Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I have chosen is a smooth, classic Bulldog that was incredibly dirty. The grime on the finish pretty much obscured the grain around the bowl sides. There was a peeling varnish coat underneath the grime that made it even worse. The contrast of stains made the grain stand out clearly. Jeff and picked it from a fellow in Fort Meyers, Florida, USA. It was stamped on the left side of the shank. The stamping was readable. It read Golden Burl [over] Made in France. On the right side of the shank it was stamped Imported Briar [over] the shape number 2. It was in worn condition when he brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the beveled rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had heavy tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. There were also deep tooth marks on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the beveled inner edge. It is heavily caked with a thick lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The button itself is also heavily damaged with tooth marks. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show grain that was around this bowl. It looks like it will be a nice looking pipe under the grime and peeling varnish. He took a photo of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above – on the left side it reads Golden Burl [over] Made in France. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar [over] shape number 2. I turned to Pipephil’s website to hunt down the brand and found the Golden Burl French Made Imported Briar Pipes (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g4.html#goldenburl). I followed the connection on the above page to the site for Ropp, a well-known French Pipe Company (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-ropp.html). The pipe was a second line by Ropp.I quote from the above screen capture.
Brand created by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) and continued throughout 3 generations. “GBA Synergie” run by Bernard Amiel (†2008) bought back Ropp in 1988 and owned it until 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.
I then turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp) and checked out the listing for Ropp. I quote the article as a whole. The last line in the article has the Golden Burl pipe listed as second by Ropp.
Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).
The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.
Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.
Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994
Some “seconds” by Ropp: Golden Burl, Grande Morez, Nantua and Versailles.
I knew that I was dealing with a Ropp Made in France Golden Burl – second line of the company. It has a shape number 2 and I think was made for Export into the American Market. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges look good over all but there is a chip out of the outer rim on the backside of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the remaining deep tooth marks on the surface and on the button. I took photos of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I decided to begin my work on the pipe be repairing the chip out of the outer rim on the back of the bowl. I filled it in with briar dust and super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. It removed the remnant spots of varnish that were still on the shank end and back of the bowl. 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 a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I painted the surface of the stem with a lighter to lift the tooth marks as much as possible and then filled in the deep spot on the stem surface and on the surface of the button itself with black super glue. I rebuilt the top and edge on both sides at the same time. Once the glue cured I used a needle file to flatten out the repair and reshape the button. I continued to smooth out the rebuilt button and the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this Golden Burl 2 French Made Bulldog. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This mixed grain on the smooth finish of the Golden Burl Bulldog is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.