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Reflecting on a Few CPF pipes in my collection – Pipes from the Colossus Pipe Factory


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t remember much about the first CPF pipe I picked up or even where I found it, but I do remember loving the shape, size and feel of it in my hand. It seems to me that it was a diamond shank straight bulldog pipe and I remember it being very old – over 100 years of age. I remember turning it over and looking at the Old World style craftsmanship, the fine briar and the metal work that was on the shank end and rim top. I remember the gold stamping on the side of the shank – CPF in an oval over Genuine Briar. That first pipe I came across was the beginning of a side collection of CPF, American made pipes coming out of the Colossus Pipe Factory in New York. Over the past 7-8 years I have been picking up CPF pipes on Ebay and in shops around the country to add to my personal collection. My brother Jeff also continues to pick them up for me.

It is a brand that has been shrouded in some mystery through the years even in terms of what the CPF initials mean. Some have interpreted it to me Consolidated Pipe Factory while others have taken it to mean Colossus Pipe Factory. Because of that it has been virtually impossible to trace the brand. I have written about the history of the brand in previous blogs but here is the link should you want to go and check it out. In the link that follows I give the rationale and proof for the brand being Colossus Pipe Factory. Give the blog a read if you are interested in the background (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote the concluding paragraph of that blog in the following as it gives a quick overview of the history of the brand with the mergers and finally the demise of the brand as a whole.

From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the CPF logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB & B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older CPF pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. CPF made beautiful pipes. I believe Sam Goldberger was correct in his assertion of the potential carvers that made the pipes being of European training and the classic shapes and well aged briar. That coincides with all the CPF pipes that I have come across.

I collected the links and various blogs I have done on CPF pipes in my collection and chosen some representative photos of each of the pipes. I think as you flip through the photos you will see the beauty I see in them and hopefully it will kindle a love for the preservation of these old timers for generations ahead of us.

