Monthly Archives: January 2020

A New Beginning for Jennifer’s Dad’s Karl Erik Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Knute of Denmark Freehand. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ (65 now – sheesh, I forget how old I am) years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Knute Freehand pipe with plateau on the rim top and shank end is stamped on the left side of the shank Knute of Denmark. The bowl had nice grain on the sides and cross grain on the front and back and rugged plateau on the rim top and shank end. The finish is very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the nice grain underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inward beveled rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was also damaged. The other issue with the stem is that it did not really fit the pipe. The tenon was a bit large and I just had a feeling it was the wrong stem. The pipe had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the two photos of this pipe below.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This Knute Freehand was a nicely shaped pipe and we have both worked on quite a few Knute pipe. This was going to be an interesting restoration. Knute pipe are well made and I have found that they not mentioned much in the online pipe communities that I frequent. I enjoy working on them. The shape on the Knute seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime and oils on the bowl sides from George’s hands. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top filled in much of the plateau. It was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and dust and grime in the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot judging from the condition of the pipe. Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The was also a deep gouge in the heel on the right side. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back.Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads Knute of Denmark.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem. I turned to Pipedia to refresh my memory regarding the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Knute). I had recollections that the pipe was made by Karl Erik Ottendahl as one of his sub brands so I wanted to confirm that. I quote from that article below:

Knute of Denmark pipes are said to be made by Karl Erik, see his listing herein.

Karl Erik Ottendahl was born in Aalborg in 1942, just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began his career as a Lithographer as an apprentice in the craft at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby and to give as gifts to his more senior colleagues. He began his career making pipes for various labels in Denmark and the United States. Often he would make the higher grade pipes for a well known brand that was known for their midrange or low end pieces such as Wally Frank. While doing this he administered a factory of fifteen craftsmen. During this period he did make of some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had.

Other brands confirmed to be from Karl Erik are: Champ of Denmark, HTL, Jobey Dansk, Knute, Golden Danish, Lars of Denmark, Larsen & Stigart (Copenhagen pipe shop), Shelburne, Sven Eghold and Wenhall (for Wenhall Pipes, New York), some Ben Wade and pipes marked IS and IIS.

I could start my restoration of this beautiful freehand with the knowledge that I was dealing with a Karl Erik Ottendahl made freehand. But before I get on to restoring the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. 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 looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had scratches and nicks in the surface and some darkening on the inner and outer edges. The silver band was oxidized and tarnished. Jeff had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I was so pumped to get started on this Karl Erik made Knute that I totally forgot to take photos of what it looked like when it arrived.

I jumped in and addressed the gouge in the briar on the heel of the pipe. I filled it with briar dust and super glue. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I restained the sanded spot and the light spots around the rim and shank end of the bowl with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl and shank. I polished the bowl and the high spots on the plateau rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I examined the diameter of the tenon and the mortise. The tenon was not the right length for the mortise. It was too short and stubby. The way that the tenon was turned also did not allow the stem to seat correctly against the plateau shank end. I went through my can of stems and found one that was the perfect fit. The length and diameter of the tenon was correct and the way the stem sat against the shank end was perfect. The length of the stem also worked better with the look of the pipe. The stem was bent a bit too much but that is easily corrected.  I put a pipe cleaner in the stem to keep the airway from collapsing or kinking. I heated the stem slowly and carefully with a candle until the vulcanite was pliable and then straightened out the bend to match the flow of the rim top of the pipe.I used running water to cool the stem and set the new bend. I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation that was on the surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point the stem is looking better and I don’t have to deal with George’s tooth marks. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the plateau on the rim and shank end contrasting well and finally the newly fitted black vulcanite stem almost glowing. This Karl Erik made Knute Freehand is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Knute Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

A New Beginning for Jennifer’s Dad’s E—-rum Cured Italy Crosby Long Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen another long shank/stem Billiard (Crosby style) with a sandblast finish. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

