Monthly Archives: October 2020

Breathing Life into an Italian Made Octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Barbourville, Kentucky, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown octagonal sitter in a shape that I call a Don. The stem is inserted in the small ferrule on the backside of the bowl. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. There were fills but all was covered by a thick coat of shiny varnish. The pipe was filthy but otherwise in surprisingly good condition. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the beveled inner edge of the rim top. The outer edge of the rim was in good condition. The pipe is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads “Setter” [over] Real Briar [over] Italy. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem was oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was no logo or brand mark on the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the beveled inner edge of the bowl. The stem is oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.     Jeff took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed looking at the back of the of the bowl to give a sense of the shape of the pipe. The stamping on the heel of the bowl read as noted above. The photo shows that it is very readable.    I looked in all my usual places for information on the “Setter” brand and came up with nothing. I turned to Who Made that Pipe and found two listings that gave some interesting possibilities for me. It could have been made for Hudson’s Universal Pipes or from KB&B/Kaywoodie. It could easily have been made by either company from Italian briar. I suppose I will never know for sure.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 vulcanite stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.     The rim top and edges cleaned up really well. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button. The stamping on the heel of the bowl is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.     I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by removing the thick varnish coat that made the pipe look like it was not real briar. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad and was able to remove a lot of the varnish. On one side of the octagon there was a fill that had some chips in it. I filled in those areas with clear CA glue. Once the repair cured I sanded the entire bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and to remove the last of the varnish. I started the polishing with 400 wet dry sandpaper to deal with scratches left behind. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    In the morning I headed back to the basement to work on the stem. My eldest daughter is visiting and her little MinPin/Chihuahua Frankie came down with me. He has been hanging out with me keeping me company. He seems to know there is a hole in our hearts and he is stepping in to fill it! We set up a bed and his food and water near the desk where Spencer used to sleep and he loves snoozing there. This morning he came downstairs with me and stood by my chair. He made it clear that he wanted up. He jumped on my lap and then onto the desk top and sat down on my left to “supervise” what I was doing. He was content to just sit and watch me. Every so often he would give me a smooch to let know he was watching. I captured this photo with the camera on the computer… the Spencer’s supervisor role has been handed to the next generation… at least when he is visiting.Once he was settled I turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the oxidation with Soft Scrub cleanser and was able to remove the majority of it. The rest would polish and buff out.     I polished the 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 little octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don Pipe turned out to be a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the eight bowl sides make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great without the thick varnish coat and the brown stains work well to highlight the grain around the bowl. The polished thin military style vulcanite taper stem adds a nice contrast when inserted in the nickel ferrule. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the heel of the bowl. 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. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished “Setter” is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 22g/.81oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This “Setter” Don will be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Breathing Life into a Canadian Made Paradis Porte St. Louis Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Romney, West Virginia, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown bent billiard with a variegated orange/brown acrylic stem. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. The pipe was filthy and there was significant rim top and edge damage. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like under the lava coat. The outer edge of the rim had some chips around the edges. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Paradis [over] Porte St. Louis on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the number 76 which is either the shape number of the year the pipe was made. The name Porte St. Louis refers to a historic gate in Old Quebec that is part of the city’s extensive fortification system.  The stem was dirty and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was Paradis cursive P logo on the left side of the acrylic taper stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it.Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge looked like but the outer edge was a mess. Looking at the outside of the bowl from the top down it is not round and is thinner toward the back. The inside of the bowl is still quite round. The stem is lightly oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.   Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain on the piece of briar. The stamping on the sides of the shank read as noted above. The photos show that they are very readable. The P logo on the left side of the stem is in good condition.    I turned first to Pipephil’s site for a quick summary (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p1.html). I have included a screen capture of the information on the site.The Paradis brand was made by the Paradis brothers in Quebec but did not remember much more than that so I turned to Pipedia for more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes) and learned the following:

Paradis Pipes is the Canadian brand of the brothers Gilles and Fernand Paradis. In 1922 the Paradis family moved to the USA, when Lucien Paradis (1906-1979) was 16 years old. It was at this age that he started as an apprentice at his uncle’s pipe factory, Joseph B. Desjardins, maker of (JD) pipes, in Fall River, MA. Joseph Desjardins was issued two patents during this period, one for a new machine for making pipe stems and another for a new design of pipe reamer. The company employed 60 workers at one stage.

