Restoring Life to a Early 20th Century Gitana Depose Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

I was going through boxes of old pipes here, sorting and getting them ready to sell as grab bags. In the process I came across this pipe. It is stamped Gitana in an oval with an L on the left of the oval and G on the right side of the oval. Underneath the oval stamp is the word Depose. There is a polished aluminum band on the end of the shank. The briar is quite nice with birdseye around the bowl. The stem is horn and has a lot of tooth damage next to the button on both sides. There are deep troughs carved by the teeth in the horn material on both sides. The rim had a lot of damage from burn marks and the inner edge had been damaged by reaming with a knife. There was a white waxy substance on the inside of the bowl from the edge down about a ½ inch. There was a light cake in the bowl and some light lava on the bowl top. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage to the inner edge of the bowl from the reaming job. The cake on the bowl sides and the tarry oil on the rim top are also visible. The briar at the top is quite damaged and will take some work to remove the knife cuts and deep gouges in the briar. The stem is also shown with the chewed damage on both sides.  I removed the stem from the shank and was a bit surprised by the aluminum system that was inside. The tenon was aluminum and had a bullet shaped cap on the end of it. The cap had a hole in the top that allowed the smoke to be drawn through the airway in the stem. The previous own had wrapped the aluminum portion of the tenon with what looked like aluminum foil to build it up to fit tightly in the shank. The photos below show the tenon and the system. I was unfamiliar with the brand and was surprised by the tenon system. I did some searching online and could find nothing on the Gitana brand or the Gitana Depose brand. I did happen across a similar pipe on Smokingpipes.com. The writer who described the pipe for the site wrote the following which contained some really helpful information. I quote:

We were able to ascertain a little information about La Gitana, which was a French brand created by Chapel Frés…but this relic from the early 20th century still sports its original horn stem, coupled with a novel aluminum tenon arrangement that we can only assume is meant to trap moisture. Although we aren’t sure how well it achieves this, it does do quite well at looking like an old-school James Bond accessory. It fits securely within a cork-lined mortise, which many briars of this period tended to have. https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=196840

From that I learned that the brand was called La Gitana. It was a French made pipe from a company called Chapel Frés. It was made in the early 20th century and the author had described the tenon system like the one I had.  I also learned that the mortise had originally been cork lined to facilitate holding the tenon snuggly in the shank. This was what was missing in the pipe I had and it had been replaced with the foil mess that is seen in the above photos.

Armed with the name Chapel Frés I looked on Pipedia under French Pipe Companies and found the brand there. It stated that it came from that factory and the brand had been founded in 1904 in Saint-Claude, France. Here is the link https://pipedia.org/wiki/Chapel_Fr%C3%A9s.

Armed with that information I started my cleanup of the stem. I scraped away the foil that was wrapped around the tenon. I examined the bullet shaped cap on the tenon and figured out that it unscrewed from the tenon. I cleaned the metal underneath alcohol, cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and steel wool. I cleaned out the airway in the shank at the same time. The tube in the end of the tenon looked clean. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to clean out the inside of the bullet cap. I cleaned out the walls in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was a very dirty pipe that once it was clean had an interesting look to it. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the walls clean of the carbon build up. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper.To remove the damage on the rim top I topped the bowl until the damaged areas were removed and the rim top was clean. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and bring it back to round as much as I could. I washed down the exterior of the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grim on the briar. The pipe looked really good at this point. I needed to round down the outer edges to bring it back to the shape it was when I started but for now it was clean. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is quite readable and clear.The tenon had some sticky substance for the glue on the foil on the tenon end. The tenon and threads still needed more cleaning to remove the oils.I filled in the tooth marks and troughs in the surface of the horn with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to dry.I decided to try to fit a cork in the shank to line it as suggested above. I cut away some of the excess cork from a wine cork I had. I trimmed it down with a Dremel and sanding drum until the diameter was close to the inside of the shank. I drilled it out with a series of drill bits starting small and working my way up to one that was close to the size of the tenon. I sanded down the cork exterior until it was a fit in the shank. I pressed it in place in the shank.I used a needle file to thin down the inner walls of the cork lining. It needed to be very thin to allow the tenon to fit in the shank. I tried to put the tenon in the shank. The fit was still not right. The cork was too thick to allow a fit. I pulled it out of the shank and slid it over the tenon. I sanded it down with sandpaper and files until it was a good fit. I glued the cork on the tenon and let it dry. When it cured I rubbed the cork down with Vaseline to soften it and allow it to slide into the shank. The fit was very good. I took some photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the restoration (I had also started the shaping on the bowl top). I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a clean cloth after each pad. The grain began to pop and really stand out. Once the glue repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs. I sanded them to blend them into the surface of the horn. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding them with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I gave it a final coat and let it dry. The following photos show both sides of the stem. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and the horn stem with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood and the horn. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl and stem looked like. I am happy with the look of the pipe. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and horn. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on the bowl came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished striated horn stem. The pipe has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem work give the pipe a very classic look. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for reading this while I worked on it. It was interesting and unusual piece to restore and I really enjoyed the work.

