Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe in the queue is a rusticated Malaga Billiard that is the largest Malaga I have worked on. It is like a war club in my hands which are not tiny! The rustication is rough and chipped glass like. There is a smooth band around the shank end and on the underside it is a little wider to accommodate the MALAGA stamp in the briar. The stem is a marbled brown Lucite saddle bit that is quite nice with the reddish brown stain on the bowl and shank. This is another nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this 21 pipe Michigan pipe lot. Along with this Malaga there were two others that are very interesting Malaga shapes. The Malaga I am working on now is on the mat in front of the rack. It is the first pipe on the right and I have circled it in red to make it easy to identify. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Like the rest of the pipes from the Michigan collection this pipe was dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the outer edge of the rim filling in the rustication. The inner edge of the bowl was hidden under the grime and lava coat so it was hard to know what was underneath in terms of damage. The rustication was like broken glass and the tactile feel is really interesting. It is not like any of the Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It is quite deep and rugged and the medium brown and red stains give the rustication depth and dimension. The stem is pearlized Lucite with swirling browns and copper hues that is quite interesting. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the large, saddle stemmed billiard. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening. Some of the rustication is filled in with lava toward the back of the bowl. There is also a general accumulation of dust and grime in the rustication. He also took a photo of the right side and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the interesting rough rustication that covers the pipe. The rugged rustication gives the pipe a tactile sense when held in the hand and should be interesting as the pipe warms up when smoked. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The photo shows stamping MALAGA. The stamping does not have the quotation marks that I have seen on some of the pipes. The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There are also some marks on the sharp edge of the button.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – 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 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. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damage to the flat surface of the rim and the inner edge on the right side and toward the front of the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils leaving behind a little darkening on the back side of the rim top. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition with no damage. The Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show how good the condition is. The stamp is deep and legible. It clearly reads MALAGA without the quotation marks that are sometimes used around the stamp.I decided to address the darkening on the backside of the rim top first. I used a brass bristle wire brush to work over the rustication on the rim top. I was able to remove much of the darkening with the wire brush. The rim top looks significantly better after the brushing.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rustication but I was able to work it in. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked rim top looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I filled the damaged areas in and build up the surface with clear super glue and set the stem aside until the repairs cured.When the repairs were cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and buffed it with a microfiber cloth. This is the first fully rusticated or “carved” finishes as Malaga called them, that I have worked on. I have worked on partially rusticated but never one with this kind of very cut glass like finish. It is extremely well done and it is a large pipe. The combination of stained rustication with the swirled Lucite stem is stunning. I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 oil cured briar is very light weight and the red and brown stain colour works well with the polished variegated copper and brown acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 15/16 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 trying out this brand. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was an interesting pipe to restore.