The first pair of pipes that I have pictured below is stamped CPF Cromwell on the left side of the shank. They both are vertical twin stemmed – twin shank pipes. Both came to me in very rough condition. The stems were damaged and repaired with a white putty material and the bowls were very worn. The first one is in the best condition. The second I worked a bit of Frankensteining on to resurrect it to be smokeable again. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/27/frankensteining-a-badly-damaged-c-p-f-cromwell-double-stem-pipe/The third pipe came to me from the same lot as the two above. Where there both had vertical twin shanks and stems this one has a horizontal twin shank and stem. Like the others above it has the same damage and repair to the stem – white putty to make it smokeable again. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/09/28/bringing-new-life-to-a-c-p-f-siamese-parallel-twin-stem-billiard/. The fourth pipe in my collection is an alternative wood in both the bowl and the base. The bowl is detachable – unscrewing from the base. The polished band and the horn stem are beautiful touches to this unique pipe. If you would like more information be sure to follow the link below and read about the restoration of this beauty. It is one of the more unique pieces from CPF that I have. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/03/restoring-a-unique-alternative-wood-c-p-f-tulip/.The next pipe is a small pocket sized horn shape with a horn stem. It is stamped like the others with the CPF oval on the shank and on the band. The horn stem has a captivating pattern of swirls and striations that make it a pleasure to hold and look at while smoking. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/22/a-small-c-p-f-french-briar-horn-captured-my-attention/.The next pipe is another detachable bowl pipe. This one is a CPF Pullman. The bowl is separated from the base by a brass ring that adds a touch of class. The briar base has a brass band with CPF logo and stamp on the left side. The bent horn stem gives a touch of colour to the look of the beautiful old pipe. Give the blog a read if you are interested, but clicking on the link that follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/06/repairing-renewing-and-rejuvenating-a-removable-bowl-c-p-f-pullman-bent-billiard/.The next one is another pocket pipe. It has a Bakelite stem and a rectangular vertical shank that sets of a nicely shaped apple pipe. The yellow of the stem works well with the rich red of the briar. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/01/restoring-a-wreck-of-a-c-p-f-rectangular-shank-bent-egg/.The next pipe came to me as a damaged bowl. It is a nicely shaped bent bulldog with a diamond shank. The bowl originally had an ornate metal rim cap that had disappeared long before it came to me. I am keeping an eye open for a replace rim cap to see if I can bring it back to its original shape. https://rebornpipes.com/2013/03/31/cpf-french-briar-bulldog-restemmed-and-refurbished/.The next pipe is also one that came to me without a stem. The shank cap or ferrule was oxidized and green in colour when I started the restoration on it. I also worked an old vulcanite stem to fit the shank that has the same orific button as the original. The fit and size of the stem makes this another pocket pipe. It is distinguished looking and I only wish it could tell its story for us. Here is the link to the restoration: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/01/restored-cpf-bent-billiard-a-reclamation-project/.The next straight shank billiard also came to with the two above bowls. This one was by far in the worst condition. It had nail holes around the rim top and the rim cover was oxidized to a dark green and was crumbling. Originally this pipe would have had a built in wind cap with a hinged top but that had long since disappeared by the time I worked on it. I crafted a new stem for it and banded the shank to clean up the disintegrating briar on the shank end. It is an interesting piece https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/07/reworking-and-reshaping-an-old-french-briar-cpf-billiard/.This next little pocket pipe has a horn stem and a great looking briar bowl. The shape is a small bent billiard. The band is original and bears the CPF logo and stamping. The shank has the CPF logo the look of the bowl and shank is quite stunning. I was able to work on it and bring it back to life. https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/08/bringing-a-pre-1884-era-cpf-bent-billiard-back-to-life/After I first wrote about CPF pipes I received email from a fellow who had a trio of CPF pipes that he had picked up.   There were two unsmoked bulldogs – a bent and straight with amber stems that he wanted me to clean up. In exchange he would give me the CPF bent meerschaum bulldog in the photo. I took him up on the trade and soon had the threesome in hand to work on. I finished his two pipes and sent them back to him and turned my attention to an almost worn out looking meerschaum bulldog.I cleaned up the bowl inside and out and worked over the brass shank end and bowl cap. I rebuilt the amber stem that had bit throughs on the end at the button and some crystalizing and crumbling on the stem as a whole. I was able to stabilize it and make it useable once again. It is a light weight durable little meerschaum that is a sweet smoke. Read bout the restoration on the blog by clicking on the following link: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/12/25/taking-a-swing-at-reconstructing-and-refurbishing-an-old-cpf-meerschaum-bulldog/.The next pipe is a CPF Best Make Straight Bulldog. This one is a beauty with its silver filigree rim cape and shank end. It is stunning with the brown briar and the orange amber stem. This one just came to life as I cleaned and polished all the parts and did the repairs on the amber stem and silver bowl cap. Give it a read by clicking on the following link: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/02/cpf-best-make-bulldog-with-a-silver-rim-cap-and-ferrule/.Over the years of collecting and working on CPF pipes I have seen quite a few classic shaped meerschaums but had not seen very many carved figurals. My brother Jeff came across this interesting figural featuring a horse and knowing my love for CPF pipes picked this one up for me. It is a true beauty. There are some small cracks around the bowl but nothing that is an open fissure. I was glad to add it to the collection. Even so you can feel the energy of the racing horse as it turns around the tree stump on its right side. Give the blog a read if you want to see more photos and read about the restoration. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/05/against-a-stump-a-carved-cpf-best-make-horse-meerschaum/.My brother wrote to tell me that this old CPF Giant was found in an antique store in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The owner had told him that the pipe was owned by an artist who strictly used it as an art prop… never smoked it. It is about 130 years old and is a large bent billiard. It is a large pipe – over 11 inches long and similar to the older Wellingtons that I have worked on of similar size. It was a great addition to my collection. If you want to get a feel for the history of the pipe and restoration it went through click on the link that follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/25/refreshing-an-old-giant-cpf-french-briar-bent-billiard/. The next pipe was a unique one that Jeff picked up. It is a CPF that was different from any others that I had ever seen or worked on before. It was a briar calabash with a black Bakelite screw bowl/cup. The shank was darkened and appeared to have originally had a band that had been lost somewhere along the way. That is pretty common on these old CPF pipes. The stem was amber and needed some work to bring it back to usefulness. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words COLON in an arch over the CPF logo in an oval. Underneath that, is stamped French Briar in a reverse arch thus encircling the CPF logo. I replaced the missing band with a polished nickel one to give it a more complete look. I am always on the lookout for old bands and rim caps so I may find one that fits this old pipe. Give the blog a read to see detailed pictures of the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/27/new-life-for-an-unusual-cpf-colon-calabash-pipe/.When I received the next pipe I was excited to look it over and add it to the collection. The beautiful briar with swirls of birdseye and cross grain flowing around the long shank bulldog was stunning. The horn stem fit well in the shank and it would clean up nicely. Have a look at the blog for details but this is one of the better pieces I have added. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/19/breathing-life-into-an-1890s-era-cpf-french-briar-horn-stem-bulldog/.The next little bent billiard is another beauty – it is a chubby bent pocket billiard. The grain on the bowl is quite stunning and the restored horn stem and brass band give the pipe a touch of old country charm and class. Give the blog a read to see what the pipe looked like when we found it and the steps in its restoration. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/20/another-piece-pipe-history-a-lovely-cpf-french-briar-bent-billiard/.The next beauty is a silver military mount billiard. The ferrule and stem cap are both silver. The pipe is a CPF Remington and the grain and finishing touches on the old pipe give it a sense of timeless class. The pipe is in rough condition when it came to me and with some careful restoration it is back to looking lovely. Give the blog a read to see what it looked like when I receive it. It is a beauty.  https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/21/restoring-another-cpf-french-briar-this-one-a-remington-silver-mount-billiard-blog-by-steve-laug-the-next-pipe-i-chose-to-work-on-from-the-lot-of-the-lot-of-pipes-my-brother-and-i-picked-up-on-our-vi/.This Rhodesian was in very rough shape when I received it. It took a lot of work to bring it back to this point. The bowl had a lot of damage and the horn stem was very worn and tired. I did a lot of reconstruction on the rim top and edges of the bowl and tried to bring life back to the damaged bowl without loosing the shape. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/21/this-old-cpf-french-briar-rhodesian-was-in-rough-shape/.The square shank straight bulldog with the double ring around the bowl cap is a beauty. Instead of the usual diamond shank and stem this one has a square shank and stem. The horn stem is very stunning with the colours of the horn and the briar. Have a look at the blog to read about the restoration process on this one. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/09/29/cleaning-up-another-cpf-this-time-it-is-a-square-shank-bulldog-setter/.The last pipe I am including in this blog is my latest addition. It is an unsmoked CPF Chesterfield that is in excellent condition. It came to me from a good friend in NY who picked it up in a recent purchase. The grain and the shape are quite nice. It is a stubby billiard with a P lip style stem. The stem is hard rubber and it is old. Give the blog a read to get the back story on this pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/29/refreshing-an-unsmoked-1910-1915-cpf-chesterfield-billiard/.With the above pipe I will close my reflections on some of the CPF brand pipes in my collection. Hopefully you can understand what I love about them as you scroll through unique pipes in the above collection. I am always on the lookout for more CPF pipes and excited to find and work on them. If you come across one and want to “help” me out let me know. Thanks for reading this blog.

