Daily Archives: May 10, 2020

Refurbishing A Vintage Corn Cob Pipe With An Albatross Wing Bone


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had recently worked on one large, humongous sized pipe which definitely did not qualify as beautiful but surely can be termed as ruggedly handsome, from an estate lot of 40 pipes that I had acquired about six months ago. Here is the link to that write up which will provide a background to this lot and the condition of the pipes that I had received  (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/03/08/refurbishing-a-real-cherry-foreign-pipe-from-estate-lot-of-40/).

The second pipe from this lot currently on my work table, is again a very long pipe that is both ruggedly beautiful and delicate at the same time. It’s a Corn Cob (ruggedly beautiful aspect) with a 15 inch long thin bone stem (the delicate aspect). This pipe is marked with a green arrow in the picture below and readers will also get a general idea about the size and delicate beauty of this pipe.Holding this pipe in hand really makes me wonder as to how anyone could let go off such an exquisite pipe. Well, someone’s loss is my gain!! I have never come across anything like this pipe till date. It’s a Corn Cob in Acorn shape with a long (15 inches) thin single piece bone stem. The cob is covered in a tightly crocheted jute bag which extends from the bottom and up to two third height of the stummel. The bone stem is attached to the stummel and cannot be removed. There is no stamping visible over the entire pipe. Here is how the pipe looks as it sits on my work table. I absolutely had no clue or thread to follow to know the vintage or maker of such pipes as the pipe is devoid of any stampings. To know more about the provenance of this pipe, I posted pictures of this pipe on one of the active pipe restorers group on Face Book. However, apart from a few likes, there was no information that was forthcoming from the viewers. I reached out to my friend, mentor and guru, Steve Laug. He suggested that this pipe is “most probably a homemade job what with the crocheted cap, the whole thing”. As regards the stem, he thought that it could be reed stem. When I confirmed it to be a bone stem and my appreciation that given the lightness, length and size, it could be an Albatross wing bone, he concurred that “odds definitely are very good for it to be an Albatross wing bone as they have that kind of wing span”.

He further suggested the pipe to be from the period 1920s to 1930s. According to him, with the crochet cap and the delicate nature of this pipe, it could well be a woman’s’ pipe and shared pictures of old grannies smoking such pipes.Well, I would go with the input provided with Steve and given the historical documented proof that Albatross feather hunting was banned in 1922, this homemade corn cob ladies pipe could be broadly dated to have been made in the 1920s.

Any clarification/confirmed input on this pipe are requested from all the learned readers of this write up!!

