Daily Archives: September 12, 2020

New Life for a Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood T.V.F. EXEL Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in Nampa, Idaho, USA.  The pipe is smooth, nicely grained Pot shaped pipe with a saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on left side of the shank and reads Barling’s [arched over] Make [over] Ye Olde Wood followed by T.V.F. near the shank. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made In England followed by EXEL. There was a lot of grime and dust ground into the smooth finish. The bowl was caked with a lava coat flowing onto the back of the rim top and the beveled inner edge of the rim. 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 stem was stamped on the topside with the Barling Cross and on the underside and read REGD 98046. The stamping was readable but damaged. 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, bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. The thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top and inner edge is visible. The photos of the stem show the oxidation, calcification and the chatter and tooth marks on the top and underside. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the grain. It is quite stunning.The stamping on the right and left side of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. You can also see the Barling Cross stamp on the top and the Regd number on the underside of the saddle.   I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-barling.html) to see if I could find a listing that had the same or similar stamping on the pipe. The stamping is the same other than the shape number. The pipe that I am working on does not have a shape number on the shank that I can find. Barling’s Arched, Make, Ye Olde Wood and on the right side Made in England and the EXEL stamp.Pipedia gives a great history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling) that is well worth reading. I looked specifically for the Patent Reg’d Stamp and found that the stamping on the stem of the one I was working on was a US Patent number for the stem.

REG’D 98 046 – US patent number – 1936 – 1949

I also worked through the different eras of the Barling pipes. I found a section on redefining the eras and quote from that section as followed:

Family Era 1912 – 1962: Pipes made by the Barling family while it either owned or managed B. Barling & Sons.

Corporate Era 1962 – the Present: Pipes made after the family left off managing the company, beginning with the revised product grades and revised nomenclature that were introduced in the 1962 Dealers’ Catalog.

The Family Era pipes are highly sought after by collectors and have excellent smoking and aesthetic qualities. These pipes are famous for the “old wood” from which they were made. I’m including the 1962 “Barling’s Make” pipes in this category because, initially, they were made while the Family still ran the business. Montague Barling was still President, and Williamson-Barling was still General Manager.

These 1962 pipes were made by the same craftsman from the same materials, as the earlier product. Some of them are stamped with both the old and new model numbers.

…The “BARLING’S MAKE” has the word “BARLING’S” arched over the word “MAKE” in capital block letters. Barling used this block letter logo until late 1962.

Ye Olde Wood Stamp: Sometime around 1913, the “Ye Olde Wood” stamp made its appearance on selected pipes. An example exists stamped on a 1913 date hallmarked pipe.

This logo will continue to be used in the decades to come. Initially it was used to designate a higher grade than the average, much as the “Special” grade would after the Second World War. Price lists show the “Ye Olde Wood” pipes as a separate grade from the basic BARLING’S MAKE pipe. Eventually, “Ye Olde Wood” came to represent the company to the world. The use of “YE OLD WOOD” as a stamp prior to 1940 was haphazard, at best, although the company used the slogan in advertising materials from the early teens onward. (Gage)

Crossed Barling Stem Logo: It is not known when the crossed Barling stem logo first appeared, but an example exists on a pipe with a 1923 date hallmark. And several of the mid 1920’s pipes added in this update also feature the crossed Barling stem logo.

Size Stampings:  Up to 1926 and possibly beyond, Barling used specific, completely unrelated, model numbers to designate the various sizes of a specific shape. They produced pipes in three sizes, small, medium, and large.

Barling’s published price lists show that they continued to offer pipes in only three sizes, small, medium, and large until 1941. That’s it, small, medium, and large. So when someone claims that they have a 1930’s EL, EXEL, or other size, they are mistaken.

In 1941 the published range of sizes expanded. Going from the smallest to the largest, they are SS, S, S-M, L, EL, EXEL, and EXEXEL. There is no “G” for giant. Giant pipes, or magnums, which are oversized standard billiards, were not stamped “G” but are commonly identified by collectors as such because they are obviously large relative to even EXEXEL pipes, and carried no size stampings (Gage).

