Blog by Steve Laug
I am back at it after a slow start this morning – long week, late nights combined for a sleep in this morning. The first pipe on the table is from a pipe hunt that Jeff did in Montana. It came from an antique shop where we have often found some good pipes. It is a small Peterson’s bent billiard with a normal Peterson’s P-lip stem. This has some stunning birdseye and flame grain around the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Peterson’s over “SPORTS” and on the right side Made in the Republic of Ireland and the shape number 5. It was another really dirty pipe like most of the ones we are finding. The finish was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and a layer of lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the condition of the rim top or what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. The outer edge of the rim had some nicks and dents in it that are visible in the photos of the rim top. Other than being dirty the finish also appeared to look very good. The stem was lightly oxidized with light tooth chatter and marks. The P stamp on the left side of the stem was faded. The P-lip was in ok condition. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in before he started working on it. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is heavy on the rim. There is old tobacco debris stuck in the cake. The bowl and the rim are a real mess. I used to think it was carelessness that let a pipe get this way but the longer I work on pipes the more I realize that this must have been someone’s favourite pipe. I wish it could speak and tell us its story.He took a photo of the right side and heel of the bowl to show some of the grain and the condition of the pipe. The patina on the pipe is really quite beautiful and I hope to preserve that in the clean up and restoration.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. It is clear and legible. You can also see the P stamp on the left side of the stem.The vulcanite stem was heavily oxidized (as is often the case with Peterson’s) and there was tooth wear on the top edge of the p-lip button. The stem also had a lot of chatter both sides and some calcification around the p-lip and the first inch of the stem.I remembered reading a blog on the “Sports” line on Mark Irwin’s Blog so I turned there and did a quick search (http://www.petersonpipenotes.org/tag/peterson-sports-pipe). I found it and read through it again. It refers to a new line called the Sportsman, but there is a section on the blog that refers to the line that I have in hand. I quote from that portion of the article below.
K&P has shown an interest in pocket pipes almost since their founding. The 1905 catalog features a number of them, including outdoor pipes like the R.I.C. (which stands for Royal Irish Constabulary, the name of the official Irish police force back in the day), and indoor “opera” pipes like the Oval and the Pat. The oval-bowled pipes were meant to fit neatly inside one’s tail coat for smoking entr’act.
Since then there’s been the SPORTS line, introduced in 1947 but not well known in the States until the early 1970s. These pipes used full-size Classic Lines bowls but cut down the shanks to accommodate small P-Lips (except on the original 5 Bulldog, which just used a stubby full-sized stem. There was a renewed interest in the Sports line in the first decade of this century, emanating from Italy, where they’ve been a constant seller over the years, and some of them have made their way onto the U.S. market.
The pipe I have in hand comes from those early days as is noted by the stamping and the shape of the P on the stem. I now know that it was made post 1947. The Made in the Republic of Ireland stamping on the right side of the shank gave me a clue for more potential help in narrowing the date. I turned to Pipedia’s Peterson’s Dating Guide to see if I could narrow the date further (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_Peterson_Dating_Guide;_A_Rule_of_Thumb). Sadly it widened the field rather than narrowing it down. I quote the pertinent part of the article below.
The Republic Era is from 1949 until the present. The Republic of Ireland was formed on 17 April 1949. From 1949 to present the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.
That is as close as I can get on the date. It thus was made somewhere between 1949 and the 1970s. My brother found it in a Montana antique shop so it had made it to the American Market.
When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed at how good it looked. Jeff had already done the usual cleanup of the pipe before sending it to me. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl in the earlier photos. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The rim top looked a lot better than when he started. The inner edge showed some damage and was a little out of round. There were some nicks on the outer edge but overall it should clean up very well. I decided to address the issue with the inner edge of the rim first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage. It cleaned up pretty well.Once I finished with the work on the rim edge, I polished the surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down with a damp cloth after each pad. I was able to polish out the scratches without damaging the finish on the bowl or the rim. The finish looked very good once I was done polishing it. I decided to leave the small spots on the bowl sides as they were a testament of the pipe’s journey’s and I did not want to risk damaging the patina. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I sanded the tooth chatter and marks on the button and the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with 1500 grit micromesh and cleaned up the stamping on the side. I used a white out correction pen to put some white back in the stamped P. I buffed it out with a folded pipe cleaner and then cleaned it up with a 1500 grit micromesh pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust. I polished Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final hand buff with some Obsidian Oil and laid it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I love the way that the buffer brings a shine to the pipe. I was happy with the look of this old Pete “Sports” pocket pipe. The photos below show what the pipe looks like after the restoration. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the contrasting browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. Still considering what I want to do with this old timer. I have not seen one like it before so it may hang around for a bit. This one should be a great smoker. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on yet one more beauty!