Freshening up a GBD Topaz 559 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another of the pipes that came from that estate sale that my brother picked up recently. It is a classic GBD shape. It is stamped GBD in an oval over TOPAZ on the left side of the shank and London, England over 559 on the right side of the shank. On the left underside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction it is stamped with a P. The Topaz line was introduced in about 1980. From a Pipedia link with a list of GBD lines I quote: “Probably the most perfect harmony of combining the soft beige tones of the Hand Cut Acrylic mouthpiece with complimentary shades of brown in the Briar.” This GBD is probably made after the merger by Cadogan, who also makes Comoys, Dr. Plumb’s Perfect Pipes, BBB, and Orlik Pipes. Since the merger in 1981 GBD pipes are not considered to be of the same quality that they were originally. Though the brass rondels were discontinued after the merger they once again reappeared on new production GBD’s. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information, https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information#List_of_GBD_Models.)

My brother sent me the following photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up to send to me. (I have to say by the way that I really like working on clean pipes. It makes the job so much easier for me. Thanks Jeff.) He took some close up photos of the sides of the bowl and the rim to give an idea of the condition when he brought it back from the estate sale. The bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed onto the beveled rim and top leaving a nice coat of lava. I was hoping that once he removed it that we would find that the lava protected the bowl rim from damage. He took some photos of the stamping that I noted above. The stamping was sharp and readable. The P stamp on the underside of the stem on the left was readable as well. I am not clear what the stamp means however. Do any of you know what the meaning of it is? The brass roundel is not worn and is very clean. It is a little hard to see from the photos of the stem shown below but this pipe had the same kind of tooth chatter and marks that the rest of the pipes in this estate had. They were worse on the underside of the stem but they were present on the top as well.My brother did a very thorough job reaming and cleaning this pipe. The internals and externals were very clean. The bowl looked well reamed and showed that the pipe had never been smoked to the bottom of the bowl – there was still fresh briar at the bottom ¼ of the bowl. The next four photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Vancouver and I brought it to the work table. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the change from the caked and dirty pipe that Jeff started with. It is amazing how well the lava protected the bevel and the rim top.I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and the shank and they were very clean. I used a cotton swab to clean around the step down on the tenon and in the mortise. These too were clean.The right side of the bowl had a lightened area where the stain had worn away from the original owner’s hand. I touched it up with a dark brown stain pen. It blended very well. When it dried I hand buffed it and gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to protect it.I took some photos of the stem to try to capture the tooth damage and chatter on both sides. It is hard to see with the copper Lucite but it is very present. You can see a bit of it showing up toward the bottom of the second photo.I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter with 320 grit sandpaper. It did not take much sanding to remove all of the marks and chatter as they were not too deep in the acrylic. I polished the acrylic with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad between each sanding pad to remove the dust and check the progress. The photos below tell the story. I put the stem back in place on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished out the minute scratches in the briar and Lucite with that buffing. I gave the pipe and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. It is a beautiful pipe with a lot of character. The dark stain and the copper coloured variegated Lucite stem work really well together. The contrast is really stunning. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The pipe is ready to pass on to its next pipe man. It should serve the next owner for a long time. If you are interested in adding it to your rack email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a private message on FaceBook. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for looking.

6 thoughts on “Freshening up a GBD Topaz 559 Bulldog

  1. upshallfan

    That’s a beauty and a nice option for someone who has always wanted a GBD, but didn’t want the vulcanite mouthpiece. The Topaz does appear in the 1980 Catalog (per pipedia), and that sure looks like pre-Cadogan era stamping to my eye.

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Could well be Al, I always find these strange cross over pipes hard to identify. The shape number does not appear anywhere and the Topaz line is different…. it has an 80s look to it.

      Reply
          1. upshallfan

            Oh yeah, they mixed up those COM’s and rondell/stamps. If only there were someone available to speak to that worked in the factory in those latter days.

            Reply

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