Using a lens and a bright light I could see that the mystery long shank/stem billiard is stamped on a smooth panel on underside of the shank E—–RUM CURED  ITALY. The bowl had nice grain on the sides, front, back and rim top that is visible through the sandblast finish. The finish is very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the nice grain underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was also damaged. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the three photos of this pipe below.   When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This mystery long stem/shank billiard was a nicely shaped pipe and that caught our attention. This was going to be an interesting restoration. When I work on pipes that I can find little information about the mystery adds a different element to the pleasure of working on them. The shape on the mystery pipe seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime and oils on the bowl sides from George’s hands. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and dust and grime in the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot judging from the condition of the pipe.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. Half of it is blurred and worn. The readable part looks like it reads Rum Cured Italy. There is a capital E on the front of the stamp but the rest is unreadable.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.I did as much digging as I could in Pipedia, Pipephil and Who Made That Pipe and came up empty handed. This one was truly a mystery. But even though I had no information I could start my restoration of this beautiful long billiard. But before I get on to restoring the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. Jeff 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 looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had some darkening on the inner and outer edges. There was a small fill on the left side of the bowl high and toward the front. It would need to be dealt with (I circled it in red in the photo below). He had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration.    I took close up photos of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the bowl and the darkening on the rim top. You can see the light damage on the front inner edge of the bowl that was covered by the thick lava coat. The stem looks much better but the tooth marks are visible in the vulcanite. The button looks very good.I took a photo of the stamping on the shanks as it looks the same even after Jeff’s cleanup work.I decided to address the damage to the top of the bowl first. I sanded the inner edge of the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the rim a slight inward bevel. The slight bevel took care of the charring on the front inner edge and cleaned up the rest of the inner edge as well.I picked out the small fill on the bowl with a dental pick. The fill was bright white and it just stuck out too much for me. Once I had cleaned out the pit I filled it in with clear super glue and briar dust. When the fill cured I used a brass bristle wire brush to blend it into the surface of the surrounding briar. The second photo shows the area that is filled. It is virtually invisible.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. It was getting late so I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The sharp edges of the tooth marks made it clear that heat would not lift them so I decided to repair them instead. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to dry over night. The next morning when the repair had cured, I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and begin to flatten out the repaired areas.  I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair and blend it into the stem surface. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. At this point in the process I wanted to see how the stem looked on the bowl. I picked up the bowl and lightly buffed it with a cloth. In doing so I noticed what looked like a hairline crack on the topside of the shank. I examined it with a lens and sure enough there was a tiny crack in the groove of a sand blast groove. It was not large and extended about 1/8 of an inch up the shank (I have inserted a red arrow to identify the crack in the shank). I went through my small brass/rose gold coloured bands thinking that if I had one it would be a perfect look on this pipe. I found the perfect band shaped to cover the shank end as well! I cleaned the shank end with a cotton pad and alcohol and put a thin coat of all-purpose glue on the shank and end. I pressed the band in place and wiped off the excess glue with a damp cloth. The photos show the process. I set the bowl aside once again to let the glue set and went back to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry.  I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I 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 it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the new band on the shank shining and the black vulcanite almost glowing. The long stemmed billiard is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this old mystery pipe. The band adds a touch of understated elegance to the long shank and stem. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

New Life Jennifer’s Dad’s Maro Special Crosby Style Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Maro Special long shank billiard. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Crosby style pipe with the Sterling silver band is stamped on the left side of the shank Maro Special in script. This was different than Jennifer had marked on the bag containing the pipe. There were no other markings on the briar. The silver band was stamped Sterling and had three hallmarks – an anchor, a letter “T” in a diamond shaped cartouche and a rampant lion. These will enable me to date the pipe as I restore it. The bowl had birdseye grain on the sides and cross grain on the front and back. The shank matched the grain pattern. The sterling band was oxidized and loose on the shank and had turned over. The finish is very dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inward beveled rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was in good shape. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the three photos of this pipe below.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. There were two long shank Crosby style billiards in the lot. The first was this smooth Maro and the second one a sandblast that has worn stamping. Both are the same shape and size and both have the thin pencil shank and long stem that I have come to associate with the Crosby shape. There is something about these long billiards that I like. I enjoy working on them. The shape on the Maro seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were tooth marks on both side just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the rim top. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot and turned to this old, light weight long billiard for a cool smoke.Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning birdeye grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads Maro Special. There is no other stamping on the pipe. You can also see the characters on the Sterling silver band in the second photo below. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.I turned to Pipedia to see what I could learn about the brand. I looked under the English pipe brands section first to see if I could find anything that would tie it to the Sterling Silver band on the shank. There were no makers from Great Britain with that name. On a hunch I checked the American maker section (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_L_-_M) and sure enough under MARO found that the brand was made or at least attributed to the distributor Hollco International. I turned to the page on that brand to see if there was any more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hollco_International). I quote in full from that site:

Hollco International of Chatsworth, California, formerly known as Hollco-Rohr, purchased the Wally Frank company in 1969 and at the same time became the US importer for Castello, Comoy, and the producer of Pioneer and other pipes. For more information see Wally Frank.

At this point the contradictions start rolling in. On Smokingpipes.com they listed the pipe as a French Made brand and showed a pipe remarkably similar to the one I am working on now. Here is the link to the pipe that they sold: (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=30391).

Smokingpipes.com had a second one listed under French Estates that is stamped the same as the one I am working on: Maro Special Billiard. Here is the link to the pipe and their description: (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=219942). I am including the photo as it was posted on the site. Quite a trim and slender take on the Billiard shape, this piece from Maro bears a striking resemblance to those long-stemmed Billiards favored by Bing Crosby. It’s finished in a warm walnut contrast stain with a bright metal band to accent.

I traced down quite a few Maro pipes online and all were attributed to France. So it appears I am dealing with one of several possibilities here. Either 1 – the pipe was made by Maro in France and sold through Hollco International or Wally Frank as the US distributor  or 2 – the pipe is legitimately a French made pipe that George Leghorn got a hold of somewhere in his journeys. Personally I am inclined to 1 – the pipe is a Hollco International import. Now I had some idea of the provenance of the pipe I could start with reasonable assurance that I was dealing with a French made briar. But before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I am getting more and more spoiled on working on pipes that Jeff cleaned up. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. 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 looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had scratches and nicks in the surface and some darkening on the inner and outer edges. The silver band was oxidized and tarnished. Jeff had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I took close up photos of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the bowl and the damages to the rim top. You can see the nicks and scratches in the briar that were under the thick lava coat. The stem looks much better but the tooth marks are visible in the vulcanite. The button looks very good.I took a photo of the stamping on the shanks as it is very clear and readable even after Jeff’s cleanup work.I took the stem off the bowl and the Sterling Silver band slid off in my fingers. I took a photo of the pipe taken apart.I polished the silver band with Silver polish to remove the tarnish and polish out the scratches in the metal. The band definitely looks better.

