Blog by Steve Laug
In my ongoing work on the estate pipes from the pipe shop that had closed here in Vancouver I am turning a third pipe from the lot. The entire lot came to me from the estate of an older pipeman whose wife dropped them off at a pipe shop to be cleaned and sold. When the shop closed they came to me. The pipe on the table now was a Savinelli Pot with a ¼ bent stem. It is stamped La Savinelli over Giubileo D’ Oro on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the Savinelli Shield logo with two pipes over the shield. Next to that the shape number 1221 is stamped over Italy. The briar has some nice straight and flame grain around the bowl with birdseye on the top of the bow, shank and the underside of both. The bowl had a thick cake in it with an over flow of lava on the rim top. The rim top looked very bad but it hard to know if there was real damage or if the marks were in the lava overflow. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like with the thick coat covering it all. The briar was dull and dirty looking. The stem is vulcanite and is oxidized. It has three gold (brass) dots on the top of the saddle. There was calcification and tooth chatter and marks damage next to the button on both sides. I took photos of the pipe when I received it. I sent this pipe along with about twenty others from this lot to my brother Jeff in Idaho to work over and clean up. He cleaned up the pipes with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl and scrubbing the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. When he sent it the pipe was ready to restore. I could not believe how good the rim top looked in comparison to what it was when he started. I took photos of the pipe when I unpacked it. The briar was clean and the grain quite stunning. The finish looked dull and lifeless. I took a close up photo of the rim top after Jeff had cleaned it up. The look of the rim top and edges is very good. He had been able to remove the cake and the lava very well. The bowl was clean but there seemed to be a trough in the bottom of the bowl made by a pipe cleaner repeatedly passing over the same spot. The stem is also shown and was very clean but oxidized. He had not started using Mark’s Before & After Deoxidizer at this point. The tooth marks on both sides near the button are visible in the photos. The underside of the stem shows some marks from the bending of the stem. None were cracks and for that I am glad.I took some photos of the stamping on the shank sides. The first photo shows the La Savinelli Giubileo D’ Oro stamp on the left side. The second shows the shape number and the Savinelli Logo and the made in Italy stamp on the right side.There were several things about the stamping that I was unfamiliar with so I did some searching online. I wanted to know when Savinelli stamped their pipe “La Savinelli”. I wanted to know why the pipe had a 4 digit shape number. I wanted to know about the “Giubileo D’ Oro” and where it fit in the hierarchy of pipes from the company. I also wanted to understand the three gold dots on the stem.
I turned first to Pipephil – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli2.html and there I found the first helpful information. My first and second questions were answered in the notes on the page.
- The “LA” article precedes the “SAVINELLI” stamping on all pipes from the Giubileo d’Oro line.
- 4 digit shape number (1221). The pipe predates the 1970’s.
I then turned to the Pipedia article to see if I could learn more about the pipe
( https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). I have included to pages from Brochures that give some interesting information about the brand. It seems that Golden Jubilee pipe is made from very rare briar burls from Sardinia. Due to the limited raw materials available the pipe can only be produced in small quantities. Each pipe originally came with a certificate of authenticity. Sadly this was missing with the pipe I am working on.
I also did a websearch of Savinelli’s 50th Anniversary and was immediately given a link to their site (https://www.savinelli.it/rw2_en/catalog/product/view/id/15909/s/giubileo-oro-prime-0005?__from_store=rw2_en). They describe the line as follows:
The significance of ‘Golden Jubilee’ is to commemorate the “50th anniversary”; it defines the rarity of these pipes. Only 0.1% of our total production has the quality to be worthy of this unique series. Nature gives us this rare jewel of a pipe as an unparalleled and exceptional combination of perfect raw material and outstanding grain. The selection process is passed on only by word of mouth and is determined by the experience and high quality standards of Savinelli, a guarantee of reliability and elegant style.
Putting all of that together I learned that the pipe was a 50th Anniversary Commemorative and part of a limited production “Golden Jubilee” series. That would make it a mid 70s pipe rather than what Pipephil noted above. It is selected for its special and unique grain and handpicked for a shape to highlight the grain. The four digit shape number helps to date it as being made pre 1970. The entire line was stamped with the La Savinelli marking. It is a unique piece of history. Now to get to work on it!
I started working on the bowl. I wanted clean up the rim top in the least intrusive method possible and still be able to deal with the scratches and wear on the flat surface. I wanted to see if I could minimize the darkening on the back side and the bevel of the inner edge of the rim top. I sanded it on a small medium and fine grit sanding block to see what I could do to begin with. I was happy with the way it was beginning to look. I finished with the blocks and progressed to micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. The pipe was beginning to look really good and the grain was beginning to really pop. It was time to work some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I decided to rub down the surface of the bowl and shank with a Medium Walnut Danish Oil Finish to give some depth to the finish. I really like how the walnut stain can make the grain pop on the briar. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to polish the briar. I buffed it lightly on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond on the wheel. I took photos of the bowl after buffing. I really like the way that the grain stands out now. It is truly a beautiful piece of briar. It was time to address the trough in the bottom of the bowl. It was quite visible and though the bottom of the bowl was still quite thick, it bothered me. I decided to mix a batch of pipe mud to fill in the trough and protect the bottom while a new cake was formed in the bowl. I mixed some cigar ash and water to form a paste. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway to protect it from being filled in. I used a folded pipe cleaner to paint the mud around the airway to clean up some of the edges and tamped some into the bottom of the bowl to fill in the trough. I packed it in place with a Czech pipe tool tamper as it fit in the bottom of the bowl. The pictures that follow tell the story. It will take a while to dry out but once it has dried it will be quite hard. The bowl looked good so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a Bic lighter to paint the surface of the vulcanite with the flame. The heat of the flame raised the tooth marks around the button edges significantly but a repair would still need to be done (forgot to take photos of this). I filled in the tooth marks with superglue spreading it with a toothpick. I set it aside to dry.
Once the glue repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the rubber. I began the polishing of the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to work on the oxidation. The photos show the progress. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding them with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I gave it a further polish with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. The following photos show the stem at this point. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and rubber. 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 Walnut Danish Oil had really breathed life into the briar and the pipe came alive with the buffing. The contrast of colours between the briar and the stem worked really well. The Giubileo D’ Oro pipe has a rich and classic look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this while I worked on it. It was interesting and unusual piece to restore and I really enjoyed the work.