Restoring a “Malaga” Pencil Shank Cutty for Alex

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. Once in a while it is good to change things up a bit. Last week Alex came by and went through the Malaga pipes I have awaiting restoration. I have a box of pipes from Alex that I am always working away at he added a few more Malaga pipes to his box. There are quite a few of them to work on so I decided work on a few of them. The fourth of these was another Malaga pipe. It  is a beautiful pencil shank Cutty shaped with a long vulcanite stem. The smooth rim, tall narrow bowl, and thin shank combined with the stem make it a stunning pipe. It has mixed grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The “Malaga” Cutty shaped was a pipe Jeff picked up from EBay that originally came from Michigan. We were both surprised that he picked it up as it is getting harder and harder to pick these up at a good price.

This long narrow shank Cutty is next on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The pipe was in very good condition when arrived. The rim top has a little lava and darkening but otherwise looked good. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” with the quotation marks and the right side read Imported Briar. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some very light spots of lava and a little darkening on the back of the bowl. The edges of the bowl were not too bad. The inside edge was clean and the outside had a few small dents and nicks. Other than being so dirty that it was in great condition.He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful mixed grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and wear on the finish. It is dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and on the right it is stamped Imported Briar in caps. The stamping is very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.If this is the first of the Malaga restorations that you have read about then you should know the backstory of the brand. I am including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff followed his regular regimen for cleaning estates. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the light lava build up on the rim top and you could see the darkening toward the back of the rim top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the darkened area on the back of the rim top. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to show the condition. The first one shows the “MALAGA” stamp on the left side of the shank. The second photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank. It reads Imported Briar.I polished the rim top and the exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. Each grit of micromesh gave it more of a shine. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. 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. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The stem was in excellent condition, without tooth chatter or tooth marks. It was well cut stem and had a great look and feel. It was lightly oxidized so it did not take a lot of work to bring back a shine. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. This is a beautiful Pencil Shank Malaga Cutty with a black vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The thin shank flowing into a tall bowl works well to highlight the birdseye and cross grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl 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 grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have set aside for Alex. This will be a great addition to his collection of Malaga pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another Malaga.

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