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Thread: Jean Sommer Grand Luxe **** Number 1

  1. #1
    PSU Member achtman's Avatar
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    Jean Sommer Grand Luxe **** Number 1

    I've been collecting pipes now for about 3 1/2 years. A few of those were new. The rest were estate pipes which were claimed to have been cleaned. On half of those, I've sent them off to Dean and other people for further cleaning or restoration. On the others I've cleaned out the stem and mortice with Falcon pipe cleaner spray on pipecleaners, which is isopropanol plus heptane. On two or three that were somewhat oxidised I've de-oxidised them and polished and buffed them on a cotton wheel. This has all been really easy.

    A few months ago, I bought four unrestored, dirty pipes which were badly oxidised and which I didn't trust myself to restore. Luckily Piffyr (Anthony) was willing to handle them and turned all four of them into pipes that could be mistaken for new. One of these, a Comoy's Oom Paul shape 235 from around 1940-1950 is described in the thread

    http://pipesmokerunlimited.com/showt...tion-Pic-Heavy

    and the following shows half of one of the photos from that thread.

    extord235-200_2.jpg

    This was my first Oom Paul (named after Paul Kruger from South Africa about 1900), and which is also called a Hungarian. They have sort of gone out of style although most of the BritWood companies had versions of them. Comoy made a second smaller version with the shape 210, which was my second full bent. That is off with Piffyr for resoration at the moment.

    My impression of smoking the Oom Paul was that it was awkward. Big heavy piece of wood hanging from your dentures. Difficult to make sure you didn't drop it. It looked great but somewhat I wasn't sure if it was practical or not, and could sort of understand why nobody smokes them that I know of. But it certainly looked beautiful.

    Now to the main topic of this thread: I keep hearing about French estate pipes, and briar pipes first being made in France, and the first Britwood pipes consisting of bowls turned in France and silver sleeves plus labels applied in England. Some people may not know that some of the famous BritWood companies still continued to have pipes made in France until the middle of the 20th century (GBD) or had sister/related companies in France as well as England (Comoy/Chacom). And after some of the british companies folded their high level production some of those pipes were subsequently built in France (Comoy again). There are occasional mentions in some threads of a French pipeshop in Paris called Sommer, which was making meers back in 1850 and briars from the beginning of the 20th century, and continued making pipes till the 1960s and selling them till the 1980s. Pitchfork has a beautiful example of one of these pipes, A Sommer Paris Grande Luxe * which was discussed at

    http://pipesmokerunlimited.com/showt...ghlight=Sommer

    The Wikipedia entry on Sommer gives a bit of information

    see https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sommer"]https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sommer"]https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sommer

    There is a catalog of Sommer pipes from 1925 on the internet but this site won't link to the the URL at http://tobaccopipeartistory.blogspot...g-ca-1925.html

    Sommer pipes were graded between * and **** but in the catalog page showing their top pipes in 1925

    catalog.jpg

    the catalog only offers *** as their top grade.

    So I was very excited when I happened to look at a link to French eBay to somebody who had recently sold a GBD that I keep looking for, and found that he currently had two Sommer pipes with **** for sale. Both looked unrestored and somewhat dirty. I was the only bidder and picked up one, a bent, for 90 Euro and an Oom Poul for 100 Euro. Postage was included in the price.

    This thread is about the Oom Paul because I have now cleaned it whereas the bent is still being worked on.

    The pictures on eBay looked like

    Seller1.jpg
    Seller2.jpg
    Seller3.jpg
    Seller6.jpg
    Seller11.jpg
    Seller12.jpg

    The pictures show that the seller was trying to be open about the condition. The pipe was clearly scratched, had tar and nicks on the rim and possibly char as well. It wasn't clear to me whether it had been cleaned at all, and I assumed it had not been cleaned.

    More in the next post.

    Mark
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by achtman; 12-29-2017 at 22:48.

  2. #2
    PSU Member achtman's Avatar
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    What arrived

    I was impressed because despite all the Xmas post, the pipes arrived inside a few days, very well packed and no damage from the transport. I was pleased to see that the seller had already reamed the pipes back and had cleaned the bent. But the Oom Paul was still dirty inside and had the tar/char and nicks on the rim. I finally had the chance to look at it. Until now I had no feeling for the size.

    Interestingly, the Sommer pipe is almost the same size as the Comoy 235 alluded to in the previous post but the stem is bent differently. It is also quite a bit lighter and seems to have always been left in the natural state without any contrast or additional staining.

    Here are some pictures of the Sommer together with the Comoy's before it was cleaned up.

    Orig_Comoy6.jpg
    Orig_Comoy4.jpg
    Orig_Comoy3.jpg
    Orig_Comoy1.jpg

    and here is what came out while I was cleaning the stems and mortices of the two pipes with Falcon Pipe Cleaner Spray on pipecleaners and cotton swabs.

    dirt.jpg

    I also reamed them back to wood, wiped the bowl out with swabs as above. And removed the tar on the rim by rubbing with mineral oil and spit. (I never would have wiped out the bowl or used spit on the rim except that Ryan Alden told me that was how he used to clean pipes). I have also continuously bothered Piffy with questions during this process, so am very grateful to both of them for their support.

