Blog by Steve Laug
The other day Al Jones sent me a quick message about a pipe that he knew I was looking for. It was a pipe shape that I have been looking for since Mark Irwin wrote up his blog on the Peterson 9B shape. Al had found one from a Russian seller that was stamped PETERSON’S KAPRUF 9BC over LONDON MADE ENGLAND on the underside of the shank. The seller described it as follows on the EBay sale: Used pipe, smoked. Chamber reamed slightly, moderate heat crackling. Refurbished top of the bowl. Air passage opening is well centered and bottomed in the chamber. P-lip stem is clean and buffed, faint occasional oxidation, light traces of removed toothmarks. Markings on the pipe are buffed but visible: “PETERSON’S “KAPRUF” LONDON MADE ENGLAND 9BC” on the bottom of the shank. Stem has no markings or logos. It had a nice sandblast finish. The only deviation from online photos of the sandblast version of the pipe that I had seen was the smooth rim on the bowl. The seller’s comment above in bold – “Refurbished top of the bowl” makes me wonder if he had not topped the bowl in his clean up of the pipe. I am not certain if he had topped the bowl or not but if he had done so, he had done it very well. The light stain on the rim matched the light portions on the pipe as a whole at the shank and on the high points in the blast.
Included in the description was information that in the past I seemed to ignore and had paid for by the surprise of a larger or smaller than expected pipe. This time I read it and it fit my general expectations and current collecting habits.
Length 4-15/16″ (125 mm)
Height 1-7/8″ (47 mm)
Bowl depth 1-3/8″ (35 mm)
Bowl width (top) 1-5/8″ (33 mm)
Chamber opening 3/4″ (19 mm)
Weight 2.05 oz (58 grams)
The pipe arrived while I was traveling and Al had included some generous samples of tobaccos to try out in this “new to me” pipe. It came clean and ready to smoke. The condition of the pipe is superb. The finish is in excellent shape. The blast is rugged and the stain contrasts highlight the depth of the cragginess. The rim and the smooth bottom of the shank match well in terms of colour of the stain. The stampings were faint, caused either by the age of the pipe and the years of buffing that had occurred. It also could have been over buffed by the seller, but I am inclined to think otherwise due to the care with which he worked over the rest of the pipe. The stem is in great shape with no tooth marks and a deep gloss other than the slight oxidation of the stem where it meets the shank. There is no P stamp on the stem but I am pretty sure that the stem is the original. The internals are spotless and the bowl has a slight smell of tobacco. The fit of the stem to the shank is impeccable with no gap. The bend in the stem is perfect – with age it had neither straightened nor become over bent. It was precisely as had been advertized. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find that it matched the description. Too often these days I purchase an estate pipe that has been “refurbished” only to find that the pipe was filthy on the inside.
I took a few pictures of the pipe with the stem removed to illustrate the condition of the pipe. I literally had nothing to do in terms of cleaning up the pipe. I would need to work on the oxidation on stem but other than that it was flawless.
Since the only thing that remained for me to do on this beautiful pipe was the oxidation on the stem I decided to tackle it immediately. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation. I then wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil and then finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil.
I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax to seal and protect it. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. The oxidation is far better. The pipe looks good to my eye. The blast is stellar. Now all that remains is to fire this one up with one of the blends Al sent.