Tag Archives: Brewster Pipes

Who Made Brewster Imported Briar Pipes or Who is the Unknown Italian Maker


Blog by Steve Laug

Robert M. Boughton in his recent blog on Brewster pipes quoted part of my earlier blog on the brand. Here is the link to Robert’s blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/01/13/another-brewster-that-looks-better-now-than-when-it-was-made/. In a personal email he suggested that I post the history of the brand in a separate blog to make access to the information accessible to those searching for information on the brand. So I have copied the pertinent material and edited it to read more clearly in the blog below. Thanks for reading.

brewster1bIn February, 2014 I cleaned and restemmed a bowl that was stamped with the stamping on the shank shown in the photo above. If you want to read the details of the restoration you can do so at the following link: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/14/giving-a-brewster-round-top-billiard-a-face-lift/ In the course of working on the pipe I did some research to see if I could find out information on the maker. To me everything about it seemed to point to some kind of Dr. Grabow connection. The metal mortise was threaded and Grabow stems fit perfectly. The mortise tenon system was identical. I had a hunch that there was some kind of connection but I wanted to verify what I was thinking.

I looked first in the books I had available here. In “Who Made that Pipe” all I learned that the brand was Italian made followed by the words unknown maker. That was not overly helpful. I suppose some of the pipes were stamped made in Italy. But unknown maker left too much out to me. There had to be more information. I turned to my online sources. I looked on Pipedia and there found much the same information – Italian made followed by question marks as to the maker. The pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b7.html) called “Pipes: Logos and Stampings” had the same information but said that it was an export brand of an unknown Italian company. So far I was coming up empty handed but I was not going to give up on this one. I spent time searching the web with Google and other search engines and came up with no added insight.

Not to be daunted I decided to take a different tack. I found the Dr. Grabow Company website online and wrote an email to their information centre seeking information on the brand. I never received a reply from them. I wanted to follow-up on my hunch from the stamping and the metal insert in the shank that somehow this pipe was related to Dr. Grabow pipes. I had no clue how it was related but it certainly looked like it to meso I went to the Dr. Grabow forum on-line and posted my questions http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/index.php. While I waited for a response to my question I read some of the forum of back posts and found a series of posts regarding the brand. I read the following and immediately had more questions. The Grabow connection was not clear but I had found that the pipe may have been a promotional item during the course of one year – 1964. Here is the quote that gave me the information:

“A couple months back, I scored a Brewster off eBay for five bucks. Research on this forum and the wild, untamed internet tells me the Brewster pipes were all made in one batch in 1964 as a promotional item for Sir Walter Raleigh.”

Now I knew that the pipe came from that time period and had been a promo item for a pipe tobacco company.

Later that evening while relaxing, my iPhone vibrated notifying me of a new email. I picked up the phone and saw that I had a response to the questions that I had posted on the forum. Dave Whitney, author of the book on refurbishing called “Old Briar”, had responded to my request for information. What he sent me was extremely helpful and a true goldmine of information. His answer confirmed the Dr. Grabow connection and gave critical information that I had not been able to find anywhere. I have grouped the comments on the brand under three bullets that show three different individual’s comments on Brewster. It is interesting to note that all agree.

Dave Whitney: Here’s what I have from my accumulated notes on Brewster – much of it looks like it came off this forum, ted/td being one of the early ones to help build this forum and a former Sparta CEO.

• All the Brewsters were “made” in about 64’… Brewster… is probably from Fratelli Rossi from 64’… Ted, an older pipe smoker than me, suggested the Brewster pipes are comparable to the Willard pipes, and that Brewsters were often sold either with tobacco, or in a coupon offer. For example Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco.

