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Charatan Coronation -- One of the Most Perfect Straight Grain Specimens Known

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  1. georged

    georged

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    First off, this pipe is huge. 120 grams, over 7 inches long.

    Second, photographs don't convey the "seamlessness" of the grain. In hand the grain's symmetry and evenness of color is astounding. And NO sand pits. Not a speck anywhere. None. Zero.

    Third, prominent PipeWorld citizen, straight grain specialist collector, and author of this book:

    https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Smoke-Gourmet-Relaxation-Reflection-ebook/dp/B00GYHDWCQ

    ...says this Coronation has the best combination of straight grain symmetry, size, color, and flawlessness HE has ever seen.

    I hope Ken Barnes spots this thread and will tell us what he knows about Coronations in general, and with luck maybe this particular specimen. (All I know is they pre-date Herman Lane and his many uber-grade additions to the Charatan line... Achievement, Crown Achievement, etc.)

    It found its way to me for a tenon replacement on the original stem, and after a bit of discussion a second stem was requested. One that was a bit longer and more flowing. (The original was apparently made deliberately short because of the pipe's size and weight, but the gain in practicality was a loss in design balance and visual appeal.)

    The tenons were made identical in size to a couple ten thousandths of an inch so that they could be freely swapped at any time without causing fit problems.

    .












    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 week ago #
  2. donjgiles

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    Amazingly beautiful!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  3. redglow

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    Stunning......

    Posted 1 week ago #
  4. dmcmtk

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    Very nice. The new stem definitely gives the pipe a more balanced look. I'd say the pipe dates to the late 1950's early 1960's; late family era, early Lane era.

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 1 week ago #
  5. hoosierpipeguy

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    Wow, beautiful pipe.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  6. jiminks

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    Holy cow! What a beauty!

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    achtman

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    Hi George
    How did you make the CP logo?

    And did you make a video of the work that you will be posting?

    Very nice work

    Mark

    Posted 1 week ago #
  8. kenbarnes

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    I think that this is one of the earliest Coronations I have seen.
    I must say that Charatan’s bowl-work was far superior to the mouthpiece work that was produced!
    I think the bend/curve on the mouthpiece of the original is really poor whilst the curve formed on the mouthpiece below this pic is absolutely gorgeous as is the mouthpiece work in general - exquisite!
    Another thing I notice, whilst looking at the old tenon in the bottom picture, is that it was turned by hand using a cage chuck, which you can see on the old Pathe News video on Charatan’s manufacture, as the chimney is slightly tapered. I will also ask Barry the year they first used a Floccing machine to carry out this operation.
    https://www.britishpathe.com/video/pipe-dream
    Reuben used to turn the chimney so that it was tapered the other way and I think that Sid Percy turned and fitted this one.
    I do not know the date when the Coronation quality superseded the Supreme, but will ask Barry as he joined the firm in 1959 and would probably know.
    Another interesting point is that I think that this ‘Coronation stamp die’ was the original which was slightly altered so it did not fan-out so much and could make it easier to stamp.
    I think this later stamp is slightly more bunched? It certainly wasn’t replaced due to the fact that the stamp die was worn!!!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  9. ssjones

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    Fascinating and the ultimate high praise from the straight grain master.
    The new stem gives the briar the grace it deserves and awesome to have the original as well (which looks pinched).
    I've never held a Coronation in person, despite immediately heading to Dennis Conga's table at every show I make. It's too bad Dennis doesn't participate in any web forums, I'd love hear his thoughts on this one.

    Al

    Posted 1 week ago #
  10. newbroom

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    George, did you modify the mortise at all? Asking for a friend.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  11. civilwar

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    Beautiful pipe!

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    jguss

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    The "prominent pipeworld citizen" is a lucky guy, George. The repair and replacement work you've done is stunning.

    I'm not a Charatan expert and can't say with certainty when the Coronation was launched. I know that although neither Tony Soderman or Richard Hacker given a precise date, by implication they both say the introduction was in the early to mid 1960's. For what it's worth the first mention I"ve found of the pipe is in the 1964-65 RTDA Almanac, but I should note that while I have all the almanacs from the 1950s, I"m missing 1960-1963.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  13. sablebrush52

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    That is a stunning pipe, even though there's a stray grain out of place.