Now I knew a bit about the pipe I was working on. Because of the Patent stamping on the stem I knew that it was made between 1936-1949. The use of the EXEL stamp also fits this time period. 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 beveled rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. The stem surface looked good with some remaining oxidation and some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  The stamping on the right and left side 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. It would clean up and be a gorgeous pipe.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe.  I polished the briar of the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. 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 to work on the stem. I put the stem in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover from Briarville USA. I am still experimenting with the product to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem. I let it soak for 1 hour and took it out of the bath and wiped it down with a paper towel. I scrubbed off the light remnants with Soft Scrub on a cotton pad. The photos show the stem at this point. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique gold to touch up the stamps because they were so faint that the white filler that I usually used would not even show on the stem. The stem 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 Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood T.V.F. EXEL Pot is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich, brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the gorgeous straight and flame grain. The finish works well with the polished vulcanite patented saddle 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 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 Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood Pot 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: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 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!

An Easy Refurbishing of a Charatan’s Make “Belvedere” # 2655 From Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh

I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai for a pile of pipes that he had acquired. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what quality and condition of pipes I was buying from him as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Make “Belvedere”, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

I had recently completed the refurbishing of a Peterson’s System 3 # 367 that had the “Made in England” COM stamp from my Mumbai Bonanza. Here is the link to this 19th pipe from this lot.

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/08/26/restoring-a-made-in-england-petersons-system-3-367-from-mumbai-bonanza-lot/

The 20th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a thick walled CHARATAN’S MAKE “BELVEDERE” # 2655X Pot shaped pipe and is indicated by a gold cross.This pipe is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “BELVEDERE”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the shape number “2655 X”. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark logo “CP” with the lower part of the C penetrating the P. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable save for the stem logo which is faint and the worn out.   In my earlier restoration of my inherited CHARATAN’S pipes, I had extensively researched the dating of these old pipes and I can say with certainty that this pipe is from the period post 1960s. However, to document and establish credibility to my understanding and also to refresh my memory of the brand, I visited pipedia.org. Here is the link for the readers interested in history of Charatan’s and also in viewing a 1951 catalog;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

Here is another link from the same page which takes the readers to an absolutely well researched page on Dating of Charatan’s;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans

I have reproduced the relevant portions which had helped me in dating this pipe.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

a) Shape of the mouthpiece

b) Marking on the mouthpiece

c) Engraving on the shank

d) Shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by an X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved.
Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others, however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4)Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker then in previous eras

Identification of a fourth era pipe (Second Lane era, 1965-76)

Pipes belonging to this period are quite common. Their characteristics are close to the one of the previous era, the distinctive element is that the writing on the shank changes from 2 to 3 lines.

I visited Reborn Pipes for more information and there is a very informative article that Steve had re-blogged on Charatan’s Models & Shape Information for the Collector. Here is the link for this article;

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/22/charatan-models-shape-information-for-the-collector/

I earnestly urge all the readers to go through this article on rebornpipes.

