Monthly Archives: July 2019

A Study in Opposites – Restoring a Hard Used C.P.F. Briar Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

After the last batch of very clean pipes that I brought back from my trip to Idaho in a small bag of unsmoked C.P.F. pipes this pipe comes as a big change. It is the first of the smoked ones from that bag that I am working on. I have to say working on NOS time dusty pipes is a breeze and a pleasure in comparison to this dirty little calabash. The bowl is another screw in meerschaum cup that is almost tulip or funnel shaped. It is dirty and sports a thick cake in the bowl. It has some thick lava on the back side of the rim top and some darkening around the rim and in the bowl. There are no deep chips or nicks in the meer which is unusual in a pipe this age but the bowl is almost grey from use. The base is briar with a brass/metal between the bowl and base. The finish on the briar had a coat of varnish or possibly shellac over it so it had a spotty shiny look to it even under the dirt and grime of years. The left side of the shank is stamped with gold leaf and reads Belmore over C.P.F. in the oval logo. The right side of the shank reads French Briar. There is a brass/silver ferrule on the shank end that is oxidized and also loose. The vulcanite stem had some tooth chatter and light marks near the button. It was oxidized as well. The stem had lost some of its bend over time. The tenon has a chip out of it as well that will need to addressed. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. I took a close up photo of the meerschaum rim top and bowl to show the condition of the meer bowl. It was heavily caked with lava overflow and darkening on the rim top. The airways are at the bottom of the bowl much like a gourd calabash though in this case there are three openings. The metal ferrule is oxidized and dirty. The photos of the vulcanite stem show its general condition. It was oxidized and dirty. There was tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the orifice button. The tenon had a chip on the topside that will need to be addressed.The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The band is loose and is stamped with the C.P.F. in an oval logo with the faux hallmarks that are on all of the metal banded C.P.F. pipes.I unscrewed the bowl from the pipe and took photos of the parts – the briar base and the meer bowl as well as all the adornments. It looks good on the inside. The threads in the base and on the meerschaum bowl are in good condition. I have included the following information with each of the blogs on C.P.F. pipes because I always want to keep the historical context in mind as I work on these. The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that CPF brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a CPF Chesterfield in our office display that has a name tag from way before my time that says 1900 CPF Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the CPF brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the CPF logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older CPF pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. CPF made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can tentatively date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank, ferrule and stem. At any rate it is another old pipe though this one is well smoked. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This batch of pipes has made me wish that even one of them could share its story with us. I can only imagine the journey it has had even minimally from the bits that I do know. It traveled from the Colossal Pipe Factory in New York City to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver, Canada, as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… what a well-traveled pipe. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I unscrewed the bowl from the briar base. I carefully scraped the rim top to remove the lava build up. I finished it up with a 1500 grit micromesh pad. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife to scrape away the cake on the walls. I wanted to avoid cracking or damaging the meer in any way so I chose this method. Once it was reamed, I sanded the internal walls with 220 sandpaper wrapped around a dowel until it was smooth. I wiped down the bowl with a damp cotton pad to remove the surface dirt. I cleaned out the sump area in the base with cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked on the airway in the bowl and shank and the mortise with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed until the airway was clean. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I am still experimenting with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the briar portion of the pipe and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I forgot to take photos of this point in the process.

I sanded the old glue and dirt off the shank and then I spread some Weldbond white glue on the shank end. I spread it evenly on the shank end with a tooth pick. I pressed the brass ferrule on the shank end and aligned it so that the C.P.F. oval logo and the faux hallmarks lined up with the stamping on the left side of the shank. I rubbed the briar bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I glued the metal spacer on top of the base plate making sure all was aligned properly before I pressed them into place.I polished the meerschaum bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. Each successive sanding pad brought more shine to the meerschaum. There was a scratch in the meerschaum on one side of the bowl about 1/3 up from the bottom of the bowl. It appears to look like a crack but it is not one. If I had continued to sand it I would have changed the profile of the bowl. I put the meerschaum cup back in the briar bowl and buffed it with microfiber cloth to raise a shine. The scratch at the front of the bowl is visible but it is still a beautiful pipe.I set the bowl aside and started working on the stem. I filled in the damaged area on the tenon on the top side with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repaired area. I smoothed out the tenon repair and sanded out the tooth chatter and marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded out the scratches with 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.I heated the vulcanite stem over a candle until the rubber had softened and bent the stem to the proper angle to match the curve of the base.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. By now if you have read rebornpipes for very long you know that I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the Colossal Pipe Factory to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little bent Meerschaum stacked Calabash is a real beauty.

