A Beautiful Malaga Lovat Came My Way

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found this Malaga pipe on Ebay recently and bought it. He sent it up to Vancouver for me to work on. It was the next one that I chose to clean up. I needed a bit of a break after the work on the Ardor Urano Fantasy that I just finished. As I went through my bin of pipes to refurbish the grain on this one called out to me. It was in decent shape so it would not take a lot to bring it back to life. The finish was dirty and had some stickiness to the sides of the bowl and shank. The stem would not seat all the way in the shank and was very hard to turn. The bowl had a thin cake and the rim had some slight lava on the surface. It appeared to have some dents in it as well but after it was cleaned I would be better able to tell. The stamping on it is simply Malaga on the left side of the shank. I have written about Malaga pipes and their maker, George Khoubesser on a previous blog post https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/

In the Malaga catalogue that I have on the blog this shape is called a Saddle Club and is shape number 128. There is no shape number on this pipe.662px-Malaga4


Malaga2 The stem had some light oxidation and some calcium buildup at the button. There was some tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides of the stem. The button was interesting to me. It was rounded toward the slot on both the top and the bottom sides like an older style orific button. It had a slot rather than a single hole in the end of the button. It was not worn and there were no dents or marks in the button.Malaga3

Malaga4 I carefully removed the stem from the shank as I did not want to either split the shank or damage the tenon. Once I had it out of the shank I cleaned the mortise and airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I also cleaned the airway on the stem.Malaga5

Malaga6 With the mortise clean I was able to easily twist the stem into the shank. I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the stickiness and general grime on the surface of the pipe and then rinsed it under running water. I dried it off for the photos below.Malaga7



Malaga10 I reamed the pipe with the PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar.Malaga11 With the bowl reamed I worked on the rim of the pipe. I scrubbed it with cotton pads and the oil soap and then used a 1500 grit micromesh pad to remove the buildup. I wet sanded the rim with the micromesh pad until the surface was clean and smooth. The photo below shows the rim after cleaning. The small dings are virtually invisible and the crowned rim looks really good.Malaga12 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the light oxidation. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil afterwards and set it aside.Malaga13 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I set it aside to dry.Malaga14


Malaga16 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave bowl and several coats of carnauba wax. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The crowned rim and the grain on this old pipe are stunning. It is a solid piece of briar with no fills or flaws. The bowl is quite large for a Lovat – length is 5 ½ inches, height is 2 inches, and the diameter of bowl is 7/8 inches. The anonymous pipemaker who made it for Malaga chose a stunning piece of briar and laid the pipe out so well that is showcases the grain. All I can tell you is it looks even more stunning in person than it does in the photos. Thanks for looking.Malaga17








14 thoughts on “A Beautiful Malaga Lovat Came My Way

  1. Pingback: Restoring an Unusual Malaga Carved Bulldog | rebornpipes

  2. John Lawitzke

    A follow up comment… You mention the “unknown pipemaker” at Malaga. Malaga was always a one man shop. First George then his son Manny then his son Steve after Myrna took over running the store after Manny died.

      1. John Lawitzke

        Yes, M2 is a Malaga second. Malaga seconds were marked either M2 or MALAGA SECOND. Some Malaga seconds, you look at and really wonder why they are a second. A single fill or bad pit was enough to make it a second. Some seconds are really seconds. I have one Makaga second with a severely misdrilled airway. It was drilled half way at a bad angle and then re-drilled at the correct angle.

        1. rebornpipes Post author

          John, you know more about Malaga pipes than everything I could find on the web. I have a bit of info on the blog but not this kind of thing. Would you be willing to write a blog on the history for us?

          1. John Lawitzke

            Sounds interesting to me. I’ve got some stuff that I’ve been meaning to write up, including scanning the catalog that I picked up at Malaga in the late 80s, to send to Scott Thile to update the Malaga entry on pipedia.org. It would also be a good excuse to take some individual pics of some of my Malagas.

            1. rebornpipes Post author

              Thanks for being willing to do this John. Glad to be your excuse LOL! It would be some great information to put out there. I have hunted high and low and not found a lot. Most of what is on pipedia came from my blog… it is incredibly incomplete. I can’t wait to read it. Oh I am working on an M-2 pot at the moment. Nice little piece with one or two small fills and some beautiful grain under the grime.

              1. John Lawitzke

                I am lucky enough to have had Malaga as one of the two main pipe shops that I went to in the late 80s and into the 90s until they closed. I also have a couple of friends who went there who I check with to see if they remember anything I didn’t or to confirm my memories.

                I’m looking forward to seeing your post about the M-2 when it is done. Those fills are probably the only reason that one is a second.

  3. John Lawitzke

    You did your usual great job on this Malaga.

    I used to stop occasionally at the Malaga shop back in the day. I have worked my way up to a decent sized collection of Malaga pipes; almost 30. Regarding the shape number from the old catalog, it is extremely rare to see any sort of number stamped on a Malaga. So, no surprise there. The shank stamping of Malaga is uncommon to see as the most common shank stampings were MALAGA and “MALAGA”, i.e. all upcase and with or without double quotes. Most Malaga pipes are a natural finish which has been oil cured with no stain. If you ever need to top the bowl of one of those, MinWax Early American is an almost perfect color match for the oil curing. The one you worked on looks to have had some stain. Between the stain and the Malaga stamping, I would date this as an early Malaga made by George in the 40s or 50s and not made by Manny or Steve.


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