Monthly Archives: July 2018

Discovering the History of a Pipe Pub Brigade Made in London, England, Canadian Lumberman

Blog by Dal Stanton

This Canadian Lumberman came to me in the Lot of 66 that I’ve mentioned several times having restored several pipes coming from that one eBay acquisition.  He has a hefty presence.  He has a length of 6 3/8 inches, bowl height of 2 inches, bowl width of 1 5/16 inches, and a depth of 1 ¾ inches – plenty of room for one’s favorite blend.  I do not have an active Canadian shape in my rotation and I had considered adding this Pipe Pub Brigade to my collection, but I decided to put him on The Pipe Steward site in the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” section to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls we seek to help who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Towner, a long-time friend living in Pennsylvania, saw the Pipe Pub Brigade online and sent me a note desiring to commission this Canadian.  I recalled talking to Towner last year when my wife and I were visiting Towner’s church and talking about our work in Bulgaria – he said that he wanted to add a Canadian to his collection and that he would wait for me to get back to Bulgaria.  He waited and now his commissioned Canadian Lumberman is on my worktable.  Here are the pictures that got Towner’s attention as he was ‘Pipe Dreaming’! According to Bill Burney’s Pipedia Pipe Shapes Chart, this Canadian is a Lumberman.  Here is his helpful information for those of us seeking to understand the nuances of the Canadian pipe family. The Lumberman stands out among the Canadians with the oval shank coupled with the saddle stem.  The combination of both unique characteristics translates into a classy looking pipe.

The nomenclature of this Canadian Lumberman proved to be a bit more difficult.  Mid-way on the top of the long shank is stamped, PIPE PUB over Brigade, in a ‘old world’ looking script.  On the opposite side of the shank is stamped, MADE IN over LONDON, ENGLAND.  Stamped on the top of the oval saddle stem is ‘PP’ in a cursive script, which I’m assuming stands for Pipe Pub. To learn more about the provenance of the Pipe Pub name I started my search in my regular go to sites – and and came up with absolutely nothing.  I broadened my search on the internet by simply searching ‘Pipe Pub’ and ‘Pipe Pub Brigade’.  My initial findings had more to do with bagpipers, bagpipe brigades, Irish pubs and pipes…, all of these go well together!  Yet, I wasn’t finding anything that helped me with the Canadian looking back at me on my worktable.  I looked in my copy of Wilczak and Colwell’s ‘Who Made that Pipe?’ and found nothing giving me a direction.  Usually, when I face the brick wall my response is to send Steve an email.  With all his vast Rebornpipes experience, surely, he’ll know something.  Steve’s response was quick and helpful:

Hi Dal

I have heard of it. Here is a link to one on Smoking

I would try to ferret out the shape number. For instance on the one from Smoking pipes it is a 124… which interestingly is a GBD shape number for a Billiard. I wonder if the brand was not made by special order for pipe shops and stores.

SteveI looked at the link and saw my first example another Pipe Pub pipe – a very nice classic Billiard.  I immediately looked again to see if I missed a shape number on the Canadian – I still saw no number.  But the other piece of information that Steve gave was helpful – the brand was perhaps a special order for pipe shops and stores.  I went back to Google not looking for pipes but for places named ‘Pipe Pub.’  I hit pay dirt and the dirt was surprising!  With the COM of the Canadian stamped indicating London, England, I had been expecting to find something that was UK based but instead, I found a reference for Pipe Pub that was based in the great US state of Texas – who would have thought?  Through several iterations of search parameters, I came across a Google Group chat stream that started in 1998 entitled, “Pipe Pub?” .  The question posed was about a Pipe Pub “almost Canadian” pipe that had the same nomenclature and stem ‘PP’ as mine, but the COM was stamped, ‘Italy’.  The questioner in the stream proposed a correlation with the Italian Savinelli name wondering if Pipe Pub might be a second of that well-known Italian pipe house?

The next response to Bro. R from Larry introduced the Texas connection:

Bro. R,

Back in the 70’s the mall tobacconists here in Austin, TX, were named Pipe Pub; they became Pipe World a little later.  I don’t know if, then or now, these businesses were strictly local or part of a larger chain.  I’m pretty sure they sold a store brand with their name on the pipes.  Today, Pipe World’s store brand pipes *are* made by Savinelli.


With these two entries, I knew that we were talking about the same pipe name – the ‘PP’ on the stem was the clincher.  Pipe Pub is a local Texas tobacconist which had pipes manufactured with the Pipe Pub name.  But there was more information that perhaps should be submitted to Pipedia!   The next entry I’m including in its entirely because it brings in much of the historical context with much color and the source of the information is a Jon Carter, who is described by Don Schram as a manager of Pipe Pub in the 80s.

Here’s the skinny on Pipe Pub, as related to me by Jon Carter, former manager of Pipe Pub from 1983 to 1987, who isn’t online as of yet. (Messages will be relayed to him through me at: dsc… ,however.)

Pipe Pub was started in the Houston area of Texas in the early 70’s with a single downtown store.  It was joined a short time later by a store located in the Austin, TX, area, which was owned and operated by a brother-in-law of the original founders (whose name escapes Jon for the moment).  While Pipe Pub wasn’t nationwide, they owned approx. 14 stores throughout Texas, primarily in the Houston area, and were much in competition with Tinderbox. (Comparable to Churchill’s in the S.E. Michigan area.)

The Pipe Pub pipe in question was confirmed by Jon to be a pipe from this chain.  The letters ‘PP’ in script on the stem indicate that the bit is original, and you are correct in that it stands for Pipe Pub.  As far as the age, there is no definite method of dating this pipe, however; Pipe Pub only carried their own line of ‘Private Label’ pipes between the early 70’s and 1983 when they were phased out in favor of higher grade (and higher priced) pipes, to coincide with the Texas oil boom of the 80’s.  Jon was not able to confirm positively that the pipe is indeed of Savinelli make (second or otherwise), however, he did point out that Pipe Pub did have an excellent relationship with the Savinelli company, as they were allowed to carry and sell the rare Savinelli 0000 (Quadruple-ought) Autograph, of which only 3 have been produced in the last century.  Jon also pointed out that he and another manager sold it to a gentleman who worked for the telephone company to complete a collection of Savinelli Autographs.  (He went to the bank and took out a $5000 loan for it.  The bank, initially thought he was purchasing ‘oil drilling pipe’, but gave him a personal loan for the tobacco pipe anyways.  He kept it in a lock box for a while, then finally broke it out and smoked it for the first time during the 1986 or 1987 Superbowl.)

To round out the history of Pipe Pub, the chain was bought out, save one store, in 1985 by a family, by name of Kowalski, who turned the tobacco chain into a chain of mall knick-knack stores.  (Sound all-too familiar Churchill’s customers?)  The one store, Pipe Pub in Austin, run by the brother-in-law, was not included in the deal, but it was agreed that he would change the name of the store.  Jon commented that the lone store may have changed its name to Pipe World, but wasn’t really privy to such information, as it was, more or less, operated as a renegade store.  The Kowalski’s opened one additional store in Louisiana, their home state, and promptly ran the chain right into the ground after one Christmas season, due to poor ownership and product focus.  Jon pointed out, “They carried vibrating pillows, for God’s sake!”  Forcing the company into bankruptcy, the Kowalski’s sold the chain back to the original owners, whom to his
knowledge, still own it today.

