Tag Archives: Comoys Selected Straight Grain pipes

Wow what amazing grain on this tired looking Selected Straight Grain Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is one that neither Jeff nor I remember picking up. It could have come to us through a trade for work on a pipe or it could have come from one of an earlier pipe hunts that either Jeff or I did. Either way, the long and short of it is that this is another pipe that we have no idea how it came into our hands. It is stamped on the left topside of the shank and reads faintly Selected[ arched over] Straight [over] Grain underneath that. The rest of the stamping is lost to overzealous buffing. While I was trying to figure out the stamping on it and finally was able to read the Selected  Straight Grain stamp I remember that I had worked on several with the same stamp in the past and had come understand that they were Comoy’s made pipes. The shape definitely looks like a Comoy’s Canadian shape. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the rim top and inner edge. The rim top and edges were quite damaged with nicks, dents, darkening and burn marks. The vulcanite tape stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.  I took a photo of the top left side of the shank to try to capture the stamping that was there. It is too faint to pick up with my camera.I found a photo of the same shank stamp when I did a google search for Selected Straight Grain pipes. It perfectly matches the one that is barely visible on the pipe that I am working on now. It is faint but it is identical to that in the photo to the left.

I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the parts of the pipe to give a sense of the beauty of the grain on this pipe.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to double check the connection that my brain had made when I made out the stamping. I turned to a blog that I had written on the restoration of another Selected Straight Grain pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/selected-straight-grain-pipes/). This is what I found.

…I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.

I decided to begin my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. Once I had finished I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to rework the inner edge of bowl. It took some time but I was able to bring it back to a pretty clean condition.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I carefully avoided damaging the already faint stamping.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It looks quite nice at this point.  With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I used the pads to remove the tooth marks on the stem on both sides near the button. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I was just getting ready to post the final photos of the restored pipe when my daughter’s dog, Frankie came and climbed up on the desk top and laid down in front of me with his head on my arm. He has taken it upon himself to be my buddy when I am working on pipes.

With Frankie’s help I am posting these last photos of the pipe. This beautifully grained Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich medium brown coloured stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 26grams/.92oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. 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 pipeman or woman.



Cleaning up a Beautiful Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

A few months back I sold a nice older Wally Frank pipe to a fellow named Jim in the South Eastern US. Recently he called to tell me about a group of six pipes that he purchased on one of his own pipe hunts. He wanted to know if I could help him identifying what he had found. There were two older Kaywoodies (a bent meerschaum lined billiard and a  Super Grain Zulu), a Selected Straight Grain bent billiard, a GBD Sauvage Bulldog, a Henley Club Apple (made by Sasieni), and the last one a Medico Crest Prince.

In our conversation he told me he was going to box up the lot and mail them to me to have a look. When they arrived he said we could talk and make an arrangement regarding the pipes that he decided to have restored. But he wanted my opinion on the others as well. The box arrived last week and I opened it to have a good look at what Jim had sent to me. I went through them making notes on what I saw regarding the condition of each pipe. I sent Jim my notes on the pipes and he sent back the two pipes that he wanted me to work on for him in the lot – the first one was a large Bent Selected Straight Grain Billiard and the second was the Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu. We fired several emails back and forth talking about the pipes and the decision was made. I would restore the two pipes for him.

I decided to work larger of the two pipes first. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Selected arched over Straight and Grain underneath that. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the standard circular COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp – Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 43. Both the COM stamp and the shape number led me to believe this was a Comoy’s made pipe but I was not certain at this point in the process. The shape is a half bent billiard. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain underneath the grime.

The pipe was larger than I expected when Jim and I spoke and was a pretty nice looking piece of briar. There were a couple of issues with the bowl. There were some small sand pits on the bottom of the bowl and shank. There was a large flaw that looked like an X at the junction of the bowl and the shank on the left side near the top of the shank. The bowl had a thick cake in it and there were actually cobwebs in the bowl. The rim had a light coat of tars and lava that overflowed onto the beveled surface of the inner edge of the rim. There was a deep gouge on the rim top on the right side toward the back of the bowl. The finish was spotty and worn with shiny spots and scratches on the shank and on parts of the bowl sides. The stem was lightly oxidized and sported a lot of tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks. The stem did not fit tight against the shank with a small gap at the top that told me that the tenon was slightly bent.

