FINDING THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF A KNUTE OF DENMARK FREEHAND


Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/

For after all, the best thing one can do
When it is raining, is to let it rain.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in “The Poet’s Tale: The Birds of Killingworth,” in Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863)

INTRODUCTION
Longfellow’s powerful poem is about man’s intolerant bent for all things natural based on ignorance of the indispensability of even the smallest part in an ecosystem.  It speaks to acceptance and “gentleness, and mercy to the weak, and reverence for Life.”  The work is sad and satirical and, in the end, surprising in its song of survival, but, alas, will never be required reading in any public school.

Knute of Denmark is a second of Karl Erik, which Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942-2004) made his main brand.  Ottendahl, an underrated and generous pipe maker who was a low-paid lithographer before he took up pipe carving as a hobby until it became his full-time vocation, understood the average smoker who made far less money than those fortunate enough to afford expensive varieties of the Danish freehand style of which he was an early crafter.  He therefore dedicated his life and work to pipes of great natural beauty at bargain prices.  Here is one that very much resembles the pipe in this blog, suggesting Ottendahl may have had a hand in making this Knute of Denmark.I suspect, or at least like to think, that Ottendahl read Longfellow’s magnificent poem, a couplet of which I quoted above, and if he didn’t, he would have enjoyed it.  And it was raining in the Isotopes City while I restored this pipe.

RESTORATION The stem was savagely damaged, with the top lip all but gone and a small hole below it and the bottom having two gouges.  Such long-term acts of mayhem must have been inflicted by someone with clear and severe anger issues who masticated the mouthpiece the way some people chomp on gum to stop smoking coffin nails.  I gave it an OxiClean bath to start.  At the same time, I stripped whatever dirt and stain (the latter of which I could see no signs) were present with an Everclear soak.  The immediate appearance of dark reddish swirls in the alcohol surprised me. The OxiClean soak, which was complete first, shows in the pic below how filthy the stem was.  Afterward, all I can say is it was clean. Figuring I had at least an hour before the stummel would be stripped, I filed off fine shavings from an old otherwise useless stem and made a nice little pile.  The ironic part of that task was that the stem was once a fancy type similar to the one I was fixing and would have been a perfect replacement had it not been toasted!  Then I added a few drops of black Super Glue, mixed it together with the shavings and quickly and liberally applied it to the stem after dipping a cleaner in petroleum jelly and inserting in the mouthpiece past the hole.  WARNING: I forgot my usual process of lubricating a small sliver of card stock paper also and inserting it inside the stem in front of the cleaner, but it all worked out later – with some extreme difficulty. That done, I had 12-24 hours before it would be dried, way more than enough time to finish the stummel that was ready to come out of the Everclear.  Checking out the progress of the alcohol soak, I was amazed by the almost blood red color of the 190-proof grain alcohol and guessed it was from residual maroon stain.For the first time after an Everclear soak, I wiped the still drying wood with a cotton rag saturated with purified water.  The water took longer to dry, but the result was stunning.  Despite the sandblasting, I believe what I beheld was the finest piece of briar I’ve ever seen.  Its natural beauty shone through the crisp dullness. I reamed the chamber, used a small sharp pocket knife to cut away some excess buildup and sanded with 150-, 220, 320- and 600-grit papers, then retorted the pipe. The following shots show the tremendous improvement of the wood’s potential color and glow.  I used the super fine “0000” steel wool in two of the photos only on the rim and shank opening.  But look at the difference. Late that night, with the stem patch dry, I took out one of my files, a narrow triangle with medium-grit flat sides to remove the thick, uneven mess on the top of the stem that is a necessary by-product of the black Super Glue method of hole-filling.  I was also able to remove most of the deep chasms on the bottom of the stem.  I began the smoothing process with a dual 150- and 160-grit sanding pad and regular, rougher 150-grit paper.The effort to salvage the ruined old stem was worthwhile and a good start on a plan of total rehabilitation for personal use, but this pipe is for sale, and I know the more difficult work of re-building the bottom lip will take longer and not, in the end, be suitable to pass off to a buyer.