 

NOS Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother bid on a boxed set of pipes that was in a box covered with a green alligator pattern material. Inside the box was a yellow linen lining with a diamond logo on the inside of the lid that read Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar Price $15.Pic1When he received it in the mail and opened it the set of pipes inside was not quite what he had expected. There was Redmanol or red Bakelite cigarette holder, a bent billiard with a Remanol or Bakelite stem with an orific button. The shank was stamped Real Briar over Made in France. The stamping was set with gold. The second pipe in the box was a billiard with a vulcanite stem that was notably newer in age than the bent billiard. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with 7118 Berkley Club over London Made. At the bowl end of the shank the word England was stamped in an arc. The fourth indentation which should have had a cigar holder held a Lovat stem from a screw mount shank. It obviously did not go with this set. Thus looking at the set we could see that the cigar holder and the straight billiard were missing.Pic2Not long after receiving the set in the mail he was scanning eBay and found another boxed set that bore the same gold filigree diamond on the lid. It was in a brown vinyl box with a linen coloured lining. The exterior and the interior of the box were in great shape. This one had both the straight and bent billiard and the cigar holder but was missing the cigarette holder. We talked about it and decided to bid on it. He won it and soon it was on his desk next to the other one.Pic3 Pic4He put the cigarette holder from the first case in the second one. He compared the bent billiards and kept the one that came with the second case. The entire set was new old stock. It had not been smoked and it was in great shape. The only issues were that both Bakelite stems were overturned and the surface of each bowl that faced upward was dusty in the grooves and crevices. The bowls were pristine. The cigar holder also was unsmoked though it had obviously been held between someone’s teeth as there were some tooth marks in the top and bottom side near the button. The cigarette holder from the first set was also unused. Putting the four pieces together in the second box gave a full unsmoked new old stock collection. We were excited.Pic5I took the pipes out of the case and lined them up on the work table. The rustication on both billiard pipes was dusty on the exposed side. The rims on both were clean but had some sticky substance on the surface. The Redmanol/Bakelite stems were both oxidized and dull. The stamping on both pipes was gold. The Bakelite stem on both pipes had been overturned. The straight billiard had a paper washer between the shank and the stem to try to compensate for the overturned stem. The surface of the pipe stems and the cigarette holder were all free of tooth marks or dents. The cigar holder was also dusty on the exposed side and the Redmanol/Bakelite stem had some tooth dents on both sides near the button even though the holder was unsmoked. The stem was also overturned on the cigar holder.Pic6I decided to work on the straight billiard first. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the paper washer between the stem and the shank. You can see the sticky substance on the top of the bowl rim.Pic7 Pic8I took a photo of the gold leaf stamping on the shank. The Made in France stamping is double stamped on the Made In portion. France was single stamped.Pic9The tenon was metal and it had glue or something that had been added to the threads to try to align the stem and shank. I removed the paper washer and threw it away. I picked out the glue in the threads with a dental pick. The mortise was threaded directly into the briar.Pic10I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the sticky substance on the rim top. It was hard and tacky so the micromesh worked well to remove it. The rim surface was clean and undamaged when I was finished.Pic11With the pipe and tenon cleaned up I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon. Once the glue in the stem softened I screwed the stem back in place and aligned the stem and the shank.Pic12I scrubbed the rustication of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris.Pic13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.Pic14 Pic15 Pic16I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buff it with a shoe brush. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine. I took a few photos of the finished pipe before moving on to the second one.Pic17 Pic18I worked on the bent billiard next. It had not been smoked and was clean. The stem was overturned. The gold leaf stamping was in great shape and was single stamped. The stem had an orific button and was made out of Redmanol/Bakelite. It was oxidized but in good shape with no tooth marks or chatter. The bowl was in great shape and still pristine new briar. The rim had some sticky material on the top the same as the other billiard. The rustication was in good shape but it was dusty on the exposed side.Pic19Pic20I sanded the rim with a 1500 grit microfibre sanding pad to remove the hardened sticky substance on the top of the rim. I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust from the rustication. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris and dried it off.Pic21I used the Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon until the glue in the stem was warm and then screwed the stem onto the shank to realign it. Once it was aligned I let it cool. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic22 Pic23 Pic24I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth. I took the following photos to show the finished pipe.Pic25 Pic26I turned next to the cigar holder. It was in decent shape though it too had dust on the exposed side. The stem was overturned and there were some tooth marks in the surface of the Bakelite/Redmanol stem next to the button on the top and bottom sides.Pic27The inside of the holder was pristine and had not been smoked.Pic28I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the holder and cleaned up the threads with a dental pick and a tooth brush.Pic29I cleaned out the inside to remove the dust with cotton swabs and alcohol. I gave the threads a coating of clear fingernail polish. I wanted to build up the thread slightly so that the mouth piece would align correctly.Pic30I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic31 Pic32 Pic33 Pic34I gave the briar part of the holder a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the holder with a clean buffing pad and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the cigar holder aside until I had finished the rest of the set.

