Blog by Dal Stanton
The next pipe on my worktable affords me the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. The Lincoln London Style Real Sandblasted Billiard was found along with 8 other pipes at a favorite walking street antique shop in Burgas, Bulgaria. Burgas is located on the coast of the Black Sea near where my wife and I made our annual summer pilgrimages to the beach. During the summer of 2017, one of the side trips we enjoyed was to go into Burgas and stroll down the main walking streets lined with shops and a favorite second-hand/antique store. The vendor on this particular visit was fun to talk with and to finally strike a deal with to acquire the 9 pipes that made their way to the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection available online for pipe men and women to commission benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.The Lincoln is the second pipe – the straight Billiard – from the right in the picture below. With the Lincoln London Style now on the worktable some pictures are taken go get a closer look. The nomenclature is stamped on the heel’s smooth briar panel. Stamped is, LINCOLN over LONDON STYLE. To the right of this is stamped, REAL SANDBLASTED [over] BRIAR. The Lincoln logo is interestingly stamped on the right side of the stem (the normal being on the left side) with an encircled *L* (star-‘L’-star).I cannot remember seeing a pipe logo stamped on the right side of the stem. With my curiosity piqued, a quick search finds a few Lincoln pipes listed for sale here and there. The confusion is captured here with this Lincoln Sandblasted at one site and the undiscerning seller simply leaving the logo upside-down where it should be – the left side!I have two Lincolns in my For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection. I acquired both at the same shop in Burgas but on different trips. The two Billiards are similar with the right-sided stem logo stamping and ‘Real Sandblasted Briar’ markings. The only difference is that the Lincoln still in the ‘Help Me!’ Basket One is marked: LINCOLN [over] LONDON MADE rather than the LONDON STYLE on the Lincoln on the worktable now. The other small difference is that the current London Style is 6 inches in length whereas the London Made is 5 and 3/4 inches in length.
I turned to Pipehil.eu to find a lone listing for ‘Lincoln’. The example shows a ‘London Made’ stamping and the stem logo stamping is also on the right side of the stem. Looking to Pipedia, nothing turns up in the search bar for ‘Lincoln’. Turning again to my prized copy of ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Wilczak and Colwell, a few leads emerge.The only UK leads referenced are W. H. Carrington, Sasieni, Higgs Bros (Lincoln IMP). The W. H. Carrington listing is also referenced in Pipedia (See: Carrington). The short article is:
H. Carrington & Co. was founded by William Henry Carrington, and located at 53 Thomas Street, Manchester among several other addresses. Carrington lists his profession as tobacconist as early as the 1891 census, following in his father John Carrington’s footsteps. The firm first registered a silver hallmark in Chester in 1888 and in Birmingham’s Assay Office in 1891. Carrington pipes in both briar and meerschaum with silver have been seen marked “W.H.C.”.
H. Carrington was in operation for nearly a century before going out of business.
The pictures shown in this article point to early examples of hallmarked silver fitments (late 1800s/early 1900s). The article references that the company functioned for a century before closing. The first hallmark was registered in 1888 which would suggest that the company produced pipes until the 1980s. The company is described being in Manchester whereas the examples of Lincolns I have indicate a London origin. I did find other examples of WHC marked pipes listed (see: LINK) but could find no current description of the W. H. Carrington & Co. nor any connection with Lincoln.
Looking for a Lincoln connection to Sasieni likewise resulted in nothing. The Higgs Bros referenced pointed again to the late 1800s hallmark information. Lincoln is mentioned but nothing more. Interestingly, other listings on the same page would suggest that ‘Lincoln’ in the listing is referencing a place of origin rather than a line – Lincoln, England. This clipping shows the scant information but with the Lincoln, England, marked as the origin.One additional piece of anecdotal information I found is a description of a Lincoln for sale in Smoking Pipes.com showcasing a Lincoln London Made Sandblasted Billiard:
A nice, classic Billiard can be a work horse of a pipe. This Lincoln (most likely named after the town in England) should prove a good smoker when the time allows. – Adam Davidson
The research is scattered regarding a concrete understanding of the company origin of the Lincoln on my worktable. What is consistently understood is that the only examples of Lincolns are classic blasted Billiards. They consistently present the Lincoln stem logo on the right side of the stem and they are stamped London Style or Made. The feel of the pipe would not surprise me that it was produced in the 60s, but this is only a guess.