But as it happened, I had two other freehands with good fancy stems with which I could play musical chairs, a Ben Wade by Preben Holm I re-stemmed before and an estate Karl Erik I’m working on now that’s far too huge to support the smaller stem it came with.  For now, I’m enjoying the BW with the damaged Vulcanite stem as the yellow Lucite one fits the Karl Erik.  I liked the dark brown swirled Lucite stem that was on the Karl Erik better, and since the tenon of the BW by PH was too thin, the issue was settled.  I sanded down the elegant brown Lucite fancy stem’s tenon and smoothed it with steel wool before micro meshing it. A thorough buffing on the wheel with red and white rouge on the stem and stummel, and it was done. CONCLUSION
In the spirit of nature, I used no stain restoring this freehand that needed no artificial help to reveal its innate beauty.

SOURCES
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik
http://www.hwlongfellow.org/poems_poem.php?pid=2047

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Refurbishing a Bjarne Hand Made Nosewarmer


Blog by Steve Laug

In the past weeks I finished up some pipes for a guy here in Vancouver and when he came to pick them up he brought some more for me to work on for him. I finished up some of the ones on the worktable so I decided it was time to work on these. The third of them is a Bjarne bent apple nosewarmer with a short stem. It is another really beautiful pipe. The shape, the rich reddish brown finish along with the black acrylic stem with the bj logo all combine to make this a uniquely beautiful pipe.   The bowl had a thin and uneven cake. The upper half of the bowl was more thickly caked than the bottom half. I would need to ream it to even out the cake. There was some slight darkening on the rim top as well as dents and nicks in the top of the rim. The inside of the shank was dirty and needed to be cleaned. The black Lucite stem had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. There was one deep tooth mark on the top edge of the button. The short saddle stem looked good otherwise. I took photos of the bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe before I started to work on it.I did a quick review of the history of the brand by turning to Pipedia. Here is the link https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bjarne. I quote from part of that article to give a short synopsis of the history of the brand.

With a demanding job it was hard to find time to make pipes in that quantity, and Bjarne had to choose. His dream had always been to have a company of his own, and if he wanted fo fulfill that dream, now was the time to do it. But to leave a promising career, in which he probably would have become a Danish ambassador in some foreign country, was indeed a big step to take. “Many thought I was crazy”, Bjarne says, “and one of them was my wife. But she supported my decision anyway.”

He made that decision in 1973, and became a fulltime pipemaker. But he soon realized that it was impossible for one person to handle all of it–he could not make a lot of pipes, sell them and collect money for them all by himself. So he decided to find some pipemakers to help him. In those days Preben Holm was one of the biggest makers of fancy pipes, and he employed a great number of pipemakers. But not all of them were happy to work for Preben,m so Bjarne recruited a few of those.

During the first years all of Bjarne’s pipes were sold in the USA, but at the end of the 1970s he visited the pipe show in Frandfurt and found that there was a market for his there as well. However, he found that the Germans wanted a completely different style of pipes–pipes in traditional shapes. So if he wanted to be successful there, he had to add a completely new line to his production. “It was not easy, we learned it the hard way,” Bjarne says. But they certainly succeeded, and for a number of years Germany became the top-selling market for Bjarne’s pipes.