• Further information came from Dr. B… I think (in my feeble state of mind, after today) that Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98. We also included a bunch of Mastercraft from F. Rossi at the same price……..Rossi pipes are another story……Remind me of the “sticky lacquer” and I’ll tell it…….ted
Mastercraft was founded by Bernard Hochstein, an Orthodox Jew. Old, White Haired, Santa Claus looking (still alive at 96, last time I knew), and he was REKNOWNED for his ability to “strong arm” the European pipe suppliers into selling pipes to M/C at a bargain. Probably the best (never say nothing) negotiator that I’ve ever met. He sold a business (Mastercraft) to UST for 6 million in STOCK. He’s probably worth 60 million today. Mr. Hochstein could negotiate a peace in the Middle East in a very few days, and talk all parties outta’ their pants in the process.

OK, so Mr H “rapes” the Italian suppliers even up till 1964 when the Surgeon General’s (SG) report comes out. As it turns out, “rape” worked both ways. A supplier, Fratelli Rossi, (still in business) took an order in 1963 for over 1 million pipes at 1/2 dollar (US) per pipe. When the SG’s report comes out, Rossi has filled a small part of the order for Hochstein, and had orders for a great many more pipes than Hochstein ordered. Rossi decided to experiment with his lacquer …Whose pipes did he experiment on? Hochsteins.

When I started at Mastercraft we had 1215 cartons of pipes from Rossi… Mastercraft Standard….72 dozen per carton, with lacquer so “tacky” that if you held the pipe as if you were smoking it, you’d have to “shake” it out of your hand. Rossi left out the curing agent. Ever touched wet paint?……..After 10 years they were still STICKY…..after 20 years, they were still STICKY.

We fought these SOB’s for years, when finally Luther Marlow (you’ll see topics about him) concluded that we could re-spray them with the Grabow lacquer and sell em’ (Ed. Note: Here is the Grabow Connection I smelled). We did, and we did. Through a “drive” by the UST salesforce, we sold every one. So if you have a Mastercraft Standard with what looks to be “heavy” lacquer, you are probably right.

• Hussar…..Rossi also made Brewster. Better lacquer job though… Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98.

When I started with Mastercraft in the early 70’s we had over 400 cartons of pipes from Hully. Each carton contained 60 to 80 dozen, most of which were stamped Brewster or Stetson and these had a base cost (from the 60’s or earlier) of $2.80 /dz. Some of the smaller pipes, called Southern Assortment were $1.90 / dz. May be partly to blame for them going out of business.

Dave had supplied some very helpful information on the brand. It gave a definitive date and origin to the pipe. The Italian connection and the Dr. Grabow link were clear in Dave’s answer. Now I wanted to know something about maker, Rossi. Fortunately Dave kindly included that information in his answer as well. It is as follows:

From approximately 1946 up to the end, Ferdinando Rossi II, a grandchild of the founder, headed the company. But after World War II the world of the pipe changed dramatically. Especially in Italy, where those big pipe factories mainly turned out pipes for the lower priced segments of the international mass markets. The demand for these pipes shrunk considerably as more and more smokers turned to cigarettes. Rossi got into this vortex as well. Little by little the number of pipes produced sank. This evolution was accelerated by the upcoming fame of pipes from Denmark. As well, new Italian brands established after the war like Castello, Brebbia or little later Savinelli operated cleverer and thus were more successful.

So the decline went on through the 1960’s and 1970’s, even though Rossi offered more than 800 possible shapes in dozens of lines and uncounted finishes. Besides the completely machine made pipes there were also some lines of semi-freehands and even quite considerable freehands were made. But all these efforts could not stop the fall anyway. Due to increasing financial difficulties Rossi closed down in 1985, just one year before the 100th anniversary.

In the years around 1870 and still later the bulk of Italian pipes was made by time taking and laboriously manual work. Mainly based on families who sold their pipes to travelling purchasers handing them on to some wholesaler. Most pipes were still made of box or olive wood.

Ferdinando Rossi from Milan was one of the most important wholesalers for tobacco related goods of northern Italy. When he attended one of his pipe suppliers in Saint-Claude in 1880 he got hooked on the idea to establish this manner of industrialised briar pipe production in Italy as well. Rossi went abroad several times to buy the hardware here and there because the special features of machines for pipemaking were secrets – well kept by the French in those days. Many machines and tools had to be modified on Rossi’s defaults.

