Comoy's Dating Guide
There are certain changes of nomenclature that occurred over the long history that assist in arriving at approximate time scales. These changes include:
- The way that the Comoy name was stamped on the left side of the pipe;
- The way that the “Country of origin” stamps appeared.
- The introduction of and different ways that the inlaid C was formed on the stem;
- The name of the pipe and when these names were introduced and or discontinued.
It should also be remembered that, as the stamps used for stamping pipes got worn, new ones would have been ordered and used alongside the old ones and there could therefore be overlapping of different style.
If the pipe has a silver band
If the band has the following three marks it is made of silver. The first mark, a lion passant to indicate that it is silver, followed by a mark to show which assay area (for instance a leopard’s head for London), and finally a letter for the year.
NOTE! There is always the possibility that the silver bands may have been ordered in by the factory in batches and therefore could have been used up over several months and be a year out of date by the time they were applied to the pipe. It can als have been attached afterwords as a repair to fix a crack etc.
This is a list with examples of hallmarked pipes to illustrate the different nomenclature to be found:
- - 1902 hallmarked and with HC without a cartouche. The only other stamp is “LONDON MADE.”
- - 1904 hallmarked, and now the HC is set within a cartouche, which was the style from then on. Stamped on the side “J.R.” in an oval and “LONDON MADE”. (Comoy’s supplied many shops that had their name stamped on the side of the pipe. J.R. was obviously one.) There is no C on the mouthpiece.
- - 1913/14 hallmarked. The name “Comoy’s” on the left side in rather florid script, and there is a tail running backwards from the end of the “s”, finishing under the “o”. This is similar to the tail found on early Sasieni pipes. Under the “Comoy’s" stamp is “LONDON MADE” in block capitals all the same size, sans serif. There is no embossed C on the stem, nor any name or shape number. On the lid of the leather case, there is an oval cartouche with the same “Comoy’s.” There are no C on the mouthpieces.
- - 1917/18 “PRIMA” and, on this pipe, the “Comoy’s” is in the same script as above, but, instead of the tail running backwards under the name, the “y” has a long drop down and then sweeps forward to end under the “s.” “PRIMA” is directly below “Comoy’s” in capitals all the same size and without serifs. On the other side of the pipe is “LONDON MADE” in the same stamp as 1 to 3 above. There is no C inlaid on the stem. Just to illustrate how different stamps can be used at the same time, another Prima dated 1917 have the Comoy’s Arched, which just goes to show that more than one type of stamp was used consequently. There is no C on the mouthpiece.
- - 1921 Old Bruyere with hallmarked gold band. “COMOY’S” arched with “IN” below and “BRUYERE” arched the other way. On the other side, “MADE” arched, “IN” below, and “LONDON” arched the other way. These stamps are an oval rugby-ball shape rather than a round football. There is no C on the mouthpiece
- - 1959/1960 hallmarked 22 carat gold band. This pipe has a meerschaum-lined bowl and wonderful straight grain. It has "COMOY'S" stamped in upper case serif type with apostrophe. On the reverse, it has the “MADE IN LONDON” circle shape with “ENGLAND” underneath. The stem has the three-piece C.
1900 to about 1919
Normally, the Comoy’s name will be found in a joined flowing script canted forward, with a long tail running backwards from under the “S” to below the “C.” There are, however, 2 pipes in the 1909 catalogue where Comoy’s does not have a tail at all. There are also examples between 1913 to 1919 where the Comoy’s name is still in the same joined flowing script, canted forward but with a short tail running forwards from the bottom of the “y” to under the “s”.
1917 to the end of the 1930's (at least 1938)
The slightly fancy “COMOY’S” can be found stamped in a curve, in upper case script with serifs, apostrophe before the “S,” and the “C” larger than the other letters. The arched “COMOY’S” with serifs and apostrophe may have been continued for a short time after the WW I. Pipes can also be found with the name stamped across the top of the stem as apposed to along the side.
During the 1940s
Not many pipes were made. It seems that the “COMOY’S” was stamped as decribed above, with the grade of the pipe (quality) stamped in block letters below. Just after WW II, in 1945 or slightly later, the “COMOY'S” stamp was changed from the fancier curve to a straight line, sans serif, block lettered "COMOYS", with no apostrophe.
From the 1950s
Now the Comoy’s stamp can be found in three variants:
- A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the C larger than the other letters and the apostrophe before the “s.” - "COMOY'S"
- A return to the slightly more fancy block letters with serifs and the apostrophe. (It seems that some grades carried different stamps, or at least that the stamping changed in different years for some grades.)
- A simple block-letter style without serifs and without the apostrophe and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters. This stamp was probably not used very long.
- A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the apostrophe before the "S" and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters.
“Made In” Stamp
Comoy’s were the first London pipe maker to use this phrase. It is the earliest stamp to be used and can be found from 1902 or perhaps earlier and on into the 1930s . At this time, it can appear as “LONDON” over “MADE” or in a straight line under "Comoy's" in script. From the twenties it can also appear as “LONDON” arched, and below “MADE” arched the other way. This stamp has the shape of an oval rugby-ball rather than a circle round shape. On these pipes the grade of the pipe (quality) is stamped in block letters under the "COMOY'S" stamp.
Made in London
This can be verified on Old Bruyere pipes dated 1921, and it appears in a straight line, "MADE IN LONDON" under the arched “COMOY’S”.
Made in England
This is stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “ENGLAND” forming the bottom of the circle. This can be seen on a Cecil as early as 1910 and on an Old Bruyere of 1921 and more frequent from the 1930s. It can also appear as “MADE” arched, “IN” below, and “ENGLAND” arched the other way. These stamps are in an oval rugby-ball shape rather than a circle round shape.
Made in London England
This is again stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “LONDON” at the bottom, with “ENGLAND" in a straight line beneath. It can be assumed that this stamp was first used in the export drive in the early 1950s. On a Bulldog Sandblast from the early 50s the Comoy name no. 2 above was used together with "MADE IN LONDON" over "ENGLAND". There are no known examples of pre-WW II Comoy’s stamped in this way.
“C” was first inlaid in the side of the mouthpiece around 1919. This was a complex inlay needing three drillings. First, a round white inlay was inserted, then the centre of the white was drilled out, and a smaller round black inlay was inserted. Finally, another drilling was made to remove the open part of the “C,” and an even smaller black inlay was inserted. This inlaid “C,” known as the “three-piece C,” was continued until the Cadogan era in the 1980s. However, the “C” in the 1920s and early 30s is much thinner and more delicate than the one post-WW II.
Cadogan first changed the “C” to a single drilling with an inlay that had the “C” in the centre, and more recently it became a laser imprint.
There are known pipes, for exaple an early 1920’ “Par Excellence” where the “C” is on top of the mouthpiece.