Looking now more specifically at the blasted Billiard on the table – the add above describes well the pipe as a “work horse of a pipe”. Billiards are the heavy lifters of pipes in the pipe world, no doubt. When you add the blasted surface, it is almost like adding ‘draft horse’ to the description – horses that are exceedingly strong and pull the loads that others can’t. So, here is my horse version of this Lincoln Blasted Billiard (LINK) on my worktable!
The chamber has a thick cake build up which needs to be removed to allow fresh briar to have a clean start. The picture is lightened to allow the chamber to be seen.The rim is worn around the edges showing raw briar and on the rear of the outer rim. This shows a deterioration of the briar – it slopes a bit showing the damage. The blasted surface is exceptional – it’s a genuinely nice classic blasted surface. The surface is dirty and grimy and needs cleaning. The stem shows tooth chatter on the bit and oxidation.To begin the recommissioning of the Lincoln London Style, the focus is on the stem. First, the stem airway is cleaned using several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%. It was dirty and took a bit of time.With the airway cleaned, the Lincoln stem joins other pipes’ stems in the queue in a soak using Briarville.com’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover as I continue to test this new (to me) product’s effectiveness. After soaking for about 24 hours, the stem is removed and using a dry cotton pad raised oxidation is wiped off the vulcanite stem surface. This is followed by scrubbing the stem with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99% to remove more raised oxidation.The stem is then treated with paraffin oil to start the reconditioning of the vulcanite. So far, the Briarville Oxidation Remover has worked well. I will continue to use it and see how it goes.Next, the attention turns to the stummel. Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, 3 of the 4 blade heads available were accommodated by the chamber measuring 1 5/8 inches deep and 7/8 inches wide. Following the reaming, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool reaches down into the chamber to scrape more carbon cake off the walls. Finally, 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen clears and cleans the remaining carbon. After an inspection of the chamber, healthy briar is evident, and I move on.Transitioning now to cleaning the external surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad. A bristled toothbrush also helps to clean the blasted briar surface and a brass wire brush helps with the rim. Brass is used because it scrubs without being too invasive with the briar.The stummel is then taken to the sink where the cleaning continues using shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap. Warm to hottish water is used to scrub the internal mortise. After a thorough rinsing the stummel is back on the worktable.Continuing the internal cleaning, a bunch of cotton buds and pipe cleaners are used as well as scraping the mortise wall with a small dental spoon. The internals were in pretty bad shape and when the buds finally started lightening up, I decide to stop for now. At the end of my workday, I’ll continue the cleaning by giving the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night. This helps to draw out the remaining tars and oils from the internal briar.After the cleaning of the external briar surface, I look at the results. The rim’s worn and deteriorated external edge is evident in the next few pictures. Raw briar shows the wearing, especially on the back side of the rim.The finish has been removed in large measure by the cleaning – this is not really surprising. The pictures show the blasted surface very nicely with many bald spots of briar. I’ve come to a decision point in the restoration process. The rim damage needs addressing. The following two pictures focus on the damage and deterioration of the outer rim edge. The first picture is from the steward’s perspective looking down the stem. The back of the rim tapers down with the huge skinning of the briar. This probably happened as the former steward knocked the stummel’s back edge on a hard surface to remove ash using the stem as a handle.The next picture is the perspective looking from the right side of the stummel. You can easily see the disparity between the front of the rim (on the right side of the picture) and the tapered, worn off briar on the rear (the left side). I’ve marked the angle of drop-off in the photo.Topping the stummel would be the normal call with a smooth briar stummel. However, to top the stummel of a blasted surface means that either you leave the new rim as a smooth briar surface contrasting with the rough blasted surface – which can be a very nice and attractive option – or it means that after the topping, burrs are used to rusticate the rim seeking to emulate a blasted surface texture. It goes without speaking, the stummel will be the recipient of a fresh application of dye to finish it. The restoration purist, I suppose, would opt toward recreating the blasted rim without question. I personally like the smooth/rough briar surface contrasting – it can look classy. I decide to give some thought to the options and call it a day.
