Daily Archives: March 27, 2020

Breathing Life into a Ben Wade Danish Made Ambassador Deluxe


Blog by Steve Laug

There is some almost electric about handling and working on a pipe designed and carved by Preben Holm. I can’t describe adequately the feeling I have when I turn the bowl and stem over in my hands even before I start working on the pipe. There is an energy that flows through the way he carved and shaped the pipes of his making. This pipe was no exception. When Jeff showed me the photos of several of the Ben Wade pipes by Preben Holm that he had picked up I was excited to be able to work on them. This one has grain that runs diagonally across both sides of the bowl culminating at a point at the heel of the bowl. The rim top combines smooth and plateau and the shank end explodes from the grain running into it with a tight plateau finish. The pipe was well loved as you can see from the thick cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl is burned, blackened and worn. The outside of the bowl and plateau portions are dirty and dusty but the grain pops through. There was a deep nick on the left side toward the bottom that would need to be dealt with in the restoration. The acrylic stem was dirty and dusty with deep tooth marks on the button surface and lighter ones on the blade just ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took these photos before he started his part of the restoration. He took close up photos of the bowl and rim top from different angles to show the condition of both the smooth and plateau finish. You can see the lava and build up on the rim top and the lava flowing over the inner edge of the bowl. It is hard to know if there is damage or if the lava protected it. The bowl has a thick cake that lining the walls and overflowing into lava. The plateau surface is duty and also has some lava overflow in the valleys and crannies of the surface. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the diagonal lay of the grain around the pipe. It is a beautiful piece of briar.Jeff took two photos of the deep gouge toward the bottom of the bowl on the left side. You can see the rough edges of the gouge in the photos. Steaming it would not raise the grain around that deep nick. It would need to be filled in and repaired. Jeff took several photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture all of the stamping. It was clear and read Ben Wade in script at the top. Under that it read Ambassador Deluxe. Under that was stamped Hand Made in Denmark.The next two photos show the surface of the top and underside of the acrylic stem. You can see the tooth marks and damage both on the button surface and on the blade itself. The third photo shows the fancy turnings on the rest of the stem and give a sense of its flow.I remembered a bit of history on the brand that included the thought that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

Ben Wade Ad in a Tinder Box catalog, courtesy Doug Valitchka 

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the history of the brand.

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Armed with that information I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back amazingly clean. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition of them both when it arrived. It looked good. There is some darkening and damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The stem had some deep tooth marks ahead of the button and on the button surface on both sides.To begin my part of the restoration work I decided to repair the large chip/nick in the lower left side of the bowl. It was clean so I wiped it lightly and filled it in with briar dust and super glue.Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I used a black Sharpie pen to stain the repaired area. I blended it into the surface of the surrounding briar with a Walnut stain pen. The photo shows the repair blended into the briar. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl is starting to look very good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was very clean so I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue and set it aside to cure. Once it had cured I flattened out the repairs and sharpened the edge of the button with a needle file. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This is a beautiful Preben Holm made Ben Wade Ambassador Deluxe with a fancy, turned, black acrylic/Lucite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape fits well in the hand with the curve of the bowl and shank junction a perfect fit for the thumb around the bowl when held. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the plateau on the rim top and shank ende multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich combination of browns and black in the smooth finishes took on life with the buffing. The rich colour of the briar works well with the polished acrylic stem. I like the grain and finished look of this Preben Holm Ben Wade Ambassador Deluxe pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ wide x 2 ¼ inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This Danish Freehand is a real beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for your time.

