Another one from the ongoing “Hunt for a Cooler, Dry Smoke” – a Highlander System Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe came to us off eBay back on 02/05/17 from York Haven, Pennsylvania, USA. It came in a Trapwell pipe box with all of the accompanying papers and pipe sock. The Trapwell is a bit of a legend from WWII years. The brand was made by D & P Pipe Works, owned by D. P. Levitas and located in Sparta, Alleghany County, North Carolina close to the population of Mountain Laurel in the area. Later, this company changed its name to Sparta Pipe Works and still later to Sparta Industries. I was excited to be working on a pipe made in that era by them. Here are some photos of the box that pipe came in. When Jeff opened the box he was suspicious. The pipe was not an apple and the contraption in the shank and stem pictured on the box cover was missing. All of the paperwork was there and the pipe sock as well. But the was not a Trapwell. It had a Germanic H stamped in silver on the top of the briar. On the left side of the shank it read Highlander [over] Selected Briar. There was nothing else stamped on the pipe. It was not a Trapwell and it was briar. It also came with a pair of stems – a swirled reddish one and a black one. Neither one of them appeared to have been used. The bowl had a thin cake on the walls and some lava on the top so it had been smoked. Jeff removed it from the box and took photos of the bowl with both the reddish swirled stem and the black one. It was quite a pretty looking pipe with either stem.Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the bowl and top. You can see the cake that is present and the light lava coat. The stems both appear to be unused. It makes me wonder how the previous pipeman smoked it. Jeff took a photo of the heel of the bowl that showed a flaw in the briar. He took photos of the stamping on the left side and top of the shank. They are clear and readable.I turned to Pipedia to see if I could get any information on this Highlander Filter Pipe. Here is the only link that was there ( The only information available was that the Highlander pipe was a brand of Altamira Company. I did a bit more searching to see if I cold find any more information. There was nothing specific to be found. With that I decided it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish and the light lava on the rim top. There appears to be a shiny varnish coat on the bowl that is spotty on the bottom of the shank and bowl. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top photo and edges look very good. I also took close up photos of the stems to show how clean they both were. There was no chatter or tooth marks on either stem.I took photos of the stamping on the left and topside 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 and the two stems. The tenon on each stem is Delrin and drilled to fit a Medico filter. It is a good looking pipe and has some great mixed grain around the sides of the bowl. I started my work on the pipe by removing the varnish coat on the briar with acetone and cotton pads. I was careful to not remove or damage the H stamp on the top of the shank. I was able to clean up the damaged area on the heel of the bowl. It was good to see the grain in the briar come alive with the wash. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads –dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and using a damp cloth after each pad. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips 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. 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. This pipe was not too bad to clean up. The stems were in excellent condition with no marks of chatter. The Highlander Selected Briar Billiard turned out to be quite a nice looking pipe. It is a filter pipe but the look is very good. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished reddish, brown bowl looks like with the polished mottled red stem and the second black one. The material is a mixture of plastic and rubber I believe but it is hard to tell. This Classic looking Highlander Selected Briar Billiard feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼  inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29 grams/1.02 oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the American Pipe Makers section of 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.

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