Blog by Steve Laug
When my brother first showed me this bent lattice meerschaum pipe in a Pioneer box I was excited. I have never found a boxed Pioneer Meerschaum pipe before. I thought maybe, just maybe this was the first. I have learned never to assume that just because something is in a box it is necessarily that product. In this case at least we were talking the same material. When I brought it home with me and finally opened it up to work on it I was impressed by the beautiful lattice-work carving that left a series of tear drop shaped windows over an inner bowl. The yellow Lucite stem was also well made and looked good. The rim on the pipe was darkened and dirty with a tar build up on the back side. There was a small chip (maybe it was made when the pipe was carved, I am not sure) on the front right side of the rim. I say maybe because the carving is also in the groove of the small chip. The right side of the bowl had a dark soiled area where someone’s thumb had left a lot of dark grime. It was in the grooves around the tear drop but not inside the hole. There was some nice colouring happening all around the shank. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the tar and the indented/chipped area. It can be seen in the centre of the red circle in the photo below.The stem was loose so when I took it apart I was a bit surprised to find that it had the Jobey Link system in the shank and stem. I wonder if that is original or if someone restemmed the pipe and decided to use the Link and stem from a Jobey pipe. I probably will never know for sure but I would hazard a guess that this is what happened on this pipe. They did a great job in fitting the connector in the shank and aligning the stem and shank.The stem is an interesting mix of yellows and brown swirls that is hard to capture in the photos. There was also some tobacco staining in the airway of the stem and the button. Differentiating between the stain and the colour was an interesting problem. I figured that the straight airway from button to shank was stained and the other parts were part of the swirled pattern. I worked on the airway with alcohol and soft scrub cleanser and pipe cleaners until I removed as much of the stain in the airway as possible. I also worked on the area where the end of the Jobey Link sat in the stem using cotton swabs and alcohol. The stain did not come out all the way but it is clean. The brown swirl in the stem runs alongside of the airway which makes the stain interesting. The cleaned stem is shown in the photo below.I took the Jobey Link out of the shank and cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I scrubbed the rim and the soiled spot on the left of the bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs and was able to remove much of the dirt. I sanded the rim top with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further remove the buildup. The cleaned rim and left side of the bowl can be seen in the photos below. I put the stem in place and took the following photo to show how good the soiled area on the left side of the bowl came out after cleaning.The stem was rippled and wavy to touch. It felt as if someone had overdone the buffing and left behind the waves of too much pressure against the buffing wheel. I sanded the top and bottom surfaces of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the waves and ripples. I sanded both sides until the surface was smooth to touch. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish out the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. Each successive grit of micromesh left the stem more shiny and smooth. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and lightly buffed the bowl as well. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and then buffed the pipe and stem with a clean buffing pad to polish it. I wish I could have gotten more of the stain out of the stem but it is what it is. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is quite nice but I am still not sure whether it is a Pioneer Meerschaum or not and I am not sure that I will ever know. It is a beauty. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know in the response below or via messenger or email. We can make a deal.