I had one more item to clean up. The cigarette holder from the other box was oxidized and dull. There were no tooth marks or bite marks in the Redmanol/Bakelite. There were a lot of scratches in the surface of the holder that needed to be polished out to remove them.Pic35I wet sanded the holder with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the holder a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit sanding pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set the holder aside to dry.Pic36 Pic37 Pic38I buffed the holder with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the finished cigarette holder in the case.

I put the pipes and holders back in the case and took some photos of the finished pipes in place in the case. It is a great looking set of pipes and holders and shows some age on it. I wish I could figure out who made it but so far I have not been able to find any information in my usual spots on the web. Thanks for walking with me through this refurb. Thanks for looking. If any of you have any information on the set let me know in the comment box below.Pic39

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Correcting an Overturned Stem on an Unsmoked CPF Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in December I received an email from a friend in the Vancouver Pipe Club about a fellow who was trying to get a hold of me about some very old 1850’s American made pipes he had picked up. We connected and he sent me the following email:

Hi Steve! Really liked your posts and just wanted to reach out. Thanks for the note back. I purchased the 3 CPF pipes already for $120 for the set over the weekend.

• The straight has never been smoked and is in excellent shape. I did not know it was unsmoked, that was a pleasant surprise.
• The bent is in good to VG shape. Lightly used. The threads are off a little from wear. Does not line up perfectly when fully threaded in, off by about 15 degrees.
• The Meer is trashed. End has been chewed down to having holes top and bottom, and the bowl is super used. That was disappointing

I am guessing after I have looked at them that they are around 1907? It’s the Oval CPF logo with French over the logo and Briar under. I am not going to smoke the straight, it’s been clean for 100 years, I don’t want to be the guy that dirties it up. LOL. I have not tested to see if the stems are amber or not.

Any thoughts on dating or value? Should I be happy or sad for $120? Any tidbits of the history beyond what you have written is appreciated.

Thanks man, really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

All the best,

Michael

He sent the following photo of the threesome. They were beautiful to me. With the photo he had not only my attention but he had me hooked. I love the old CPF pipes and I had previously restemmed an old bent bulldog like the one in the photo sans bling. This set was amazing and I would love to see it in person.CPF1 I replied to his email and he responded offering to send me the pipe with the overturned stem for a repair and to send me the Meerschaum to “take a swing at refinishing it” as he worded it. When the pipes arrived yesterday I opened the box to have a look at the pair that he sent. I took the pair out and examined them carefully. The Meerschaum I put in my own repair box for later. The stem on it was definitely a mess. There was crazing throughout the length of the stem where someone had tried to clean the stem with alcohol. It was Bakelite and really was a wreck. The stem on the bent bulldog was much better. If that pipe has been smoked it is very lightly smoked. There is very little darkening in the bowl and none in the stem. I carefully unscrewed the stem and had a look at the bone tenon and at the threaded mortise in the shank. Both were not darkened by smoke so I am thinking that this one is also unsmoked.

I looked at the threads in the mortise and on the tenon and could see that they were worn. The stem had been screwed and unscrewed many times over its long life and the worn threads accounted for the overturn. The stem was clean but dull from not being polished. The bowl ornamentation was oxidized but had a patina that worked with its age. There would be little clean up on this old pipe. The internals were spotless other than dust. A quick clean up with a water dampened pipe cleaner took care of that. The stem would need some work with micromesh pads to bring back the shine. I would leave the patina on the brass as I liked the way it looked. The only issue that needed to be addressed was the overclocked stem and the worn threads.CPF2 I cleaned up the tenon with a cotton swab and warm water being careful to not get the bone tenon too wet. With a tenon this old it is very easy to snap it when working on it. I used a tooth brush to work on the threads and clean off any dust of debris on them. I carefully applied a few drops of clear super glue to the threads – it would build up the worn threads and also stabilize the old bone tenon. When it dried I tried it in the shank and found it took care of about half of the overturn. I took it apart and added a few more drops of the glue and let it dry.CPF3 I wiped off the brass with a jeweler’s cloth to protect and clean it slightly. I did not want to remove the patina, just give it a quick rub down with the cloth.CPF4 I sanded the Bakelite stem with micromesh sanding pads until the butterscotch colour just glowed. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads.CPF5

CPF6

CPF7 I wiped down the bowl with some Briar Wipe – a no longer made pipe polish and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax by hand and hand buffed it as well. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. After Christmas I will send it off to Michael to enjoy. Thanks Michael for the Meerschaum to fiddle with and thank you for the opportunity to see and do the repair on this beautiful old piece of CPF history. I can only hope to find a set like yours one day! Enjoy this piece of history that has come into your hands. It is in your trust and certainly with care will continue its usefulness for more generations of pipe men to come. Cheers.CPF8

