Saving a Parker


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a beautiful sandblasted pipe by Parker of London. I purchased a group of pipes from a fellow in the Eastern US. It was definitely a mixed bag of very good and very bad. Some pipes were destroyed beyond repair, some pipes were filthy but repairable, some stems were missing their stummels, and some stummels were missing their stems. However, there were a handful that were in decent condition when I found them and they just needed a helping hand – this Parker was one of those. Apologies in advance for the paucity of photographs. I guess I just got carried away with the work! Parker of London has an interesting history. Our friends over at Pipedia have provided this information:

In 1922 the Parker Pipe Co Limited was formed by Alfred Dunhill to finish and market what Dunhill called its “failings” or what has come to be called by collectors as seconds. Previous to that time, Dunhill marketed its own “failings”, often designated by a large “X” over the typical Dunhill stamping or “Damaged Price” with the reduced price actually stamped on the pipe. While the timing and exact nature of the early relationship remains a bit of mystery, Parker was destined to eventually merge with Hardcastle when in 1935 Dunhill opened a new pipe factory next door to Hardcastle, and purchased 49% of the company shares in 1936. In 1946, the remaining shares of Hardcastle were obtained, but it was not until 1967 when Parker-Hardcastle Limited was formed. It is evident through the Dunhill factory stamp logs that Parker and Dunhill were closely linked at the factory level through the 1950s, yet it was much more than a few minor flaws that distinguished the two brands. After the war, and especially after the mid 1950s the differences between Parker and Dunhill became even more evident, and with the merger of Parker with Hardcastle Pipe Ltd, in 1967 the Parker pipe must be considered as an independent product. There is no record of Parker ever being marketed by Dunhill either in its retail catalog or stores. Parker was a successful pipe in the US market during the 1930s up through the 1950s, at which point it faded from view in the US, while continuing to be popular in the UK. Pipedia goes on to say that the old Parkers had a patent number and dating code, but these were gone by 1957. I do not know the specific age of this pipe, but since it is missing both a patent number and dating code, it is safe to say that it was made after 1957. This sandblasted Parker has the following markings on the stummel: Parker of London [over] Bark 576. The stem has the letter P inside a diamond on the topside and it also has the word France on the underside. Furthermore, the following photo, showing one of Parker’s brochures, indicates that the model number 576 is a bent Dublin.Fortunately, this Parker was in pretty good shape when it came to me and that certainly made my job easier. There were a few small discolourations to the stummel and the overall colour was dull, but nothing too serious. The stem had a few nicks and dents, but I was not concerned. Really, this pipe just needed a day at the salon in order to look its best.

The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the marks. This was only modestly successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. It was a bit dirty, but not too bad and I only went through a few pipe cleaners in order to clean it up.I then scrubbed then stem vigorously with SoftScrub to clean it up nicely. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.

On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There wasn’t too much nastiness inside this stummel – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a toothbrush, and some cotton pads. That removed any remaining dirt. Fortunately, there was no notable damage to the stummel, so I didn’t have to address that. However, I did do some touch ups to the black stain with my furniture pens. Since the pipe had a sandblast finish, I obviously did not use the Micromesh pads to sand everything. Instead, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.

Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine gave the wood a deep black look.

In the end, what a beauty this pipe is! It is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘British’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 145 mm/ 5 ¾ inches; height 50 mm/ 2 inches; bowl diameter 38 mm/ 1 ½ inches; chamber diameter 21 mm/ .80 inches. The mass of the pipe is 47 grams/ 1.65 ounces. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

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