Restemming and Rebirthing a L’Artigiana Italian Made Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came to us from a recent pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife did in Utah. It is an interesting Freehand bowl that has a heavy rustication around the bowl and shank and a plateau rim top and shank end. It has a smooth panel on the left side where it is stamped. It reads L’Artigiana [over] Italy. I think that this will be another nice looking piece once it is cleaned up and restemmed. The bowl is thickly caked with an overflow of lava filling in much of the plateau rim top. The rustication around the bowl and shank are very deep and craggy and filled in with a lot of dust and debris. The top and edges of the bowl look good but I would be more certain once I reamed and cleaned it. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. He took a photo of the plateau rim top to show the cake in the bowl, the lava on the rim top and the inner edge.  The lava coat on the rim top filled in the plateau top to the point of the valleys being filled in.The next photos show the rustication portions of the bowl. The dust and debris has filled in many of the deepest grooves in the rustication. It is a pretty nice looking pipe under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is faint on the left end but is otherwise readable in the photo below and is as noted above. I turned to Pipedia to read about L Artigiana Pipes. There was no specific listing for the brand but under the Makers list it was listed as a sub brand or second connected the brand to Cesare Barontini ( Quote:

Cesare Barontini sub-brand / second.

From there I turned to the article that I have read previous on Pipedia about Ceare Barontini (,_Cesare).

In 1890 Turildo Barontini opened a factory for the production of briar. In 1925 his son Bruno began to produce the first pipes. Cesare Barontini, son of Bruno, started direction of the factory in 1955, and still runs it together with his daughters Barbara and Silvia.

Sub-brands & Seconds:

Aldo Velani





See also Barontini, Ilio, Cesare’s cousin.

I love the description as it truly captures the shape and beauty of this freehand pipe. The article above stated that the pipe is handcrafted by artists so that each one is a unique piece. It is cut from the plateau to leave that exposed on the top of the rim and down the shank to the end. It has a thumb hole cut for comfort in holding it while smoking. It is suggested that pipe sold for $60. Now 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. It looked very good but I forgot to take photos of the bowl when I brought it to the table – one of those days I guess. You will get a feel for it in the photos below.

I found a perfect fancy stem for the pipe in my stem can that was a potential candidate for the pipe. The issue with it was that the tenon had broken somewhere in its life. I tend to keep this kind of thing around as I have learned that I seem to always have a use for them. I drilled out the airway with a series of drill bits starting with one slightly larger than the airway in the stem and ending with one that would fit the threaded end of the new tenon. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway and painted the threaded tenon end with black super glue. I threaded the new tenon onto the pipe cleaner and pressed it into the hole in the stem. I set it aside to let the glue cure while I worked on the bowl. Now you will finally see the bowl! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. 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. Eventually I would need to soak it in Briarville’s Deoxidizer but I had some work to do first to clean the damages to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to raise all of them on the underside and all but one on the top side.  Before I put the stem in the soak I decided to put it in the shank and take pictures of the pipe at this point in the process. I am really pleased with the overall look. Once the vulcanite is polished the stem will look perfect with the pipe. I removed the stem from the pipe and put it in the bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover overnight to let it do its magic. When I took it out of the bath I dried it off with a paper towel and rubbed off the product it had softened the oxidation but did not remove it. Lot of sanding and polishing remained on this one.I sanded the top surface of the stem and filled in the tooth mark along the button with black super glue. Once the glue cured I used a small file to flatten out the repair. I followed that by sanding the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation remaining on the stem. I started to polish the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite 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.     With both parts of this unique L’Artigiana Freehand finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The mix of grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained L’Artigiana Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interestingly made Freehand will be going onto the rebornpipes store very soon. If you would like to purchase it and carry on the legacy of the previous pipe smoke send a message or an email to me. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Italian Made L’Artigiana pipe. 

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