CPF9

CPF10

CPF11

Cleaning up an LHS Sterncrest Lovat with a Bakelite Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a little 4 ¾ inch Lovat with a rusticated finish and a two tone stain. The rustication looks like craters and swirls. Even the top of the bowl is rusticated.LHS14 The stem looked to be oxidized but once I worked on it I was in for a surprise. The band was stamped Sterling Silver arched over the LHS in a Diamond logo and under that was stamped Rhodium. The underside of the shank was flat and smooth and was stamped with the LHS in a Diamond logo with the word Sterncrest arched under the diamond. Toward the stem end of the shank it was stamped Imported Briar.LHS13

LHS9

LHS10 As I looked at the stem more closely I could see swirls of red running through it and the material was a reddish brown colour. It had a similar appearance to Cumberland but was harder and heavier. The patterns in the swirls was not uniform at all and made me think of other things that I have around made of a similar looking material. This would become more clear when I cleaned up the stem.LHS11

LHS12 I took two close-up photos of the stem and the extension that was in the end of the tenon and extended into the bowl. It was an integral part of the stem and I was not able to remove it.LHS15

LHS16 Once I got this far in the process I wanted to know a bit more of the history of the brand. I was trying to find out when the pipe potentially was made. The stem had me fascinated. The extension tube in the tenon was different from any other LHS Sterncrest pipe that I had seen. All of the patent information I could find from the early 1900s through 1936 showed a more typical ball and point stinger apparatus. There was nothing to date this in the patent information. That combined with the unique stem material seen clearly in the photo above made me very curious about the pipe.

I looked on the PipePhil site which is a go to site for me when digging out information and I found some helpful material. Here is the link – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html. The first item below is a copy of the photo from his site which gives some simple information. The Strencrest stem that I had did not have the inset silver diamond in the side on the top of the saddle. The stamping on the pipe was different as well. Mine was stamped LHS in a Diamond (like the one on the briar inset below) but STERNCREST was underneath the Diamond. Imported Briar was on the opposite end of the shank. The inset of the band is identical in terms of what is shown. The band on mine has one additional feature below the LHS diamond and that is the word RHODIUM.LHS1 I followed the links on the site and found the following grading guide from 1944 there as well. It lists the Sterncrest Sterling as the third highest grade of pipe. The issue for me is whether the pipe I have is a Sterling. It only bears the Sterncrest stamp and that does not appear on the chart below.LHS2 I read some more on the site and found that the L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe suppliers for US soldiers during WWII. That was the short version of the information. With that I knew that my pipe was made between 1911 when the company opened and before the 1960’s when it closed.

I googled for more information to see if I could find company advertising that showed the pipe I was working on and gave more definitive information on the brand. I found the following quote that helped to fit the Sterncrest into the scheme of things. “LHS is L & H Stern Pipe Making Co. that was based out of Brooklyn N.Y. Their most common lines seem to have been their Sterncrest pipe models. The company made pipes from 1900-the 1950’s.”

I also found some advertising which I have posted copies of here. Three of the magazine advertisements are shown below. All three show a similar pipe to the one that I have in hand. The rustication on mine is more crater like than tree bark like but the patterns are similar.LHS7 I have also included a page from a Sterncrest Catalogue from 1946 that shows the line and the second pipe from the right, the lovat is identical in shape to the one that I have. The rustication pattern in the picture is similar but also more tree bark like and the stamping is on the side of the shank rather than the underside.LHS8 Now I knew that the pipe I was working on came from a more narrow time period – 1910 to sometime in the 1940s. That was all the information I could readily find on the pipe. I was still left with a bit of a mystery that would become somewhat clearer as I cleaned up the pipe and stem.

The pipe was lightly smoked and I was able to wipe out the dust and debris from the bowl quickly. The shank was dirty but what came out of the shank was not tobacco debris or tars but rather a red stain. The inside of the shank had some stain left in it. The bowl must have been dip stained when in the factory and the pipe had not been smoked enough to burn off the stain that was there. Obviously the previous owner never ran a pipe cleaner into the shank to find what I found in my clean up with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.LHS16a I also cleaned out the airway in the stem and tenon extension. I was careful as I did not want to chip or damage the extension. The more I worked with the stem the more I was beginning to get an idea of what the stem material was.LHS17 I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I was uncertain whether the oil would be absorbed or not but either way it would give some teeth to the micromesh pads as I worked with them. I took photos of both sides of the stem to show the pattern that started to show up as I polished it.LHS19

LHS20 I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to further polish the stem. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil once again.LHS22

LHS23 The more I polished the stem the more clear it became what the material I was working with was. I dry sanded with the final three grits of micromesh and then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish before giving it a final coat of oil. Once the oil dried I buffed it with some carnauba wax and then with a clean flannel buff before giving it a final hand buff with a microfibre cloth.LHS24 Once I finished polishing the stem I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the stem was made of Bakelite. It was exactly like several of the Bakelite tobacciana items that I have collected. The mottled brown and red look of the polished stem proved it to me.