For more information, Jon recommends calling down to Houston and asking information for their main office, which was on Mitchelldale.  [A search of Yahoo Yellow Pages came up empty, however there is a Carol’s Pipe Pub in Bacliff, TX, a suburb of Houston.  Phone (281) 488-7300.  It’s unknown if they’re related.]

DS (Don Schram.)
This information-filled post is dated, 1998.  On a hunch, I google the name of the offshoot store characterized as the ‘renegade’ store that wasn’t part of the reported 1985 Pipe Pub acquisition described in stream above.  As part of the legal agreement this store was required to change the name without further association with the Pipe Pub name.  Pipe World, based in Austin, and run by a “brother-in-law” family member came into existence – or, more accurately, carried on the original legacy of Pipe Pub under a different name because it seems that the new owners of Pipe World ran the company off the rails.  I found with different locations in Texas and wondered if this was the same ‘Pipe World’ referenced above.

As I’ve done in the past with surprising success, I go directly to the front door and knock.  I went to the ‘Contact Us’ section on the Pipe World site and sent an email asking if anyone had been around long enough to know something about the history of the former, Pipe Pub Tobacconist out of which Pipe World came.  You never know what will happen! I received a reply to my email the same day from Pipe World – from Kyle who asked me to call directly if I had any questions.  Thankfully, I have an internet phone from Bulgaria and I called Kyle in Texas.  Kyle answered the phone and was extremely helpful.  His grasp of the history was amazing – he had been there during the whole transition.  I was totally taken off guard when I discovered through our conversation, that he was the owner of Pipe World.  His name is Kyle Haas.  He was the ‘brother-in-law’ referenced above who opened the new Pipe World and held firm to the values that had been true historically of Pipe Pub.

I enjoyed talking with Kyle, his recall of the events and his grasp of all the many moving parts of the tobacco industry fascinated me.  He was able to answer the primary question I had about the origin of the Pipe Pub pipes.  Definitively according to Kyle, during the 70s and early 80s, GBD/Comoy’s was producing the English line of pipes with the Pipe Pub name out of the London factory.  Pipe Pub pipes marked ITALY were all produced by the well-known Italian house of Savinelli.  He said that he doubted that Savinelli continued to do sub-contract work because they sell enough of their own pipes today to make it worthwhile.  He said that they had to order a lot of each shape as part of the requirements – I believe he said that they introduced a new shape each year.  He mentioned that the pipes that were produced in England and Italy with the Pipe Pub label were done with higher quality in mind.  I said that I could attest to this as I looked at the GBD/Comoy’s factory made Pipe Pub Canadian on my worktable.

After talking about the current climate in the tobacco industry, some of the current issues with Dunhill and the like, I shared with him our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria (he was surprised to hear I was calling from Bulgaria!) and my love for restoring classic pipes which benefit our Daughters of Bulgaria Foundation.  We ended our conversation with words of friendship and for me, a desire to stop off at Pipe World and visit Kyle at their shops in Round Rock and Austin, Texas.  I appreciated the time Kyle gave me on the telephone to discover a bit more pipe history.

With a better understanding now of the origins of this Pipe Pub Made in London, England, Canadian Lumberman thanks to Kyle, I look to recommissioning it for yet another lifetime.  I take a few close-ups to take a better look.  The chamber has light carbon cake which will not be difficult to remove getting down to fresh briar for a fresh start.  There is some darkening on the rim and nicks, cuts and bruises over the entire briar surface.  I identify an odd-looking fill at the shank/stummel transition.  It looks like dark CA glue, but it doesn’t blend at all.  I also identify about mid-way on the side of the shank a divot of sorts in the briar.  The finish is old, worn, and tired, though the briar grain hiding beneath shows very good potential.  The stem also has some dents and button damage.  To start, after cleaning the internal of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%, I add the short saddle stem to a soak with Before & After Deoxidizer along with 5 other pipe stems in queue for restoration.  After soaking for a few hours, I fish out the saddle stem and wipe off the Deoxidizer and raised oxidation with cotton pads and light paraffin oil.  I also run some pipe cleaners through the airway dipped with alcohol to clear the Deoxidizer.  The Before & After Deoxidizer did a good job on the oxidation. I decide to first work on the stem by using the heating method to minimize the tooth chatter and dents.  Heating the vulcanite causes it to expand and return to some degree to the original condition of the vulcanite.  I paint the problem areas with a flame from a Bic lighter – both upper and lower bit. I take starting point pictures to compare both uppers and then lowers.  The heating technique made a difference by minimizing the damage and raising the compressions. With the dents and chatter less extreme, I’m able to sand out the remaining problems.  Using 240 grade paper I sand both upper and lower bit and I also redefine the button lips using a flat needle file.  I’m very careful to avoid the Pipe Pub “PP” stamping – the second “P” is thin and I don’t want to add to its challenges!To erase the 240 scratches, I follow by sanding with grade 600 paper then with 0000 steel wool to smooth further and buff up the vulcanite.  I like the results.With the stem progress at this point, I turn to the Pipe Pub Canadian Lumberman stummel.   To deal with the very light carbon cake buildup in the chamber, I utilize the Pipnet Reaming Kit and jump to the 3rd largest blade head – the bowl is large!  I remove a good bit of the cake and then I transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to fine tune – getting to the lower part of the chamber and removing more carbon.  To get down to the fresh briar, I then wrap a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall – the pen gives me leverage.  Finally, to remove the carbon dust I wet a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and wipe out the chamber.  I inspect the chamber walls and I see no cracks or heat fissures – all looks great!  The pictures chronicle the steps. Turning to the external briar surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub using cotton pads and utilize a brass brush on the rim.  I also use a pen knife carefully to scrape the rim.  The stummel and rim cleaned up nicely.Before proceeding with the external surface, I clean the internals of the stummel – the long Canadian mortise and airway.  Using isopropyl 95%, I employ many cotton buds, utilize a dental shovel to scrape the mortise walls, and pipe cleaners and shank brushes to reach into the long Canadian airway.  There was a lot of lodged tars and oils but it finally started giving way.  I plan to clean further utilizing a kosher salt and alcohol soak at the end of my work day. I take a picture of the weapons and carnage!As I look over the stummel and shank, I see two problem areas, both on the shank.  As the shank merges with the bowl, there is an old fill that is shiny black and stands out like a sore thumb.  It appears to be solid CA glue but an eyesore.  The other problem is mid-way on the right side of the shank.  It appears to be a gouge or puncture in the grain.  I take pictures of both as I consider what to do.I address first the shiny black fill.  I want to remove the fill but not impact the surrounding briar with sanding.  To do this I will try to dissolve the CA fill by applying a small amount of acetone directly to the fill and hopefully it will soften and allow me to dig it out with a dental probe.  It works like a champ.  Since acetone evaporates quickly, I repeatedly dob a bit of acetone on the fill using a cotton bud.  While the acetone rested on the fill as a droplet, I would carefully scrape and probe the fill with a sharp dental probe.  Gradually the CA began to soften, allowing the dental probe to undermine the integrity of the fill.  After repeating the dob, scrape, probe several times, the fill disintegrated, and the briar blemish can be refilled and hopefully blended better.  The pictures show the process.  For the gouge on the other side, I gently clean out the wound with the sharp dental probe to remove any old fill and debris that had collected.  I then wipe both repair areas with alcohol to clean the areas in preparation for a new fill.I mix together thick CA glue and briar dust to form a putty.  I place some briar dust on an index card and put a few drops of the CA glue next to the briar dust.  Using a toothpick, I add briar dust to the CA glue until I reach a viscosity of about molasses.  I then apply the Briar putty to the two areas on the shank – a mound of putty over the areas in anticipation of sanding them down after the putty cures.  I put the stummel aside for several hours.   With the patches curing, I turn to the stem and using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite stem.  Throughout all the sanding I take care to avoid the Pipe Pub ‘PP’ stamping on the top of the stem.  The first ‘P’ is strong but the second ‘P’ is faded.  Later I will add paint to the stamping with hope that there’s enough tread left in the second ‘P’ to hold the paint. I like the progress – the vulcanite stem has a glossy pop!  The patches on the shank are ready for filing, sanding and blending.  I use a flat needle file to bring the patch mounds down near to the briar surface.  Then I follow with 240 grit paper rolled up tightly, then 600 grit – each removing the scratches of the former.  Finally, I run 0000 steel wool over each patch.  I take pictures to show the progress. Moving on to the micromesh phase.  To address the tired finish and the myriad of small scratches over the stummel from normal wear, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and pads 6000 to 12000.  I love watching the gradual unveiling of the briar grain during the micromesh cycle. I never grow tired of the beautiful matrix of grains – no pipe is the same, each a new showcase of God’s creation.  The pictures show the progress. I’m at a decision point.  The question before me is whether to apply a darker stain to the stummel or leave it at the natural grain hue?  The current state is very attractive except for the fact that the briar patch I applied closest to the bowl, as seen in the pictures above, stands out more than I like because it is surrounded by lighter wood. I wonder if I would have applied simply a drop of clear, regular CA glue the patch would have been lighter?  Hmm.  Something to consider in the future.  While I’m considering the question of staining, I decide to give the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak to further freshen the internals of the Canadian for the new steward.

