By Al Jones
Last week, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit our daughter and son-in-law who live in New Orleans. Our visit coincided with the first annual New Orleans Pipe Show, which was an outstanding event. While I was at the show, my family stopped at one of the flea markets in the city. At one shop, they found this “Black Eagle” bulldog, which had a faint “Made in London England” stamp as well. They knew that I loved the tapered stem bulldog shape and spied the “London England” stamp. I assume this was one of many basket pipes made as I can find nothing on the “Black Eagle” name, either via Google or in “Who Made That Pipe”.
The pipe had a heavy coating of tar on the bowl top and a few handling dings. Curiously, there appears to be a band mark on the edge of the shank. The diamond bulldog stem didn’t quite line up with the shank creases and it had a heavy cake build-up inside the bowl. There is one fill on the bowl
Below is the pipe as found. It is a generous Group 5 size and weighs 53 grams.
I reamed the bowl and discovered the interior was in very good shape. While completing that task, I soaked the mildy oxidized stem in a solution of Oxy-Clean.
I decided to remove the finish and restain the briar as part of the restoration. The handling marks were sanded smooth with 800 grit paper.
I reworked the angles of the stem with a fine, flat file than 800 grit paper. As I was completing this work, I concluded that someone had made replacement stem for this pipe. The vulcanite was of a good quality and it polished up nicely. I used 800>1500 and 2000 grit wet sandpaper to further improve the shine. Since I was restaining the bowl, I was able to mount the stem and do the file work from that position.
The bowl was soaked overnight in 91% isopropyl alchohol. I sanded the handling marks with 800 grit paper the 1500 in preparation for staining.
I decided to stain the pipe with Oxblood, as I only have one red stain bulldog in my collection. I lightened the stain with a little Medium Brown. I put on two coats of stain, and set them with a flame. The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.
The stem profile still isn’t perfect, but the edges align. The one fill was made less visible by the oxblood stain. The pipe will be a nice souvenir from our New Orleans trip and my wife’s thoughtfulness.