Tag Archives: Colossus Pipe Factory French Briar Pipe

Another Rare Find – an Unsmoked C.P.F. (Colossus Pipe Factory) Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is another interesting piece of pipe history that comes from the bag of old unsmoked and lightly smoked pipes that I have been working on intermittently. It is a straight Billiard. The bowl is NOS and unsmoked. The briar of the bowl is nicked and chipped from being shuffled through the lives and boxes of a lot of people over the years. There is a nickel band on the shank that is corroded and loose. There do not appear to be any stampings on the nickel of the band. The stem is made of a butterscotch coloured material that appears to be Amber but is not. I believe it an early acrylic called Amberoid. It has a threaded bone tenon and is in really good shape. The stem is by far the part of the pipe that is in the best condition.A short description would be that it is an unsmoked Billiard with a nickel band and an Amberoid stem that is connected to the shank with a bone tenon. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads C.P.F. in an oval with the word French arced above the oval and Briar arced below the oval. I have a collection of C.P.F. pipes here that I have worked to build up over the years in all different sizes and shapes as well as a variety of materials. This is a NOS/ unsmoked pipe that will fit well into that collection. I wrote a blog a few years ago on the brand that gives a clear history and defines the meaning of the C.P.F. stamp. Here is the link to the blog and a pertinent quote that I am including below.


From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. 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.

This unsmoked C.P.F. is another real beauty that I think may be a bit older than the previous NOS C.P.F. diamond shank Bent Billiard that I worked on. The rim top is clean but dusty and the finish obscures the grain that is on the bowl and shank. There are a lot of nicks and dents in the briar of the bowl sides. The gold stamping is clear and readable. The nickel band is corroded and does not have any marking. The stem is a Butterscotch coloured Amberoid (an early acrylic that was made to look like amber). There is some nicks and chipping in the surface but no tooth marks. It has an orific button (round airhole) on the end of the button. I took some photos of the pipe to show the condition when we received it. It was dusty, dirty and had some grime worked into the surface of the briar from sitting unused in someone’s collection.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top and the stem to show their condition. You can see the drilling is centered in the bottom of the bowl You can also see the clean briar of the bowl sides. The stem looks very good. You can also see the heavy corrosion on the nickel shank band.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see that it is faint but readable.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the beautiful proportions of this nice little pipe. I think it will be quite stunning once it is restored.I removed the corroded band from the shank and wiped down the bowl with isopropyl alcohol to remove the old varnish coat. I repeated the process until it was removed and I could clearly see the grain around the bowl and shank as well as the many nicks and dings in the briar. I filled in the many deep cuts in the surface of the briar with clear CA glue. I was careful to not over fill them as I wanted to be able to polish them out with the micromesh sanding pads.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to check and make sure there was progress. By the end the bowl was taking on a natural shine and the grain really stood out. I paused the polishing to touch up the light area that had appeared where the corroded band had been. I used a Mahogany and a Cherry stain pen to combine to match the rest of the bowl and shank. Once it was finished I touched up the gold stamping on the left side of the shank with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick and rubbed it off with a cotton pad. I went back and finished polishing the bowl and shank with the final three micromesh pads – 6000-120000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and shank down between each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to look very good. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes, then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out on the briar. Now it was time to deal with the band/ferrule. I cleaned off some of the oxidation and corrosion. It was badly pitted so it needed to be replaced. I had an older style polished brass band that would work. I pressed it onto the shank. I took photos of the new look of the pipe once it was in place on the shank end. I like the looks of the pipe now. I polished out the scratches in the surface of the Amberoid with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. The more I polished the stem the more I could smell the acrylic like odor of the stem material. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil as a finishing touch. I really enjoyed refurbishing this old C.P.F. French Briar Straight Billiard because I love the final touches that make it sing. I put the bowl and stem back together to have a look at the whole with the newly fit band on the shank. I carefully buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the lacy shank band and the Butterscotch coloured Amberoid stem. This richly finished Billiard is light weight and it is clean and ready load up with my favourite tobacco (if I decide to smoke this 100+ year old unsmoked pipe). Have a look at it in the photos below. As noted above, Its measurements are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 33 grams/1.16oz. This is one is still a question mark for me. I may well add it to the other C.P.F. pipes in my personal collection of the brand as it is a unique addition. Time will tell. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

