Blog by Steve Laug
I am changing up my work on Bob Kerr’s estate again by taking on this GBD Standard 9136 bent billiard. This is the first of his GBD pipes that I am working on. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. This lovely GBD Standard is a great break. It is a shape that is interesting and unique. It will go on the rebornpipes store.
I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has some beautiful mixed grain – birdseye, cross and flame grain. It is a beauty! The pipe is stamped GBD over Standard on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped London, England followed by the shape number, 9136. The swirls of grain poking through the grime and dirt are a mixture that leaves a rich look and feel. It had a rich brown stain that does not look too bad. There are nicks in the briar on the sides and heel of the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a light lava overflow on the rim. The edges of the rim and top are dirty but look pretty pristine under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The edges look pretty good. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain. The front of the bowl had some deep nicks toward the bottom of the bowl as seen in the first photo. The finish was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the bowl and shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Standard. On the right side it read London, England over 9136. On the left side of the stem was an inlaid GBD roundel. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the Standard. I was familiar with the New Standard but not the Standard. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I quote the section where I found the reference to the Standard.
The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era– in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from the section quoted that the Standard originally came out in the 20s. In the late 1930s the New Standard was introduced after the war. So this is one of Bob’s older pipes – late 1920s to early 30s. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks very good. The sandblast finish is very nice. The bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the lack of tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
Now on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Standard Bent Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was very easy for me. There was some small damage on the front of the bowl that needed to be address. It was surrounded by a shiny ring that looked like someone had tried to repair it before. I wiped it down with acetone and filled in the damaged area with clear super glue. When the glue dried I sanded the repaired area down with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I touched up the sanded area with an oak stain pen. I carefully blended it into the surrounding surface of the briar.I rubbed 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. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this pipe and I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and 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 really popped with the polished black vulcanite. This old GBD Standard bent billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has a shape that catches the eye. The combination of various brown stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.