The order of the hallmarks from left to right are an Anchor (identifying the city of the hallmark as Birmingham, England), T (which gives the year code) and the last one is the rampant lion (identifying the silver as Sterling). The letter T is in a diamond shaped cartouche. From what I can find it seems to fit somewhere between 1943 and 1968. None of the stamps is identical but they are close. So now I knew that the band was made in Birmingham, England between 1943 and 1968. Now the issue was clear to me – according to everything I had found the Maro Special was made in France and the band was made in England. It seems the band was added later. All of the photos I have found of the Maro Special showed the pipe with a silver band but none of them had Birmingham hallmarks so it seems that George had the original band replaced with this one. It might also explain why it had been glued on the shank upside down with the hallmarks on the bottom of the shank. There are no cracks in the shank so it is not a repair band.

Knowing that I now knew that I had a mystery in my hands and that I would likely never fully know how the band and the pipe met! Ah well such is the life of working on estate pipes. Now on to the restoration work.

Once the band was polished I put it back on the end of the shank and lined up the hallmarks with the top edge of the shank. I decided to address the damage to the top of the bowl first. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches and pits in the surface of the rim. I polished it further with a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim down with a damp cloth and took the photo below.I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the stem to protect the airway from collapsing when I heated it. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a BIC lighter to raise the tooth marks in the surface. I was able to bring the marks up with the heat. I filled them in with super glue and set it aside to dry.Once the repair had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the surface of the stem. I could see that there were still areas that needed a bit more glue to fill them in. I used a thin coat of black super glue to fill in the remaining dents and nicks and set the stem aside overnight to cure. The surface looked much better once the repair had cured. Rather than sanding it down with 220 grit sandpaper I decided to go straight to the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the silver shining and the black vulcanite almost glowing. The long stemmed billiard is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this French made Maro Special. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

1979 Peterson 998 Challenge


By Al Jones

This one appeared to be another simple restoration, but it turned out to be quite challenging in one respect, and I almost gave up hope that I could solve the issue.  The sellers picture didn’t offer many details about the pipe, and I assumed it was a Donegal Rocky 999.  The pipe looked in decent shape and the seller accepted my offer.  I also assumed it wouldn’t have a hallmark, typically lacking on Rodgers US import 999’s.

I was surprised to discover that the pipe was not a 999, but a 998, the first on my workbench. And, with a little silver polish, the lower case “n” was revealed for a production year of 1979 – the year I graduated from high school, so that put a smile on my face.

From Mark Irwins blog entry on the John Bull, we know that the 998 shape was introduced in the 1970’s.  Below, a picture from a 1977 catalog. Marks blog describes the 998 as:

Around 1977, as seen in the Associated Imports Distributor’s Catalog illustrations above, the John Bull 999 became the XL999, and Peterson introduced shape 998, a stream-lined version of the 999 The two shapes ran alongside one another for several years, which happens when shapes are in transition. The XL999 / 999 Large John Bull was still in the 1987 catalog, but by the 1992 Handmade Brochure it had morphed into the slimmer 998 shape, which number was henceforth deleted from the catalog. I might add it was still called the “John Bull,” and Pete Nuts worthy of the name should educate all comers that while others may call the shape a bent Rhodesian, we know better.

Most 999’s weigh in the mid-50 gram range, while this 998 weighs 40 grams.

Here is the pipe as it was received:

The stem was not inserted fully into the shank, and it was a very tight fit.  I assumed there was build-up in the shank and once cleaned, the stem would be able to be inserted fully into the shank.  I filled the bowl with sea salt and alcohol and let it soak for several hours.  Following the soak, the shank was cleaned with bristle brushes dipped in alcohol and scrunched in paper towels.  They all came out very clean.  I attempted to insert the stem, but still oddly found it very tight.  I put some graphite dust on the tenon and that allowed it be inserted fully, and it didn’t feel too tight.

I started removing the light oxidation on the stem and decided to tape off the silver collar. That is when the trouble started – the stem could not be budged.  I put the pipe in the freezer for several hours, which usually expands the wood and loosens the stem.  That practice did not work, despite exerting a lot of pressure on the stem.  I then started trying everything I could think of to loosen the stem – soaked the bowl with alcohol, put an alcohol soaked cleaner in the stem (which goes nicely into the bowl).  I put the pipe back in the freezer several times, with no success.  I tried heating the stem and even smoked it (smoked great, but did nothing to loosen the stem!).   I let it sit for a day and decided to heat the strummel again with a heat gun.  I was afraid of exposing the silver collar to too much heat.  But, this time it worked and I was able to remove the stem.  I checked inside the shank again and found it just as clean and build-up free as before.  I then wet sanded the tenon with 1500 grit paper and that allowed the stem to be inserted fully and only snugly, not over tight.

Now that that problem was solved, I shined the stem with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 wet paper.  This was followed by 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh. I used a Magic Eraser sponge around the stamped P stem logo.  The stem was then polished with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.  I hand polished the briar with Halycon wax.