Thus I can conclusively say that the Charatan’s Make “BELVEDERE” pipe on my work table is from the First Lane Era and dates from the period 1961- 1965.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The Charatan’s pipe that is currently on my work table has a classic Pot shape with thick walls. It has a chamber depth of about 1 inch, bowl height of about 1.4 inches, chamber inner diameter of 1 inch and overall pipe length of approximately 5.5 inches. The stummel has rich dark and medium contrasting reddish brown stains and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful straight grains can be seen around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the rim top and the foot of the stummel. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge has few dents and dings and a suspected char in 8 o’clock direction. The chamber appears out of round due to the inner rim edge damage. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with no damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces are in pristine condition. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Overall, the thin layer of cake and excellent condition of the stem are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after. It should be an easy restoration project, unless some gremlins pop up during the process. DETAILED VISUAL INSPECTION
A thin and even layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The inner rim is uneven with a couple of dents (indicated with green arrows) and a suspected burn/ charred surface in 8 ‘O’ clock (marked in yellow circle). The bowl appears out of round. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The outer rim edge is in sans any damage. In spite of the thin cake, the chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. The pristine condition of the rim top means that no topping is necessary. A thin delicate bevel to the inner edge should be sufficient to address the damage and get the bowl in perfect round. To be honest with you, this being a Belvedere pipe and the lowest grade in the Charatan’s line up, I had expected to find a few fills and some non-descript grain on the stummel briar. However, I was surprised to note that there is not a single fill in the stummel surface and the surface boasts of some beautiful straight grains around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while loosely packed Bird’s eye adorns the foot of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and dirty appearance. The stummel surface shows a few dents and dings. It does have a quality which is seen on vintage pipes, but difficult to explain in words. And not to forget, this is nearly 50 plus year old pipe!! The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. The dents and dings to the stummel surface is one issue that I am not sure about dealing with since I absolutely love the old dark reddish brown color and the patina that has developed over time that needs to be preserved. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grain. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone on either surface shows some minor tooth indentations with a small amount of calcification at the base of the button edge. The horizontal slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was pleased to note a pristine chamber with no signs of heat fissures/ lines/ pits. With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. The charred and uneven inner rim surface (encircled in red) and the dents/ dings to the rim edges (major ones indicated with blue arrows) are now clearly seen and should be easily addressed by creating a thin delicate inner edge bevel. The ghosting is still prevalent and will, in all probability, be addressed/ reduced once the shank internals are cleaned. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used points to how dirt the shank internals were. I continued further cleaning of the mortise and the shank with shank brushes and dish washing soap. I have resorted to this process as it helps me save on to a ton of pipe cleaners as these are not available and which are very expensive for me to get here in India from US or the UK. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. I usually clean the mortise with dish soap/ shank brushes and rinsing under warm water when I clean the external stummel surface. However this time around, in order to preserve the old patina and the original stain over the stummel surface, I shall be avoiding the external cleaning of the stummel with warm water and Murphy’s Oil soap and resort to only wiping it clean with the oil soap on a cotton swab followed by a wipe with a moist soft cotton cloth. The old smells are still strong and would require more invasive methods to completely eliminate the ghosting.I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I usually use cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. However, this time around, I used kosher salt which had been lying around for some time now and I wanted to empty the container. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with kosher salt to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and filled it with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the salts. I topped it up once again with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the salt is dark colored and the kosher salt and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the salts from the chamber and the pipe cleaner with cotton balls from the shank and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it by scarping the walls with a dental tool to completely remove the gunk. I blew through the draught hole to dislodge the trapped salts and wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By next day, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history.  With the stummel set aside for drying, I turned to address the stem issues. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I followed it up with cleaning the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. To save on to the requirement of number of pipe cleaners, I have resorted to cleaning the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end and the horizontal slot. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. I used a tightly folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to shape and re-define the button edge on either surface. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. Continuing with the stem refurbishing, I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. The stem should polish up nicely.  Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the stem surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.  Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton swab. As brought out earlier, in this project, I intended to preserve the patina and the original stain on the stummel and hence, the deviation from the usual process of scrubbing the surface with oil soap and dishing cleaning soap followed with rinsing under warm water. The external cleaning of the stummel has brought to the fore a few more scratches over the surface. I shall polish the stummel by dry sanding with micromesh pads to bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlighting the grains. Now that the rim top surface is clean and free of the entire lava overflow, the extent of the charring and dents and dings to the inner rim edge is fairly apparent. I addressed the out of round inner edge and the slight charring to the inner rim edge in 8 o’clock direction by creating a thin delicate bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. I addressed the issue of darkened rim surface by lightly sanding the rim top and polished the freshly created inner rim edge bevel with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper. I agree with the Readers who have observed that the issues of scratches/ dings/ dents to the stummel have not been addressed. However, I am ready to accept minor blemishes if I am able to preserve the old acquired patina of the briar. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this in restoration.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I am happy with the progress being made till now. The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with the original reddish brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really like the dark reddish brown coloration and the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful straight and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light reddish brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine.   To refresh the stem logo, I coat the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely while I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. Though the logo is not very crisp, this is the best that was possible given how worn out the stamping was to start with.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.   Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. P.S. I had attempted to preserve the aged patina which had developed over the stummel surface with passage of time. I did accept the minor dents and scratches that were seen over the stummel surface and let them be. It would a good to know your approach in this project and the methods that you resort to while maintaining the patina over the stummel surface.

