Blog by Steve Laug
When I saw this one on eBay I sent a message to my brother and asked him to bid on it. He did and we got it. I love the rustication on the Turin Rustic series. It is rough and yet dignified at the same time. The seller billed it as restored/refurbished and clean. By and large that was true. The shank and the inside of the stem were very clean. The rim had been knocked about a bit and the inner edge of the rim was rough and uneven. The bowl had been reamed. The stem was polished though there were deep tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. My brother took the above photos and the following ones before he cleaned the pipe. You can see the damage to the rim top and the inner edge in the next photo. The second photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank.Though I knew a bit about the WDC pipe maker and the William Demuth Company I thought it might be good to review the history before I started restoring the pipe. I googled the Turin Rustic to see what I could find. It immediately referred me to a post on the Kaywoodie Forum that in turn was an excerpt from pipedia.org. Here is the link.
William Demuth, a native of Germany, entered the United States at the age of 16 as a penniless immigrant. After a series of odd jobs he found work as a clerk in the import business of a tobacco tradesman in New York City. In 1862 William established his own company. The William Demuth Company specialized in pipes, smoker’s requisites, cigar-store figures, canes and other carved objects.
The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and “Columbus Landing in America,” a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
The Presidential series was the result of Demuth’s friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President’s wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.
In 1897 Ferdinand Feuerbach joined the Demuth Company and by 1903 had become the production manager. Feuerbach is credited with developing Demuth’s popular Royal Demuth and Hesson Guard Milano pipelines. He left in 1919, when Sam Frank Sr. needed an experienced pipe man to run his pipe factory, located at 168 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx. Feuerbach and Frank had been close friends since Frank started his own business in 1900 and was closely associated with the sales staff of WDC, selling their line of pipes.
In early 1937, the City of New York notified S.M. Frank & Co. of their intent to take by eminent domain, part of the land on which the companies pipe factory was located. This was being done to widen two of the adjacent streets. As a result of this, Frank entered into negotiations to purchase the Wm. Demuth Co.’s pipe factory in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. It was agreed upon that Demuth would become a subsidiary of S.M. Frank and all pipe production of the two companies would be moved to Demuth factory. New Corporate offices were located at 133 Fifth Avenue, NYC.
Demuth pipes continued to be made at the Richmond Hill plant till December 31. 1972. Then the Wm. Demuth Company met its official end as a subsidiary company by liquidation. Demuth’s mainstay pipe, the Wellington continued to be offered in the S.M. Frank catalog until 1976. In the mid-80’s, the Wellington even made a brief return as a direct to the consumer offer.
When the pipe arrived from Idaho it was quite clean and ready to work on. I took some photos of it before I started. The next photo shows the rim and the damage to the surface. There were a lot of dents and dings as well as some roughness on the right side toward the front of the bowl. The inner edges was also worn and rough.The next photos show the condition of the stem – it had some deep tooth marks on the top and underside that are visible in the photo below.I “painted” the surface of the vulcanite with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the dents and I was able to raise all but one of them completely. Even the worst one on the underside came up so that is only needed a little patch. The rest of them I was able to sand smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.I cleaned the sanded area on the underside of the stem with alcohol and then filled in the remaining tooth mark with a spot of clear super glue. Once it dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and blended it into the surface of the stem.I rolled a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the bowl and the inner edge of the rim to smooth out the damage.
I touched up the rough spots on the inner edge with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the edge until it was back in round. In the photo below you can see the damage to the top and outside edge of the bowl toward the front. It looked like it had been knocked out on concrete.I decided to lightly top the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper until the rim top was smooth and clean of damage.I sanded the rim top with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit until the surface of the rim was clean and smoothly polished.I used a light brown stain pen and touched up the rim top. The next four pictures show the bowl after I had rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil. I love the rustication on the bowl sides and bottom. It really is a unique pattern. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final rub down I set the stem aside to dry.
I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand wax the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The finish shines and the pipe belies its age. It is a beauty. Thanks for looking.