Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the worktable is another American made pipe from LH Stern of Brooklyn, New York. I will give more information on the brand later in the blog. This one is a classic smooth finished, grained flat bottom Prince with a thin taper vulcanite stem. It has a mix of grain around the bowl and shank sides. Jeff purchased it from an online auction on 03/06/18 from Nampa, Idaho, USA so it has been around the shop for a while. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Certified Purex [over] LHS in a diamond [over] Imported Briar. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 55. The pipe is dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava overflow on the rim top. It looks like the inner edge of the rim is damaged on the back side of the bowl. The finish was dusty with grime ground into the finish around the sides of the bowl. The black vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the lava on the rim top and the thick cake in the bowl. There is damage on the rear inner edge of the bowl. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the grain around the bowl. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is cleaned and polished. He took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. I turned to Pipephil to get a feel for the history of the brand and have included a screen capture of the pertinent section on the site below (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html). I quote:
The L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe supplier for US soldiers during WWII.I turned to Pipedia for any additional information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). The article gave and expanded history of the brand and a list of the grades of pipes in 1944. I have included that below.
The brand had 8 pipe grades listed in the 1944 issue of Outdoor Magazine.
Sterncrest Ultrafine $ 10
Sterncrest 14K $ 7.50
Sterncrest Sterling $ 5
Certified Purex $3.50
Select Grain $2.50
Sivercrest $ 2
Superfine Purex $1.50
Sculpted Purex $1.50
In addition to the above grades, a 1944 catalog also listed the following lines and models:
Additional notes: Some models were made before, during, and after WWII. LHS was one of the main pipe supplier for US soldiers during WWII.
Pre-war pipes were stamped Real Briar Root, or Briar Root. Some war time pipes were made from domestic briar, or “American” briar and were void of any briar stampings. Many American pipe makers lost their over seas supply of Mediterranean briar shortly before and during the war. Post war pipes were stamped Imported Briar to assure customers that they were buying premium briar once again.
Now I had a pretty good idea of how the pipe was stamped and made. With that information I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all of the cake and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed if off and recleaned the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl shows damage and burned areas. It is out of round and will need some work. The close up photos of the stem shows that the surface of the stem is pitted. There are tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the side and the underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. This stamping is readable and looks good. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the condition, size and shape of the pipe.I started my part of the restoration work on this pipe by addressing the damage and darkening on the edge of the rim, particularly on the front and rear of the inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the bowl. I started polishing the edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the outside of the briar with micromesh sanding pads to polish the finish. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp pad after each pad. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This LHS Certified Purex Prince with a pencil shank and stem is a nice looking pipe. The finish looks very good and the grain stands out. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is an excellent example of the Purex line of pipes that were made by LHS Stern. The flow of the grain and the way the shape follows it is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interesting LHS Certified Purex Prince is a great looking pipe in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.