I screwed the bowl back on the base and carefully polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 on the base and shank really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown stain on the bowl works well with the polished Meerschaum bowl that is also beginning to take on colour. The black vulcanite stem also provides contrast. 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: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another one that I will be adding to my collection. It fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Since this one is already well smoked it will be an easy pipe to load and fire up. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old meerschaum stack Calabash from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

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Cleaning up a NOS Unsmoked C.P.F. Briar Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

Among the pipes that I brought back from my trip to Idaho was a small bag of C.P.F. pipes smoked and unsmoked. Some have horn stems, some vulcanite stems and some have Gutta- percha bases and stems. Some have hardwood bowls and some briar. There were also several that had meerschaum bowls. I went through the bag and chose the next pipe I wanted to work on. It was an unsmoked C.P.F. briar calabash with a screw in meerschaum bowl. The finish had a coat of varnish or possibly shellac over it so it had a spotty shiny look to it. The left side of the shank is stamped with gold leaf and reads C.P.F. in the oval logo. The meerschaum bowl was unsmoked but still had a lot of dust and debris inside. The vulcanite stem had the C.P.F. in an oval logo stamped on the top of the saddle. It had a few nicks in the top side but was undamaged. It was much like the stems I have worked on that are in the C.P.F. Chesterfield pipes with a faux system stem with the airway still coming out at the end of the button. It was a military style push stem. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. I took a close up photo of the meerschaum rim top and bowl to show the condition of the meer insert. It was clean but dusty and grimy. The airways are at the bottom of the bowl much like a gourd calabash though in this case there are three of them. The rim top showed some soiling on the top and sides of the bowl. The photos of the vulcanite stem show its general condition. It was dull but unused so it should clean up well.The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The band is stamped with the C.P.F. in an oval logo with the faux hallmarks that are on all of the metal banded C.P.F. pipes.I unscrewed the bowl from the pipe and took photos of the briar base and the meer insert. Both look good on the inside. The threads are not too badly worn.I went back and read a previous blog that I had written on the brand to reacquaint myself. The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can tentatively date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank, ferrule and stem. At any rate it is another old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is another of those times that I wish an old pipe could speak and share the story of its journey. The most I can say is that it came from New York to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver Canada as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… What a well-traveled pipe and one that I will never really know the story about the nature of the journey. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I unscrewed the bowl from the briar base. I wiped down the bowl with a damp cotton pad to remove the surface dirt. I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. Each successive sanding pad brought more shine to the meerschaum. I set the meer insert aside and turned my attention to the briar. I am still experimenting with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the briar portion of the pipe and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. One of the nice features of working on a NOS pipe is that the internals are very clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and shank just to remove dust. I did the same in the mortise with a cotton swab and the internals were finished.

I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I set this part of the bowl aside and started working on the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. By now if you have read the rebornpipes long, you know that I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the C.P.F. Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little bent calabash is a real beauty. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. I screwed the cleaned and polished meerschaum calabash bowl insert into the bowl and was very pleased with how it looked. 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: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the CPF niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Once again, I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old meerschaum calabash from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

 

Restoring a NOS Unsmoked C.P.F. Black Well Gutta-percha P-lip


Blog by Steve Laug

As mentioned in several recent blogs, one of the great packages I brought back from my trip to Idaho was a small bag of C.P.F. pipes smoked and unsmoked. Jeff is pretty sure they came from an antique shop in Montana where we have picked up some nice C.P.F. pipes in the past. Some of these have horn stems while others have Gutta-percha bases. Some have briar or hardwood bowls while some have meerschaum bowls. I went through the bag and chose the next pipe I wanted to work on. It was an unsmoked C.P.F. Gutta-percha base with a briar bowl that is stamped Black Well on the left side of the shank over the C.P.F. in an oval logo. The base and stem is a single unit and the button is a classic Peterson P-lip style with the airway coming out on the top of the button aiming the smoke onto the palate. The bowl was dirty but unsmoked and had a thin coat of varnish or possibly shellac over it so it had a spotty shiny look to it. Other than being dirty the base and stem were in good condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the unsmoked briar. It was clean but dusty and grimy. The rim top showed some wear in the shellac coat that was on the rest of the bowl. The photos of the Gutta-percha base and stem show its general condition. It was dull but unused so it should clean up well. There was some oxidation on the bend in the top of the shank. The button is a classic Peterson style P-lip with the airway coming out on top of the stem.The next photo shows the stamping on the shank and the band. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. There is a faint gold leaf in the stamping.I took the bowl off the base to give a picture of how the pipe came apart. You can see the threads on the bottom of the bowl that screw into the base.Before I start working on a pipe I like to review the history or background on the brand. I have done that on all the C.P.F. pipes I have restored. So as always I include some of the material I have written on the brand to remind myself and you readers about the history of this great brand of American made smoking pipes. If you remember this you can skip ahead to the restoration, The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

I also am including some background material on Gutta-percha and the variety of cast products that were sold. Here is the link to the blog I wrote on the material if you are interested in reading about the material and seeing some of the pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/08/59256/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

That led me to do some research on the web to see what I could find out about the material. (Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Google. I don’t know how I survived college and graduate school without it.) The first link I found and turned to was on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutta-percha). I quote large portions of that article below to set the base for understanding the material’s composition and origin.

