Blog by Steve Laug
I chose to work another Canadian Made Brigham to work on next. The pipe is a large straight Bulldog with a saddle stem. It is a neat looking pipe with real character. It is stamped Brigham over MADE IN CANADA on the left underside of the shank and has the shape number 267 stamped to the left of that. The stem has two brass pins on the top left side of the saddle. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and darkening on the rim top and edges. The rim top has a classic Brigham rustication matching that around the bowl and shank. There is some damage on the front and right outer edge of the bowl. I think that there was a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl with the thick cake in the bowl and the damage and darkening on the rim top. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the condition of the stem. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustic condition of the finish. The rustication is well done and rugged in the spots on the bowl and rim. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. The stamping is very clear and reads as noted above. He included pics of the 2 brass dots on the stem. For the needed background I am including the information from Pipedia on Brigham pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Pipes). Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) is currently working on a book on the history of the brand. Until that is complete this article is a good summary. I have included it below.
Roy Brigham, after serving an apprenticeship under an Austrian pipesmith, started his own pipe repair shop in Toronto, in 1906. By 1918 the business had grown to include five other craftsmen and had developed a reputation across Canada for the high quality of workmanship. After repairing many different brands of pipes over the years, Roy noted certain recurring complaints by pipe smokers, the most common referred to as “tongue bite”. Tongue bite is a burning sensation on the smoker’s tongue, previously thought to be due to the heat of the smoke (i.e. a “hot smoking pipe”).
He soon began manufacturing his own pipes, which were lightweight, yet featured a more rugged construction, strengthening the weak points observed in other pipes. The problem of tongue bite intrigued him, and he decided to make overcoming it a future goal.
About 1938, Roy’s son Herb joined him to assist in the business. The business barely survived the great depression because pipes were considered to be a luxury, not a necessity, and selling pipes was difficult indeed. In approximately 1937 , after some experimentation, Roy and Herb discovered that tongue bite was in fact a form of mild chemical burn to the tongue, caused by tars and acids in the smoke. They found that by filtering the smoke, it was possible to retain the flavour of the tobacco and yet remove these impurities and thereby stop the tongue bite.
Just as Thomas Edison had searched far and wide for the perfect material from which to make the first electric light bulb filaments, Roy & Herb began experimenting with many materials, both common and exotic, in the quest for the perfect pipe filter. Results varied wildly. Most of the materials didn’t work at all and some actually imparted their own flavour into the smoke. They eventually found just two materials that were satisfactory in pipes: bamboo and rock maple. As bamboo was obviously not as readily available, rock maple then became the logical choice.
They were able to manufacture a replaceable hollow wooden tube made from rock maple dowelling, which when inserted into a specially made pipe, caused absolutely no restriction to the draw of the pipe, yet extracted many of the impurities which had caused tongue bite. The result was indeed a truly better smoking pipe…
I sent Charles a quick email asking him about this pipe and sent along a photo of the Bulldog pipe. I have included his response below.
267 Bulldog – this is a “Tall Bulldog”, one of 4 or 5 Bulldog shapes from the original Brigham lineup. The 267 came with a diamond saddle stem (from what I can tell, Shape 66 was also a Bulldog but with a taper stem). Dating will be similar to the 306 Dublin… If the “Made in Canada” stamp is block letters in a single line separate from the Brigham logo, the pipe dates from between 1955 to about 1970…
With the information from Charles’ I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I learned that the pipe was originally made between 1955 and 1970 (approximately) because of the stamping on the shank. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes that we pick up along the way. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking rustication on the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He scrubbed it with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove the majority of the oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver it looked very good. I took some close up photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as both sides of the stem to show its condition. The rim top and edges show a darkening and the damage on the inner edge. The roughening to the outer edge on the front and the right side seemed to have been minimized during the scrub and the briar swelled with the wetting of the bowl and it looked very good. I took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button and on the top edge of the button as well. I took a photo of the stamping on the left underside 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 an interesting pipe that you can see the rustic finish on in the photo below. The twin rings around the bowl cap and the sharp angles of the pipe are smooth and give the pipe a nice look.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by cleaning up the rim top and edges of the bowl. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a slight bevel to take care of the burn marks and roughness of the edge. The bowl looks much better once I had finished.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair 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. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to raise them. I was able to lift many of the marks other than those you can see in the photos below. I filled those marks in with CA and set the stem aside to cure. Once the repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sand paper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Before I finished the polishing stem I fit the clean stem with a new Rock Maple Distillator. 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 glad to finish this Brigham 267 Tall Bulldog – an substantial feeling pipe that Brigham made in a large line of various shapes and sizes of Bulldogs. It is the first one of this style that I have worked on. It has a unique Brigham look that is different from any other pipe making company. In this case it adds the touch of smooth twin rings around the bowl cap and on all of the sharp edges of the diamond shank. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen it. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the mix of smooth lines and hard rustication around the bowl and shank. Added to that the polished, rebuilt black, vulcanite saddle stem with two shining brass pins was beautiful. This Brigham Tall Bulldog 267 is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 24grams/.99ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on 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.