Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes along with a few Ansell’s and A. Garfinkel pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Billiard with a vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side with the letter C followed by Ansell’s [over] Wash. On the right side of the shank it reads Imported Briar. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I turned to Pipedia to see if there was any information on the brand that gives me the background info that I enjoy as I work on a pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ansell%27s). I found a brief article and I quote it below in full.
Ansell’s Pipe and Tobacco store was at 820 14th St. NW in Washington D.C. It was one of three pipe brands I know of which are marked with Wash. D.C. The others are Bertram pipes and A. Garfinkel.
There was also a photo of a label and matchbook. Thanks to Doug Valitchka for his photos.
Label and matchbook, courtesy Doug ValitchkaFrom this information I learned that Ansell’s was a Pipe and Tobacco Shop in Washington DC and along with Bertrams and Garfinkel made and sold their own pipes. Since Jeff and I picked it up in a lot of pipes that were bought at the closing auction of the Bertram’s Pipe Shop in 1970 I think that it is safe to assume that the pipe was made prior to that.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim had some light damage but the outer edge looked to be in excellent condition. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the shank. There is a C stamp next to the shank/bowl junction followed by Ansell’s Wash. D.C. on the left side of the shank and on the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The saddle stem billiard is a nice looking pipe. You can see a few fills around the bowl and shank.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. The inner edge of the rim was slightly damaged so I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean it up and remove the damage. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank 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 set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift the majority of them. I finished smoothing out the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it into the button and sharpen the edge. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem 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 Ansell’s Wash.D.C. Imported Briar Billiard with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 Ansell’s Saddle Stem 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 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!