[From the Catalogue “La Regina della Pipa” (1896)] He acquired a large area of land in Barasso in the province of Varese and founded the Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi in 1886. For sure there was no lack of skilled workers and Rossi personally recruited 30 craftsmen of different occupations from the environment to get started. After a few years the enterprise had developed well and entered into export trades. In 1892 e.g. the ledgers registered the first pipes shipped to Brazil.

One reason of success was the ultramodern conception of the factory and its equipment at the given time. To give an example: a system of canals invented by Rossi drove water to turbines propelling downstream generators, which supplied the entire machinery with electricity. Also lighting and heating were already electrically operated.

In the first years after 1900 Rossi grew steadily and became one of the ten biggest pipe manufacturers of the world. Rossi’s rapid ascent produced further foundations of pipemaking firms in the area.

I love hunting down as much of the old company histories I can find concerning the pipes that I refurbish. For me this information gives a colour and flavour to the pipe I hold in my hands and rework. It gives me the back story on the pipe and adds another dimension to the work of refurbishing. I have reposted the details of the history of Brewster Imported Briar here for those who like me enjoy this kind of thing.

Another Brewster That Looks Better Now Than When It Was Made


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipesnm.biz (Coming Soon)
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
https://roadrunnerpipes.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/about-the-author/
Photos © the Author

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
― Kong Qui (Confucius), 551-479 BC, Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure

INTRODUCTION
This Brewster Billiard arrived in one of the many pipe lots I bought online the year before last, at which time I apparently dismissed it as a common Dr. Grabow that could be put off until I had nothing better to clean or restore. Nevertheless, despite the oppressive grime and weariness that lay upon the wretched pipe like a veil of black magic – or maybe because of this gloomy aspect, as a good friend once remarked with acerbic nonchalance that I seem to be attracted to wounded things (his exact words, all the more angering because I knew he was right) – my eyes returned to it many times since it came in the mail. On every occasion except the last, a week or so ago, I made the mental Dr. G. connection and passed it by.

I’m not saying all Dr. G. pipes are worthless; I just seem to be happier when they’re not cluttering up my own collection. But the two I do own are excellent and exceptional, not counting three unusual beauties that were given to me by my friend and mentor, Chuck Richards and which I expect to sell.Brew1

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Brew6 There is a good reason for all of this talk about Dr. G. pipes, which might seem to some as nothing more than pointless rambling. As I already noted, all but the last time I considered this pipe, I was so certain it was a Dr. G. that I didn’t even bother with more than a glance. Then, not more than 10 days ago, for some reason I will never understand, I picked it up and squinted at the left side of the shank to check the brand. The pipe was so filthy and sticky (remember that last word) that it might have fallen out of a pig farmer’s bib overalls and smack into the trough. It was so bad, at any rate, that I had to take it into the living room where I keep my jeweler’s magnifier headset to begin to decipher the name, which I could see began with a B. Even then some hard rubbing with a thumb was necessary to break on through to the other side.

When I at last made out the word Brewster, all that came to mind was a great old movie, “Brewster’s Millions,” from 1945. Go figure! And so, of course, I took a seat on the couch and consulted my laptop, clicking the speed dial to pipephil.eu. There, sure enough, was Brewster. Made in Italy. Unknown maker. What kind of hogwash was this? I Googled “brewster tobacco pipes” and found only a few identical references. Well, I said to myself, I’m not about to let any lack of preliminary intel stop me from making this wounded or perhaps birth defected little thing better.

Only when I was gearing up for the restoration, and happened to visit my local tobacconist, did I chance to notice a new estate pipe put out by Chuck. You guessed it: a Brewster, made in Italy. What were the odds, I wondered, laughing so loudly that the young lady behind the counter, Candice, looked at me in surprise. I explained myself.