    The new stem is quite the improvement.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 1 week ago #
  14. paulie66scandinavian

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    Mind Blowing job, Thank You for sharing

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 1 week ago #
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    headhunter

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    .........Incredible

    Posted 1 week ago #
  16. jpmcwjr

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    Stunning, and the replacement stem is way better than the original.

    Now, could the tiny dents be steamed out? If so, would you recommend for or against that?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 week ago #
  17. davet

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    A real beauty, and wonderful work

    Posted 1 week ago #
  18. cigrmaster

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    That is some very impressive grain. Shape wise it is a fantastic looking Apple.

    Harris
    Posted 1 week ago #
  19. puffy

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    WOW

    Life's most valuable treasure is..Love
    Posted 1 week ago #
  20. georged

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How did you make the CP logo?

    With a CP logo maker, of course.

    OK, that was mean... with a cold stamp, the same way Charatan did.

    And did you make a video of the work that you will be posting?

    No. This project involved significant lathe use, and since my lathe is in a separate room from the rest of the shop, the tripod, lights, and power cord logistics of running back and forth to the main bench were more than I wanted to deal with.

    George, did you modify the mortise at all? Asking for a friend.

    Technically yes, but I didn't change the size. I just "re-tubularized" and stabilized it to enable reliable long-term functioning of the switchable stem concept. (sounds trivial... but making swappable stems for a used pipe is a pitfall-filled PITA.)

    Now, could the tiny dents be steamed out? If so, would you recommend for or against that?

    If you are referring to the briar, in hand they are "functionally invisible" without a magnifying glass (or magnifying pics like the above). If you are referring to the rough patch on the surface of the original stem, that's from having been heated to the boiling/bubbling point during its original bending. That can't be fixed except with a patch, and since that would introduce color issues over time it's easiest just to let such areas be.

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    jguss

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    On reflection I think we can narrow the likely date the Coronation grade was introduced, theorizing that it was created sometime in 1963-1964. On the one hand we know it existed by the time the 1964-65 RTDA Almanac was issued. On the other several experts suggest that the grades above the Supreme S-100 were an artifact of the acquisition of the company by Herman Lane; this view is, if not definitive, at least completely supported by what documentation I've seen so far.

    The Lane acquisition was precipitated by the death of Reuben Charatan on March 9, 1962, and took place in a series of related corporate resolutions dated November 1 and 2, 1962. When the dust settled the 2500 shares held by Esther Charatan (Reuben's widow) were reclassified as deferred (i.e. nonvoting, and not entitled to dividends), and Herman Lane held 750 ordinary (i.e. voting) shares which controlled the business. In the circumstances it seems plausible that expansions of the high end of the Charatan line would have begun to take place over the next year or two.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  22. jpmcwjr

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    When the dust settled the 2500 shares held by Esther Charatan (Reuben's widow) were reclassified as deferred (i.e. nonvoting, and not entitled to dividends), and Herman Lane held 750 ordinary (i.e. voting) shares which controlled the business. In the circumstances it seems plausible that expansions of the high end of the Charatan line would have begun to take place over the next year or two.

    I presume there was other consideration given Mrs. Charatan! I have some non-dividend paying stocks, but at least I can vote! Or sell them.

    Thanks, Jon, your research and writing are much appreciated.

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    jguss

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    I presume there was other consideration given Mrs. Charatan

    Great question, John. In my experience corporate records for private companies in the UK rarely if ever disclose transaction terms, or even the parties involved (except in so far as they can be identified from changes in shareholder lists and board membership). Most of what is visible is limited to primitive financials on occasion (largely abbreviated income statements and balance sheets), articles of incorporation and memorandums of association, shareholder lists, director lists, changes of corporate office location, certain corporate resolutions, and the like. All of which is helpful but often raises as many questions as are answered. Board minutes are conspicuously lacking.