First, I form a wick to insert as far down the long shank’s airway as possible to draw out tars and oils.  I use a cotton ball and by stretching it out and twisting it I form the wick.  I use a straight wire to help force it down to airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste.  After setting the stummel in an egg carton for stability, using a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol again.  I set the stummel aside to soak for several hours.While the stummel is soaking, I take another closeup of the ‘PP’ stamping on the stem.  To add a nice touch to the recommissioning of this Pipe Pub Canadian, I want to add white acrylic paint to the lettering.  I have no pictures of Pipe Pub pipes that give this detail to compare, but I’m assuming that when this Pipe Pub Canadian rolled off factory line in London, the ‘PP’ stamping was colored.  I’m hoping too, that the second ‘P’ can hold the paint.  Using white acrylic paint, I apply a very small amount over the ‘PP’ stamping spreading it with a toothpick and then using a cotton pad I dob off some of the paint – to thin it so that it will dry more evenly.  I take a picture at this point.  I let it set for a few hours.  Using the mid-part of a toothpick to rub lightly the dried paint, I’m able to achieve a good look with the first ‘P’.  I apply more paint over the second ‘P’ and let it cure.  Well, after some time I’m somewhat satisfied with the results – it’s the best I can do with the worn, thin second ‘P’.   The stummel has been in a kosher salt and alcohol soak for several hours.  The salt has discolored and the wick as well.  Its done its job. I shake the salt in the waste and clean the bowl of salt with paper towel.  I also blow through the mortise to dislodge in salt crystals.  The bowl is fresher now and the new steward will appreciate this!After some thought, I decide to darken the hue on the stummel to mask more effectively the fills on the shank and to capture a more classic darker English style considering the London, England origins of this Canadian.  I use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and I cut it with isopropyl 95% by about 50%.  I want a darker stain but not too dark.  As an aniline dye, if I elect, I can lighten it further by wiping the stained stummel with alcohol.  I first mix the stain with alcohol in a shot glass, and then I clean the stummel by wiping it down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I fit the stummel with a cork in the shank to act as a handle.  I then heat the stummel using a hot air gun to expand the briar making the grain more receptive to the dye.  After heated, I apply the dye liberally to the stummel and long Canadian shank with a folded over pipe cleaner.  After thoroughly covering the stummel with dye, I flame the stummel by igniting the aniline stain and the alcohol in the dye combusts leaving behind the dye set into the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the application of applying dye and flaming.  I set the stained stummel aside to rest through the night.  I turn off the lights and do the same! The next morning arrives, the stummel has rested through the night allowing the stain to set well. I enjoy ‘unwrapping’ the stummel of the flamed dye crust to reveal the grain below.  To do this, I mount a dedicated felt buffing wheel on the Dremel – the felt wheel creates more torque and friction on the surface.  With the felt wheel I apply the coarser Tripoli compound with the Dremel set at the slowest speed.  I purge the wheel with the metal edge of the Dremel’s adjustment wrench which removes old compound and softens the wheel.  I then methodically work the wheel over the surface with the compound to reveal the newly stained briar and buffing with the compound.  I purge the wheel often as old compound collects quickly.  I pause and take a picture to show the border of progress.  It takes close to an hour to complete the use of the felt wheel.  With the felt wheel I was unable to reach into the crook where shank and bowl meet, so I change a cotton cloth wheel and increase the speed of the Dremel to about 40% and apply Tripoli to the crook to remove the flamed stain.  When complete, I give the stummel a very light wipe with alcohol using a cotton wipe not really to lighten but to blend the new stain.  Pictures show the progress. After the Tripoli, I apply the finer Blue Diamond compound to both reunited stem and stummel.  I mount a cotton cloth wheel dedicated to Blue Diamond onto the Dremel, keep the speed at 40% and apply the compound methodically over the entire pipe. After completing the Blue Diamond compound, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation for the wax.  I mount another cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel with the speed at about 40% and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  I finish the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.

Wow!  I’m pleased with the results of this Pipe Pub Canadian Lumberman.  I appreciate more the history of the Pipe Pub name and the provenance of this pipe manufactured in London, England.  What stands out in this Classic Canadian shape is the briar grain.  Oh, my…the pop of the grain is beautiful, and I know that a new steward will enjoy this pipe.  Towner commissioned the Pipe Pub Canadian Lumberman from the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only” area of  The Pipe Steward site and he will have first dibs at it in The Pipe Steward Store.  As usual with other restorations, this pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!


