Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is a Brakner Antique Hand Cut. It has a very interesting shape that is unique to Brakner. It has an eye shape bowl with a rim top that is smooth. The finish is rusticated in a unique style that he developed that I have never seen before seeing this pipe. There is a smooth band around the end of the shank and a smooth panel on the underside of the shank that is stamped. It came to me from a friend who is having me work on and sell some of his pipes. This one is a beauty and it comes in its own brown leather case that I will show once I have finished the pipe. I have included the photos of the pipe before I cleaned it up. This pipe was well cared for by the previous pipeman who owned it. The finish on the sides and shank was in excellent condition but dusty. The rim top was dull and had a film of tobacco oils on it but was otherwise undamaged on the inner and outer edge. It has some interesting grain. The contrast of dark and medium brown stains highlighted the beautiful grain on the briar and went well with the rusticated finish on the bowl and shank. The bowl was lightly caked and would need to be reamed but otherwise good condition. The stem was oxidized and lightly pitted from the oxidation. There was some light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button as well as some calcification. The next close up photos of the rim top and both sides of the stem show the overall condition of the pipe.I took three photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture the stamping that flows on the curves of the shank. They all give various angles of the stamping as it is quite wide and cannot be contained in one photo. The top line of the stamping reads BRAKNER ANTIQUE. The second photo shows the second line of the stamp – it reads HAND – CUT 807. The third photo shows the third line of the stamp – it reads DENMARK 37152. The stamping follows the curve of the shank band.I took the stem off the pipe and dropped it in the Before & After Deoxidizer Bath to soak over night.If you have been following the blog for any length of time you have come to know that when I am working on interesting old pipes (even sometimes those not so interesting) I like to know a bit about the background of the brand. I like to “meet” the carver to get a feel for their work and style. This is the first Brakner I have worked on so I felt compelled to do a bit of reading before I started the cleanup of the pipe.
I looked first on the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b7.html) to see what I could find. I have found through the years that it gives me a good summary of the information available and some pictures of some of the pipes from the brand. I have included a screen capture of the first pipe in the listing as it shows the logo on the stem and a bit of the stamping that is on the underside of the shank. There was not much information on the site regarding the history of the maker. It did tell me that most Brakner’s pipes had the carver’s “micro-rustication” finish. He made few smooth pipes. Next I turned to Pipedia for more information and detail (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brakner). I quote in part:
Peter Micklson (†) started his career at the Teofil Suhr workshop, Suhr’s Pibemageri, in Copenhagen, where Sixten Ivarsson was the foreman. He brought in Poul Rasmussen and taught him the two or three important things about pipemaking in a six weeks crash course, before he went off to join Poul Nielsen, the later Mr. Stanwell.
Micklson, who later changed his last name to Brakner,can not have worked under Rasmussen too long before he felt to be good enough to go off on his own. Indeed he carved himself quite a good name as it was proudly announced 1955’s World Championship of Pipe Smoking was won by a smoker who employed a Peter Brakner pipe. His fame based fairly on developing a unique and very special “micro-rustication” he called Antique. According to Kai Nielsen, Brakner kept this technique as a secret and only once he showed it to one person – Kai’s mother. Both have passed away, so this secret technique is lost. Kent Rasmussen was recently inspired by Brakner’s Antique finish when he created his new technique of rustication. Brakner was a close friend of Ole Larsen, the proprietor of the famous W.Ø. Larsen tobacco shop and sold a lot of his pipes there, before Larsen hired his own indoor carvers…
The pipes came in three different series.
Antique series. Antique finish in tan or black. Smooth pipes also. Each pipe 7.50 $.
Bella Danica series. Antique finish in tan or black. Each pipe 10.00 $.
Royal Danois series. Antique finish in tan or black. Each pipe 12.50 $.\
The latter were named after the Royal Danish Guard Regiment, founded in 1689.
Brakner was one of the first high-end carvers from Denmark to enter the US market and was considerably successful there in the early 1970’s. After his sudden death Peter Brakner’s name faded back from the forefront, but his pipes speak to the injustice of that. His body of work has earned him a place in the important history of Danish pipemaking.
The Pipedia article also showed pages from a W.Ø. Larsen Catalog from 1961-1962. I have included the pages from the site. The catalog showed the variety of shapes that pipe came in as well as the unique finish of the micro-rustication. I have circled the shape of the pipe I am working on in red. That gives a good picture of the history and development of the Brakner brand and the connection to some of the great carvers of Danish pipe history. Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe in hand. I started my cleanup of this pipe by working on the internals. I reamed out the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to the bare briar. I sanded the walls in the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the walls.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the micro-rusticated briar with my fingers and with a shoe brush. I use the Balm to enliven, clean and preserve the briar. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I took the stem out of the Before & After Deoxidizer Bath and rinsed it under runner warm water. I blew air through the stem and then ran water through it as well to rinse out the inside of the airway. The bath removed the oxidation and left the stem in clean condition. I took photos of it at this point to show how it looked. The Deoxidizer did its work well.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. It was dirty but I was surprised it was as clean as it was all things considered.The stem was in excellent condition when it came out of the Deoxidizer so I did not have to sand it with any of the usual 220 grit folded pieces. I was able to immediately move on to polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. So under the watchful eye of my shop supervisor, Spencer (my 14 year old Cocker Spaniel) I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem.
Spencer sits next to my desk/work table whenever I am working on pipes. Periodically he will knock me on the leg for a treat I keep on top of the desk just for these occasions. Mostly though he just watches me work and when I get up for a break he follows me like a shadow. I am sure going to miss his presence once he is gone but for now he continues to go strong. Back to the pipe, I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. The pipe came with its own case. I was told that the previous pipeman purchased this pipe directly from Peter Brakner himself when he visited Peter in Denmark. The case is in great condition. There are some scuff marks in the leather but it is solid and well made. The lining is also in good condition. I have included a photo below of the restored pipe in the case to give a sense of the fit. I am sure the case was made for this pipe.This is the first Brakner Antique Danish Hand Cut that I have worked on. The micro-rustication process that he developed is really quite beautiful and leaves an almost sandblasted pattern behind on the briar. It swirls and undulates around the bowl almost as if it is living. The smooth rim with contrasting stain and the thin band around the shank end and on the underside is quite nice and has some swirls of grain in the briar. The contrast browns of the bowl look really good with the black of the polished vulcanite stem. I carefully buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel so as not to have the polish build up in the rustication. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine in the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire 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. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside Diameter: width is 1 1/2 inches and length is 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. This Brakner is a well-made pipe with a beautiful finish and a comfortable stem. I am waiting to hear from the fellow who asked me to clean up the pipe so that I can get a price set that he wants for it. Once I have that I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your rack. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.