Blog by Steve Laug
I finished the first pipe and the cigar holder in the cased set of meerschaum pipes and holders made by Aristocrat (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/21/restoring-an-old-cased-set-of-aristocrat-meerschaums-part-1/). This set included a straight billiard, a bent billiard a cigar holder and a broken cigarette holder. All were smooth meerschaum with red Bakelite or Redmanol stems. All had bone tenons directly screwed into threaded mortises in the meerschaum. There was no stamping on the pipes and holders or the stems. The box itself was covered in what looked like alligator skin with brass hinges and clasps. On the inside the case was lined in an off white preformed velveteen fabric. There was a corner ribbon across the left side of the lid that read Aristocrat. The straight billiard has been restored and looks very good. The second pipe has not been looked at yet and will be the last piece from the set to be restored. The cigar holder has been restored and looks very good. The cigarette holder was broken and two parts and the stem remained. There was a missing piece from the front of the holder. It was unused and broken. I took photos of the case and the pipes and holders before I started my work on it. Now it is time to work on the broken cigarette holder. I took photos of each of the pieces in the collection. The first set of photos shows the smoked straight billiard. I cleaned up this pipe and have written the blog on it (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/21/restoring-an-old-cased-set-of-aristocrat-meerschaums-part-1/). Give the blog a read and you will see the story of the restoration.
I have also cleaned up the cigar holder and written a blog on it if you want to check it out (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/21/restoring-an-old-cased-set-of-aristocrat-meerschaums-part-2/).
The next piece I chose to work on was the broken Aristocrat Cigarette Holder shown in the photos below. It was unsmoked and broken. It was also missing part of the meerschaum. I am leaving the information on the brand in case you have not read the background info in the first blog. From what I could find on Pipephil’s site I found a listing for Aristocrat linking it to John Redman Ltd. in England (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-a7.html). The site says that it was an export brand from the company. In looking at the various stampings in the photos below I found that the Aristocrat stamping on the ribbon on the case above matches the second and third photo below.The photo below was a link on the site that took me to a photo of the John Redman LTD. and British Empire Pipe Com on Westland Place, Hackney, London, England. I think it is a nice historical touch to be able to include the photo. I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/John_Redman_Ltd./British_Empire_Pipe_Co.) to see if I could learn a bit more about the company. I quote the full article below:
John Redman Ltd. and British Empire Pipe Co. Other lines include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Redonian, Richmond (not Sasieni), Twin Bore.
From these two sources it appears to me that this set of meerschaum pipes and holders was made for export by John Redman Ltd. I am not sure of the date as neither source gave clues to that information.
I am enjoying working on this set of meers from John Redman Ltd. and really like the obvious connection to them with the Redmanol stems. I worked on the cigarette holder next as it was the only broken piece in the set. I was not sure what I could do with it knowing that there was a missing piece of meerschaum but it was worth a try. (See the above photos.)
I cleaned around the edges of the two parts of meerschaum that remained to prepare them for gluing back together. Due to the porosity of meerschaum I knew that whatever glue I used it would be absorbed into the meerschaum along the joint so I chose clear super glue. I put glue on each side of the break, aligned the parts and held it in place until the glue set. The break, though visible did look a lot better.Once the glue had set I continued my experiment with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I have been using it with some success on this set of meerschaum pipes and holders. I rubbed the meerschaum tip down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the holder looked when I was finished.I polished the meerschaum repair with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping down the surface with a damp cloth.after each sanding pad. It is looking pretty decent. The repair is definitely visible but at least it is not broken. At the same time I wet sanded the stem with 1500 -12000 grit micromesh pads at the same time. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth after each sanding pad. After the 12000 grit pad I wiped the stem down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I rubbed the cigarette holder down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the meerschaum and let it sit for a short time. I buffed it off with a microfibre cloth to bring it some life. Once again I was very surprised at how well it worked. I sent Mark Hoover a note about this experiment. He was pretty amazed at the results and said he had not thought of using it for meerschaum but was not surprised as it was made to absorb grit and grime from the surface of meerschaum. I put the meerschaum holder and stem back together. I carefully polished the cigarette holder with Blue Diamond to remove the remaining minute scratches in the briar and the Bakelite. I gave the holder and stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of the beautiful clean meerschaum with light colouring of age and the polished red Bakelite/Redmanol stem looked amazing. This older, beautiful, well made Meerschaum Cigarette Holder, though broken is still workable and it will only get better with age. If a person wanted they could easily turn it into a pipe tamper and repurpose it. The finished holder is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 3 1/4 inches, Height: 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 ½ inches. This is the third piece from the Aristocrat set in the photos at the beginning of this blog. The restoration of the remaining pieces in the set – the other pipe will be shown in a future blog. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.