Restoring an older BRC Meerschaum Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I picked up old cased Bulldog on a pipe hunt on the Oregon Coast. We asked at the counter if the clerk knew if they had any pipes in the store. She opened the counter display and took out this pipe case. The case looked old enough to get my heart going. Generally they have something interesting in them – though I have had the disappointment of opening an empty case. When she handed it to me I felt the weight and knew that there was a pipe inside. I took a deep breath and opened the case and let out a sigh of relief. The pipe looked good and it looked old. Jeff came to the counter then and I showed it to him. A deal was struck and the pipe left the store with us. I left it with Jeff so he would work his cleanup magic on it. Jeff took a photo of the case and with it opened to reveal the pipe and in doing so I was able to relive this find. I still remember the two older women who ran the store and the conversation that the pipe initiated. It was a good day! Jeff opened the case and took a photo to show the embossed label in the cover of the pipe case. It was an oval that with a circle holding BRC split into three quadrants in the centre. On either side it was flanked by Genuine Meerschaum. The case was lined with plush red material and the exterior was covered in a worn brown leather.He took a photo the pipe as he removed it from the case and after he laid it on the table before he did the clean up. The pipe is actually very dirty. There is a thick cake in the and an overflow of lava on the rim top. There appear to be scratches in the rim top surface as well. The bowl is dirty and heavily scratched. The twin rings around the bowl are damaged and filed in with grit and grime. The shank and the lower part of the bowl was starting to get a nice patina. The silver band was very dirty and oxidized. There is no stamping on the shank or the band. The stem is not amber nor is it newer acrylic. I believe it is Amberoid – a man made amber material that was a material consisting of small pieces of amber or sometimes other resins united by heat and pressure. It appears to be the original stem as the fit to the shank is perfect and it is threaded for the bone tenon. There are light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem ahead of the button. Otherwise it is a clean looking stem.Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. There was a very thick cake in the bowl and you can see the overflow of lava and scratches in the rim top and edges. You can also see the nicks and damage to the cap of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the meer. You can see the damage to the rings on the right side and the many scratches around the sides and heel of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the shank stem junction with the tarnished silver band. The shape of the stem is perfect for the shank and band. If it is a replacement stem it is very well done. The next photos of the stem to show the general condition of the amberoid stem shape. The flow of the stem is perfect for the diamond shank Bulldog. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.  He also shows the orific button on the end of the stem. I looked for the BRC brand on Pipedia and on Pipephil with no luck. I have no idea if the pipe is English, French, Austrian or otherwise. There was nothing to help me identify the maker. Ah well it is a well made mystery. If any of you can help out with information on the make I will greatly appreciate your help. Thank you.

Having seen the before pictures on this pipe I did not know what to expect when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box with other cased pipes so as I took each one out and opened it I waited to see if it was this one. When I finally opened a case and this pipe was there I did not know what to expect. I put the worn and tired case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The pipe appeared to be very clean. The scratches in the meerschaum looked to have lessened a bit but I was not sure. Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done another incredible job in cleaning up this meerschaum. He had carefully reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping away the thick cake on the walls of the bowl. He also scraped off the lava on the rim top. Though there were still scratches it was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better when you compare it with where it started. There is some still some darkening and scratching but the bowl was clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. There is still some scratching in the meerschaum on the rim top that I would like to remove but it is very clean. The rich golden amber coloured stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge look really good. There are no issues that are there to address. The tarnished silver band had a rich shine to it now as well.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. When I unscrewed it the stem came off the tenon. In this case it was made that way. It was older style bone tenon and it had been anchored in the shank of the pipe. The stem was threaded and screwed on and off the stationary tenon.I decided to address the darkening and scratching on the rim top and edges first. I also worked over the bowl and shank to polish out the scratching as much as I could. I polished it with  the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the darkening and the scratches on the rim top and bowl. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. When I finished the bowl and rim top looked significantly better. I have had a jar of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish here for quite a while. I have used it quite often on meerschaum pipes in the past and it works great. I just had forgotten about it until today. I applied several coats to the meerschaum and buffed it out by hand. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. Since it was quite clean I decided to polish it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing 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. Even though the stem is amberoid I decided to give it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the meerschaum and the acrylic stem. The hand buffing adds depth to the shine. I had already given the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish so I buffed the stem with some Carnauba on the buffing wheel. The Beeswax Polish is a soft wax that I can apply with a soft cotton pad and buff with a microfiber cloth. The colours of the pipe came alive and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand and the interesting patina should continue to develop as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. This Meerschaum Bulldog has some age on it and it is a beauty whose scratches and dings tell a story of its journey. To me they make it interesting. It should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

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