Daily Archives: June 7, 2019

Bringing a Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman Back to Life

Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’.  It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.  When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission.  I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards.  Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it.  In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:

Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society.  Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!

I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived!  Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem.  On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’.  The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’.  The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin.  A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters.  Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin.  The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK).  This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes.  Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel.  It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England).  If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this.  Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.

I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number.  The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim.  The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt.  With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting!  I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber.  The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up.  Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage.  It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar.  After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them.  After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil.  I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth.  It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank.  As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning.  Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter.  Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank.  After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust.  Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple.  What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust.  We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc.  Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly.  Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape.  I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet!  I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform.  You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily.  I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick.  I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole.  After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently.  I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise.  I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night.   The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see.  The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak.  I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward.  I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file.  I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material.  To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge.  The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit.  After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button.  The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully.  I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures.  I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert.  This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick.  As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file.  I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.  This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape.  I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip.  I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice.  You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form.  This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK).  The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there.  Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow!  I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based.  I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it.  I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun.  This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface.  I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go.  I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night.  This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown.  I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper.  I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem.  I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000.  Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance.  Nice.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below.  To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail.  I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath.  I’m pleased with the results.  The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain.  After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel.  I do this for two reasons.  First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach.  Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away.  The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping.  It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is!  I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success.  The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint.  The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.

This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well.  The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar!  The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection.  I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process.  Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service.  Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

A simple restoration of a “Castello, Sea Rock Briar” 56 F pipe with Steve and Jeff Laug

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Followers of rebornpipes by now are well aware that Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton had been on a week long visit here to meet me and my family. Amidst all the program of sightseeing and pipe smoking and getting to know each other, it was but natural that restoration of pipes from my grandfather’s collection was one of the “Bill of Intent” on the agenda. Of all things planned, this agenda was fulfilled to the hilt!!

While I was working on the stem of the Brakner Antique #108, which was posted earlier, Steve rummaged through the pile and immediately came up with what maybe the only Italian (as far as I can recollect) pipe from my grandfather’s collection. It is a deeply rusticated pipe with a diamond shank and a slight flair around the middle of the stummel similar to ring cap in a classic Bulldog shape, towards the rusticated rim top. The shank end is adorned with a diamond shaped vulcanite shank extension that tapers at the end to seat an army mount style vulcanite stem. This beautiful pipe is stamped on the lower left smooth shank surface in a parallelogram as “CASTELLO” over “SEA ROCK BRIAR” over “MADE IN CANTU” over “ITALY”, all in capital. Towards the left side of the stampings, in the same space, is the size code “SC” over an unconfirmed code “56 F”.I referred to pipedia.org for a better and detailed understanding of this brand since I have not worked on very many Italian pipes and never on any CASTELLO!! The read was very interesting and I reproduce excerpts from pipedia.org source. The opening paragraphs itself speaks volumes about the quality and craftsmanship of the pipe that we now are working on!!

Pipa Castello was born in 1947 in the artisan workshop of Carlo Scotti in Via Fossano, in Cantù, with the target to produce pipes which could be placed at the very top of quality and perfection from both the technical and aesthetical side.

“I run a craftsman’s shop, not a factory, my pipes are works of art, fruit of expert hands, heart and fantasy” – Carlo Scotti.

So, the Castello Philosophy was born. It prefers to be, not to appear, always looking for a perfection that, in the human limits, Castello tries to reach. Carlo’s work-passion continues unaltered under the faithful guidance of his daughter Savina and Franco Coppo.

If a pipe man wanted to pull out a pipe that conveyed a sense of status, a brand with undeniable cache, he had to go to a pedigreed English pipe, such as Dunhill and Sasieni; a pipe from Italy simply wouldn’t have come to mind. Then, in 1946, a man from Cantu, Italy began carving a pipe that would change all of that. That man’s name is Carlo Scotti, and his pipe brand is called “Castello”.

Carlo’s choice for his company’s name was an inspired one. He needed a name that had a cognate in many of the European languages (Castle, Castillo, Castelo (Portuguese)), and wanted that name to be evocative of pleasant fantasy. While the name did have a dream like quality, the startup of Castello, and the early years of the company were more akin to a nightmare. Early Castello pipes emulated the English classic shapes, if a man leaned toward that aesthetic; he already had plenty of established brand names to turn to. Carlo outfitted his pipes with Plexiglas, something unfamiliar to men who were quite comfortable with vulcanite. Compounding woes, early Castello pipes were quite small in size, usually carved or sandblasted, and were stamped in a bewildering, rapidly changing manner. Some growth did occur via word of mouth. But that growth was too slow, too little, and by 1953, Castello was close to closing the doors.

