It just looked old and dingy... thought for sure it was a cheap stem that had overly oxidized. I may re-stain it now that I know it's briar, but would opt for a two-tone look just the same (slightly darker). I like the contrast.That's a beaut!! I wonder what you were cleaning off? Was it stained black or something? It doesn't seem to match the rest of the pipe now... but still a beauty.
Before I knew it was briar (last night), tried it and was very impressed. Great pull, great experience, but has a stinger too (see below). Was it the stinger? The briar stem? I am too new at this to tell. I just know it is now one of my favs. I do have a few decent pipes (in the vein of Comoy, Stanwell, Peterson, Savinelli, etc.). On another thread, one of the members said it was likely a 1960s pipe. Yet, the stinger looks a lot like my 1930s Kaywoodie. This one smokes sooooo much better than that one though.Wow! Never seen a briar stem before. What's it feel like in your mouth?