Blog by Steve Laug
My brother and I recently purchased some pipes from an estate sale from an old pipeman named Gene in Pocatello, Idaho. There were a lot of great pipes in the lot. I have written about the pipes on a previous blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/07/a-good-day-hunting-orchestrated-between-british-columbia-and-idaho/ . On his way home my brother stopped at an antique shop and found pipes that were by far the most prestigious of the finds. These included a Charatan’s Make Canadian Sandblast 0121, the Four Dot Sasieni Pembroke with a patent number, Pat.No. 150221/20, a Dunhill Bruyere Canadian EC 4R and a Jost’s Supreme Diamond Shank bent billiard. My brother took the photos that follow. They show the pipe before he cleaned it up and sent it to me.He took some close up photos of the rim top. The top and the inner beveled edge of the bowl had a thick cake of tars and oils that had overflowed from the cake in the bowl. The outer edge of the rim appeared to be in good shape but the inner edge was hard to assess because of the lava buildup on the top.The finish was very dirty but underneath the soiled grain there was some nice flame grain and birdseye that flowed around the bowl and on bottom and up the sides of the bowl and shank. The shank was stamped on the left side near the bowl Made in England in a rugby ball shaped circle. Also on the left side next to that it reads Sasieni in clean and not a flowery script over FOUR DOT over LONDON MADE over PAT.No. 150221/20. On the right side of the shank it is stamped “Pembroke” (enclosed in quotation marks).The stem was badly oxidized and was calcified from the button forward about an inch. I have seen this on pipes that generally had a softee bit. There were light tooth marks and tooth chatter on the both sides of the stem near the button. The four dot pattern is clear on the left side of the tapered stem. It may well be a light blue in colour but at this point in the process it was very hard to be sure.I wanted to try to establish a date for the pipe based on the Patent Number stamping, the style of the stamping of Sasieni on the shank and the pattern of the four dots. I went to my go to source of information Pipedia and looked for the article on Sasieni pipe. Here is the link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sasieni. There I found some helpful information. I quote the relevant paragraphs in full: “All Sasieni One, Four, and Eight Dot pipes made before W.W.II and destined for the U. S. market carried a patent number on the shank which usually started with the numbers “15″, with 150221/20 and 1513428 being representative of the group. Also, the name “Sasieni” was stamped on the shank in a very florid manner, with the tail of the last “i” sweeping underneath the name forming a shape which has been compared to a fish by more than one collector. This script was discontinued by Alfred almost immediately after he took over the company, so this alone tells you your pipe is pre W.W.II. Underneath in block lettering are the words “London Made”, with the patent number making the third line…”
The pipe I had in hand had the 150221/20 stamping which told me that my pipe had been made for the American market. I also learned that the florid script Sasieni with tail of the last “i” sweeping underneath was discontinued after WWII. The arrangement of the stamping however is identical to the description above. The only difference was the stamping of the script Sasieni. My pipe did not have the florid “i” at the end. I read further in the article and found what I was looking for.
“Once Alfred took over the company in 1946, these elements changed in fairly rapid succession. The first thing to be changed was the nomenclature itself. In place of the elaborate “Sasieni” stamp of pre-war pipes, a simpler, though still script style, “Sasieni” was used. This can be seen on patent pipes which have the small, old style dots.”
I learned that Alfred Sasieni changed the script of the Sasieni stamp from the older florid stamp after 1946 to the simpler script. The paragraph says that it can be seen on patent pipes which had the small, old style dots. Now I knew that the pipe I had was made for the American market after WWII and after 1946. I had the window for the age of my pipe and knew that I had a pre-transition period pipe made during the time in which the Sasieni family still owned the business.
I turned to the Pipephil website to have a look at the time chart that is shown there with the time frames of the Sasieni pipes. Here is the link: http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/sasieni-timechart.html. I use a screen capture to copy the relevant section regarding the dating of my pipe. The red box around the years 1941-1947 shows the features that make up my assessment of the date of this pipe.
- The passing of Joel Sasieni and his replacement by his son Alfred Sasieni in 1946.
- The reissue of Four Dot pipes that had previously stopped during the war years.
- The increase of the dot size and the rearrangement of the dots into an equilateral triangle. (While the one I have is in the same arrangement of dots, the size of the dots is small as noted above for pipes bearing the patent numbers.)
- The simplified Sasieni stamping.
My brother scrubbed down the bowl ad removed grime on the finish. He reamed the bowl with PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. The stem was stuck in the shank so he was unable to remove it and clean out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. There was still some darkening and build up on the rim. The stem damage, oxidation and calcification still remained. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver and I brought it to my work table.I took a close up photo of the rim. There were still some chips of tar and some stain remaining on the rim of the pipe. The beveled inner edge was still dirty and caked.The stem was worn and dirty. The oxidation and calcification were quite thick on top and bottom of the stem.I was able to remove the stem from the shank by carefully twisting it slowly. It came out and left behind a thick tar that held it in place in the shank. I think that the change of altitude and humidity from Idaho to here made the stem removable. Once it was out of the shank I worked on the bowl. I scrubbed the rim of the pipe with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish. I sanded the top with 1500-2400 grit pads to smooth out the damage. I wiped down the bowl with the acetone as well. The photos below show the pipe after scrubbing. I cleaned up the remnants on cake on the inside walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the remaining cake completely out of the bowl.I worked on the inside of mortise with a dental spatula and scraped away the tarry buildup that had held the stem in place. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the inside was clean and the cleaners came out without more darkening. It took a lot of cleaning and scrubbing.I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation and the calcification with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to sand out the tooth marks and blend them into the surface of the stem. I worked on the button edge with needle files and sandpaper to sharpen the look of the button.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I gave the stem a final coat of the oil after using the last set of pads. I set the stem aside to dry. (There was still a light oxidation around the stem at the shank junction but the buffing would take care of that.) I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil and buffed it with a soft cloth. I took the following photos to show the look of the pipe before I buffed it with Blue Diamond or gave it coats of carnauba. I lightly buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful around the stamping on the shank. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a well-made pipe that is laid out well with the pattern of the grain. It certainly came out looking better than its age for a pipe made in around 1946. Thanks for walking through the restoration process with me.