Restoring an L.J. Peretti Imported Briar Square Shank Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us in one of Jeff’s pickups. It is a nicely grained square shank Pot with a saddle stem. The finish is a nice light brown with darker stain highlighting the grain. The pipe has a mix of cross grain and birdseye grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads L.J. Peretti [over] Imported Briar. The pipe does not have any shape number.  It came from the L.J. Peretti Co. Tobacconists in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The square saddle stem is stamped on the left side of the saddle with stylized P. The smooth finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. Underneath the grime it looked like the bowl had a varnish coat. The bowl was heavily caked but the top of the rim and inner edge looked very good. Overall it appeared that the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked to be in good shape but we would know more once it was cleaned up. The vulcanite square saddle stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 cleanness of the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, chatter and tooth marks on the surface. 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 interesting grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and stem. It read as noted above.   I looked the LJ Peretti brand on Pipephil to get a quick overview of the brand and see what info he had gathered (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p2.html). He had a brief entry which I have included below as a screen capture.I turned to Pipedia  (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peretti) for further information and found that the article there was taken from the book  Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’. It is a book I have here so I can double check the entry. I quote:

Peretti is the brand of Robert A. Peretti, then owner of the L.J. Peretti Co., a tobacconist founded in Boston by his grandfather, L. Joseph Peretti in 1870. The first pipes made there date from the 1920s, and Robert began producing them in 1938.

The customers of this well-known tobacco and pipe shop included the former British prime minister, Ramsey MacDonald, and also Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Edward G. Robinson, and Walter Matthau.

L.J. Peretti Co. Established 1870 – Our own line of pipes are famous the world over for their outstanding value. The photos here represent a small sampling of our immense selection of shapes, sizes, and finishes. (N.B. Look at the LJ Peretti website for photos.) Pick a price range, a shape, and a finish. We’ll pick you out a pipe that will be sure to satisfy for years to come. The majority of our smooth pipes are natural or unfinished and will darken over time bringing out their beautiful grain naturally.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top looked even better after Jeff’s clean up. Th inner and outer edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation remained as well as some tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the well shaped Pot/Sitter. To remove shiny varnish coat on the bowl I wiped it down with 99% isopropyl alcohol and it came off easily leaving the grain looking great.    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 carefully avoided the stamping on the sides of the shank so as not to damage the stamping. 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.     While I was working on the bowl the stem was soaking in a new product I received from Briarville Pipe Repair – Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. It is a liquid of about the same consistency as apple juice. The stem sat in the mixture for 2 ½ -3 hours. I removed the stem from the bath, scrubbed lightly with a tooth brush and dried if off with a paper towel. I was surprised that it was quite clean. Just some light oxidation on the top of the saddle remaining. The bath was dark with the removed oxidation of the previous seven stems. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     I touched up the faint P stamp on the stem side with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on pressing it into the grooves with a tooth pick and buff it off with a cotton pad.  This well made, classic L.J. Peretti Square Shank Pot/Sitter really is a beautiful pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish highlights the grain in such a way that it came alive with the polishing and waxing. 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 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 Peretti Pot is a beauty with combination of great grain and rich stain. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 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!

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