In 1930, due to the Great Depressions, Lucien lost his job and returned to Quebec to work in the agricultural machine industry. In his spare time, he made pipes, selling them door to door. Three years later the rest of the family joined him and Lucien founded a pipe factory with two of his brothers. The company eventually employed 18 workers and in the 60s produced over 50 thousand pipes a year, under brands like JBL, Dr. Thomas, Fernand Gignac, S.C. Pipes, New London Golfer, and Jo Thomassin.

Paradis was founded in 1978, at the Salon of Quebec Artisans’ and is available in tobacconists all over the country today. The brand produces 8000 pipes a year (400 “handmade”), with Greek briar (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes).

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 scrubbed the acrylic stem Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. There was about a ¼ inch of the stem and the entire button was in the bottom of the bag that the pipe was packed in. 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 show damage from being knocked against a hard surface. There is some darkening on the beveled inner edge of the bowl and bowl is slightly out of round.  The stem surface looked very good with tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button.The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it cleaned up the rim top damage was minimized. I sanded the outer edge of the bowl with the sandpaper to smooth out the damage.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the 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 Paradis Porte St Louis Bent Billiard is a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great and the brown stains work well to give some contrast to the polished variegated orange/brown acrylic taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Paradis Bent Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 38g/1.34oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Canadian Made Bent Billiard will be added to the Canadian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

A Farewell to my Work Buddy Spencer – A Comoy’s Extraordinaire 804 Rusticated Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The pipe on the work table now came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast back in 2018. It turns out that it is the last pipe that I will have worked on with my Supervising Buddy Spencer, my Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel. While I was working on the rim top this morning he slipped over the rainbow bridge curled at my feet in his usual place. I will miss his presence and his wet nose nudging me for a treat…

This is a big pipe at 9 ½ inches long and 2 ½ inches tall. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads Comoy’s [over] Extraordinaire followed by the shape number 804. It is a handful that is for sure. The deeply rusticated finish has a beauty of its own. It is a dirty pipe with a lot of dust and debris deep in the rusticated grooves of the rustication. The rim top is covered in a coat of lava overflowing from the thick cake in the bowl. When you realize how big the bowl is and then see that the cake fills in over half of the bowl you can see how thick it is. The cake is rock hard and will be a bear to ream out. It is hard to know the condition of the inner edge but the front outer edge has some damage from being knocked hard on something to remove the dottle from the bowl. The stem is probably a replacement and does not have an inset C on the side or topside. It is an old one in that it has the same feel as the Solid Rubber stems. It is oxidized, calcified and has deep tooth marks on the underside near the button and chatter on the top side. It will be an interesting looking pipe once it is cleaned up. Jeff took these photos before he started his cleanup work.The next photo Jeff took gives a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. It is one well-loved pipe and the previous pipeman must have smoked it all the time. It is a good sign that it is a great smoker. He also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the toot marks on the surface. The top side is in better condition than the underside.  He took photos of the sides and heel of the pipe to show the overall condition of the finish on the bowl. It is a deep swirling rustication. The next photo shows the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. The stamping is readable but the Extraordinaire and shape number 804 are faint.I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html) to look up the Extraordinaire line. I did a screen capture of the second on the line and have included it below. The sidebar on the left of the picture below reads: The “Extraordinaire” designation was given to either oversized pipes or to unusual pipes. This pipe fits both designations – it is large and it is unusual.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Comoy’s (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). It gives a great history of the brand and toward the bottom of the page it had the picture below. It shows a contrast between the Extraordinaire 804 and a Group 4 sized Dunhill 120 for comparison. The caption below the photo says that this pipe is a 1930’s Comoy’s pipe.

