Appreciating the Story of an Edward’s Algerian Briar Sculpted Square Panel

The next pipe on the worktable was also commissioned by Darren who found this pipe in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I acquired this expressive pipe in September 2017 along with 65 five of his fellows in what I have called the Lot of 66.  Over the years, many of these pipes have been restored and are now enjoying new homes with stewards who saw them and commissioned them.  The Lot of 66 was an estate collection that had been donated to a charity in Georgetown, Texas, called the ‘Caring Place’ (see: https://www.caringplacetx.org/) which describes its mission as:  providing for basic human needs of all people in our community in a welcoming, respectful and caring way.  The byline below the picture of the Lot of 66 on the eBay listing got my attention: Huge Lot Of 66 Smoking Pipes Pre-Owned Pre-Smoked and Deeply Loved.  After acquiring the Lot of 66, I wrote to the Caring Place to find out about the Lot.  They couldn’t give me information about the donor, but they assumed that since they all came in one box that most likely it was an estate collection.  Some pipe man “deeply loved” these pipes and now, his family donated them to a charity to help their community.  Recommissioning this pipe man’s collection became my part as The Pipe Steward.  Here is the Lot of 66 (well, most of them) which has now continued to benefit another great cause, the Daughters of Bulgaria. Darren was perusing the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection and heard the Edward’s Sculpted Square panel whisper his name and he commissioned it.  Here are pictures of the Edward’s now on the worktable. The nomenclature is found on the lower smooth heel.  In cursive, ‘Edward’s’ is stamped over capitalized block lettering, ‘ALGERIAN BRIAR’. This is my first time working on an ‘Edward’s’ pipe and I’m interested in finding out more.  My trip to Pipedia was rewarded with an article describing Edward’s.

Edward’s pipes were originally produced in Saint-Claude, France when France actually was a world-class pipe maker with longstanding business & political connections to Colonial Algeria that allowed them to obtain the finest briar.

During the tumultuous 1960’s, Edward’s created a business model to offer the finest briar available in both Classic and Freehand shapes – all at a fair price. They bought the company & equipment and cornered the market on the finest, choice Algerian Briar just before the supply vanished in political turmoil of Algeria’s independence. Edward’s packed up both machinery and briar-treasure to America, safely caching the essentials to create a new pipe-making dynasty. This was a coup, for the 70’s and 80’s were grim years for pipe smokers as quality briar all but disappeared.

Edward’s Design Philosophy is hard to pin down, think of their style as the “American Charatan” with unique & clever twists all their own. Today, they fashion pipes in several locations across the USA. All of Edward’s pipes are Algerian Briar – a fact very few pipe companies can claim, and all are oil-cured utilizing natural finishes – no strange concoctions are used to interfere in your tastebud’s dance with the briar. Algerian, Calabrian, Sardinian, Corsican – take your pick, but Algerian Briar is generally considered the finest smoking briar ever used. When combined with oil-curing, Algerian takes on a magical quality that even Alfred Dunhill recognized as far back as 1918 as the choice for both his Bruyere and Shell.

The article seems to be a sales promo for Edward’s and points out the high quality of the Algerian briar and oil-curing used in the manufacturing of Edward’s pipes.  The pipe on the worktable fits the bill as the same Edward’s with Algerian briar.  The Pipedia article also had some pictures of examples of Edward’s pipes.  While looking at these pictures, I noticed something peculiar that reminded me of something I had seen on Darren’s pipe.  Next to the nomenclature stamping I noticed a strange shape which I took for an imperfection in the Algerian briar.  Looking at the examples in the Pipedia article, I noticed small decorative objects stamped into the briar.  Here are some of these: With eyes now tuned to look for interesting objects embedded in the Algerian briar; a fresh picture is taken to reveal what appears now to be a mushroom 😊.  This mushroom conclusively marks this pipe as a genuine Edward’s creation! Looking next to Pipephil.eu, more information is provided to piece together the Edward’s story.  The Edward’s panel adds more current information.  The Edward’s operation based in Tampa, Florida, and continued to produce Algerian briar pipes at least until 2010.  The blurb describes the focus on the importation of the briar from France in the late 50s/early 60s.  It doesn’t mention the information from Pipedia that Edward’s pipes originated in Saint Claude, and the operation moved to the US during this period.  I was happy to see also that Pipephil added yet another object, a key. Interested to find out if Edward’s was still operational in Tampa, a quick search turned up the information I was looking for.  Edward’s now exists as Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco, a tobacconist located on Henderson Boulevard in Tampa.  Their Facebook page describes Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco as being a Tampa landmark since 1960.  The Edward’s logo that presented itself when I opened the Facebook page struck a chord in my mind – I’ve seen this before.  I soon remember that there is also an Edward’s here in the Denver area, which was recommended to me by fellow pipe man, Todd Platek, which I’ve yet to visit! Curious to find out more about Edward’s pipe production today, I continued searching.  I found a thread describing a visit to the Tampa based Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco at Pipesmagazine.com.  The posting was in 2020 and described the tobaccos available at the tobacconist.  My interest increased when the thread discussion bent toward pipes made by Edward’s when ‘mso490’ asked this question:  Was Edwards part of the Frank company that made pipes? Was there an Edwards pipe, or maybe that was just a house pipe made by someone else? Seems like there used to be a pipe making activity in Tampa.

