A New Beginning for an Elegant Orlik Royal Sovereign Made in England 188 Prince

The next pipe on the worktable is an elegant Prince shape commissioned by pipe man, Mike, who has commissioned other pipes as well benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Mike is the founder and administrator of the FB group, Brothers by Briar, and currently resides in Iowa.  He is known as a fly designer and fisherman, and most notably is recognized as a veteran, a service for which I am deeply grateful.  The Royal Sovereign Prince that got his attention came to me in December of 2018 in a lot of 26 pipes from an antique shop in St. Louis, Missouri, that my son, Josiah, came upon.  After sending pictures to me where we lived in Bulgaria, we split the purchase of the St. Louis Lot of 26 with one caveat: that I choose one pipe from the lot as a Christmas present from Josiah.  The remainder of the pipes would go to the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ online collection to benefit the Daughters.  It was a deal I could not refuse.  Here is the Royal Sovereign Prince that whispered Mike’s name. The sterling silver band partially obstructs the thinning nomenclature stamped on the left side of the shank: ROYAL SOVEREIGN [over] MADE IN ENGLAND.  The right shank flank is stamped with the shape number, 188.The band is stamped with: ‘Sterling Silver’.Before jumping into the assessment of the issues, I’m interested to know more about the provenance of the pipe.  Turning first to Pipedia, a search of ‘Royal Sovereign’ directs me to a page that says simply that it is a “second” brand of Orlik.  Another quick jump brings me to the Orlik article with a brief history that I include here:

In 1899, a pipe manufacturer was founded in London, Bond Street, by Louis Orlik. L. Orlik Ltd. started to produce high quality pipes for a relatively low price but high service and soon became quite popular. By 1907 they used the name L & A Orlik, which apparently added Louis’s brother, Alfred to the company name. In the first quarter of 1900 they also established in Birmingham. This can be verified by silver hallmarks. In 1980 the company was acquired by Cadogan. Like many of London’s other pipe manufacturers they moved to a new built factory in Southend-on-Sea. As all current brands in the Cadogan group, Orlik was being produced in those factories.

Orlik used the slogan “Smoked by all shrewd judges” “(who are also loved by his hard judge)” with a portrait of a judge wearing a wig. The picture is still used in Denmark for manufacturing of Orlik cigarettes.

The history of Orlik goes back to 1899 when the company came together.  Of interest to me is that Orlik is described as having the same ‘fate’ as other companies that were acquired by the Cadogan conglomerate in 1980.  The question becomes for the Royal Sovereign Prince, was it a second of Orlik pre- or post-Cadogan that would give an idea of its dating? The feel and look of the pipe suggests to me that it is pre-Cadogan, but can this be corroborated?

One potential corroborating factor is the COM lettering.  In the same Orlik article, a paragraph is dedicated to dating Orlik pipes.  After the merger, as with Comoy’s, the COM was changed from a straight block lettering ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ to the circular MADE IN LONDON above with ENGLAND below.  IF a second brand of Orlik is treated in the same way, the straight block MADE IN ENGLAND of the Royal Sovereign suggests a pre-Cadogan era dating.

The Pipedia Orlik article made no mention of Royal Sovereign in its listing of Orlik’s “Models & Grades: Pre-Cadogan era”, but I did find a reference to Royal Sovereign in a linked Pipedia article, Dating Orlik Pipes by Michael Lankton.  The article was interesting as he drilled down into the nuances of dating.  He described a list of Orlik pre-Cadogan series and the descriptions of these series regarding grade of quality.  At the end of his descriptions, Royal Sovereign is mentioned:

Lastly, Orlik had only two seconds lines I am familiar with:
Matchless
Royal Sovereign these appear as Supremes or Coronas with fills. The stems are hand cut or molded on a case by case basis, and only lack the brass O.

This reference confirms that as a ‘second’ of Orlik, it was produced in either the pre-Cadogan ‘Supremes’ series or the somewhat lesser quality Corona series.  The Coronas is described as having fills and I’m assuming the Supremes series does not.  Our Royal Sovereign does have a few fills and it would seem that the Coronas series fits our pipe.  Here are the descriptions given of these two series which are both in the top quarter of quality in the entire series listings:

Supreme(T)(TX)
natural finish cross grain and birdseye, hand cut stems

Corona(C)
natural finish or red finish, maybe year dependent with natural early and red late; cross grain and birdseye, hand cut stems. Can have brass O or brass X inset in stem (X=1950s, O later).