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

 

Refurbishing The Second Charatan’s Make “Belvedere” # 1 From Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh

I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai for a pile of pipes that he had acquired. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what quality and condition of pipes I was buying from him as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot.This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Make “Belvedere”, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The 21th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a beautiful small sized petite Dublin shaped CHARATAN’S MAKE “BELVEDERE” # 1 pipe and is indicated by a green cross.This pipe is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “BELVEDERE”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the shape number “1”. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark logo “CP” with the lower part of the C penetrating the P. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable save for the stem logo which is faint and the worn out. In my earlier restorations of CHARATAN’S pipes, I had extensively researched the dating of these old pipes and I can say with certainty that this pipe is from the period post 1960s. However, to document and establish credibility to my understanding and also to refresh my memory of the brand, I visited pipedia.org. Here is the link for the readers interested in history of Charatan’s and also in viewing a 1951 catalog;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

Here is another link from the same page which takes the readers to an absolutely well researched page on Dating of Charatan’s;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans

I have reproduced the relevant portions which had helped me in dating this pipe.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

  1. a) Shape of the mouthpiece
  2. b) Marking on the mouthpiece
  3. c) Engraving on the shank
  4. d) Shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by an X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved. Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others; however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.

Identification of a first era pipe (Frederick’s era, 1863-1910)

I immediately point out that pipes of this era are very rare and it is very unlikely to come across a pipe from this time.

Moreover these pipes are indiscernible from those of the second era, the only clue is that pipes of this era are, in 99% of the cases, are quite small in size.

1) Pipes are no larger than a Dunhill group 1 or max group 2

2) Saddle or tapered mouthpiece

3) No double comfort stems

4) The CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P (not always present)

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank

6) Absence of the letter X on the pipe shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

11) The stems are usually made by different material than ebonite (mostly amber, if they have not been replaced)

Identification of a second era pipe (Rueben’s era, 1910-1960)

Pipes belonging to this period are rare; however is it possible to come across one. They can be distinguished from a pipe of the first era mainly because their larger size.

Their characteristics are similar to the ones of the previous era.

1) Pipes can be larger, up to the dimension of a Dunhill group 5

2) The mouthpiece is tapered or saddle.

3) No double comfort

4) The CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era).

6) Absence of the letter X on the shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

I visited rebornpipes for more information and there is a very informative article that Steve had re-blogged on Charatan’s Models & Shape Information for the Collector. Here is the link for this article;

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/22/charatan-models-shape-information-for-the-collector/

I earnestly urge all the readers to go through this article on Reborn pipes.