The photo below shows pictures of Bjarne Nielsen. The photo is from the Pipedia article and comes from Doug Valitchka as noted below the photo.I then turned to the Pipephil website – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b5.html  and did a screen capture of the article there on Bjarne pipes. Bjarne Nielsen distributed his own brand of pipes carved by Danish Pipemakers. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with Bjarne over Hand Made in Denmark. There are no other stampings or numbers on the shank. The pipe was obviously made prior to 2008 when Nielsen died.I started my clean up on this pipe by reaming out the bowl and smoothing out the cake on the walls. I reamed it back with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded it smooth and even with a dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper. Once that was finished the walls were smooth and undamaged and the surface ready for a new cake.I worked over the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I removed the most of the damage to the rim top with the micromesh sanding pads. I removed the area on the rear that had been darkened. I polished the exterior of the bowl with the pads at the same time. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I touched up the cleaned up rim top with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. The match was perfect and once the bowl was waxed and polished would be indistinguishable from the rest.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. I worked over the rim top to blend it into the rest of the stain. The balm works to clean, preserve and enliven the briar. I really like the effect of the product on briar so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I cleaned out the airway in the stem and shank, the mortise and shank interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take as much as I expected to remove all the tars and oils in the shank and mortise. The stem had some debris in the edges of the slot in the stem.I set the bowl aside and turned to address the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter out of the stem surface with some folded 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches in the acrylic. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the smooth 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have five more pipes to finish for him – one move from his personal rotation and four of them that are some finds he made while pipe hunting. This is a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking.  

Refurbishing a Don Carlos Hand Made Ballerina


Blog by Steve Laug

In the past weeks I finished up some pipes for a guy here in Vancouver and when he came to pick them up he brought some more for me to work on for him. I finished up some of the ones on the worktable so I decided it was time to work on these. The second of them is a Don Carlos Ballerina. It is another really beautiful pipe. The shape, the natural finish – combining a smooth and rusticated finish, the black acrylic stem and the treble clef mark that is the symbol of Don Carlos pipes all combine to make this a uniquely beautiful pipe. I have not worked on a Don Carlos product before this one and it was a beautiful pipe. The bowl was clean with very little cake – not enough to ream or remove. There was some slight darkening on the rim top. The inside of the shank was dirty and needed to be cleaned. The black Lucite stem had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The square saddle stem looked good otherwise. I took photos of the bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe before I started to work on it.I did a quick review of the history of the brand by turning to Pipedia. Here is the link https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:DonCarlos.jpg. Courtesy of italianpipemakers.com – Don Carlos pipes are born of thirty-year experience, inspired by local tradition, when at the beginning of 1900, Primo Soriani was a pipe maker near Cagli. The briar used in Bruto Sordini’s workshop has been seasoned in an open place for two years at least. Each pipe, completely made by hand, is the result of a tidy selection of the rough material and then of elaboration of the shape. The chamber is always left natural, without coating, to allow the smoker the discovery of the interesting taste of briar. That’s because a pipe must be beautiful, but overall it must smoke in the best way.

The photo below shows pictures of Bruto and Rosario Sordini. The photo is from the Pipedia article and come from Doug Valitchka as noted below the photo.I then turned to the Pipephil website – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-d7.html and did a screen capture of the article there on Don Carlos pipes. The information on that site will help me date the pipe that I am working on. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the script of Don Carlos. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Fatta A Mano – Hand Made. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the number 29 on a smooth band of briar. That number 29 tells me that it was made in 2006 (25+4).I started my clean up on this pipe by rubbing down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the rusticated finish with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. I worked over the rim top to remove some of the darkening there. I could not remove it all but I was able to get rid of some of it. The balm works to clean, preserve and enliven the briar. I really like the effect of the product on briar so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I cleaned out the airway in the stem and shank, the mortise and shank interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take as much as I expected to remove all the tars and oils in the shank and mortise. The stem had some debris in the edges of the slot in the stem.I set the bowl aside and turned to address the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter out of the stem surface with some folded 220 grit sandpaper. I forgot to take photos of that part of the process and went on to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches in the acrylic. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully buffed the smooth portions of the bowl and lightly buffed the rusticated portions. I gave both the smooth parts of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I gave the rusticated portions of the pipe multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have six more pipes to finish for him – two come from his personal rotation while four of them are some finds he made while pipe hunting. This is going to be a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking.

THE RHODESIAN CALABASH THAT LOST ITS GOURD


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/

6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made [it] to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief.  So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd  7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.  8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, [It is] better for me to die than to live.