Most fairy tales introduce a character or an element that allows the protagonist to overcome peril. For Carlo, this character was Wally Frank, who accidentally bumped into Carlo on a pipe buying trip to Italy. Mr. Frank was smitten by the product and agreed immediately to start importation into the US. Upon hitting New York, Mr. Frank replaced the Castello white bar with a superb counter-point to the Dunhill “White Spot”, a “diamond” inlaid in the bit (actually crimped aluminum), and began to market the pipe to highly skeptical Americans with a wholly new angle. The pipe that the prospective buyer held was not churned out in a factory, but crafted start to finish by one man. The shapes were not created by a machine, but by the hands of a master. This was a very different, very special pipe. In short, Mr. Frank redefined in the minds of many an American what it took to give a pipe a pedigree. Combined with the sudden rise in awareness of chic, upper echelon Italian products (Gucci had just opened their first US boutique in NYC), this approach was a success. Castello took off and never looked back.

Small conflicts do not stop great partnerships, Scotti and Frank worked out the product issue and, by the 1960’s, production had moved into high gear. Carlo hired the likes of Luigi “Gigi” Radice and Pepino Ascorti, who carved at full speed to meet demand. Within the synergy of the three legends, a new shaping aesthetic emerged. Emulations of the English standards were replaced by bold shapes with Italian inspiration. This, in turn, fueled American appetites for the pipes to the point that it was not uncommon for a Castello collector to be placed in a position of having to call tobacconists around the country to try to locate a pipe. Often a premium was negotiated for the product.

With this fair bit of background information on this brand, I move towards the prospect of dating this pipe and again an external link on pipedia.org proved to be useful. Here is the link to dating of Castello pipes on Briar Blues – www.briarblues.com/castello.htm

Even though this article makes for an interesting read and is worth reproducing here, for the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant information which helps to approximate the date of this particular pipe. However, I implore readers to read the complete well researched article.

  1. 1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company.  In the beginning (1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ).  Later the Reg No was added.  This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark.
  2. The Old Sea Rock and the Sea Rock co-existed. As far as I know, the OSR was US only, imported by Hollco Rohr, and sported the rhinestone. The Sea Rock goes back to the early days.
  3. Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx. I’ve only seen this on Sea Rocks, but that doesn’t mean anything.
  4. Pre ‘K’ grading.  Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicated sizes.   These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS.  SA being the smallest and SS the largest.
  5. Ever wonder where your pipe came from?  Which shop had it first?  If so, read below;

 N1 = Novelli ( Italy )

 N = Noli ( Italy )

 F = Fincato ( Italy )

From the above, it is clear that the stampings on the pipe which is being restored, indicates that this pipe most likely is from 1950’s to mid 1960’s with third largest size in the lineup and came from a shop in Fincato, Italy. However, this information also introduces some ambiguities like the shape # 56 and the diamond inlay which points to US market whereas the lack of Old Sea Rock Briar stamp and the letter F after the shape code points to Italian market. It would be nice if these mysteries could be unraveled by the readers of this blog.