A few interesting facts come up looking at these series.  The natural finish described fits our pipe.  The stems are hand cut and possibly adorned with either a brass O or X.  The stem of the Royal Sovereign on the table has neither, which is allowed by the description.

Another question comes to mind with the description of the Coronas series stems.  The shape number on the right side of the shank on our pipe is 188.  The primary Pipedia Orlik article has a link to a PDF copy of Orlik Pipe Shapes catalogue.  There is no date on the catalogue that I could find, but the Old Bond Street address given on the cover (below) is the pre-Cadogan home of Orlik production dating the catalog before 1980.  On page 14 of the catalogue, I discover the 188 shape number being applied to the Orlik Large Prince – that’s what we have.One more piece of information is found in the listings of PipePhil.  There is a reference to a Royal Sovereign.  The nomenclature is a match, but the pipe on the table has no crown stamping on the stem.What we can say with certainty is that the Royal Sovereign is a second of Orlik and is pre-Cadogan.  The series that the Royal Sovereign is produced in is the Coronas with a shape designation of large Prince.  I would guess that the pipe is somewhat earlier and probably 1950’s or 60’s, but I can find no reference to when the Royal Sovereign line began to give a definitive dating.  With a greater appreciation for the pipe on the table, it’s time to take a look at the issues.

This large Prince shape has elegant lines – I’m drawn by this and the beautifully displayed natural grain. The obvious issue at the start is that the sterling silver band has been used to repair a crack in the shank which is easily seen down the mortise.  After clearing a little debris, the chip on the shank facing and crack is easier to see.  This needs a closer look to make sure the repair is solid.The chamber has cake build up which needs addressing.  The rim is black with lava flow.  There are old fills and a cut on the left side just south of the rim.The stem has seen better days.  There is a lot of calcium build up and the oxidation is deep with tooth chatter evident.Starting the restoration, the focus is on the general cleaning before repairs.  The stem airway is cleaned using pipe cleaners and isopropyl 99%.To address the oxidation the stem is placed in a soak of Briarville’s Stem Oxidation Remover overnight.The next day, the stem is fished out of the soak and a lightened picture shows the raised oxidation on the vulcanite.Using 0000 grade steel wool, the stem is scrubbed to remove the raised oxidation as much as possible.To condition the vulcanite, Paraffin oil is applied, and the stem is set aside to absorb the oil.Turning now to the cleaning of the stummel, the first step is to ream the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming Kit. Two of the 4 blade heads available were used.  Following the reaming, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool is used to scrape the chamber walls and then the walls are sanded using 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.An inspection of the chamber shows no heating issues – all looks good.Moving next to the external briar, before cleaning, I take another look at the band and the crack beneath.  The shank facing is chipped beneath the band.  Looking in the mortise, I am able to see the trajectory of the crack in the shank and then take a look on the shank to see if the crack might extend beyond the band.I discover that it does. The crack emerges and runs laterally along the band’s edge.I decide to see if the band will come off the shank to get a better look at things. If it’s been glued on it won’t be possible.  With a bit of tug and twist, the band slides off.There is no doubt that the band has been the only thing holding the shank together.  The crack does not appear to have been repaired with glued because there is a gap visible.Following the crack to its end, the crack has not been blocked by drilling a counter-creep hole.  The pipe obviously had great value to the former steward to acquire a band to reinforce the shank so that there might not be a catastrophic brake which would have removed half of the shank facing.I decide to address this crack repair before cleaning the stummel.  The reason for this is that when the crack gets wet with the cleaning, it might absorb the water and expand which might change the dynamics of the repair.  I do clean the shank first with alcohol.I use a magnifying glass to positively identify the end of the crack which is microscopic.  A sharp dental probe is used then to press a hole at the end of the crack.  This hole acts as a guide for the drilling of the counter-creep hole.With the drilling guide hole sunk, drilling is next.  Using a 1.5mm drill bit mounted on the rotary tool, with my breathe held to steady the hand, the hole is drilled where it needs to be.  It looks good.There are two main parts of this crack repair – the crack itself and filling in the large chip on the shank facing.  First, the crack.  Using Thin CA glue, a line of glue is applied to the crack and then briar dust is applied to add consistency to the patch and to blend better for the small part that will not be beneath the band.  