For many Billiard lovers, there is no pipe quite as billiard-y as an English Billiard, and this Comoy’s Guildhall 28 is a prime example of English pipemakers’ mastery of this classic pipe shape.
The Comoy’s Shape Chart published on Pipedia.org identifies the Shape 28 as a “Billiard, Straight, Medium”. In practice, this translates to a pipe 5-1/2″ long with a 1-3/4″ tall by 1-1/4″ wide bowl. The chamber bore on this Guildhall is 3/4″ in diameter by 1-1/2″ deep. This image of a 1975 Comoy’s chart shows the Shape 28 as the fourth pipe from the top in the first column.
The pipe was in fairly good estate condition when I brought it to the worktable .It was dirty, of course, from sitting around waiting for some attention, and the stem had oxidized slightly, more noticeably around the shank end. The bit had a few deeper tooth dents that would need work, but the three-piece C logo was intact.
The rim of the bowl was crusted with lava, partially obscuring the beveled inner edge, but it appeared that the briar underneath was free from dents and scratches. The exterior of the stummel was also nearly pristine under a layer of grease and dust.
The pipe is marked “COMOY’S” over “GUILDHALL” on the left flank, and “28” on the right flank along with a circular “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND” Country of Manufacture (COM) stamp. There is also an “F” stamped on the underside of the shank near the junction with the stem, which bears the classic Comoy’s three-piece C logo inset on its left flank.
These stamps tell me that this Guildhall was made sometime after World War II and before Comoy’s merged with Cadogan in 1980. The “F” stamp indicates a Fishtail bit.
One side note here – Do not confuse this Comoy’s Guildhall with the seconds line of similar name. “Comoy’s Guildhall” was a bona fide series within the Comoy’s lineup for a time, while the “Guildhall” seconds line was distinguished by a lack of the Comoy’s name and three parallel silver bars inset in the stem, similar to those of “The Everyman” seconds pipes.
As usual, I began cleaning up the pipe by reaming the chamber back to briar. This removed the old cake and let me inspect the interior of the chamber for any damage. In this case, the chamber looked as well cared for as the rest of the pipe.
I cleaned the lava off the rim with a combination of cotton swabs dipped in alcohol and gentle sanding with 1000-grit paper. The rim and inner bevel were in super condition underneath. The cleanup did lighten the rim somewhat, so I used my lightest stain pen to touch it up to match the rest of the bowl.
Then it was time to address the internals of both stummel and stem. Pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and more alcohol removed the built-up tars and crud that had settled in the mortise and airways.
Tooth dents on both sides of the bit would not raise with heat so I filled them with a mixture of CA glue and charcoal powder. When the patches set I filed and sanded them down to blend into the surrounding vulcanite. My photos of the filing process have gone AWOL, but the final result is evident in the pictures of the finished pipe.
While I was sanding the stem patches, I went over the entire stem to remove the light oxidation. Sanding scratches and other marks were removed by working through successively finer grades of abrasives, from 220 grit through to 2000 grit. The vulcanite used for this stem was obviously of a high quality – the stem polished up easily without a lot of the futzing around usually necessary for cheaper materials.
When I was happy with the shape of things, I reassembled the pipe and took it to the buffer. As I had not used micromesh pads on this project, I first buffed both stummel and stem with White Diamond compound on the wheel at a high speed (somewhere around 3000 RPM on my adjustable buffer), taking care not to damage the stamps.
The high speed gave the compound a more aggressive cutting action and wiped away the last of the sanding marks from my manual work. After the high-speed buffing, I dropped the wheel to about 1600 RPM for a final polishing, followed by several light coats of Carnauba wax to seal and protect the restored pipe.
The finished pipe is a real looker in my opinion. I don’t think an English Billiard gets much better than this. The Guildhall line wasn’t Comoy’s best grade of pipe, but as far as I can tell it received the same level of care and attention as the higher end pipes.
This Guildhall 28 Billiard is just begging to be packed with a favourite blend and fired up. All original and restored to its former glory, the briar on this pipe sports an eye-catching grain in a black and brown “brindle” contrast stain. The rim and inner bevel are clean and sharp and the classic lines of the pipe are smooth and unblemished.
I’m very tempted to keep this billiard for my own use but I know I already have a surplus of pipes at hand. If you’d like to add this beauty to your own rack or perhaps that of a fellow piper, please drop me a line using the contact form.
Thanks for following along with this refurbishment. Until next time, Happy Piping!
Here’s the finished pipe.