Blog by Steve Laug
I am having some fun with Bob’s pipes now that Jeff has done the cleanup on them. When I was doing both the cleanup and restoration it was slow moving and tedious as he had smoked these pipes last in the 90s and the cake was rock hard and the pipes were dirty. The next pipe is a Stanwell Jubilee 1942-1982 Freehand designed by Sixteen Ivarrson. It is a shape 118 which is a saddle stem Danish take on a pot. This is another of Bob’s Stanwell 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 beautiful Stanwell is an interesting and unique shape to work on.
Stanwell did a great job on the shape and finish of this pipe. The layout of the shape to the grain is perfect with birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl. It is a beauty. To me the shape is a Danish take on a pot – though with the rounded bottom and scooped bowl it has come a long way. The pipe is stamped Stanwell in script. Below that it is stamped Jubilee with the dates 1942-1982 over Made in Denmark. To me a jubilee is 50 years and this only commemorates 40 years but that is Stanwell’s decision! The bowl has a rich contrasting brown stain that makes the grain pop. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a fair lava overflow built up on the rim top. 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 lightly oxidized with a lot of tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. Again, surprisingly it did not have the deep 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 a photo of the heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful cross grain running from side to side and the birdseye on the side of the bowl. Though the pipe is quite dirty the grain and layout are stunning. This is a gorgeous pipe. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. Together the two photos capture the stamping that wrapped up the sides a bit. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. It read as noted above. On the right side of the shank is the shape number 118. The third photo shows the gold inlaid Crown S on the left side of the stylized saddle stem. 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. Since I already had a pretty good idea of when the pipe was made from the stamping – Jubilee 1942-1982 I did not need to do much research on that. The pipe obviously was a commemorative of the 40 years of Stanwell history made around 1982. I also knew that the shape was designed by Sixten Ivarrson. I am including the link on Pipedia’s article on Stanwell as it is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell).
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. I am really glad that 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. Once again Jeff did a remarkable job in his cleanup of the rim top. The bowl and the rim top look very good. The grain really stands out and the edges look very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the lack of tooth marks on the stem surface. You can also see the slight wear to the button edge.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 Stanwell Jubilee shape 118. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was very easy for me. Because it was smooth briar and seemed to show some fine scratches in the finish I decided to do a bit of polishing on the bowl. When this is the case I polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wipe the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The outcome of the polishing is a rich deep shine that is only enhanced by the wax at the end of the process. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm at this point in the process. I worked it 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine. I use this product on every pipe that I work on as it really works. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth indentations on the top and underside with a “Bic” style lighter. Since vulcanite has memory the dents lifted nicely and I would be able to lightly sand the stem to remove the remaining marks. 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. With Bob’s pipes I am always excited to be on the homestretch and seeing 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 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 birdseye grain on the sides of the bowl and the cross grain on the front and back looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Stanwell Jubilee 118 Ivarrson design was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has that classic Stanwell finish 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am seriously thinking of keeping this one in my own collection and carrying on Bob’s legacy with it. No worries though, 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.