Daily Archives: April 10, 2021

Breathing Life into a Dunhill Tanshell 253 Group 4 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to me from a friend up the British Columbia Coast. It is the first of two Dunhill pipes that he found in a shop along the coast. It is a Tanshell Briar Billiard that is worn and has a lot of damage to the rim top. It is the pipe at the back of the photo below. The second one is a Dunhill Shell Briar. The photo was sent to me by Chris. The second photo shows the damage to the rim top and edges. It was worn and damaged. The sandblast finish was destroyed and a chewed up top and edge was left behind.When the pipe arrived I took photos of what it looked like. Chris had done some preliminary cleaning of the pipe before he sent it to me and it look quite good. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 253 followed by Dunhill [over] Tanshell followed by Made in England. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by T for Tanshell. Interpreting that stamp follows: The 253 is the shape for a straight stem Billiard. The Dunhill Tanshell is the finish which is corroborated the T at the end of the stamping. There is no date stamp following the D of England to date the pipe. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some interesting grain shows through the blast finish. There was still a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top had a lot of damage and wear on the top, the inner and outer edges. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter ahead of the button.  I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The rim top and edges are a mess with lots of damage caused by beating it against a hard surface. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.  I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Tanshell Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Tanshell

The first lot was distributed in 1952 (usually made using Sardinian briar). The prototype was called “Root Shell “, produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.

The Tanshell was Dunhill’s fourth finish and its first major post-war line addition. Introduced in 1951/1952 the Tanshell was a naturally stained sandblasted pipe made exclusively from Sardinian briar through the 1960s. The Tanshell apparently was not simply a light stained Shell but rather was also the product of “certain processes [unrevealed] not previously employed.” Initially, it appears that the pipe was to be named the Root Shell and a stamp to that effect was ordered and received by Dunhill in May 1951. Ultimately, however, the name Tanshell was settled upon but the stamp for the Tanshell name was not received by Dunhill until the beginning of December. Thus while the Tanshell was in production in 1951 it appears that most if not all Tanshells made in that year did not enter into retail distribution until 1952 and were given a 1952 date code. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to bring it back into round.  While the finished rim edge is not perfect it is far better. To deal with the damaged rim top I gently topped it on a topping board and a piece of 240 grit sandpaper. My main concern was to flatten the top and remove some of the gouges and damages.I used various burrs on the Dremel to approximate the sandblast finish on the rim top and bring it back to reflect the sandblast and nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl and shank. I stained the newly shaped rim top with an Oak and a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. I was pretty happy with the newly stained rim. It look a lot better than when I started and worked with the finish.I figured I should clean up the bowl after that work. I reamed it with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took back the remaining cake to briar so I could check out the condition of the bowl walls. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the inner tube at the same time. With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the vulcanite 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 Dunhill Tanshell 253 Billiard is a beautiful sandblast that came out looking very good. The Tanshell finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished 253 Tanshell Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Restoring a Parker’s Bruyere Lovat made about 1923


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from the old gentleman who had purchased much of his wonderful collection from Barclay-Rex in New York City. He said he used to go there from his workplace to purchase tobacco and pipes. This is the last of his briar’s that I am working on. I have marked it in the photo to the left with a red rectangle around the pipe in the group of pipes above.

It is a nice looking Parker’s Bruyere Lovat with a Sterling Silver band and a saddle stem. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads 3 followed by Parker’s [over] Bruyere. On the right it read Made in London England. The saddle stem has a Parker “P” in a Diamond logo on the top side. There is an oxidized band on the shank that needed attention. There is a thick cake in the bowl and some overflow of lava on the edges of the rim top. The rim top looks good but it is hard to know for sure as the lava is quite thick. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup.He took photos of the rim top to show the cake and the lava coat. The inner edge of the bowl looks good. The top and outer edge also look okay. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. There is a chip out of the top right side of the button. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar. He took photos of the stamping on the side of the shank. They are clear and readable as noted above. The photos show the left side of the shank. He did not take photos of the right side. He also included a photo of the Diamond P stamp.I turned first to Pipephil’s site to look at the Parker write up there and see if I could learn anything about the line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-parker.html). There were no pipes matching the stamping on this one – Parker’s Bruyere.

I looked up the Parker brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Parker’s Bruyere there or at least the possessive Parker’s stamping (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Parker).

Dating

Prior to Word War II, the possessive PARKER’S stamp was used. However, at least some pipes were stamped with the non-possessive as early as 1936.

Like Dunhill, Parker pipes are date stamped, but differently than Dunhill. The Parker date code always followed the MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND stamping. The first year’s pipes (1923) had no date code; from 1924 on it ran consecutively from 1 to 19.

There is no indication of a date code for the war years. Parker was not a government approved pipe manufacturer, while Dunhill and Hardcastle were. During the war years Parker manufactured the “Wunup” pipe made of Bakelite and clay.

The pipe that I was working on was stamped with the possessive PARKER’S stamp which identified it as being mad prior to WWII.  There was not any date code on the right side of the shank which may have linked it to a pipe made in 1923 but definitely before 1939. The 3 on the shank side seems to have been a shape number. This is another old timer.

It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He also polished the band which appears to be silver. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. The pipe looked very good when it arrived. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top looked very good. The inner edge of the bowl a few small nicks around the front and left side. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.  The top right side of the button had a chip missing.The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem and the extension from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice Straight Grain Billiard that should clean up very well.I reshaped the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged areas from the inner edge of the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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 Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper. I filled the tooth marks on the stem and button with clear super glue and let it cure.   I used PaperMate Liquid Paper to fill in the Diamond P stamp on the top side of the taper stem. I let it dry the scraped off the excess with my fingernail.   I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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 the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Parker’s Bruyere 3 Lovat with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite 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. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Parker’s Lovat is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.31 ounces /37 grams. This Parker’s Bruyere Lovat is another great find our hunts. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I am not sure where this one will end up so I will hold onto it for a short time. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

 

Comoy’s London Pride Prince Restored


By Al Jones

The 337C by Comoys is a classic Prince shape. This one is a “London Pride” finish. The nomenclature and metal reinforcement let me date the pipe to the early 1950’s.

A previous Reborn Pipes blog entry by Steve, refreshed my memory on the London Pride grade. I had forgotten it was just below the Blue Riband.

https://rebornpipes.com/tag/comoys-london-pride-pipes/

Comoy’s had introduced the London Pride as the second grade to the Blue Riband around the same time to meet the American demand for a lighter finish. It was priced in 1943 at $25 and in 1965 at $25, then in 1979 at $95. It was described as having a natural amber coloring and tending to be Birdseye/Cross-Grained pattern pipes. At the time this pipe was made it was the next-to-top-of-the-line.

The pipe was in reasonably good condition, with a good fitting, solid stem and button. The nomenclature was very crisp. The bowl had a somewhat heavy cake that spilled out over the bowl top. The stem was oxidized, with a few shallow dents. Below is the pipe as it was received.

I used a piece of worn scotch-brite to remove the build-up on the bowl top, then micromesh to finish it. I was pleased to find the beveled bowl top still intact. The cake was reamed and the bowl soaked with alcohol and sea salt.

Following the soak the shank was thoroughly cleaned and the stem was mounted. I was able to lift the dents near the button with heat. The oxidation was removed with wet sandpaper: 600-800-1000-1500-2000 and then 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh. The stem was then polished with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish.

The bowl was carefully polished with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

Below is the finished pipe, which is now in a friends collection in Las Vegas.