Renewing an old GBD Lattice Work Meerschaum Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

When Jeff messaged me that he had picked up a GBD lattice meerschaum pipe, I was a bit surprised. I had read the there were GBD meets out there but I had never seen one let alone worked on one. I was excited to see what he had found. He sent photos of the pipe and case before he cleaned it up. The case was covered in brown canvas that had been waterproofed. It was in excellent condition and showed little wear or tear. The brass hardware looked new.When he opened the case, it was lined with a taupe plush fabric. The GBD logo was inside the base just above the inset for the pipe. It read, “Hand carved in Turkey from Genuine Turkish Block Meerschaum” in a circle around the GBD oval logo. The inside of the case was in excellent condition. Sitting in the form fitted case was a lattice meer. It looked to be in good condition and was already picking up a patina on the shank and lower half of the bowl.  The rim top was also lattice work and it had a bit of lava in the crevices and grooves of the lattice. There was a thick cake in the bowl that overflowed on the back inner edge of the bowl. The next four photos give various views of the rim top so that you can appreciate the work that needed to be down on the rim top of the pipe. Jeff took a photo of the side of the bowl and the underside of the bowl and shank to show the colouration – the patina that was already beginning to develop on the pipe. The trick would be to clean up the dirt and grime without damaging the patina.The stem had the GBD rondel in the top of the saddle portion and it was in great condition. There were tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside of the stem and wear on the button surface. The slot in the button was also very tight and it was almost impossible to pass a pipe clean through the airway without a lot of effort. The nylon tenon was in excellent condition and screwed directly into threads in the mortise of the meerschaum. There was no shank line or receptacle end to receive the tenon. The airway in the tenon was clogged with bits of tobacco and tars so even going through the tenon end was difficult to do with a pipe cleaner. Jeff had to use a paper clip to open the airway in the stem before he could get a cleaner through from tenon to slot.Jeff did his usual thorough clean up on this meerschaum. He carefully reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He had to open the airway in the stem with a paper clip before he could get pipe cleaners through. He scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and carefully rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The meerschaum in this pipe was very light weight. The swirls and lattice work are quite unique. I have not seen that kind of carving in the past. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. The threaded tenon was in great condition as were the threads in the mortise. The stem was Lucite and was a combination of swirled reds/browns and tans. Whoever carved this in Turkey for GBD did a great job in making a beautiful pipe. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to my worktable. I like to have a record of what the pipe looked like before I started for comparison once I have finished working on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show what it looked like after Jeff had scrubbed it. The lava on the front right of the rim was gone. The back side lava was gone and what was left was some darkening along the inner bevel of the rim and in the edges of the swirls in the lattice work. He did a great job on it.The stem damage is more obvious after he had cleaned it up. None of the tooth chatter or marks were too deep so they would be fairly straightforward to sand out.To vary my work pattern I decided to start on the bowl on this pipe. I picked at the remaining debris in the swirls of the lattice with a dental pick and was able to remove more of the debris. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the darkening around the beveled inner edge of the rim. I was able to remove almost all of it without changing the shape of the bowl or rim top.I spot cleaned the rim with a damp cotton pad to remove the debris that my work had left behind. With the rim top cleaned up it was time to polish the meerschaum bowl. I started polishing with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad. I continued polishing using 3200-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each sanding pad. I took photos of the bowl after each set of three pads to show the progress of the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and marks out of the Lucite with 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much sanding to remove the damage to the stem surface and the surface of the button on both sides.I reworked the button and slot using needle files to open up the airway enough to be able to easily push a pipe cleaner through the airway.I polished the stem 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 wet cotton pad after sanding with each pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and carefully buffed the bowl at the same time. I used a light touch on the bowl and a heavier touch on the stem. I avoided the GBD rondel so as not to damage it. The pipe feels great in the hand. The carving is very well done and the pipe is exceptionally pointing to a quality block or meerschaum. The developing patina is a bonus for whoever adds this one to their collection. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you want to add it to your collection email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

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4 thoughts on “Renewing an old GBD Lattice Work Meerschaum Calabash

  1. upshallfan

    Nice work! I had a similar, GBD Meerschaum with lattice design and a brass rondell a few years ago, it was also cased but that one had a push stem.

    Reply

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