Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from an antique store in Utah that Jeff picked up on one of his pipe hunts. The pipe is sandblast Zulu or Yachtsman shaped pipe. It is a rugged sandblast with some deep valleys and ridges around the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England [over] the shape number 260 near the stem edge and a Lane Era Circle L toward the bowl. There was a lot of grime and dust in the crevices and valleys of the sandblast finish. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat flowing onto the sandblast finish of the top of the rim – heavier toward the rear of the bowl. The inside and outside edges looked to be in good condition but we would know more once Jeff had cleaned it. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The interlocking CP logo was stamped on the left side of the taper stem. The stamping was readable but was faintly stamped. 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 tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top and inner edge. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the sandblast. It is quite stunning.The stamping on the top and underside of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. You can also see the CP stamp and the faint inset in the vulcanite.I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html) to see if I could find a listing for the Charatan’s Make London England in a sandblast finish. I knew that I was dealing with a Lane Period pipe because of the circle L on the shank but the stem did not have a DC bit as expected. I found this section that shows a similarly sandblast pipe with the same stamping other than the DC.Pipedia gives a great history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) that is well worth reading. There was also a helpful paragraph on the L stamping on the shank. I quote:
The Lane Trademark serif and circled L indicates the pipe is from the “Lane Era” (approx. 1955 to 1979 -1984?), however it appears that both the English factory or Lane themselves sometimes, or perhaps even often forget to stamp the L on a pipe. The Charatan factory was known for inconsistencies, especially in stampings. Therefore, although an L on the pipe definitely defines it as a Lane Era pipe, the lack of it could simply mean the pipe missed receiving the stamp from the factory. The lack of the trademark could also mean the pipe was destined for the European market.
Charatan pipes were not well distributed prior to the Lane Era, so very few pre-Lane pipes exist today. Herman Lane greatly grew the brand in the U.S., which caused corresponding growth in Europe.
Now I knew a bit about the pipe I was working on. It was made between 1955-1979-84 as show by the circle L stamp on the shank. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it 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. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. There is some darkening around the inner edge that will probably remain but it is not too bad. The stem surface looked good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on the underside of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. When I took it apart I noted the white Delrin replacement tenon. It was in excellent condition and the fit in the shank was perfect so I decided I would leave it alone.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. The bowl was in such good condition that 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 and a horsehair shoe brush 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 my attention to the stem. The tooth marks on the top were not too bad and would likely sand out well. Those on the underside were deeper and sharper. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once they had hardened I used a needle file to flatten the repair to match the surrounding vulcanite. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the remaining chatter on the top of the stem and further blend in the repair on the underside. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I touched up the CP stamp on the left side of the taper stem with PaperMate Liquid Paper. I daubed it onto the stamping and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I was not overly hopeful as the stamping was not very deep but it was worth a try. Once it dried I scraped off the excess and left the white in the stamping. It is not complete but the original shape of the stamp is discernible.I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Charatan’s Make London England 260 Zulu is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rugged sandblasted brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. The finish works well with the polished vulcanite oval 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Charatan’s Make Sandblast Zulu sits 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 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. 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!