— Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. Albert Einstein
Sometimes a pipe fix-up is so easy that chronicling the work in a blog seems pointless if not self-serving. No doubt, some readers will agree this is one of those occasions. Nevertheless, my reason for going ahead with the exercise is manifold: I’ve been off the grid for some time now, and this seems as good a way as any to vault back into the saddle; no effort, if performed with love and attention to detail, is unworthy of mention; the original price of the pipe is so low that this specimen could not have been made after the 1950s, if not earlier, and this straight natural YB Dublin – made in France – is one of the finest examples I’ve ever seen of the brand. Some of you may recall a few of my less positive remarks on the maker.I got a good deal for the Dublin on eBay, meaning it was the price of a Walgreen’s variety today. But there the comparison ended. The preeminent aspect of this stunning pipe was its pristine, blazing yellow honey-caked coating in the chamber. I have owned and restored a few well-used old soldiers with this proprietary finish, but this was my only glimpse so far at an untried sample right there in my reverent hands. There was also a small, round cardstock insert in the bowl. However, I was most pleased with the tiny decal on the bottom of the bit, which showed the original price as $2.50! To me, that was a clear sign that the Dublin had sat in a cupboard or closet or attic somewhere for close to three-quarters of a century.
The sole problems were an unpleasant darkness of the stain that bordered on black, an un-clocked bit (as well as the yellow circle emblem on the bit not being centered), and normal roughness of the briar wood. I knew I could remedy everything but the obdurate yellow circle.
The un-clocked bit is hard to spot in the photos, but notice the word France at the bottom of the bit’s rear. Thinking – which is one of my greatest problems – to be done with the easiest part first, I ended up having a deuced time removing the charming little sliver of aluminum that was the tenon. I wrapped a small micro fiber cloth around the bit, careful to cover everything but the metal, and used my Bic to apply heat. To my surprise, that failed, even when I wrapped the innocuous seeming aluminum in the rag and applied the least possible force of pliers. Several more runs of the same type later, I was no closer to success. At last, not knowing what else to try but needing to put the cursed thing aside for a while, I did so in my freezer. When I remembered having stashed it there, I found that a simple twist with my fingers did the truck and straightened it. Despite the straight tenon-stem fit, the off-center YB logo can still be seen.
The main goal after re-fitting the bit was to give the stummel only the slightest reduction in darkness, so that the brown would just show through. Starting with 1500 micromesh, I followed through with the rest. In most cases, I would prefer to make the wood lighter, but in this case, I was determined to keep it as original as was reasonable for the benefit of the eventual buyer. I had been worried about going too far, but it worked out quite well.
For the bit, I gave it a light sanding with 400 and 600 paper and then the full micro mesh progression.The last stage was a double waxing of the stummel using red and white Tripoli and carnauba, and red Tripoli and carnauba on the bit.
As obsessed as I was with unabridged musings of the delights I anticipated experiencing if I kept this splendid wonder of the heyday of Yello-Bole pipes, with remiss I decided to let it go to another guardian who would, with hope, covet the gem with all due zeal. One of my first estate pipe purchases was an old brother of the Dublin – in fact, they may have been twins as the shape of that early purchase was the same – and I never tired of caring for it and savoring the pleasures of many tobacco blends its design and construction enhanced.
Planning at first to target the sale to collectors’ circles with the hope of maximizing my profit, one distraction after another delayed the notion. Then one night, on a whim, I took the pristine implement of contemplation with me to a meeting I attend on a regular basis where there are always regular attendees as well as a few who come and go. One of the latter, a friend named Mike who, as do I, never fails to bring along a pipe and tobacco, walked into the meeting and waived to me from across the room. I knew with a flutter in my stomach that I had found the perfect recipient. His collection so far is spare, counting the latest acquisition. His favorite was an aged corncob that he treats with the utmost respect, never considering it disposable as so many others would, which he told me he likes because of its lightness and ease of keeping it in his mouth without needing to support with a hand. The only other was one a Custombilt behemoth freehand of unmeasured density that he showed me once without even knowing it was a brand name pipe. I knew its maker on sight and showed him the somewhat hidden nomenclature that verified the fact.
After the meeting, I hurried over to Mike, who seemed alarmed by my speed. I unwrapped the Yello-Bole and held it out to him. Mike was, of course, enchanted at once, most of all due to the extreme lightness. I told him I was selling it, at which news he stood at once to reach in his pocket, not even knowing the price. But I was not about to take advantage of my friend and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I’m afraid to smoke it!” he said. “I don’t want to ruin the beautiful chamber!”
I persuaded Mike to try it out and convinced him that with attention the yellow honey cure would remain intact. For some time, we sat there together, each of enjoying our beloved pipes. Mike could not stop extolling his new addition’s virtues.