Blog by Steve Laug
I finished the first pipe, the cigar holder and the cigarette 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 final unsmoked pipe. 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/).
I have finished cleaning up and repairing the cigarette holder. I wrote a blog on it if you want to check it out (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/22/restoring-an-old-cased-set-of-aristocrat-meerschaums-part-3/).
The next piece I chose to work on was the final unsmoked bent billiard meerschaum pipe shown in the photos below. It was unsmoked and other than external wear and tear from sitting and an overturned stem it was in decent condition. 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 final unsmoked pipe next as it was the only piece in the set that was both unbroken and unsmoked.
I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as both sides of the Bakelite stem to show the condition that the pipe was in when I started. The bowl was very clean and unsmoked. The stem was clean and without tooth chatter or marks on the top and underside ahead of the button.I took the stem off the shank and took photos of the parts to show the unsmoked bowl and the clean bone tenon – no stains and no use.To correct the overturned tenon I painted it with clear fingernail polish. The idea was to build it up enough to correct the overturning. It took two coats of polish to add enough to the threads to correct the problem. Once it had cured I put the stem back on the bowl.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 bowl looked when finished. Since the cleaner had worked so well I decided to try out the Restoration Balm on the meerschaum as well. I rubbed the bowl 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 a pipe. Since the stem was unsmoked it had no issues with tooth chatter or marks. It was just dull from lack of use and sitting in storage. I wet sanded the stem with 1500 -12000 grit micromesh pads to polish it. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth after each sanding pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. After that I wiped the stem down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond to remove the remaining minute scratches in the briar and the Bakelite. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe 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 bent billiard will only get better with age. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the second pipe from the Aristocrat pipe set in the photos at the beginning of this blog. It is also the last of the set to be cleaned and restored. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.