Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is another one that came to me from either a trade I made (pipes for labour) or a find on one of my pipe hunts. I honestly don’t remember where it came from. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. It is an older long shank Canadian with a gold coloured band on the shank. It is quite dirty but has some great grain on the bowl and the shank. The stamping on this Canadian is faint but and readable. It is stamped on the topside mid-shank and reads Nat Sherman. There is no shape number on the shank that I can see. The gold band is stamped 1/20, 14K, Diamond T, G.F. The pipe had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl. The bowl had been heavily caked but had been reamed somewhere in its journey. The rim top and inner edges had darkening, burn damage and some nicks in the surface all the way around though heavier on the back side. The vulcanite stem was dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. There were no identifying logos or markings on the taper stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the bowl and the damage on the rim top and edges. The 14K Gold Band is tarnished and scratched. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light chatter and tooth marks. I took photos of the stamping on the top side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is faint but readable. The gold band is stamped on the top as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. I also took a photo of the shank end to show that there was no crack under the band. It appears that it was solely for adornment. I wanted to see if I could narrow down a time frame for this Nat Sherman pipe so I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a good overview and see if there were photos of a similar looking stamping on a pipe there. There was no information on the brand on the site.
From there I turned to Pipedia to read more information about the time periods and the stamping on this particular pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_N_-_Q). There was only a note on the search page. It read as follows: Brand made for well known New York City Tobacconist of the same name.
I turned to Wikipedia to see what I could learn about the brand as it was one of the few articles on the history (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Sherman).
Nat Sherman is the brand name for a line of handmade cigars and “luxury cigarettes”. The company, which began as a retail tobacconist, continued to operate a flagship retail shop, known as the “Nat Sherman Townhouse”, located on 42nd Street, off Fifth Avenue, in New York City from 1930 to 2020, when it closed its doors. Corporate offices are now located at the foot of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey…
…During the 1960s, the Sherman shop expanded its wares to include pipes. Over 1,000 pipes were offered for sale in a 40-foot (12 m) long case hung along the wall of the store. The company also began to sell pipe tobacco under the “Nat Sherman” brand name. At the time of its expansion, the company’s pipe department was perhaps the largest in New York City and the United States. Quoted from an interview with Joel Sherman noted below. (Sherman, Joel. “An Interview with Joel Sherman of Nat Sherman”, PipesMagazine.com, November 25, 2009. Retrieved February 12, 2011)
Now it was time to work on the pipe. I cleaned up the reaming of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. It did not take too much work to clean it up internally. I then turned my attention to the rim top and edges. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on the top of the rim. I also worked over the inside edge of the bowl with a folded piece of sandpaper to give it a gentle bevel. I polished the 14K Gold shank band with a jeweler’s cloth to remove the tarnish and oxidation. It also works to slow down the tarnish process. I took some photos of the band after the polishing. I cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took quite a few of them to clean out the chamber. I cleaned the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol as well. Once finished the pipe smelled far better. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim top with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the debris from the finish. I rinsed the bowl with warm water to remove the grime and soap and dried it off with a soft towel. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like what I was seeing! I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I noted that there was a metal tube in the tenon that added strength. I started working on it by dealing with the tooth marks on the stem and button. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a lighter and lifted the bite marks on the surface of the stem (forgot to take photos). I filled in the deep marks on both sides of the stem with black super glue and set it aside to cure. I used a small flat file to flatten out the repairs and to recut the edge of the button. I sanded the repairs further with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. There was some residual oxidation at the shank end of the stem and some deep spots just ahead of the button. I scrubbed it with SoftScrub All Purpose cleanser to scrub off the oxidation on the stem. I was able to remove the remnant of oxidation.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with an Obsidian Oil impregnated cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This beautiful Nat Sherman 14K Gold Banded Canadian with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown stain on the bowl allows the grain to really show. It came alive with the polishing and waxing. The 14K Gold band is a great transition between the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Nat Sherman Canadian is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 43 grams/1.52 oz. This one will go in the US Pipe makers section of the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!