I took a series of photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived. The next photo show the top of the rim, the darkened and lava encrusted beveled inner edge, the thick cake and the cobwebs deep inside the bowl. You can also see the gouge on the right side of the rim top at the 1 o’clock position in the photo below. I have circled it in red for ease of reference. The pipe certainly had great bones but it was in dire need of a cleanup so that it could be passed on in the pipeman’s trust. This was going to be a fun pipe to work on.I took photos of the oxidized stem to show the general condition of the vulcanite. It looked pretty good. The button was clean and not damaged. There was tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks on either side of the stem. The stem was lightly oxidized but good quality vulcanite.I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.

Armed with that information I turned my attention to work on the pipe. It was dirty and sticky so I varied my usual habit of reaming the bowl first and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads. I was able to remove all of the grime on the bowl sides and much of the grime and lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge of the bowl. I took photos of the bowl after scrubbing. You can see the amazing grain on the bowl and shank sides. You can also see the X shaped sandpit in the first photo. I have circled it in red to highlight the damage there. With the outside of the bowl clean it was easier to hold onto while I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the buildup on the walls of the mortise. There was a thick coat of tars and oils that had hardened there and made the fit of the stem very tight in the shank. Once I had scraped out the hardened substances I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cottons swabs and pipe cleaners.With the exterior and the interior of the bowl cleaned it was time to work on repairing the sandpits and gouges on the bowl. I wiped down the area of the X pit on the left side of the bowl at the shank bowl junction with alcohol.When it was dry I filled in the area with clear super glue and pressed it into the pit with a dental spatula. I repeated the process with the gouge on the right side of the rim top.  When the repair had cured I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I also sanded the inner beveled edge of the bowl to clean up the darkening and damage at that point. I sanded the repair on the side of the shank and bowl with the same sandpaper until the spots were blended into the briar and smooth to touch.I polished the repaired areas with micromesh sanding pads – sanding with 1500-4000 grit pads to smooth out the sanding scratches. I stained the rim top and the repair on the shank and bowl with a light brown stain pen to match the stain on the rest of the bowl.Whenever I used the stain pens, regardless of colour, I blend the stain with the existing stain using Conservator’s Wax. I find that the microcrystalline wax polishes and blends the two areas together when I hand buff the bowl once the wax dries. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the stem with 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 clot after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I addressed the fit of the stem against the shank. The tenon was slightly bent downward causing a gap at the top of the shank stem union. I heated the tenon with a Bic lighter to soften it and inserted it in the shank and straightened it. I held it in place while the stem cooled and the fit was perfect against the shank.I sanded the light tooth chatter and the oxidation on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to break up the oxidation on the surface of the vulcanite and that is the easiest way to do it. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Fine grit Before & After Pipe Polish. I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I was careful around the stamping so as not to buff it out and soften it. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. The flaws that I repaired really disappeared into the grain of the pipe. If you did not know where they were before they are hard to identify. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. I have to finish Jim’s second pipe and then the pair will go in the mail. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this one once he has it in hand and fires it up for the first time. Thanks for looking.

The Perfect Birthday Present for a Mother Who Never Smoked and Has Everything

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

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
― From “The Graduate” (1967), directed by Mike Nichols; with Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, many others…and Walter Brooke as Mr. McGuire

My mother’s birthday was last Saturday, June 27. I won’t go into the kind of details most women prefer to avoid, even though my mother is by no means most women. She would be the first person to tell you her age, and that is as it should be. But I will tell you about the Japanese hand-painted and otherwise adorned white billiard I bought as part of a pipe lot, thinking it was ceramic, even when it arrived, because of its heft and the thickness of the bowl. I will describe and illustrate this pipe and the work I did to restore it because of my decision to make something unusual and special of the otherwise novelty or gift store item as a late present to my mother for a landmark birthday (I’ll go that far and not a word more).