Restoring a Beautiful K&P Dublin Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from the fellow here in Vancouver that he dropped off for me to work on. There were 8 pipes in the lot – I have finished six and this is the seventh. It is a bent billiard shaped bowl that is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads K&P over DUBLIN. On the right side of the shank is the COM stamp Made in Ireland in a circle with the “in” in the centre of the circle. Next to that is the shape number 217. The silver band is marked K&P over Sterling Silver. The stem was the original and was in fair condition. It was another one of his pipe finds on a recent pipe hunt in Vancouver. There was some really nice grain showing through the dirt and debris of the tired pipe. The rim top was damaged with a burn mark on the front right and the back outer edge was rounded over. The finish was very dirty and there was a thick cake in the bowl. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on the top side near the P-lip and on the underside near the shelf. I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition they were in when I received the pipe. The first photo shows the damage to the rim top – there is a nick out of the front inner edge of the bowl and a few other nicks and chips that make it appear to be out of round. The back outer edge on the shank end is worn down at an angle but it is not rough. The inside of the bowl has some uneven cake around the bowl and some tar and oil on the top of the rim. The sterling silver band – with K&P  and Sterling Silver stamped on it is oxidized and tarnished but otherwise in good condition. The photos of the stem show the tooth damage on the top and underside of near the P-lip button. There is a deep tooth mark on the top side ahead of the button and some wearing down of the button edge on the left and right. The underside of the stem also has tooth chatter and some wear on the sharp ledge. The airway on the top of the stem is still in good condition. I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to give an idea of the style of the tenon on the stem and the look of the pipe sans stem.I took a photo of the stamping on the both the right and left side of the shank. It is very clear and readable. The stamping left reads K&P over Dublin and the stamping on the right reads shape number 217 and the COM stamp as mentioned above – Made in Ireland in a circle.I started my clean up on the bowl with reaming and then cleaning out the airway to the bowl and the inside of the mortise as well as the airway in the stem. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the cake on the walls. I used a dowel wrapped with sandpaper to sand down the walls on the bowl. I cleaned out the airway in both the bowl and stem with alcohol (99% isopropyl), pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they were clean on the inside. To remove the damage from the rim top I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. I checked it repeatedly as I did the topping to make sure I had removed just enough to suffice to remove the damage. The second photo shows the topped bowl. You will note that I left a little of the damage on the rear outer edge so as not to top too much of the briar.I wiped the rim top down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust then stained it with an Oak coloured stain pen. I buffed it lightly with a soft cloth to even out the stain.I wiped down the bowl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust and grime on the surface of the bowl. I polished the briar finish with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain began to shine through with both flame and birdseye showing up on the sides of the bowl. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. The balm worked to clean, preserve and enliven the surface of the finish on the small bowl. The briar was coming alive so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I polished the silver band with Hagerty’s Silver Polish to remove the tarnish. It is a soft scrub that is put on the band and buffed off with a cloth afterwards. I used a cotton pad to remove the tarnish. I polished it further with a jeweler’s cloth to protect and give it a shine. I set the bowl aside and began to work on the dents in the stem surface. I “painted” the vulcanite with a Bic lighter flame to try to raise the dents. I was able to get those on the underside completely removed. The deep one on the top surface of the stem and sides of the button needed to be addressed differently. I cleaned the areas around the button and filled in the dents with black super glue. When the repair cured I sanded the repairs and the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper. I folded the paper and worked in the edges of the button. 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 Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the both sides of the shank. I gave both the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed 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. I have one more pipe to finish for him – it is the last of the pipes he found while pipe hunting. This has been a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking. 


Father Tom – The urologist’s call brought an end to ordinary time

Blog by Steve Laug

Days passed quickly  following the horrendous experience of the biopsy and soon became weeks. Father Tom blissfully moved ahead, almost forgetting the experience and even beginning to be hopeful that the biopsy would come back negative. His days were filled with his work – weddings, funerals, homilies and the normal life of a priest. It was easy in the busyness to not think about the news of the biopsy that would come. He filled in the spaces between the work and sleep with his pipe and some good tobacco and enjoyed the ordinary rhythm of his life as it marched forward. He loved his work and the pattern that it provided for his days and weeks. He loved the time in the study and he loved the time with his people. It was a good life and he enjoyed it so it was easy to fill his waking moments with the work.

On Tuesday morning, he was in his study when suddenly his weekly rhythm was interrupted and things abruptly changed. He was working on his homily for the following Sunday and as always had a pipe in his mouth with a wreath of smoke encircling his head. He was reading and writing his reflections when the ringing of the phone jarred him into the present. He murmured his usual dislike of the intrusiveness of the phone and picked it up after a half-dozen rings. The woman on the other side of the phone confirmed with him that she was speaking with Father Tom and then identified herself as the clerk for the urologist’s office. She said that she had his test results. He expected that to be followed with some niceties and typical telephone banter but there was none. She went straight to the point. “You have cancer,” she said. He could have dropped the phone with the abruptness of her comment. The words struck him hard at the core of his being. He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. The fear and dread that had been held at bay for weeks broke free in those few moments. He was not prepared for this news. He was stunned and just sat there. She repeated her news and asked him what he wanted to do. She repeated herself in case he missed it. He mumbled out that he had no idea. She set an appointment for the next week for him to meet with the doctor to talk through his options and hung up the phone.

He sat there stunned, immovable and silent. He still held the phone at his ear oblivious to the beeping sound that told him the conversation was over. He did not seem to notice the noise, or maybe it just did not matter at this moment. He sat there for a long time in shocked silence. Finally he shook himself and laid down the phone. He stared into space with her words ringing in his head – “You have cancer”. He could not believe what had just happened and how it had been done. He was too stunned to even get mad. He shook himself back into the moment and sucked on the pipe in his mouth. It had long since gone out but it did not matter. The quietness in his soul was consumed in the swirl of chaos. The quiet of the study was gone. In its place was a huge cloud of uncertainty whirling around stirring up what had once been peaceful. He shook himself once more and relit his pipe. He slowly pulled the smoke into his mouth, savouring the taste of his favourite tobacco. He quietly let the ritual of lighting, puffing and sipping his pipe restore a bit of sanity to an insane moment. He knew that once he was calm he could think through what was going to happen next but that seemed far from his reach.

As expected the rhythm and cadence of the pipe brought with it the ability to distance himself from the moment for Father Tom. It allowed him to move to a place of quiet where he could objectively view what lay in front of him. It had always worked that way in his life and he counted on it to deliver that for him once more. He sat quietly puffing on his pipe and sipped his cold tea every so often in the process. He did not move other than to puff and sip his pipe and tea. Time felt like it stood still. Birds sang outside his window. The phone had long since stopped it annoying beeping and the receiver lay on its side on his desk. His notes and books were in disarray on the desk top and his chair was pushed back from the desk. He sat, oblivious to his surroundings and the passage of time. He disappeared into the quiet space the pipe created in his own soul.

As the quiet settled over him, he stood up, repacked his pipe, stuffed a tin of tobacco in his pocket and headed out the door. He needed to walk and clear his head. He knew that the appointment with the urologist would give him a clear picture of what lay ahead and what he could expect so he decided not to spend a lot of time guessing and processing the “what if’s”. He chose rather to think through the new course that his life would take with the diagnosis of prostate cancer and begin to move toward a place of acceptance. What it meant for him would somehow become clear soon enough but his acceptance of the new direction was another matter. He could not change his life back to the pre-cancer rhythms and patterns so he had to move ahead. He needed to accept the powerlessness of his new status and trust that the history of his life of faith would carry him to a place of surrender to God who was greater than himself and was truly his friend. He was not sure how to get there at the moment so a walk and time alone would help create space for him to move toward a sense of the acceptance, the assurance he needed and ultimately at least the beginnings of surrender.

He walked for a long time with no seeming direction to his walk. His internal compass had taken over and he ended up at Stanley Park. He walked along the sea wall as far as Brockton Point and sat on a bench. He reloaded his pipe and fired up the bowl as he sat looking at the sculpted, lone figure of the woman in a wetsuit sitting on a rock in the midst of the waves breaking against her pedestal. The sculptor had somehow been able to capture a calm serenity in her expression that was unchanged by the waves that broke around her. Even though she was bronze – her expression appeared unmoved by the circumstance of her setting. The artist had captured a heart of confidence and trust that had survived the years of incessant pounding waves in calm and storm since its placement in 1972. The statue was weathered but unmoved. It sat resolutely on its pedestal in the water.

