Tag Archives: Dunhill Root Briar Pipes

Breathing Life into a 1957 (or is it a 1967) Dunhill Root Briar 251 EX606 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast. It is a Dunhill Root Briar Billiard that is in decent condition. It is stamped EX606 over 251 which is the shape number followed by Dunhill over Root Briar on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the 3R (which is the Group size and the R for Root Briar) and to the left is reads Made in England with what looks like a 7 superscript to me and 0 which gives the date the pipe was made. The stamping is clear and readable. The pipe has a medium brown finish and some amazing grain that the shape follows well. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the grain around bowl sides. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the top and the inner edge of the top. There was a burn mark on the left outer edge of the bowl. It was hard to know the overall condition of the rim top and edges because of the grime. The stem was dirty, oxidized and had some calcification around the button. There was light tooth chatter and marks on the stem near the button on both sides. The stem has the Dunhill White Spot logo on the top of the taper stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he cleaned it up. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the top and damage to the outer edge of the rim. The photos show the rim top and bowl from various angles.Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the nice grain that was on this bowl. It is a quite beautifully grained pipe. The stamping on each side of the shank is shown in the photos below. They look very good and readable. Here is where the question comes in on the date – is the 7 after the D in England on the third photo below a superscript or is it the same as the D. To me it is a superscript. You can also see the White Spot on the top of the taper stem in the last of the four photos below. The stem was a very good fit to the shank. It was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. There was tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem and on the button surface.    I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Root Briar to get a bit of background on this particular Duhill finish (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish (usually made using Corsican briar). The Root Briar finish requires a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or at Principle Pipe Dealers. Straight grained pipes were formerly graded A through H, but are now only “Dr’s” and graded with one to six stars, with the letters G and H still used for the very finest pieces.

The article also cited a section from John Loring confirming the above information and giving a bit more colour to the information.

“Dunhill introduced its third major finish, the Root finish, in 1931. Corsican mountain briar is characteristically beautifully grained and the Root was made exclusively from that briar into the 1960s. The pipe was finished with a light natural stain to allow the beauty of the graining to show through. Although always available with a traditional black vulcanite bit, the Root was introduced in either 1930 or more likely 1931 and fitted with a marble brown dark and light grained vulcanite bit that has since become known as the ‘bowling ball’ bit because of the similarity in appearance between the bit’s finish and that of some bowling balls of the time. With the war, however, the bowling ball bit was dropped from production. Through 1954 (and after) the Root pipe nomenclature (including shape numbers) was identical to that of the Bruyere except that instead of the “A” of the Bruyere, the Root was stamped with an “R”. In 1952 when the finish rather than LONDON was placed under DUNHILL, ROOT BRIAR rather than BRUYERE was used for the Root.” Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.

I also wanted to understand the additional stamps on the shank. There were two I wanted to clarify. One the left side there was the EX606 over the shape number. On the right side there was the superscript Date code and a second number – an underlined 0. I continued to search the connected pages on Dunhill. There was a specific page or section on the Dunhill Additional Stamps that helped some (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Additional_Stamps).

“The reason for dating a pipe was due to a one-year-guarantee offered by Dunhill, that they would replace a pipe if it had any issues in its first year. Sometimes, a pipe would be made and stamped, yet wouldn’t leave the factory until the next year or even later, when it would then receive a current extra date-code. Due to this, there are several examples of pipes with double, triple, or even quadruple date-codes stamped onto them.” Steven Snyder.

These additional codes were added by the retail stores – that’s why they were not uniform. For example, situations that the pipes were not sold in the same year of production, it was a way to establish a new warranty period. In cases where the customer requested a F/T stem (for example) or some minor cosmetic issue was found, the pipe returned to the factory and, in some cases, received a new coverage date. In these situations the extra date-code is uniform.

“It might have been added by the point-of-sales (shop, when the pipe was actually sold, so the guarantee period was easier to identify.” Hener, K. S., Product Line Director – The White Spot Smoker’s Accessory Division and Walthamstow site.

There is a bit of question as to the date on this pipe. I have had people on the various groups on Facebook say it is a 1957 sold in 1960 pipe and others say it is a 1967 sold in 1970 pipe.  All of the dating is dependent on how you see the 7 after the D in England. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html) to see what I could find out. Here is the chart I used and I have drawn a red box around the portion I used.I also captured the stamping on two separate pipes to show my conclusion. The first one shows the stamp on a 1967 pipe with the 7 being essentially the same size as the D in England. The second one is a 1958 pipe with a smaller superscript that is in the same placement as the 7 on the pipe that I have in hand. So I am pretty confident that the double date stamp was the year the pipe was made and the year that it sold. In this case it was a 1957 pipe that sold in 1960.