Thus I can say that the small petite Charatan’s Make “BELVEDERE” pipe on my work table is, in all probability, from the Rueben’s Era and dates from the period 1910- 1960. Here is a picture of the two Charatan’s Belvedere, # 2655 X that I had restored earlier and # 1 currently on my work table, for size comparison. This would give the readers an idea why my heart skipped a beat when I read that the “Frederick’s era, 1863-1910” pipes are no larger than a Dunhill group 1 or max group 2!! Initial Visual Inspection
The Charatan’s pipe that is currently on my work table is a small petite pipe with a classic Dublin shape. It has a chamber depth of about 7/8 inch, bowl height of about 1 inch, chamber inner diameter of slightly less than 1 inch and overall pipe length of 5 inches. The stummel has rich dark and medium contrasting reddish brown stains and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful cross grains can be seen around the sides and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the front and back of the stummel. There is a very thin layer of cake in the chamber. The rim top is very clean and appears to have been scraped and is uneven. The inner rim edge has few dents and dings and the chamber is out of round due to the inner rim edge damage. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with no damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces are in pristine condition. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. The condition of the pipe gives me the impression that the pipe has been worked on earlier to address the damage to the rim top; however, the job is amateurish at the best. Overall, the thin layer of cake, clean rim top and excellent condition of the stem are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after. Detailed Visual Inspection
The pipe appears to have been smoked just two to three times after the chamber had been completely reamed and cleaned down to the bare briar sometime in the past. There is a just a sprinkling of carbon layer over the walls of the chamber. The inner walls of the chamber are in pristine condition with no signs of heat lines/ fissures. The rim top is clean and appears to have been unevenly scraped to remove the lava overflow resulting in an undulating rim top surface. Two prominent cracks are seen over the rim top surface; the larger crack in the 4 ‘O’ clock direction extends from the inner to the outer edge while the smaller crack in 11 ‘O’ clock direction extends about half way across the rim surface from the inner edge. These cracks are encircled in red. The inner rim edge appears to have been scraped with a pocket knife to remove any charring that would have been present in the past and is uneven with a couple of dents (indicated with green arrows) making the bowl appear out of round. The outer rim edge is scorched in three places; 10 ‘O’ clock, 3 ‘O’ clock and 7 ‘O’ clock directions (encircled in yellow). In spite of the thin cake, the chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The undulating and cracks on the rim top surface, and the out of round chamber are the major issues that would need to be dealt with.  I was surprised to note that, in spite of being the lowest grade in Charatan’s line up, there is not a single fill in the stummel surface and the surface boasts of some beautiful cross grain around the sides and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the front and back of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a lifeless, dull and dirty appearance. The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. I absolutely love the old dark reddish brown color and the patina that has developed over time that I intend to preserve during the restoration. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains.   The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone and the button edge on either surface show some minor tooth indentations. The horizontal slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up. The Process
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the little remaining cake from the chamber and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was could make out a couple of minor heat fissures (encircled in yellow). With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the minor charring from the inner rim edge. The ghosting is still prevalent and will, in all probability, be addressed/ reduced once the shank internals are cleaned. I took a closer look at the heat fissures and it was a big relief to note that the heat fissures are superficial save for the one in 4 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow) which would need to be addressed. I intend to remove the charred briar from the heat fissure and fill it with J B Weld and subsequently coat the bowl with activated charcoal and yogurt to protect it from coming in direct contact with the burning tobacco.   Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used points to how dirt the shank internals were. I continued further cleaning of the mortise and the shank with shank brushes and dish washing soap. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. The old smells are still strong and would require more invasive methods to completely eliminate the ghosting.   I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I usually use cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and filled it with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton balls are dark colored and along with alcohol, had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls from the chamber and the pipe cleaner with cotton balls from the shank and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it by scarping the walls with a dental tool to completely remove the gunk. I wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By next day, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history. With the stummel set aside for drying, I turned to address the stem issues. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I followed it up with cleaning the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. I further cleaned the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end and the horizontal slot. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. I used a tightly folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to shape and re-define the button edge on either surface. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. Continuing with the stem refurbishing, I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. The stem should polish up nicely.Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the stem surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.  Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad. As brought out earlier, in this project, I intended to preserve the patina and the original stain on the stummel and hence, the deviation from the usual process of scrubbing the surface with oil soap and dishing cleaning soap followed with rinsing under warm water. I shall polish the stummel by dry sanding with micromesh pads to bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlighting the grains. With the internal and external cleaning of the stummel completed, I turn to addressing the issues of rim damage. I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth and even surface. The charred surface in the 2 o’clock direction has been greatly reduced but is still visible (encircled in red). I had anticipated that the crack would be addressed at this stage itself if it had been superficial. However, that was not to be. Both the cracks, larger one in 4 o’clock and the smaller one in 11 o’ clock direction are still visible and indicated with blue arrows. I shall drill counter holes to prevent the spread of these cracks.  I again checked the alignment of the crack on the rim surface with the heat fissures in the chamber walls. With a sharp dental tool, I probed the heat lines. The heat line that aligned with the smaller crack is just superficial and the surrounding briar was solid. However, the heat fissure that aligned with the larger crack did have soft charred briar in it and would need to be addressed. I also checked the stummel surface to see if the crack extended over the stummel and was mighty pleased to note that it did not. What a relief!!   I marked the end points of the two cracks with a sharp dental tool. These marks also help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. With my hand held rotary tool mounted with a 0.1 mm drill bit, I drill counter holes at the end points. These counter holes arrests the further spread of these cracks. I fill this crack and the counter holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to harden.   Next, with a sharp dental tool, I completely removed the charred briar from the heat line that aligned with the larger crack in 4 o’clock direction. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I squeezed out the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.  By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the counter hole fills over the rim top and the J B Weld coat to the wall of the chamber had completely cured and hardened considerably. I sand the rim top fills with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the rim surface. I fine tune the match with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. Next, using a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the J B Weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage.With the repairs to the cracks and heat fissure completed, I addressed the out of round inner edge and the slight charring to the inner rim edge in 4 o’clock direction by creating a nice deep bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger.  I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with the original reddish brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really like the dark reddish brown coloration and the patina that is seen over the stummel surface.     Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and work it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful straight and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light reddish brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needed to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated crack needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To refresh the stem logo, I coat the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely while I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. Though the logo is not very crisp, this is the best that was possible given how worn out the stamping was to start with.  To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a deep reddish brown and aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second inning with me. I would like to express my gratitude to all the readers of rebornpipes who have made the effort to walk through this journey with me and shared their words of encouragement through their comments and suggestions. This does help me gain experience and grow in this hobby about which I am very passionate.

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…