There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber which has been evenly reamed, and this, for me was a big surprise as most of my inherited pipes have not seen the face of a reamer!!!! The Castello, may well be only the second or third pipe from the collection that appears to have been cared for and could be because of the price that he had to pay! Well, nevertheless, there is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and the rusticated rim top surface shows overflow of lava and accumulation of dust, dirt and grime of all these years of storage. There appears to be no damage to the inner and outer rim edges and the same will be confirmed only after the rim top has been thoroughly cleaned. From the thickness of the cake in the chamber, we feel that the chamber walls have been well protected and do not foresee any heat fissures or cracks. However, the same will be ascertained only after the cake has been completely reamed down to the bare briar. The draught hole is perfectly drilled in the center and opens into the chamber at its base. This should be a great smoker, I say. The beautifully rusticated stummel surface is covered in dust and grime. This grime and dirt can be seen in the deep rustications and lends a dull and lifeless appearance to the pipe. The smooth parallelogram surface bearing the stampings on the shank has darkened as a result of this accumulation. The browns of the raised rustications should contrast beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel surface once it has been cleaned up. The saving grace is that there is no damage to the rustications on the stummel. The vulcanite shank end extension is undamaged but is severely oxidized. The shank end extension will lend a sophisticated and classy touch to the appearance of the pipe once this oxidation is rid off the vulcanite and is nicely polished. The mortise is clogged with heavy accumulations of oils, tars and gunk. This will require some heavy cleaning and scraping. However, though laborious, there is airflow through the shank airway. The stem, surprisingly, is nice and shining with very minor traces of oxidation. The upper and lower stem surface shows minor tooth chatter towards the bite area and upper button edge damage. This, we expect, should be easily addressed just by sanding the bite zone. The airflow through the stem airway is full and easy. The diamond inlay on the stem is undamaged. THE PROCESS
As decided, Abha, my wife, and Jeff worked on the stem first. They ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, through the stem air way. Once satisfied with the internal cleaning, the stem was immersed in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution to rid the stem of the minor stem oxidation. The discerning reader must have noted the mention of this step for the first time and it’s true. This magic potion/ liquid gold, as Jeff likes to call it, finally reached me, thanks to Jeff who had acted as a courier. The cost of shipping from US is exorbitant and then custom clearance is also a hassle. So when Jeff’s plan to travel here were finalized, I requested him if he could carry it for me and he readily agreed. Thus, I had Mark Hoover send this solution and other products from his store to Jeff and from Idaho, it reached me. By the way, this product works like magic and has reduced my (and now Abha’s…LOL) work by half. After a soak of about 4 hours, Jeff took the stem out, cleaned it under running tap water, wiped it with microfiber cloth and ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the airway to remove the liquid from the internals of the stem. It was amazing to see the transformation in the stem.While the stem was soaking in the “liquid gold”, Abha and Jeff reamed out the cake from the chamber using the first three heads of the Castleford reamer. The amount of carbon that was reamed out belied our initial expectations. This was followed by sanding the walls of the chamber with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper by our little expert on this step, Pavni, my youngest daughter. She just loves doing this task and takes immense pride in making the walls smooth. Dear readers don’t even think for a moment that we were sitting idle while all this work was in progress! All this while, Steve and I were deeply engrossed in admiring the pipes from my collection and sipping on our cold, chilled and frosted Beer…LOL!! Once the chamber was cleaned and spruced up, the duo launched an irrepressible and determined assault on the clogged mortise. The battle was so severe that at one point we thought that Jeff and Abha would throw in the towel, but they persisted and a pile of pipe cleaners, q tips and gallons of isopropyl alcohol later, the mortise was declared clean. When Jeff admitted this to be one of the filthiest cleanings he had undertaken, I smiled inwardly as all of my grand old man’s pipes were in such a state!!When Abha and Jeff declared that they were through with their cleaning, Steve just glanced at their expressions and the pile of pipe cleaners and q tips in front and immediately started to work further on the stummel (he is indeed a very wise man, I say!!) and seeing him and them, I too left the comfort of my perch to lend him a helping hand.

We cleaned the surface of the stummel with cotton pads and Murphy’s oil soap. The deep rustications were thoroughly scrubbed to remove the grime and dirt lodged between them. This was followed by a wash and a scrub under running tap water using a hard bristled tooth brush. The stummel looks clean and vibrant at this stage with the brown tips of the rustications contrasting majestically against the dark of the rest of the stummel surface. Next we addressed the heavy oxidation on the vulcanite shank extension. I was mentally prepared for lot of elbow greasing using sandpapers, when Steve just dabbed the shank extension with alcohol, flamed it with a Bic lighter flame and rigorously scrubbed it with the microfiber cloth. A couple of repetitions and the shank extension is clean and oxidized surface is history. This was an interesting learning for me. I followed it up with micromesh cycle of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the shank extension and set it aside. The contrast of the shiny black shank extension with the rustications looks amazing and adds additional bling to an already beautiful pipe.We further revitalized the briar by rubbing “Before and After Restoration” balm deep in to the briar. Care was taken to ensure that the balm is applied within the surfaces of the rustications by rubbing the balm with our fingers. The stummel was set aside for 20 minutes for letting the balm be absorbed by the briar. With the stummel resting, we turned our attention to the stem repairs. As appreciated earlier, it was decided to address the minor tooth chatter by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and if this fails, progress to the next process. Steve did the honors and sanded the tooth chatter with the sandpaper as decided. He also worked the button to crisp edges. Fortunately, the issue of tooth chatter was completely addressed.The task of polishing fell on me. Under the watchful eye of my mentor, Steve, I went through the complete cycle of micromesh pads, wet sanding through 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem clean with a moist cloth to observe the progress. Once I was through with the micromesh polish cycle, I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem and set it aside. The stem looks amazing and the, now clean, diamond inlay adds additional bling to an already beautiful pipe. We finished this project with a vigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth and worked it to a nice, rich and deep shine. It was a wonderful experience to work with these gurus of pipe restoration. Their knowledge about all things pipes and tobacco is just amazing. Their precise, measured movements and speed while working on a pipe, is a treat to watch and emulate. Here are pictures of the finished pipe…cheers.