Before I do, the internal cleaning continues with a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night. To begin, a cotton ‘wick’ is created by pulling and twisting a cotton ball. This wick serves to draw oils and tars out of the briar during the soak process. The wick is guided down the mortise to the draft hole with the help of a stiff wire that I cut from a wire closet hanger. Kosher salt then fills the chamber and the stummel is placed in an egg carton for stability through the night. Kosher salt is used instead of regular iodized salt because it will not leave an aftertaste. Isopropyl 99% then fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt using a large eye dropper. After 10 minutes or so, the alcohol is absorbed, and more alcohol is added to top it off. The lights are then switched off!The next morning a picture shows the soiling of the cotton wick and salt showing that some cleaning activity was continuing through the several hours soak. After clearing the expended salt to the waste, the bowl is wiped with paper towel and I blow through the mortise to make sure salt crystals were removed. To check the cleaning, a few cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% confirm that the internals are clean and refreshed for a new steward. I love the fresh smell of the chamber after using the kosher salt and alcohol soak.After sleeping on it, I decide to top the stummel and then rough it up with burrs to emulate the blasted surface. Using the chopping board on my worktable, after taking a starting picture, the inverted stummel is rotated over 240 grade paper. I stop the rotation often to check the progress making sure that the topped plane is level and not dipping. The Billiard bowl, fortunately, has significant height and the loss of briar on the top will be negligible. The goal is to take off as little briar as possible to erase the raw briar along the outer edge of the rim. The raw briar indicates that the rim has worn away and deteriorated. The aft of the rim will be the most stubborn as the deterioration is most acute there. The pictures show the gradual process of topping the stummel. At this point, I stop the topping process. There is still a bit of rim damage evident on the aft quadrant but I’m hopeful that after roughing the rim surface with burrs, this damage will blend away. The topping resulted in a nicely rounded chamber and an even rim diameter – this is good! One of my briar dust donor bowls volunteers allowing me to test the burrs that I’ve chosen to use. The general goal is to emulate a blasted surface on the rim. The guiding principle I use is ‘less is more’ with this. Pictures of the original Lincoln rim displayed a gentler texture on the rim and not as distinctive as the bowl surface. You can always add MORE texture with a burr but you can’t remove it without sanding. I first try the round burr.I gently tap the burr over a portion of the rim to see how it behaves. I like what I’m seeing.I add to this the cylindrical burr and randomly ‘dance it’ over the previous burr’s work. Again, I’m liking what I see. I’m looking for more subtlety.With the dry run completed, the Lincoln takes the stage. The first phase is random taps and curves using the rounded burr. I use a light touch to avoid deep ravines and digs. After working around the rim, I’m liking what I’m seeing.Following with the cylindrical burr, again the movement is uniform randomness writing, dancing, and dragging gingerly over the rim surface. The final close up shows the finished roughed surface. I think it will blend very nicely.The next step is to apply a dark dye to refresh the blasted surface of the bowl and to cover and blend the refurbished rim. First, the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the surface. A few fresh pictures are taken to show the starting point of the needy blasted surface.From the pictures I’ve seen of Lincolns online and the Lincolns in my own collection, the sense I get is that the finish is very dark. I use a dark brown base and mix a small amount of black dye with it to take it to the next level of a darker brown hue. Fiebing’s Leather Dyes work well. After the Dark Brown is put in a small mixing glass, a few drops of Black dye are added and mixed with the toothpick. The toothpick coloring gives me a clue to the mixture balance. Using the hot air gun, the stummel is warmed to open the briar and to make it more receptive to the dye.After heated, the Fiebing’s Leather Dye mixture is applied in sections moving around the bowl using a folded pipe cleaner. With each section painted, the wet aniline dye is flamed with a lit candle immediately combusting the alcohol base of the dye. The combustion lasts a few seconds leaving behind the embedded pigment of the dye in the briar. After painting and flaming the entire surface, including the refurbished rim, the stummel is set aside for several hours allowing the new dye to settle.Turning now to the Lincoln straight tapered stem, I take fresh pictures of the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit. To