Blog by Steve Laug
This interesting old pipe is unique in many ways. The first and most obvious is the floral pattern carved on the bowl sides and bottom. It is well carved and the petals and the leaves flow around the bowl. They sit against a rusticated finish in the gaps of the leaves and around the top of the bowl. There was one burn spot on the bottom of the shank where it looked as if the pipe had been set down in an ashtray and was burned. The second visible uniqueness is the horn stem with the orific button on the end. It had a little damage on the right edge of the stem but it was fixable. The third unique feature was not visible until I removed the stem. The stem had a large chamber in the saddle portion as did the shank. There were also two tubes at the end of the mortise and a collecting chamber or sump. The pipe was in pretty decent shape for its age. I can only hope that when I reach that age, if I am still around I will look as good.My brother Jeff had reamed the bowl and done the initial clean up. He had scrubbed the surface of the bowl and the shank. It is great that he is doing that part of the job for me as it speeds up the process that I do in the restoration. The rim had some hard cake built up on the surface. There was a burn spot on the bottom of the shank that is visible in the second photo below.I took some close up photos of the areas that needed work. The first photo shows the burned spot. Fortunately the burn had not softened the wood too much. It was hard when I probed it with a dental pick. The second photo shows the hard cake on the rim. It is quite thick but the rim appears to be undamaged and the inner and out edges of the rim are in great shape. The third photo shows the damaged portion of the right edge of the stem. I have seen these often on horn stems and have always wondered if it was not damage done by a worm eating the horn.I took several more close up photos. The first photo shows the two inner tubes that enter the bowl in two spots at the bowl bottom. It is a twin bore airway. The second photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank – it reads Bruyere Extra. The right side of the shank is stamped with the shape number 6185. The band has three hallmarks and EP in a diamond. The hallmarks are letters, each in a car-touche. My guess is that these signify the maker.
The letters are JBF and look like the ones I have pictured to the left.
The inside edge of the briar was thin in several spots. The two that were the most problematic can be seen on the bottom edges of the shank on the right side of the photo below. I have circled the two spots in red. The top one was missing a wedge of briar and the bottom was a half circle of briar. Both were repairable with briar dust and wood glue.I decided to work on the stem repair first. I cleaned the area on the horn with alcohol and a cotton swab and then filled it in with clear super glue. For some reason this time around the repair turned white. That has never happened for me. Generally the glue dries clear and the underlying colour of the horn shines through. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure.The tars and oils were almost petrified on the top of the rim. I had soaked the rim with alcohol to try to soften them with no success. I decided that the best option was to lightly top the bowl until the hard tars were gone. I used a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the buildup. I sanded the burned area on the bottom of the shank at the same time to remove the surface damage to the briar. I sanded it until the briar was darkened but solid.Once the rim was clean I sanded it with 1500-3200 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches left behind by the topping of the bowl. I scrubbed out the sump and the open mortise with cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned out the twin bore tubes with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I used an all purpose wood glue and briar dust to build up the two spots on the inside of the shank and sanded them smooth. They are circled in red in the photo below.I sanded the repair to the horn with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the tooth marks and chatter on the top and bottom of the stem until it was smooth. I cleaned out the chamber in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. I had to do two full cleanings remove the tars in the chamber. The first photo below shows the stem after the first cleaning. The second photo shows the second cleaning. It took a lot of cotton swabs to clean out the chamber. I don’t like to boil hot alcohol through horn stems with the retort as I do not want to damage the stem.With the inside of the stem clean I sanded the exterior with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I polished the Electro-Plated silver end cap with silver polish to remove the tarnish and restore the shine. I stained the rim with a light brown stain touch up pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl.I gave the bowl several coats of Conservators Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba. I had a light touch on the bowl so it did not clog up the carvings. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to shine it and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Have any of you seen a pipe with plumbing like this one? Do you recognize the hallmarks or the brand or shape number? Let me know as I am curious. Thanks for looking.