I only learned of the true composition of the Japanese beauty after I stopped by my Post Office Box to pick it up, along with the regular briars that came with the lot, on the way to my pipe club’s monthly meeting on the third Thursday of a forgotten month last year. And it really is a pretty thing, with its hand painting and what looks to be intricate application of green, red, purple, blue, black and other colored stones of whatever types arranged in the shape of a dragon.

As I recall, I arrived at the meeting a little late and showed it first, as my supposed jewel of the lot, to my mentor, Chuck. He took it in his rough but surprisingly kindly hands and turned it every which way, frowning.

“What the hell have you got here?” I believe were his exact first words. Anyone who knows Chuck understands how he likes to beat around the bush.

“Ummm, a ceramic pipe from Japan?” I tried, feeling my gut sink, rightfully as it turned out.

“I don’t think so,” he said and headed across the room to a table where two professional pipe-makers, Victor Rimkus and Don Warren, sat talking.

I like to think the idea that discretion is the better part of valor stayed me from joining them. Instead I watched and listened from my seat at a safe distance. At least they all seemed genuine in their curiosity and perplexity about the material used to fashion this odd Japanese billiard. At last, Victor whipped out his trusty cellphone to use the flashlight app, but not as I expected. Here is a poor shot I later took replicating his action.Rob1 I gave it a moment’s thought as I vaguely heard them chortling, and the truth hit me like the bright Christmas ornament Victor had made of my beautiful new pipe: it was plastic!

Chuck walked back to me with one of his big grins and the pipe outstretched in a hand, and as I took it, he asked, “Do you know what you have here?”

“Yes, I figured it out,” I replied, snatching it from him with a bit of motherly protection.

“That’s how you learn,” he said, managing not to laugh outright.

And so I had a marvelous Japanese plastic pipe that I knew right off I could never imagine offering it for sale, even if there might be someone somewhere on the planet who would want to buy it. Yes, I did smoke a bowl in it later that night, for the experience if nothing else, and it wasn’t all that bad; maybe a tad toxic, but not bad at all.




Rob5 Doesn’t it look like the dragon broke its hind quarters with the bit fully closed at an exact half-turn off? I set the dratted thing away with my broken pipes, all of the others of which had one thing in common, even the cheapest Medicos – they were real pipes, not plastic and Made in Japan, if the fatally flawed tobacco pipe was not in fact made in one of the Koreas.

At any rate, the week before my mother’s birthday, I found myself in line at my Post Office with a card I found there (the USPS is hilarious when it comes to greeting cards), and the idea to send my dear mother the pretty plastic pipe that might have come all the way from Japan first occurred to me. I dismissed the notion out-of-hand as some sort of mental attack of ghastly tackiness.

But as the week passed, somewhere in the echoes of my mind as Glen Campbell sings “Wichita Lineman,” I continued to cogitate on how I might somehow make the perhaps proudest pipe poseur into a worthwhile gift my mother might just love. After all, she has become quite interested in the myriad types of pipes and ways they can go wrong following my blogs on this site, despite the fact that she has never smoked anything – at least not to speak of.

Well, first I had to align the bit, which several of the above photos reveal is half off its screw, in more ways than one. Besides, this was a new lesson I received from Chuck regarding a genuine example of fine pipe-making, a 1930s L&H Stern Park Lane De Luxe Billiard that was about an eighth of a turn off. And so I gathered together my pump pliers, a small cloth and a Bic, and set myself to the task of heating the tenon until it was black. Then I draped the cloth over the tiny screw sticking out of the shank and clamped my pliers over the cloth until the jaws settled and closed shut. With all of my might, I turned the tenon as far as it would go, which turned out to be about halfway, and repeated the process. The stem was in perfect alignment.Rob6 By the way, not only is the direction to turn the tenon counterintuitive, as Chuck warned me obliquely, but the entire concept of heating metal (which thereby expands it) takes some pondering to get a handle on. But if nothing else, my mind does thrive on theories that seem to defy logic. Consider this: the turning of the tenon, in the direction it is off-set, is made possible by the very expansion of the metal stretching that which surrounds it. The trick is not heating it to the point of cracking the outer substance.