I decided to do a bit of research on Bakelite to both make certain I was working with that and to see if I could narrow the date for this pipe down even further. I am including some of the information that I found in my search.

From the New World Encyclopedia online I got some basic information on the material. Here is the link if you want to see the original source. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bakelite

I found that Bakelite is a material based on a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin developed in 1907–1909, by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland. It was the first plastic made from synthetic components. It was used for its electrically nonconductive and heat-resistant properties in radio and telephone casings and electrical insulators, and was also used in such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, and children’s toys…

Bakelite is a phenol formaldehyde resin with the chemical name polyoxybenzyl methylene glycol anhydride. It was formed by the reaction under heat and pressure of phenol, a toxic, colorless crystalline solid, and formaldehyde, a simple organic compound, generally with wood flour filler. The combination of the mixture with the wood flour makes the material hard and dense.

The company, The Bakelite Corporations was formed, in 1922, from the consolidation of three companies: the General Bakelite Co., the Condensite Corp. and the Redmanol Chemical Products Company, an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913, by chemist L.H. Baekeland. The American Catalin Corporation acquired the Bakelite formulas, in 1927, and currently manufactures Bakelite cast resins.

Bakelite Limited was formed, in 1926, from the amalgamation of three suppliers of phenol formaldehyde materials: The Damard Lacquer Company Limited of Birmingham, Mouldensite Limited of Darley Dale, and Redmanol Chemical Products Company of London. Around 1928, a new factory opened in Tyseley, Birmingham, England. (The building was demolished in 1998.) The company was acquired by the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in 1939.

From the Wikipedia I found out more information. Here is the link for the source should you want to read more. I have included a few clips from that source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite

Bakelite is not extensively used for general consumer products any more, due to the cost and complexity of production and its brittle nature. However, it was used in the past in myriad applications, such as saxophone mouthpieces, cameras, solid-body electric guitars, rotary-dial telephones, early machine guns, and appliance casings. It was at one point considered for the manufacture of coins, due to a shortage of traditional manufacturing material.

An exception to the overall decline is the use in small, precision-shaped components where their specific properties are required, such as molded disc brake cylinders, saucepan handles, electrical plugs and switches, and electrical iron parts. Today, Bakelite-type materials are manufactured and produced in the form of sheets, rods and tubes for many industrial applications in the electronics, power generation, and aerospace industries, and under a variety of commercial brand names.

Many companies stopped using Bakelite in the early 1940s as the need for World War II related products took hold. By the end of the War, new technologies in the world of plastics had made Bakelite obsolete.

A final source of information I found was on jewelry specifically but the dates coincide with the information above and help narrow the dates for my pipe stem.

The source is as follows: http://www.teeda.com/history-of-bakelite-jewelry.html

The height of Bakelite jewelry was the late 1930s, up until the end of the Art Deco period. The designs were quite popular in mass merchandise stores such as Sears and Roebuck. However there were also some famous names working with the material and creating Bakelite jewelry including Chanel and Van Cleef and Arpel. Oddly enough Bakeland allowed the patent to expire and the Catalin Corporation bought it. They began creating their own Bakelite jewelry marketed as Bakelite-Catalin. The pieces were sold in both expensive stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and smaller stores such as Woolworth’s.

Bakelite jewelry was available in a variety of colors, but brown, green, red, and white were the most popular color choices. Over time though, exposure to the light and particles in the air have caused many of these colors to change. A good example is a bracelet that was once white, but now looks pale brown in color.

Given the information on Bakelite I think I can safely narrow down the date on the stem to between 1930-1949 when the war ended. That may be as close as I can get to pinning down a date on the pipe unless someone who knows a bit more of the history of LH Stern can be more specific regarding the apparatus at the end of the tenon.

I returned to finishing up my work on the pipe. With the stem completed, I polished the stem with a silver polishing cloth and was able to remove all of the oxidation and give the silver band a sheen that looked like new.LHS18 I rubbed down the bowl and shank with Halcyon II wax and then buffed it with a shoe brush and then with the microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to load up and smoke a bowl. It will probably be the first bowl that has been run through the pipe since the end of the war. I am looking forward to reintroducing the pipe to a nice bowl of Virginia or Virginia Perique. It is so light weight that it should be a great smoking pipe.LHS25

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LHS30 Thanks for looking.

Dr Grabow Restoration and Stem Repair


Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked up this Dr Grabow Freehand at an antique mall about a month ago when I got the Wally Frank that is visible in the photos, too. It was scratched to heck on all the smooth briar and the stem was chewed completely through. But I went ahead and bought it for three reasons:

– I’ve  never had a freehand
– I have been wanting to restore a stem with a hole or, in this case, a lot of damage
– I got a pretty decent price
So, I picked it up.Greg1