‘Gamzultovah’ responded: You are correct, MSO. They still had one or two of the Edward’s pipes hanging around, but they no longer produce pipes. Another interesting fact is that McCranie’s used to be an Edward’s franchise back in the day.

The thread concludes with a few other contributors talking about the quality of their Edward’s pipes:

Papamique: Edwards pipes were all made of oil cured Algerian briar. Mine are wonderful smokers.

Pappymac: I have two of the Edwards Algerian Briar pipes I found in a junk shop three years ago. I’ve never been disappointed when smoking them.

Mso489:  I believe Edwards made Benton pipes that were house pipes for Iwan Ries decades ago. I bought three of them — a billiard, a Canadian, and a bent-billiard/almost Oom-Paul, all of the mentioned oil cured Algerian briar, all of which have aged extremely well and look almost new.

Edward’s pipes are no longer being produced by Edward’s.  Sometime after 2010 it appears that production ceased or other manufacturers were contracted to make Edward’s pipes, and Edward’s itself became more exclusively a tobacconist and not a pipe producer.  One thing that comes through very clearly through the research – the Algerian briar and oil curing used to produce Edward’s pipes historically, is a superior briar from the descriptions and testimonies.  The oil treatment of the Algerian briar seems to have produced a quality smoking pipe.

With a better appreciation of the Edward’s pipe now on the worktable, I take a closer look at it.  The pipe is generally in good condition.  The briar has darkened with time.  The chamber has moderate cake build up with some discoloration of the rounded and squared sculpted rim.  The rim can almost be described as a Freehand plateau because it is broad and expressive. The Algerian briar surface is in great condition. I find no fills and few scratches or other imperfections.  The briar surface is dark and needs cleaning, but not much else that I can see. The saddle stem has some oxidation and scratches around the button area.  It should clean up nicely. To begin the restoration, the first step is to work on the stem.  Using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%, the airway is cleaned without too much effort. To address the light oxidation, the stem is placed in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover for several hours to soak. When the stem is removed from the soak, it is rubbed briskly with a cotton pad to remove the raised oxidation. Next, paraffin oil is applied to the stem to help recondition the vulcanite.  The stem is then put to the side to soak in the oil. Switching now to the stummel, a fresh picture is taken of the chamber and the moderate cake buildup. The chamber is reamed by first using 3 of the 4 available blades in the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Following this, the chamber is first scraped using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool then sanded using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After the chamber is wiped with a cotton pad, another picture is taken to show the progress.  A quick inspection of the chamber reveals no problems.  To clean the external briar surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used to scrub with a cotton pad.  A few pictures are taken to mark the start. The stummel is scrubbed with the cotton pad and a bristled toothbrush helps with getting into the sculpting.  The darkened rim ring is addressed with a brass brush which does not damage the briar but provides a little more cleaning muscle. The stummel is then taken to the sink using hottish water and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  Shank brushes are used to scrub the internals.  Afterwards, the stummel is thoroughly rinsed and is returned to the worktable. Continuing the cleaning of the internals, cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to do the job.  It doesn’t happen often, but the sink cleaning seemed to have done the trick.  With only using a few buds and pipe cleaners, the internals are clean.  Not bad! With the basic cleaning completed, I look more closely at the stummel.  The only thing I see that needs attention are vestiges of the darkened area around the rim, especially on the back side.  There are remnants of a flattened rim edge around the rim ring but over time the rim has rounded off.  To clean the rim edge and to reestablish clean lines, I will give the stummel a very light topping. A starting picture is registered to track the progress. Using a chopping board, a piece of 470 grade paper is placed over it to serve as a topping board.  With the stummel inverted, the stummel is rotated a few times over the paper and checked. A shadow of charred wood remains on the aft side of the rim – the point at which the former steward most likely drew the flame over the rim to light the bowl. After a few more rotations, another check and I decide that enough briar has been removed. Switching the paper to 600 grade, the stummel is rotated several more times.  It looks good, even though there remains a shadow of darker briar on the back side of the rim.  This should be blended during the sanding and polishing process. One more step is used to clean the internal edge of the rim.  The edge is given a very light smart bevel using a piece of wood pressing against the paper. With the rim looking better, work continues on the stummel by sanding with micromesh pads.  