Pipes by Bertram, Washington, D.C. Catalogue from 1950

Blog by Steve Laug

With the large collection of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased I have been looking for a catalogue of shapes from the company. We have over 200 of them that we purchased from a fellow who bought them at an auction in the shop when they closed down. The issue for us is trying to communicate between Vancouver and Idaho Falls what shape photos I need at any given time. Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages used to be a great resource but it is gone now. I found a couple of pages that were teasers on Pipedia showing the pages 2-3 and 6-7. This made me want to find more. I finally found a good portion of the catalogue through a layered search through Pinterest and other sites. The link is to a Cyrillic site that is a pipe history blog and they had the majority of the catalogue (https://historypipe.blogspot.com/2017/06/1950-pipes-by-bertram-washington-dc.html). I have saved the pages and added one from Pipedia… I am only missing a few pages now – pages 4-5, 18-19 and 20-21. Perhaps I will find those one day. Hope you find some use in this catalogue. Thanks.

Another CBP Hudson Bay Canadian from the Bertrams Lot

Blog by Steve Laug

Give the previous blogs a read to have an idea about the Bertram Collection that I am working on these days. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. Jeff is doing the major cleanup on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes the next one I chose was a long shank C.B.P. Hudson Bay Canadian. There were two C.B.P. brand pipes in the lot and both were long shank Canadians. Like the first one this one also had a smooth finish that was dirty but the grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It had a long shank and short stem. There was very little cake in the bowl and the rim top looked almost pristine. The stem was oxidized and had some pitting on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to give an idea of its condition before he did his cleanup. 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 looked really good with a light lava and grime coat. There were some small nicks on the rim top and outer edge but other than that it was very clean. The bowl had a very thin cake and was quite clean.He also took photos of the sides of the bowl and heel to show the interesting grain on the pipe. The finish is very dirty and it looks like there are a few fills in the briar but this is another interesting pipe. Jeff took photos to capture the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the top side which read C.B.P. over Hudson Bay. The stamping on the underside read Algerian Briar. All the stamping on the pipe is clear and readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the pitting and oxidation on the surface of both sides of the stem. There are also some nicks on the edge of the button.I had already cleaned another CBP Hudson Bay Canadian and written a blog about it so I turned once again to have a look at the information on the brand that I included on that blog. Here is the link to the previous blog – https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/06/the-3-pipe-from-a-collection-of-bertrams-and-others-a-cbp-hudson-bay-canadian/. I quote from the information found there and also include the pictures that I had tracked down about the brand.

Now it was time to try to unravel the mystery of the stamping on the shank of this pipe. The stamping Algerian Briar was clear but did not tell me who the maker of the pipe was. The clue that I had to work with was the stamping on the top of the shank – C.B.P. Hudson Bay. With that I had two options to check out – would there be a listing anywhere for the C.B.P. brand or would there be anything under Hudson Bay. I turned first to look for anything about the C.B.P. brand. I looked on WMTP (Who Made That Pipe) and there was nothing. I looked on Pipedia and there was nothing. I looked on the PipePhil site and there was nothing. I looked at the same sites for the Hudson Bay stamp. The results were the same. I stopped and paused for a moment and thought about the initials. What brand did I know that fit the C.B.P. logo? There was only one that I could remember – short memory or short list? Your call. That brand was C.B. Perkins. I turned again to PipePhil and Pipedia and I found some help.

First on the PipePhil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html) I found a connection. I have included a screen capture below to show what I saw. Not counting the CBP in an oval logo on the stem what caught my eye was the C.B.P. Heritage stamp on the shank. Now I had the connection I was looking for – C.B.P. was linked to C.B. Perkins. Now I needed to have a look at Pipedia and see what I could find out about the brand.