Below is the finished pipe, which I’m happy to add to my collection and my only 1979 hallmarked pipe.

 

 

 

 

Recommissioning a Mysterious Freehand, Made in Denmark – Preben Holm?


Blog by Dal Stanton

I came into possession of this attractive Danish Freehand when I acquired what I call the St. Louis Lot of 26 which my son, Josiah, helped me secure when he was a student in St. Louis.  He texted me from St. Louis about this box of pipes that were for sale at an antique shop he found.  Josiah wanted to split the cost of the Lot with me so that I could pick out a pipe in the Lot that would join my personal collection and would be his gift to me. The rest of the pipes would benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  It was a win/win proposition!  I chose as his gift to me the Champion Churchwarden in the center of the picture below.  The rest of the Lot of 26 went to my online collection I call For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! where pipe men and women can choose a pipe – or a pipe chooses them – to be commissioned for restoration.

Andy has commissioned pipes from The Pipe Steward before and I love it when pipe men (and women) keep coming back!  The pipe calling his name from the St. Louis Lot of 26 is the Danish Freehand marked in the picture below.As a return patron of The Pipe Steward which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, Andy’s contribution has been appreciated.  His first commission was a striking Monarch Bent Ball (see: Link) and then a Churchwarden I fashioned from a throw-away bowl (see: Link) which was on his list to add to his personal collection.  Andy came back again and commissioned a Trent Lev-O-Lator Half Bent Billiard (see: Link) that turned out beautifully.  His three previous restorations are pictured below. Now, the striking Danish Freehand now on the worktable. Here are pictures of the Freehand that got Andy’s attention. When I first acquired this Lot of 26 and it made its way here to Bulgaria, I was anxious to get a closer look at this Freehand.  When I first saw it in the pictures that Josiah sent, I thought that it might be a Karl Erik.  When I finally looked at the Freehand on the worktable here in Sofia, I had to work hard to find any identifying markers.  With the help of a magnifying glass and carefully angled lighting, I could only make out with certainty extremely ghosted lettering, ‘Made in Denmark’.  The next two pictures show this ghosted lettering.Yet, in the two pictures following with the light angled differently, the second picture being a blow-up of the first, I can make out just above the ‘Made’, I think I can see two letters: ‘N’ and possibly another ‘N’ or a ‘W’?  And to the far right, possibly the number ‘5’ or another letter?  Often these are phantom letters that form from the grain and our desire to see something that’s not there!  Phantom or not, there’s not a lot to go on.With this meager information I looked at Pipephil.eu where you can search by country.  I clicked on Denmark and as you might expect, several options surfaced of Danish pipe names and carvers.  With the possibility of the phantom ‘N’ being the first letter of a name, I looked at the N section to see if any of the names and pipes made by these might resemble the Danish Freehand on my worktable – reaching at straws!With no leads, I sent a note and pictures of this Freehand off to Steve with his rebornpipes.com depth of experience to draw upon again!  Perhaps there was something he would see in the pipe that would lean toward a Danish style and maker.  The next day I received Steve’s reply which was encouraging:

It has the look of a Preben Holm… under the pipes he made is a group of them – freehands labeled Monte Verde I wonder if that is not what is there.

Steve included the Pipephil.eu link that took me to the Monte Verde panel attributed to Preben Holm.  Wow! Again, I look at the lettering on the lower panel of the Freehand and it could be….  The ‘Made in Denmark’ looks like the same, all cap letters.  With Steve’s input the likelihood of Freehand being a Preben Holm is enhanced.Not long ago, wishing to add to my personal collection a Freehand with Preben Holm’s name on it, I landed on eBay a beautiful piece of his workmanship. This Freehand is still in need of restoration but putting it along side of the smaller Freehand on my worktable, one can easily see why Steve says that it has the ‘look of a Preben Holm’.  Looking at the curves, the angles of the cuts, even the grain pattern presentation – the resemblance is there. I’m looking forward to restoring this big boy one of these days!The Pipedia ‘Preben Holm’ article is full of information and examples of his work.  The opening paragraph is enough to capture the impact that his work has had – why, like me, adding a Preben Holm Freehand to one’s collection checks a box on most pipe men and women’s pipe bucket list:

Preben Holm (1947 – 1989) has set some marks in pipe history. Just before his 16th birthday in 1963 he sold pipes to the legendary Pipe-Dan shop and at the age of only 22 he headed 45 employees. He was among the first Danish artisans who made “Danish pipe design” famous in the USA in the 1960’s. More than that he was one of the very first carvers who exceeded this moderate Danish design which based on the classical shapes. “Chaising the grain” they turned out wild and dramatic fancy pipes. Combining smooth with blasted surfaces, showing big areas of the original bark at the top of the bowl and at the end of the stem, these pipes were quite shocking to many elder and more conservative pipesmokers.

When he started to sell his pipes to Lane Ltd. under the Ben Wade label, he caused a hype fairly beyond comparison. Especially in the U.S., as most of his pipes were sold there.

