Restoring a Heavily Smoked BELT Meerschaum Peterson Like Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from Bob Kerr’s collection is the second of three Block Meerschaum pipes in the estate. Bob was an artist from the Vancouver area and a real character (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. To read it you can check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs such as the one linked below (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This second Genuine Block Meerschaum from Bob’s Collection and this one is more worn and dirty than the previous one. It has a flumed top and a very rugged rustication on the bowl and top. There a smooth patches for the stamping on the pipe. There is a golden coloured ferrule on the shank end of the pipe that is oxidized. The meerschaum is very dirty with dust and debris caught in the grooves and crevices of the rustication. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top filling in the rustication. It is stamped BELT on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped with Genuine Block Meerschaum. There is also an arched stamp at the shank band junction. The vulcanite stem is tapered and has a design similar to a P-Lip from Peterson. The difference is in the shape of the button and the airway exiting on the end rather than the top.  It stem is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.Jeff captured the filthy rim top in the next photos. You can see how the rustication is almost smooth with the thick coat of lava. The thick cake in the bowl is also visible in the photos. The pipe was obviously one of Bob’s favourites and must have been an amazing smoker even this clogged with debris.  The next two photos show the debris ground into the rusticated finish around the sides and heel of the bowl. This old pipe was truly a mess. The black fumed areas around the top of the bowl look grey.  The next three photos show the stamping on the pipe. It reads as noted above.    The fit of the stem in shank appears to be loose and the shank looks to be very dirty. The stem is calcified and oxidized the length but is in worse condition for the first inch from the button forward. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides.    The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

I have to say that what I read was not what I expected at all. In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now I knew that it was a Danish Made London Meer… strange provenance for this old meer.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and 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 looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.   I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show how clean both were. The rim top showed some wear on the front edge and top. I also took photos of the stem top and underside. It looked very good.    The stamping was very clean and readable. It reads as noted above.   I decided to start working on the pipe by dealing with the misfit/loose stem. As looked it over this morning before I worked on it I realized that there was a sleeve on the tenon. That sleeve was actually the Delrin liner for the shank/mortise on the pipe. I cleaned out the end of the tenon and sleeve with alcohol and pipe cleaners to try to loosen the tight bind that held it in place. I repeated that then clamped a pair of Vise-Grip pliers on the sleeve and carefully wiggled the stem to loosen the connection of the tenon in the sleeve. It took a bit of fussing but it finally came off without damage.   I cleaned out the sleeve and removed all of the tars and oils on it with alcohol. It was quite dirty and caked on both the inside and outside. Once it was clean I debated between all-purpose glue and clear super glue to set it in the shank. I tried the all-purpose glue and it did not connect but rather the glue was absorbed into the meerschaum… sooo I coated the lining with clear superglue and set it in the shank by pressing it in with the stem in place. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside to let the glue cure. I restained the black flumed rim top and down the sides of the bowl with a black stain pen. I was happy with the look of the newly stained flumed portion of the meerschaum bowl. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm on Meerschaum pipes experimentally. I have been happy with the results. I worked it into the rusticated surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. The pipe looks very good after the Balm has done its magic.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was in great condition with light tooth marks and oxidation. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Danish Made London Meerschaum BELT Bent Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The flumed top and the nice looking patina around the bowl sides, top and bottom give the pipe interestingly dimensional texture. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. 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 meerschaum. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax polish and buffed it on the buffing wheel. I buffed entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the bowl and stem. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished rusticated Meerschaum Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. 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. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this London Meerschaum BELT Bent Billiard send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

3 thoughts on “Restoring a Heavily Smoked BELT Meerschaum Peterson Like Pipe

  1. Pingback: Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate | rebornpipes

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