As he sat contemplating the statue off the point a lot of correlations to his present predicament went through his mind. Sitting in a wreath of pipe smoke he began to connect the dots. Just as the sculptor knew the resting place of her work, he believed in a maker who knew his days as well. Just as the sculptor had carved her own resolution into the face of her statue, he knew that his life had been sculpted through the ordinary time of his life in preparation for the struggles that lay ahead of him. He began so slow down the cadence of his pipe and a sense of resolve began to displace the chaos as he continued to observe.

He had no idea how much time had passed but knew he had come to some peace with his next challenge while sitting in the shadow of the statue. He quietly breathed the words of the Serenity Prayer as he prepared to move on.

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.

He stood, tamped his pipe, relit it and began the walk around the point. He knew that he had made some progress in his thinking because he was hungry. He checked his watch and saw that it was already late in the afternoon. He had eaten nothing all day. He knew there was a great restaurant at lodge in the centre of the park. He had enjoyed eating there in the past. The food was good and the setting relaxing. It would not take too long to walk there and he could enjoy a good meal and a good pint. He also knew that the bus stop for a quicker trip home was not far from the restaurant. He could relax with a good meal and bus home afterward. He made his way to the door, found a quiet seat on the patio looking over the park and ordered his dinner and a pint. It was good food and did not disappoint him. He finished the meal, paid the bill and loaded another pipe. He went out the door and walked to the bus stop. While he waited for the  bus he enjoyed his pipe.

It did not take too long to get home and when he arrived he saw that Mrs. Conti had been there and left a note for him. She had put some food that she had prepared in the refrigerator. He figured he would eat it the next day. She was very kind to him and understanding of his idiosyncrasies. She also mentioned in her note that the urologist had called to change the appointment to the next morning. He needed to be at the office on Broadway near Vancouver General Hospital by 10am the next day. He poured himself a scotch, reloaded his pipe and went into the parlour to sit and enjoy the pipe and drink. He sat in his chair and sipped on both the drink and the pipe. It was good to be able to be free of the initial paralysis caused the news and face it head on. He resolved that he would not spend a lot of time worrying about the morning’s appointment. It was good enough to know that tomorrow he would get informed about what was next on the agenda. He finished his drink and his pipe and laid them aside. He made his way up the stairs to bed and actually fell quickly to sleep.

He woke in the morning and did his morning ritual – prayers, coffee and pipe before his shower. He finished those and dressed for the urology appointment. He filled another pipe went out the front door. He lit it before heading down the steps and quickly made his way to the street to walk to the appointment. It would not take too long to get there so he could grab a coffee on his way there. He was ready to learn about this new chapter of his life and move to accepting what it would mean for him. It would have been too much to say that the unknown did not scare him or make him nervous; however he was ready to enter this part of life knowing that the work he had done on the previous day had given him a sense of serenity. He stopped by and visited his favourite barrista and got his usual Americano Misto. He paused outside the door to relight his pipe and continued down Broadway to the Doctor’s office. He sat on the bus bench outside the door of the medical centre and finished both the coffee and the pipe. He had plenty of time before his appointment and to be honest, though he wanted to know he still did not want to rush.

When he finished he put the coffee cup in the trash and his pipe in his pocket and caught the elevator to the third floor to meet “his urologist”. When he came through the door the clerk he had spoken to asked him to sign in and take a seat. It was not long before the doctor came out to get him. He was a little man dressed in scrubs with a grin on his face. It was the kind of face that showed he walked through life bemused. Together they walked back to an examination room. He took a seat and the Doctor closed the door. He was far less abrupt than his clerk. Father Tom told him of the shocking phone call and the Doctor chuckled and said it was hard to get good help. He then walked Tom through the options ahead of him. Really there were two choices – one was radiation of the cancer cells in his prostate with relative success and the other was a radical prostectomy – cutting into his abdomen and removing the cancerous gland. Ultimately the choice was his to make but the Doctor said he personally leaned to the surgical solution as he had seen excellent results with little or no recurrence of the cancer. He told Father Tom that he would give him a month to think over the options and talk with people. Once he made up his mind on the option for him he could call and they would proceed. He prescribed a book called “Life with Prostate Cancer” and gave him a range of dates to book his follow-up appointment. He ended the visit with the encouraging words “I can fix this for you. This is what I am very good at. Talk with you soon.” With those words he left the room and the appointment was over.

Tom left the examination room and made the next appointment at the desk on his way out. He wanted to get this over with and was already leaning toward having the surgery. He figured that it would not hurt to read the book the doctor has spoken about and call some of his friends who had already gone through this. They would help give him an informed perspective on what was ahead for him. He took the elevator downstairs to the drug store and bought the book that had been recommended. Even the title reminded him of the horrid posters in the biopsy area at the hospital – Life with Prostate Cancer. He glanced through the titles of the chapters and figured it would give him a clear picture of what lay ahead for him. He put the book in his coat pocket and pulled out his pipe. Under the watchful eye of the pharmacist he nodded and went outdoors. He filled his pipe and lit it.

He stood outside on the sidewalk puffing while his pipe began to smolder. He thought about his options for the day. It was only a little after 11am and he had the afternoon ahead of him with no more appointments. He was not far from his favourite tobacconist so he thought would be a good option for him. He made up his mind and started his walk to the shop. As he walked there was a an internal struggle going on inside of him – part was dreading even dealing with the future ahead of him and another part doggedly wanted to move forward. It was the proverbial battle denial and facing the truth. He decided to put it aside for a bit, he needed a break before he tried to figure things out and read the book. From the chapter headings he knew that it would clearly spell out the path ahead, but he was not ready for that. He tamped and relit his pipe walked down the hill to the tobacco shop. Perhaps he would find one of the crew there he could speak with… no matter. Time would tell.

Refurbishing a Lane Era Charatan’s Make “Special” # 260 DC

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that caught my attention was a CHARATAN’S which was in the box of pipes which I had received from my Uncle. This Dublin has beautiful birdseye on the sides and beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front and back of the bowl and also along the shank. The bowl delicately flares up towards the rim top and together with a subtle bend to the double step saddle stem, lends this pipe a lovely Dublin shape with a charm and grace that can be seen on a well crafted pipe from this quality brand!!!The pipe is stamped “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “SPECIAL” in block capital letters on the left side of the shank. Further towards the bowl on the same side, it is stamped with the letter “L” inside a circle in cursive letter. The right side of the shank is stamped as “260DC”. The left side of the stem is stamped on the saddle with “CP” logo, with the lower half of the “C” embedded within the letter “P”. The right side on the saddle is stamped with “REGD NO” over “203573” I searched Pipedia for more information about the brand and also to try to accurately date this pipe. I have reproduced the details which I could glean from this website:

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

On the retirement of his father in 1910 Reuben Charatan took over the family business.

In 1950 Herman G. Lane, striving to expand his business in Great Britain, made contacts with the Charatan family. Apparently Lane got a certain influence soon, but it was not until 1955 that Lane Ltd. became the sole distributor for Charatan’s in the United States superseding Wally Frank. This can be documented in a “biography” written for Herman G. Lane titled “Leaves from a Tobaccoman’s Log”.