Scientifically classified in 1843, it was found to be a useful natural thermoplastic. In 1851, 30,000 long cwt (1,500,000 kg) of gutta-percha was imported into Britain. During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes, and it became a household word. In particular, it was needed as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, which, according to author John Tully, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

According to Harvey Wickes Felter and John Uri Lloyd’s Endodontology: “Even long before Gutta-percha was introduced into the western world, it was used in a less processed form by the natives of the Malaysian archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and other purposes. The first European to discover this material was John Tradescant, who collected it in the Far East in 1656. He named this material “Mazer wood”. Dr. William Montgomerie, a medical officer in Indian service, introduced gutta-percha into practical use in the West. He was the first to appreciate the potential of this material in medicine, and he was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts, London in 1843.”

…In the mid-19th century, gutta-percha was also used to make furniture, notably by the Gutta-Percha Company (established in 1847). Several of these ornate, revival-style pieces were shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. When hot it could be moulded into furniture, decorations or utensils.

It was also used to make “mourning” jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes. Pistol hand grips and rifle shoulder pads were also made from gutta-percha, since it was hard and durable, though it fell into disuse when plastics such as Bakelite became available. The material was adopted for other applications. The “guttie” golf ball (which had a solid gutta-percha core) revolutionized the game. Gutta-percha remained an industrial staple well into the 20th Century, when it was gradually replaced with superior (generally synthetic) materials, though a similar and cheaper natural material called balatá is often used in gutta-percha’s place. The two materials are almost identical, and balatá is often called gutta-balatá.

From that information I can date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank. The Gutta-percha base and stem also place it in a similar time period at the close of the 19th Century. At any rate it is an old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is one of those times that I wish an old pipe could speak and share the story of its journey. The most I can say is that it came from New York to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver Canada as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… What a well-traveled pipe and one that I will never really know the story about the nature of the journey. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I took the bowl off the base to deal with the varnish/shellac coat and some of the dark spots on the rim and bowl sides. I am still experimenting with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the bowl and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. One of the nice features of working on a NOS pipe is that the internals are very clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the bowl and shank just to remove dust and the internals were finished. I directed my attention to polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I rubbed the bowl down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and started working on the Gutta-percha base. There some oxidation on the top of the shank portion of the base. There was also some oxidation on the stem. I scrubbed the base with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with warm water inside and out. I dried it off with a soft microfiber cloth. I polished the base with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. As I have said before, I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some information that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the C.P.F. Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This one not only had a better carved bowl than the pistol pipe that I just finished but it was a really nice piece of briar. The bowl was carved to take advantage of the grain.

This Gutta-percha Black Well pipe is very well made. There may be one small fill on the bowl just above the decorative bead on the bottom of the bowl. It is hard to see as it is well blended. I put the bowl on the base and polished the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the base 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 stood out against the polished Gutta-percha black base. It seemed to take on life with the buffing.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: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have yet another hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old timer from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

Cleaning up an Unsmoked Gutta-percha Pistol Pipe with a Flawed Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the great packages I brought back from my trip to Idaho was a small bag of C.P.F. pipes smoked and unsmoked. Some have horn stems; some have Gutta-percha bases and stems. I went through the bag and chose the next pipe I wanted to work on. It was an unsmoked Gutta-percha pistol pipe with a wooden bowl. I say wooden as it did not appear to be briar. There is no stamping on the barrel (shank) or on the body of the pistol. The maker is thus unknown. The shank had been snapped off and repaired – sloppily with what appears to be epoxy. There was a lot of residue left all over the barrel. The joint seemed solid and was pretty well aligned but would need to be sanded smooth and polished. The bowl was unsmoked but had a lot of dust and debris inside. It had a large flaw in the rim top extending down into the bowl from the rim to the bottom edge. There was a crack on the outside of the bowl at that point as well. A large flaw in the wood was in wood opposite the crack. The finish was a poorly varnished red over the flaws. The finished needed to go to make the repairs. I took photos of the pipe before I began my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the unsmoked bowl as well as the flaw on the top. The flaw is very visible at the bottom of the photo and on the left side of the bowl. It was clean but dusty and grimy. The photos of the pistol shaped base show its general condition and the poor repair to the broken off barrel. There was a lot of dust and grime in the small casting features on the base. It still should clean up well.The next photo shows the details of the casting of the pistol. It is a well cast model that has great detail in the parts of the pistol. The grips and barrel as well as the cylinder in the middle are well cast (incidentally you can also see the repaired crack in the barrel).Because I was once again working with a Gutta-percha cast pipe I went back and read a previous blog that I had written to reacquaint myself with the material and the variety of cast products that were sold. I remembered that I had included a photo in the blog of a trio of pistols that this one reminded me of. Here is the link to the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/08/59256/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

That led me to do some research on the web to see what I could find out about the material. (Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Google. I don’t know how I survived college and graduate school without it.) The first link I found and turned to was on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutta-percha). I quote large portions of that article below to set the base for understanding the material’s composition and origin.