I turned to Eric Boehm’s part of the article on the Pipedia section on the Dunhill shapes. I found the listing for the Billiard that I was working on but still no information on the EX 606 number above it (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List). I quote:

251 Billiard, tapered bit (Relief bit) 3 5¾” 1950 3

That fits this pipe perfectly – a billiard with a tapered stem with a length of 5 ¾ inches. First used in 1950 in a Group 3 size.

I posted a question on the stamping on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group on Facebook and got this response from Alfredo Baquerizo:

This is a Root Briar from 1957 shape 251, group 3 and the R is for root. It’s an EX an exchange pipe by warranty Dunhill system. The 606 I think that is the exchange pipe number, I’m not sure.

I also posted on the Vintage Dunhill Pipes Group on Facebook and enjoyed the responses. One of the posters there, Jean-Paul Varon gave this information.

Ex606 = exchange of a pipe under guarantee.

That was the extent of the information that I could find at this point. It seems likely that the EX is the Dunhill Exchange Warranty system and the 606 could well be the Exchange pipe number. Is it possible that the EX606 could also include a date code in it? Possibly being the year 1960 and the sixth pipe of the year that was a replacement?

I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show their condition. You can see the damage to the rim topo and inner edge. There a nicks and chip on the edge and top there is a burned area on the rear left outer edge. There is generally some heavy darkening on the top.  The stem on the other hand looks very good in the photos. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.   I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening and damage on the rim top and edges of the top. I lightly topped the bowl to remove the damage on the top and the inner edge of the rim. It also helped with the damage to the outer edge as well. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the inner edge a bit more. It took work but I was able to remove the majority of it. There was still one spot of burn damage on the left rear outer edge but it was smaller than when I had started.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad.   I stained the polished rim top with the lightest coloured stain pen I have – Oak and was able to blend it into the overall colour of the bowl. The rim top looked amazingly better than when I started and has some great grain that is parallel to that on the heel of the bowl.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Because it was in such good condition I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   I decided to pause and go sit in the yard in the shade and enjoy a bowl of MacBarens HH Old Dark Fired in my Downie Pipe before I polished the Dunhill. Need a bit of a break!This uniquely stamped Dunhill Root Briar 251 Billiard is a piece of Dunhill’s Warranty History – made in 1957 and sold or exchanged in 1960 at least that is my call though others have seen it as made in 1967 and sold in 1970. It is a great looking pipe in spite of the remaining burn mark on the rim. The Light Brown stain highlights some great grain around the bowl sides and the heel. It has some of the most stunning birdseye grain I have seen in a while on the right side of the bowl. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the stain works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished 251 Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the British Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Cleaning up a 1965 Dunhill 631 F/T Root Briar Group 1 Billiard for Henry


Blog by Steve Laug

If you have followed rebornpipes for long you will know that I am a sucker for older pipes and that if I have restored pipes for you in the past I will definitely be available to you for future restorations. The post just previous to this one on an old 1902 LKL Cutty was an example of both of those these maladies of mine. This post speaks to the second one – if I have worked on a pipe for you in the past I will be available as best I can for future restorations. Some of you will recognize Henry Ramirez name as he was a long time contributor to rebornpipes with his innovative restorations. Henry is a dentist who retired not long ago and got rid of his restoration tools. He wrote to see if I could help him out with the restoration of a small Dunhill he had. He wrote the following email:

Hi Steve, long time no talk. I recently moved again to San Francisco and upon opening an empty tin of vintage Dunhill tobacco found the small Dunhill that I’d thought was lost. I’ve gotten rid of my pipe cleaning supplies since moving to an apartment and was hoping you could clean this pipe up for me. You seem to be very busy and in the middle of large restorations. Let me know if you can help. Best, Henry