I use thin CA glue so that it seeps deeply into the crack to solidify the patch.Next, to build out the chip on the shank facing, a small amount of briar putty is mixed with briar dust and regular CA glue on a scotch tape covered mixing disk.The toothpick is used to pull the dust into the CA glue and then mixes the batch.  With the mixture thick enough to remain where placed – about the consistency of molasses, the mixture is troweled to the patch area filling it in.  The stummel is put aside for a time to allow the patches to cure.After the patch has cured, the cleaning regimen continues by scrubbing the external briar and rim.  A few starting pictures are taken to mark the progress.  The patina on the bowl is really nice and I want to do everything I can to preserve it through the repairs on the bowl. Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, the external briar is scrubbed with a cotton pad.  A brass wire brush is also used on the thick lava crusting over the rim.The bowl is then transported to the sink where the cleaning of the internals is done with shank brushes with anti-oil liquid dish washing soap and hot water. After the scrubbing, the bowl is thoroughly rinsed and brought back to the worktable.The cleaning of the internals continue using cotton pads moistened with isopropyl 99%.  A small dental spoon is also used to scrape the walls of the mortise to remove tars and oils.  After the buds begin to emerge lighter, I stop the cleaning for now to continue with an alcohol and cotton ball soak later on.With the main cleaning completed, a survey of the bowl shows the challenges. The rim cleaned up nicely, but the aft inner rim is still dark from charring.  Some sanding should address this.The cleaning also revealed underneath the lava flow on the rim is an imperfection.  I had noted the crevasse on the stummel’s left side just below the rim.The cleaning revealed that the crack runs onto the rim.  I don’t believe this crack to be created by trauma but by imperfection in the briar.  The distinct and lively grain this bowl displays most likely was from a block cut from the outer regions of the briar bole.  The trade off with the beautiful grain patterns of the outer bole are more imperfections.  I’ll treat the crack like any other crack.  Even though I don’t believe this crack to be creeping, I will treat it as if it is and drill counter creep holes on both sides of the crack and patch the crevasse between.Continuing the survey, pitting can be seen on the right front quadrant of the stummel.  This will be addressed with sanding.The fills on the right side of the crook where the shank and bowl merge are old and need to be addressed.Starting with the fills, a sharp dental probe digs out the old fill material.One of the fills is very close to the shape number and this will be a challenge to apply a new patch and sand it down to blend in.Moving to the rim area, the larger part of the crack is cleaned with a dental probe.To prepare for drilling counter-creep holes, a sharp dental probe is used to press a drilling guide hole at the ends of the crack. It takes the help of a magnifying glass to identify the ends and then press the guide holes with the probe. To drill the counter-creep hole, a 1.5mm drill bit is mounted onto the rotary tool.It’s always a bit nerve racking to drill these very small holes.  The hand isn’t terribly steady, but with breath held, the holes are accurately guided by the guide holes.I will patch the fills and the rim area together using briar putty.  Briar putty is made by mixing regular CA glue with briar dust.  First, the areas are cleaned with alcohol.   After putting some scotch tape strips on the plastic mixing disk for easy cleanup, a small mound of briar dust is placed on the palette along with some regular CA glue.Using a toothpick, the briar dust is gradually drawn into the CA glue and mixed.  When the mixture thickens to about the consistency of molasses, the toothpick is used to trowel the putty to patch the old fills and patch the crack by the rim.  The stummel is set aside to allow the patches to cure.Next, the stem has been on the sideline and now taking a closer look, the oxidation is still visible as the lightened picture below shows. The stem should be black, but the oxidation has an olive greenish hue.  The stem needs to be sanded to address this.The upper bit has some tooth chatter, but the lower bit has more damage with a deeper bite compression.  The heating method is used to help minimize the chatter and compression by painting the bit with a Bic lighter. As the vulcanite rubber heats it expands toward its original position, or to some degree.  After applying the heating, the following before and after pictures show the change.  The upper bit looks better.The lower bit has improved, but there are still compressions.Another issue surfaces during the heating process.  The upper button lip has a crack running over it to the bit surface.  This is surprising because the upper bit only showed minor tooth chatter.  The expansion of the vulcanite made the hairline crack more visible.To address the crack on the button upper lip, Black CA glue is used to rebuild and reinforce the button.  