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A Challenging Restoration of Vintage Era First Choquin “A Metz”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had been on a short leave to my home town last month and that is where this happened!!!!! Even though there are still a number of pipes from the two of the three inherited boxes of pipes waiting their turn for restoration, curiosity got the better of me and I could not resist the temptations of opening the third box. What happened thereafter is that I had to unpack all the pipes earmarked to accompany me to my work place for restoration in my free time which in turn invited the wrath of my wife who had helped in packing in the first place, and repack the newly selected pipes from the third box!!!!!! In addition to the regular collection of Barling’s, Charatan’s, Comoy’s and other assorted collection, I came across two pipes which caught my fancy!!!!!The pipe on the left bears a football stamp that reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ” and the one on the right side simply reads “GBD”  (there are other stampings on the silver ferrule, details of which will be highlighted when it comes up for restoration). Both these pipes looked vintage and unique enough that I immediately Facetimed with Mr. Steve of rebornpipes. His admission that he is willing for a trade with me for these two pipes was an indication enough for me to know and understand their uniqueness!!! Thus these two pipes moved to the top of my unorganized and chaotic list of restoration.

The pipe first on my work table is the CHOQUIN. It is a huge pipe with a humongous acorn shaped smooth briar bowl with a steeply raking shank, the end of which is adorned by a fixed sterling silver ornamented ferrule. This similarly designed sterling silver also masks the tenon of the horn stem.The shank and the horn stem are connected by a push-fit type bone extension. The huge acorn bowl shows beautiful, large and loosely packed birdseye grain on the right side while mixed grain adorns the left side. The stummel on the front, back and the shank displays densely packed straight grains. The only stamping that is seen on this pipe is the football stamp on the left side of the shank and reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ”. For its age, the stamping is crisp and clear.This time around, before commencing the restoration process, I posted the pictures of this pipe on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers group on Facebook as my next project. In addition to input from my mentor, Mr. Steve, I collected a lot of valuable information from all the knowledgeable stalwarts. From all the input that I have gathered, the flat bottom bowl, the stamping, the sterling silver adornments, the bone shank extension and horn stem, I can safely place this piece as being one of the first A Metz pipes from the 1858 era!!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Well, even before I could start my initial visual inspection, I faced the first of the many numerous hurdles that I had to overcome during the restoration of this pipe. The shank extension and the stem would not budge even a millimeter to separate from the shank and the bone extension respectively. I remembered Mr. Steve referring to the technique of freezing the stuck parts in the freezer for a couple of hours for easy separation. I followed his advice and had to put the complete pipe in the freezer for a couple of hours as it could not be dismantled. True enough, the horn stem separated from the shank extension with the application of a little force, but the extension would not budge from the shank!!!! So I went back to Mr. Steve to tap in to his wealth of knowledge and experience. He suggested that I should apply the method of “Hot and Cold” shock treatment in which you gently and carefully heat the stuck part using a heat gun and then get it back in to the freezer. This process may need to be repeated a number of times before the parts separate. Well, I did exactly that, albeit heating with a hair dryer as I did not have a heat gun, and after 3/4 attempts, the extension finally separated from the shank!!!!The first thing that I noticed was that the shank extension and the mortise were completely filled with oils, tars and grime. The shank extension was filled to an extent that a pipe cleaner would not pass through!!!! How very much typical of my Old Man!!!!!!! Through all this muck, just a swipe of the bone extension with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol revealed no apparent damage to the shank extension. Cleaning this would need to be a very careful, meticulous, time consuming and a tedious process given the delicate structure of such a vintage bone. Likewise, the tenon also was filled with oils and grime. Air flow through the stem was laborious to say the least!!! Both the upper and lower surface of the horn stem shows significant damage. The lower surface is peppered with 3-4 worm holes with one significantly larger than the other. Thankfully, it had not migrated through the upper surface!!!! The tenon is completely and permanently encased in the sterling silver ornament. The condition of the stummel was an equally horrendous story. Firstly, the rim top is heavily covered in overflowing lava. The overflow is so heavy that it has accumulated over the rim surface in blobs of dried tar and tobacco oil which can be seen in the subsequent pictures. This overflow had not restricted itself to accumulation on the rim top, but has spilled on to the stummel surface covering the stummel in sticky grime which has attracted more dirt and dust giving the stummel a dull and lackluster appearance. The overflowing lava has even accumulated in the junction where the shank and bowl are joined.  