Blog Steve Laug
I have no idea who carved this Meerschaum Billiard but the tear drop cuts in the outer finish of the bowl and the swirls and circles that work around the tear drops and up the shank give the pipe a look of grandeur. The rim is smooth underneath all of the tar and oil build up and the bowl is already colouring. The shank has picked up some darker amber hues and the underside of the bowl also has colour. The stem has a push tenon and the amber swirl acrylic of the stem works well with the bowl as it is colouring. The stem has some whites, creams and varieties of amber colouring that are really beautiful. The bowl had a slight cake build up and the shank was dirty with oils. The push tenon was discoloured and the threads into the stem were also black and dirty. The stem had some tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides near the button. The pipe came in a red artificial leather case lined with a plush cream coloured fabric that the bowl sat against. The case was in good shape externally and the inside had flecks of dirt and tobacco ash on the surface. I took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to show the cake and the build up on the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in great shape. There was a slight crown to the rim curving from the inner edge to the outer edge giving it a rounded look. I took some photos of the pipe out of the case to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. The stem is quite beautiful and will clean up nicely. I decided to gently top the bowl – not removing any meerschaum but removing the hard tar build up on the rim face. I used a medium and a fine grit topping sponge to break through the tars. It did not take long before I had the surface back to its original smooth and clean state. I carefully reamed the bowl with a pen knife. I scraped the cake back to the smooth meerschaum surface.I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads to remove the dirty spots on the bowl. I wanted to remove these soiled areas and leave the patina intact so the Murphy’s Soap works well for that. I scrubbed the bowl with undiluted soap and then rinsed it with a wet cotton pad to remove the soap left behind.I cleaned out the shank and the inside of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and was surprised at how clean it was. It did not take much to clean up the airways.I sanded the tooth marks next to the button on both top and bottom of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and removed all sign of the marks. Fortunately they were not deep marks.I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. While I was sanding the stem I tried to unscrew the push tenon and to my surprise it came out easily. This allowed me to clean out the end of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the black tars that had built up behind the threads in the end of the stem. I scrubbed the threads on the tenon with a brass bristle brush and wiped them down with alcohol. I lightly sanded the darkened areas on the push tenon with the micromesh sanding pads to remove any build up that was present. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with the Obsidian Oil to give me some bite with the final micromesh pads. I completed the sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. Before put the stem back in place in the shank I took a closer look at the end of the tenon. There was some writing on the meerschaum on the top right side. It appears to be the numbers 106 but I am not sure. Anyone have any ideas what that might signify??I put the stem in place and wiped the bowl and stem down with a soft microfibre cloth to give it a little shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colouring on the shank of the meerschaum matches nicely with the colouring of the swirled acrylic stem. The rest of the meerschaum looks clean with a slight darkening that gives it a cream colour. I cleaned the inside of the case with a brush to remove the lint and the tobacco bits that were on the material. It came out quite well. The pipe is cleaned and ready for an inaugural smoke. Thanks for looking.