What could I say to such a request from a fellow pipe restorer? I sent him an email and said I would take on his pipe. He packed it up and sent it to me in Vancouver. It arrived here a couple of weeks ago. Today, I took a break from the large estates and the other repairs I have going to work on Henry’s pipe. It is a small Dunhill saddle stem billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank 631F/T next to the bowl shank junction. The 631 is the shape number and the F/T is the designation for a Fish Tail stem. That is followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with a circle 1 R next to the bowl shank junction designating the group size of the pipe – a 1 and R which says it is a Root Briar. To the left of that it is stamped Made in England5 which tells me that the pipe was made in 1965. The finish on the bowl was dirty and spotty. The bowl had a thick cake in it and the lava overflowed onto the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl was damaged on the right side with both carving from a knife and a burned area. There was some darkening on the outer rim edge at the front of the bowl. It was in rough condition. The stem was not too bad. It was heavily oxidized but other than tooth chatter was in good condition. I took photos of the pipe before I started the restoration work to document the progress that way Henry can vicariously work on this pipe. I took some close up photos of the bowl and rim top and the stem surfaces. The first photo shows the condition of the bowl and rim top. I described the damage above but I have to say I probably minimized it in my description. It is in rough shape. The inner edge is hacked and uneven showing that it had probably been reamed with a knife. There was burn damage on the right inner edge and on the front edge. The stem on the other hand looked good other than the heavy oxidation on the surface. There was light tooth chatter but it still was in great shape.I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The left side was definitely in better condition than the left. You can see the stamping on the left side in the first photo. The second photo shows the right side of the shank. It reads as noted above.I turned to Pipedia to read about the Root Briar. I have worked on enough Dunhill pipes to have a good idea of the history and I already knew I was working on a 1965 pipe but I wanted to refresh my memory on the Root Briar finish (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar).

(The Root Briar finish) was introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish (usually made using Corsican briar). The Root Briar finish requires a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or at Principle Pipe Dealers. Straight grained pipes were formerly graded A through H, but are now only “Dr’s” and graded with one to six stars, with the letters G and H still used for the very finest pieces.

“Dunhill introduced its third major finish, the Root finish, in 1931. Corsican mountain briar is characteristically beautifully grained and the Root was made exclusively from that briar into the 1960s. The pipe was finished with a light natural stain to allow the beauty of the graining to show through. Although always available with a traditional black vulcanite bit, the Root was introduced in either 1930 or more likely 1931 and fitted with a marble brown dark and light grained vulcanite bit that has since become known as the ‘bowling ball’ bit because of the similarity in appearance between the bit’s finish and that of some bowling balls of the time. With the war, however, the bowling ball bit was dropped from production. Through 1954 (and after) the Root pipe nomenclature (including shape numbers) was identical to that of the Bruyere except that instead of the “A” of the Bruyere, the Root was stamped with an “R”. In 1952 when the finish rather than LONDON was placed under DUNHILL, ROOT BRIAR rather than BRUYERE was used for the Root.” Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

That was a good reminder for me of the character and the rarity of the finish. Henry was going to enjoy this pipe. Now it was time to work on it. I carefully removed the stem and found that there was an inner tube stuck in the shank. I examined it and found that I could see glimmers off it under the cake in the bowl. I would need to work on the cake and try to ream the bowl a bit around the entrance of the airway to loosen it. I reamed the bowl back around the airway with the tip of a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I ran alcohol down the tube using a pipe cleaner. I folded the pipe cleaner and dribbled alcohol around the end of the tube sticking into the bottom of the chamber. I worked alcohol in next to the tube using pipe cleaners. I paused and wiggled the tube regularly. I heated it a bit with a lighter and wiggled some more. Finally it came free. You can see all the debris on the outside of the tube.I cleaned up the outside of the tube with sandpaper to remove the grime. Once it was gone I could see significant damage to the tube. Where it was stuck in the shank there some deep pinch marks. Where it sat in the shank also had some grooves. It was actually damaged enough that I did not want to use it again. I have a box of inner tubes that I picked up in an estate I purchased. I have probably 8-9 different tubes of different sizes. I went through the tubes and found the identical tube but undamaged. The photos below show the original tube and the new replacement tube. I checked the fit in the bowl, shank and stem and it was perfect.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the smallest cutting head. I was able to remove the heavy cake. I cleaned up the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife and then sanded the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel. I was pleased to see that the walls of the bowl were undamaged. I moved on to clean the interior. I scraped the walls of the shank with a pen knife to remove the oils and tars that had locked the inner tube in the shank. I was able to remove the majority of the debris with the knife. I followed up by scrubbing the airway in the shank and mortise as well as the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed the exterior of the stem with some Soft Scrub to soften and remove some of the oxidation (of course I forgot to take photos of that part of the process). I used 3-4 cotton pads to scrub the stem and I was happy with the amount of oxidation that it removed. When I was finished I rinsed it off and dropped the stem into a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer. I left it in the mix for a while and turned my attention to the bowl.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a hard board to minimize the damage. I worked it over the sandpaper in a circular motion to reduce the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. When I finished topping it to my liking I used a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to give the inner edge of the bowl a bevel to reduce the burn damage. The third photo below shows the rim top after this treatment. It has come a long ways from the original rim top. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the debris from sanding. The photos show the developing shine on the bowl and rim top. I  used an Oak and a Maple stain pen to blend the colour of the rest of the bowl. I am happy with the blend as well as the new look of the rim top… What an improvement.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. It also works well to blend the restained areas of the bowl with the rest of the pipe. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. This is the point that tells the truth about the blend on the rim top. It really does look good! I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I took it out of the Before & After Bath and scrubbed it with warm water to remove the bath product and blew out the airway. I buffed it with a rough cotton cloth but sadly the oxidation though better was still present. I scrubbed it again with Soft Scrub and was able to remove a lot more of the oxidation.I sanded the stem with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the oxidation that remained. Even after the sanding it was still present.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by buffing the stem with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil. Now that the stem is finished the pipe is one step away from packing and sending back to Henry. It is a pretty little Group 1 Dunhill saddle billiard. The pipe cleaned up really well and the stem looks quite stunning in place. I put the new inner tube in place and put the pipe back together again. I buffed it on the wheel with Blue Diamond polish and then gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deep the shine. It really is a beauty and should serve Henry well while he holds it in trust. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. I will be putting it in the mail to Henry on Monday after work. I am looking forward to what he thinks of the pipe when he receives it. I am happy with the finished look of the pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration. It was a fun one with its own set of challenges.

