A Rare Find – An Early Ivarsson Pickaxe Stanwell Collectors Piece

I’ve been sitting on this restoration for a while, mainly because it took some time for me to come to grips with the pipe’s pedigree. The pipe in question is a Stanwell Collectors Piece, a special series of pipes issued during the company’s “Regd. No.” era (roughly 1948 – 1970) and apparently quite rare in the North American estate pipe market (I’ve come across only one other example to date).

The pipe is stamped on the left shank with “Stanwell” over “REGD.No. 969-48” over “Made in Denmark” over “Collectors Piece”. On the right shank the pipe bears a circular stamp which reads “An Ivarsson Design”.

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Regular DadsPipes readers will recognize Ivarsson’s Pickaxe shape from the restoration of the Royal Guard 01-M I posted a while back. In that entry, I noted that the “01” Pickaxe shape was introduced to the Stanwell catalog around 1975. The presence of the “Regd No” on this Collectors Piece Pickaxe places its production at least a few years earlier. I did a mental double-take when I realized that this pipe may well be one of the first production examples of Ivarsson’s design.

The pipe hit my worktable in overall excellent estate condition. The briar was in very good shape, though the rim had some darkening and a few small knife gouges to sort out. The stem was lightly oxidized and the Stanwell Crowned S logo looked a little rough. I’d also have to deal with a few tooth dents in order to get this Collectors Piece ready for action.

I dropped the stem into an Oxyclean bath with a few others to start the process of removing the oxidation. While the stem soaked, I reamed the light cake from the bowl.

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I had planned to work on the rim next, but took a quick look inside the shank and changed course. It was yucky in there! A pile of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol made short work of the tars and crud.

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Moving back to the rim, I used 220 and 320 grit sandpapers and sanding sponges to smooth out the line of gouges along the back rim. A few micromesh pads in 1500 and 1800 grits removed the sanding marks.

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The stummel then received a scrub with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a toothbrush, followed by a quick shine with micromesh pads to 4000 grit and a wipe of mineral oil. I set the stummel aside and went to work on the stem.

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The Oxyclean soak had done its job, and the now-soft oxidation came away easily with a bit of Magic Eraser. I took a few closeup pictures of the stem, and was a bit irked when I realized that the stem was a replacement. It’s a Stanwell stem, to be sure, Crowned S logo and all, but there’s no way that the company let a Collectors Piece stem leave the factory with molding marks still visible. The mold line can be clearly seen in the pic below, running along the edge of the stem from tenon to button.

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I drop-filled the tooth dents with CA glue mixed with charcoal powder before sanding the entire stem with 220 and 320 grit papers. This leveled the fills and also removed the offending molding marks. A bit of white acrylic paint refreshed the Crowned S logo before I polished the stem with a full course of micromesh sanding pads.

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The restoration finished up with a trip to the buffer for a run of White Diamond compound and a few coats of Carnauba wax.

This Ivarsson designed Collectors Piece is now living up to its name! The natural finish shows off the flawless briar to perfection. Just look at the amount of Birdseye grain on the left and right sides of this pipe! Even with a replacement stem (now just as flawless as the briar), this iconic Pickaxe is a real dazzler. This pipe will make a superb addition to any collection, or the perfect gift for a very lucky piper! You can find it in the DadsPipes Store, but not likely for very long!

Here’s the finished pipe. Thanks for looking, and until next time, Happy Piping!

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6 comments

  1. I’ve been trying to find contact info for Stanwell to ask about the Collectors Piece series, but I’m coming up empty. Stanwellpipe.com provides only a link to Pipetorium, an online pipe retailer. Does anyone have an address for Stanwell?

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