Every now and again, a pipe collector comes across something really special. I had one such moment recently which I’m excited to share with all of you.
A few months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Hamilton, Ontario requesting some help in identifying a couple of old Brigham pipes he had acquired. This in itself isn’t that unusual for me – this blog is chock full of posts about Brigham pipes, and I field questions about the brand regularly. This time, however, the pictures attached to the email showed something I don’t usually see – two non-system Brigham pipes – a Bulldog and a Pot.
The pipes were in pretty rough shape but the nomenclature was easily read. Both pipes are stamped with the old Brigham script logo, with the tail of the “m” turning back underneath the word. Most often, I see this logo with the Brigham patent number stamped underneath, but it was conspicuously absent on this pair of briars.
As these shots illustrate, the pipes were fitted with short aluminum tenons, without the long filter holder commonly associated with the brand. Also missing from the equation were the famous Brigham Dots, brass pins set into the stems to identify the pipe’s grade.
This is the only other mark – a single “8” stamped into the shank of the Bulldog, but not the Pot. There were never any 8-Dot pipes made, so what did this stamp signify?
Mystified, I turned to my source of all things Brigham, Mr Daniel More, long-time Brigham employee and current President of Brigham Enterprises Inc. He, in turn, recruited Mike Brigham, grandson of company founder Roy Brigham, to help solve the mystery, the details of which I will summarize here.
Back in the days when the Brigham System was new on the market, the company also produced non-filter pipes. This makes good business sense to me, as there would have been a good portion of the company’s customer base that preferred traditional unfiltered pipes to the “new-fangled” System.
According to Mike Brigham, these non-filter pipes came to be known, and stamped, as “Canuck” pipes, fitted with black anodized aluminum tenons or vulcanite tenons with aluminum screw-shaped stingers. Production of Canuck pipes had ended by about 1960. These pics are of two Canuck pipes from Mike Brigham’s collection. Note both the similarities and the differences between these pipes and the two I acquired above.
Mike Brigham was good enough to compare the pics I sent to several Canuck pipes in his personal collection and sent the following info, which I’ve edited for clarity:
Your pipes and mine are stamped with an “8”. We used 1-7 as a prefix to indicate the grading however the age of these pipes precede our making 7-dot pipes as well as the finish of these pipes suggest to me they would not be 8-dots. We used to stamp promo pipes & seconds with a “P” before the grading so I suggest the “8” is somehow tied to the Canuck / non-system in some way. Specifically, we do not know what the “8” would have represented.
None of the stems (yours nor mine) are pinned. This is consistent with the Canuck series. Only Brigham pipes with system were pinned.
It is of interest that your pipes are stamped Brigham and not Canuck. Your pipes have non-anodized tenons. These two things have me wondering if these were the forerunners for the Canuck series. If so, I would suggest 1940’s / 1950’s production?
I admit to needing a bit of time to digest the information Mike Brigham so generously provided. Finding a lost series of pipes was exciting enough for a Brigham-obsessed collector like me; finding prototypes of the series took things to a completely different level!
I relayed the entire story to the pipes’ owner in Hamilton, along with a request to photograph the pipes in order to write up a DadsPipes post. My heart health was tested again when he responded by offering the pipes to me! We quickly came to an agreement and before too long the pipes arrived in my mailbox.
This series of pictures show the pair as the looked when they arrived.
Apart from the well-worn condition of both pipes, what stood out for me with these pipes is the relatively compact size when compared to Brigham System pipes. The larger of the two briars, the Pot, measures a scant five inches long. This makes sense when you consider that these briars didn’t need to accommodate a three inch long Rock Maple filter. The Canuck series also gave Brigham a productive way to use smaller briar blocks too small for System pipes.
I’m going to leave things here for now. Thanks for joining me for Part I of this Canuck miniseries. In Parts II and III I’ll be working on restoring the Pot and Bulldog pipes respectively. I hope you’ll follow along!
Until next time, Happy Piping!