Some dents and dings are seen on the surface through the overflow and I do not envisage any major issue like the ones I faced while working on an Imperial Yello-Bole Carburetor that I had I restored. However through all this dirt, tar, oil, grime and damage, lovely grains can be seen on the sides and the shank. It will be a challenge to address these issues and make the grains to reveal themselves in all glory. The chamber is no different story!!! There is a thick build up of cake in the chamber. The inner edge of the rim is covered under the thick cake and as such, its condition can be commented upon only after the cake has been scrapped. The outer edge of the rim, however, shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and deep scratches to the front in 12 o’clock direction. The cause for this damage is….. Oh, forget it, let’s not even go there!!!! The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the chamber has been completely reamed devoid of any cake, but I do not foresee any major damages here as the stummel feels solid to the touch and this huge solid piece of briar can sustain some serious damage. You have to feel the stummel in your hand to understand what I am trying to write. It is one heavy and handful of a pipe!!!!The sterling silver ferrule and tenon ornament was black as is typically seen in heavily oxidized silver. However through all this discoloration, delicate, intricate decorative design can be appreciated. This is another pointer towards the vintage of this pipe.THE PROCESS
I started the process of restoration by polishing the sterling silver ornaments at the shank end and tenon with pipe ash as suggested by Mr. Steve. This was followed by reaming the chamber with size two of the PipNet reamer head and progressing through to size four. Yes Sirs, there is no typo error!!! It is indeed PipNet and not a Kleen Reem reamer as you have gotten used to reading in my write ups !!!!!! Mr. Steve has sent me a set along with some beautiful pipes that I had got from him. I followed up the reaming with scrapping the remnants of the cake from the walls, flat bottom of the chamber and the rim top surface with my fabricated knife (Oh, how I long for a Sav Fitsall reaming knife!!! Hope you are reading this Steve Sir). The cake was so hard, that I invariably ended up scratching the flat bottom surface while scraping. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%. I gently scrapped the rim top surface with a sharp knife. Removing all the cake from the chamber and rim top revealed that firstly, the rim was out of round and secondly was a web of fissures along the internal walls. There was one crack, which showed prominently after a cleanup with Murphy’s oil soap, bothered me and can be seen in the pictures below which has been highlighted by a red circle. I shared these images with Mr. Steve and Mr. Dal Stanton for their opinion as to the extent of damage and further repairs. They too expressed fears that the crack may have migrated through the stummel. Mr. Steve suggested picking the crack on the top of the rim using a toothpick and filling it with CA superglue. I decided that I would address this issue later after further investigations. I cleaned the internals of the shank, shank extension and the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips, shank brushes, all generously dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I had never used such drastic measures like initially cleaning the bone shank extension by carefully inserting a round needle file for creating an opening through which pipe cleaners could pass through for subsequent cleaning. The heap of pipe cleaners and q-tips that are seen in these pictures are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I must have gone through an entire packet of 50 of both types of pipe cleaners, in addition to the q-tips and brush cleaning!!!!! To further deep clean and refresh the internals, I used cotton and alcohol soaks. Using a cotton ball to create a wick, I inserted it through the mortise and into the airway. I then stuffed the bowl with tightly packed cotton balls and placed it in bowl filled with rice grains to provide stability. Similarly I made a tight cotton wick and inserted it through the bone shank extension to further remove all the oils, tars and smells. With a