Scientifically classified in 1843, it was found to be a useful natural thermoplastic. In 1851, 30,000 long cwt (1,500,000 kg) of Gutta-percha was imported into Britain. During the second half of the 19th century, Gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes, and it became a household word. In particular, it was needed as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, which, according to author John Tully, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

According to Harvey Wickes Felter and John Uri Lloyd’s Endodontology: “Even long before Gutta-percha was introduced into the western world, it was used in a less processed form by the natives of the Malaysian archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and other purposes. The first European to discover this material was John Tradescant, who collected it in the Far East in 1656. He named this material “Mazer wood”. Dr. William Montgomerie, a medical officer in Indian service, introduced Gutta-percha into practical use in the West. He was the first to appreciate the potential of this material in medicine, and he was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts, London in 1843.”

…In the mid-19th century, Gutta-percha was also used to make furniture, notably by the Gutta-Percha Company (established in 1847). Several of these ornate, revival-style pieces were shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. When hot it could be molded into furniture, decorations or utensils.

It was also used to make “mourning” jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes. Pistol hand grips and rifle shoulder pads were also made from Gutta-percha, since it was hard and durable, though it fell into disuse when plastics such as Bakelite became available. The material was adopted for other applications. The “guttie” golf ball (which had a solid Gutta-percha core) revolutionized the game. Gutta-percha remained an industrial staple well into the 20th Century, when it was gradually replaced with superior (generally synthetic) materials, though a similar and cheaper natural material called balatá is often used in Gutta-percha’s place. The two materials are almost identical, and balatá is often called Gutta-balatá.

When I reread the blog I found the photo that I had remembered with three pistol pipes with wooden bowls and Gutta-percha bases. I include copy of that photo below. The one that I have is very similar to these with the expected variations.From that information I can give a potential date for the pipe as having been made in the late 19th to early 20th century – the period when Gutta-percha was in vogue. During that period many items were cast of the material because it could easily be cast with detail and because of its durability. For me the interesting fact is the old pipe remained unsmoked for this long. That may well be the result of the flaw in the bowl and the desire to not make it worse. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is one of those times that I wish an old pipe could speak and share the story of its journey. What a well-traveled pipe and one that I will never really know the story about the nature of the journey. Armed with that information it was now time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I took it off the base so that I could address the horrible finish and then work on the flaws in the wood. I took a photo of the crack on the outside of the bowl and the flaw on the top and inside. I also took a photo of the pipe taken apart before beginning my restoration. I started the clean up on bowl with working to remove the varnish or shellac coat. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad to break down the shiny top coat and had very minimal success. I would need to resort to more intrusive measure to truly remove the finish. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sand paper to break through the thick shiny coat on the rim top. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the thick shiny coat and get down to the wood. I repeatedly washed the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad during the sanding process to see how it was progressing. It was clearly not a piece of briar that I was working on so I wanted to be sure to clean it off before restaining. I examined the crack on the outside of the bowl and it appeared to actually be a grain line. I examined it with a lens to double check. There was a small hairline crack for the first ¼ inch from the rim top. I ran a bead of clear super glue down the line and let it seep into the crack. I held it tight until the glue set. For the flaw on the inside of the bowl I filled it in with clear super glue and briar dust to rebuild the damaged area of the wall.Once the repair had cured I sanded the inside and outside of the bowl smooth again with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. All of this was done in preparation for the first coat of stain. I had decided to stain it with a base coat of Fiebing’s Tan stain as it has a red tint to it. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I generally put a cork in the bowl which allows me to manipulate the bowl and a candle stand to let the stain cure. I took pictures of the bowl after the stain had cured overnight. I noted that the inner edge of the rim needed a bit more work before the next stain coat that I had chosen. I filled it in with more super glue and briar dust until the edge was filled in. I sanded it and the spot on the rim top smooth. I decided to use a Mahogany stain pen for the next coat. Because the grain was vertical I stain the bowl vertically with the pen. The next photos show the bowl after the stain coat has been applied. I lightly, cautiously buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave it a coat of carnauba wax and buffed it with  a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I took the following photos after that. There is a bit more polishing to go but you can see where I am heading with the stain coat.I set the bowl aside at this point and went to work on the base and “barrel”. Because of all the nooks and crannies in the casting it was very dusty and dirty. I scrubbed the base with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get the debris and dust out of the crevices and valleys. I rinsed it under warm water and ran a pipe cleaner through the airway. The pipe looked really god at this point and it was ready from the next step of sanding the “barrel”. Now that the grime was cleaned off it was time to address the sloppy repair on the cracked “barrel” and clean up the excess glue around the repair. I sanded the “barrel” with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess glue that was around the repaired area of the broken shank. I sanded the “barrel” and the mouthpiece end to remove not only the glue but also the casting marks that were left behind from when the pipe was made. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Over the last few years I have come to appreciate the workmanship that went into creating the molds for these Gutta-percha pipe bases. The combination of design and skill that went into the molds is reflected in the cast Gutta-percha pipe bases. The creativity exceeds even the most ornately carved clay in terms of the minute detail that can be cast into the Gutta-percha material. I have yet to find as much care going into the pipe bowls as I have seen them made from a variety of woods and showing less craftsmanship in shaping or finishing them. Almost all of the ones I have worked on used a dark stain that hides the grain and a heavy varnish coat that covers a multitude of flaws. Nevertheless, these pipes have endured for over 125 years and look much like they did when they were made – at least underneath the grime and grit of use and time. This little revolver really captures the look and feel of a pistol in the details of the casting. Though this one was unsmoked (in part due to the flaws in the bowl) even the smoked ones that I have seen have lasted a long time.