    In this particular case a concatenation of simultaneous events makes it clear that control of the business changed hands: the recategorizing of Esther's ordinary shares as deferred nonvoting and ineligible to receive a dividend,; an increase in the number of ordinary shares authorized; and the sudden appearance of Herman Lane as a new shareholder (and the sole holder of voting shares under the new regime). The rationale behind the particular structure of the transaction we are left to infer. I imagine it was probably driven by the UK tax law in effect at the time, as well as estate planning considerations for Esther and her three children.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  24. craiginthecorn

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    Oh...my! And so much improved by the new mouthpiece.

    Is this Fred's piece, or did he just comment on it? I've seen quite a few of his best pipes and definitely haven't seen this one.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  25. kcghost

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    This is a gorgeous pipe and your work on it is more than impressive.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  26. cosmicfolklore

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    Beautiful grain, stunning.
    I wonder, I notice that some pipes are heavier than they look like they should be, and some pipes that look heavy, aren't. Is it the area of the root from which it is cut that makes some denser than others, or is it something else? Or, maybe some briar is just heavier? Or, something else?

    Michael
    Posted 1 week ago #
  27. snagstangl

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    https://imgur.com/a/VanFOKm

    Supreme 1

    this is a supreme i have that needs a correct stem.

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    gnarlybriar

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    I have seen this pipe! (ok, in my dreams). Had I known that George was going to create another masterpiece in vulcanite, I would have attempted getting it. George, the MASTER !

    Posted 1 week ago #
  29. wyfbane

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    That pipe is simply amazing. Thanks for sharing it!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  30. huntertrw

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    I know that although neither Tony Soderman or Richard Hacker given a precise date, by implication they both say the introduction was in the early to mid 1960's.

    By way of elaboration, in his book titled Rare Smoke - The Ultimate Guide To Pipe Collecting Mr. Hacker states, "Through the first part of the 1960s, the highest grading for a Charatan was Supreme. The Coronation, Achievement, Royal Achievement, and Crown Achievement did not exist until later in that decade, a period when Charatan was obtaining such high quality briar, it was felt that the Supreme classification should be broken down even further."

    Love Me, Love My Pipe
    Posted 1 week ago #
  31. georged

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    Rick Hacker wasn't a pipe scholar, but a "popularizer" who wrote books based on what he was told.

    In the pre-Internet era this was as good as things got. Today, it is regarded as well-intentioned entertainment, nothing more.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  32. mso489

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    In the huge pipe category, that is one you'd still want to smoke just because it's gorgeous.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  33. sablebrush52

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    In the pre-Internet era this was as good as things got. Today, it is regarded as well-intentioned entertainment, nothing more.

    In the arena of pipe scholarship, yeah. But not because a fair amount of information wasn't available, just not nearly as easily available as some of it now is on line. There are these places called "libraries", with sections referred to as "special collections" that were available before Arpanet, through which actual scholars, like Jon Guss, spend time burrowing. Hacker deserves credit for being a pioneer, but like a lot of early cartographers, his work is full of misinformation that has since been corrected by others. As a popularizer Hacker remains "the man".

    Looking again at that stem George made, it's as perfect in its form as the bowl to which it's mounted.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  34. dmcmtk

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    From Charatan Flyer, ca. 1964,

    Posted 1 week ago #
  35. georged

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    Hacker deserves credit for being a pioneer, but like a lot of early cartographers, his work is full of misinformation that has since been corrected by others. As a popularizer Hacker remains "the man".

    I completely agree. Pipe collecting as a hobby would probably have never taken off the way it did (pipe smoking was fading at the time, remember) had Rick not written his several books on the subject.

    I used to meet with him regularly in the mid and late 1980s when I lived in Phoenix. He was under contract with the Tinderbox chain to host in-store promotions and meet & greet events, and since Phoenix had several Tinderboxes, his mother lived in Phoenix, and he lived in SoCal, he visited often. (Airline flights ran hourly to LAX from Sky Harbor, and cost as little as $19.95)

    Common interest took care of the rest.