Thanks to Herman G. Lane’s dedicated labor Charatan became hugely popular in the States. As reported by Ken Barnes in an interview with Rick Newcombe, Reuben Charatan passed away in 1962, and his widow sold the firm to Herman Lane 1 or 2 years after his death [1]. In the early 1960’s Charatan pipes were the first to overstep the $100 Dollar line in US pipe sales. In 1978 Lane’s heirs sold the Charatan company to Dunhill. The Prescot Street factory was closed in March 1982. Thereafter the fame and quality of the make declined.

The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950. Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”.

 An excellent article, Dating of Charatans has been translated for Pipedia by Mathias Acciai. This study by Fabio Ferrara of Monterubbiano – Italy is based on more than 2000 old Charatan pipes he studied from the “Basciano stock” purchased by Mario Lubinski – Fermo. This fantastic addition to the Charatan knowledge base is now in English here on Pipedia.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

  1. a) Shape of the mouthpiece
  2. b) marking on the mouthpiece
  3. c) engraving on the shank
  4. d)shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by a X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved.
Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others, however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.
From 1961 to 1977 the CP logo is more pronounced and the C penetrates the P.
From 1980 (approx.) the C does not penetrate the P any more, even though the two letters are joined.
The CP of Dunhill era has a different shape than the one of the French Russell era.

c) Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960.

The engraving ‘MADE BY HAND (in caps) -IN-City of London’ in three lines identifies pipes made between 1965 and 1966. The engraving in script font ‘Made by Hand -In-City of London’ on three lines identifies pipes made between 1966 and 1979. The circled £ (Lane) characterizes pipes produced from 1955 to 1980 (approx.)

d) engravings are different in both size and shape, depending on eras.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” in 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker than in previous eras. 

From the above information, it can be safely assumed that this particular piece dates from somewhere from 1960 to 1965, that is the first Lane Era, which coincides with the period of the other pipes that belonged to my grandfather. With this information in mind, I moved ahead to the next process in the restoration.

I always follow the advice of Mr. Steve given out in his blog on restoration process for novices like me and carry out initial visual inspection of the pipe. This helps a lot in formulating your POA for the restoration.

The bowl is heavily caked with an equally heavy overflow of lava on to the rim top. The outer edge of the rim appears to be intact save for the light charring on the left side in 9 ‘O’ clock direction. However, the inner edge of the rim is a totally different story!!!! Deep extensive charring can be seen on the inner edge in 1 ‘O’ clock direction on the right side and in 8 ‘O’ clock direction on the left side. The internal condition of the bowl and the exact extent of the char can only be ascertained after the process of reaming is completed. The stummel and the shank are covered in grime and dust of these years of use and subsequent storage, giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. This will need to be addressed. Air does not flow easily through the pipe and requires some lung power to do so. The airway in the stem and/ or in the shank is restricted and needs to be cleaned out. The stem is a Double Comfort stem which is correct for the period. Heavy calcification can be seen on the lower half of the DC stem with a few deep bite marks and lot of tooth chatter on both the lower and upper surface. The lip/ button is deformed and will need to be worked upon. All said and done, the major cause of concern which will require maximum attention and work is the rim top, rim inner edge and the extensive charring seen on the right and left inner edge!!!!

As usual, Abha, my wife took upon herself the task of reaming the bowl to get rid of all the grime, tars and oils accumulated in the chamber. Using a Kleen Reem pipe tool made short work of reaming and she was able to get rid of the thick cake. She gently removed all the remaining cake crust till she reached the briar using my fabricated knife set and thereafter sanding the chamber with a 220 grit sand paper. Thereafter, using the fabricated knife, I gently scraped and removed all the overflow of lava, tars and oil from the rim top. With hope in my heart and prayer on my lips, I gently scraped the charred wood from the inner edge on both sides till I reached solid briar. The picture below will tell the story of its condition!!!The char marks to the inner edge of the rim on the right side in 1 o’clock direction is the widest followed by the one on left side in 8 o’clock direction. The char on the outer left edge at 8 o’clock direction is not very severe. I decided to top the bowl and create a bevel on the inner edge to address these issues. I Facetimed with Mr. Steve and he too concurred with my POA.

I started by topping the bowl with a 220 grit sand paper till the charred surface on the inner as well as outer edge of the rim was reduced. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I gave a slight bevel to the inner edge. However, I was not very pleased to see the results. The charred surfaces stood out like sore thumbs on either sides of the rim.To further mask the charred inner edges, Abha suggested creating a deeper bevel and attempt to conceal the damaged inner edge within this bevel. After viewing the pictures, Mr. Steve also approved of this plan. Thus, I created a deep bevel making sure that the charred surfaces are within this bevel. The inner edge is looking much better and presentable as can be seen in the pictures below. It took me considerable time to complete this stage since I had to frequently check the progress so that I did not end up losing too much surface off the rim top. I, thereafter, cleaned the exteriors of the stummel, rim top and shank with undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap and a toothbrush, taking care that water does not enter into the chamber and the shank. I wiped it down with a soft cotton cloth and kept it aside to dry out. Turning my attention to the stem, I started by masking the “CP” logo and the Regd No. with whitener (pics…..). I painted both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. Sanding the stem with 220 grit sand paper, I evened out the surface of the stem. The deeper tooth marks were spot filled with clear CA super glue and set aside to cure overnight. Back to the stummel, I dry sanded the exteriors of the bowl, rim top and the shank with 1500 to 2400 grit micromesh pads and wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The beautiful birdseye and the cross grains really popped out at this stage!!!!!(PICTUREs…..). Though the darkened areas of the inner edge caused due to charring were very much visible in pictures, in reality it does not look as bad. There is an option to further cover up the darkened areas by staining the complete bowl with a dark stain, I decided not to do so for two reasons, firstly, the pipe looked beautiful in this lighter hues with lovely grains in plain sight and secondly, I DO NOT HAVE THE MATERIAL AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE SAME and also have never tried this technique (this aspect WILL be my agenda during next leave!!!). With that decision made, I rubbed a small quantity of “BEFORE AND AFTER RESTORATION” balm into the briar surface and let it rest for 2-3 minutes for the balm to work its magic. I really feel that this is one product which every pipe smoker should have for routine maintenance of his/ her pipe. This balm infuses fresh breath of life into the briar while forming a protective layer over the briar surface. Using a soft cotton cloth and undiluted (LOL!!!) muscle power, I buffed it to a nice shine. Have a look at the bowl for yourself. With the stummel completed, save for a final polish with PARAGON WAX, I turned back towards working on the stem again. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills to match the stem’s surface. I also worked on the button edge and created a crisp edge. Once I was satisfied, using micromesh sanding pads, I dry sanded the stem with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cotton swab after every pad and rubbed in Extra Virgin Olive oil after ever three pads (Pictures….). Although I tried to take all care and precautions to preserve the stampings on the stem, I HAVE MANAGED TO OBLITERATE IT!!!!  Can anyone suggest an easy method to restore it???? Indentations are visible though, which is a saving grace!!!!Once I was finished with the stem, I cleaned out the internals of the stem and shank using Isopropyl alcohol, cue-tips, shank brush, regular and bristle pipe cleaners till air flow was open and free. Thereafter, I gave a final polish to the bowl with Paragon wax, rubbing and buffing it with a soft cloth and muscle power till cows came home!!!!!!!! The finished pipe can be seen in the pictures below. Thank you for walking with me on this journey of learning and resurrection of fond memories of my Old Man!!!!!


