I recently found this little jewel on eBay. It was listed as a French Briar, but it had a unique charm to it that no one else seemed to see. I got it for not even a song, just a clearing of the throat.
It came with this case which also needs attention. The case was marked with French Briar inside which, while it fits the pipe I don’t think came with the pipe originally.
The top of the rim had what appeared to be mold on it. Inside was not too bad as there was hardly any cake built up in it. The stem has nicks in it and the brass / gold sleeve was very dirty.
I gave the stem a bath in the Oxyclean for a couple of hours and the bowl after reaming with my Castleford reamer set of the lower three sizes, an alcohol bath over night. The Oxyclean did a great job of removing the tar and stains from the inside and outsides of the stem. The texture of the stem was rough. I had hoped to bring it up by sanding it first then buffing it. I saw the real amber structure come alive as I attempted to polish the amber with sanding sponges from 1200 to 6000 grits. Under a magnifying glass I could see very small bubbles and imperfections in the amber. As I sanded these imperfections were exposed and became open divots, though small, visible on the stem. As I was able to completely clean the inside of the stem I decided to just try to put some shine on the outside by using the buffing wheel. This worked very well and put a good shine to it.
The white specks are the opened bubbles. Not wanting to deteriorate the condition further I settled for the polishing wheel.
Next up was to clean out the bowl. I was happy to see that the spot that looked like mold disappeared after the alcohol bath. Using an old tooth brush I went over it with more alcohol and was able to remove all of the grime that the bath loosened and clear the grooves. They are very crisp all the way around. While the surface of the pipe is very good there is an underlying dark area round the front that looked like it was deep within the briar. When the bowl was wet it showed some very nice birdseye on one side and flame grain on the other. Leaving it alone I let it dry, then using OxBlood Red leather stain gave it several coats and flamed it to set.
I gave it a coat of beeswax and a buff.
In researching the Real Amber WDC connection I was able to find an identical shank sleeve on a straight Real Amber WDC that they dated at 1890. I would like to believe that this is one from the same time but before I claim it I will continue to research the dating wherever I can.