I finished my restoration and put the base and bowl back together and gently polished with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast between the newly stained wooden bowl and the dark Gutta-percha base looks really good. 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: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the American Made Pipe niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old Gutta-percha Pistol Pipe from late 19th Century. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

A Denver Christmas Karl Erik Heading for the Black Sea Beach!


Blog by Dal Stanton

Last Christmas, my wife and I made the trek from Bulgaria to Denver to celebrate the holidays with our family – renewing relationships with our growing number of grandchildren in the US!  Living and serving in Bulgaria is a deeply fulfilling life, but we miss our family and this Christmas reunion was a wonderful close to the year.  One of the highlight activities with the ‘Ole Man’ (that would be me) is to go pipe picking at the various secondhand stores and antique shops in the Denver area.  My main aim during these picking expeditions is to add pipes to the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection to benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  One of the favorite spots I’ve picked before is the huge Brass Armadillo Antique Mall where you can spend hours and we did.  There were many pipes, but few were priced favorably enough for me to justify acquiring for the Daughters, but I did see one particular pipe that I ‘ooooo’d and ahhhh’d’ over and my Denver-based daughter, Jocelyn, and her husband, Jordan, were watching me closely 😊.  Yes, you guessed it, the Karl Erik Handmade in Denmark B Freehand that I was drooling over, but was stressing my pocketbook too much, had been secretly squirrelled away from the Brass Armadillo.  I discovered it a few days late under the tree on Christmas morning – woohoo!  When you have a dad who does what I do, gift giving is never a problem!  This Dad has made out quite well from Jocelyn and Jordan’s gift-giving.  Along with the Karl Erik Handmade, a few years ago they gifted me the pictured unbelievable 1907 McLardy Silver Ferruled Gourd Calabash which I restored (see LINK) and have enjoyed as a treasure in my collection.  The McLardy was enjoying their fire pit in Jocelyn and Jordan’s back yard while I enjoyed the very mellow McClelland Dark Star loaded in the McLardy.  Rebornpipes’, very own Steve Laug, suggested Dark Star as a good way to inaugurate the McLardy Gourd Calabash.  As usual, Steve was on the money! I love my family and I’m thankful to God for each one of our 5 children and the spouses they’ve found (one is still working on that!) and the now, 5 grandchildren they have brought into the world.  My younger daughter from Nashville, and her husband, Niko, joined me out by the firepit while we each enjoyed a Christmas bowl together at the foot of the Rocky Mountains – trying to stay warm!The Karl Erik is now on the worktable back in Bulgaria and was pulled out of my personal collection ‘Help Me!’ basket to restore.  Now Summer, mid-July, my wife and I will be heading to the Black Sea coast for a few days of R&R and I want to bring the Karl Erik with me!  He’s been waiting patiently for me in the basket and now on the worktable, I take some additional pictures to get a closer look at this striking Christmas gift. The nomenclature is located on the lower shank, just below the shank facing plateau.  Stamped there in cursive script is the name, ‘Karl Erik’ [over] HANDMADE IN DENMARK [over] B. Not long ago I worked on a Karl Erik, Knute of Denmark Freehand, that I gifted to my son, Josiah, upon his graduation with a Master’s Degree in counseling (see LINK).  The Freehand style was given to the pipe world by the Danish and Karl Erik was a major contributor.  Pipedia’s article gives the basic history which has been repeated many times – one more time for this Karl Erik on my worktable (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik):

Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942 – 2004) was born in Aalborg (Jutland), just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began smoking a pipe when he was 14 and upon leaving school he started an apprenticeship in the craft as a lithographer at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby. Many were given as gifts to his more senior colleagues. Upon completion of his apprenticeship he moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work as a lithographer during the 1962 war. While in that war-torn country, he was unable to procure pipes for himself. In the face of such a predicament, he chose to continue to make pipes for his own use rather than go without.

Returning to Denmark after three years he couldn’t find a well paid occupation in his job, and so he began making a few pipes on the side to boost his income choosing his prenames “Karl Erik” – logo “KE” – for his label. When he managed to find some major Copenhagen pipe stores willing to sell his pieces his reputation grew little by little and he was finally able to purchase more and better machinery and began working full time as a pipe maker.

One other paragraph from the Karl Erik article in Pipedia referenced above is noteworthy in understanding this pipe man who died in 2004:

As one of the few notable Danes Karl Erik Ottendahl dedicated himself to the needs of the normal pipe smoker with a normal income. In the end he was one of the last of this tier. He never made any pretense of the fact that his “hand mades” were prefabricated to a large extent on automated machines and only the last steps of fine-shaping and finishing were carefully made by hand. But he never employed a copy milling, so many KE pipes may look very similar but not two are identical. As well the bulk of the stems was supplied by Stanwell in a close-to-finished state. Stanwell also did the sand blasting for KE to a large extent.