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

— In “Come from the Heart” (1987), a country music song by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh

The free-spirited quote I chose for today’s blog is a chorus of sorts to the darker, harder to control song of myself I change a little at a time, but concerning Danish freehands, at least, it shouts out.  In regular prose as opposed to verse, the words have been attributed to many folks, the most famous of whom are Leroy “Satchel” Paige and Mark Twain.

Really?  Satchel Paige and Mark Twain?  Can anyone even summon to the mind an image of Satchel, showman though he was, hurling three evanescent fast balls for a strikeout and then sauntering off the mound, doffing his cap as for the National Anthem, to spout what would have been considered insane gibbering in his day and gotten him run out of town on a rail or worse?  Or the wry and often hilarious Great American Writer – who can still leave readers today ROFL from his literary accounts of the myriad outrageous frays he entered with zeal and turn wickedly acerbic in his social commentary – wearing his famous white Southern suit and taking the cigar out of his mouth as he steps onto a gazebo to pronounce such life-affirming, feel good modern sentiments?  I think not.

But I like the way Kathy Mattea sings those four lines, although I can’t recall any of the others, and the lively, high-strung electric fiddle plucking of an unsung but talented musician.

To the point, the pictures of a nine-pipe lot I bought at the beginning of the month, before the package arrived, had a magnetic pull on me.  The main attraction was a pair of Danish freehands, and the other was the presence of at least two and maybe three other nice finds, about which the seller might have been oblivious.  With no order whatsoever to the description and only three brands identifiable (Kaywoodie, Falcon and Missouri Meerschaum), the seller did reveal that one of the freehands was a Knute of Denmark and the other a Karl Erik.  I had heard of Knute and was unfamiliar with the brand, but I’ve owned several Karl Eriks and was pretty sure the behemoth in the lower right side of the following photo was it.  I was correct.

9-pipe eBay lot courtesy stwok74075

I restored the freehands from the lot first.  Of those, I decided to start with the Knute for two reasons, the lesser being my inexperience with the brand and the more significant that, although both were large pipes, the Karl Erik was enormous and therefore had much more area to repair.  Had I any idea there was something greater about the KE than its massive potential for beautiful geometric symmetry and fine example of chasing the grain, I might have chosen the opposite order.  KE, by the way, is my abbreviation for convenience, not to be confused with the maker’s earliest pipe mark)

The pipe’s bleak façade of thick gunk at first hid the small block of nomenclature on the stem end of the shank.  Before I would have taken photos of the pipe as it arrived, I used a thick cotton rag and more than a little force to wipe away the muck that at one point I thought might require alcohol.  I stopped breathing a moment when I saw the mark.  Instead of the regular two lines of imprint, there were three: KARL ERIK/HANDMADE IN DENMARK/O.

The grade mark, of course, was the part that surprised me.  I’ve owned four KE pipes not counting my latest addition, two of which were far more striking at a glance than this one even after I finished its restoration, but none of them was graded.

As fast as I could, I browsed to Pipephil and found a mention of “previous grading” from 4-1 ascending, meaning1 would be the highest, not counting the Ekstravagant releases that were entirely handmade.  Well, that was no help, and so I searched further, finding multiple sites that gave both the previous grades and the newer ones from D-A, again ascending.  Some of the latter sources, including Pipedia, expanded on the Ekstravagant grade, noting that it in fact was divided into degrees, C, B, A, AA and AAA.  I found no official mention of letter grading beyond D, but I did track down a Worthpoint auction that describes O as “[t]he highest grade in the old Karl Erik grading system.”  Needless to say, my breath was taken away again.  I’m calling on any readers with information on the maker’s early grading system to fill me in on it!

Speaking of the maker, his name was Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942-2004), and he was a lithographer struggling to make ends meet from his apprenticeship starting when he was 16 into his mid-20s when he took up carving pipes as a day job.  Young Ottendahl had made pipes as a hobby since he was 16 and gave most of them to friends and senior co-workers.  Never forgetting his “roots,” Ottendahl remained perhaps the most generous pipe maker in the history of the craft and trade.  He was devoted to the proposition that fine pipes should be affordable to the average smoker, and to that end he priced his works of art far below the going rate.  Likely for that reason, his brilliant work was underestimated and likewise valued during and after his lifetime, and it is only in recent years that the market has begun to appreciate their worth more.  I’m sure that fact makes Karl Erik roll over in his grave.

The poor, big lunk of fine Danish stock in this blog had fallen on hard times and was in a sorry state.  The following triple stem swap gets a little crazy, so try to follow this.  The KE came with a nice dark brown swirled acrylic fancy stem that was just way too short to support its gigantic stummel but was perfect for a Knute of Denmark from the same lot that I already restored, blogged and sold – with the KE stem.  The Knute, by the way, had a Vulcanite stem that was chomped, with a hole in the bottom below the button I fixed well but the absence of a full lip I knew I could mend enough for my own use but would never pass off to a customer.  So that was a no-brainer.  I decided on a temporary substitution of a bright orange Lucite stem from a Ben Wade by Preben Holm freehand I have.  For now, the half-eaten but semi-repaired Vulcanite stem from the Knute is on the BW.  I’ll just add that I’m anxiously awaiting replacements for both of them.

Here are photos of the KE as I received it minus the stem, and the Knute Vulcanite bollix I mended as far as I’m going to do for now, with no signs of the hole that was on the underside but a bit of a double lip there now and the pre-existing half lip topside. RESTORATION
Part of me knew, from the rich, dark briar grain that glowed through the long bottom of the shank after I vanquished the grime that had overcast its natural, smooth brilliance, that the rest of the wood could only be better.  But the Devil’s Advocate in me gave rise to the tomfool but nevertheless undeniable apprehension that nothing good could come from stripping away the sedimentary layers of anomalous substances.  I decided to be done with the majority of the business using an Everclear soak.

To keep my mind from its pointless and counterproductive negative preoccupation with the state of the stummel, I turned my attention to the Lucite stem that was taken off the BW to use in place of the lovely and too petite stem with which the pipe came.  Note the dark stains inside the stem’s airhole and the bore and tenon opening. Most of the inner stain came out with alcohol soaked bristly cleaners, and the rest of that later with the retort.  The bore and shank end, on the other hand, needed more wheedling.  At first when I tried the small end of a bristly cleaner dipped in alcohol, I had minimal results.  Switching to something more pointed, sharp and focused – an unwound paper clip – I scraped away the accreted blackness on both ends and used a 180 grit sanding pad on the tip of the shank end.  Either I forgot to snap shots of the results or misplaced them, i.e., tapped Save As on the computer and didn’t look where I did it, but I don’t have the proof of cleaning to display.  Later pictures will show all but the shank opening of the stem.

