Tag Archives: Carey Magic Inch Patent Pipe

Carey Magic Inch Freehand Briar Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

In the batch of pipes my brother purchased from an antique shop in Montana for me to clean up was the pipe pictured in the photo below – on its side on the pipe rack on the left of the photo bearing a $19 price tag. Turns out it is a Carey Magic Inch Freehand Pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank: Free Hand over Carey over Magic Inch. Underneath that is stamped a PAT. No. 3267941. On the right side it is stamped: Mediterranean over Briar Israel. The stem has three horizontal vents on the top and on the underside of the stem. There is a logo – a C in a box on the top of the stem behind the vents.Carey1 I did some research on the “Magic Inch” System and found out that it has been a Carey’s tradition for over 50 years. On their website they say that they have sold over 1,000,000 pipes. They describe the “Magic Inch” as: “an air chamber inserted between the imported briar bowl and the vented mouthpiece which allows cool outside air to enter and mix with the warm tobacco smoke inside the “Magic Inch” chamber. Tobacco tars, oils and moisture, are squeezed out of the smoke. The residue drops to the bottom of the chamber and is absorbed by the Papyrate sleeve.” http://www.eacarey.com/magicinchinfo.html

They provide the following diagram on their website and I have included it here to show the unique system.Carey2 I found a second diagram on the English Carey website. http://www.eacarey.co.uk/2010/10/the-carey-magic-inch/

I quote from their site as it gives some interesting history on the system: “A Carey pipe looks better and feels better than any ordinary pipe. It also smokes like no other pipe you’ve ever known, and that’s mostly thanks to the patented ‘Magic Inch’, an invention that revolutionised pipe smoking. Designed and patented by EA Carey in 1948 it was the result of a dedicated pipe smoker seeking a cooler, drier smoke whilst not detracting from the fulsome flavour of choice tobaccos. After years of research and the discarding of many ‘good ideas’ Carey settled on the basic design of the system and set about refining that design into the simple but highly effective device that is the basis of Carey Magic Inch pipes over 60 years later. Even today, more than 30 years after it was first introduced into Europe and particularly the UK, we have many seasoned pipesmokers who are still discovering the amazing difference and improvement in smoking pleasure they obtain from the Magic Inch system. It is not a trap or filter or other such sludge forming gadget. In fact, like all great discoveries and inventions, the secret is simple. By cooling, condensing and evaporating moisture with every puff, it prevents the tar, sludge, bite and bitterness that you may find in other pipes, ever reaching your mouth.”

They go on to describe the system in a classically English way: “The system has been designed to allow a precise amount of outside air into each puff of smoke. Unique moisture ports then dissipate wetness, tar and nicotine into the 2 ply Papyrate sleeve, protecting the smoker from unwanted materials. The Papyrate itself provides excellent absorbency for dryer smoking and increased durability. Subsequently the Magic Inch chamber releases moisture through evaporation during resting periods between smokes. Neither a filter nor a standard ‘push bit’, a true innovation.”Carey3 All Carey Magic Inch pipes are made from top quality Mediterranean briar designed, crafted and inspected by experts who take pride in their craft.

With this background information I started to work Carey Magic Inch Freehand that my brother had picked up for me. The bowl was quite clean on the inside – a light cake had formed. The rim had some darkening but was also very clean. The carved patterns on the pipe were very similar to some of the Alpha pipes that also had similar Frankenstein-like stitches on the worm trails carved into the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank. I would not be surprised if it was actually carved in the old Alpha Pipe Factory in Israel. The finish on the pipe was in very good shape and did not need to have anything done to it but clean it. The shank bears the stamping of Israel on the right side. The shape is a block/poker shape that never really was my cup of tea. I always look at them and feel like the carver stopped somewhere along the way and never finished carving the pipe. The rustication on the rim matched that on the shank end. The stem was typical Carey plastic and would be hard to work on. It had tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides of the stem and some tooth marks that also went onto the button itself.Carey4