large eye dropper, I then filled the bowl and the bone shank extension with isopropyl 99% until it surfaced over the cotton. I refilled the alcohol in a few minutes after it was absorbed into the cotton balls. I put the stummel and the bone shank extension aside for several hours to soak. After some time, the cotton and the wick were soiled. I discarded the expended cotton and wiped the bowl and the bone shank extension with paper towel. To make sure all was clean, I used a cotton bud and pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 99% and they came out clean. I cleaned the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and Scotch- Brite pad and rinsed the stummel under running tap water. This cleaning helps in bringing to the fore any other damage which could be hidden under all the dirt and grime. Fortunately, there were no major dents, dings or gouges to the stummel. There were a few minor ones which I think would be addressed when I would sand the stummel surface and subsequent micromesh polish. I dried the bowl with a paper towel and soft cotton cloth. Initially I had decided that I would not be topping the rim top and maintain its original profile. However, in order to ascertain if the crack had migrated through the stummel, I decided to top the rim surface. This would also help to address the numerous dents, dings and scratches on the rim’s top surface and also to remove traces of lava overflow. I topped the rim surface on a 220 grit sand paper. Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the stummel rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage. Fortunately, it was revealed that the supposed crack was superficial and had not migrated through. Staying with the rim, the next issue that I addressed was the inner rim edge. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I created a light bevel on the inner edge. This addressed the issue of uneven and out of round inner edge. The damage to the outer edge was addressed to a great extent when I had topped the rim top surface. Whatever little dents and nicks that remained on the outer edge were very minor, though visible, and I decided to let them be.I sand the stummel surface with a 220, 320, 600 and 1000 grit sand paper, in that order, to remove the minor scratches and marks on the rim and stummel surface. I frequently wiped the sanded surface with a moist cloth to remove the briar dust and also to check the progress of my work. Once I was satisfied with the match, I followed it up by micromesh polishing pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. I was disappointed when after all my efforts up to this stage; there were some very minute chips that were visible in pictures. But overall, at this stage of restoration, the entire bowl, rim top surface and shank is looking fresh and clean. Even though some of the dents and chips could not be completely addressed and are visible only on very close visual scrutiny, in my view, they lend this pipe a battle scarred warrior like a character. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers deep in to the stummel surface. What this balm does is it revitalizes the briar wood and breathes a new life in to the briar. It’s amazing to see the transformation as the balm works its magic on the briar wood. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Turning my attention to the horn stem, I cleaned the stem surface, including the worm holes, with q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove all the dirt and dust before the fill. I filled the worm hole on the bottom and top surface with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure.  Once the superglue had cured, I sanded the fills with a flat head needle file. To further match the fills with the surface of the stem, I sanded it with 220, 320, 600 and 1000 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. A few minutes later, I polished the stem and also the bone shank extension with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil in to both after every three pads. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny while the extension though smooth and shiny, still had the golden brownish hues of the tobacco oils and tars. I was wondering as to next course of action, Mr. David Goostree, an experienced member from The Tobacco Pipe Restorer group on FB, provided valuable information that the bone is similar to a Meer and absorbs oils from the tobacco and colours just like a meerschaum. Another issue taken care of!!! To finish the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about 40% full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  Afterwards, I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel to the polishing machine, maintaining 40% speed and applied several coats of carnauba wax.  I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. In my excitement mixed with apprehension in using the polishing and waxes for the first time, I completely missed out on taking any pictures. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!!!