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Greg5 I decided to deal with the bowl first, by stripping it with acetone and soaking it overnight in an alcohol bath; I also put the stem in a OxiClean soak at this time.  After removing the bowl from the alcohol bath I then used a brass bristle brush to get all the tar and gunk out of the rusticated top grooves. Then I sanded it to remove all the scratches from the smooth briar and take the old stain off the high points using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper.Then I used some water based black leather dye on it, getting into the recesses well and wiping of the smooth portions as I went; I wanted to keep that darker contrast in the grooves. After I had it covered to my liking I dried it with the heat gun. Next I went back to 400 grit to take down the high points and smooth areas to remove the small amount of black color from the water based dye. When that looked good to my eye I polished it with 600 grit, wiped it down with 91% isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any left over dust and dirt.  I heated it with the heat gun again to make sure the briar was good and dry. When it was nice and warm I applied Fiebing’s dark brown spirit-based leather dye, diluted 2:1 with 91% alcohol and flamed it in; I did this twice. The color was a bit too dark now so I wiped the pipe down, taking care to not soak my cotton pad too heavily or get into the recesses too much, with alcohol until it looked right to me. I then set it aside.Greg6

Greg7 When I soaked the bowl in the alcohol bath I also left the stem in a OxiClean soak overnight. I had removed and washed it well before starting on the bowl so it was ready now to work on.Greg8 I decided to shorten and reshape the stem instead of replacing it or trying to fix the gaping holes. I used a coping saw to cut off the end, saving as much of the stem as I could. The bottom hole had also cracked so it required removing quite a lot of the stem to get most of the crack out. The next step was to grease a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and insert it into the stem. I then dripped some Super Glue into the crack and let it set up while I worked on something else.

When I came back to it, the glue was hardened and I was ready to move on to the next step: making a new button. I began this process by scoring a line along the top and bottom of the stem where I wanted the button with a cutoff wheel on my Dremel. After I had the new button laid out, I then started to shape it with various needle files. I began shaping from the button back, forming it into shape with the rest of the stem. This took considerable time to get it even and “natural” looking. When I was satisfied I then began to shape the end of the button.Greg9

Greg10 I shaped the bit with needle files, too, again using several to get the shape right. The first step for this was getting the angle to look right on the top; this didn’t take as long as I expected. I then began to form the bottom of the bit, trying to match the shape of the top as close as I could; this took more time and effort than I’d expected.

Making a new drought hole was something new to me. And was not without its challenges either. I used my needle files, again, to start shaping the new hole, making it a bit taller as well as wider than the hole that was left in the cut off stem. I took the extra time to fan the drought hole, too, partly because I wanted to and partly to see if I could do it. This ended up being some of the most time-consuming and tedious work of the entire project: I needed to make sure I didn’t go too thin in any direction but I wanted the hole to really funnel out well. I am pleased with the results and the way it smokes and would say it was worth the extra time and effort to accomplish it.Greg11

Greg12 After all the shaping I wiped the stem well with alcohol to clean it off for a test fit – to my mouth. The test failed; the bit was too long and too steep. So back to the files I went. I filed, tested, filed, tested a few times until it felt comfortable in my mouth and looked good to me. Now time to get it shiny again.

I began with a fine/medium grit sanding sponge. It worked very well to get in and around the bit to smooth it a bit more and to take out the file marks. I then began wet sanding with grits 220/320/400. At this point I applied some Novus 2 plastic polish. The Novus line come in three grades: 3 – the most course, 2 – the second, and 1 – the final polish. I began using this product on my motorcycle windshield a few years ago and loved it. I have numbers 1 & 2 but have yet to try 3.

After using the Novus, I began with the micro mesh, wet sanding with grits 1500/1800/2400/3200/4000 (I’m not looking at the numbers but I believe that was the correct grit numbers. I applied the Novus 2 again and then polished with micro mesh 6000/8000/12000. Now it was off to the buffer with pipe and stem.

I buffed the pipe several times around with Tripoli to get the color just where I liked it. I then moved onto the white diamond for both the pipe and stem. I took a little extra time on the stem to make sure I fine tuned the button a little more, testing it every so often. After buffing the pipe and stem with white diamond I changed to a metal buffing wheel with blue rouge to polish the metal tenon on the stem; I hate a nicely polished stem that hasn’t has the metal (if there is any) not polished, too.Greg13

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Greg15 Several coats of carnauba wax was then applied to both pipe and stem. I did the final buffing with my “mushroom” on my cordless drill. I like the control I have with it and also the fact it’ll reach almost anyplace with little effort. The final touch was to polish the rustication with a soft toothbrush to make sure I didn’t have any wax residue left.Greg16 There were, and still are, some fills in the pipe but I wasn’t particularly concerned with them. Several are on the shank and it would have been “dicey” to try to fix them without ruining the nomenclature. There was one fill on the side that fell out, presumably from the softening of the putty in the alcohol bath. I missed that one until after I had already started smoking it.  If I’d seen it earlier in the process I would have fixed that one but now it’s there for the duration.Greg17 (I couldn’t get a good focused shot of the finished button.)

An Old Manhattan Billiard with a Bakelite Stem


I picked up this old timer a while ago now and did a quick clean on it and put it away. Today I decided to take it out and finish it. The first tree pictures below are photos that were with the EBay auction. I liked the look of the pipe in those photos and decided to bid on it. From the EBay photos it appeared to be in pretty good shape. It appeared to be dirty and in need of a good cleaning. The stem was red Bakelite and the shank extension appeared to be yellow Bakelite. The rim looked dirty and tarred but pretty sound.

