briarlee Stroller Illustrious Rhodesian that was incredibly dirty. The contrast of the brown stains gave the bowl a sense of depth. Jeff and I picked it up from an auction early in 2019 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. It was stamped on the left side of the shank and read Briarlee [over] Stroller. On the right side of the shank it read Illustrious [over] Imported Briar. It was in filthy with grime and grit ground into the finish of the bowl when he brought it to the table. The rim top was dirty with dust in the rustication on the cap and the beveled edge had some buildup of lava. There was a moderate cake mixed with bits of tobacco in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the beveled inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is moderately caked with a lava overflow on the rim top. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.     Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show carving that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe.    Jeff took photos of the pipe with the stem unscrewed from the shank.      He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above. He also took a photo of the band. I am including the information from Pipedia. It connects the Briar Lee brand to the Arlington Briar Pipes Corp brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_A_-_B). I have included a bit of the pertinent history here.

The article on Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Arlington) includes a link to the Briar Lee Pipes. I have highlighted that connection in the paragraph below. It also gives a good summary of the history of the brand.

Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. Arlington Briar Pipe Corporation, located at 200 Kosciusko Street, Brooklyn, New York, registered only a single brand trademark, the Arlington brand, the trademark for which was applied for on November 13, 1962 and granted on February 25, 1964. Jack Kaye, of Arlington Briar, was also granted a patent for a combined mirror and stand in 1967.

According to José Manuel Lopes, “North American brand that belonged to Arlington Briar Pipes Corp., Brooklyn, New York, founded in 1919. In the 1940s, Ludwig Rosenberger gave the company new life, and it continued until the 70s. His son, Mel Rosenberger, has recently launched the DiMonte brand. Jack Uhle was also linked to Arlington.” Arlington, as far as known, mainly operated as a sub-contractor for other brands. The Jobey pipes are said to be made by Arlington at an unknown point of time. Arlington’s own pipes are seldom seen.  I knew that I was dealing with a pipe that was made before 1978 when the company was dissolved. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges look quite good. It should clean up really well. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on the surface near the button.   I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable.   I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great carvings around the bowl and shank.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.      I am excited to finish this Arlington Made Briarlee Stroller Illustrious Rhodesian. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl mulitiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the black vulcanite stem gave the pipe a classic look that was reminiscent of Tracy Mincer’s Custom-Bilt pipes though smaller. This rusticated Briarlee Stroller Rhodesian is nice looking small pipe that feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 28grams/.99oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

A Book Review – Tobacco Leaves by Bewlay (Second Edition – 1892)


Review by Steve Laug

I don’t remember where I picked this book up but it is an old timer with the Second Edition coming out in 1892. It is called Tobacco Leaves by Bewlay. Under that it is stamped Entd at Stationers Hall. The title on the cover of the book is stamped in gold around a pair of tobacco leaves. The book was printed and distributed by Bewlay and Company – makers of fine tobacco pipes and accessories.

From the Preface I dray the following paragraphs:

“The universal use of Tobacco in some form or other all the world over, and the interest which devotees of the weed take in everything related to it, have suggested the literary whiffs now offered from the entertainments of our numerous supporters and the public generally.

The smoker is a contemplative man, and we venture to hope that he may find food for reflection in the Tobacco Leaves which are here unrolled for his perusal.

Among smokers, a sort of Freemasonry exists; and not only does their harmless indulgence constitute a fraternal bond between them  which levels social distinctions, but it has educed a mystic symbolism that has found expression in very many effusions of which the following is an example:-

 “Of lordly men, how humbling is the type,

A fleeting shadow, a tobacco pipe!

His mind the fire, his frame the tube of clay,

His breath the smoke so idly puffed away,

His food the herb that fills the hollow bowl,

Death is the stopper, ashes end the whole.”

While in the following pages an endeavor is made to the principal sources of supply whence the best growths of tobacco are obtained, we would specially direct attention to what is said respecting the importation by us of Indian and Burmah Cheroots and Cigars. Our agents write, that “the natives take great pains in their manufacture (especially in Burmah), to turn out a well-made Cigard and Cheroot, very different in appearance to the rough-looking Lunkah formerly sent.” The excellence of these Cigars and Cheroots has resulted in a large and growing demand since we first introduced them. – Bewlay & Co. 49. Strand.

