Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff found this one at an antique mall in Oregon back in August of last year. I remember talking on FaceTime with him from the shop and he showed me the pipe. It came in its original packaging and was still unsmoked. The box was quite large and had a felt finish on the top of the box. It was stamped in gold with the WDC triangle and underneath that it read Wellington Jumbo Imported Briar Root. Inside the box was a shiny large pipe. The briar was coated in a peeling varnish coat that was spotty on the bowl and wrinkled on the top of the rim. The bowl was absolutely spotless and the grain that showed through the varnish spoke to us. The nickel ferrule on the shank end was untarnished and shiny. The bent vulcanite saddle stem was in perfect condition with no oxidation or marks. It looked unsmoked. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank and read WDC in a triangle followed by Wellington in script [over] Imported Briar Root. I think that once the varnish was removed it would look incredible with the nickel ferrule and the shiny polish black vulcanite stem. It was a beautiful and large pipe. The first photo shows the box as it looked from the outside. When I opened the box when it arrived here in Vancouver last week I was impressed by the beauty of this NOS (new old stock) pipe. The varnish coat looked awful and really needed to go. The removal of the varnish would greatly improve the look of the pipe.I removed it from the box and took the following photos of the pipe before I removed the varnish coat. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show he condition. You can see the wrinkles in the varnish coat on the rim top and down the front side of the bowl. Around the sides of the bowl the varnish was hazy and cloudy. It obscured the grain a lot. The stem looks very good in the photos below showing the stem.I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping. It is clear and readable as noted above. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the site on the Wellington. I clicked on a link on the site and was directed to an advertisement on the bran from a 1915 Literary Digest Magazine. The copy makes some interesting reading on the brand. I reread a blog I wrote on a Wellington Jumbo back in 2020 to refresh myself on the brand and follow up (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/12/03/breathing-new-life-into-a-wdc-wellington-jumbo-french-briar/). It directed me to an article on Pipedia.
Pipedia’s article on WDC (William Demuth) pipes is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/William_Demuth_Company). I have included a pair of the advertising flyers on the Wellington pipe below. The second flyer below has a photo of the Jumbo Wellington and its original sales price. Look at the price of this pipe when it was sold. Now it was time to work on the pipe. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the cloudy and wrinkled varnish coat on the briar. The finish removed reveals a beautiful piece of briar with great grain. Have a look. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and turned to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I started polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish. I wiped it down again with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I put the stem back on the Unsmoked NOS Wellington Jumbo Bent Billiard and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. The grain follows the shape around the classic large Bent Billiard shape. It has some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – straight, flame and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. This large pipe sits right in the mouth and is definitely a pipe to smoke while sitting and enjoying a book or a glass of your favourite beverage. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 9 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 3.46 ounces/98 grams. This beauty will be going on the rebornpipes online store in the American Pipemakers Section. If you are interested in breaking this old timer in with a tobacco of your choice let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.