Last week i got a email from my friend Al over at Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. He wanted to know if i was interested in a WDC Milano Hesson poker stamped Pat ‘d Dec 22, 1925 1549. He would offer it to me first before he posted it on Ebay. I told him i was interested and so he sent me some pictures and offered it to me a a great price , so a deal was struck. I do own a early 1900’s WDC Durobit NOS poker but i have never been able to bring myself to put a flame to it yet. So a WDC poker i could smoke and enjoy was something I was looking forward too.
From the pictures he sent it looked in pretty good shape for a pipe that is at least 87 years old. When the pipe arrived i was not disappointed.
The rim had seen some wear and wore quite a few ashtray dings.
The pipe was certainly early 20th century as it used a screw in tenon that was threaded directly into the briar of the shank. The skinny stem at the button is another sure sign of a pre 1930’s pipe.
The stamping’s are getting pretty weak so after cleaning it up some i took the pipe outside and manged to get some OK shots of them.
Hesson Pat ‘d Dec 22, 1925 1549. With pretty much no info on WDC shape numbers i assume 15 means Hesson and 49 means poker shape.
After doing some research i found that WDC updated the Hesson patent in 1932 and renamed it the Hesson Guard as depicted in this 1930’s ad.
The most notable change is they switched from a screw in tenon to a push stem as noted in this pic i found off the web.
Also later 1932 post stamping seem to be WDC inline with Milano instead of WDC over Milano as in this other pic i grabbed of the web also.
My estimation on the year of the pipe is 1925-1930 ish. Maybe as late as the later patent date as 1932 but i kind of doubt it. Threaded briar was pretty much done by 1930 and in fact I am surprised it was still being used as late as 1925.
I gave the outside of the pipe a good cleaning with mild cleaner/water i mix up myself.
The cork “guard” seems to work pretty good as the pipe shank did not need much cleaning at all. In fact i was assuming it had all crumbled away after 90 years but its still there and is solid.
Topping the rim enough to get rid of all the dings would have taken off more material then i was comfortable with as the poker is on the smaller size at only 1 1/2 inches tall. I opted to sand out as many as i could with light sandpaper and mineral oil. It will still wear some of the dings but I am OK with that , after all the pipe is almost a 100 years old and i would rather keep it as original as possible.
Sanding the rim did lighten it up quite a bit so to add some patina back to it I dried off all the mineral oil and stained it several times with black coffee and a Q-Tip. Letting it dry between coats , I gave it at least 6-8 coats of black coffee.
After soaking the stem in alcohol it cleaned up pretty easy and only had a light oxidation that i was able to scrub away with Bar Keepers and did not have to subject the metal tenon to a Oxy- Clean bath. I sanded a few light tooth marks out , gave it a good wet sanding and cleaned up the metal with some 000 steel wool.
After both the stem and bowl was cleaned and ready for a buff and wax i put them together and gave it a few dry drags. The draw seemed kind of restricted to me so i used a small 7/64 inch drill bit that was just barley larger than the hole through the cork guard and gave it a re-drill.
I had also gave the chamber a new carbon coating so i though maybe some of that might be blacking the airway.
I do not know what kind of cork they used but I’m here to tell you that stuff is very hard! It took quite a bit of effort to re-drill it by hand. The draw was much improved by the drilling.
I gave it a good coat of mineral oil and wipe down before taking it to my buffing wheel.
Finished WDC Milano Hesson 1549
I have smoked a few bowls of 5 Brothers straight burley in it and i have to say its a much better smoker than I thought it would be. The Hesson “cork guard” seems to work better than i expected and delivers a really dry smoke.
Until Next Time,
Good Smokes To You.
If you would like to see my NOS WDC Durobit poker it is also on Baccy Pipes