Restoring a Jobey Gourd Calabash with a Briar Shank Extension

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff has really gotten good at finding Gourd Calabash pipes on his recent “treasure” hunts. He picked up this batch recently. I posted about the large calabash in the middle of the right hand column recently and it is available on the rebornpipes store. It is by far the largest of the five calabash pipes that he found. The one I have chosen to work on it the one on the left side at the bottom circled in red. It is a unique looking Calabash to me in that it is a well bent and shaped gourd with a briar shank extension on the end of the gourd. It bears the Jobey brass oval logo on the side of the briar extension. When I first looked at it I wondered if it had the Jobey system tenon that I have come to expect on the Jobeys that I have in my own collection and the ones that I have worked on. However, this was not the case on this or the other two Jobey Gourd Calabashes in the bunch. All of them have the mortise drilled in the briar extension and is made for a push stem. I have never seen Jobey Gourd Calabashes before and frankly had no idea that the company even made them.Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did his cleanup work on it. The photos below show it in the condition he found it in on one of his hunts. The gourd was dull looking and generally dirty. It had spots of sticky label material on the sides of the bowl. The briar shank extension was also dull and lifeless looking and there was a gummy substance in the brass logo on the shank extension. The meerschaum bowl was quite unique it is light weight and appeared to be block meerschaum but I am not certain as it had flecks of colour shot throughout the entirety of the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim had a coat of lava that went almost all the way around the inner edge of the chamber onto the rim top. The stem was oxidized and dirty. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button.  The next two photos give a clear picture of the sticky label glue on the gourd and the dirty condition of the gourd. It also shows the flecks of colour throughout the meerschaum cup. The colour in the meerschaum matches the colour of the gourd. The next photo shows the condition of the meerschaum cup. The rim top of the meer had scratches in the surface and a heavy overflow of tars on the top of the rim. There is also darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and a thick cake in the bowl itself. It was hard to know if there was damage to the rim but once it was clean that would be clear. The two pictures following that show the condition of the inside of the bowl and the tars and oils on the walls of the gourd. The underside of the meerschaum cup is in good condition. There is some darkening on the underside of the bowl. There were some tars and oils spotted on the underside of the bowl. The cork gasket on the inside edges of the gourd was in good condition but dried out. It needed some grease to liven it up. The briar shank extension is dried out and has water spots. The next photo shows the brass Jobey oval insert inset in the left side of the briar shank extension. There is grime and a gummy substance in the lettering and around the edges of the insert. The briar was dirty and in need of a deep cleaning.The stem had light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. It also had the same price tag glue on the top and underside of the stem.I did some digging to see if I could find out about the connection between the calabash maker and Jobey. I found a bit of history of the brand on the Pipedia website at the following link. . The section I am quoting is entitled Possible Jobey Origin. I quote it in its entirety.

Possible Jobey Origin

…the origins of this company seem to be shrouded in mystery, and most people claim that the origins were in England, followed by American production, and then a later move to St. Claude. There is another possible origin for the company, however, and it would suggest that Jobey was in Brooklyn, New York long before the 1969 patent of the Jobey “link”.

There’s not a lot of chatter about it, but if you can lay your hands on a copy of “The Tobacco World”, Volume 61, from 1941, there is a brief mention that reads “Norwalk Pipe Expands” and in the body states that Norwalk Pipe Corporation, “manufacturers of Jobey and Shellmoor pipes”, is moving to larger offices at 218 East Twenty-Sixth Street, NYC, as announced by Louis Jobey, president of that company. Norwalk is listed as one of the alternate distributors for Jobey on this page but apparently Louis Jobey was also actually working there at the time.

Before that, the first mention of Jobey seems to be back in 1915, when two brothers named Ulysses and Louis Jobey of Brooklyn, New York obtained a patent for an odd sort of cavalierish pipe in 1915, here’s the link:

But less than four years later, in 1918, there’s a notice in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 6th to the effect that Louis Jobey declared bankruptcy in the District Court, with final hearing scheduled for December 1918. And in an even sadder turn, that same month sees a funeral notice for Lorraine Jobey, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jobey, formerly of Brooklyn but now living in Moline Illinois at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Hutchinson. The little girl evidently died in a fall.