Repairing a Burned Rim Edge and Chewed Stem on an English Ben Wade 76 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my table is nice sandblast thick shank Canadian. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the Ben Wade over Made in London England. It also has the shape number 76 just ahead of the Ben Wade stamping. It has a nice sandblast finish that is in good shape under the dirt and even the rim top looks good. The inner edge of the rim is darkened but the bowl is in good shape. There was burn damage on the left outer edge and darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. There is a thick cake in the bowl and light lava build up on the rim top and inner edge. The taper vulcanite stem was oxidized and had some deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took these photos before he cleaned the pipe.He took photos of the rim top from various angles to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim. It is dirty but there is a light lava coat on the top and the rim edges have some darkening and buildup. There is also a deep burn mark on the left out edge toward the rear of the bowl. Jeff also took a closer photo of the burned area on the outer edge of the rim. It is visible in the photo below.The sandblast finish around the sides and heel of the bowl is quite interesting and reveals some different underlying grain. The stamping on the underside of the shank is very readable as can be seen in the next photo.The next two photos show the deep tooth marks on the surface of the stem. They are actually quite high up the stem from the button. This pipeman had been a bit of a chomper. There is some wear on the edge of the button as well. The stem shows a great profile. I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back amazingly clean. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top to show the condition of the edges and the bowl. It looked very good. There is some darkening to the inner edge of the bowl. The second photo shows the damage from the burn on the left side of the rim top and side of the bowl. The stem had some deep tooth marks ahead of the button on both sides. The bowl was going to be straightforward to work on so I started with it. The burned spot on the left side of the bowl edge needed to be addressed. Since the bowl was clean I wiped off the damaged spot with alcohol on a cotton pad. I dried it of with a cloth. I then filled it in with layers of super glue and briar dust – repeating the process until the surface of the rim top and the side of the bowl were even. When the repair had cured I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I used a brass bristle brush to roughen up the surface of the rim top and side of the bowl. I worked it over to achieve a similar pattern to the surround sandblast. I stained the repaired area with a Mahogany stain pen and blended it into the surrounding stained briar. I am pretty happy with the match. At this point in the process the bowl definitely looks better.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips. I let the balm sit on the briar for 10 minutes the buffed it off with a soft cloth. The balm enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was very clean so I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue and set it aside to cure. Once it had cured I flattened out the repairs and sharpened the edge of the button with a needle file. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the repairs with the rest of the stem surface.  I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty red paste (similar in grit to red Tripoli) that I rub on with my finger tips and work it into the surface of the stem and button and buff it off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem surface. Ahhhh…once again I am at my favourite part of a restoration – finishing up a pipe! This Ben Wade English made Canadian 76 came out really well considering the issues with the burned area on the side of the bowl and rim when I started. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the bowl with multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem with multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The mix of colours and the buffing made the sandblast stand out when it was waxed. The mixed grain is quite stunning. Thick oval shank and taper stem stands out in great contrast to the briar. It is a nice looking pipe. Have a look at the photos below of the finished pipe. Its dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter of the Bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. The long shank Canadian feels great in the hand. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store later today. You can add it to your collection and carry on the trust. Let me know if you are interested in adding it. Thanks for your time.  

A Few Adjustments to a Lightly Smoked Savinelli Product Bent Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my table is another Savinelli Product pipe. It is stamped on the underside of the shank with the Savinelli “S” Shield and Italy. It is a dirty pipe but has some great grain that the carver built the shape around. It has a natural finish that is in good shape under the dirt and even the rim top looks good. The inner edge of the rim is darkened but the bowl is in good shape. There was no burn damage to the inner edge. There is a medium cake in the bowl but no lava coat on the rim top. The variegated silver/grey acrylic stem was not well fitted to the shank. It is the original stem but it is a pretty sloppy fit. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took these photos before he cleaned the pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top from various angles to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim. It is dirty but there is no lava coat on the top and the rim edges look very good.The grain around the sides and heel of the bowl is quite interesting. It is a combination of cross grain, swirled and birdseye grain. There are some small fills on the sides and back of the bowl. Most of them seem to be solid.  The stamping on the shank is very readable as can be seen in the next photo.The acrylic stem shows tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is some wear on the edge of the button as well. The stem shows a great profile. It was time to get working on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back amazingly clean. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top to show the condition of the edges and the bowl. It looked very good. The stem actually looked much better than I expected and the tooth chatter seemed to have disappeared. There were some light tooth marks just next to the button edge on both sides. I would also need to fit the stem to the shank by reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank and adjust the fit.I took photos of the stem shank junction to show the difference in diameter. The stem is significantly wider than the shank. It fit tight to the shank but the rest of the fit was very poorly done.The bowl was going to be quite easy to work on so I started with it. The fills on the right side of the bowl were sound and tight fitting. There was a damaged fill that was pitted on the back of the bowl just above the shank bowl junction. I cleaned it out with a cotton swab and alcohol and filled it in with super glue and briar dust. When the repair had cured I sanded it smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I stained it with an oak stain pen to blend it into the surrounding briar.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips. I let the balm sit on the briar for 10 minutes the buffed it off with a soft cloth. The balm enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used the Dremel and a sanding drum to take off as much of the excess diameter of the stem as possible while it was on the shank. I then removed the stem and worked on it with a rasp and file to remove the rest of the excess material.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks and Dremel marks on the reduced shank. I also sanded out the tooth marks and the remaining chatter on the button end of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. Once again I am at my favourite part of a restoration – finishing up a pipe! This Savinelli Made Bent Pot came out really well considering the issues with the fit of the stem when I started. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished it with multiple coats of carnauba wax on both the bowl and stem. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The mix of colours and the buffing made the grain really pop once it was waxed. The mixed grain is quite stunning. The variegated silver acrylic half-saddle stem stands out in great contrast to the briar. It is a nice looking pipe. Have a look at the photos below of the finished pipe. Its dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter of the Bowl: 1¼ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. The bent pot feels great in the hand. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store later today. You can add it to your collection and carry on the trust. Let me know if you are interested in adding it. Thanks for your time.