I checked first in the Pipemaker list by country that is on the site and could not find the brand. I then did a quick search on Pipedian and found this link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/C.B._Perkins. I quote from that site in full.

The first C.B. Perkins store opened in Boston in the early 1900’s. Perkins quickly became the leading retail tobacconist in New England, a position it held for over 75 years. In 1986 Perkins management sold their Pennsylvania and New Jersey stores to DES Tobacco Corporation.

DES is a wholly owned subsidiary of the S. Frieder and Sons Company. S. Frieder and Sons had been a cigar manufacturer since 1920. In 1978 S. Frieder sold its manufacturing business to United States Tobacco so it could focus all its assets and energy on the retail tobacco business under the name of DES Tobacco. Thus, the merger of C.B. Perkins and DES represented four generations of tobacco experience.

There were also some photos of the shop and business card courtesy of Doug Valitchka. I am including those here as well. Now I knew that I was dealing with a Tobacco Pipe Shop pipe from C.B. Perkins. However they did not make pipes but tended to have pipes made for them by English pipe maker such as Comoys, GBD and others. So that is where the hunt ends. There are no COM stamps on the pipe and no shape numbers to help nail down a maker. The shape reminds me a lot of both of those makers. But at least I know what the C.B.P. stamp means. Now it is time to work on this pipe.

Before I began my part of the restoration I summarize Jeff’s work on the pipe and include photos of what the pipe looked like when I received it in Vancouver. 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 grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition of the rim top. Other than minor scratches and nicks it was in great condition. Both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show the pitted surface of the vulcanite and some nicks in the button edge on both sides. There were light tooth marks and chatter on this stem.I polished the rim top and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of 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. Once again I am surprised by how the Balm really makes the grain stand out. The pipe really looks good at this point and the grain stands out beautifully. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the pitting on the surface of the stem. I started polishing the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and took the following photos.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit 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 and set it aside to dry. When I get to this point in the refurbishing or restoration process I get excited to see what the finished pipe will look like. It is time to buff and wax it. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite stem until there was a rich shine. The polished briar came alive with buffing and the straight, swirled and flame grain just popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem developed a rich glow. The finished pipe is a long shank Canadian shaped pipe that really is a comfortable handful of briar. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are looking for a long shank Canadian from a historic Pipe Shop – C.B. Perkins this might just be what you are looking for. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.

Re-Discovering Brigham’s Canuck Line of Pipes and Rehabilitating Two Prototypes – Part I

I love it when Charles finds these historical pieces… it is the kind of thing I love to find myself too. So… I get to enjoy it vicariously! Thanks Charles. Looking forward to the restorations on these lovelies.

Every now and again, a pipe collector comes across something really special. I had one such moment recently which I’m excited to share with all of you.

A few months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Hamilton, Ontario requesting some help in identifying a couple of old Brigham pipes he had acquired. This in itself isn’t that unusual for me – this blog is chock full of posts about Brigham pipes, and I field questions about the brand regularly. This time, however, the pictures attached to the email showed something I don’t usually see – two non-system Brigham pipes – a Bulldog and a Pot.


The pipes were in pretty rough shape but the nomenclature was easily read. Both pipes are stamped with the old Brigham script logo, with the tail of the “m” turning back underneath the word. Most often, I see this logo with the Brigham…

View original post 648 more words

Reflections on Turkish Block Acquisition

Blog by Fred Bass

The following was an article that Fred Bass sent me to hold in my files for him. The idea was that he was going to use it some time in the near future for a book he was working on Meerschaum pipes. Sadly that book was not completed to my understanding. It is an interesting short article that also became the base of a discussion on Smoker’s Forum All thing meerschaum group. RIP Fred, you are missed. Give the article a read!

February 1, 2009

This is about general considerations that have served me in decisions about purchases. It’s not an exhaustive guide, but more a line of thought brought by Buyer’s experience in the Meerschaum trades. I buy Pipes to smoke, so I don’t buy antiques.

I’ll start with new Turkish Block Pipes. Going from the starting point of looking at the works of favored Carvers, I’ll look at Pipes until one calls me. The best Carvers use the best block, which is the most important point of judging a Pipe’s quality. High grade Turkish Meerschaum is light in weight, is very porous, has no inclusions or deficits and has a pearl like translucent quality. It does not look like chalk. High grade Block will provide a cool and dry smoke, in addition to coloring well. Lesser grades will produce smoking experiences of less quality…, which is not to say that this is bad since a cheapie Meer will provide a better smoke than many other materials.