The Holy Bible (KJV), 4:6-8

INTRODUCTION
The unique and, one would not be out of line calling it, bizarre implement for enjoying pipe tobacco that is the subject of this post came to me in an estate lot of three “unbranded” examples.  That’s just a euphemistic way of saying no-names.  I never before bid on a lot with nothing but unknown pipes, much less heard of such a thing, but I wanted this lot so much I offered three times more than anyone in his right mind would even consider.  The tactic worked.  One other bidder offered 50 cents more than the price at the time and therefore drove the final cost up that much, but I would have loved to see the look on his face when the minimum bid popped up on his screen!  I’m a little evil that way, I know.

The price I paid for the three has already been compensated with the sale of the top pipe below, a frayed straight brandy I cleaned and dressed up in a shiny black finish and sold for more than the lot cost.  The African meerschaum in the middle that made me desire the lot at all is destined for my own collection.

Three no-name pipe lot courtesy adamcam1985_eBay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have nothing against no-names.  In fact, some of them have been favorites of mine, one of which, below, I’m sure will shock some readers here.  Both of the no-names in the following photos came incidental to a couple of other lots filled with treasures the sellers could not have recognized, and they smoked as well as any pipe I’ve owned. And so, this is about the bottom pipe in the lot of no-names, a definite art deco wannabe that can only be described as a Rhodesian calabash, despite the lack of calabash gourd or anything like the traditional meerschaum bowl insert.  Instead, the “insert” is made of wood I believe to be Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), similar to plywood only much denser and stronger, and something that looks and feels like some sort of metal and therefore probably is.  I’m sure it was made in China, if only because of the unmistakable color.

The refurbish was as easy as they come.

REFURBISH The newfangled calabash is comparable in size to other pipes in one way, having a length of 6”, but the chamber diameter is tiny at ⅝” x ⅝”.  When I first held the pipe and looked it over, I thought it was brand new (pun intended).  But closer examination showed carbon in the little insert bowl chamber and the larger enclosed bottom chamber, and the rim needed some work.  After more than a little consideration, I determined the insert is MDF coated almost all over with whatever maroon finish of which the Chinese are so fond.  It reminds me of a mushroom, truth be told. Unfortunately, after having no success removing the char from the bottom chamber with super fine “0000” steel wool, I escalated the process to 150-grit paper and took off enough of the Teflon-like red finish that there remained no reason not to finish the job.  The steel wool worked well on the rim, though.The plastic stem had been gnawed well below the lip until it was, well, gnarly.  I attacked it with a progression of 150-, 220-, 320- and 600-grit papers, followed by the full power of all nine micro mesh pads and, to finish it off, a buff on the wheel with red and white rouge.  I don’t really know if the last measure did any good.  You be the judge. And that, as they say, was that, except for a quick spin on the wheel to buff the rim.
CONCLUSION
All I want to know now is what’s up with the stinger?  And BTW, one reason I chose the Biblical quote at the beginning is that I suspect it might be the origin of the term “losing your gourd.”  I meant no blasphemy.

SOURCES
I do not believe there is a source for this perhaps – one at least would hope – unique pipe.  But everything deserves its day in the sun!

Restoring a Gutta-Percha Woman’s Leg Pipe with a Briar Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

