Tag Archives: Dunhill Tanshell Pipes

Breathing Life into a Dunhill Tanshell 253 Group 4 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to me from a friend up the British Columbia Coast. It is the first of two Dunhill pipes that he found in a shop along the coast. It is a Tanshell Briar Billiard that is worn and has a lot of damage to the rim top. It is the pipe at the back of the photo below. The second one is a Dunhill Shell Briar. The photo was sent to me by Chris. The second photo shows the damage to the rim top and edges. It was worn and damaged. The sandblast finish was destroyed and a chewed up top and edge was left behind.When the pipe arrived I took photos of what it looked like. Chris had done some preliminary cleaning of the pipe before he sent it to me and it look quite good. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 253 followed by Dunhill [over] Tanshell followed by Made in England. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by T for Tanshell. Interpreting that stamp follows: The 253 is the shape for a straight stem Billiard. The Dunhill Tanshell is the finish which is corroborated the T at the end of the stamping. There is no date stamp following the D of England to date the pipe. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some interesting grain shows through the blast finish. There was still a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top had a lot of damage and wear on the top, the inner and outer edges. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter ahead of the button.  I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The rim top and edges are a mess with lots of damage caused by beating it against a hard surface. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.  I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Tanshell Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Tanshell

The first lot was distributed in 1952 (usually made using Sardinian briar). The prototype was called “Root Shell “, produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.

The Tanshell was Dunhill’s fourth finish and its first major post-war line addition. Introduced in 1951/1952 the Tanshell was a naturally stained sandblasted pipe made exclusively from Sardinian briar through the 1960s. The Tanshell apparently was not simply a light stained Shell but rather was also the product of “certain processes [unrevealed] not previously employed.” Initially, it appears that the pipe was to be named the Root Shell and a stamp to that effect was ordered and received by Dunhill in May 1951. Ultimately, however, the name Tanshell was settled upon but the stamp for the Tanshell name was not received by Dunhill until the beginning of December. Thus while the Tanshell was in production in 1951 it appears that most if not all Tanshells made in that year did not enter into retail distribution until 1952 and were given a 1952 date code. 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 decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to bring it back into round.  While the finished rim edge is not perfect it is far better. To deal with the damaged rim top I gently topped it on a topping board and a piece of 240 grit sandpaper. My main concern was to flatten the top and remove some of the gouges and damages.I used various burrs on the Dremel to approximate the sandblast finish on the rim top and bring it back to reflect the sandblast and nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl and shank. I stained the newly shaped rim top with an Oak and a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. I was pretty happy with the newly stained rim. It look a lot better than when I started and worked with the finish.I figured I should clean up the bowl after that work. I reamed it with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took back the remaining cake to briar so I could check out the condition of the bowl walls. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the inner tube at the same time. With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 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. 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.  This Dunhill Tanshell 253 Billiard is a beautiful sandblast that came out looking very good. The Tanshell finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 253 Tanshell 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 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 36grams/1.27oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Breathing Life into a 1955 Dunhill Tanshell 48 F/T Group 4 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up on one of his pipe hunts along the Oregon Coast, USA. It is a Dunhill TanShell Briar Bulldog that is in great condition. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 48F/T followed by Dunhill [over] Tanshell Briar followed by Made in England 5. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by T for Tanshell. Interpreting that stamp it is as follows: The 48 is the shape for a straight saddle stem Bulldog and the F/T is the designation for the button shape – a Fish Tail stem. The Dunhill Tanshell is the finish which is corroborated the T at the end of the stamping. The 5 following the D of England gives the date the pipe was made and identifies it as 1955. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some amazing grain that the shape follows well. The finish was dirty with dust around the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized and had light tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.  The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the deep sandblast grain on the pipe. It is a beauty under the grime and dust.    The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above. The third photo shows the white spot on the stem.   I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Tanshell Pipes to get a bit of background on the Duhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Tanshell

The first lot was distributed in 1952 (usually made using Sardinian briar). The prototype was called “Root Shell “, produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.