You are more likely to encounter Pressed Meerschaum (a composite of Meerschaum chips & epoxy) with No Name Meers and products of disreputable Carvers & Name Brands. High Grade Carver specific Pipes cost more, but you will have a Pipe that the Carver will take care of, should anything go wrong. This is an important consideration since Meerschaum is a product of nature and can possess flaws that become noticed only after the Pipe is smoked. These are Pipes that mean less to the Carver than the importance of his reputation, so you get a Pipe that is the best the Carver can produce. Bad news travels fast and reputation is everything in this cottage industry.

Other considerations, such as size, artistic merit and how well the Pipe fits into your world are worth consideration. The established Carvers will want premium price for their work, but there is never a question of quality. It’s a good idea to confirm that the picture you see is that of the Pipe that you want and whether a Case exists or is yet to be made. If the Pipe & Case are yet to be made, then determine how long it will take to be shipped to you. These same issues are best understood by both Buyer & Seller on commissioned Pipes as well. You can establish the quality of the Block and the color & material of the bit prior to payment.

When I’m evaluating a Pipe from an upcoming Carver, an estate Pipe or from a Retailer that I’ve not dealt with before, I first try to establish dialogue. No dialogue, no deal. If the estate Pipe Seller has little knowledge about his/her Pipe, I’ll still try and get information on the Pipe’s condition, type of connector joint and dimensions. The estate Seller should discuss the Pipe in the pre-sale encounter or I don’t bid. Sometimes, I discover that the Seller doesn’t know that the Pipe is a fraud, which is frequently the case with ‘Andreas Bauer’ and ‘Paul Fischer’ Pipes, in my experience. If you watch the Meerschaum markets, you will find promising Carvers who have yet to become well known. These Carvers will discuss their art with you and the prices can be very reasonable, as many will have just severed ties with Retailers and have started selling direct to Buyers. If there is something that you don’t see, then ask questions. Since I buy Meerschaums from the internet,

I ask a lot of questions. If the photos are poor quality and/or the Seller’s not answering your questions, then don’t put the coin down. I’ve touched on some of the major considerations involved in my own experiences, which are not offered as expert information. Instead, I’ve started this dialogue for all to share and participate in. I know little about the Antique market and just a bit about the African Block Pipes.

Another aspect of purchasing new Meerschaum Pipes, where some real bargains can be found, is the upcoming source of new Carvers. These are artisans that have been selling to Retailers and have established a degree of excellence, that promises to continue improving with time. At some point, they decide to break out on their own and start selling direct. They are trying to create a name for themselves and will use top quality Block as they attempt to establish a reputation with their art. The Pipes that are posted for sale will be the best effort that the Carver can produce and the prices will be lower, as there is no middleman to pay. Customer satisfaction will be the primary concern for these Carvers as they attempt to increase their market. This is a good time to get in on the action, since in time, as their work becomes more widely acknowledged for it’s superior quality, the prices will increase. This market is apparent to those who follow the Meerschaum trades. For the inexperienced, it is best to seek direction from more seasoned Pipesters and those that have access to the current markets. If you know what to look for, you can find some outstanding quality Pipes that appeal to your individual tastes, at very reasonable prices.

The Estate Meerschaum market is related to this in many ways, but there are differences. The first consideration that should be taken into account is the Pipe’s condition, and how much $$ it will cost to bring it into a smokable condition. This is not about Antiques, as they are more for Collectors than they are for those who buy Pipes to smoke. You should consider the cost of repair as the hidden total cost of the Pipe. If repairs have already been done on the Pipe, are they professional quality (?) and are they effective (?) are questions you should find out prior to purchase. Does the Seller know the Pipe’s legacy. Is the Pipe indeed what the brand designation on the case claims it to be, or is it a mediocre Pipe that has been put in a case of known reputation, in order to sell it for a higher price? If your plan is to continue to develop the Pipe’s Patina, does it look like the Pipe has been taken care of or did Uncle Charley use a blow torch to light it? Abused Meerschaums can be brought back to part of their former glory, but this takes time and the Patina is the most difficult to preserve and/or restore.

These are the basics, but by no means are they the whole story of either the Estate market or the newly initiated Carver direct seller. It is a good start on these issues and leaves room for the contributions of others, which is welcome.