On Friday my wife and I took a drive out to one of our favourite spots near Vancouver to do a bit of walking and hunting. She likes looking for old cookbooks and I of course am always on the prowl for old pipes. We walked about for a while and enjoyed the beautiful day. We stopped by two antique malls and spent some time looking. She found nothing for her collection but I found three old pipes – A Parker Super Briar Bark 345 Bulldog in decent shape, a French Made Algerian Briar diamond shank Billiard and a Gutta-Percha Leg shaped pipe with a briar bowl. It was in the worst condition of the three pipes.The black cast/molded Gutta-Percha base was shaped like a female leg and even had a ballet slipper on the extended foot. The airway came out at the end of the toe. The base was nicked and dull looking with none of the rich glow that I know comes when the material is polished. But by far the worst part of the pipe was that some had dipped the briar bowl in a gold metallic paint rubbed it into the grain and then covered it with multiple layers of Varathane plastic coat. They had even dipped the threads on the nipple that screwed into the base in the plastic coat and painted the inside of the bowl as well. I say that was the worst part because otherwise the pipe was unsmoked. It would have been NOS (New Old Stock) before whoever did this abomination to the pipe. The bowl is normally a rich reddish brown colour in all the variations that I have seen on the internet so the gold and plastic finish would need to go. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show you the way it looked when I got it – I don’t know if some of you like the look – but I don’t. It is like painting an antique wooden piece with crackly gold paint to give it the look of hammered metal. It just does not work for me. I also took some photos of the base to show the condition of the mouthpiece end of the pipe. There were some nicks in the material but no tooth marks or chatter and the orific airway in the end of the toes was undamaged.I took photos of the bowl with it removed from the base to show how it had been painted with streaks to make it look like vertical grain – it was not as the wood was smooth and bits of it peaked through the gaudy gold finish. You can also see the thick plastic coat on the nipple that is threaded into the bowl almost filling in all of the threads. I topped the end of the nipple with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to remove the thick plastic coat that was not even smooth on that portion of the bowl. I did the same with the bowl to remove the plastic and metallic gold paint. Those areas definitely looked better to me but the bowl was a long way from looking normal.I tried wiping the bowl down with acetone to break through the plastic coat – no luck. The brown stains on the cotton pad come from the nipple end and the rim top where I had broken through the finish. There was only one way to remove this abominable coat of plastic and that was to sand it until it was gone… not my favourite thing. Think twice before any of you put that stuff on a pipe. It is truly awful and stops the wood from breathing.I sanded the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper and was able to break through the plastic coat and the gold coat. Underneath the bowl was nicked and damaged. The majority of the damaged spots were merely built up plastic coat and sanding them smoothed things out. But some of them were deep gouges in the wood. I sanded, cleaned with alcohol and filled those in with clear super glue and briar dust. When the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the remnants of the repair and the plastic coat. It took a bit of sanding but the finish was finally smooth to touch. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to smooth things out more.With the bowl smooth and clean I decided to stain it with the tan aniline stain I have. I am sure that it is mislabeled as it is far too red to be tan. I figured it would work well with this bowl.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to even the stain coat and make it a bit more transparent. The trouble was that all of the flaws and nicks in the wood showed up then. I gave it a second coat of stain using a Mahogany stain pen to darken the overall surface of the bowl and still leave it transparent enough to see the grain in the wood. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl to enliven, clean and protect the newly stained bowl. I let it sit for a few moments then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I took photos of the bowl at this point to show how things were developing. I set the bowl aside and worked on the base. I cleaned out the debris of time on the inside of the base with cotton swabs and alcohol. There were not a lot of tars as the pipe was unsmoked. But there was dust from sitting all these years since it was made.I polished the base with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the base down after each pad with Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the material. The pictures tell the story as the base begins to develop a shine. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to remove more of the scratches from the Gutta-Percha base. I rub the polish on with my fingertips and polish it with a cotton pad to raise the shine. I buffed the bowl and the base independently of each other with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove minute scratches and give the materials a shine. I gave both parts multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed them with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I put the parts back together and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos below show the finished and restored pipe. I personally like the rich brown over the metallic gold on the bowl when I got the pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are petite – the length from thigh to tip of the toe is 5 ½ inches, the height from the knee to the thigh is 2 inches, the outer diameter of the thigh is 1 1/8 inches and the chamber diameter is 1 inch. It is a unique piece of pipe history and joins the rest of the Gutta-Percha pipes in my collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this leg pipe with me.