Refreshing a Dunhill Root Briar 708 F/T Oval Shank Canted Stack for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

Around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savor. He had found several really nice pipes – 3 different Dunhill pipes that he wanted me to work on for him. I have already written a blog on the Dunhill Wanghee Tan Shell Briar with a Bamboo shank (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). I have also written a blot on the reconstruction of a nice little Shell Briar Lovat(https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/11/breathing-life-into-a-worn-and-beat-up-dunhill-shell-briar-ec-canadian-for-alex/). The third Dunhill he had picked up is a shape number I could find little information on – a shape 708F/T Root Briar. For lack of a better title for the shape I have called it a canted stack.

Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned the pipe very well. The bowl was clean. The rim top had a lot of damage including burn marks and dents. The bowl was also very far out of round with damage around inner edge. There were burn marks on the inner and outer edge toward the right front side of the bowl. The finish looked very good around the bowl other than the burn mark on the left side where it looked like the bowl had been laid in an ash tray against a hot ash. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the rim top damage and the burn mark on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the following nomenclature: 708F/T at the bowl shank junction followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. The Dunhill Root Briar stamp is faint but readable with a lens and light. The right side reads Made in England followed by what looks like a 2 (another 1962?) and a Circle 4 A. The 4 is the size of the pipe and the A is the designation for Root Briar. The stamping on the right side of the shank is also faint.

When I got home I laid it aside and today took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first photo below that there was a burn mark on the left side mid bowl. It was a cosmetic burn marks in the finish but not too deep. It was like the pipe had been laid down in an ashtray. The rim top had significant darkening and damage. The stem was in good condition other than tooth chatter on both sides just ahead of and on the top of the button. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the front inner and outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge was hacked up like it had been poorly reamed with a pocket knife. There were also nicks and deep scratches in the rim top. It was in rough shape. The stem looked pretty good. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem and on the button surface itself. Otherwise the stem was in very good condition.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl. You can see that it reads as noted above. It is indeed faint but with a lens and light it is very readable.I decided to start the refurbishing by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I worked on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned up the burned outer edge on the rim front. I sanded the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and was able to minimize the burn a bit. It was deeper than I initially thought. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris left behind by the sanding. I used a Maple Stain Pen to blend the sanded area on the side of the bowl and the rim top with the rest of the finish on the bowl. I have found that this particular stain pen works well to match the stain on the Root Briar.With the finish cleaned I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. I let it sit while I went and had some lunch. When I came back I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. While the burn mark did not disappear it is significantly lighter than when I started. The rim top also looks much better. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in excellent condition other than that so it did not take a lot of work. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks and then started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished it further with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter tooth chatter.I finished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that I received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish. I wanted to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished Root Briar pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great pipe and certainly looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. This is a beauty that he can enjoy as he carries on the trust of these Dunhill pipes. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a 1978 Dunhill Root Briar 31032 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

As I continue to work through the pipes in Bob Kerr’s Estate I am enjoying choosing different brands that he had to focus on for a bit. I had eight more from his Dunhill collection that I decided to go back to and finish working my way through that sub collection of the estate. Out of the 8 pipes six were Bruyere finished pipes, one was a Made in London, and one was a Root Briar. What follows is a list of what I saw when I examined the 8 pipes. As I finish the pipes I will include the link to the blog on that particular pipe for easy reference. I have already restored 16 pipes from this subgroup so you can do a quick search to read about the work on the Shell Briars and Tanshell Briars that were in that part of the collection.