PS: – During this journey of restoring this beauty, I had, on occasions felt low and demoralized as issues kept cropping up like the supposed crack to the stummel, the shank extension not supposedly cleaning up as I had incorrectly anticipated and the 2/3 occasions when the my polishing machine slipped on the surface and caused very minor scratches on the stummel. However, my Guru and mentor, Mr. Steve was always around with his words of wisdom and encouragement to egg me on towards completing this project. Thank you once again, Mr. Steve. I would like to thank all the esteemed members of “The Tobacco Pipe Restorer” group on FB for their interest and valuable inputs, which made this project interesting.

Restoring a Brand I had never heard of before – A Peter Piper 525 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Alex dropped by the other night to drop off a pipe off and to pick up one I was working on for him. He also brought this little billiard with him for me to work on. It is stamped Peter Piper over London Made on the left side of the shank and on the right it is stamped Made in England over the shape number 525. It is a brand I had not heard of and it was an interesting little pipe. It is a reddish coloured billiard. There are some scars and nicks on the surface that are part of the pipe’s story. The finish was worn and there were sticky marks on the shank and sides of the bowl that could have come from a sales label. The rim top had marks on it that looked like it had been tapped out on a hard surface and damaged the briar. The stem had a dental bit made for a pipe smoker with dentures. It had a tall lip on the topside of the stem that could be held behind the top denture. On the underside were two grooves cast in the surface that could be held with the bottom teeth. It gives the pipe a unique look. I took some photos of the pipe at this point to show its condition before I started the cleanup. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to give a clearer picture of the condition of the pipe. The photo of the rim top show the nicks and damage clearly as well as damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim. The stem is very oxidized but there are no tooth marks or chatter on the surface.I wanted to try to figure out where the pipe had come from and who had made it. It was a stamping I was not familiar with. The London Made stamp on the left side and the Made in England stamp on the right side seemed to point to an English pipe making company. I have seen some anomalies in the past where pipes stamped this way were actually made in France. I was curious to see what was behind this pipe.

I turned first to Pipedia.org to see if there was any information on the site about the brand. I check under pipes Made in England and found nothing there. I entered the Peter Piper name in the search box on the site and it took me to the list of French Pipe Makers. Sure enough on the list there was the Peter Piper name. I clicked on that name to see what I could find and it gave me the following information.

The Peter Piper trademark was first applied to a pipe in 1925, and granted on June 1, 1926 to Cadogan France Limited, whose offices were in London. Despite this, the pipe was made at the Marechal Ruchon factory in St. Claude, France. And, despite this, as the pipe was often stamped with London nomenclature. An excellent example of how blurred international borders became where Oppenheimer and Cadogan were involved. For more information see GBD. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Piper

I followed the link to the “for more information see GBD” statement at the end. I quote that below in part.

Other brands of this time were marketed with even larger independence. The Dr. Plumb’s had been developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925 when GBD France needed “a cheap line of pipes” especially for the Canadian market. In fact, the new brand was nicknamed for Mr. Rubinovich’s secretary Leslie W. Plumb, whose most important business was “to doctor figure” the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s made their way not only in Canada. – The Peter Piper, as well as the Dr. Plumb’s produced in Saint-Claude, is another great example that stampings like “London made” or “London England” are not always totally trustworthy also on older pipes! Not only today numberless brands are made in Saint Claude and stamped with whatever the buyer wants to be stamped… https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD

I turned to the Pipephil website to see if there was any further information on the brand and found the follow confirmatory information:

… the pipes were stamped “London England” in a straight line, even if they were sometimes crafted in France. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-gbd.html

Now I knew what I was dealing with. Interestingly it was a French Made pipe stamped London Made and Made in England. It was made by GBD France for the Canadian Market to be sold alongside of the Dr. Plumb brand. I love the bit of intrigue that is mentioned above – that the Dr. Plumb brand was named after a secretary, Leslie Plumb whose job was to doctor the ledgers. These pipes made their way to Canada as well as other countries. It is also great proof that the stamping may not always tell the full story.

Armed with this information I started the process of restoration. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a board. I worked the top in a circular motion on the sandpaper to remove the damaged surface and the edges of the bowl. I was so engaged in this restoration that I forgot to take a picture of the rim top after topping. I moved quickly into polishing the rim with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad. Once I had polished it through the 4000 grit pad I stopped and stained the top with a Maple stain pen to match the rest of the finish. The rim top matched well but still needed to be buffed and polished to blend the stain into the finish of the bowl.I polished the exterior of the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. After the polishing I could see the dents and scratches in the bowl sides and bottom. It was time to apply a little steam and see what I could do to raise them. Unlike those who have steam irons that they abscond from their wives to steam their pipes I use a knife and wet cloth. I heat the knife over the flame of a burner on our gas stove until it is hot. I put the wet cloth over the dents and apply the hot knife to the cloth. I repeat the process until the dents have been raised. In this case it worked pretty well. I was able to get the majority of them out of the briar. The photos tell the story. With the externals cleaned I needed to clean the internals. I had forgotten to do the cleaning until now. The pipe looked pretty clean… in fact I kind of wondered if it had been smoked very much. I cleaned the mortise and shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I cleaned the airway in the stem at the same time (you will notice that the stem is quite black at this point. I had already sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper as noted below).I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl and rim looked like. I am happy with the stain match on the rim top. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation. I worked on the angles of the dental bit and the grooves on the underside of the stem until I had removed oxidation.I polished it with the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and rubber. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on the bowl came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The pipe has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem work together like other GBD pipes. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. I have one other pipe to finish restoring for this fellow before it will go back to him. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of it.