minimize and maybe erase most of the chatter, the heating method is used. Using a Bic lighter, the flame is painted over the bit sides and with the heating of the vulcanite, the rubber expands and regains its original condition or in some degree. After painting, the before pictures are compared to the after pictures to show the results. I believe there’s some improvement, but all should be removed through sanding. Using the flat needle file, the button lips are refreshed. The remaining tooth chatter is removed using 240 sanding paper on the upper and lower bit.While the stummel is resting with new dye, I rejoin the stummel and stem with the sanding disk wedged between. The disk protects against shouldering the stem facing as the 240 sanding expands to the whole stem. During this sanding, care is given while sanding around the circled *S* stem logo.The sanding is next transitioned to wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied. Next, the full regimen of micromesh pads is applied starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400. This is followed with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem as well as help protect it from developing oxidation. After putting the stem aside, the stummel has rested through the night allowing the new dye to settle in. To unwrap the crusted, flamed dye surface, a felt buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool set at about 30% full power – a bit slower to reduce the heat/friction. Tripoli compound, a more abrasive compound, is used.I pause during the process to show the contrast and the results. I like the natural lighter, reddish peaks appearing because of the felt wheel and Tripoli action. Usually, with blasted surfaces, I will lightly sand the peaks of the blasted surface with a 1500 grade micromesh pad to create the lighting effect. This effect helps to create a depth and texture contrast in the darker dye blasted surface background. I like what I’m seeing! I rotate the wheel angle a lot to navigate the edge of the wheel to run down the crevasses to make sure the excess flamed dye is removed. After completing the application of Tripoli with the felt wheel, I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increase the speed to about 50% full power and again apply Tripoli over the entire stummel. I do this to continue removing excess dye that is compacted deeper in the crevasses missed by the firmer felt wheel. The cotton cloth wheel can reach where the felt wheel could not. To blend the new dye and to remove excess, the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.After reuniting the stem and stummel, a different cotton cloth wheel is mounted to the rotary tool and Blue Diamond compound is applied setting the speed at about 40% full power. This continues to fine tune and sharpen the features in the blasted surface.Both stem and stummel are then buffed after application of the Blue Diamond compound. I do this to remove the compound dust before applying wax.With the stem and stummel separated, I have two more micro projects to do before applying wax. First, to prevent dye leaching onto the fingers after the pipe is put into service, the bowl is warmed with the hot air gun to emulate the heating of the bowl in service. Often, newly dyed bowls will leach and turn fingers a nice shade of brown. After the bowl is thoroughly heated, it is buffed with an old cotton cloth to remove more dye leaching from the briar. I don’t think leaching can be 100% prevented, but these procedures will certainly minimize the possibility.The next mini project is seeing if the Lincoln stem logo can be refreshed. It looks solid enough to give the acrylic paint traction.A small drop of the white acrylic paint is spread over the entire logo.It is then daubed with the cotton pad to remove excess paint and to dry it.Well…, I wish I could say, presto, and here is the refreshed Lincoln logo, but I’m not able. The paint would not hold in the treads of the logo imprint. The best result I achieved, unfortunately, would have drawn attention to a half-baked stem stamping. I would rather leave it as it is than leave it looking worse. So, after reuniting the Lincoln stem and stummel, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool and with the speed set to about 40% full power, carnauba wax is applied to the pipe. After a thorough application of wax, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to blend any excess wax on the blasted surface.I am pleased with the rustic, classic look and feel of this Lincoln London Style Sandblasted Briar Billiard. He is without doubt a work horse pipe and ready to go again. I am especially pleased with the repair to the rim and the emulated blasted surface that I was able to create. The new blasted finish, well, it rocks. The flecked reddish highlights of the blasted peaks give depth and eye-drawing appeal to the briar surface. The Lincoln is available to be claimed from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who were trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!