Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to Jeff and me from one of our estate purchases. It was in the box but was due to be restored for a while as we had a lot others in the queue ahead of it. Then on February 15th I received an email from a fellow named Rob inquiring if we had any Mehaffey pipes. I am including the email below as it is an interesting piece of history.
Hello, I am looking for a Mehaffey pipe. Ernest Mehaffey was my grandfather on my mothers side. I used to work in his shop when I was a child. Please let me know if you have any for sale or know of where I might buy one. I appreciate your time, Rob
I checked with Jeff and sure enough we had one Mehaffey left. I contacted Rob and let him know and he was quite happy. I told him it would be a little while before we got to it but that it was reserved for him. That time has come and it is on the table.
It an interesting looking piece – a smooth oil finished Lovat shaped pipe that came to us in the lot of 125 + Bertram pipes. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads 6 followed by Mehaffey. It also has a 6 stamped in the same position on the right side of the shank. It is the last Mehaffey pipe that we have so I was looking forward to working on it. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl had a thick cake and a lava coat on the top of the rim. The outer edge looked to be in good condition and the inner edge had some damage on the front. This is probably the most near flawless Mehaffey we had as there are small sandpits but no visible fills in the bowl. The stem was in excellent condition with little oxidation and only light tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It really showed promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show how clean it really was. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain around the sides even though it is quite dry and washed out looking. The stamping on the and right side of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I turned to Pipephil to find if there as any information included on the brand. There was nothing listed. I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mehaffey). There was limited information there on the brand. I quote the article in full below.
E.A. Mehaffey operated a pipe & tobacco shop in Wheaton, Maryland. He used to make pipes for many years but as legend has it, his house tobacco mixtures were much more prestigious than his pipes. Mehaffey was in business up to the 1980’s.
While this statement does not engender enthusiasm for E. A. Mehaffey’s pipe production, the Rhodesian with a Natural finish is a very nice piece of briar. Both sides of the bowl show mixed cross grain. On the front and back of the bowl there is some birdseye grain. This is a beautifully shaped Lovat with a vulcanite saddle stem that says to that Mehaffey indeed could turn out some beautiful, well-made pipes. Jeff had reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. The edges of the bowl were also very clean. There was a little damage on the back inner edge of the bowl but it was a simple fix. The stem surface looked very good some light tooth chatter near the button on both sides. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable. The right side of the shank it is also stamped with another 6. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage on the back inner edge of the bowl.I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the sandpits and flaws seem less visible than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Lovat 6 from E.A. Mehaffey Pipe & Tobacco Shop in Wheaton, Maryland is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. It really is a piece of pipe shop history as more and more of them disappear. The smooth oil cured finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. The flaws and pits are small and insignificant. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Mehaffey Lovat 6 fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 42 grams/1.45 ounces. I will be sending it on to E.A. Mehaffey’s Grandson soon so he can carry on the legacy of the pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more pipes of a variety of brands to come!