Refurbishing a KB&B Gutta Percha Marco-Polo Tavern Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on quite a few Gutta Percha pipes over the years but for years had no idea what the material was. I had mistakenly called it Bakelite and other things until this past year when I was sent a suggestion. The pipe on the work table today came to me from my brother Jeff. Yet again he found an interesting pipe. It is made of that material and it is by far the longest pipe I have worked on. It is 13 inches long and 2 inches tall. The outer diameter of the bowl is 1 inch and the chamber diameter is 5/8 of an inch. The base and stem are Gutta Percha and the bowl is briar with a threaded nipple that screws into the base. The base is stamped on the left side of the shank near the bowl and reads MARCO-POLO followed by the KB&B cloverleaf logo. The pipe is NOS (New Old Stock) and thus is unsmoked. The bowl is pristine and the base and stem are very clean other than showing dullness from sitting around in the light since it was made. Jeff took the next photos to show what the pipe looked like when he received it. Jeff took a close up photo of the top of the bowl and the underside of the base. The bowl had a rounded edge with a small flaw toward the front. It was clean of any debris other than the dust and dullness of time. The base is a funnel or cone shaped cup that takes the threaded nipple on the briar bowl. It has two feet on the bottom that allow it to stand on a table or desk top.The mouthpiece end of the base was very clean with no tooth marks or chatter. There was some dust in the sharp edge of the button and the edge was lightly damaged over time.I went back to the blog I did on Gutta Percha and have included the link and some of the material I gathered at that point. I thought it would helpful for you if the material is a new thing to you. (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/08/59256/). I quote from there in what follows:

That led me to do some research on the web to see what I could find out about the material. (Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Google. I don’t know how I survived college and graduate school without it.) The first link I found and turned to was on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutta-percha). I quote large portions of that article below to set the base for understanding the material’s composition and origin.

Scientifically classified in 1843, it was found to be a useful natural thermoplastic. In 1851, 30,000 long cwt (1,500,000 kg) of gutta-percha was imported into Britain.

During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes, and it became a household word (emphasis mine). In particular, it was needed as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, which, according to author John Tully, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

According to Harvey Wickes Felter and John Uri Lloyd’s Endodontology: “Even long before Gutta-percha was introduced into the western world, it was used in a less processed form by the natives of the Malaysian archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and other purposes. The first European to discover this material was John Tradescant, who collected it in the Far East in 1656. He named this material “Mazer wood”. Dr. William Montgomerie, a medical officer in Indian service, introduced gutta-percha into practical use in the West. He was the first to appreciate the potential of this material in medicine, and he was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts, London in 1843.”

…In the mid-19th century, gutta-percha was also used to make furniture, notably by the Gutta-Percha Company (established in 1847). Several of these ornate, revival-style pieces were shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. When hot it could be moulded into furniture, decorations or utensils (emphasis mine).

It was also used to make “mourning” jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes (emphasis mine). Pistol hand grips and rifle shoulder pads were also made from gutta-percha, since it was hard and durable, though it fell into disuse when plastics such as Bakelite became available (emphasis mine). Gutta-percha found use in canes and walking sticks, as well.

The material was adopted for other applications. The “guttie” golf ball (which had a solid gutta-percha core) revolutionized the game. Gutta-percha remained an industrial staple well into the 20th Century, when it was gradually replaced with superior (generally synthetic) materials, though a similar and cheaper natural material called balatá is often used in gutta-percha’s place. The two materials are almost identical, and balatá is often called gutta-balatá.

I thought it would be good to refresh my thinking on the stamping of KB&B pipes and how it can help get a relative date on a particular pipe. I did a blog on that and quote part of that now. https://rebornpipes.com/tag/dating-kbb-and-kbb-pipes/. The KBB and KB&B stamping on these old timers is stamped in a cloverleaf on the side or top of the shank of the briar pipes. In more recent years the KBB and KB&B stamping is no longer present. Kaufmann Brothers and Bondy was the oldest pipe company in the USA, established in 1851. The Club Logo predated Kaywoodie with the “KB&B” lettering stamped within the Club, and a multitude of KB&B lines were in production long before “Kaywoodie” first appeared in 1919. I have several of these old timers including a Borlum that was made before Kaywoodie became the flagship name for pipes from Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KB&B)… That information helps date pre-1919 KB&B pipes. There is still a long history following that for which I wanted further information.

