Daily Archives: June 14, 2020

Restoring and Restemming a Beautiful L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They called in February about a pipe that one of their customers had dropped off for repairs. He was hoping for another L’Anatra stem but he had either lost or thrown away the original after the tenon had snapped off in the shank. That was too bad as it would have been fairly straight forward to put a new tenon on the stem and fit it in the shank. We spoke a bit about it and as I do not have access to L’Anatra stems with the goose head on the top that are hand turned acrylic I figured the repair had been dropped. Fast forward to June! On Friday evening they called and said that one of them would drop a pipe by for restemming with a vulcanite stem as the customer just wanted to be able to smoke it and enjoy it again. We arranged for the drop off at my house on that evening after the shop closed. Friday evening there was no pipe. All day Saturday and into the evening there was no pipe so I figured they had changed their minds. Then this morning around 9am the doorbell rang and there was a fellow with a City Cigar Bag in hand with a large box. We chatted and he handed me the bag.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly was not what I found inside the box. It is a large box like others I have seen with L’Anatra pipes. Inside were a note and a draw string pipe bag. With the box, the bag and all I was expecting a large Italian pipe sans stem. I had no idea what shape it would be and no idea what size pipe it was. You can imagine my surprise when I open the bag and removed the pipe pictured below. It was absolutely smooth and quite stunningly grained. The shape was very nice and the condition was better than I expected. I examined the bowl for dings and nicks from the fall that snapped the tenon and found none. It was stamped L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs for the grade of the pipe. Underneath that it was stamped Hand Made in Italy. So far you see what I saw. Now let me tell you the size of the pipe. The bowl is 2 ½ inches long, 1 ½ inches tall, the outer diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and the chamber diameter is ¾ of an inch. It is a lot smaller and petite than I expected from the box and bag.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It was very clear and readable. It was stamped as noted above – L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs [over] Hand Made in Italy.      I looked up the L’Anatra brand on PipePhil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l1.html). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company. The pipes are carved by Massimo Palazzi and Andrea Pascucci and graded 1, 2, or 3 eggs. The brand also had a goose head standing on the top of the stem.I looked up the brand on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/L%27anatra). The article there was very informative about the background and history of the brand. Give the article a read if you are interested in a great article. Now it was time to begin the process of the restoration on this pipe. I quote in part:

L’Anatra pipes feature a cast silver goose head on the stem! This is demonstrative not only of their playfulness, but also of their willingness and desire to be different from the norm. They do not strive to impress, they strive to make a truly delightful and pleasing pipe. Perhaps it is this attitude that makes L’Anatra pipes so superb that pipes should first be a joy to make, to smoke and to peruse and then, only once those most important attributes are satisfied, the true artistry of the maker will shine through.

The issue that brought the pipe to me in the first place was the missing stem. Before I could fit a new stem I needed to pull the broken tenon. I tried with my usual method of turning a large screw into the airway and wiggling the tenon piece free. The tenon was stuck and did not move at all. I wrapped the bowl in a paper towel and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. I took it out and turned the screw into the airway in the tenon. It took very little effort for the broken tenon to easily come out of the shank.    I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the missing stem. I had a vulcanite stem that was a close fit. The diameter of the stem was slightly larger than that of the shank. I forgot to take pictures of the stem before I worked on it. I used a Dremel and sanding drum and took the diameter down to as close to the shank diameter as I could. The rest of the work would be by hand. I took photos of the pipe with the initial fit of the stem to the shank. It is looking pretty good at this point.   I continued to reduce the diameter of the stem with 220 sandpaper to remove the excess. It took a lot of sanding to get it to have a proper fit. I followed that up sanding it with 400 grit sandpaper.   The stem was looking much better. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    I set the new stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I needed to clean out the bowl and shank before I fit the new stem on it. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and wiped the bowl out with a piece of paper towel to remove the dust. I polished the darkened area on the back of the rim top and the rest of the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp paper towel after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. The pipe looked good – the natural finish allowed me to blend in the sanded and polished areas.    As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast natural browns of the bowl and shank. This L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin taper stem looks really good with the natural finish of the bowl and shank. The pipe is a quite stunning piece of briar with great grain around the bowl. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly restemmed pipe will soon be going back to City Cigar to pass on to the customer who dropped it off. I hope that he soon can enjoy a few bowls in this newly stemmed pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an pipe to bring back to life.

A New Life for a Comoy’s Gold Bark 42 Bent Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I have only 15 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is an interesting Comoy’s Gold Bark Bent Billiard. It is a bit of a strange one for me as I have several Comoy’s Gold Bark pipes and all are sandblast with a golden stain. This one is smooth! Where is the Bark and is the band the Gold?

(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. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob. Here is a link to one of them (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The Comoy’s Bent Billiard with a fluted gold coloured band on the shank. It is a smooth finish around the bowl and shank that has a lot of dust and debris ground into the finish of the briar. It was stamped on both sides of the shank. It is stamped Comoy’s [over] Gold Bark on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the Made in London England circle COM stamp followed by the shape number 42. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.         Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. You can also see some of the few fills in the briar in the photos.    The next photo show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button.      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. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. 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 some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top had some light damage and the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.  I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. There is also a C stamped on the left side of the saddle stem. It is stamped as noted above.  There is a small chip in the edge of the stem at the shank junction just left of centre visible in the first photo below.       I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The heavy oxidation is very visible.I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after sanding pad.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the surface of the stem with Soft Scrub to remove as much of the oxidation as I could. It is amazing how well this product works on vulcanite stems.   I sanded out the remaining oxidation and the tooth dents in the top and underside of the stem with 220 sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I touched up the stamped C on the left side of the stem with some Liquid Paper. I applied it and when it dried I scraped and sanded off the excess.   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.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.       This Cadogan era Comoy’s Gold Bark 42 Bent Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and the fluted gold ferrule works well with the polished vulcanite taper 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 briar. 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 Comoy’s Gold Bark Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 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 pipe 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.