    The final steps come in a third post.

    Mark

  3. #3
    PSU Member achtman's Avatar
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    Final Cleaning

    Normally I would then simply have polished the bowl and stem with a very fine blue polishing compound from Germany and buffed them with Carnauba wax. But there is no way I can see of getting in between the back of the bowl and the stem with a buffing wheel. And if I worked on the stem alone there is a danger of rounding the edges facing the shank. So I was back to trying to do as little damage as possible and doing everything manually.

    I wiped the bowl down lightly with a microfabric cloth with a bit of the Falcon spray on it. That took off the residual wax and all the shine. I then twice rubbed some Paragon Wax on the bowl and wiped it off.

    I deoxidised the stem in Oxy Plus in water (the UK equivalent of Oxy Clean, which doesn't seem to exist here) for 20 min. The outside was then totally grey. I removed that grey by rubbing with with melamine foam (a tip by Piffyr) until the stem looked black although still somewhat rough.

    Inter1.jpg

    This was now starting to look like a pipe again. And then I took some 8000 and 12,000 micromesh and wet sanded until my patience gave out. It doesn't look perfect. But I can live with this level of imperfection.

    Finished6.jpg

    I have now smoked one bowl in the pipe, Gawith Hogarth Bright CR Plug which has been cellared for 3 years. The tobacco burned most of the way down the bowl without problems even though it was slight wet, the pipe tasted very good. And due to the light weight and the flat bit it hangs easily in my mouth and smokes well.

    This is the first relatively dirty pipe that I have cleaned this thoroughly. Its good to know that I can do it, and I know a lot more about the insides of this pipe than any other I have smoked.

    Insides:

    Finished1.jpg
    Finished2.jpg
    Finished4.jpg

    My impression is that the quality is fully comparable to the Comoy's 235 although my cleaning cannot match the perfect restoration that Piffyr did on that pipe. But this is a worth addition to the stable and may be more fun to smoke than the 235 because it is lighter and the shape is easier to hold in the mouth.

    When I'm finished with the bent Sommer I'll post some pictures of that as well.

    Mark

  4. #4


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    Looks great, Mark. As you note, *** Sommer pipes are top-grade, so this **** must be really rare.

  5. #5
    PSU Member craigmillar's Avatar
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    Excellent piece of work Mark.Well done.

  6. #6
    PSU Member coalsmoke's Avatar
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    Excellent work, indeed Mark. I like the color and the grain.
    Russ

    After all of the statistics and reports are finished with, I've come to the conclusion that the only real danger of smoking a pipe is being interrupted.

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    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    Well, there ya go, Mark. Your first restoration. Now, you know what all the fuss is about!

    My impression of smoking the Oom Paul was that it was awkward. Big heavy piece of wood hanging from your dentures. Difficult to make sure you didn't drop it. It looked great but somewhat I wasn't sure if it was practical or not, and could sort of understand why nobody smokes them that I know of.
    Here's a tip for smoking Oom Pauls and similar pipes with deep bends in general; let the pipe do the work while clenching. Slacken your jaw and allow the pipe to fall back against your lower lip and/or chin. The pipe will hang quite naturally and comfortably almost regardless of size or weight. That is the greatest attribute of the shape in my opinion.
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  8. #8


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    Here's a tip for smoking Oom Pauls and similar pipes with deep bends in general; let the pipe do the work while clenching. Slacken your jaw and allow the pipe to fall back against your lower lip and/or chin. The pipe will hang quite naturally and comfortably almost regardless of size or weight. That is the greatest attribute of the shape in my opinion.
    Couldn't agree more. I have a couple, one of which is fairly heavy, but is nonetheless a cinch to clinch.

  9. #9
    PSU Member craigmillar's Avatar
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    I have a couple of Oom Pauls but they always feel uncomfortable one of them is a Brigham 4 dot #4 which Brigham says doesn't exist,

  10. #10
    PSU Member achtman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigmillar View Post
    I have a couple of Oom Pauls but they always feel uncomfortable one of them is a Brigham 4 dot #4 which Brigham says doesn't exist,
    Joe, tell us more and show us pictures please.

    I tried smoking the Comoy's Oom Paul this morning. Unlike what Piffyr and Pitchfork find, this is not as comfortable as the Sommer because it is slightly heavier and the button is slightly rounded rather than being flat. It works fine to let it hang but the extra weight makes it just that little bit more uncomfortable. It is not burned in yet and with the same tobacco as with the Sommer, it started burning a bit hot near the top but then settled down. To make up for it the smoke was even milder and it needed fewer relights. So both of them are keepers and will be good smoking pipes once burned in.

    I've just finished buffing the other Sommer and will now post those pictures in a separate thread.

    Mark

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