Converting a Zettervig Freehand into a Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometime pipes come back to you. I had restored and restemmed this pipe for a fellow here in Vancouver not too long ago and made a freehand stem for it. I had also worked on converting a broken shanked Brigham into a churchwarden. The other night he dropped by and we sat and chatted for a bit. He pulled four pipes out of his bag for me to look at. One was a new find from a junk store. The other three were pipes that I had already done for him. The first two were churchwardens and he decided that they just were not for him. He also took the freehand stem out of the Zettervig and put it in the Brigham and said that he had been smoking it that way and really liked it a lot. We talked about options – restemming all three, using the stem from the Zettervig on the Brigham, restemming the churchwardens with shorter stems or just selling the pipes. The one churchwarden would be just a cleanup. The other was a little more involved. It meant fitting the existing churchwarden stem on the Zettervig pipe and seeing if that would move it. We chose the last option selling the two pipes as churchwardens to someone who really wanted them.

Here are some pictures of the Zettervig as it was when I sent it home with him. I thought they would give us a base for the change. The pictures give a clear picture of the beauty of the pipe. The stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank and reads Zettervig over Copenhagen over Handmade. Under that it is stamped with the shape number 351 followed by Denmark. As a reminder I quote from the blog on the Zettervig to summarize the history of the brand for you all. Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/28/restoring-and-restemming-a-zettervig-handmade-351-freehand/

In the 1960’s and into the early 1970’s Ole Zettervig had a shop in Copenhagen, Denmark where he was carving high quality pipes equal to Stanwell, Larsen, Anne Julie, Thurmann, Bang and others. These early pipes were marked “Copenhagen” and are very collectible. He sold his shop at some point in the 70’s and moved to Kolding and continued to produce pipes as a hobby, but the quality of briar and workmanship is said to not equal the early production. The later pipes he now marked as Kobenhaven rather than Copenhagen, and these were sold by Ole at flea markets throughout Europe.

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-z.html

I took the churchwarden stem from the Brigham and reworked it for the Zettervig. I needed to trim the tenon down slightly and reshape the shank end of the stem. I worked on it until the fit was perfect in the shank. I rounded the area above the tenon to fit into the angled plateau on the end of the shank. I used 220 grit sandpaper to shape the tenon and stem. Unfortunately I was on a roll and forgot to take pictures of that part of the process.

I lit a votive candle and used it to heat the stem. I inserted a long pipe cleaner in the stem and turned it over and over until the vulcanite was pliable. I checked the pliability repeatedly and when it was finally bendable I bent it over a round jar to give it an even bend that matched the flow of the bowl and shank. I held it in place until the bend was set. The stem was used by the Vancouver fellow so I needed to remove the light tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and also clean it to remove the light tars. I cleaned the stem with alcohol and long pipe cleaners. Once the cleaners came out clean that part was finished.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil after each pad to protect and polish it. I gave it a final polish with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. The Zettervig bowl had been smoked more than the churchwarden stem from the Brigham. It was dirt in the shank and airway. It also had a light buildup of carbon in the bowl and it was dirty. The finish was also dull so that would need to be address. I cleaned out the shank and airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I cleaned out the carbon on the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to smooth out the interior of the bowl. I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar on the sides and the bottom of the bowl and shank with my fingertips. I worked it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my finger tips and worked it in with a horsehair shoe brush. I wanted to make sure that the balm got deep into the briar to do its work. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I the buffed stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. The combination of the Danish Zettervig bowl and the vulcanite churchwarden stem looks very good. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 11 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the conversion of this bowl to a churchwarden with me.

Restoring a Dunhill Root Briar EK Square Shank Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a Dunhill Panel Billiard. It is a smooth briar pipe that is very dirty. It has four panels around the bowl and the corners are rounded. The shank is square as well and ends with a square tapered stem. The briar is worn and tired with oils in the briar. The rim top had a build of tars and lave that flowed over it from a thick cake in the bowl. The shank is stamped on the left side EK followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side it is stamped Made in England with an underlined superscript 0 followed by a 4 circled followed by an R. The stem has the standard white spot on the top side. It was oxidized and had some calcification build up on the first inch of the stem that appeared to have come from a rubber pipe Softee bit. The stamping is easily interpreted. The left side EK is the shape stamp for a panel billiard. The ROOT BRIAR stamping is the line of Dunhill pipes. The right side stamp superscript O tells me that the pipe is dated to 1960. The circled 4 is the size of the pipe (group four) and the R is the stamping for a Root Briar. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the top, sides and the bottom of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. The topside showed a thick lava build up flowing out of a thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know if there was damage on the outer or inner edges of the rim. The sides of the bowl show dents and wear but also some stunning birdseye and cross grain. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the pipe shank. It is faint but readable. It is as I wrote about above.Jeff took a photo of the stem to show the fit against the shank and the white spot. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter and marks as well as the calcification on the surface of the stem.I wanted to certify the date for myself so I had a look at the PipePhil site and looked the dating and stamping information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). Using the charts there I was able to confirm that pipe was made in 1960.