There’s little else on Ulysses Jobey except that he evidently had a “junior” after his name or a son by the same name. Because Ulysses Jobey, Jr. was listed as the vice president in New Jersey of Lakewood Pipe Company Inc., a maker of smoker’s articles, in the 1922 New York Co-partnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn. Given the timing it’s likely this was the brother.

So while it is speculative, one possible origin story for Jobey is that the company was started by two brothers in Brooklyn in the teens with a new idea for a pipe, and failed amidst terrible tragedy. One brother went to one company and another to the other, but it was Louis who continued making Jobey pipes through the 40s under that name, despite evidently no longer owning the company. It would appear to be the Norwalk Company that was bought out by Wally Frank in the pre-link days. This would suggest that Jobey was always American.

From this I surmise that the Gourd calabash pipes were probably made by the Wally Frank Company or at least for them. I don’t know the dates of the manufacture of the pipes but my guess is that it is in the 60s.

Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the meerschaum bowl, the inside of the gourd and the stem. He carefully scraped the cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the meerschaum cup and the gourd with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust ground into the gourd. He was able to remove all of the lava and overflow from the top of the meerschaum bowl and left it looking very clean. Once he had removed the lava on the rim top and inner edge they were cleaner than I expected. The scratches in the meerschaum were quite shallow and would be easy to polish out. He cleaned internals of the stem with alcohol. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration. I took the bowl off the gourd to have a look at the inside of the pipe. The gourd was very clean. The cork gasket was dry but that could be remedied easily enough. The mottle appearance of the meerschaum bowl can also be seen in the photos.The stem had cleaned up nicely with relatively little oxidation. The tooth marks on the top and underside along with the chatter were still present.The wooden shank extension (which looks like briar to me) is very clean and ready for polishing. I used some Vaseline petroleum jelly to lubricate the cork gasket and soften it. I have done this for years and I really like the effect of the jelly on the cork. I used 1500 grit micromesh sanded off the spots along the surface of the meerschaum cup where it sat against the cork and the top of the gourd to ensure a smooth fit.I used my fingers to rub the gourd and briar extension down with Before & After Restoration Balm to bring life to both and to remove any residual dust or dirt in the surface of the calabash. I wiped it off with a cotton cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush. The next few photos show the gourd at this point in the process. I polished the rim top, inner edge and underside of the meerschaum bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface of the cup down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. When I finished sanding with the last pad I wiped it down again and set it aside. I checked the pliability of the cork gasket, rubbed a little more Vaseline into it and put the bowl back on the gourd. The fit of the cup against the gasket was snug but not hard to insert. It was perfect. The pipe was beginning to look finished. The shine on the gourd and the rim looked good. The briar extension had its own shine as well. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. I also found as I examined the underside that there was a strange rippling to the vulcanite almost like it had some heat damage. I sanded that area to clean up the ripples and smooth them out.I polished the vulcanite 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 between each sanding pad. After using the 12000 grit pad I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to give a deep and rich shine. Normally at this point I put the stem back on the bowl and take the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. This time I took the parts to the buffing wheel. I gently buffed the meerschaum cup and rim with Blue Diamond to polish the meer. I carefully buffed the gourd base and briar shank extension with Blue Diamond being cautious about the pressure I put on the gourd. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I took the pipe back to the work table and gave the gourd multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I gave the stem several coats carnauba wax. I buffed the parts of the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This one is already spoken for and I think that the pipeman that it is going out to will really enjoy the unique look of his new pipe. Thanks for looking.



4 thoughts on “Restoring a Jobey Gourd Calabash with a Briar Shank Extension

  1. Pingback: Restoring the last of three Jobey Gourd Calabashes with a Briar Shank Extension | rebornpipes

  2. Pingback: Restoring the second of three Jobey Gourd Calabashes with a Briar Shank Extension | rebornpipes

  3. allan moon (@MoonAllan)

    This calabash is perfect. You really bring an old pipe back to life. I’m amazed at the difference between before and after. Jeff does a wonderful job on clean up. You are fortunate to have his help. This is a beautiful pipe and the freckles say it must be a red head. I now have a 7 day set of meerschaum. Thanx for all you to make life a bit better for us pipers.


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