The TanShell was Dunhill’s fourth finish and its first major post-war line addition. Introduced in 1951/1952 the TanShell was a naturally stained sandblasted pipe made exclusively from Sardinian briar through the 1960s. The TanShell apparently was not simply a light stained Shell but rather was also the product of “certain processes [unrevealed] not previously employed.” Initially, it appears that the pipe was to be named the Root Shell and a stamp to that effect was ordered and received by Dunhill in May 1951. Ultimately, however, the name TanShell was settled upon but the stamp for the TanShell name was not received by Dunhill until the beginning of December. Thus while the Tanshell was in production in 1951 it appears that most if not all TanShells made in that year did not enter into retail distribution until 1952 and were given a 1952 date code. 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 turned to Pipephil’s dating guide to show how I arrived at the date of manufacture for this pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I am including the chart that is provided there for the dating a pipe. I have drawn a red box around the section. Since the pipe I am working on has a smaller raise 5 it points to the 1950+ suffix line on the chart below.I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very clean when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the damage on the inner edge on the left front. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The saddle stem came out looking quite good. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping. It is clear and readable with some faint spots. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to bring it back into round.  While the finished rim edge is not perfect it is far better. I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean up the darkening on the rim top and clean up the sandblast portion.    With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 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. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem to lift them up. I was able to lift them to the point that I would be able to polish out those that remained with micromesh pads.    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.   This Dunhill 48F/T Tanshell Bulldog is a beautiful sandblast with the unique Sandblast finish made in 1955. It is a great looking pipe that came out looking very good. The Tanshell finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem adds to the mix. With the dust 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 48 F/T Tanshell Briar Bulldog 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 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 29grams/1.02oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Restoring the 3rd of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A 1960 Dunhill Tanshell 589 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

Time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read this so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The third pipe I chose to work on from the lot was another craggy looking Dunhill. This one was a Tanshell Zulu shaped pipe. It had a beautiful sandblast on the bowl sides and shank. It had the Dunhill Tanshell rich tan brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The transition to the button was worn to almost an angle. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included three she included from this pipe. When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This rugged looking Dunhill Zulu appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. It had a Sterling Silver band on the shank that probably was a repair band to deal with a crack in the shank. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and some tooth chatter and deep bite marks on both sides at the button. As mentioned above the button was worn. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage.The sandblast grain around the bowl sides and heel was quite beautiful. Lots of interesting patterns in the blast that would clean up very nicely. It was a beautiful pipe.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable. It read 589 on the heel of the bowl – the shape number which is a bit of a mystery as I cannot find that number. That was followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. Next to that it read Made in England with a superscript 0 after the D making this a 1960 pipe. I am guessing that there may have been a circle 4 followed by a T which gave the size of the pipe and the fact that it is a Tanshell Briar but it is covered by a sterling silver band.Jeff took photos of the stem – first the White Spot on the top side of stem and then the top and underside of the stem at the button. You can see the tooth damage to the stem surface and the wear to the edge and top of the button. I am once again including the tribute that Jennifer consented to her Dad for the blog. She is also sent some photos of her Dad and her step mom. Note the pipe in his hand in both photos. She also included some things that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. In the meantime I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute that I can use until then. Here is her email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name… My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

Once again Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. 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 sandblast was rugged and beautiful. There was still some darkening and burn marks on the rim top and also a dark spot on the heel of the bowl. There were some white paint flecks in the grooves of the briar. The band on the shank was rough on the stem edge. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top but remaining darkening and burn damage. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides. I also took a photo of the stamping on the pipe – to capture the stamp in one photo. It read as noted above. The next photo shows some of the damage to the band on the left side of the photo. There is also a small crack on the bottom part of the shank that can be seen in the photo above.To clean up the paint specks on the blast and to work on the darkening on the rim top I used two different brass bristle brushes that I use at time like this – a coarse one and a fine one and isopropyl alcohol. I also worked over the dark spot on the heel of the bowl. I was worried that it might be a potential burn through but the briar was solid both inside and outside the bowl. It looked as if the pipe may have been set down in an ashtray and bumped against a burning cigar or cigarette. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the sandblast finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of the blast really stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. The band was loose so I took it off and cleaned up the rough edge on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I smoothed out the edge with a flat blade screw driver. Once I had it reshaped I glued it in place on the shank.This is when I should have called it a night and stopped working on the pipe. But I didn’t and fiddled with the fit of the stem against the band. All was going really well and the fit was better than it looked in the photos above. I was getting excited about the pipe starting to look pretty good. I slowly turned the stem to remove it and there was a sickening pop! If you have worked on pipes long enough you know that sound and the sinking feeling that you get when it happens. The tenon snapped off tight against the stem and was stuck in the shank. After my initial sick feeling and a response of wanting to chuck the pipe across the room I settled down and started to look at what I had done! I used a screw to pull the broken tenon out of the shank and took a photo of the damages. Now I needed to replace the tenon! Frustration galore.I flattened the tag end of the broken tenon on the stem with my Dremel and sanding drum, being careful to not make more work for myself in the process. I took out my cordless drill and got started drilling out the end of the stem for a new tenon. I started with a bit slightly larger than the airway and worked my way up to the size of the insert.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of both ends of the tenon – the insert end to fit the stem and the mortise end to fit the mortise. It was slow going but worked well. I used a slow drying super glue to anchor the tenon in the stem and checked the fit in the shank. It was as close as I was going to get it so I set it aside to dry.Once the new tenon was set I turned to address the multiple tooth marks on the stem surface of both sides. Surprising the button surface itself was ok and free of tooth marks (I would also need to build up the slot and button edges but I would get to that soon enough). I called it a night and set the stem aside while I went to sleep.In the morning the repair had cured and I used a needle file to smooth out the repaired spots and also reshape the sharp edge of the button. I sanded the repairs and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the fills in and to remove some of the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process. Now I needed to address the damage to the slot and the button. The slot was too far to the left side of the stem and looked like there was missing material on that side of the button. I used a needle file to open the slot to the right side and then built up the left edge of the button with super glue and charcoal powder. It took a process of layering until I go the flow and shape just right. I shaped it with files and sandpaper until the shape worked for me. I shaped the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Tanshell sandblast finish on this briar is quite beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. Even though it is far from flawless there is still a lot of life left in this old timer. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Restoring the 13th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Tanshell FE F/T Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I feel like I am finally making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. 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.