I also looked on the Pipedia site and read as much information as I could find regarding the Root Briar line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). Here is what it said: The line was… Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish. The Root Briar finish required a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish, since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or Principle Pipe Dealers…

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils, lava and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and without the grime the finish had some rim darkening that hid the grain. The vulcanite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.  I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damage and darkening around the inner edge. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem both on the surface of the button and just ahead it. There was one deeper tooth mark on the topside near the button.I started my refurbing work by addressing the darkening on the rim top and inner edge. I first sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I then lightly sanded the rim top with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I find that using a bit more tired piece of sandpaper works wonders on the dark edge without scratching the rim surface like a new piece. I followed that by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh. I sanded the rest of the pipe with the micromesh at the same time. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the bowl after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain on the rim top began to shine through and the finish was in good condition under the darkened grain. I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar on the rim, sides and the bottom of the bowl with my fingertips. I wanted to make sure that the balm got deep into the briar to do its work. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I sanded out the tooth chatter and tooth marks on the stem surfaces. I sanded the rest of the stem with the sandpaper to remove the oxidation on the stem surface.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax then buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. I left the some of the dents in place as I did not want to sand and ruin the patina. I think they are marks of the journey the pipe has taken. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is a nice looking Dunhill Panel Billiard pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this beautiful Dunhill Root Briar Panel. Thanks for looking.

114. A Visual History of Peterson’s Shape 999


Very interesting piece on Peterson 999 history. It is a favourite shape of mine and I particularly like the John Bull. Thanks Mark for this write up. Well done.

peterson pipe notes

I always find myself thinking of the classic 999 John Bull (pictured above) as typical of Kapp & Peterson’s house style with its short, beefy shank, chubby tapered mouthpiece and P-Lip.  Unlike other iconic Peterson shapes, however, it seems unlikely that this one was an original. Collectors more knowledgeable than I know there were many English and French makers who also made a shape very like it, if not earlier, then at about the same time beginning in the 1920s or 30s.

A 1939 GBD 9239R (Courtesy Al Jones)

Al Jones has several favorites, including GBD’s 9242 and 9438, Comoy’s 499, and Sasieni’s Ashford. And if you play with the design a bit, you can come up with a number of variations and more than one name by which the shape is called. Many American pipemen call the 999 a rhodesian, although at BriarWorks they call it a bullmoose.

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Cleaning up a Cadogan Era Comoy’s Silver Shadow 225


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked this Comoy’s Silver Shadow up from a friend on Facebook who was selling a batch of pipes that he picked up. When it arrived several of the pipes were unsmoked and in excellent condition. This Comoy’s was very nice but had tooth marks on the stem and was lightly smoked. There was some light cake in the bowl and the finish was dull. Jeff cleaned up the pipes with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl and scrubbing the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. Jeff sent it to me recently in a batch of pipes that were ready to restore. I took photos of the pipe when I unpacked it. The bowl and rim are very clean. There is a light fill on the backside of the bowl that is solid and tight. The finish was clean and the pipe needed to be polished. The stem had bite and tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and the underside. The left side is stamped Comoy’s over Silver Shadow. On the right side it is stamped with the shape number 225 and the COM stamp – Made in London in a circle over England. The underside of the shank is stamped with an upper case M.I started with the clean up on the stem first. I used a needle file to clean up the straight edge of the button and smooth out the wear on the button. I sanded the tooth marks out of the surface of the acrylic stem with 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl and rim looked like. It looks really good after the balm and buffing. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and acrylic. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on the bowl came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished silver swirled acrylic stem. The pipe has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photo below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem is beautiful and combine very well. This should make a great smoking pipe and it is comfortable in both hand and mouth. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful Comoy’s Silver Shadow. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly.