Monday, January 28, 2008

A couple of "in progress" pipes

Only stummels, actually, since neither one has a stem. The lighting outside is not ideal right now, but these are just some in progress pictures, so what the hey.

This is a Bertram, and according to the nomenclature on the shank (other side), it was made in Washington, D.C. I scored a few Bertrams in a lot some time ago, and they all had two things in common: they are big, and they are battered. Someone didn't take very good care of them.

The only real damage to the briar of this one was on the rim. It had some serious nicks and scratches. As you can see, I already made a start by sanding off the damage. I had to shave a millimeter or two to get it nice and flat. It's a little uneven, though, and will require more careful sanding with continuously finer grits before I can call it done. Then I'll be stripping the original finish off and sanding around the bowl with fine grit to erase the last few scratches and make it all nice and smooth and even. The shank has no nicks or scratches and will not be sanded because I want to preserve the nomenclature. And finally, I'll try re-staining it. This will be a new adventure for me; I haven't done it before. I have all the stuff I need to do it, I just need to do it.

This pipe impressed me with its size and the sheer mass of briar that makes up this stummel (actually, all of the Bertrams impressed me this way). The bowl walls are quite thick and I have no doubt it will be a good smoker if I don't destroy it. When I'm satisfied that I've done all the damage I can do, I'll have it fitted for a new stem. It didn't have a stem with it when I got it, and I'm not quite ready to attempt stem replacement myself. When I picture this finished pipe in my imagination, I see it with a saddle bit stem, so that's what I'll be going for. I plan on smoking this one myself for a while, and making a final decision on whether to try and sell it or not later.

This unusual-looking pipe is a House of Westminster cherrywood made in Switzerland. It not only looks unusual, it is unusual. Most cherrywoods have two wooden parts; the bowl is carved separate from the shank. The bowl and shank will have threads drawn in the wood so they can screw together, or sometimes they are carved so that the shank just sticks into the bowl. This one is unusual because they managed to find a knobby elbow of a cherry tree limb that they could carve into a single piece pipe.

This one had no damage to the wood. It had heavy tar build-up on the rim which cleaned off very nicely, leaving a rim almost as slick and clean as the bottom. The stem that came with it was very odd and disproportionate from the stummel. I have a suspicion it was not the original stem. It was very short and turned this rugged-looking pipe into a nose-warmer. I would not have wanted to smoke it like that. Also, the stem it came with was badly chewed. It looked like someone had tried to beat a snake to death with it. Fortunately, there was no nomenclature on the stem, so I didn't lose anything by discarding it. I picture this one with a long tapered stem. Not churchwarden long, but maybe a little longer than usual.

I'll be keeping this one, if only for the simple rarity of having a one-piece cherrywood pipe.

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