  1. Bruyere 656 F/T Made in England 2 Circle 4A – Group 4 size Bruyere made in 1962. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.
  2. Bruyere 112 F/T Made in England 9/11 Circle 2A – Group 2 size Bruyere made in 1969 and sold in 1971. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.
  3. Bruyere 0333 Made in England 16 made in 1976. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.
  4. Bruyere 41061 Made in England 18 made in 1978. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.
  5. Bruyere 142 F/T Made in England 7/9/11 Circle 4A – Group for size Bruyere made in 1967 and sent out in 1969 or 1971. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.
  6. Bruyere A Inner Tube Patent No. 5831412 Shape 34. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. Missing the inner tube.
  7. Made in London 113 539/14. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged rim edges.
  8. Root Briar 31032 Made in England 18 – made in 1978. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge.

I chose to work on #8 next, the sole Root Briar pipe remaining in the collection. Paresh had picked up an earlier one that I had finished to add to his collection in India. The highest honor for a Dunhill pipe is to receive the prestigious Root Briar appellation. Root Briars have been coveted by pipesmokers ever since they first debuted in 1931, due to the fact that each pipe must boast briar completely free of even the most minor of blemishes. Dunhill has the strictest of standards and expectations for quality with all of their pipes, and so any block of briar that comes to bear the Root Briar stamp must indeed be superlative.

The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the five digit shape number next to the bowl/shank junction. It read 31032. That is followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England 18 which would make it a pipe made in 1978. The shape number code can be broken down to give a lot of information. Typically Dunhill pipes are stamped with a four digit code. The first digit (1-6) denotes the group size of the pipe. In this case it is a Group 3 sized pipe. The second digit denotes the style of the mouthpiece (0,1=tapered, 2=saddle). In this case it is a 1 which matches the tapered stem on the shank. The third and fourth digits give the generic shape in the chart below. I have captured part of the chart to identify this pipe as a 03 or a straight Billiard. When 5 digits occur, the meaning of the 4 first remains the same (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes.html). There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim appear to be in good condition though there appears to be a little burn damage on the left front inner edge of the bowl. The outer edge looks very good. The grain on this is beautiful – diagonal or flame grain and some birdseye on the heel of the bowl. I think that there is a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The sides of the bowl had some darkening from oils and tars. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the button itself. There was the classic White Spot on the top of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a lava build up on the smooth rim top and the edges of the bowl. The rim top looked pretty good but it was hard to know for sure. It appeared that there was damage at the back and the front of the inner edge. The outer edges looked good.    Jeff took photos of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain patterns around the sides of the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good.The stamping is readable and on the left side of the shank you can see the shape number 31032 as noted above followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side it reads Made In England with the date stamp 18 after the D in England. He included a pic of the White Spot on the stem. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes from Bob’s estate as the 125+ pipes were taking me a long time to do alone. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with this one when I took it out of his box. It looked amazing and CLEAN. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. It looked like there were some dents in the briar on the right side of the bowl that would need to be dealt with. The stem looked a lot better. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. The pipe was ready for me to carry on the next part of the process. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up and what needed to be done. The rim top had some darkening toward the back of the bowl and on the inner edge. There was also some burn damage on the front inner edge of the bowl. The outer edge looked very good.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface.   The stamping appeared to be as clear as ever on the shank sides. This is just one of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. I took some photos to show the stamping. Bob loved his Dunhill pipes and it was obvious that he enjoyed smoking them. Some appeared to be daily smokes while others he seemed to reserve for special occasions. Some seemed like they must have hung in his mouth while he did his carving while others were smoked in his chair. Having worked on over 60 of his pipes so far I am getting a feel for them.

I am sure that many of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that I have done on previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. Bob’s daughter wrote a short tribute to her father. I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