This will clean the surface and serve to bring out the grain.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, the stummel is wet sanded.  Dry sanding follows using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I enjoy watching the grain emerge in the smooth briar areas and contrasting with the rustication and sculpted areas.  The grain is interesting and expressive.  I’m liking what I’m seeing. Following the micromesh process, to continue bringing out the natural briar subtleties, Mark Hoover’s Restoration Balm is used.  Some Balm is placed on my finger and worked into the briar surface – smooth briar and sculpted cuts and crevasses.  As the Balm is applied, it starts out with a creamier viscosity and then thickens into a wax like feel.  After applying thoroughly, the stummel is set aside for about 15 minutes to allow the Balm to do its job. After the time is complete, a micromesh cloth dedicated to wiping and buffing off the excess Balm is used with the Edward’s.  I’m not disappointed.  The results are nice. Wow!  The briar hues are beautifully showcased. Putting the stummel aside, the stem is next.  The soak in Briarville’s Oxidation Remover did a great job.  The pictures below show roughness in the vulcanite and normal wear with nicks and scratches. To refresh the button, the first step is to redefine the button lips using a flat needle file. This is followed by sanding with 470 grade paper.  I usually use 240 grade, a rougher grade, but the condition of the stem is good and the finer paper will be sufficient.  To guard the edges of the stem facing from shouldering, the plastic disk is used during the sanding. The 470 grade is followed by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.  The stem is looking good. The full set of micromesh pads is next.  Starting with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem to help condition it as well as to protect it from developing oxidation. With the micromesh sanding completed, the Edward’s Sculpted Square Panel’s stem and stummel are reunited to get a look at the progress.  As sometimes is the case after a thorough cleaning, the mortise fit of the tenon has tightened.  I do not force the seating of the stem but use a piece of 600 grade paper to sand the tenon a bit.  This helps to loosen the fit so not to crack a shank! With the stem seated, the pipe looks great. With the pipe joined, the next step is to apply the finely abrasive Blue Diamond compound.  A cotton cloth wheel dedicated to the application of the compound is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed set at about 40% full power. The compound is then methodically applied to the stummel and stem surface. After application of the compound, which is a fine powdery abrasive, there is compound dust on the briar surface.  A felt cloth is used to buff and remove the compound residue in preparation for the application of the wax. After mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the rotary tool remaining at the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the pipe next.  Following the application of the wax, a microfiber cloth is used to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine. I appreciated learning more about the history and story of the Edward’s name.  The Algerian briar that has punctuated this story has been retold in the Edward’s Sculpted Square Panel.  The expressive grain of this briar provides a showcase of distinctive spotted bird’s eye pattern that reminds one of a leopard’s pelt.  This grain is complemented with swirl and flame patterns.  The Edward’s shape styling is unique. The Panel shape is traditional but with a touch of freehand tossed in for flare.  The square panel is complemented by the flowing squared shank.  This gives a strong presentation, and the bowl has a solid feel in the hand.  This Edward’s promises to provide a new steward with good fellowship for years to come.  Darren commissioned this pipe and will have the first opportunity to claim him in The Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – an effort helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!  A comparison picture helps to show how far the Edward’s has come!

 

7 thoughts on “Appreciating the Story of an Edward’s Algerian Briar Sculpted Square Panel

    1. ThePipeSteward

      Thanks, Steve! It certainly is an interesting shape. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it, but he should be a good pipe for his new steward 🙂

      Like

  1. Dave

    Well done Dal. This pipe has an interesting shape and grain. I’ve been enjoying Edward’s Pipe and Tobacco here in Tamp FL for well over 30 years. I bought several of their pipes, years ago and found them to be good pipes. Thanks for adding to my knowledge of this fine old shop, and the pipes they produced. It’s a great place to stop and shop at this friendly shop when you’re in the Tampa area.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ThePipeSteward

    Thanks, Dave. Doing the research I connected that they have a store here in Denver. I’ve have yet to visit, but it’s on my ‘to do’ list :-). Thanks for your comments.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Breathing New life into an Elegant French Algerian Briar Canadian – The Pipe Steward

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