Black CA is also applied to the lower bit compressions.  The stem is then put aside for the patches to cure.After the glue has cured, a flat and square needle file are used to file down the patches and to shape the button on the upper and lower sides.Next, 220 grade paper is used to erase the file marks and to continue to smooth the upper and lower bit.The sanding is expanded to the whole stem with 220 paper to address the deep oxidation.  The plastic disk is used to guard against shouldering the shank facing.Again, the stem is sanded with 470 grade paper to continue to smooth the stem surface.Next, using 600 grade paper the stem is wet sanded.  This is followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool. The stem is looking much, much improved.Next, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads are applied starting first with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 24000.  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 help condition the stem and to guard against future oxidation.  I love to watch the gloss pop out! The patches have all cured on the stummel.  I start first with the shank crack repair.  Using a flat needle file, the excess patch material is filed down flush with the briar surface. The following picture shows the counter creep hole area with the excess patch material removed.  The crack is almost invisible.Next, the patch rebuilding the shank facing where the large chip was is now filed down with needle files.  I start with the external shank surface to flush with the briar surface.  After this, the patch material is filed down flush with the shank facing.This picture shows the result.  The patch is flush on the top and with the facing, but the patch still impedes the mortise.To remove the excess patch material from the mortise, a round needle file is used.What is left after filing in the mortise is the patch material in the shank bevel encircling the inner mortise mouth.To address this a grinding sphere just the right size fits nicely into the mortise bevel.With patience, the grinding ball is used to remove the excess patch material and to clean up the bevel.The result is good.  The chip rebuild has filled the area nicely reinforcing the shank stability.  Moving now to the fills in the background.Special care is given to filing the smaller fill near the shape number.  A rounded half and rounded needle file are used. A square needle file is also used on the flatter surface fills.The filing is completed on these fills.  It was difficult to stay on top of the fills when filing because of the curved surface.  Sanding should clean the file marks.Finally, the crack/crevasse near the rim with the small crack reaching over the rim.  Square and flat needle files are used.The result is good.  Now to sanding these areas.Using 220 sanding paper, the areas are carefully sanded in order to stay in the repair area.The other place on the bowl appears to be where the bowl was impacted on a patio!  The area is also sanded with 220 grade paper to minimize the pitting.With the primary repairs completed, next is sanding and polishing of the bowl.  The rim is semi-rounded with the outer edge being flat.  The rim is dark from charring and has nicks and dents.  To address this, I first top the bowl with 240 then 600 grade sanding paper.  This will start the cleaning of the rim and give it fresh lines.First, the bowl is topped with 240 paper.Next, before topping with 600 paper, the inner rim where it is rounded is hand sanded and rounded with 220 paper.Next, the stummel is topped with 600 grade paper.As before, the inner rim is sanded and rounded with 600 grade paper.  While I have the 600 grade paper in hand, not shown is that I go back over all the repair areas with 600 grade paper as well.Next, after placing painter’s tape over the nomenclature to protect it, the stummel is dry sanded with micromesh pads starting with pads 1500 to 2400 grades, then 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each pad, the bowl is wiped with a wet cloth to clear away the dust and to give the pads additional traction.  I love to watch the natural briar darken during the micromesh process and to reveal the patina. Before proceeding with the final polishing, the aged silver sterling band needs to be remounted on the shank.There’s a good bit of corrosion on the band which may not fully come out.Tarn-X is used to clean the band of the tarnish.  After washing the band with soap and water, the Tarn-X is wiped on with a cotton pad and soon after, the band is rinsed and dried.  Well, there are parts of the band where the silver appears to have worn away.  It still looks like an aged warrior that’s done the job of supporting the shank!I go through a pros/cons process in my mind of whether I should use the worn sterling band that came with the Royal Sovereign, or do I fit it with another, new nickel band?  There’s something about this Prince with all its problems that have been addressed, but still noticeable, that makes me want to root for this elegant, beautifully grained pipe that has fallen on hard times.  