I considered skipping the next step for reasons that will become apparent, but the thought was abhorrent to me, and so I cleaned some stains, light and dark brown, from the chamber using a small cotton cloth square with a little Everclear. There was still a light brown area around the bottom of the chamber.Rob7 While I was at it, I used the super fine steel wool #0000 on the bit and turned it from a creamy color to bright white. I finished the bit with 4000 micromesh.Rob8 I happened to have a dark red votive candle that was perfect for my plan.Rob9 Peeling away the paper label from the bottom of it, I removed the wick and its aluminum base and inserted it in the direct center of the chamber.Rob10 By now I’m sure it’s clear where I’m headed with this. If not, there is something wrong with the reader’s sense of foreshadowing. At any rate, I bent the top of the wick to a side and melted the rim of the candle into the chamber until it was almost full. I set it aside to harden again and clipped the excess wick.Rob11 The waxed that dripped onto the pipe’s rim came off easily, and since no buffing on a wheel was necessary or even possible, I was finished.Rob12



For the most part, I have no problem with special kinds of plastic being used to make tobacco pipes. I have even said that no real pipe collection is complete without at least one of The Pipe versions, made of pyrolytic graphite/phenolic resin, a high heat and pressure plastic the components of which were created more often for use in liquid rocket fuels. This liberal attitude toward pipe material, in a rarefied and more than a little opinionated sub-culture of human society in general, does not go over well with many pipe enjoyers. But The Pipe models, started in 1963 by the Super-Temp Corporation contracting with Venturi Inc. for marketing, lasted until 1975. They were supposed to be fun, and, after a brief time of distribution of only the pure black “dress pipe” variety, were offered in multiple colors such as yellow and red and were often mixed in wild combinations representative of the good old Hippie Generation that inspired them. The Pipes made no pretense of being anything but a fancy kind of plastic that may have been used in the construction of the Japanese billiard, which was likely bought by or for a collector who discarded it after learning of its material. Here are two The Pipes I own, one of which I will restore for sale on my site and the other that I will keep.Rob16 I guess all I have left to say at this point is: Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you enjoy your new, very special Japanese plastic tobacco pipe candle for many years. And remember, you can burn it as often as you like, and I’ll always refill it for you.

Selected Straight Grain (Comoys) Restoration

Several months ago, a thread on the SmokersForum.uk about the Comoys “Selected Straight Grain” pipes piqued my interest. Member Dirigo (Tom) was kind enough to share with me how to identify these interesting pipes. I was able to grab this Shape 13 via Ebay last week, which corresponds with the Comoys shape chart. That shape looked to be in decent shape, with the exception of one putty fill. I assume this flaw made the pipe unworthy of the Comoys stamping. There were only the slightest tooth marks and no pesky stem logo to worry about.

From the Ebay picture, you can see the ugly fill.

There was only minimal cake inside the bowl so it was lightly reamed and soaked with Everclear and sea salt. The top of the bowl was scarred, so that was going to take some work.

While the bowl was soaking, I started on the stem, which had been soaking in a Oxyclean solution. I went thru my usual 1500/2000 grit wet paper that onto the final four micromesh grades. The stem was then buffed with white diamond and a final plastic polish. Removing the light chatter was pretty straight forward. The button was worn, so I used a needle file to slightly reform the edges.  Unfortunately, I was unable to remove the oxidation without making the edge of stem slightly rounded.  I need to learn how to avoid this issue.

Once the bowl was done soaking it was moved to an alcohol bath to remove the stain. I spoke to Steve prior to this step and he recommended the fill be corrected using the superglue & briar technique he recently posted on Reborn Pipes. That solution worked well and I used two steps to fill in the pit. After restaining, the fill is just slightly visible, a big improvement from the factories solution using the bubble-gum putty.
The Super-Glue and briar dust patch.

I used a two-step stain process to highlight the grain, also a recommendation from Steve. First I “painted” on some black stain, after the bowl was warmed to open the grain. Then, the bowl was sanded with micromesh and a very diluted application of Medium Brown stain was applied. The bowl was than buffed with Tripoli and white diamond, followed by a final buff with Carnuba wax. I was careful on all steps not to diminish the stamping, which is quite legible.

Thanks to Steven Laug for his help with this one and Tom for information on this interesting Comoys niche.