Looking now more specifically at the ‘possible’, perhaps probable, Preben Holm on my worktable, the 1 5/8-inch-deep chamber has a light to moderate layer of cake and the plateau is full of grime and lava flow.I am struck by the vertical grain that the carver took advantage of as he shaped the pipe. In the Pipedia Preben Holm article quoted above, I took special note of the phrase, ‘“Chaising the grain” [sic].  Breaking out of the classic shape mold where shape dictated the pipe, in the Freehand movement Preben Holm revolutionized, ‘chasing the grain’ challenged the carver to allow the grain to shape the pipe’s presentation.  This Freehand definitely chased the grain!  The large briar landscape of the peaked stummel is dirty with thick grime as well as some minor dings and scratches from normal use. The fancy stem has deep oxidation and calcium build-up on the bit.  The bit and button have been mercilessly chewed like cud!  The former steward saved money on not purchasing bite guards but it’s obvious this pipe was loved!  To smoke the pipe hands-free would require this kind of clenching with the size of the stummel.To begin the restoration, using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, the fancy stem airway is cleaned.With the oxidation so thick and with calcium caked on the mouthpiece, before putting the stem into a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer, I decide to get a head start on breaking up the crud.  I use 000 grade steel wool on the stem.  I recently read Jeff Laug’s rebornpipes blog on his cleaning methods (Got a filthy estate pipe that you need to clean?) which is very helpful.  One thing he mentions about stem cleaning is to use ‘Soft Scrub’ which unfortunately I didn’t have for this stem.  I used alcohol with the steel wool, but next time I’ll try to find a comparable product to use here in Bulgaria.After attacking the oxidation and calcium build-up with the steel wool, I’m hopeful that the Before & After Soak will prove to be more productive than in the past with heavily oxidized stems.  The Danish Freehand joins other stems of pipes in the queue for a soak of several hours.After soaking for some time, I use a stiff wire to fish the fancy stem out of the Deoxidizer and allow the fluid to drain.  Notice that I have surgical gloves on – I squeegee the excess fluid off the stem with my fingers.I then wipe/scrub the surface with a cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  The Before & After Deoxidizer seems to have done a good job after prepping the oxidation first with the steel wool.At this point, I apply paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation of the vulcanite.  I put the stem aside and turn to the stummel.With the stummel in hand, I take a closer look at the conical chamber and the minor/moderate carbon cake build-up.  I’m not sure how well the Pipnet Reaming Tool’s blade heads will fit this chamber, but I’ll give it a go. I use the first two smaller blade heads, but as I suspected, the chamber narrows too much for the blades to reach the floor of the chamber, so I use the blades simply to scrape the walls. It was then that I remembered a reamer that I picked up a few years ago at a flea market somewhere in Kentucky when my wife and I were in the States.  The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool has some years on it.  I remember when I found it, I thought that it might come in handy. I love old boxes and paraphernalia.  The company printed underneath the name is W. J. Young Co. Peabody.  A quick look on the internet revealed that Peabody is in the US state of Connecticut.  The reamer is in a case with several shortened pipe cleaners.  I’m not sure what the function is of the pipe cleaners. Taking a closer look at the reamer I discover the smaller knob on the end unscrews and sheathed inside I withdraw a drill bit.  As I rotate the end knob of the reamer, the three blades expand in unison as a metal cylinder pushes the blades open.  The workings are solid. With my curiosity piqued, I dig a bit more on the internet to see if I can find more information.  I find a classic owner’s leaflet (See: LINK) extolling the benefits of keeping one’s pipe clean and the benefits of the Kleen Reem Pipe Tool. Below the text, a schematic of the reamer clearly describes the critical working parts.The next page of the leaflet solved the mystery of the miniature pipe cleaners.  The picture shows a pipe cleaner hooked on the end of the shank reamer.  I look at mine and discover that its not a hook, but a small hole through the pipe cleaner is threaded.  I would imagine that it puts a lot of torque on the crud in the airway when the shank reamer is rotating. After reading the ‘Directions for Use’ below, I decide to see for myself if the claim holds true: ‘The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool fits any pipe….’ The claim held true, at least for this Danish Freehand!  The end of the reamer blades reached down to the floor of the chamber and I expanded the blades gradually as I rotated the reamer moving up the chamber.  A great debut for this vintage old boy Kleen Reem Pipe Tool!  I follow the Kleen Reem by scraping the walls further with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the carbon dust, I inspect the chamber walls to find everything looking great.Transitioning to cleaning the external briar surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the surface using a cotton pad as well as a bristled toothbrush on the plateaus – rim and shank. I then transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue the cleaning using shank brushes with anti-oil dish liquid soap (out of Jeff Laug’s Playbook!) and using warm to hottish water, I clean the mortise and airway.  I also use the brass wire brush on the rim plateau where the lava overflow is still hanging on.  After the cleaning, a few pictures show the results.  The plateau is cleaned of the caked crud and most of the dark color is gone.  The old wax build-up and finish, if there was much of a finish, seems now to be gone.  Fresh briar. Continuing the internal cleaning, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% go to work on the mortise and airway. I also employ a small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls.  When I was doing this I suddenly thought, ‘Why am I not testing out the Kleen Reem shank reamer?’  I pull it out of the Kleen Reem case again and rotate it into the airway.  The reamer grabs with traction and begins to move slowly through the airway as I rotate the reamer.  It makes it through to the draft hole and I retract it without difficulty.  It works!I decide to drink the Kool Aide and try out the miniature pipe cleaners.  I thread one through the hole on the tip of the reamer per the directions I read earlier.  I’m wondering to myself, how is all of this going to fit and move through the airway??  I decide to wet the pipe cleaner some with isopropyl 95% as I do regular pipe cleaners.  I push it into the mortise and the halves of the pipe cleaner fold back like slanted wings as I begin rotating the reamer as I did before.  As before, the reamer grabs and gains purchase while the rotation of the reamer pulls the tool into the airway.  It makes it to the draft hole and as before, before trying with the pipe cleaner, I retract it without trouble.I am amazed!  When I extract the reamer, I discover that the pipe cleaner was neatly embedded in the troughs of the reamer – sweet!  The pipe cleaner provides a slightly expanded ‘brushing’ activity while the reamer does the plowing with its blades.  The second picture below shows the pipe cleaner unwrapped a bit.  I’m impressed with the engineering of this tool. After several more cotton buds and pipe cleaners, they begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I call it ‘cleaned’ for the moment.The hour is late and before the lights go out, I’ll continue the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This both continues to clean the internal briar walls, but also refreshes the bowl for the new steward’s enhanced enjoyment!  I first fashion a mortise ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  The wick serves to help draw the tars and oils out of the briar. I then guide the wick down the mortise into the airway with the aid of a stiff wire.  With the wick in place, the chamber is filled with kosher salt.  Kosher salt leaves no aftertaste unlike iodized salt. With the bowl in an egg crate to keep it stable, I add isopropyl 95% to the chamber with a large eyedropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is drawn into the pipe and I again add some alcohol to top it off.  I put it aside, turn out the lights and let it soak through the night! The next morning the soak has done the job.  The soiling of the wick and salt indicates the absorbing action of drawing the tars and oils out of the briar.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, a paper towel and blowing through the airway clears the pipe of salt crystals.I put the stummel aside to address the chewed-up stem.  I take a few pictures to show the upper, lower then a lateral view of the button.  The results of the biting and clenching are not only the severe teeth damage but also that the button is so compressed, there’s essentially no lip left to hang the pipe normally.  This is not good even when you’re not a clencher.  My approach will first seek to expand and raise the tooth compressions and chatter as much as possible on the upper and lower bit.  I’ll attempt this using the heating method with a Bic lighter.  I don’t believe there’s any way to avoid having to rebuild the button to restore a proper lip to hang the Freehand.  First, using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit with the flame.  My hope is to minimize the compressions so that sanding is all that will be necessary on the bit. I take a start picture of upper and lower, then after using the Bic lighter for comparison.