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber has a decent and uneven layer of dry and hard cake. It seems that the chamber walls themselves are uneven, the condition of which can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed to expose the walls. The rim top surface is highly uneven with the indentations of the chaff being clearly visible and intermingled with chipped surface areas. However, there are no signs of charring to the rim edges. I shall decide if I would top the rim to try and make it perfectly even. The stummel is partially covered in thick brown paper under a crocheted cap made out of jute. This is covered in dust and grime. The brown paper has either torn away from the top half or possibly was meant to cover the bottom half of the stummel. The rustic and unrefined finish that presents itself makes commenting on it with any degree of certainty, well neigh a difficult task. The old cob has aged well and feels rugged in its patchy and scaly texture of the chaff and dark color. The stummel has no shank and the long, delicate and slender Albatross wing bone stem is permanently attached to the stummel itself.  The Albatross wing bone is covered in dust and dirt from the outside while the insides show few dark areas signifying accumulated old oils and tars in the air way. However, the bone has colored well with age, I say. It will be a challenge to clean the stem internals as I do not have such long pipe cleaners and with the stem fixed in to the stummel, makes cleaning impossible from the other end. The stem end is uneven but I didn’t feel any jagged edges, so I think I shall let it be just to maintain that rustic homemade look and feel of this pipe.The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe first by working on the stummel. The crocheted jute cap initially had some give to it and very carefully and delicately, I separated the cap from the stummel. The thick brown paper that covered the bottom half of the cob was intact. It’s my guess that the purpose of this paper was to provide some insulation for the hands from the heat of the burning tobacco. I washed the crocheted jute cap using a detergent and toothbrush to clean the surface of all the dirt, dust and grime of yesteryears. I set it out to dry naturally without wringing it as I feared that the weave may unravel. I reamed the chamber with a Castleford reamer tool, using the size four head of the tool. Using my fabricated knife; I further took the cake down to the bare wood. With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake, revealing solid chamber walls. I further wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol to completely remove the sanding dust. The uneven chamber wall appears to be natural and akin to the slots where the cob kernels are attached (chaff). The rim surface was too uneven. Again the rim top appears uneven due to the chaff slots and this brings me to the question whether I should attempt to top it and get the rim surface as even as possible or let it remain as is…natural look! I discussed it with Abha, my wife, and it was decided that the rim should be topped just sufficient to make it even but not too much that the natural chaff slots are all but lost. Truth be told, I did not understand what exactly was needed other than the fact that topping was essential. I topped it on a 180 grit sand paper, frequently showing it to Abha and continued till she liked the looks of the rim top. That I too liked it goes without saying!! Here is how the rim appears at this stage. Next, I cleaned up the stem air way with liquid detergent, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The stem internals cleaned up nicely with a smooth and full draw. I followed up the internal cleaning with cleaning the external surface of the albatross wing bone stem. I cleaned the wing bone surface with dish washing detergent and Scotch Brite and followed it up with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. The Albatross wing bone stem is now nice and clean. With the cleaning of the wing bone stem complete, I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 through 12000 grit pads. The off white residue that was seen during the polishing further confirmed the stem material to be bone. The length of the stem, diameter of the hole and lightness has left no doubts in my mind that this has to be an Albatross wing bone.I applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5-10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel with the solution, wiped it clean with a moist cloth and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the rim and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. Staying with the stummel restoration, I polished the rim top surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The rim top surface looks nice with a deep shine. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the cob stummel to enliven and protect it. I rubbed this balm deep in to the patchy/ scaly surfaces of the stummel and smooth rim top with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the cob now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. At this stage in restoration, I reattached the crocheted jute cap with the stummel. To complete the refurbishing, I gave a vigorous hand buff to the cob stummel with a microfibre cloth to deepen the dark colouration and shine on the cob. Needless to say, I was careful with the jute cap least I unravel the stitches. This rustic finish, unrefined and most likely home made pipe has a charm that can only be felt while holding it and will definitely find a place of pride in my modest collection. Whether or not I shall smoke it, I cannot say at this point in time, but in case the pipe calls out to me and shares its life story, I shall love to smoke it while listening to it. Here are some pictures of the refurbished pipe. P.S. This is in no way a beautiful well crafted pipe, but a rustic and delicate looking one with such solid construction that it feels capable of lasting for ages!! The pictures of the old ladies sitting around with their grandchildren in many ways remind me of my grand old man!! Thanks for sharing these pictures, Steve!

I should also mention here that this pipe has, by far, been the most difficult pipe to capture on camera for its length, beauty and appeal. Appreciate your patience in reading thus far and looking forward to input on the write up and any information/additional snippets/ clarifications on this pipe. Cheers…

Praying for the safety and well being of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

Rebirthing a Schoenleber Hand Made – A #3 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is another one that Jeff picked up – this one is a Schoenleber Hand Made – a straight shank Apple with some beautiful grain around what appears to be an oil cured bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful mixed birdseye, cross and swirled grain around the bowl and shank. But it is under a thick coat of oils, grime and dirt. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads Schoenleber over Hand Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar with a number 3 which is either a shape number or size designation. The saddle stem is vulcanite and has a single small blue dot on the top side. I think that this will be another nice looking piece once it is cleaned up. The bowl is thickly caked with a thick overflow of lava on the crowned rim top. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. The stem has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. It is lightly oxidized and has some calcification. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the crowned rim top and inner edge. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show grain that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is faint but readable in the photos below and is as noted above – on the left side it reads Schoenleber Hand Made. He did not take a photo of the right side but it reads Imported Briar and the number 3 at the shank/bowl junction on the right side. The stem has a light blue dot on the top of the saddle. The stem was a very good fit to the shank. It was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. It also shows the tooth marks on the stem and on the button surface.  When I worked on a Schoenleber pipe for Alex in the past I had done the research on the brand. I knew that the pipe had been made for a shop in New Jersey but went back and reread the previous blog I had written on the brand. I have included the information from Pipedia that I included before. I quote the article in full (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Schoenleber).

