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 Champ of Denmark Freehand. This one has been sitting for a while now while I debated what to do about the broken stem. I find that sometimes the best solutions come to me when I wait! 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 Champ of Denmark pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank CHAMP over of Denmark and below that is the number 4. It came to us with a broken stem about an inch, inch and ½ above the tenon. The beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and up the shank is visible through the very thick coat of grime. It seemed like it had a dark stain but hard to tell. There were oil stains from George’s hands on both sides of the bowl obscuring the grain. It was so dirty that it was hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava into the plateau on the bowl top and shank end. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized but there were not any tooth marks or chatter on the surface. 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 two she included from this pipe. I had some decisions to make regarding this stem. Should I replace it or should I fiddle with a repair? I would have to think that through.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 Champ of Denmark Freehands in the box – both were in bags and both had broken tenons and stems. There is something about classic Danish Freehands that is intriguing and I like working on them. The shapes seem to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar and this second pipe is no exception. 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 plateau rim 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 broken in the middle between the turned four sided decorative bead and the blade. It looked as if it had snapped when George was trying to remove a stuck stem. But that was a piece of the history of the pipe I would never know for certain. 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 on 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 and when the stem broke he must have been frustrated.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 flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads as noted above.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the broken stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth chatter on the stem surface. You can also see where the stem snapped – it is a very clean break and it is totally fixable. I will need to see if I have a small piece of tenon that can serve to join the two parts of the stem.When I worked on the previous Champ of Denmark back in June of 2019 I had done some research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/22/restoring-jennifers-dads-champ-of-denmark-4-freehand/). I turned to that previous blog and quote that here in full:
I looked on the Pipephil site to get a quick overview of the brand. In the back of my mind I remembered a connection to Karl Erik. I could not remember the details of the connection (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the brand that was shown on the site. I have included it below.In summary it says that the brand was distributed by Larsen & Stigart a tobacconist in Copenhagen, Denmark. The warehouse had a workshop that had such famous carvers as Soren Eric Andersen, Karl Erik Ottendahl and others.
I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Champ_of_Denmark) to see if I could get a bit more information. I quote in full from that site:
“Champ of Denmark” were made for and distributed by Larsen & Stigart by Karl Erik Ottendahl. Larsen & Stigart had some indoor carvers at certain times, too (e.g. Søren Eric Andersen) and among other things they managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.
In an endnote under the article on Karl Erik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) I found some more information. I quote the endnote in full.
¹ It is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between some of these brands… Larsen & Stigart – once a famous Copenhagen pipe shop, now almost forgotten – offered pipes produced by KE stamped “Larsen & Stigart” as well as pipes stamped “Larsen & Stigart” + “Champ of Denmark” or “Larsen & Stigart” + “Shelburne”. Almost needless to say, there are pipes stamped “Champ of Denmark” or “Shelburne” only. And the only reason is inconsistent stamping??? (BTW Larsen & Stigart employed own indoor carvers for appr. one decade – e.g. Søren Eric Andersen. They even managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.)
Now I had the verification of the link to Karl Erik Ottendahl. The pipe was most probably made by him for the pipe shop in Copenhagen. 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.
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.
I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.
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 plateau looked lifeless but clean. We were not sure what I would do with the stem so Jeff cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior in case I chose to try to repair it. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I actually forgot to take many photos before I started my part of the work but I did have one with the pipe and the broken stem. The briar is beautifully grained and clean. The rim top plateau is cleaned as well. It looked good. The shank extension was vulcanite and it was badly oxidized and would need to be sanded and polished.My first thought was to replace the broken stem with another freehand stem. I went through my stems and chose the one that is shown in the photo below. The length was right and the tenon was close. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO tenon turner and adjusted the diameter of the tenon to fit the shank extension. I put it in the pipe and took a photo of the pipe to get a sense of how it looked. I actually did not like the shape of the stem or the way it looked. I would need to think through how to address the snapped stem. I was not happy with the look of the new stem. It was too think and clunky looking to me to fit the style of the pipe. I decided not to use it so I did not even bother bending it. I turned back to the broken stem and thought long and hard about it. I went upstairs and had a coffee and a short nap before I finally came up with a plan. I headed back downstairs and dug through my parts boxes for broken tenons. I even keep those around when I pull them from a shank. I have a good assortment of them in various diameters. I picked two possibilities and laid them out. From the two I chose the smaller one. Now the plan was beginning to take shape. I was going to drill out the two parts of the stem and rejoin them together with the piece of tenon. (Forgive the blurry photo but you get the idea. I would drill a hole in each end and use the tenon to rejoin them.I started opening the airway in both halves of the stem with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway. I worked my way up to the bit that is shown in the photos. It was the slightly smaller than the piece of tenon that I was going to use for the joint.I reduced the diameter of the short tenon piece with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until the fit in the drilled airway was perfect. Once that was done I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the diameter a bit more on the second half of the tenon. I topped it on the topping board using the blade side as a handle. Once the fit was right on both sides I glued it in the blade side with clear Krazy Glue and pressed it into the hole. I cleaned up the end of the tenon and coated it with a layer of clear Krazy Glue. I pressed the second half of the stem in place on the tenon insert and aligned the four sided bulb on the tenon end of the stem.I set the stem aside to let the repair cure and turned my attention to the oxidized shank extension. I sanded the oxidation off with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The third photo shows the plateau top and how the nooks and crevices look on the rim top. 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 plateau on the rim top and shank end 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. Jeff’s clean up of the rim top looked very good. I decided to leave the darkened areas and darken the remaining valleys in the plateau with a Black Sharpie Pen to give the rim top a contrast look with the high smooth spots. It also gives the plateau more definition and gives it a clean look. The finished rim top looks very good.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 until the vulcanite was soft. Once it was pliable I bent it to match the angle of the bowl top. I held it at that angle and cooled it under cool water to set it.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair in the middle of the stem and to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I smoothed out the repair in the mid-section of the stem with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the edge of my pen knife blade. I followed that with the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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 Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and did the same for the bowl and vulcanite shank extension. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax separately as the angle of the stem and shank made buffing this a bit tricky. 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 polishing of the briar makes the grain really pop. The polished black vulcanite bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This Freehand feels great in my hand and is what I would call and Egg/Oom Paul. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight for a pipe this size 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 Champ of Denmark by Karl Erik. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ 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 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.