Blog by Steve Laug
I have repaired 5 of the 7 older pipes (1937-1950s) left to Paresh by his Grandfather. I have enjoyed working on them and researching as well. His Grandfather was a pipeman who worked for the Indian Railroad. Paresh only recently learned that his Grandfather smoked a pipe. The 6th pipe is a Peterson’s System Standard 307 Made in Eire with a bent system stem and a smooth finish. I took photos of the pipe before I stated to work on it. It was in good condition, very clean with just a thin bit of lava and tar on the top of the rim. The inner edge of the bowl had some damage and was slightly out of round. The outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition. The stem had a deep tooth mark on the right of the top just ahead of the P-lip. The underside had a lot of tooth chatter. The tenon had a large chunk out of the extension that went into the shank. The rim top was clean and the bowl reamed. Abha had once again done a great job cleaning the finish. She had scrubbed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed all of the debris and dust from the smooth finish. There was some darkening to the rim top and some light dents in the top surface. The inner edge of the bowl was slightly out of round with some damage from reaming. The bowl had a light cake and it appeared that Abha had removed a lot of the cake in her reaming. I also took a close up photos of both sides of the stem. You can see that there is light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem just in front of the button. There is a deep tooth mark on the topside in front of the P-lip. The surface of the stem is lightly oxidized.The stamping is faint and worn but it is readable under a light and with a lens. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Peterson’s System Standard. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in the Eire in a circle and under that is reads 307 which is the shape number. I looked up the Made in Eire stamp on Pipedia’s section on Peterson pipes to see if I could find out information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). There I found out that the Made in Eire era stamps were from 1938 through till 1941. Peterson stamped their pipes with “Made in Eire” in a circle format with “Made” and “Eire” in a circle with the “in” located in the centre of the circle. This was used during the years of 1938 – 41. This is exactly how the pipe I am working on is stamped. I learned that the pipe was made between 1938-1941. After that Peterson stamped their pipes with “Made in Ireland” in a circle format 1945-1947 and still later with “Made in Ireland” in a block format 1947-1949. The “Made in Ireland” block format came in either one or two lines.
With that I reread Paresh’s biographical write up on his Grandfather once again. There Paresh stated that his Grandfather had visited England in 1946 and that later after 1947 the British left India for good. Many of the Superior Officers gave his Grandfather pipes as parting gifts. I am fairly confident that this was one of those gift pipes given to him around 1947. I am including his bio now as part of the background information on this pipe. Here is Paresh’s tribute.
Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.
My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!
Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.
In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Petes are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN’T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!
My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.
The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.
Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.
Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……
I began work on the pipe by cleaning up the reaming of the bowl first with a PipNet pipe reamer. I began with the smallest cutting head and worked up to the one roughly the same size as the bowl. I finished cleaning it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the remnants of cake left behind. When I examined the walls of the pipe they looked really good. I cleaned out the internals of the mortise and shank with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I scraped the walls of the sump and the mortise with the pipe knife to get rid of the hard tars and oils on the walls. Once I had removed the hardened cake I cleaned the inside with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the interior was clean.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar of the bowl and shank to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it in with my fingertips and set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine and the grain began to shine through. I took photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and began the work on the stem. I cleaned up the tenon end of the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. The first photo below shows the end of the tenon with the large chunk of vulcanite missing. I made a mixture of black super glue and charcoal powder and rebuilt the end of the tenon. I filled in the chipped area and built it up until it was roughly the same size and shape as the rest of the end. It would take several coats to fill in the rough spots in the repair but I layered it in and let it cure between coats. Once the repair had cured, I rough shaped it with a needle file to remove the excess repair. I worked it over until it was close to the right shape. I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper and with 220 grit sandpaper. I used a half round, a round and a flat blade needle file to reshape the inside of the airway of the tenon end. I reshaped it until it matched the remainder of the existing tenon.There were some deep gouges in the surface of the stem near the tenon end. It looked as if the stem had been twisted out with a pair of pliers. The gouges were deep and visible. I cleaned the areas with alcohol and filled in the marks with super glue. I used a Bic lighter to lift the tooth mark on the right top side of the stem, filled in the tooth marks with super glue and when it dried, sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the repairs on the tenon end of the stem at the same time.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have one more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send the whole lot across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.