It was time to get on with the restoration of this beautiful and worn Dunhill Root Briar Billiard. I really appreciate the hard cleanup work that Jeff did on these pipes. They were a real mess when I sent them to Jeff and I have to tell you it was great that I did not need to clean this pipe. I decided to start the process by dealing with the dents in the briar on both sides of the bowl. I heated a knife with the flame on our gas stove and dampened a cloth. I put the cloth over the dents and applied the hot knife to the surface. The heat generated steam and lifted the dents. I applied the knife several times before I was happy with the look of the bowl. I then went on to address the damage to the inner edge of the bowl. I worked on the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a very slight bevel. I was able to remove much of the damage. There was still a slight “dip” in the edge at the front. The photos show the progress.   I polished the briar on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-4000 grit pads and I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth.  The grain progressively stood out as I polished the pipe with the pads.   I paused the polishing to restain the rim top to match the rest of the pipe. I used a walnut stain pen and was able to get the match. The rim top would need to be polished but the colour was right so time would tell.I continued to polish the bowl with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth.   I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.    With the bowl done it was time to address the stem. The dents in the top and underside were the right depth for me to lift them. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the dents in the surface. I was able to lift most of them to the point that a repair would be less complex.   I filled in the damaged areas on the button edge and the small remaining dents in the underside of the stem with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repair had cured I used a flat needle file to reshape the button and edges. The stem is starting to take shape.  I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation in the vulcanite. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.    I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by rubbing the stem down with some “No Oxy Oil” to protect the vulcanite. I am experimenting with the product from Briarville and tracking how it works so I can write a review of it.  Once again at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. This is the first of the Dunhill smooth pipes in Bob’s estate that I am working on. It is a beautiful Root Briar 31032 Billiard. I always look forward to this point in the process when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain around the bowl and shank really came alive with the wax and polish. The black of the tapered vulcanite White Spot stem is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the finished bowl and shank. This is Dunhill was a lot of fun to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This 78 Root Briar Billiard is a beauty that I am still trying to figure out whether to sell it or buy it. It will take a bit of time and once I decide I will either enjoy it or it will be going on the rebornpipes store. I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring Pipe #15 from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With this Dunhill Root Briar my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s is taking a turn to the smooth finished pipes in the collection. This is the first of the smooth pipes in his Dunhill Collection. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.With the completion of the restoration on this one there are only 11 more Dunhills of the original 25 left to work on – all smooth finished pipes in a variety of shapes. I went through the box of the remaining smooth Dunhills shown above and chose the 15th and first smooth finish pipe to work on – a smooth Root Briar Bent Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 51021 followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England 21 which tells me it is made in 1982. The 5 digit stamping gives a lot of pertinent information about the pipe. The first digit, 5 says that the size of the pipe is a Group 5. The second digit 1 identifies the pipe as having a tapered stem. The 02 identifies it as a bent pipe and the final 1 says it is a billiard. The bent round shank flows into a tapered stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The smooth Root Briar finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the cross grain on the pipe. The bowl had a thick cake and thick lava overflow on the rim top. The bowl appears to be a little out of round with slight damage on the front inner edge of the rim. After cleaning I will know more. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Root Briar Bent Billiard had some damage on the inner edge of the bowl toward the front as can be seen in the photo. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank. Part of the stamping was very sharp and readable and other parts were fainter and needed bright light.Since this is the 15th pipe from Bob’s estate I am sure you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the 14 previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.

Having already worked on 15 other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I am just starting my work on the smooth finished pipes with this Root Briar. I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. He really loved his billiards. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. I think this would have been one of his resting pipes – not a shop pipe. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes.

With that in mind I turned to work on the 15th pipe. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat in the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and some worn 220 grit sandpaper and a 1500 grit micromesh pad to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. I worked over the damaged inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the bowl back to round and remove the damage. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each successive pad brought more shine to the rim top. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I used an Oak coloured stain pen to blend the polished rim top into the rest of the briar. The oak colour was a perfect match for the colour of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. (Sometimes I use a pen knife and sometimes a dental spatula depending on the diameter of the mortise.) I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned off the stem with a light sanding to remove the oxidation near the tooth marks. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the topside next to the button and the one on the underside as well with black super glue and set the stem aside so the glue could cure.When the repair had cured I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and flatten out the patches. I sanded the repaired areas to blend them into the surface of the stem. I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The cross grain and birdseye grain that show up in the polished bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard will soon heading off to India to join Paresh’s rotation. It really has that classic Dunhill Bent Billiard look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 15th Dunhill Briar from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. With this one I have begun my work on the smooth Dunhill Pipes. What will follow is 10 more smooth finished Dunhills – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring a Dunhill Root Briar EK Square Shank Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a Dunhill Panel Billiard. It is a smooth briar pipe that is very dirty. It has four panels around the bowl and the corners are rounded. The shank is square as well and ends with a square tapered stem. The briar is worn and tired with oils in the briar. The rim top had a build of tars and lave that flowed over it from a thick cake in the bowl. The shank is stamped on the left side EK followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side it is stamped Made in England with an underlined superscript 0 followed by a 4 circled followed by an R. The stem has the standard white spot on the top side. It was oxidized and had some calcification build up on the first inch of the stem that appeared to have come from a rubber pipe Softee bit. The stamping is easily interpreted. The left side EK is the shape stamp for a panel billiard. The ROOT BRIAR stamping is the line of Dunhill pipes. The right side stamp superscript O tells me that the pipe is dated to 1960. The circled 4 is the size of the pipe (group four) and the R is the stamping for a Root Briar. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the top, sides and the bottom of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. The topside showed a thick lava build up flowing out of a thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know if there was damage on the outer or inner edges of the rim. The sides of the bowl show dents and wear but also some stunning birdseye and cross grain. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the pipe shank. It is faint but readable. It is as I wrote about above.Jeff took a photo of the stem to show the fit against the shank and the white spot. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter and marks as well as the calcification on the surface of the stem.I wanted to certify the date for myself so I had a look at the PipePhil site and looked the dating and stamping information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). Using the charts there I was able to confirm that pipe was made in 1960.

