Found an Oddity – an Imported Briar Sparkless Cigar Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to work on something a bit different now. I pulled out a rusticated Cigar Pipe that Jeff had purchased at an Antique Store on 04/17/18 in Bozeman, Montana, USA. The pipe is stamped on both sides. On the left side it reads CIGAR-PIPE [over] SPARKLESS. On the right side it reads GENUINE [over] IMPORTED BRIAR. The finish was dirty and grit was in the rustication. There was a thick varnish coat on the finish that had a few bubbles in it. The bowl is split in half and held together by a threaded metal apparatus in the stem end of the pipe. The other end is threaded in the briar and screws onto the apparatus. There is an aluminum nose cone on the front end of the pipe. The inside was dirty and had been smoked. There was a lot of carbon in bowl and the shank end of the pipe. The stem is vulcanite and has some calcification along the button edge. There was tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. There was a white circle logo on the left side of the saddle stem. There is a stinger in place in the tenon end. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work.Jeff took photos of the sides of the pipe to show the rustication around the briar. You can also see the varnish on the briar that is slightly worn and spotty. You can also see the fills in the briar around the bowl sides. Jeff took a photo of the bowl from the side. You can see the line (joint) in the center of the pipe. You can also see the putty fills on both the right and the left of the bowl in the first photo. He took photos of the stem sides to show the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button.He captured the stamping on both sides of the bowl. It is clear and readable as noted above. He also captured the logo on the left side of the saddle stem. I worked on a pair of Mastercraft Sparkless  Cigar pipes back in 2016 so I turned and reread the blog I wrote on the work. Here is the link: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/12/back-in-flight-a-pair-of-mastercraft-sparkless-cigar-pipe-zeppelins/. I quote from the research below:

I have seen a lot of these pipes for sale in shops and on eBay but I had never had one in my hand so I had never done any research into them or what “sparked” their invention. So now that I had two of them I figure it was time to look up some information. I looked on the pipephil website and found that they were made by Mastercraft and that there were some further articles in the odd pipes section of the site. Here is the link to that part of the site. http://www.pipephil.eu/oddpipes/pipcig/sparkless2.html. The trouble is that the articles were in French. I used Google Translator to translate them into English and then did some serious editing to the translations. I am including both articles in full here. The first one is written about the smooth briar versions and the second is about the rusticated versions.

Overseas manufacturers of pipes are not deprived of market of cigar pipes based on the mythical model of the 1920s. The best-known is called Sparkless [1] and comes from the Mastercraft House which was issued in several finishes. Two of them will allow you to judge fully of these strange pipes (The article included two photos of two different smooth finishes on the pipes – a stained and an unstained version).

It should be noted on at the outset that it is stockier than its Germanic Zeppelin cousin. When the pipe is disassembled we note that the two wooden parts screw into another – one side is threaded wood on the interior of the piece and the other side has a metal threaded end that turns into the wooden threads. There may be some doubts about how well this type of connection will hold up under use. There is no place for a filter in the Sparkless pipes unlike the Zeppelin. This pipe is adapted to the tastes of American smokers.

You should know that Mastercraft had a long standing near-monopoly of imports of European briar and particularly Italian briar. This explains the stamping ITALY on the side of the pipe.

The stamping is as follows:

On one side it is stamped Cigar Pipe, Sparkless and on the other side it is stamped Century Old, Briar Italy. On the nose of the pipe it is stamped Perfected on one side and Reg. No. M.U. 3840 on the other side.

The measurements of the pipe are as follows: The length is 13.9 cm and the height is 3.2 cm.

Where the German maker, Vauen offers one model of the Zeppelin pipe, the American Mastercraft diversifies its range. To the two versions of the Sparkless model mentioned above we add here two other variations in the form of pipe, rusticated in natural finish.

These variations to this atypical pipe probably spoke to a limited audience. Let’s face it the quality of the woodwork on the two models rusticated models isn’t the most refined in the light of the criteria of the XXI century. But don’t lose sight of the variety that was offered when these pipes were made was radically new.

My preference is usually saddle bit pipes. But I confess that by comparing the Zeppelin to the Pipe-Cigar Mastercraft models, the Zeppelin has more elegance due to the continuity of the shape to the tip compared to the general shape of the Cigar-Pipe. The German made Zeppelin pipe appears as a whole very consistent where each part (tip – stove – metallic cap) is the continuation of the other. This consistency and flow is less noticeable for this North American pipe.

The complete disassembly of the pipe shows that the stem in ebonite has a condensation system reduced to its simplest expression here: a small aluminum tube. It should be noted that these systems don’t bring great benefits for smoking and on the contrary can add moisture and condensation. They are often the origin of disturbances in the draw of the pipe and cause of particularly unpleasant gurgle. But it should not hurt.

The details of the stamping nomenclature reflects that the origin of the pipes is Italian and are potentially made by Lorenzo.

On one side it is stamped Cigar Pipe, Sparkless and on the other side it is stamped Century Old, Briar Italy. On the nose of the pipe it is stamped Perfected on one side and Reg. No. M.U. 3840 on the other side.

The measurements of the pipe are as follows: The length is 13.9 cm and the height is 3.2 cm.

Armed with the interesting information I went to work on the Cigar-Pipes that I had a rusticated pipe. My brother had done the lion’s share of cleanup work on both of these pipes. Judging from the internals and the externals he did a great job cleaning out all of the gunk and grime. The rusticated briar was cleaned with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and in doing so he was able to remove the majority of the finish. The next four photos show the exterior of the pipe. The stem was quite clean though it had tooth chatter on both sides. The white circle logo was in good condition. The finish was dull. The aluminum nose cone was dull. There was a fill on one side of the pipe that stood out as it was smooth and the rest of the bowl was rusticated. I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides and the stem. It is clear and readable. I took pipe apart and took photos of the halves of the pipe. It is an interesting  piece of pipe history.       I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, renew and preserve briar. I let it sit on the briar for 15 minutes then buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The pipe looks very good at this point in the process.  I polished out the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and laid it aside to dry.   As always I am excited to finish a pipe that I am working on. I put the rusticated Sparkless Cigar Pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the colours shining through the various carving in the rustication along with the vulcanite saddle stem. It is beautiful, light and unique pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31 grams/1.13 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section. 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. I want to keep reminding us of the fact that 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 pipeman or woman.

2 thoughts on “Found an Oddity – an Imported Briar Sparkless Cigar Pipe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.