One more bit of information from Pipedia helped me understand the “B” in the nomenclature.  Regarding the grading system for Karl Erik pipes it said:

KE’s new grading used numbers ascending from D to A. The unique “Ekstravagant” pipes C, B, A, AA to AAA. These superb pieces of remarkable quality were, almost certainly, the least expensive high- quality handmade pipes coming from Denmark today!

What this tells me is that the ‘B’ rating is just under the best, ‘A’ rating regarding quality.  My Black Sea beach bound Karl Erik got my attention at the Brass Armadillo in Denver because of the sweeping vertical grain that defines and encircles the Freehand bowl – reaching upward to the expressive plateau.  I’m thankful that he doesn’t need too much attention to be recommissioned!  The chamber has light cake buildup and the plateau surfaces, bowl and shank facing, are dirty.  The smooth briar is in great shape and only needs cleaning.  The grain is pristine – I detect few very small scratches from normal wear and no fills, which one would expect with a Karl Erik higher grade I suppose!  The stem has very mild tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit and a small compression on the upper lip.  To begin, to address the very mild oxidation, I add the Karl Erik fancy stem to a soak of Before and After Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%. After a few hours soaking, I fish out the KE stem and after draining the Deoxidizer, I wipe the stem with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clear the Deoxidizer liquid. To continue to rejuvenate the stem, I then add a coat of paraffin oil to the vulcanite and put it aside.Turning now to the Handmade’s stummel, I take a closeup showing the chamber and the mild carbon cake build up.  To remove the cake to give the briar a fresh start, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to start the job.  After putting paper towel down to help in clean up, I start by using the smallest blade head and then quickly graduate through two additional blade heads.  I then transition to using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and this does a great job getting down into the chamber’s hard-to-reach recesses.  Finally, I wrap a piece of 240 grade sanding paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber and follow by wiping it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it.  After an inspection of the cleaned chamber, I see no problems with burning or heating. Moving on to the external briar surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the briar with a cotton pad.  I also use a bristled toothbrush and a bit of a brass wire brush to clean the plateaus – bowl and shank facing.  After the scrubbing, I take the stummel to the sink and continue the cleaning by using a shank brush and kitchen dish soap to scrub the mortise using hot water.  After scrubbing, I rinse the stummel thoroughly. Now, moving to the internals I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to start the cleaning. Happily, I find that the internals are clean after the previous scrubbing with dish soap and shank brushes – I move on!I move on to applying the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stummel.  I start by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I absolutely love the way the micromesh pads coax and tease out the grain.  Beautiful vertical grain – possibly called ‘fire grain’! Before turning again to the stem, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  The B&A Balm does a great job pulling out the subtle hues of the grain.  I put some Balm on my fingers, and I work it into the briar surface.  For now, I do not apply it to the plateaus because I first need to do some further work.  I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.After about 20 minutes, I wipe off the excess Balm with a cotton cloth and then buff it with a microfiber cloth. Not bad!  I’m loving my Christmas gift!With the stummel on the sidelines for a time, I turn again to the Karl Erik fancy stem.  The light tooth chatter should be addressed easily.  I start using the heating method by painting the chatter with the flame of a Bic lighter.  The characteristics of the vulcanite expands as its heated to reclaim its original shape – or at least in part.  After painting with the Bic flame, I do a before and after picture for the upper and then lower.  There is a notable difference!