But the real shock came a few days later, when I was nearly done with the restoration and started wondering (worrying is more like it) how I was going to write a blog about a pipe with a clear name on it of which several experts in the pipe community had heard but still had no clue who made it. Being a somewhat persistent little bugger, however, I returned to Google, this time expanding my search to “brewster tobacco smoking pipes.” I will never cease to be amazed how sometimes the computer knows exactly where I’m going with a search and even comes up with the right suggestion, and others it’s a swing and a miss. This time it was out of the ballpark.

The very first link, at the top of the page, was to – where else? BREWSTER PIPES/ REBORN PIPES, https://rebornpipes.com/tag/brewster-pipes/. To say I was beside myself is an idiom that doesn’t begin to describe my sense of amazement. As I wrote to Steve in an email, the Brewster triangle was complete. And there, in the most vindicating black and white letters I have ever read, were the words, “The thread pattern and the look of the metal fitment looked exactly like a Dr. Grabow set up.”

Anyway, the bizarre connection between Brewster and Dr. G. is so thoroughly Italian (read “Machiavellian”) that I haven’t quite processed all of it yet. But it’s all there in Steve’s blog, blow by brutal blow, and as far as I can tell, it’s a Reborn Pipes exclusive. I’m sure those who are interested in the grizzly details will follow the link above. I am not about to try to paraphrase Steve’s incredibly detailed research. All I can say is that congratulations on an investigative job worthy of Woodward and Bernstein are in order. For once I will exercise the better part of valor in not going into details that already took up pages of Steve’s blog.

I will comment that Steve’s history of the Brewster includes one hilarious section on a blunder involving a large shipment of pipes to Mastercraft which were stained but not cured with a drying agent. Hence they remained sticky to the touch for years before they were eventually “fixed.”

RESTORATION
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Brew11 The first order of business, if only so that I could handle the clinging pieces of wood and Vulcanite, was to clean the outside. I did this with a couple of white cotton gun cleaner cloths and purified water, and while I was at it applied 1800 and 2400 micromesh. Wetting the micromesh pads, I was able to remove all of the char on the rim. The stummel had so many scratches and dings that I doubted the micromesh would be enough, but the immediate difference was striking.Brew12

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Brew14 Next I chose a fixed, 21mm reamer, 320-grit and 500-grit paper for the chamber, and seeing I was correct about the scratches on the stummel, I tried super fine steel wool, the same sandpaper and steel wool again to work away more of the blemishes. This was an ongoing process.Brew15

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Brew21 An OxiClean bath, for the first time in my experience, was enough to work out all of the mess inside the bit air hole, which, judging from the used, sudsy, murky water, had been somewhat bad.Brew22 I used 320 paper followed by the full gamut of micromesh on the bit, and thought I was done.Brew23 Now, I didn’t actually notice the problem at this stage, but for the sake of uniformity I’ll add it here. In fact, only after I had completed the remainder of the restoration did I notice the turn of the bit was off. Examining the tenon end of the bit, which should have been flat, I saw it had a chip that I hoped – notice I don’t say thought – I could remedy with a little sanding. Luckily I stopped that madness before it was too late. Yes, I’ve utterly destroyed a few bits in my short experience with the treacherous objects, and I’ve learned my lesson! Turning to Black Super Glue, I dabbed a little over the weak spot and let it sit overnight.Brew24 Staining the stummel with Lincoln medium brown boot stain (which is really pretty dark), I flamed it, set it aside to cool, and buffed lightly with 4000 and 6000 micromesh.Brew25

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Brew28 The next day, with the stummel already buffed on the wheels, I had to re-do the entire bit to remove scratches left from my aborted attempt to sand down the lip, and to even out the Black Super Glue. I also heated the tenon, threw a cotton rag over it and clamped it with my grip pliers and turned. It was close, but no cigar, so I repeated the process with less force, and the bit was flush with the shank.

Well, now I looked the two pieces over and was happy with the bit, but there were still fine lines on the wood that I didn’t care for at all. And so, not liking the idea, I used 1800 micromesh to smooth it out, then had to re-buff with white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba, and the clean wheel between each.  That did the trick.Brew29

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Brew34 CONCLUSION
The most difficult part of this task, surprisingly, was the bit, from which, after bringing it to a high shine the first time, I didn’t expect any further problems. It’s taken some time, but I’m finally getting the hang of bits. The easy part of the restore was making the sweet little billiard look better than I expect it ever did out of the factory in Italy, with everyone involved in its creation doing his best to hide the fact!

