A Bevy of Brighams Part I

Anyone who has glanced at this site knows I am a long-standing fan of Brigham pipes, especially those made in Toronto, Canada before production moved to Italy and France after 2001. Knowing my pipe predilections, then, it will not be surprising to anyone that when I had the opportunity to acquire a small collection of mostly Brigham pipes, I took it!

The pipes, seven Brigham pipes circa 1980s and one Danish-made Danmore pipe, came with a nice 8-pipe rack which, judging by the oxidation “tan lines”, they had been sitting in for some time. On close inspection for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that three of the pipes were un-smoked, and the remaining four Brighams were only very lightly used. In fact, the odd-man-out Danmore seemed to have been smoked more than the Brighams; I’ll feature the Danmore in a future post.

Here is a pic of all seven Brigham pipes as received. From Top Left to Bottom Right, they are a 503 Billiard, a 562 Student (un-smoked), a 418 Pear, a 314 Pot, two 3-Dot Sportsmen (un-smoked) and a 203 Billiard.

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Interestingly, in the Brigham literature I have, the Shape 62 Student pipe is shown with twin bowl rings and a round shank, and would be labelled a Straight Rhodesian by any other maker. The 562 in this collection is missing the rings but retains the thick round shank and the inward-sloping cap at the top of the bowl. I’m not sure when Brigham dropped the rings on this model, but it is an interesting note on the evolution of the firm’s pipe shapes over time.

Some of you may have noticed that the two Sportsmen pipes have been stained; this is an after-sale modification, likely a DIY job by the previous owner. The Sportsmen pipes were sold at the annual Toronto Sportsmen’s Show semi-finished, generally with turned upper bowls and roughed-out lower bowls and shanks. These pipes, which were fully fitted with the Brigham filter system, could then be tossed in a tackle box, taken to the hunt camp or smoked in the shop without fear of damaging an attractive factory finish.

All of these Brigham pipes are stamped “Brigham” over “Canada”. The finished pipes also carry their respective shape numbers. As I mentioned above, this stamping places the pipes’ production date in the 1980s.

Cleaning up this lot of pipes did not take a lot of work, but there were a few surprises along the way. Rather than bunch them all into one long blog post, I’m going to spread the lot over several installments.

Let’s start with the easiest one, the un-smoked 562 Student. As a New Old Stock (NOS) pipe, there was very little in the way of restoration work required to get this interesting pipe ready for use.

As received, the pipe was a little grimy, with a bit of oxidation on the stem, especially the bottom side which showed a clear “tan line” where the wood of the pipe stand protected the centre portion of the stem from sunlight. The pipe must have been positioned with its back to the light to have acquired this amusing oxidation pattern.

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Another curiosity with this pipe is the partially inverted shape number stamping. Clearly done in two passes, the first digit of the shape number, “5” is right-side up (in the same orientation as the Brigham Canada stamp), but the second and third digits, “62” are upside-down.

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The tobacco chamber was in pristine condition. Check out that factory bowl coating.

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I wiped the stummel down with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the light layer of grime and strip away the old wax finish. I wanted this briar clean in order to show off that lovely (and not often seen) honey-gold stain!

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The oxidation on the stem lifted away with a good scrub with Meguiar’s Scratch-X Plastic Polish.

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And that was it for this Brigham 562! I finished the pipe with a quick buff with White Diamond compound on the wheel followed by several light coats of Carnauba wax.

This pipe is as close to a brand new 5-Dot Brigham pipe as you will get these days. Add in the less common 62 shape and honey finish, and this Brigham 562 stands out on any rack! The briar has some truly lovely grain; the tastefully executed area of rustication on the right side of the bowl was likely done to remove some small surface flaw in the briar, and is probably the only thing that stopped this beauty from being graded as a 6 or even a 7 Dot pipe.

I have so far resisted listing this 562 in the DadsPipes Store, based mainly on the lack of another Shape 62 in my Brigham collection. But I already know I’m not likely to smoke this pipe myself, and it would be a shame to see it spend its entire life on a shelf.

If you are interested in adding this pipe to your own rack and rotation, let me know. The tall and wide Rhodesian-style bowl makes this pipe a bit stummel-heavy, so I’d recommend it to those who prefer to hold their pipes in the hand while smoking.

There will be more Brigham refurbishments from this lot coming soon. Until then, thanks for looking and Happy Piping!

Here’s the finished pipe.

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