I also looked on the Pipedia site and read as much information as I could find regarding the Root Briar line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). Here is what it said: The line was… Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish. The Root Briar finish required a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish, since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or Principle Pipe Dealers…

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils, lava and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and without the grime the finish had some rim darkening that hid the grain. The vulcanite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.  I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damage and darkening around the inner edge. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem both on the surface of the button and just ahead it. There was one deeper tooth mark on the topside near the button.I started my refurbing work by addressing the darkening on the rim top and inner edge. I first sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I then lightly sanded the rim top with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I find that using a bit more tired piece of sandpaper works wonders on the dark edge without scratching the rim surface like a new piece. I followed that by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh. I sanded the rest of the pipe with the micromesh at the same time. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the bowl after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain on the rim top began to shine through and the finish was in good condition under the darkened grain. I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar on the rim, sides and the bottom of the bowl with my fingertips. I wanted to make sure that the balm got deep into the briar to do its work. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I sanded out the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surfaces. I sanded the rest of the stem with the sandpaper to remove the oxidation on the stem surface.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax then buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. I left the some of the dents in place as I did not want to sand and ruin the patina. I think they are marks of the journey the pipe has taken. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is a nice looking Dunhill Panel Billiard pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this beautiful Dunhill Root Briar Panel. Thanks for looking.

Farida’s Dad’s Pipes #5 – Restoring a Dunhill Root Briar 56 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am back working on a of pipes that comes from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida last summer and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatans, and a Savinelli Autograph. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some folks they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s Dad.

When I wrote the blog on the Classic Series Dunhill and thinking about its travels, Farida sent me an email with a short write up on her Dad. She remembered that I had asked her for it so that I could have a sense of the stories of her Dad’s pipes. Here is what she wrote: My dad, John Barber, loved his pipes. He was a huge fan of Dunhill and his favourite smoke was St. Bruno. No one ever complained of the smell of St. Bruno, we all loved it. I see the bowls and they’re large because he had big hands. When he was finished with his couple of puffs, he would grasp the bowl in the palm of his hand, holding the warmth as the embers faded. The rough bowled pipes were for daytime and especially if he was fixing something. The smooth bowled pipes were for an evening with a glass of brandy and a good movie. In his 20s, he was an adventurer travelling the world on ships as their radio operator. He spent a year in the Antarctic, a year in the Arctic and stopped in most ports in all the other continents. He immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties, working on the BC Ferries earning money to pay for his education. He graduated from UBC as an engineer and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mostly to the mining companies. Whatever he was doing though, his pipe was always close by. 

She sent along this photo of him with his sled dogs in the Antarctic sometime in 1953-1954. It is a fascinating photo showing him with a pipe in his mouth. He is happily rough housing with his dogs. As a true pipeman the cold does not seem to bother him at all.Thank you Farida for sending the photo and the background story on your Dad for me to use on the blog. I find that it really explains a lot about their condition and gives me a sense of who Dad was. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites. As I looked over the pipes I noted that each of them had extensive rim damage and some had deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls seemed to have been reamed not too long ago because they did not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems were all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and were oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem were filled with tars and oils. These were nice looking pipes when her Dad bought them and they would be nice looking one more when I finished.

I finished two of the pipes and have written a blog on each of them. The first one was the Dunhill Shell with the oval shank pot (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/04/restoring-a-1983-dunhill-shell-41009-oval-shank-pot/) and the second was the Dunhill Classic Series Shell Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/08/faridas-dads-pipes-2-restoring-a-1990-lbs-classic-series-dunhill-shell-billiard/). The third pipe I restored from the estate was a Savinelli Autograph (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/15/faridas-dads-pipes-3-restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-4/). The fourth pipe of his that I worked on was a Dunhill Red Bark Pot that was in rough shape (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/03/10/faridas-dads-pipes-4-restoring-a-dunhill-red-bark-pot-43061/).