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When it arrived it was in worse shape than the pictures showed. The rim was rough around the outer edge. The inner edge was also rough and out of round. The bowl was caked with a broken and chipped cake. The stem was over turned and had some significant bite marks in it on the top surface near the button. On the underside of the stem there was what appeared to be a repair to a bit through. It looked like an epoxy patch. The fill on the patch was overdone and the edge of the button was virtually gone. The top side bite marks were deeper than I expected and would need some work to raise them.

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I reamed the bowl and cleaned the shank and bowl with pipe cleaners and Isopropyl alcohol. Once the pipe cleaners came out clean I was happy with it. The stem also needed a thorough cleaning. The tenon was a screw tenon and appeared to be metal as it was corroded and a little rusty. The previous owner or maybe the seller had put a paper washer on the stem before turning the stem on tightly. I think this was the solution to the overturned stem. I scraped the washer off of the shank and the stem and cleaned up the tenon with steel wool and alcohol. Once it was clean I worked on the button area on the underside of the stem. The epoxy repair was thick so I sanded it down and then recut the button edge with my flat needle file. I recut the top edge as well to clean it up and give it a new sharpness. I sanded the patch and the tooth marks until they were smooth and then used micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to sand the surface smooth. I also used the Maguiar’s scratch polish to polish out the scratches. Once that was finished I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. To readjust the overturned tenon I heated the tenon and then turned it until it aligned. I also turned and turned it back until I had a good solid fit on the shank. Once the stem was aligned I gave it a coating of Obsidian Oil and set it aside for a little while and worked on the bowl rim.

The rim took a bit of work as there were quite a few deep marks in the surface of the rim and also a rough edge on the outside of the bowl all the way around. I steamed the dents to the surface and then topped the bowl on a flat board until the edge was smooth once again. I worked the inner edge of the bowl with sandpaper to minimize the out of round shape of the bowl and make it at least appear to be more round again. I then sanded the bowl rim with progressively higher grit sandpaper end with 400 and 600 grit wet dry. I finished sanding with micromesh sanding pads using all grits from 1500-12,000. There is one small fill that is visible on the top right edge of the rim that is the only fill I find in the pipe. I restained the pipe with an oxblood aniline stain and carefully applied it with a cotton swab as I did not want the stain to mark the shank extension. I did not flame it this time around as I did not want to risk any melting of the extension with the fire. Once it was dry I put the stem on and took it to the buffer to buff with White Diamond. I finished by buffing the entire pipe with carnauba wax until it shone. The finished pipe is pictured below.

I am not familiar with the Manhattan brand but am pretty sure that it is a US made pipe. It is older as it has the Bakelite stem with an orific button. Manhattan Pipe Company made pipes in the US and I would assume made this one. It is stamped only on the left side of the shank with the words MANHATTAN over DeLuxe (in script) over the word BAKELITE. The case has a tag in it that also reads MANHATTAN over French Briar over Bakelite in a shield style logo.

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A Unique BBB Tigergrain Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

This unique pipe has become a favourite of mine. I have not seen one like it since I picked this one up. It is stamped on the left side with the BBB logo (three B’s in a Diamond) and under that TIGERGRAIN. There is a small nick in the shank just below the stamping. On the right side it is stamped London England over the shape number 420. The stem is a translucent blue green almost like some of the glass pieces that my grandmother had in her sideboard. It has the brass BBB logo in a diamond inserted. When it came to me it was dirty. The bowl had a thick cake and needed to be reamed. The stem was darkened with brown stains in the airway. The rim was tarred and had some dents that were quite deep. The finish was in pretty good shape other than the deep set grit and grime. The bands around the bowl were filled in with grit as well. Underneath it all I knew there was a uniquely beautiful pipe.

I reamed the bowl back to the briar. I like to start with a clean pipe, as I find I can exorcise previous ghosts more easily that way. I wiped down the surface with Murphy’s Oil Soap, undiluted, and scrubbed the rim with a soft bristle tooth brush. Once I had the grime and grit removed I buffed it with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then steamed out the dents on the bowl and rim. I do this with a damp cloth and a hot table knife. I heat the knife over the gas flame on my cook stove and then put the damp cloth on the dent and apply the hot knife. The hiss and the steam released seem to raise the dents in the briar. I then buffed the pipe yet again and polished it with carnauba. The grain has a striped look to it which is the reason for the tigergrain stamping I suppose. I love the look of the grain and the patina on the old pipe.

I then turned my attention to the stem. I used some goop hand cleaner on a pipe cleaner and scoured the airway on the stem. It took quite a few pipe cleaners and patience to get the brown stains and oils out of the translucent stem. Once that was done I also needed to deal with the tooth chatter on the stem. I used heat on the stem first – a quick pass over the heat gun did the trick. Care had to be exercised so as not to heat the stem too much and straighten the bend or melt it. I used micromesh pads 1500-6000 grits to polish the stem after that. Once I was satisfied that the marks were smooth I reinserted the stem on the bowl and gave the entirety a final buff with White Diamond and then several applications of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing the pipe with a clean flannel buff.

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It is a comfortable pipe in hand and mouth. It measures just under 6 inches long. The bowl is ¾ inch in diameter. It smokes very well and has proved to be a great Virginia Flake pipe. I find the colour of the stem is a cool and relaxing bonus to the smoke.

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