Giving a Brewster Round Top Billiard a Face Lift


Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted a pipe bowl from a friend in exchange for some work on his Peterson. He had no idea of the brand or maker but thought I could have some fun with it. I dug it out of the refurb bin the other evening and began to work on it. I would need to clean it up and then restem it in the process as it did not come with a stem. It was stamped Brewster over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank with no other identifying stamping.
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The finish seemed to be a very heavy lacquer that was cloudy with age. The shape was very interesting to me – a billiard like shape with a crowned rim, rounded and quite elevated. I like the looks of it. It is a small pipe – group 2 sized. There were a lot of putty fills on both sides of the bowl, the shank and the rim that would definitely show up once the lacquer finish was removed.
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The bowl was in great shape with a light build up of cake that was the right thickness. There was no heavy smell of aromatics clinging to the pipe. The shank was clean and the metal insert in the mortise was also clean and in good shape. The thread pattern and the look of the metal fitment looked exactly like a Dr. Grabow set up.
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I had an old Dr Grabow stem here that was missing the stinger apparatus but the threaded tenon was in working order. I took it from the can of stems I have and gave it a try on the shank. It threaded in perfectly. It was overturned but it fit. This added some objective evidence to my assumption that this pipe had some connection to Dr. Grabow.
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Back Story of Brewster Pipes (If you get bogged down in the history you can skip ahead to the section on the refurbishing process).

At that point in the process I slowed down the cleanup and went to the computer. I was hooked and wanted to see what I could find out about the Dr. Grabow connection to Brewster, if there was one. I wanted to know who made the pipe so I did some research on the web and in some of my books to see what I could find out about the brand. From the book Who Made that Pipe I learned that the brand was Italian made followed by the words unknown maker. I looked on Pipedia and there found much the same information – Italian made followed by question marks as to the maker. After working the web with Google and other search engines the most I could find out was that slight information – the pipe was an export brand of an unknown Italian company.

I decided to take a different tack. I found the Grabow Company site online and wrote an email to their information centre seeking information on the brand. I decided to follow-up on my hunch from the stamping and the metal insert in the shank that somehow this pipe was related to Dr. Grabow pipes. I had no clue how but it certainly had the signs so I went to the Dr. Grabow forum on-line and posted my questions http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/index.php . I also did some reading on the forum of back posts and found one series of posts on the brand. I read the following and immediately had more questions. The Grabow connection was not clear but I had found that the pipe may have been a promotional item. Here is the quote that gave me the information”

“A couple months back, I scored a Brewster off eBay for five bucks. Research on this forum and the wild, untamed internet tells me the Brewster pipes were all made in one batch in 1964 as a promotional item for Sir Walter Raleigh.”

Last evening while relaxing, my iPhone vibrated notifying me of a new email. I picked up the phone and saw that I had a response to the questions that I had posted on the forum. Dave Whitney, author of the book on refurbishing called Old Briar, had responded to my request for information. What he sent me was extremely helpful and a true goldmine of information. His answer affirmed the Grabow connection and gave critical information that I had not been able to find anywhere. I have included that information in part below.

Dave Whitney: Here’s what I have from my accumulated notes on Brewster – much of it looks like it came off this forum, ted/td being one of the early ones to help build this forum and a former Sparta CEO:

All the Brewsters were “made” in about 64’… Brewster… is probably from Fratelli Rossi from 64’… Ted, an older pipe smoker than me, suggested the Brewster pipes are comparable to the Willard pipes, and that Brewsters were often sold either with tobacco, or in a coupon offer. For example Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco.

