Charatan’s Make 109 Rhodesian Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I have been a fan of the Charatan Shape 109, but rarely see them become available. This one was recently posted on Ebay. It is a Lane era pipe, with the L stamp, but it has a tapered stem versus the more common Double Comfort. I think the Double Comfort stem on Chartan Bulldog or Rhodesian stems look a little ungainly, so this one was very appealing. The pipes small size was a definite appeal. It is similar to a Group 4 Dunhill or XX Ashton. The pipe weighs approximately 45 grams, which is my right in my sweet spot.

The Ebay pictures for the pipe weren’t very detailed and there were some pretty deep teeth marks on the bottom of the stem. The pips is stamped:
Charatan’s Make
London England
109 and the L stamp

I’ve learned that Charatan pipes stamped in this manner were known as having the “Rough” grade. From a somewhat controversial web article by Ivy Ryan, I’ve learned that:
“Sandblasted pipes stamped Charatan’s Make over London England and a number are one version of the famous “Rough” grade. These were apprentice pipes that didn’t come out well
enough to be graded but were still eminently smokable. To save the wood and give the
less-well-off a quality smoke, Charatan would first hand rusticate the pipe gently, then sandblast
it. (Due to Dunhill’s patent, they couldn’t simply blast the pipe, and the rustication made for a very
different blast.)”

The “L” in circle stamp denotes a pipe imported into USA by Lane Ltd between 1955 and 1988. If anyone has information to narrow down that range, please chime in.

Here is the pipe as it was delivered. The nomenclature on the stem was in decent shape but it had some heavy tooth waves on top and heavy indention’s underneath.


Charatan_109_Before (1)

Charatan_109_Before (2)

Charatan_109_Before (3)

Once again, I employed the Stew-Mac black superglue to repair the teeth marks on the bottom of stem. The first photo shows the application of the superglue and the second shows it sanded smooth with 800 grit sandpaper.


Charatan_109_Stem (1)

I reamed the bowl and soaked it with alcohol and sea salt. There was some tar build up on the bowl top, but that was removed with a very mild oxy-clean solution and a cloth.

I removed the oxidation on the stem with 800 grit wet sandpaper, then progressed thru the 1500 and 2000 grade paper. Most of the waves came off the top of the stem and the marks underneath blended in nicely with the superglue. The button was in good shape. I stayed away from the CP stem logo. The stem was then buffed lightly with white diamond rouge.

I finished the bowl with some Halycon wax, worked into the bowl with an old toothbrush polished by hand

Here is the finished pipe.

Charatan_109_Finished (5)
Charatan_109_Finished (8)
Charatan_109_Finished (3)

Charatan_109_Finished (1)

18 thoughts on “Charatan’s Make 109 Rhodesian Restoration

  1. Whidah

    I’ve begun restoring my Dads pipes and I have a question. On his favorite pipes there is a dark stain on the “palm side” of the pipe. I’m assuming its oils from his hands. An alcohol bath and light sanding barely dented it. Any thoughts?

    1. upshallfan Post author

      Sometimes a light buff on the wheel with white diamond can remove those kind of “use” marks. Al

    2. rebornpipes

      I have used two different methods to remove that kind of stain.
      1. Acetone (fingernail polish remover) on a cotton pad rubbed over the surface. Repeated until the pads come back clean.

      2. Murphy’s Oil Soap undiluted scrubbed on the surface with a soft brush and rinse with warm water

  2. whif

    Beautiful pipe. I think the shape of the pipe is referred to as “Rhodesian”. Basically a bulldog with a bevel on the bowl.

  3. AtTheBackoftheHill

    I’ve had a Lane era Charatan 109 with a taper stem since 2004, when Marty at Sherlock’s Haven priced it at five dollars and put it in the bargain basket. The previous ‘occupant’ had reamed it so horrendously and banged it around so much that it was considered irredeemable. I cannot exaggerate the mis-treatment it had received. The rim still looks like crap, but over the years the bottom has come up enough that it now smokes like a dream. And, remarkably, it has become on of my favourite pipes. Excellent for Virginias.

    Your photos are a major reason I’ve started visiting your blog, btw. Which I did not hear about till I was outside the store several weeks back, cleaning up a bunch of estate pipes (we put the wheels outside on sunny days because of the dust), when someone referenced your blog very favourably, then mentioned in passing that he also read Greg Pease’s stuff, and some dude in San Francisco who didn’t always talk about pipes……. a Dutch-American……..

      1. AtTheBackoftheHill

        @Upshallfan: I work part-time at Telfords in Mill valley. Over thirty years ago I sneered at Telfords, but since then Brian Telford has changed, the Bay Area has changed, and many stores have gone out of business. Brian is still around, and his store is virtually the last man standing.

        At this point, Telfords is a haven in a waste-land. And when they offered me two days a week, I leaped at the opportunity. Smoking environment, selection of tobaccos, buffing wheels………
        A greater variety of tinned goodies and cigars than Drucquers ever had. And Drucquers was where I spent my college years.

  4. Andy Camire

    Nice write up Al. I also use the stew-Mac black superglue to repair some deep tooth indentations. I am using the medium (thicker) grade of glue and find that it dries very slowly and have to use numerous applications to get the needed results with a couple days of curing. Are you finding those same results when using that stuff? Thanks for the photos of the fine smaller sized Charatan.

    1. Mark Domingues

      Andy, I get the same results as you, FWIW. They sell an accelerator spray that Steve has used. I have not tried it.

    2. upshallfan Post author

      Andy, yes it does take an overnight to dry. I forgot to purchase the accelerator. I get a little impatient, but the next day, it is dry completely. I’m not sure how neatly the accelerator could be used or how it is mixed in. Perhaps Steve will elaborate.

      1. rebornpipes

        I have used the accelerator either. I just know it is available. I chose to let it sit and cure thinking it might be a better bond,

        Good write up Al. That pipe is a beauty.

  5. upshallfan Post author

    A great question Mark. I too would call this a bulldog. But, in the Charatan catalog, it is known only as a Rhodesian (and available with the round or diamond shank/stems). Charatan was known as a “drinking club with a pipe making habit” so there you go. James Upshall (a divergent Charatan maker/brand) also calls all of their pipes like this Rhodesians. It must be a UK thing.

    1. Mark Domingues

      Total confusion! There is a “Harkness London Made” on eBay right now they list as a bent dog. It has a round shank, so I would call it a rhody…
      Speaking of Up shall, did you see where someone is buying no name estates, refurbing and stamping Ascot ( or something) for BIG profits. I think it is James Up shall co.? Would have to go back and find the thread on PSF…

      1. upshallfan Post author

        I have that Harkness on my watch list as well (only watching, as you know, I love that shape). Ebay auction titles are often incorrect. This is part of the never ending discussion on exactly what constitutes a Bulldog or Rhodesian and there is no definitive answer, it varies by maker. This Charatan came from a very well respected pipe collector (Richard Webb) and he had it labeled as a Rhodesian. Potato-potahtoe!
        I have been following the James Upshall thread but really prefer not to even discuss it here, it’s a bit contentious. Feel free to email or PM me if you want my opinions.

        1. Mark Domingues

          I too am just watching the Harkness, just like to see what they end up at. If it ain’t a Pete, its hard for me to bid on! Something about those Petes…

  6. Mark Domingues

    Sweet pipe! But I’m confused. Isn’t that a bent bulldog? I thought if it had the diamond shank it was a dog, round shank made it a rhody? Thanks for the history, too!


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