Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the table is a squat Bulldog with a meerschaum lining. The pipe has a short saddle and long stem that is different. The bowl shape was very similar to GBD pipes that I have worked on. The meerschaum lining was more like a sleeve than a full bowl as it ends above the airway entry into the bottom of the bowl. At first I thought it was missing but the more I studied it the more I realized that it was made this way combining the best of briar and meerschaum in a unique way. It is a well-shaped straight Bulldog that had some nice grain poking through the grime. It was stamped on the top left side of the diamond shank and read Fleur de Lis over Meerschaum-lined. The stamping on the right side of the shank reads France over the shape number is 9240. The briar that showed has a combination of brown stains that highlights the grain. There were a few fills that stood out on the right side of the bowl below the twin rings under the cap. The finish was very dirty with a heavy coat of grime ground into the bowl and rim top as can be seen in the photos. The bowl had a thick cake with a heavy lava overflow on the inner edge of the top around the bowl. There was too much lava on the rim top and edge to know what they looked like but more would be revealed once it was cleaned. The stem was oxidized and there were light 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 so you could see what we saw. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show lava build up around the rim and cake in the bowl. The lava actually was running down the edges of the cap of the bowl and had filled in over half of the beveled meerschaum lining. In the third photo you can see where the meerschaum lining ends. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain that showed beneath the grime as well as the fills in the briar. I think that this will be a beautiful pipe once we are finished. The stamping on each side of the shank is shown in the photos below. They are clear and read as noted above. There is a Fleur de Lis on the left side of the saddle stem. The stem was a good fit to the shank. It was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. It also shows the light tooth marks on the stem and on the button surface. I turned to Pipephil (www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-f3.html) to read about the Fleur de Lis Pipes. The screen capture matches the pipe I am working on. The one in hand is also a meerschaum lined pipe with a four digit shape number that reminded me of GBD pipes and a country of origin in France. There was no further information on the brand to be found there.I turned to Pipedia to check out information on the Fleur de Lis pipe brand and to see if there was a GBD connection (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Fleur_de_Lis). The article was very brief and linked the brand to the French GBD Factory. I quote:
Fleur de Lis pipes were made in the French GBD factory. It appears all the Fleur de Lis pipes had a meerschaum lining.
There was also a series of photos of a Fleur de Lis pipe with the box it came in that definitively linked the brand to GBD. I have included one of those photos below.
Now I knew that there was a connection so I did further checking on the idea that the number stamped on the shank side was a GBD shape number. I checked out the GBD shape numbers on to check my guess about the number 9240 (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I have a screen capture below of the shape number and description. It perfectly fit the pipe that I am working on. The 9240 GBD was the number of a squat Bulldog with a straight diamond shank and that is what I had in hand. Armed with that information and a clearer picture of the original pipe I turned to work on the pipe on my work table. I was really looking forward to what the pipe would look like once Jeff had worked his magic. What would the rim top look like? What would the meerschaum insert/sleeve look like? I had no idea. When I took it out of the box I was struck great job cleaning up the pipe Jeff had done. It was impressive! He carefully reamed the pipe 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. 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 see that there is still some darkening to both the briar rim top and the beveled meerschaum edge. The stem is clean and the tooth damage on both sides is very clear in the photos. Lots more work to do on this pipe.I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is readable as noted above. The Fleur de Lis stamp on the left side of the stem is very clear and deep enough to fill in with some colour.I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. It really is a beautifully shaped pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the meerschaum and the briar rim top. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I was able to remove the darkening to the top of both materials. I would polish the rim top with micromesh when I polished the bowl. I repaired the putty fills on the right side of the bowl with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I touched up the stain on the rim top using a Maple stain pen to blend in the briar rim top and repaired areas on the right side of the bowl with the rest of the bowl colour. I polished 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 rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips 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. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to finish the shaping and to remove the remaining oxidation. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil before further polishing it. I used some Antique Gold Rub’n Buff to touch up the stamp on the stem. It looked better.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 French Made GBD Meerlined Fleur de Lis 9240 Squat Bulldog with a saddle stem is really quite nice. The meerlining is a sleeve that ends just above the entrance of the airway into the bowl. The mix of brown stains highlights the beautiful mixed grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished black vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and 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 straight squat Bulldog is very nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. It is a petite pipe whose dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 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 going on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interesting in adding it to your collection let me know! Thanks for your time.