    Though some of today's harder core hobbyists think of Rick as an opportunist (he's since written books on subjects from whiskey to cigars to firearms), I always found him to be gracious, professional, and truly passionate about the subjects that captured his interest.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  36. ashdigger

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    Mr. Hacker is the Man in the Arena.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 1 week ago #
  37. haparnold

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    It does my heart good to notice this pipe has clearly been used. I'm sure sometimes very fine specimens go unsmoked (same with any other collectible item being unused), but I'm glad to see this pipe fulfilled its intended purpose.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 1 week ago #
  38. huntertrw

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    Rick Hacker wasn't a pipe scholar, but a "popularizer" who wrote books based on what he was told.

    In the pre-Internet era this was as good as things got. Today, it is regarded as well-intentioned entertainment, nothing more.

    So, Mr. Hacker's information in the quotation above is wrong?

    Posted 1 week ago #
  39. georged

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    So, Mr. Hacker's information in the quotation above is wrong?

    Let's just say it had more to do with marketing and maximizing profit than a supply of extraordinary wood suddenly becoming available.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  40. craiginthecorn

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    I saw the Coronation last night. Simply stunning. The new stem is perfect George. And great work on the button and the slot.

    I also saw what is thought to be the first Charatan Cup and Saucer shape dating from 1960. An amazing piece. A Supreme grade to boot.

    Posted 6 days ago #
  41. georged

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    Cool that you got to see it in person, Mr. Craig. (That Hanna character is one ill-tempered snarly beast, though... you must have caught him in a good mood.)

    I'm thoroughly enjoying the board's recent Charatan interest revival.

    To keep it going, here's the only legit straight grain Charatan I own. Fred eyeballed it at the Chicago show five years or so ago, and said it would make his collection's Top 40 cut. (If a new pipe gets in, the previous #40 gets the boot.)

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/charatan-selected-undergraded-bent-dublin

    Posted 6 days ago #
  42. huntertrw

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    Let's just say it had more to do with marketing and maximizing profit...

    After re-reading this thread this afternoon I recalled that I had in my archives a copy of a summary of the history of the Charatan pipe collated by Mr. R.J. Noble for for Mr. Basil Sullivan, and which was given to me in 1995 by Mr. Trent McCranie of McCranie's Pipe and Tobacco Shop. Mr. Noble seems to corroborate your opinion.

    Mr. Noble stated, in part, "The Supreme S reigned supreme until 1964, the year that Charatan and Herman Lane shocked the pipe world. They unveiled the Charatan Supreme S-100 Freehand, which would sell for a record-shattering $100.00, a retail figure unheard of until that time. Many predicted that this spelled Charatan's doom, feeling that the public would not tolerate such exorbitant prices for smoking pipes." Further on in the summary he wrote, "Beginning shortly after his takeover, and in rapid succession, Lane introduced the S-200, then the S-300, dropped the Supreme S, added the S-150 and the S-250, and then the Coronation. In April, 1968, he brought out, in a full-page New York Times Easter Sunday ad, the Crown Achievement. The initial set was originally priced at ten thousand dollars."

    I believe that the S-200 was priced at $200.00, the S-300 at $300.00, and so on, thus it may be fair to say that Mr. Lane was indeed interested in marketing and maximizing profit. Of that, Mr. Noble said, "Values changed after Lane officially took control and after Ken Barnes had been installed in London. Production and marketing quotas were the first order of business. Quality was to find itself in the rumble seat. There is some supposition that the decline really occurred in 1964, when the Surgeon General issued his cigarette edict. However, I don't believe that that was the root of Charatan's problems; and at that time Land hadn't yet taken complete control. It was the world economy and Lane's rapidly expanding marketing which brought the pedigree of pipes to its knees."

    ...than a supply of extraordinary wood suddenly becoming available.

    Coincidentally, Mr. Noble had this to say about that, "Charatan had enjoyed, through Lane's connections, a splendid rapport with the world's foremost supplier of briar, Otto Braum. But this source was threatened by internal strife and by increased demand for choice briar by the Danes and the emerging Italian pipe makers. Wholesale prices soared."