Further information came from Dr. B… I think (in my feeble state of mind, after today) that Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98. We also included a bunch of Mastercraft from F. Rossi at the same price……..Rossi pipes are another story……Remind me of the “sticky lacquer” and I’ll tell it…….ted

Mastercraft was founded by Bernard Hochstein, an Orthodox Jew. Old, White Haired, Santa Claus looking (still alive at 96, last time I knew), and he was REKNOWNED for his ability to “strong arm” the European pipe suppliers into selling pipes to M/C at a bargain. Probably the best (never say nothing) negotiator that I’ve ever met. He sold a business (Mastercraft) to UST for 6 million in STOCK. He’s probably worth 60 million today. Mr. Hochstein could negotiate a peace in the Middle East in a very few days, and talk all parties outta’ their pants in the process.

OK, so Mr H “rapes” the Italian suppliers even up till 1964 when the Surgeon General’s (SG) report comes out. As it turns out, “rape” works both ways. A supplier, Fratelli Rossi, (still in business) took an order in 1963 for over 1 million pipes at 1/2 dollar (US) per pipe. When the SG’s report comes out, Rossi has filled a small part of the order for Hochstein, and had orders for a great many more pipes than Hochstein ordered. Rossi decided to experiment with his lacquer …Whose pipes did he experiment on? Hochsteins.

When I started at Mastercraft we had 1215 cartons of pipes from Rossi…Mastercraft Standard….72 dozen per carton, with lacquer so “tacky” that if you held the pipe as if you were smoking it, you’d have to “shake” it out of your hand. Rossi left out the curing agent. Ever touched wet paint?……..After 10 years they were still STICKY…..after 20 years, they were still STICKY.

We fought these SOB’s for years, when finally Luther Marlow (you’ll see topics about him) concluded that we could re-spray them with the Grabow lacquer and sell em’. We did, and we did. Through a “drive” by the UST salesforce, we sold every one. So if you have a Mastercraft Standard with what looks to be “heavy” lacquer, you are probably right.

Hussar…..Rossi also made Brewster. Better lacquer job though… Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98.

When I started with Mastercraft in the early 70’s we had over 400 cartons of pipes from Hully. Each carton contained 60 to 80 dozen, most of which were stamped Brewster or Stetson and these had a base cost (from the 60’s or earlier) of $2.80 /dz. Some of the smaller pipes, called Southern Assortment were $1.90 / dz. May be partly to blame for them going out of business.

That was very helpful information on the brand. It gave a definitive date and origin to the pipe. The Italian connection was also clear. The Dr. Grabow link was also clear in Dave’s answer. Now I wanted to know something about maker, Rossi. Dave kindly included that information in his answer as well. It is as follows:

From approximately 1946 up to the end, Ferdinando Rossi II, a grandchild of the founder, headed the company. But after World War II the world of the pipe changed dramatically. Especially in Italy, where those big pipe factories mainly turned out pipes for the lower priced segments of the international mass markets. The demand for these pipes shrunk considerably as more and more smokers turned to cigarettes. Rossi got into this vortex as well. Little by little the number of pipes produced sank. This evolution was accelerated by the upcoming fame of pipes from Denmark. As well, new Italian brands established after the war like Castello, Brebbia or little later Savinelli operated cleverer and thus were more successful.

So the decline went on through the 1960’s and 1970’s, even though Rossi offered more than 800 possible shapes in dozens of lines and uncounted finishes. Besides the completely machine made pipes there were also some lines of semi-freehands and even quite considerable freehands were made. But all these efforts could not stop the fall anyway. Due to increasing financial difficulties Rossi closed down in 1985, just one year before the 100th anniversary.

In the years around 1870 and still later the bulk of Italian pipes was made by time taking and laboriously manual work. Mainly based on families who sold their pipes to travelling purchasers handing them on to some wholesaler. Most pipes were still made of box or olive wood.

Ferdinando Rossi from Milan was one of the most important wholesalers for tobacco related goods of northern Italy. When he attended one of his pipe suppliers in Saint-Claude in 1880 he got hooked on the idea to establish this manner of industrialised briar pipe production in Italy as well. Rossi went abroad several times to buy the hardware here and there because the special features of machines for pipemaking were secrets – well kept by the French in those days. Many machines and tools had to be modified on Rossi’s defaults.

[From the Catalogue “La Regina della Pipa” (1896)] He acquired a large area of land in Barasso in the province of Varese and founded the Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi in 1886. For sure there was no lack of skilled workers and Rossi personally recruited 30 craftsmen of different occupations from the environment to get started. After a few years the enterprise had developed well and entered into export trades. In 1892 e.g. the ledgers registered the first pipes shipped to Brazil.

One reason of success was the ultramodern conception of the factory and its equipment at the given time. To give an example: a system of canals invented by Rossi drove water to turbines propelling downstream generators, which supplied the entire machinery with electricity. Also lighting and heating were already electrically operated.

In the first years after 1900 Rossi grew steadily and became one of the ten biggest pipe manufacturers of the world. Rossi’s rapid ascent produced further foundations of pipemaking firms in the area.

I love finding out the old company histories of the pipes that I refurbish. I find that it gives a colour and flavour to the pipe I hold in my hands and rework. It gives me the back story on the pipe and adds another dimension to the work of refurbishing. I have included it here for those who enjoy the same kind of history.

The Refurbishing Process (for those of you who have skipped ahead to see the work here is where it begins.)

I screwed the old Grabow stem into the mortise fitment and found that it was overturned. I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon in the stem to loosen the glue. I put the stem back in place and tried to turn it straight, to clock it, but it was not loose enough. I reheated and retried until it was loose. I then turned the stem into place and aligned it with the bowl. I then cooled it under cool running water to set the glue. From the photos below it can be seen that the diameter of the stem was off. In looking at it from the tenon end it was also not round. The bottom part of the stem and the sides were wider than the top portion.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to decrease the diameter but soon grew tired of hand sanding and decided to give myself a head start on the work. I used a Dremel with the sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite of the stem. I then brought it back to the work table and sanded the shank to make the transition between the shank and the stem smooth and the bowl to remove the lacquer finish.
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Once I had removed the finish I could see that the number and the size and shape of the fills would make them hard to blend into the new stain. I made a decision to rusticate the bowl at that point in the process. I used the modified Philips screw driver to rusticate the bowl.
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With the bowl rustication finished and the stem fit finished I set up my heat gun and heated the stem to take out the bend. This particular Brewster shape had a straight stem. I held it above the heat gun until the vulcanite softened and the stem began to straighten on its own.
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Once it was straight I set the shape by putting it under running water. The straightened stem can be seen in the photo below.
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I took the pipe back to my work table and went over the surface with a brass bristle brush to knock off the rough spots on the surface of the bowl. I also buffed it with Tripoli to smooth it out. I took the photos below to show the new look of the Brewster. The stem and the rustication looked good to me. The smooth rim and the patch with the stamping would look good once the pipe was restained.
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I decided to give the pipe a contrast stain. For the bottom coat I used a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it with a cotton swab and flamed it. I repeated the process until the stain had covered the bowl evenly. The dark brown went deep into the crevices of the rustication.
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For the topcoat of stain I chose an oxblood aniline stain. I rubbed it onto the high points of the rustication with a cotton pad. My plan was to leave the dark brown in the crevices and the oxblood on the high points. I flamed the stain and then buffed the pipe with Tripoli.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to finish the shaping and then used medium and fine grit sanding sponges to removes the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I followed that up by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry buffed the stem with White Diamond.
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I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the whole pipe with White Diamond. I then lightly buffed the bowl and buffed the stem with carnauba wax. I wanted to preserve the vulcanite and give it a shine. I also wanted to give a shine to the high points of the rustication on the bowl and also polish the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the pictures below. The old Brewster, with all of its history since 1964, is ready to enter a new phase of its own personal history. The face lift I gave it brings it to a new place. It is my hope that this old timer will give someone a great smoke and endure beyond me. That, after all, is what refurbishing work is all about – extending the life of the old pipes and delivering them intact to the next generation of pipemen.
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