I believe the process did minimize the damage as the heated vulcanite expanded toward its pre-damage condition, but we’re a long way from where we need to be! The button was so thin on the top that the flame burned a small bit of the upper lip in the center and it broke off leaving a divot in the middle of the upper lip. To rebuild the button, I mix activated charcoal with BSI Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue.  To help in cleaning, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as my mixing pallet, and then clean the bit with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I place a small pile of charcoal on the disk and then a dollop of the glue next to it.  I gradually mix as I pull charcoal into the glue using a toothpick.As the mixture thickens, I trowel the charcoal/CA mixture onto the button to build a mound over the repair site for the button and on the bit area to fill tooth compressions remaining in the vulcanite.  An accelerator is used on each side of the bit to quicken the curing time.After cleaning up, the flat needle file is first used to begin the rough shaping of the button.Starting with the upper side, I file and gradually shape the button.After making progress on the upper bit and button, the patch just above the small air slot that was thin earlier and burned some, is not adequately filled.  With a magnifying glass I see a gap in the patch.To do a quick patch fill above the slot, I fashion a piece of index card into a sharp point that will fit into the slot to form a mold barrier.  I cover the tip of the card stock with a piece of scotch tape to keep the glue from sticking. Using a medium-thick black CA glue, I spot drop the glue in the center above the slot and spray it with accelerator.After waiting a few minutes for the black CA glue to thoroughly cure, I wiggle the card stock out of the slot with no problems of sticking.  The patch above the slot looks good and I continue filing.I finish the roughing out of the upper button with the flat needle file.I transition to filing and shaping the lower button and bit.With the lower roughing out completed, I transition to 240 grade paper and sand to smooth more and to erase the scratching left from the file. Next, using 600 grade paper, I wet sand the entire stem.  I follow this by applying 000 grade steel wool to the entire fancy stem.  It takes some time to work sand in the grooves and around the bulges of the stem.Stem work is the most time consuming and meticulous part of a pipe’s restoration, usually.  I look at the possible Preben Holm Freehand stummel waiting for attention and I would rather put the stem aside and switch to the ‘milk and honey’ part of a restoration, but I press on with the stem applying the full battery of micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  In between each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil which helps rejuvenate the vulcanite stem as well as helping retard the development of oxidation. After finishing the micromesh process, I note that the button rebuild patch material has air pockets showing.  This happens often with this repair. To remedy this, I use clear acrylic nail polish to paint the button with the small brush that comes with the bottle.  The acrylic fills the pockets.  After applying, I put the fancy stem aside for the acrylic polish to cure.With the stem on the side, I now take another look at the Danish Freehand stummel.  The grain is beautiful, and the surface is in very good shape but shows normal nicks and scratches from normal wear. I will use micromesh pads to refresh the briar surface but first I cover the area of the last vestiges of the nomenclature.  I do not wish to contribute to its demise.Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the surface.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand the large briar landscape.  It’s exhilarating to see the metamorphosis of the grain through each minute gradation of grade provided by each successive micromesh pad.  It’s as if the grain is coaxed out.  I love the grain on the Danish Freehand.  If this is indeed a work of Preben Holm, it is truly ‘chasing the grain.’ To tease out further the natural hues of the briar, Mark Hoover’s product (www.ibepen.com), Before & After Restoration Balm, does the job well. After putting some Balm on my fingers, I work it into the briar surface including the rim and shank plateaus.  I then put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes, then wipe/buff the excess using a microfiber cloth dedicated to this. I follow with another microfiber cloth to buff the surface further.Next, I use another product of Mark Hoover, Before & After Fine and Extra Fine polishes.  Not only does the polishes revitalize the vulcanite, Mark says that it also has properties that continue to fight or remove oxidation.  Starting with the Fine polish, like the Balm, after placing a small amount on my finger, I work it into the vulcanite and let it set for a few minutes.  With the polishes, I like removing the excess initially with a paper towel – it absorbs and is a bit rougher which seems to help in the polishing at this stage.  I follow the Fine with the Extra Fine polish in the same manner.  The stem looks great.Next, I address the plateaus of rusticated briar – a hallmark characteristic of many Freehand pipes.  This Freehand appears to have had a darkened plateau originally and I use a fine point black Sharpie Pen to do the highlighting and darkening. I also darken and freshen the straight highlight carvings on the heel. I focus on the inner two thirds of the rim plateau intentionally leaving some of the rustication on the outer edge natural briar – I like contrasting and texturing.  I do the same with both plateaus and the heel sculpting. In order to ‘weather’ the freshly darkened plateaus so that the black doesn’t look new, I lightly sand the plateaus with the roughest micromesh pad, 1500 grade.  What this also does is lighten the peaks of the rustication giving more depth of contrast – I like this! The home stretch – after mounting a cotton cloth to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to stem and stummel. Following Blue Diamond, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel, and maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the Freehand.  After applying the wax, I use a microfiber cloth to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.If this Danish Freehand is not a Preben Holm, it’s an excellent facsimile.  The vertical grain is mesmerizing.  It reaches up the 2 1/2 inch height of the Freehand’s front bowed bowl section and culminates in the classic rusticated plateau.  The plateau measures 1 3/4 inches across surrounding a 1 3/4 inch deep chamber that will hold an ample load of tobacco.  The length from the front point to the button is 5 3/4 inches.  The button re-build came out well – I’m pleased.  Andy commissioned this Made in Denmark Freehand and will have the first opportunity to claim it in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Restoring an Austrian Made GS 1957 Gourd Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