I decide to keep the old worn band – they go together.To mount the band, the band first is heated with a hot air gun to give the soft metal more elasticity and less likely to rip when mounted.  The band is then slipped over the shank and pushed by hand onto the shank as far as it will go, but not fully mounted.  Then, after additional heating with the hot air gun, with the shank down against the working cloth, the stummel is gently forced down pushing the band securely over the shank.Success!  The band looks good.With the supportive band remounted, I want to get a look at the pipe with the stem reunited – to make sure the stem fit is still good.  The stem is snug, but not too tight – great fit and the Prince is looking good.Before continuing with applying Blue Diamond and wax, the day is coming to an end and earlier I mentioned that the internal cleaning would continue with an alcohol and cotton ball soak.  The soak helps to freshen the briar for a new steward.  Using two cotton balls, one is stretched and twisted to form a ‘wick’ which is inserted down the mortise to the draft hole.A stiff wire helps with guiding the wick down the mortise.  The cotton wick serves to draw out additional tars and oils from the internal briar.The other cotton ball is stuffed in the chamber.  The stummel is placed in an egg carton to give stability and to angle the stummel so that the rim and end of the shank are level.  Using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% is then put in the chamber until the alcohol surfaces over the cotton.About 10 minutes is given for the alcohol to be absorbed and again the chamber is topped off.  The lights go out and the soak will go through the night.The next morning, the soiling in the cotton shows the work going on through the night.Just to make sure all is clean, a couple of cotton buds confirms that the internals are clean and refreshed and ready for a new steward.Next, to bring out the natural briar hues of the bowl, Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm is used.  After placing a bit of the Balm on the fingers, it is worked into the briar and then set aside for 10 or so minutes for the Balm to do its magic.After the time has passed, the bowl is wiped, and hand buffed with microfiber cloths dedicated to Balm removal.  The byproduct of this is that other pipes can receive a quick refresh with the balm buffing with these cloths.  Mark’s product (www.Lbepen.com) does not disappoint.The home stretch – before reuniting the stem and stummel, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the rotary tool dedicated to buffing metals, Blue Diamond compound is lightly applied to the sterling silver band. During the buffing, care is given to avoid running the cotton wheel over the shank briar.  Buffing metals produces a black residue which can stain the briar if there is a run over.  The silver plating is not in good shape – we’ll see what the compound can do.Wow!  I am surprised and amazed at the results.  I had been under the impression that the silver plating had worn off.  The buffing with the compound removed years of corrosion and wear.  This is a nice ‘face lift’ for this Orlik Royal Sovereign Prince.Next, after reuniting stem and stummel and mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to the application of Blue Diamond compound, the compound is applied to the pipe (minus the band) at about 40% full power.After the application of Blue Diamond compound, the pipe is buffed with a felt cloth.  The purpose of this is to remove the compound dust that collects on the surface before applying the wax.Finally, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool and Carnauba wax is applied to the pipe.  Following this, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.This Orlik Royal Sovereign Made in England Prince is a genuine vintage pipe and has come a long way.  My guess of dating is from the 1950s or 60s, though definitely pre-1980s.  The stummel had several issues with crack repairs and refilling imperfections in the briar.  Yet, even with the scars it carries forward, this Prince is an elegant pipe, and the grain calls out to be noticed.  The gentle taper of the Prince stem continues the long lines and the sterling silver band provides a touch of class.  The ample bowl promises a lot of time and reflection with one’s favorite blend packed and ready to go.  Mike commissioned this pipe and as the commissioner will have the first opportunity to acquire the Orlik Royal Sovereign from the Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  A ‘before’ picture starts to remind us how far we’ve come.  Thanks for joining me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “A New Beginning for an Elegant Orlik Royal Sovereign Made in England 188 Prince

  1. Pingback: Overcoming a Severely Charred Rim for an Unbranded Horn Stem Bulldog – The Pipe Steward

  2. Mike Hulsey

    Finally Dal, seemed to take forever before I had the time to read everything and truly see the transformation. You amaze me my friend with your talents in working with briar and restoration. I’ve now read both of the restoration write ups and am happy to have them both headed my way.

    Liked by 1 person

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