Upper before and after:Lower bit before and after:I continue using 240 grade sanding paper to dispatch the remaining chatter and compression on the upper button lip.  I also use the flat needle file to freshen the button.  I follow that with wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper and finishing this phase of sanding with 000 steel wool – upper then lower: Next, in order to recondition the stem, I apply Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polishes in succession.  For each, I apply using my fingers – rubbing the polish into the vulcanite and then putting aside for a few minutes to do its thing.  I then wipe the excess polish off with a paper towel and then buff the stem with a cloth.Turning again to the Karl Erik Handmade stummel, my next step is to freshen the plateau presentations.  Looking at examples of Karl Erik Freehand pipes, the treatment of the plateaus is even between leaving the plateaus the natural hue and darkening the plateau moonscape to provide a contrasting perspective.  With this Karl Erik, it appears that the plateau had color previously and so I decide to go in this direction.  The next two pictures mark the starting point for each plateau. The first step is to apply an Italian dye stick labeled Medio Noce, which is a very dark shade of brown that almost appears black.  I apply this in random ways along the ridges and valleys of both the rim and shank facing plateaus.  Then, more sparingly, I use a black Sharpie Pen to darken the more distinctive valleys.  I do this to give slight, subtle contrast in hues.  Forgetting to picture, I also use a fine point Sharpie to darken and accent to two small sculptings on the side of the stummel.Then to add more contrast, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 to ‘feather’ sand off the peaks of the ridges.  I like this contrasting effect – providing a rustic look that is attractive.I then apply some Before & After Restoration Balm to the plateaus and put the stummel aside to absorb.Back to the stem with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  I start by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to further condition the vulcanite. The stem is looking great! With the stem ready to go, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% full power.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to both the stem and the stummel of the Karl Erik Handmade. I keep the stem and stummel separated because it’s easier to rotate each piece individually.While applying the compound and working on the rim plateau, I realized that I was missing a great opportunity to release more grain to enjoy.  With a peaked Freehand style, I find that the inside wall of the plateau crest provides additional aesthetic enjoyment when it is sanded, and this allows a grain presentation on the chamber side.  I forgot to take a picture but borrow the previous picture during the B&A Balm to show the inside chamber wall – darkened and ignored.I decide to coax out this grain and use 240 and 320 grade papers in succession wrapped around the Sharpie Pen to sand this area.Following this, I use 600 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen.  I keep the sanding parallel to the chamber wall – I don’t want to bevel the internal lip eating into the plateau.  I follow the 600 grade paper by sanding the area through each of 9 micromesh pads – 1500 to 12000.The final step is to apply Blue Diamond compound to the chamber wall.  I like it.  It’s a small enhancement but I think it adds a classiness to an already very classy Karl Erik.With the application of the Blue Diamond compound completed, I wipe/buff the stem and stummel with a felt cloth to remove any residue compound dust in preparation of applying wax.  I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, maintain 40% power and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  After completing the application of the wax, I give stem and stummel (separately) a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to make sure all the excess wax is removed and to raise the shine even more.

This Karl Erik Handmade in Denmark is stunning, and a wonderful gift: Thanks Jocelyn and Jordan!  I’m pleased to add it to my collection!  He came along to the Black Sea and here I’m inaugurating his recommissioning with a bowl of my favorite blend, Lane BCA.  Thanks for joining me!

Cleaning up a NOS Unsmoked C.P.F. French Briar Rhodesian with a horn stem


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the great packages I brought back from my trip to Idaho was a small bag of C.P.F. pipes smoked and unsmoked. Some have horn stems; some have gutta percha bases and stems. I went through the bag and chose the next pipe I wanted to work on. It was an unsmoked C.P.F. French Briar Straight Rhodesian with a decorative bead between the twin rings separating the bowl from the cap. The finish had a coat of varnish or possibly shellac over it so it had a spotty shiny look to it. The top of the shank is stamped with gold leaf and reads C.P.F. in the oval logo with French arched over the top of the logo and Briar arched underneath. The bowl was unsmoked but still had a lot of dust and debris inside. It had a brass/silver band that had the typical C.P.F. faux hallmarks as well as the oval logo. The glue that held it in place had long since dried out and the band was loose. The horn stem had a few nicks in the top side but was undamaged. The threaded bone tenon was flawless and clean. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the unsmoked briar. It was clean but dusty and grimy. The rim top showed some wear in the shellac coat that was on the rest of the bowl. The photos of the horn stem show its general condition. It was dull but unused so it should clean up well.The next photo shows the stamping on the shank and the band. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The hallmarks are the now familiar faux hallmarks that I have found on all banded C.P.F. pipes.I went back and read a previous blog that I had written on the brand to reacquaint myself. The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can definitely date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank. The horn stem, bone tenon and decorative bead on the bowl also push for that earlier date. At any rate it is an old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is one of those times that I wish an old pipe could speak and share the story of its journey. The most I can say is that it came from New York to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver Canada as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… What a well-traveled pipe and one that I will never really know the story about the nature of the journey. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I took the stem off the bowl and the band on the shank came off very easily. I turned it to align it and then decided to take it off to clean up the shank end before I reglued it. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to break down the remaining shellac coat and remove the dried glue remnants left on the briar from the loose band.I am still experimenting with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the bowl and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. Once the shank and bowl were cleaned it was time to reglue the band. I coated the end of the shank with Weldbond white glue. I spread it on the shank with a tooth pick. I spread it around and make it even. I pressed the band into place on the shank and wiped away the excess glue that squeezed out from under the band. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to make sure it was clean. I set it aside to let the glue cure.One of the nice features of working on a NOS pipe is that the internals are very clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and shank just to remove dust. I did the same in the mortise with a cotton swab and the internals were finished. I directed my attention to polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar – using a pipe cleaner to work it into the twin rings and the bead work. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and started working on the stem. There was a small hole at the top of the stem on the face behind the bone tenon. I filled in the hole with clear super glue and set it aside. I sanded the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches in the surface of the horn. I polished out the scratches with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the C.P.F. Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little straight shank, horn stem Rhodesian is a real beauty. There may be one small fill on the bowl cap just above the decorative bead on the right side of the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished striated horn 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: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old Rhodesian from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

Cleaning up a gift WDC Marlborough Twin Bore Bent Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the gifts I brought home from Pune, India and my visit with Paresh, Abha, Mudra and Pavni was one of his Grandfather’s unique pipes. It is an old timer that is very similar to a CPF Cromwell pipe that I restored previously. I referred to this very pipe in that blog. Here is the link to the blog on that pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). Paresh’s Grandfather was obviously gifted this old pipe. It did not appear to have been smoked very much (unlike the other pipes that Paresh received from him). Like the C.P.F. pipes from this time period this WDC Marlborough has some real charm. It is on the petite side of things – 4 ½ inches long and 1 3/4 inches tall. It is not a bad piece of briar, a mix of grains. The brass/silver collar on the shank is stamped with faux hallmarks and the WDC triangle logo. The stem is the unusual part of the mix. It has two brass plated spigot tenons that fit into openings in the shank collar. The twin stems merge into one single airway. Looking at it I could not wait to examine it and see the internals in the mortise and shank. The finish was worn but the pipe looked like it still had some life in it. The left side of the shank is stamped in worn gold leaf Marlborough in script. The right side of the shank is stamped in gold leaf with the WDC Triangle logo. The stem is also stamped on the left side with the WDC triangle and SOLID RUBBER on the right side. I took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to show the uniqueness and the condition before I started my cleanup work. I took some close up photos of the bowl top to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work on it. I also included some close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The finish looks very good with a little dust and debris on the briar.The stamping on the left side of the shank and stem is readable – Marlborough on the shank in gold leaf and WDC in a triangle on the stem. It is clear and readable. You can also see the hallmark and logo on the brass/silver band. The stamping on the right side of the shank and stem is also clear. The shank reads WDC in a triangle in gold leaf and the stem reads SOLID RUBBER. I took the stem out of the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. You can see the dual ports in the shank and the dual ports in the stem. I turned to the previous blog on the CPF pipe to refresh my memory of the information I had found at that point in the processs (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). I quote from that blog and also include a diagram that I did on the airflow of the pipe.

I did some digging online and found a WDC Marlborough that had a similar configuration though far more boxy. It did not have the elegance that the C.P.F. does in my opinion. Playing around with the mechanics of the smoke and how it flowed through the stem I examined the dual mortise and the way the stem was laid out. I fed a pipe cleaner through the stem and found that natural flow of the cleaner was from the button through the top of the stem and into the top mortise. I could plug the lower tenon and the air was unobstructed from tenon to button. When I plugged the upper tenon and blew air through it I could feel it against my fingertip and then it made its way out the lower tenon. The airflow seems to have flowed against my finger and back a short distance to an opening between the two stems and out. From that I figured out that the smoker draws smoke through the upper mortise and into the airway on the stem. It flows into the bottom stem and mortise (which is a sump like the Peterson System pipes have) where moisture is collected and the smoke exits up the lower stem and into the button and into the mouth of the smoker. In my online search I found a photo of the Marlborough with the airpath drawn out as I conceived it in my words above. I drew the same kind of pattern on the C.P.F. to show how it appeared from my experiments. I used the link on the previous blog to go back and read the online forum about the Marlborough pipe. Here is the link to the Marlborough (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/wdc-marlborough-double-airway).Now that I had a bit of the back story on the pipe from Paresh’s Grandfather’s collection it was time to go to work on it. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a clean damp cloth after each pad. I brought back a package of Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover from Idaho. He included a sample of a new product that he was experimenting with called Briar Cleaner. It is to be used prior to scrubbing (possibly instead of scrubbing with Murphy’s Oil Soap) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the smooth finish of this pipe. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and scrubbed it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to dry and shine it. The product seemed to work well to lift the dirt and grime from the finish. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to repair the gold fill in the stamping on both sides of the shank. I rubbed it on and pressed it into the stamping with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft cotton pad and a microfiber cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and worked it in with my fingertips. I let the bowl sit while the Balm did its work on the briar. Once it had been sitting for a few moments I buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The photos show the bowl after the Balm had worked. After cleaning the exterior of the briar with Mark’s new product it was time to clean the internals. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I was surprised to find that the pipe was pretty clean. I was also surprised to see some of the dark stain coming out of the shank. It appears that the pipe may have been dip stained. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I interrupted the polishing after the 4000 grit pad and used Rub’N Buff Antique Gold to touch up the WDC Triangle stamp on the left side fo the dual stem. I cleaned off the excess Rub’N Buff gold and then continued polishing with 6000-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I used some new product that Mark Hoover put together – Before & After Restoration Balm that was made to work on vulcanite. It did a good job of polishing the vulcanite. I finished by polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.I put the stem back on the shank and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The finish on the briar came alive with the buffing and took on a deep shine. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is an interesting little pipe measuring 4 1/2 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 1/4 inches and a chamber diameter of 3/4 of an inch. The unique design and the flow of air through the pipe make this a very interesting looking pipe. It is a beautiful, bent billiard with a double shank and stem. This pipe is staying with me as it is the background to the similar CPF Cromwell that I have in my personal collection. It is another beautiful old pipe that fits into my old US Made pipe collection. Thanks for reading the blog. Enjoy.