Because of the breadth of material in the small, less than 100 page book I decided to divided it by the chapters that Bewlay divided it into and make comments in each section by Chapter division.

The book begins immediately after the Preface with a chapter on smoking and whether or not is beneficial of harmful. The chapter is entitled: Chapter 1 – Pages 7-18 Is Smoking Beneficial or Pernicious? In the chapter various historical arguments are made for both sides of the argument – yea or nay. Of course it moves forward to a strong defense of the beneficial nature of the moderate use of tobacco. It is sprinkles with quotes in defense of the use of tobacco and the serious benefits to those who use it! From there the book turns to exactly what I would expect in the second chapter.

This chapter marshals famous devotees of tobacco and what they say about their use of the “weed”. Chapter 2 – Pages 19-28  is entitled:  Eminent Devotees of the Weed. It cites various proponents from all over the continent on their use of tobacco and what they have found that it does for them. There are some poems and odes to the beauty of tobacco that are also included in this chapter. These figures include political, scientific, medical and literary figures. It is a great read and pretty normal for this kind of booklet from this time period.

From there the book turns to talk about Tobacco itself instead of defending it. Chapter 3 – Pages 29-31 Tobacco as a Prophylactic covers some interesting information. I quote the opening paragraph as it captures the focus of the chapter.

Tobacco smoking has long been regarded as a warder off or prophylactic of catching disease, and is strongly believed in both by soldiers and sailors, and many other classes. Army surgeons consider smoking gives confidence to many soldiers, and this confidence they regard as a very important factor on the outbreak of an epidemic such as cholera – pg 29.

From there the chapter turns to it use in gardening for killing blight in a greenhouse and as a germicide. Its use is also noted by doctors who have seen its value in the medical and dental professions. It is a short chapter but fascinating in its old time medical information.

Chapter 4 – Pages 32-41 Some Facts About Tobacco moves to giving a general overview of the history of tobacco and the nature and use of tobaccos of various regions and countries. It also overviews the various tobaccos from the United States which are by far the greater proportion of the unmanufactured tobaccos imported into the United Kingdom – Shag, Returns, Bird’s Eye, Maryland, Canaster or K’naster. The chapter ends with a witty poem about tobaccos.

Chapter 5 – Pages 42-47 The Adulteration of Tobacco and Cigars. This chapter is not what I expected from the title. It is actually about flavoring or topping tobacco and snuff with such things as molasses, sugar, aloes, liquorice, gum, catechu, oil and lampblack, alum, tannic acitd and iron, logwood, and such leaves as rhubarb, chicory, cabbage, burdock and coltsfoot. It is an interesting read about this in all forms of tobacco products including cigarettes and cigars. It makes me wonder what they would have written about in our day!

Chapter 6 – Pages 48-57 On Pipes gives a short overview of the history and types of pipes that have been and are available. It covers clay, meerschaum and briar pipes quite well and has some great quotable lines such as: “The best kind of pipe to use is a perfectly clean pipe, composed of an absorbing material, like briar, clay or meerschaum, with a long stem, which can suck up the oily matter before it reaches the mouth….”  The chapter ends with some great older poems about the pipe.

Chapter 7 – Pages 58-66 Remarks on Havannah, Indian, Burmah, Flor de Dindigul and Flor de Java Cigars and Cheroots covers by region cigars and cheroots that are sold by Bewlay and Company. Great historical read by region.

Chapter 8 – Pages 67-77 Cigarettes, like the previous chapter covers this method of using tobacco. There is a great quote that heads the chapter that I cite below:

“The man who smokes thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.” – Bulwer Lytton

Chapter 9 – Pages 78-93 a Catalogue of Bewlay & Co. Limited. As the title suggests these large section of the book is a catalogue of products. Each product has a description and there are often etchings of the product itself – such as pipes.

This is a great little book well worth the read. It is a journey into the past with a great sense of what the world was like at this time in the history of England. If like me you enjoy Bewlay pipes in your collection it is all the more reason to keep an eye for this book.