We always have an eye out for Gourd Calabash pipes so we can pick them up and restore them. This one is a pipe Jeff picked up on an online auction in Georgia. We had no idea of the maker but liked the shape of the gourd, the black shank extension and amber coloured Bakelite stem. The finish on the gourd was very dirty with dust and grime. The bowl had a thick cake but the rim top was quite clean. The rim top had some darkening on the inner edge and there was a chip in the meerschaum on the inner edge. There were also scratches in the meerschaum cap of the bowl. The inside of the bowl looked undamaged under the cake so it was a good pick up. The underside of the cup and the outer edge were also clean and undamaged. The stem is Bakelite and has tooth chatter and light tooth marks on both sides near the button. The surface of the button looks very good on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The conditions noted above are evident in the photos. Jeff took close up photos of the meerschaum cup from various angles to show the general condition of the bowl and rim. The first photo shows the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the chip on the inner edge. I have used a red arrow to point out the chipped edge. It shows more clearly in the second photo. There are some deep scratches and gouges in the surface of the cup around the rim top. There appears to be little damage to the outer edge. The photos give a clear picture of the bowl cup and rim edges. Jeff took the meerschaum cup out of the gourd and took photos of the underside of the meerschaum and the inner edge of the gourd. What it reveals is some very fascinating information. The first photo below has the initials GS over the date 1957. The second photo shows the number 85 which I am assuming is the production number or possibly the shape number of this particular bowl. The third and fourth photos show that inked stamp Austria on the edge of the gourd next to the cork gasket. Now I have a bit of information to go on and do some detective work on the maker! The photos of the stem show the condition of the stem on both sides. The first one shows the tooth marks and chatter on the top of the stem and on the button. The second photo though out of focus still shows the same tooth chatter. Both side have some calcification on the surface.The tenon on this one is aluminum and the mortise is lined with what appears to be a thin piece of fiber. Very hard to tell. The fit of the stem is very snug and there is little slop to it. The aluminum tenon also potentially points to war years manufacture.I looked up Austrian Made Gourd Calabash pipes that have a GS stamp and the year 1957 on the gourd. It was a long shot but I thought there may be some information available. There were some links to Strambach Meerschaum pipes and Gourd Calabash pipes but the maker was Robert Strambach. That was a dead end. I looked on Pipedia and on Pipephil and again there were no leads. Another possibility was that the pipe was purchase in 1957 by GS. I guess I will chalk this up to the ongoing mysteries of pipe maker identification.