    I hope that this information is useful to the discussion.

    Posted 6 days ago #
  43. georged

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    To be completely fair to Herman Lane, it has become clear in the 50 years since Charatan jumped down the grading rabbit hole that collectors WANT their world to be that way.

    Any discussion of the subject with today's top carvers will elicit a stream of humorous stories about customers (in essence) demanding to pay more for the same pipes, and how bizarre their lines' grading system became to satisfy them.

    No small number of collectors want the social status that they believe owning the rare and "unobtainable" gives them, apparently.

    Was Herman a keen observer of human behavior and ahead of his time? Or simply a businessman first and a pipe lover second? We'll probably never know.

    Waitaminnit... Did Ken Barnes---our Ken Barnes---ever deal with him?

    Posted 6 days ago #
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    jguss

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    Was Herman a keen observer of human behavior and ahead of his time? Or simply a businessman first and a pipe lover second?

    I'd say "yes" to the first, at least as far as the pipe world goes. As for the second I have no idea, and am not even sure it's a meaningful question. If you don't make money you aren't going to stay in business. I'm not sure there needs to be a ranking between loving what you do/sell and knowing you have to turn a buck.

    As for your info, Hunter, it's very interesting. I tend to believe the statement that after the acquisition by Lane Charatan began to systematically introduce increasingly expensive pipes. But the dates are a bit wrong; I know the 1958 RTDA Almanac showed that Charatan already offered a Supreme at $40, a Supreme-S at $60, and a Supreme S-100 at (you guessed it) $100. This was some 4-5 years before Herman Lane bought the business from Reuben's widow, Esther. More trivially, the briar supplier was Otto Braun (I'm sure Braum was just a typo). I almost always find that contemporaneous information is better than recollections; also that documentary evidence, while of great value, is even more useful when used to verify, supplement, and correct oral testimony.

    Posted 6 days ago #
  45. georged

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    Posted 6 days ago #
  46. huntertrw

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    It seems to me that Mr. Lane rolled the dice (and won, albeit temporarily) when he introduced the then-stratospherically-priced Supreme S-100 Freehand and the other subsequently more expensive models. As a keen marketer, perhaps he truly believed that high retail prices denoted high quality in the minds of certain consumers. Certainly Alfred Dunhill before him did, and it worked for him also...at least for a while.

    Posted 6 days ago #
  47. huntertrw

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    Concerning Kenneth Barnes (our Ken Barnes' kinsman), Mr. Noble was quite complimentary, writing, "Practically from the time he bought the firm, Lane hired Ken Barnes and placed him in charge of his European operations, based in London. Barnes was a suave retired British colonel, married to an old European friend of Lane. Up until his Lane appointment, Barnes had been closely associated with Bill Barling. He had an excellent background and command of the pipe industry in general. He also added a touch of class to Lane's operation, which was an important asset. Herman Lane was extremely sensitive to image."

    Posted 6 days ago #
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    coldfront

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    THat's something Huh Craig and the cup and saucer.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  49. sablebrush52

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    Williamson Barling went to Charatan as general manager after he left Barling, IIRC. He's also listed on the patent for the double comfort stem design.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  50. kenbarnes

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    Thank you huntertrw, jguss and others who have contributed to this thread.
    I knew Herman Lane slightly, as I had met him on half a dozen occasions but, more importantly, I felt his presence from 1967 – 1977 and experienced the impact he had on our family. He was a ‘tough cookie’ and very passionate about developing his business.
    Charatan supplied Lane Ltd with the qualities Supreme and Supreme S and when they arrived in the U.S. Mr. Lane or a member of staff would go through these and add the number stamp to some of these pipes.
    When I worked in the packing dept at Charatan for a few months, I would help Leslie Rand make up the shipments for Lane Ltd. One job I had was to stamp the 'L' stamp on all the pipes going to the U.S.. I have only ever seen one Supreme S 100 which was brought into the Jermyn Street shop for repair by a U.S. visitor.

    Posted 6 hours ago #

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