I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 12 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 13th sandblast pipe to work on – it is another Group 4 but this time a Tanshell Prince. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. The letters FE F/T which make this a Prince shape with a Fantail stem are followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. Next to that it is stamped Made in England 7 – which dates it as being made in 1968. That is followed by a Circle 4T – Group 4 size Tan Shell. The round shank flows into a tapered fishtail 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 Tanshell finish is dirty but nonetheless there is something quite beautiful about the pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. There appears to be a little damage on the front inner edge of the rim but 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 Tanshell Prince was in decent shape all things considered. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also very present. 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 the underside of the bowl and shank. It was very weak but still readable under bright light with a lens.I removed the stem and was surprised to find that a repairman had replaced an obviously broken tenon with a white nylon/Teflon tenon. It fit perfectly but was a surprise nonetheless.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 12 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty well knew how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes (1 more Shell Briar billiard to go). I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. This particular pipe was tired but the cake and lava on the rim should have been more. With the stem off and seeing that it was a repair pipe I could understand why. This one would have been an earlier repair than the billiard I just finished.With that in mind I turned to work on the 13th of his pipes. 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. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. 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. 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 gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Tanshell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth 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 cleaned up the Teflon/Delrin white tenon as much as possible without changing the diameter.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, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Tanshell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Tanshell FE F/T Prince will soon be heading to India to be enjoyed by the next pipeman who has taken on the trust of Bob’s pipes. It really has that classic Dunhill Prince shape that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 13th Dunhill and the 2nd Tanshell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. 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 the 9th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Tanshell Briar R F/T Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. 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.I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 9th sandblast pipe to work on – a Group 4 Tanshell Pot. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank R F/T followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. That is followed by Made in England 8 and ending with a Circle 4T at the shank/stem junction. The 4T gives both size (in this case 4) and the T for a Tan Shell. The date code at the end of the Made in England stamp tells me that it was made in 1969. Finish is dirty, bowl caked and lava overflow on the rim top. Bowl is out of round, damaged edge. The round shank of the Pot shape flows into a short 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 button. The Tanshell finish is significantly lighter in colour than the Shell Briars I have been working on. It is dirty with grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim had damage on the front from a burn mark and it makes the bowl out of round.  The bowl had tobacco stuck in the lava on the walls of the bowl like the other pipes from this estate. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this Pot was in I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl is another thick one and the lava on the rim top is also very thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The fishtail 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. The button surface was also marked with tooth chatter. The sharp edge defining the button was worn down and almost smoothed out. It will be an interesting challenge to bring back to life. (What appears to be a crack at the back left side of the bowl is not one! Whew it was only a crack in the thick lava coat.)I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was clear and readable.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous 8 pipes you have already read what I 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. 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 8 other pipes from Bob’s estate I was beginning to get a feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. Even with the pipes so far I could tell which ones were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. 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 eighth of his pipes. 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 minimize damage on the inner edges of the rim. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a small pen knife to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. 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 worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Tanshell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a needle file to recut the sharp edge of the button and give it back its definition on the stem. I sanded out the marks and tooth 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. The swirled grain “target” on the right side of the bowl is quite stunning. This 1969 Dunhill Tanshell R F/T Pot turned out really well and I was able to minimize the burn damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is the ninth Dunhill and is one of two Tanshells from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from this estate. This pipe is already sold to a fellow who wrote me an email after the first restoration. I quote part of that now as it gives testimony to our small pipesmoking community.

“Hello, I must say this is an incredibly small world. I’ve been following rebornpipes for a while now and when i saw your first write up about Bob Kerr I was incredibly surprised,  he was a prominent member of the community here on Pender Island and has been greatly missed.  I would be honored to buy one of his Dunhills…  Thanks for your time. — Jon”

The pipe will be heading over to Pender Island in a few days to carry on the life it lived there before. I think Jon will enjoy it! Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.