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6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made [it] to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd 7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, [It is] better for me to die than to live.
— The Holy Bible (KJV), 4:6-8
The unique and, one would not be out of line calling it, bizarre implement for enjoying pipe tobacco that is the subject of this post came to me in an estate lot of three “unbranded” examples. That’s just a euphemistic way of saying no-names. I never before bid on a lot with nothing but unknown pipes, much less heard of such a thing, but I wanted this lot so much I offered three times more than anyone in his right mind would even consider. The tactic worked. One other bidder offered 50 cents more than the price at the time and therefore drove the final cost up that much, but I would have loved to see the look on his face when the minimum bid popped up on his screen! I’m a little evil that way, I know.
The price I paid for the three has already been compensated with the sale of the top pipe below, a frayed straight brandy I cleaned and dressed up in a shiny black finish and sold for more than the lot cost. The African meerschaum in the middle that made me desire the lot at all is destined for my own collection.
I have nothing against no-names. In fact, some of them have been favorites of mine, one of which, below, I’m sure will shock some readers here. Both of the no-names in the following photos came incidental to a couple of other lots filled with treasures the sellers could not have recognized, and they smoked as well as any pipe I’ve owned. And so, this is about the bottom pipe in the lot of no-names, a definite art deco wannabe that can only be described as a Rhodesian calabash, despite the lack of calabash gourd or anything like the traditional meerschaum bowl insert. Instead, the “insert” is made of wood I believe to be Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), similar to plywood only much denser and stronger, and something that looks and feels like some sort of metal and therefore probably is. I’m sure it was made in China, if only because of the unmistakable color.
The refurbish was as easy as they come.
REFURBISH The newfangled calabash is comparable in size to other pipes in one way, having a length of 6”, but the chamber diameter is tiny at ⅝” x ⅝”. When I first held the pipe and looked it over, I thought it was brand new (pun intended). But closer examination showed carbon in the little insert bowl chamber and the larger enclosed bottom chamber, and the rim needed some work. After more than a little consideration, I determined the insert is MDF coated almost all over with whatever maroon finish of which the Chinese are so fond. It reminds me of a mushroom, truth be told. Unfortunately, after having no success removing the char from the bottom chamber with super fine “0000” steel wool, I escalated the process to 150-grit paper and took off enough of the Teflon-like red finish that there remained no reason not to finish the job. The steel wool worked well on the rim, though.The plastic stem had been gnawed well below the lip until it was, well, gnarly. I attacked it with a progression of 150-, 220-, 320- and 600-grit papers, followed by the full power of all nine micro mesh pads and, to finish it off, a buff on the wheel with red and white rouge. I don’t really know if the last measure did any good. You be the judge. And that, as they say, was that, except for a quick spin on the wheel to buff the rim.
All I want to know now is what’s up with the stinger? And BTW, one reason I chose the Biblical quote at the beginning is that I suspect it might be the origin of the term “losing your gourd.” I meant no blasphemy.
I do not believe there is a source for this perhaps – one at least would hope – unique pipe. But everything deserves its day in the sun!