Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is also from George Koch’s estate. It is a Malaga Semi Rusticated Bent Billiard. It has some great grain on the smooth portions and an interesting rustication pattern of spots around the bowl and shank. The rim top was beveled inward and looked very good. The pipe was another one of many that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. The Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one pictured below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. To me it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. Each pipe I work on I remind myself of the man and in the work give a remembrance to the pipeman who owned these pipes. Having held a large number of his pipes in my hand and having a pretty good feel for the shapes, colour and stems that he liked, I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. He loved Malagas and the majority of his collection was Malaga pipes of various shapes, sizes and finishes. I am including Kathy’s brief bio of her father and a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. Here is George’s bio written by his daughter.
Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others.
He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan.
We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all.
He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace. Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter
Once again, I want to thank Kathy for providing this beautiful tribute to her Dad. Jeff and I appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. We are also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.
The next the pipe is a nicely shaped bent Billiard with a vulcanite stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – birdseye on the sides of the bowl and cross grain on front and the back. The rusticated spots on the sides of the bowl and shank are black and have a tight rustication pattern. The rim top is beveled inward and has rich cross grain in the briar. The reddish brown stain really looks good with the black spots around the bowl. There was a light cake in the bowl and some lava on the beveled rim top. The stamping on the top side of the shank read MALAGA with a line under it. The black vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized but here were no tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside near the button. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and rim to show the condition of the pipe and finish. The bowl really was in good condition other than general dirtiness.The rim top shows some lava build up on the rim toward the front of the bowl. The inside of the bowl has a light cake and shreds of tobacco on the walls of the bowl. The inside of the bowl was dirty.The left side of the shank is clearly stamped with an underlined MALAGA.The stem was oxidized, had some paint spots on it and tooth chatter and worn edges on the button. There were no deep spots so it was clean other thank oxidized. Jeff has picked up quite pipes of this brand over the past year along with the ones from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. All of the pipes were made by the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. The more I work on the brand the more I am impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship and beauty of the pipes that came from the shop. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand if you are interested: https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser). Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.
Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and looked virtually undamaged. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The bowl looked very clean and also was unchecked or damaged. The tapered vulcanite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top along with both sides of the stem to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff cleaned it up.I removed the stem and put it, along with two other stems to soak in a Before & After Deoxidizer bath. I left them in the bath for about 4 hours to soak and break through the oxidation. I took the stems out of the bath and rinsed them under running water and scrubbed them dry with a coarse piece of cloth. I took photos of the three stems before I continued my work. There was some residual oxidation on the stem surface so I sanded it out with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on it until all the oxidation and the light tooth chatter was removed.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface and the rusticated patches on the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really came alive in both the rusticated portions and the smooth panels with the buffing and works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. Together the pipe looks much better than when I began and has a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished Malaga pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.