Blog by Steve Laug
This afternoon I was going through some of the older pipes that I have in a bag to filter into the queue of work to do. The case on this one intrigued me and I could not remember what was inside of it. The leather cover on the case was in decent condition and looked to be older. There was some wear on the edges of the case but the hinges and lock worked very well. I took it out of the bag and turned it over in my hands getting more excited by the moment.Don’t you want to know what is inside of the case? Is it an older meerschaum pipe? Is it an amber stem pipe? Is it just a great case with an ugly pipe inside? Well… I will get there. I took it to my desk and laid it on the pad I use for work. I really had no idea what was inside. I slowly opened the case and this is what I saw.I was stunned at what I saw. It was an absolutely beautiful looking older pipe. The briar was pristine and the gold coloured filigreed rim cap and shank ferrule were undamaged and in perfect condition. The stem was amber and there was not a mark or a break in it. It was flawless. When I removed the bowl it was also UNSMOKED or New Old Stock (NOS). I was flabbergasted at what I was looking at – a pipe from the late 1890 or early 1900s. Furthermore the pipe and case linked two of the brands that I have worked on a lot over the years and set up a sub collection of in my cabinet. The case has a gold stamped Three Stars [over] G.F.B. in a logo on the inside of the green fabric lid. The shank of the pipe is stamped with Three Stars [over] Manhattan in an arch underneath. Have a look at the photo of the case and pipe below.I turned to first to a couple of the blogs that I have written on the restoration of G.F.B. pipes in the past. I reread them and have included a link to one of them below. I was able to identify that the G.F.B. stamp stood for Genuine French Briar (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/21/restoring-an-older-gfb-three-star-horn-stem-bent-bulldog/). I have included a catalogue page on the brand below for you to see. The description fits the rim cap and ferrule of mine. It says “Beautiful Rolled Gold Plate Mountings and Real Amber Bits.”So far I had found and read several blogs on the G.F.B. stamp that was on the inside of the case. Now it was time to do a bit of reading on the Manhattan stamping on the pipe. I again turned to a blog I have written on the brand below (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/24/another-interesting-piece-of-pipe-history-manhattan-canted-dublin-with-a-horn-stem/). I quote from that blog what I found on the brand.
I thought it would be interesting to see if there was any new information online regarding the brand. Of course, I checked on the Pipes, Logos and Stampings – PipePhil’s site. There was a listing for Manhattan pipes but there was not any new information and what was there was inconclusive. I turned to Pipedia to see if there was a new article. I was surprised to find that there was one, I do not know if it was new or not, but I do not recall seeing it before. The article was called The Manhattan Briar Pipe Company. It is an interesting read so I have included the article in its entirety as well as the advertisement from 1913 that showed a Manhattan pipe…
The Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. was organized in October, 1902 by the American Tobacco Company, under an agreement with the owners of the Brunswick Briar Pipe Company, as a New York corporation. Its initial address was 111 5th Avenue, New York City, and the value of its stock in 1902 was $350,000.00. American Tobacco Company had itself been founded in 1890 by J. B. Duke through a merger between a number of U.S. tobacco companies, and was one of the original twelve members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. It was commonly called the “Tobacco Trust”.
The majority of the stock in Manhattan Briar Pipe Company was immediately acquired by the American Tobacco Company after the company was organized, but the prior owners retained a controlling minority interest for some years. In October, 1906, however, the American Tobacco Company acquired the remaining shares of stock, and from that point on Manhattan Briar was the pipe making branch of American Tobacco. By 1911, however, American Tobacco had been dissolved in anti-trust litigation, and Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. became a separate concern.
Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. had started operations in 1905 in Jersey City, New Jersey, having taken on a lease for a ten year period in 1905, and maintained a factory at Marion, New Jersey, where the pipes were made. By 1913, former American Tobacco pipe department chair John Glossinger was the president of Manhattan Briar Pipe Company, and began a significant advertising push for high grade pipes, using the slogan “Don’t spoil good tobacco by using a poor pipe”. It appears from cases having appeared on the estate market that Manhattan also sold meerschaum pipes, most likely rebranded articles originally made by European craftsmen.
After the expiration of the Jersey City lease the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company maintained offices and a factory at 415-425 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, New York beginning in 1915, evidently under the direction of W. C. Bastian, who had been granted a patent for a chambered pipe stem otherwise seemingly identical to a Peterson P-Lip in 1910. An employee of the company, one J. Gianninoto, was granted a patent for a device meant to permit the emptying of a cuspidor without the mess in early 1918, and the company continues to be listed in local directories through 1921. In 1922 Manhattan Briar was purchased by S.M. Frank and merged into that company. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Briar_Pipe_Co.
Further digging led me to a link on the S.M. Frank Co. & Inc. history page. Reading through the history of the company I found that S.M. Frank not only purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company but also purchased WDC or William DeMuth & Company – two of the older brands that I enjoy working on. Here is the relevant section from the link: In the year 1900 Sam Frank Sr. started his own business, selling pipes and other tobacco items. His original office was located at 20 W. 17th Street, NYC. He was also closely associated with the sales staff of Wm. DeMuth & Co., selling their line of pipes. It was at this time that Mr. Frank first met Ferdinand Feuerbach and formed what would be a lifelong friendship. Mr. Feuerbach started working for the DeMuth Company in 1897 and by 1903 had become the production manager. In 1919, when Mr. Frank needed an experienced pipe man to run his pipe factory, located at 168 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx, he persuaded his old friend Ferdinand to join him. Mr. Feuerbach is credited with developing DeMuth’s popular Royal DeMuth and Hesson Guard Milano pipelines. In 1922, when S. M. Frank purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. the company incorporated. http://www.smfrankcoinc.com/home/?page_id=2
That link led me to me to some further information including an advertisement and a shape chart on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages http://pipepages.com/mbpc2.htm. I have included them here with acknowledgement to Chris Keene. I always enjoy reading the old copy of these advertisements as they take me back to place where the pipe was an acceptable part of the life. Now I had a pipe that linked the G.F.B. Brand (Genuine French Briar) with the Manhattan Pipe Company and it was a new unsmoked pipe. I carefully took the pipe out of the case and turned it over in my hands. It was indeed unsmoked and pristine. It was almost as if it had been sitting in the pipe case since it was made. I wrote Jeff to ask where we had picked it up. He wrote back that it had been bought off eBay back on December 3, 2017. It had come to us from Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, USA. The fact that it came to us on eBay is hard to believe because what we paid for it in 2017 would not even begin to capture what we would have paid for it today if we could find one. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the unsmoked, pristine condition of the bowl and flawless rim cap. I also took some photos of the amber stem to show how it looked. There were no nicks, chips or tooth damage to be seen on this flawless stem.I took a photo of the Three Stars stamped over the arched Manhattan logo on the left side of the shank. You can also see the rolled Gold Plated Ferrule on the shank end in the photo. It is really a beautiful looking piece of pipe history.I unscrewed the stem from the shank to see an unblemished threaded bone tenon. It was free of damage and had not been over or under-turned in the shank. It was as pristine as the rest of the pipe. Can you tell how excited I am about this pipe.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and amber stem with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar and amber. 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.With the Restoration Balm applied to the briar bowl and the amber stem I was finished with the preservation of this G.F.B. Manhattan Bent Diamond shank Billiard. I carefully hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise and deepen the shine. It really a beautiful pipe that is over 100 years old. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is .88 ounces /25 grams. This G.F.B. Manhattan Bent Billiard was a great find that links the G.F.B. and Manhattan pipes that I have restored in the past. This is a pipe that will hold a special place in my collection. It is a pipe that has the capability 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 my revelry on this great find.