A Small C.P.F. French Briar Horn captured my attention

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on from the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana is another C.P.F. French Briar. This one is a classic horn shape with a chubby shank and a horn stem. It is delicate in terms of size (4 inches long and 1 ½ inches tall) but chunky feeling at the same time. Like the other banded pipes in this lot the band on the shank is loose and has turned so that the faux hall marks are on the other side. The finish is very dirty and the rim is damaged around the inner and outer edges. The horn stem is worn and there is tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The stem is overturned in the shank. The photos below show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. If you would like to read about some of the others I have restored I have written about them in individual blogs. They include a CPF horn stem bulldog, a CPF French Briar bent billiard, a CPF Remington French Briar military mount billiard and a CPF French Briar Rhodesian. Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s.Jeff took the above photos as well as the photos that follow to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up. This sad little Horn comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find – the late 1880s – early 1890s. The finish was worn dirty but the grain underneath showed promise. There one large sandpit on the bottom left side of the bowl toward the front. The rim of the bowl and top edge of the pipe were in rough shape. The outer edge had been beat up pretty good by someone knocking their pipe out against something hard (if you are tempted to knock out your pipe on a railing or a garden rock please think twice before you do so). The inner edge of the rim appeared to be out of round and carved up by the same person who had used a knife to ream the others in this lot. There was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and the lava from the bowl overflowed onto the damaged top of the rim. The band on the shank end was oxidized and the stamping on it was almost illegible. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top to show how bad it looked before he started the cleanup. The thick cake and lava overflow on the rim filled in a lot of the damage. The full extent of the damage would be revealed once the cake was removed and the lava was cleaned.The next photos show the condition of the bowl sides and the flaking finish. The damage on the rim edge also can be seen in the pictures. The third picture shows the sandpit on the bottom left side of the bowl. You can also see the potential in the lovely grain that is peeking through the grime and flakes of old finish peeling off. The stamping on the left side of the shank is readable – it has the C.P.F. logo in an oval with the words French Briar above and below the oval. The stamping on Briar is fainter than the rest of the stamping. The silver band on the shank has the faux hallmark stamps that I have come to associate with C.P.F. pipes. The horn stem had some great looking striations and colour underneath the wear and tear. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both the top and underside at the button. I am very spoiled due to the excellent cleanup work that my brother Jeff does on these old pipes before I ever get them here in Vancouver. He has a pattern to his work and it rarely varies. Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe reaming the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidying up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and the oil soap. He scrubbed the band and stem at the same time to clean it. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the sandpit on the lower left side. You can see the damage along the inner and out edges of the rim and the size and location of the sandpit in the photos. The general condition of the briar is rough though the grain patterns are promising.The horn stem is dry and lacklustre but it seems to be solid. There was no delamination happening along the sides or length of the stem and the tooth marks and chatter at the button were relatively minor. This horn stem was in the best condition of all of the horn stems I have worked on in this lot from Montana. The stem was overturned to the right due to wear on the mortise and the threaded bone tenon.I repaired the sandpit with a few drops of super glue and let it dry. Once the glue had dried I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and minimize the damage to inside and outside edges of the rim. I did not have to take off too much so I checked as I worked over the rim. Once I had the rim smooth I stopped sanding and wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to clean off the dust from the surface. I filled in the nicks around the outer edges of the bowl with clear super glue. I carefully over filled the spots around the rim so that I could sand it smooth and leave a smooth flow to the rim. I sprayed the repairs with an accelerator so that I could sand it sooner. The next photos show the repair process and the end results.I gently topped the rim again on the topping board to smooth out the repairs on the rim top and sanded the outer edge of the bowl and inner edge of the bowl with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the excess repair material and smooth out the rim edges on both the inside and outside. The overall look was far better than when I started the restoration and it was minimally intrusive.I polished the band with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the tarnish and corrosion (I would use the other grits of micromesh pads later in the process to polish the band). Underneath the film and corrosion the band was gold in tint just like the other C.P.F. pipes that I have been restoring. I coated the shank end with white all-purpose glue and pressed the band in place. I aligned the faux hallmarks with the stamping on the shank. I wiped down the glue that squeezed out around the edge of the band before it dried so that it would not hamper staining the shank end when I was ready.I carefully heated the bone tenon with a Bic lighter, moving the flame constantly and not letting it get to hot. My purpose was to loosen the tenon and turn the stem straight once again. I repeated it several times and was able to get quite a bit of turn on the stem but not enough. I backed it off and let the glue in the stem harden again. I would need to come up with another method to address the worn threads in the mortise and on the tenon.I set the stem aside for a bit and turned my attention to polishing the briar in anticipation of staining it. I went through the full range of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad between pads. The pictures show the way the polishing brings the grain out on the bowl. I needed to stain it to blend the repairs into the rest of the bowl surface. The trick would be to stain it with light enough colour to highlight the grain and not mute it. I mixed 1 part of dark brown aniline stain with about 3 parts of isopropyl alcohol to make a medium brown wash for the bowl. I stirred it to get a good mix. I heated the briar and applied the mixture to the bowl. I flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl.Once the stain dried I wiped it down with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the excess and make it more transparent. I still found that the colour was too dark so I decided to polish it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the finish I had sanded free. I touched up the shallow gold stamping with Rub’n Buff European Gold using a cotton swab. I rubbed of the excess with a cotton pad. I finished polishing the bowl by dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with alcohol after each pad to clean it. The pictures tell the story of the process and the end. With the bowl finished it was time to work on the stem. I sanded the tooth marks out and smoothed the flow of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. After the last pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I painted the tenon with clear fingernail polish to build up the threads. I layered it on until the threads sat well in the mortise. I put the stem on the shank and it lined properly. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches in those surfaces. I buffed the brass coloured band with Blue Diamond as well. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the aged briar and the horn. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful piece of pipe history and I only wish it could tell its story so I could know a bit of its travels. Until such a time that pipes can talk I am left to my own imagination. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.