I went back to the remaining two Dunhills in the collection today and chose to work on a Dunhill Root Briar 56 Bent Billiard. It was so dirty it was hard to read the stamping on the sides. I could see that it was worn but I could not tell much else looking through the thick grime. The smooth finish sticky with oils and thick grime and the bowl felt oily to touch. I wiped off the oils and grime on the shank sides to see the stamping. It was worn but readable. On the left side of the shank it reads Dunhill over Root Briar. To the left of the stamping is the shape number 56. On the right side of the shank there is a faint stamp R with 4 in a circle. The rest of the stamping is very faint.

I turned to a blog I have on rebornpipes by Eric Boehme on Dunhill Shapes and looked for the shape number stamped on this pipe. Here is the link. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/01/dunhill-pipe-shapes-collated-by-eric-w-boehm/. I did a screen capture of the section on Bent Billiards and circled the pipe I have in hand in red. The shape number 56 is noted as a bent billiard size 4. It is noted as 5 ½ inches long just as the one I have is. It is listed as coming out in 1928, 1950, 1960 and 1969. The spread of dating was pretty large and the stamping so unreadable that I could not determine the date with that normal help. It was time to move on and look for other helpful information to see if I could narrow things down a bit.

I turned to another site that I use often – the pipephil website on Logos and Stampings because there is some really helpful information on when each of the lines of Dunhill pipes entered the market. Here is the link to the section of the site that I turned to, http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/root-bru-guide.html. I did a screen capture of a portion of the chart that gave me the time frame for this particular pipe. I circled the date and brand in red in the photo below. It looks like the Root Briar came out between 1960 and 1970. Now I knew that one I was working on a pipe that came from that era – which incidentally matched the other pipes in Farida’s Dad’s estate collection.The bowl was thickly caked and the cake had flowed over onto the smooth Root Briar finish on the rim top forming hard lava that made the top uneven. The inner and outer edges of the rim were both damaged. On the right front of the bowl the rim had been scraped and damaged and then burned. On the back edge there was the same kind of damage that was on the other Dunhill pipes in this estate. This one however was not quite as deep so it would need to be dealt with a bit differently when I got to that point. The stem was lightly oxidized but otherwise in good condition. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides in front of the button. The Dunhill white spot was intact on the top of the stem. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. The outer edge has damage on the front right – burn damage and wear that comes from lighting a pipe repeatedly in the same spot. The back left side also shows damage on the inner edge. There was damage from what looked like a poor rim job. The stem has tooth chatter and some bite marks on the top and the underside of the stem just ahead of the button.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and used two of the four cutting heads to clean out the cake. The bowl thickly caked so I started with the smaller of the two and worked my way up to the second one which was about the same size as the bowl diameter. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the remnants of cake. I finished by sanding the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped in sandpaper. I scrubbed the surface of the briar with alcohol and cotton pads. I scrubbed until I had removed the sticky tars and oils on the finish. I worked on the top of the rim with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the heavy buildup that was there. I scrubbed the scraped rim top with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the debris. I dried off the bowl with a soft rag. The cleaned and scrubbed pipe really made the rim top damage very clear. It looked to me that I would need to top the bowl. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the top surface of the rim and clean up the damage to the edges. I did not have to remove a lot and repeatedly checked it to make sure that I had removed enough but not too much. I wanted to take the top down until it was smooth up to the burn damaged area on the rim top.I wiped down the rim top with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the sanding dust. I built up the damaged area on the rim with clear super glue and briar dust. I layered it until the height of the damaged area was roughly equal to the rim top. The third photo below shows the top at this point in the process. I took photos of the repaired bowl from a variety of angles to show what the repair looked like before I sanded and cleaned it up. I would need to top the bowl again to smooth things out and work on the edges. I topped the bowl again to remove the excess repair material. I worked it over the sandpaper on the board until the surface was smooth. I used a folded piece of 150 and 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the inside edge of the bowl. With the externals clean it was time to clean out the mortise and shank and airway into the bowl and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula to loosen the tars before cleaning. I worked on the bowl and stem until the insides were clean.I used a Cherry stain pen to touch up the rim and match the colour of the rest of the pipe.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth finish to clean, enliven and protect the new finish. It also evened out the stain coat and gave the stain a dimensional feel. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. There was some darkening on the bowl front but the briar was solid. Overall the bowl looked really good. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on both sides with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish, using both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes to further protect and polish out the scratches. When I finished with those I gave it a final rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry.  With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the fifth of Farida’s Dad’s pipes that I am restoring from his collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. This one is already sold to a fellow in India. It will soon be on its way to him to carry on the trust from Farida’s father. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another of the Dunhills. More of his pipes will follow including some one more Dunhill and two Charatans. The last photo of the front of the bowl shows the darkening to the briar that remains. It is solid and the burn mark does not compromise the briar. It looks worse in this photo than it does in reality. It is a dark spot that is solid.