I found the Marco-Polo pipe listed on the pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kbb.html). The site says that the KB&B Clover Logo was discontinued in the 1930s. When Kaywoodie took over the line in 1919 the Kaywoodie name was often added to the stamping. So I can safely assume that pipe was made before the Kaywoodie name was added. That would make it pre-1919 or at least in the first few years following the acquisition by Kaywoodie.I took photos of the pipe after my brother had done his simple and thorough clean up on the pipe. It looked really good when it arrived. The Gutta Percha was dull and needed to be polished and the briar bowl was dull as well. Nothing that a little polishing would not change.I took some close up photos of the bowl to show the grain on the sides and interior of the bowl. The final photo shows the underside with the pair of feet that allows the pipe to stand on a table top. The stem end of the base was also dull but did not have tooth chatter or marks which matched the unsmoked bowl and confirmed the NOS designation that I gave the pipe above.I started the polishing of the Gutta Percha base and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil and after the last pad set the base aside to dry.I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the stem and base and let it sit for a little while. Then I buffed it off with a soft cloth. The Gutta  Percha really started to take on a shine at this point in the process.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean, enliven and protect the briar bowl. I rubbed into the threads on the nipple with a cotton swab and let it site for a few moments. I buffed the balm off with a soft cotton cloth the photos below show the bowl at this point in the process. I buffed the bowl and stem separately using Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed each with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I put the pipe back together and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The following photos show the completed pipe. It is really a beauty – quite delicate looking but comfortable in the hand and mouth. It was an interesting piece to work on and probably one I won’t see very often. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Comoy’s 286 London Made – Discovered!


By Al Jones

As a Comoy’s fan and someone who loves the Rhodesian pipe shape, this one came out of left field. It was advertised as having nomenclature too faded to read, but from the sellers pictures, I could see that it had a three digit shape number. This was a Comoy’s shape that I had never seen before. I was pretty anxious until it was delivered, and with my naked eye, I could see the shape number was 286. This puzzled me, as this shape number was not listed on any Comoy’s chart that I could find, nor was it in any of my scanned catalog library. A Google search yielded two results, one a Blue Riband sold on Ebay and the other on an Asian collectors side. This one must be a the saddle stem version of the coveted shape 284.

Update: a member of the PipesMagazine.com forum, found this catalog page, showing the 286 shape.

With magnification, I can see a partial name under the straight-line “Comoy’s” logo. It appears to be a London Pride grade. The 3 piece logo denotes a pipe made before the merger in 1981, along with the round Country-of-Manufacture mark, I know it was made between 1946 and the merger point. The tenon on the pipe has the reinforced steel ring. I could no determine an era where that ring was discontinued.

The pipe as delivered presented some challenges. There was a scorch mark on the shank that extended to the vulcanite stem. Luckily, it was underneath the C stem logo. There were a few dents in the stem, and the button had wear, and of course it was heavily oxidized. The stem fitment was quite snug. The bowl had a heavy cake build-up, that extended over the bowl top and there were some dings on the top and sides of the briar.

The stem was removed and soak in an mild Oxy-clean solution. I used a worn piece of Scotch-brite to remove the build-up on the bowl top, followed with an 8,000 micromesh sheet. I was able to raise a few of the bowl dents and dings with a damp cloth, and heat from an electric iron. The bowl was then soaked with sea salt and alcohol.

After the soaks, the stem was mounted. I used the flame from a lighter to raise several, but not all of the dents on the stem. The oxidation was removed with 800, 1500 and 2000 grade sandpaper, followed by 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. The scorched section of the stem took some more work 800 grit paper. These kind of marks are impossible to remove completely, as they go deep into the material At some point, you have to stop trying, before creating a flat or uneven spot on the stem. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond rouge and Meguiars Plastic Polish

Below is the finished pipe, which includes a pictures along side it’s tapered stem brother, a 284 Tradition. Curiously, the 284 does not have the metal reinforcement ring on the tenon.

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