Carey7 The next close up photos show the rim and the cake in the bowl as well as the stamping on the sides of the shank.Carey8


Carey10 I took the stem off the pipe to get a picture of the Carey Magic Inch system. The stem sits over a mortise insert with a one inch long perforated tube that extends into the stem when it is in place on the shank.Carey11 The stem was dirty on the inside and the tooth chatter and dents marred the top and bottom sides near the button.Carey13

Carey12 I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with lukewarm water. I dried off the bowl exterior with a soft cloth.Carey14




Carey18 I scrubbed out the stem and the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the pipe cleaners and swabs came out clean.Carey19 I find the plastic material used on these stems to be a challenge to clean up and remove the damaged areas. Once it is sanded all of the polishing has to be done by hand. The heat of the buffer pads can seriously damage the stem by melting it. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage. There was one spot on the top of the stem near the button that needed to be patched with clear super glue. It was a deep tooth mark that no amount of sanding would remove.Carey20

Carey21 When the patch cured I sanded it with the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out with the surface of the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches.Carey22 Normally I wet sand the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads but with this material it only gets muddy and makes a mess. I used some Obsidian Oil to rub down the stem between each pad and sanded it until the scratches began to disappear. I continue the process with 3200-4000 grit pads with the oil between each pad giving me some bite on the plastic stem. I forgot to take a picture of this step (I had already spent over 1 ½ hours on the stem at this point). I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and the oil. When I had finished I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Carey23

Carey24 I hand waxed the bowl and the stem with Conservators wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I finished by buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, restored and ready for whoever wishes to purchase it from me. It is not my style of pipe but I am sure it will make some pipe man very happy. Just email me if you are interested and make me an offer at slaug@uniserve.com Thanks for looking.Carey25




Conjuring a Makeover for a Carey Magic Inch

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
― Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), French Impressionist painter

I suspect there is some aspect of my basic personality that is incapable, to a degree, of not admiring the tenacity alone required to survive 67-years – and still going – in the admirable pursuit of providing affordable smoking pipes. Remember, this is an industry that has seen all manner of fly-by-night systems for dissipating the high heat of the all-important tobacco that has an inherent tendency to become moist and therefore brackish in the process of flowing through the basic designs of all pipes.

Notwithstanding the relative quality of pipes that evolve based on the periodic new patents from the ever-pioneering designers at E.A. Carey, which also owns the Duncan Hill Aerosphere brand, the system’s section that comprises the so-called “Magic Inch” has changed little since 1948, when the first billiard version was created and marketed. The system involves five elements: 1-2) the first two in the double-pronged tenon, the thin, hollow end of which attaches to the plastic bit and the typical part that slides into the shank; 3) the thin bit insert with six small drilled holes, two each on the top and bottom (when properly inserted) and one each on either side; 4) the newer Papyrate II sleeve (two-ply) – made of very thin, wet slices, from the roots of an aquatic plant, that are pressed together and dried – that fits snugly over the holes of the bit insert, and 5) six horizontal slits in the shank end of the bit, three on the top and three on the bottom. The photos of the bit show the used, brownish papyrate sleeve that came with the original pipe.Carey1




Carey5 Back some months when I was snatching up pipe lots online, I bought one with 10 sundry examples of the craft, including a few nice finds such as a Kaywoodie Filter Plus metal pipe from the late 1950s, a Jobey Extra, a nice glazed clay pipe and others, with this Magic Inch among them.Carey6 I put all of these in a small box “for later,” except for the beautiful unknown clay billiard that I cleaned up and added new cork in the shank with a hole drilled to fit the screw-in tenon attached to the acrylic stem, for my own collection.

By the way, not everyone knows that Carey does not only make Magic Inch pipes. Here are a few of the company’s representative standard briar pipes.Carey7 But this blog concerns the vintage Magic Inch billiard, U.S. Patent №. 3,267,941 granted in 1966, shown in the lot above three rows down on the right. A few years ago, I owned, and for a while enjoyed, another Magic Inch, and it wasn’t – well, bad. But first, I have a few comments regarding Carey’s rather imaginative advertising.

Numerical data and the manifold methods of collection, arrangement and interpretation of them for publication as fact by the complex use of statistics in almost every facet of society – including but by no means limited to governmental and other political concerns, businesses and the news media – can be misleading at best and downright manipulative at worst.

Take, for example, the E.A. Carey Smokeshop claim [http://www.eacarey.com/ pipes.html] that it has sold more than one million of its Magic Inch pipes since 1948. That sounds impressive, and suggests that Carey’s pipes are superior to others. But that total averages to 15,152 pipes (rounded up, through 2014) per year. Then again, Carey changes the number of Magic Inch pipes sold in the same period to a vague “hundreds of thousands” [http://www.eacarey .com/magicinchinfo.html]. Allowing for hundreds of thousands to be a maximum of 200,000 pipes, which quite likely is stretching it, the average drops to 3,030. Somehow, I doubt that either annual sales figure engenders any impulse among the world’s other pipe makers to compete with the folks at the venerable Carey Smokeshop online, both in the U.K. [http://www.eacarey. co.uk/] and U.S.

Now, to return to the real subject matter, the purpose of this particular blog is to show how a pipe with a singular lack of attractive qualities can be transformed into something nicer.Carey8


After removing and separating the bit and two-sided tenon, throwing away the old brown papyrate sleeve, on an impulse, I decided to give the old rusticated briar girl an Everclear soak. For some reason, this process took quite a while – say six hours. At any rate, when the old finish was stripped and the wood dried, I began a hand-buff with super fine steel wool followed by a progression of micromesh pads from 1500-3600.

I turned a reamer a few times in the chamber, followed by sanding with 200-grit and 320, and the chamber was almost good to go. Then I attached a suitable stem and retorted the shank and chamber.Carey11





Carey16 Thinking the pipe, which was dreary in the beginning, deserved something more distinctive and in keeping with its natural reddish color, I chose maroon boot stain. After the quick application and flaming, I rubbed the wood gently with 3200 micromesh.Carey17





Carey22 To clean the hollow plastic bit and tenon, I diluted – and I mean heavily – a little Everclear with a lot of water. I like to think of this as the Reverse Julia Childs Approach. The popular cook once said, “I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” From what I recall of watching Julia in the studio kitchen on TV, I am not surprised that she seemed to have forgotten the apparent equal measures of wine expended in the food and down the hatch. Anyway, I bent a soft pipe cleaner in half and dipped it in the comparatively wimpy solution, which is like comparing wine to Moonshine, and inserted the folded end in the stem, turning it several times and finding it needed replacing. And so I repeated the action, but giving the inner bit the old in-and-out, scrubbing its sides. Only the slightest amount of grime came out on the second run, and I used the same cleaner to work through the slits on the top and bottom. I used a third, dry cleaner to finish.

The outer bit required very little work with one micromesh pad, although I forget the grade, to make it shine. Using a white china marker, I filled in the small, long-empty square with a three-sided C in the middle, forming all but one line of a second square. Thanks to a generous gift of a handful of papyrate sleeves from my good friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, I was able to complete the tenon for ultimate placement into the shank.

All that was left to do was buff the wood on the electric wheels, using white Tripoli and White Diamond, with quick runs on the clean wheel after each. At last, with a finger, I applied a thin, even coat of Halcyon II, and after letting the briar sit for 10-15 minutes, buffed it with the clean wheel.Carey23






Love ’em, hate ’em or really don’t give a hoot either way, the Carey Magic Inch has secured its place in tobacco pipe history, as well as giving many a smoker a start in the pleasures derived from fine tobaccos. And as far as I’m concerned, the Carey system works better than most far more complicated attempts.

Imagine, if you will, a special place in the Twilight Zone – an area so horrific only the most heinous attempts at pipe cooling ever make it there. Take, for example, the following specimen, a Jenkins, which, with its screw designed to hang while smoking like a broken appendage from the underbelly of the shank at a point just before the bowl, may never find its way back.Carey30