But there’s good news!  The Everclear soak was finished!  The color and grain I wanted to see were there.To remove the remaining odd caliginosity obscuring the fine wood, I gave the bowl and shank a quick rub with 600-grit paper and the rim with super fine “0000” steel wool.  The difference was marked. The plateaux rim and shank opening needed a little more Everclear soaking.  That done, I grabbed my handy sanding pad again and spot-scrubbed those places. I reamed and sanded the chamber with 150, 220-, 320- and 600-grit paper that took the char far enough down to the wood for the retort to handle what remained. For me, the most gratifying part of a pipe restore, if the wood has been prepped properly beforehand, is micro meshing from 1500-12000, for this is where the mettle of the pipe is revealed.  The deep, shiny, shimmer that should result is something to behold with wonder.  And the grain on the block of wood chosen for this pipe is spectacular.  I also ran four Pyrex tubes of Everclear through the pipe afterward for the retort. Staining the rough rim and shank opening with Lincoln Medium Brown boot stain before flaming them, I took off the char with 8000 and 12000 micro mesh.  The second of the next two pics shows before I finished it with a light touch of steel wool.With that, the pipe was finished except for buffing the stummel and stem with red rouge and carnauba wax.  I’m out of Halcyon II and therefore could not use it on the plateau areas. CONCLUSION
One look at this pipe out of the box the lot came in and I fully intended to offer it for sale.  The gentleman from one of my pipe smokers’ forums who bought the Knute was also more than eager, to put it lightly, to get his hands on the Karl Erik I told him I had.  But all that was before I started unearthing – in a sense that may be literal given the fact that the pipe looked to have been buried for some time – the way Ottendahl chased the grain on this splendid example of one of his earlier works, when he graded them on an as yet undocumented scale.  For all I know, O being the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet, my newest freehand may not be near the top end, but it’s still graded.  That means it meant something to its maker, and I’m certain he would remember it if he could be reached where he is now.  Besides, as his newer scales are ascending, meaning from “best” to “worst,” and I being more of a glass half-full kind of guy, I like to think it’s two grades closer to the sidewalk than the middle if the road.


Restoring & Restemming a Zettervig Handmade 351 Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from the fellow here in Vancouver that he dropped off for me to work on. There were 8 pipes in the lot – I have finished five and this is the sixth. It is a Brandy shaped freehand bowl stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Zettervig over Copenhagen over Handmade over the shape number 351 over Denmark. The pipe came with a stem that was obviously not the original. It was another one of his pipe finds on a recent pipe hunt in Vancouver. The smooth finish had a burnt orange colour over a black undercoat. The plateau on the rim top and shank end were also black. The briar had been covered with a lacquer that had gone cloudy. The finish was very dirty and there was a thick cake in the bowl. The pipe needed to be cleaned thoroughly and a new stem fit to the shank that was more of a freehand style stem. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end. I believe that the plateau “style” top of the rim was carved rather than natural. The shank end has a combination of carved finish and genuine plateau. The inside of the bowl has a thick cake around the bowl and some tar and oil on the top of the rim filling in the finish. Some of the original black finish was also worn off.I took photos of the pipe with the stem it had on the bowl when it had been found. It is a saddle stem made to fit flush against a rounded shank. It was not made for plateau style freehand shank ends. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable. The stamping is clearer than the photo shows.I decided that I would look up some information on the Zettervig brand before I started the clean up on the pipe. I looked up information on two of my favourite sites. The first was Pipedia. Here is the link: I quote in full:

In the 1960’s and into the early 1970’s Ole Zettervig had a shop in Copenhagen, Denmark where he was carving high quality pipes equal to Stanwell, Larsen, Anne Julie, Thurmann, Bang and others. These early pipes were marked “Copenhagen” and are very collectible. He sold his shop at some point in the 70’s and moved to Kolding and continued to produce pipes as a hobby, but the quality of briar and workmanship is said to not equal the early production. The later pipes he now marked as Kobenhaven rather than Copenhagen, and these were sold by Ole at flea markets throughout Europe.

I started my clean up on the bowl with reaming and then cleaning out the airway to the bowl and the inside of the mortise. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the cake on the walls. I used a dowel wrapped with sandpaper to sand down the walls on the bowl. I cleaned out the airway with alcohol (99% isopropyl), pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they were clean on the inside. I tried to wipe down the bowl with acetone to remove the shiny coat. It did not even begin to permeate the surface. I scrubbed the surface hard to try to break through the finish. It did not work. I sanded the finish with micromesh sanding pads to break the topcoat on the finish down. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a cotton pad and acetone. That combination of sanding pads and acetone worked to break down the finish. I used a black Sharpie Pen to restain the rim top and the shank end. It was originally black and I have found over the years that the black pen matches the colour of the original stain.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish and the plateau style rim and shank end with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. The balm worked to clean, preserve and enliven the surface of the finish on the small bowl. The briar was coming alive so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I buffed the plateau style rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to give it a shine. I went through my can of stems and found one that would work well on the freehand style Zettervig bowl. I had one was from a freehand pipe. I turned the end of the tenon down with the PIMO tenon turning tool. I did not need to remove too much material from the tenon so it did not take too long. Once I had turned it I sanded it smooth with a piece of sandpaper then tried it in the pipe for the fit and the look. It looked good but needed to be bent a little to follow the low of the bowl. I heated it with a Bic lighter until the vulcanite softened then bent it slightly to match the flow of the bowl.The stem had two dents in the top surface. There was also some heavy oxidation in the vulcanite. I cleaned the areas around the button and filled in the dents with clear super glue. When the repair cured I sanded the repairs and the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper. I folded the paper and worked in the grooves turned areas of the stem.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 Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to fill in the sandblast finish. I also carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed 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. I have two more pipes to finish for him – both of them that are finds he made while pipe hunting. This is a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking. 

Creating a Churchwarden from a Billiard Bowl stamped LIGHT

Blog by Steve Laug

I finished up some pipes for a guy here in Vancouver and when he came to pick them up he brought more for me to work on. I have finished four of the pipes this is the fifth one. It is a small Billiard bowl that is stamped on the underside of the shank LIGHT. The pipe came without a stem and was one of his pipe finds on a recent pipe hunt in Vancouver.  It is a small billiard with a light sandblast finish. The colour is a mix of dark and medium brown stains. The finish was very dirty and there was a thick bake in the bowl. There was some damage on the inside edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl on the left side. Together we decided to make a churchwarden out of it. I thought he had a great idea so I ordered some stems from JH Lowe online. They arrived last week so I decided to fit a stem to the bowl today. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer with the smallest cutting head and took the cake back to bare walls. I cleaned up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a dowel wrapped with sandpaper to sand down the walls on the bowl. I cleaned up the inside rim edge with a folded piece of sandpaper and gave the rim a slight bevel. I took a photo of the inside of the bowl once it was cleaned. I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and rim with a Cherry Stain pen. I buffed it with a shoe brush.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the sandblast finish with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. The balm worked to clean, preserve and enliven the surface of the finish on the small bowl. The briar was coming alive so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I cleaned out the airway from the shank to the bowl and the mortise area with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I use 99% isopropyl because it evaporates quickly and cleans the briar very well.I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a soft cloth. I would buff it later on the buffing wheel but I wanted to get a feel for the look at this point in the process. The stems I ordered arrived. They are approximately 9 inches long. The tenon was unturned and the casting excess was along both sides of the stem and the slot end. I used a drill bit to open the airway in the tenon end of the stem. It needed to be the same size as the guide pin on the PIMO tenon turning tool. I measured the diameter of the shank and adjusted the tenon turning tool to cut the new tenon. I used it on a cordless drill and turned the tenon on the stem. I turned it until it was a close fit and sanded it down until it fit snugly in the shank.I heated the stem over the flame of a candle until the vulcanite was soft. I bent it slightly over a small bottle.I sanded out the casting marks on the sides of the stem and the button end with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the rest of the stem smooth to remove all of the sanding marks on the diameter near the shank stem junction.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 Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to fill in the sandblast finish. I also carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed 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. I have three more pipes to finish for him – all of them that are finds he made while pipe hunting. This is a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking.