Daily Archives: July 25, 2019

Peterson Shape 56 Mystery – Solved!


By Al Jones

July 31,2019 UPDATE:
Well, the Shape 56 mystery is now resolved. Despite all my google efforts, I yielded only two other hits on the Shape 56, as detailed below. Mark Irwin was also stumped but came up with the theory below, that the Shape 56 was for the British market only. Well, further sleuthing from the worlds foremost Peterson authority yielded an answer – which came directly from a blog entry here on Reborn Pipes, by our very own Steven Laug. In 2015, Steve posted a catalog from Canadian importer, Genin, Trudeau & Co. which shows their unique numbering system. I even comment that the Shape 56 looks like a 9BC! So, all the while, the answer was hiding on this blog! Below is that brochure page showing the Shape 56. Steven comments that the postal code used in the address dates the brochure to between 1962 and 1969. I guess not many Canadians appreciated the shape, so they are pretty uncommon. Thanks to Mark Irwin for his superior memory and to Steve for making this type of ephemera available, you never know when it will come in handy.

Genin, Trudeau & Co. Brochure

Original Entry:

If you read any of my posts here or on the PipesMagazine forum, you’ll quickly learn that I am partial to a few select pipe shapes, primarily the Rhodesian. But my all-time favorite shape is the Peterson 9BC, chubby bent billiard. I learned about this shape several years ago on Mark Irwins blog, “Peterson Pipe Notes”.

Peterson Pipe Notes

Mark is a great friend and incredible resource for all things Peterson. He is also the co-author of The Peterson Pipe, a must have for anyone who enjoys and collects Peterson pipes.

Over the past few years, I’ve acquired several 9BC’s in various finishes, including a Shamrock that I featured in this blog a few months ago. I can usually spy a 9BC, despite the way it may be listed. I found this pipe advertised as a Shape 56 Kapruf, which puzzled me, as I never encountered this shape number. It definitely looked like a 9BC or the modern version, the XL90. However the nomenclature did indeed look like it was a “56”. The 9BC is a pre-Republic shape and this pipe was stamped “Made in the Republic of Ireland”, so I assume it was made after 1949. It’s not too often that I get a thrill from an estate pipe. However working on a shape I’ve never encountered definitely gets me excited.

When the pipe arrived, sure enough, it was identical to my 9BC’s in all aspects, save one. The button was significantly slimmer than those on either my 9BC’s or XL90. The stem had what looked like a factory P stamp. I searched thru my old catalog scans and pored over Mark’s new book, looking for this shape number, but to no avail. I then spent a good bit of time Googling the Peterson Shape 56 and I found only two other examples. One theory I had about the shape was that it was a transition piece, between the 9BC and XL90. However, that theory didn’t hold as one of those two found also had pre-Republic stamping.

One Republic era Shape 56 Kapruf was sold by Smokers Haven. It had an incredible blast, pictured below.

The other was from an undated Ebay ad, and it was advertised as belonging to noted collector, Barry Levin. This one had pre-Republic stamping.

These pictures show the slim button of the 56 versus the 9BC, which flares out at the P-lip. It is also shown with my 9BC Shamrock, and as you can see, they are nearly identical. This includes a flat nomenclature panel. I suppose the original owner could have sent the pipe back to Peterson for a replacement stem, which might explain the slimmer button profile. The other two shapes above, don’t show this detail, so I have no comparison.

The pipe was in very good condition, but had some curious damage marks on the stem. It appeared as though someone had pierced the stem in two places with a hot nail, creating gouge-like marks. The bowl interior looked terrific, with very little cake. There were a few shallow dents on the underside of the button and just a small amount of oxidation. Below is the pipe as it was received. The sandblast was terrific, particularly on the cross-grain section, which had a lunar landscape like appearance.

This picture shows the most severe of the two gouge marks.

I used some 320 sandpaper to remove the very slight cake reside from the bowl and filled it with sea salt and isopropyl alchohol and let it soak for several hours. While the bowl was soaking, I used a heat gun to warm the two gouge marks and I was able to work some of the rubber back into the mark. After the soak, I removed the salt/alcohol and cleaned the shank. The stem was mounted and the gouge marks smooth with 400 grit wet paper, then 1500, and 2000 grades. One mark all but disappeared and the other had only a slight mark remaining. It was underneath, so I left well enough alone. I worked around the P stamp. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. I used some Halycon wax on the briar to bring up the luster.

After the repair and buff, the gouge mark was barely visible.

I’m hopeful that Mark might be able to dig out some additional information about this mystery shape, and I’m quite pleased to add it to my collection. I’m particularly interested in how the slim button smokes, as a smaller profile button is typically my preference. Below is the finished pipe.

UPDATE – July 28, 2019:
Mark Irwin did get back to me with a theory about this shape. He noticed that the 9BC shape is only listed in US or Rogers catalogs. I noticed in the recent 1939 Peterson/Rogers catalog recently shared thru his blog that that the Kapruf finish is described “the earthy finish of Kapruf is achieved by a special carving proceess”. In the 1940 Peterson catalog scan he shared several years ago, the Kapruf finish is described as sandblasted. He further comments below.

I thought I’d figured it out, but my best guess at this point has to do with the two-digit shape numbers assigned to Classic Range pipes through the 1950s. None of the catalogs I have shows a 56, of course, but there the 1955 London & Dublin catalogs shows a 65, 69 and 70 bent billiard. I’m speculating that the 56 was part of that numbering system, which may explain why you found the button slightly different than the 9BC. I also believe the 9BC to be a US-market Rogers Imports number, as I don’t see it in any of the European or non-Rogers catalogs.
Oh well, a brilliant pipe and a wonderful problem to have. Whatever they used to do the blast is also quite singular. I have an 02 Shamrock that’s close, with those circular, almost lunar patterns, but how they achieve that is shrouded, as is so much in our hobby, in pipe smoke and mystery.

?

Pictured below is a group comparison shot, from top to bottom:
XL90 Supreme
9BC Shamrock
9BC Kapruff
56 Kapruff

New Life for a Rich Era Custombilt Carved Figural Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am not much of a figural pipe guy – whether meerschaum or briar. So I have left a lot of figurals behind on my hunts – bull pipes, horses, elk etc. So when I saw this one sitting in the display case, if you knew my predilection you would have expected me to leave it and walk away. But why didn’t I walk away? Well the answer is kind of complex. It truly has nothing to do with aesthetics because my dislike of figurals has not changed. But when I saw the stamping on the shank – Customobilt over Imported Briar and I saw the carved front of the bowl I knew I was dealing with a pipe that I had not seen before. In all the years that I have been hunting for pipes and restoring them I have never run across one of these. The “rarity” for me was the first thing that caught my eye. I knew nothing about the carver and to be honest I was not sure of the era of the pipe. I just thought, “Hmmm not seen that before” and grabbed it.

Here is what I saw with the pipe. The finish was dirty and oils and grime were deep in the rustication around the bowl. The carving on the front was dirty with dust in the crevices. The bowl had a thick cake and there was lava overflow on the back side of the rim top. There were some nicks and lava on the front portion as well. The finish had a bit of shine left to it, particularly on the shank – almost like a shellac or varnish coat. The stem did not fit all the way into the shank due to the tars and oils built up on the walls of the mortise. The stem was in good condition with just a few small tooth marks on the top and underside. It was dirty but not oxidized. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show the condition of the pipe before I started the cleanup work. The bowl has a thick crumbly cake in it and the lava overflow is very thick. You can also see damage on the front inner edge of the bowl. The stem is not oxidized but is dirty and has some tooth marking on the top and underside near and on the button surface. The carving on the front of the bowl is very nicely done. It is a hunting dog with a duck in its mouth. The carving has enough detail to be interesting but is not over done.I also took a photo of left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – Custombilt over Imported Briar. On the underside there is a small diamond at the shank/stem junction.I decided to pause and do a bit of research on the pipe to figure out when the figurals were carved and what era of Custombilt pipe making this one was made. It was a pretty simple project really as I have worked on quite a few over the years. I went first to a friend of mine from Holysmoke pipes from New York. He is a great resource on these 20th Century pipes. Here is what he said about the pipe:

During the Rich era, CB had a carved animal line. The diamond as well as other figures is one of the CB mysteries. Presumably, they were earlier pieces. Actually, the carved animal line was a bit cheaper in price than the regular CB line, costing in those days $7.50, while the regular ones were $10 or more. Most of these carvings were done by Hetzer Hartsock, who also did the super expensive special order carved ones. He was a famous carver in those days.

There was the lead I needed. A potential date and a name to check out. I turned to Pipedia to check out the stamping and confirm the era of manufacture (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Custom-Bilt). I quote from the pertinent section of the article.

In 1946, the name was changed to Custombilt after Mincer began an association with Eugene J. Rich, Inc. There were some big changes in advertising and distribution. The slogan “AS INDIVIDUAL AS A THUMBPRINT” began at this time as well.

This confirmed the information from Holysmokes Pipes and also gave me a starting date for the making of this pipe. It was made after 1946. Now it was time to get a read on the figural carvings. In the same article there was a great paragraph giving more information on Hetzer Hartsock.

A most interesting discussion in this chapter is the discussion of Hetzer Hartsock’s carved pipes, which included a special ‘Stalin/Roosevelt’ pipe. Hartsock also did carved heads and other figures. Carved head and other such pipes were very popular at the time. One 5 pipe set of Hartsock special carvings was “valued” at $5,000. Also during the Rich era, Custombilt had a carved animal line which were relatively inexpensive at $7.50 as compared to the regular line. There were also special orders available that cost up to $500.00. One wonders what difference could have caused such a radical change in price.

I am also including a few of the pipes that were shown as carved by Hartsock. They are unique and well carved. With that information in hand I was ready to start on this Hetzer Hartsock carved Custombilt Billiard. It is a hefty pipe and interesting to work on. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. I sanded it smooth with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel.I used the Savinelli Fitsall Knife and a sharp pen knife to scrape the thick lava coat off of the rim and try to assess the damage.I used a small folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and work on the remnant of lava on the rim top. Finally to remove the remaining lava I topped the bowl very gently on a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper then polished it with some 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I scrubbed the rough briar with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I worked it into the nooks and crannies – the crevices of the carving on the front of the bowl until the entire pipe had been scrubbed. I rinsed it under warm water and scrubbed as I removed the soap and the grime with it. I wiped down the spots of shiny varnish and white paint flecks on the briar with acetone on a cotton pad. At this point the bowl was looking pretty clean on the outside. With the externals cleaned and ready to work on further I took a break and cleaned out the interior. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the tarry buildup on the walls. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. With both the inside and outside clean it was time to move on to rubbing the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem still did not fit correctly against the shank. In examining the mortise it appeared that it had a slightly different taper than the nozzle end on the tenon. I had to sand the tenon down at the step down to make it fit tight against the end of the mortise. I filled in the tooth marks on the top side of the button and the tooth mark on the underside near the button with clear super glue. When the repairs had cured I recut the edge of the button with a needle file. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing using 400 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  With both parts of the pipe finished I put the pipe back together. It really is an interesting old pipe carved around 1949 by Hetzer Hartsock. He did an amazing job capturing the dog holding the downed duck in its mouth ready to deliver it to the hunter. Very nicely done! I polished the stem and the majority of the briar (minus the carving) with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the carved area with a shoe brush and the rest of the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, large billiard with the unique carving on the front. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Custombilt carved figural is staying with me for a little while so I can take in and enjoy the carving. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this piece of Custombilt history. 

Rebirthing another Schoenleber Hand Made – A Petite Straight Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is another one from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another Schoenleber Hand Made – a petite straight shank Apple with some beautiful grain around what appears to be an oil cured bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful birdseye, straight and flame grain around the bowl and shank. The pipe was filthy with overflowing lava but the grain peaked out under the grime. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads Schoenleber over Hand Made. On the right side next to the bowl/shank junction there is a number 3 which is either a shape number or size designation. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is another nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl has a thin cake inside the bowl but the tars cover the thin rim top and run down the sides of the bowl. There some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. The oxidized vulcanite stem tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. There was significant darkening and damage on the rim top and a thin cake in the bowl flowing over as lava on the thin top edge. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition I would only be sure once I removed the lava. The stem was in decent condition under the thick oxidation and calcification on the surface. There was also some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. The button is also damaged by tooth marks.I also took a photo of left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – Schoenleber over Hand Made. On the opposite side there is a 3 at the shank/bowl junction.I remember working on a Schoenleber pipe in the past and had a memory of the pipe being made for a shop in the New York area but could not remember much more than that. I quickly googled the brand to see what I could learn and found a link on Pipedia. Here is that link. I quote the article in full (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Schoenleber).

Louis Schoenleber lived in North Arlington N.J. and was an Austrian immigrant and skilled artisan in pipe making. His hand carved pipes were available in his shop, ‘Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop’, at 26 Branford Pl., Newark NJ, thought to open in the 1920’s. Schoenleber’s carried a full line of tobaccos as well as related pipe smoking accessories. It’s thought the shop operated until the late 1960’s, and Louis Schoenleber died in 1976. It’s also fairly certain they may have sold to other brands such as Jelling, also in Newark and are very similar in design and finish.

There was also an advertising card on the site that I have included below. It speaks to my assumptions about the curing process and the finishing process on the pipe. It also connects the pipe to Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop in Newark, N.J. It also has a comment on the fact that pipes were made to order.I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to take the cake back to bare briar. The cake was thin but the lava over flow on the rim and down the bowl was heavy and dark. The rim top looked pitted and damaged. I sanded the internal walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the rim top and smooth out the thick lava coat. It did not take too much sanding to remove the damaged briar. I still need to smooth out the inner edge of the rim but the bowl looks pretty good.The filthy exterior of this pipe was perfect for me to continue experimenting 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 rubbed the bowl 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 bowl looked when I was finished. The mortise and the airway in the shank was filthy. There was a thick build up of tar and oils on the inside of the shank. I scraped the shank walls with a thin bladed knife until the briar was bare. I scrubbed the walls of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until they were clean.I turned to polishing the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. My goal was to further remove the darkening on the both the rim top and the first half inch of the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove as much of the oxidation as possible. I was also able to remove much of the damage to the surface of the stem on each side. There was a remaining tooth mark on the top and underside of the stem. The button surface also had some tooth marks. I forgot to take photos of the stem after sanding and before repairing. I wiped the stem surface down with a damp cloth and then filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue. I also rebuilt the top and underside of the button surface with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured, I sanded the filed stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into surface of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 rich finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Classic Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Schoenleber Hand Made Classic Straight Apple will be going back to Alex soon to join his growing collection of American made pipes. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s pipes.