Hitting the dead end, I turned my attention to the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He carefully reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping the cake and grime out of the bowl. He scrubbed out the internals of the gourd and shank 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 gourd surface. The gourd looks to be in great condition once it is cleaned. Jeff scrubbed the internals and externals of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. 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. The bowl and the rim top look good. The inner edge of the rim is clean and you can see the chip and nick on the right side of the photo.  There was some wear in the finish on the rim top.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show how clean the stem was. There were light tooth marks on both sides of the stem.  I took the cup off the gourd to show the interior of the gourd and the underside of the meerschaum cup. You can see the marking on the cup and the bowl and gourd are very clean.There were some very deep gouges around the flat platform of the rim top and the bowl itself. It almost looked like these were caused by the lathe when the bowl was turned. I filled them in with clear super glue. The chip on the inside edge of the cup was ragged. I mixed some meerschaum dust with clear super glue and filled it in so it would be smooth. I know that it won’t colour the same as the rest of the bowl but it will not be ragged and splinter either. I opted for smooth and safe. I sanded it smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped down the surface with a damp cloth. The repairs looked very good. I wet sanded the meerschaum cup with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I finished the cup looked pretty nice. I wet sanded the gourd with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I finished the exterior of the gourd was clean and it shone. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the gourd 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. I rubbed Vaseline into the cork gasket to bring life to the material. I let it sit and the Vaseline absorbed into the cork softening it and adding elasticity.I put the cup back in the bowl and it worked perfect with the softened cork. The fit was snug and perfect. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show the progress. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to 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 old 1957 Gourd Calabash pipe. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I carefully and gently polished the gourd bowl by itself and the meerschaum cup separately with Blue Diamond. I carefully polished the Bakelite stem on the wheel with a very gentle touch. I gave the gourd 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 completed pipe looks really good with the white of the cup, the black of the shank extension and the amber Bakelite stem. This Gourd Calabash was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It is one of those gourds that is just the right shape, compact and well bent and looks great. The combination of the parts really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 3 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 of an inch. This is another nice older calabash that will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in purchasing it and carrying on the trust let me know. 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.

Wow – Restoring a Huge Mario Grandi Blowfish!


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The fifth of the pipes that I am working on is a monstrously large Mario Grandi Blowfish with a dual finish of smooth and sandblast. The smooth portions have great grain and the sandblast portion on the right side adds depth to the shape. The sandblast portion has some darker brown stain in the valleys of the blast that really are a nice touch. There is an acrylic black insert in the shank and a smooth shank cap. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. It is another nice piece of briar that the carver accommodated the shape to highlight. The turned fancy, vulcanite stem shifts shape from the round bead to a four sided panel in the blade of the stem. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was little damage to the bowl or stem. There was some chipping on the right side of the shank extension – almost like tooth marks. Perhaps it had fallen prey to a dog’s attention. The rim top had darkening and tars flowing up from the thickly caked bowl. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. The stem was in good condition – just lightly oxidized and a little dirty. There was calcification and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the large unique pipe was a beautiful piece that must have been enjoyed by the previous pipeman who had held it in trust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the lava and darkening on the rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the pipe looked pretty good and the grain on the sides and bottom of the bowl was very pretty. The contrast between the smooth and the sandblast portions was quite nice. The next three photos show the damage to the shank extension. It almost looks the pipe was bitten by a dog or dropped on a rough surface without the stem in place. He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. He missed the number on the right side of the shank. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  He took some photos of the fancy vulcanite stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any deep tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides.I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about Mario Grandi pipes. I read through the page to gather some information. Here is the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Grandi). I will quote from the article.

The Mario Grandi line was created in late 2006 by Aldo Pierluigi and his family as a sub-brand of their mainstay brand Mastro Beraldi.

Mario Grandi often show unusual and imaginative shapes – some really take getting used to. Every now and then you may find a pipe with some minor negligence concerning the workmanship. To give an example: the shank /stem junction sometimes shows a little split. Even though the quality is generally very high and you will hardly find any other (mainly) hand-crafted pipes at such affordable prices.

Outside Italy Mario Grandi pipes are officially offered by *futurepipes* on eBay. More than 2,000 pipes have been sold since December 2006. The offers change almost daily.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. 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 looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the sandblast stood out with stark contrast around the bowl. The rim top showed some beautiful sandblasted birdseye on the beveled surface. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. 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 the cleanup of the rim top looked like. It was a real beauty. The sandblast and the contrasting smooth areas on the rim really highlighted the grain patterns on the rim top and they were very clean! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took a photo of the chipped/chewed area on the shank extension. It had cleaned up nicely and did not actually look too bad. In fact in many ways it matched the sandblast on the right side of the bowl. I would probably leave it as it is as a fill would definitely detract from the beauty of the pipe.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. On the left it read Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. I started my work on this pipe with the bowl. I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and tooth chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to protect and preserve the newly cleaned and polished stem.  This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the fancy vulcanite stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and 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 depth and look of the sandblast portion stands out in real contrast to the smooth portions and makes the pipe vibrant. The pipe polished up really well. The polished stem looked very good after the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of this large blowfish are Length: 8 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one is a unique beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.