Louis Schoenleber lived in North Arlington N.J. and was an Austrian immigrant and skilled artisan in pipe making. His hand carved pipes were available in his shop, ‘Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop’, at 26 Branford Pl., Newark NJ, thought to open in the 1920’s. Schoenleber’s carried a full line of tobaccos as well as related pipe smoking accessories. It’s thought the shop operated until the late 1960’s, and Louis Schoenleber died in 1976. It’s also fairly certain they may have sold to other brands such as Jelling, also in Newark and are very similar in design and finish.

There was also an advertising card on the site that I have included below. It speaks to my assumptions about the curing process and the finishing process on the pipe. It also connects the pipe to Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop in Newark, N.J. It also has a comment on the fact that pipes were made to order.Armed with those reminders about the brand I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show how clean they were. You can see some damage and darkening on the inner edge and crown of the bowl.  The stem looks clean of oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter are almost invisible in the photos.  I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is faint but readable as noted above.  I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe.I started my part of the restoration by polishing the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I worked over the rim top and edge of the bowl with the pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red, gritty Tripoli like substance that is a paste. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem and polished it off with a cotton pad. I have found that is a great intermediary step before polishing with micromesh pads. I am not sure what I will use once the final tin I have is gone!  I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Schoenleber Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Schoenleber Hand Made Straight Apple will be going on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers shortly. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this older American Made pipe.

A Rusticated Savinelli Oscar 127 Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts. It is a nicely rusticated saddle stem Billiard with a smooth rim top with a bevel on the inside edge of the bowl. It is stamped with Oscar over Aged Briar on the heel of the bowl followed by the Savinelli “S” shield and the shape number 127 over Italy. The stamping is clear and readable though the shape number is hidden slightly by the rustication. The pipe has a combination of brown stains and the tight rustication is not only tactile but also lends a sparkle to the finish. The finish was very dirty with grime ground into the bowl. The bowl had a thick but even cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the beveled inner edge of the top and top toward the back of the bowl. There was darkening on the briar around the inner beveled edge and the top of the rim. The stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides and on the top and bottom edges of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the beveled inner edge of the rim.  Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the tight rustication pattern that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. The stamping on each side of the shank is shown in the photos below. They look very good and readable. The shooting star logo on the stem side is clear but faint. I am hoping that it can be repainted once it is clean. It all depends on how deep the stamping on the stem side is. The stem was a very good fit to the shank. It was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. It also shows the tooth marks on the stem and on the button surface.   I confirmed that the shape number stamping, partially hidden by the rustication is indeed 127 by comparing it to the Savinelli Shape Chart that I have. I have drawn a red box around the shape on the chart below.For some background give the article on Pipedia are as it includes a well written history of the Savinelli brand. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show how clean they were. You can some spots on the inner edge and the top where some darkening remains.  The stem looks clean of oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter are very clear in the photos.   I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.   I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the rim top and beveled inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work edge to remove the darkening. It took a bit of work but I was able to remove the majority of it and the end product looked much better.   Because the bowl and rim top looked so good I decided to move on to rubbing the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the crevices. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The deep tooth marks and the deep marks on the top and underside of the stem needed to be filled in and reshaped. I filled them in with clear super glue. I purposely overfill the spots so that as they cure and shrink they will still fill in the damage. Once the glue cured I used a needle file to recut the button edge and shape the button surfaces. I flattened the fills on the top and underside of the stem at the same time. I sanded the repaired button and stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the button and stem. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.   I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red, gritty Tripoli like substance that is a paste. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem and polished it off with a cotton pad. I have found that is a great intermediary step before polishing with micromesh pads. I am not sure what I will use once the final tin I have is gone!   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This Savinelli Oscar Aged Briar 127 Billiard is a nice looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the rustication around the bowl sides and the heel. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well and almost sparkle on the pipe. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. It was impossible to save the shooting star logo it was just too far gone. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax by hand and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Oscar Aged Briar rusticated Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. It is also a sitter with a flat bottom. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.