1930’s Comoy’s 804 Extraordinaire shown with a 1965 Group 4 sized Dunhill 120 (which is the equivalent of a Group 5 size today) for size comparison – Courtesy of Mike Ahmadi.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge on the back. The outer edge is rough on the front and the right side from knocking the pipe against something hard. It is hard to know if the rim top was rusticated or smooth from the damage on it. The back rim top looks like it may have been rusticated. The stem surface had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage.  I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the rim top and outer edges of  the bowl. I used some clear super glue and briar dust to rebuild the front outer edge and the right side edge and then retopped the bowl. With the top and rim edge cleaned up I used my Dremel and the burrs shown in the photo below to rusticate the rim and try to approximate what was visible in the photos above. I finished the rustication with the wire brush on the Dremel as well. When I had it way I wanted I stained it with three stain pens mixed together to give the stain depth – Black, Walnut and Maple. The second photo below shows the rim top. What do you think? I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rim top, 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 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top and underside with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair cured I used a rasp and a small file to flatten the repairs and recut the button edge on both sides. I sanded the stem smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dray sand paper. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This restoration is for you Spencer, my fellow curmudgeon and friend… I already miss you greatly and find myself looking over where you used to lay and reaching for a treat and a rub behind your ears… The pipe is a big one with a big personality just like yours buddy. It is a Comoy’s Extraordinaire 804 Bent Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem. It is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and lightly buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. 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 Comoy’s Extraordinaire is a real handful and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 9 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 43g/1.52oz. This is one is a keeper and will go in my rack in memory of my old boy… Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Breathing New Life into a Gutta-Percha Revolver Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts on the Oregon Coast. Over the past year or so we have picked up several of these. It is an interesting pipe in that the base is shaped like a revolver pistol and made out of gutta-percha while the handle of the pistol is made from briar. It is threaded and screws into the base of the bowl. The bowl has three air holes in the bottom of the bowl surrounding a larger centre hole. To me it seems a bit of an oddity to put the barrel of the gun into your mouth and suck on the smoke but then, to each his/her own I guess. This one had definitely been smoked. While the bottom of the bowl was raw briar the top half had some cake on it and some light lava overflow on the rim top. The gutta-percha base had a lot of well carved nooks and crannies that had been filled in with dust and debris. There was also some gummy substance around the middle of the shank/barrel that appeared to be material from a sales label. Jeff took 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 on the top half of the bowl. There were spots of lava on the rim top. The varnish coat was also peeling and blistering. He also took photos of the barrel or shank of the pipe to show the sticky substance all around it. The top and underside of the stem show chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the varnish coat. The first photo shows the only stamping on the pipe – MADE IN FRANCE. I have worked on quite a few gutta-percha pipes over the years so I turned to a blog I did on the material the pipe was made from (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/08/59256/). I quote from that blog below.

That led me to do some research on the web to see what I could find out about the material. (Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Google. I don’t know how I survived college and graduate school without it.) The first link I found and turned to was on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutta-percha). I quote large portions of that article below to set the base for understanding the material’s composition and origin.

Scientifically classified in 1843, it was found to be a useful natural thermoplastic. In 1851, 30,000 long cwt (1,500,000 kg) of gutta-percha was imported into Britain.

During the second half of the 19th century, gutta-percha was used for myriad domestic and industrial purposes, and it became a household word (emphasis mine). In particular, it was needed as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, which, according to author John Tully, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

According to Harvey Wickes Felter and John Uri Lloyd’s Endodontology: “Even long before Gutta-percha was introduced into the western world, it was used in a less processed form by the natives of the Malaysian archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and other purposes. The first European to discover this material was John Tradescant, who collected it in the Far East in 1656. He named this material “Mazer wood”. Dr. William Montgomerie, a medical officer in Indian service, introduced gutta-percha into practical use in the West. He was the first to appreciate the potential of this material in medicine, and he was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts, London in 1843.”

…In the mid-19th century, gutta-percha was also used to make furniture, notably by the Gutta-Percha Company (established in 1847). Several of these ornate, revival-style pieces were shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. When hot it could be moulded into furniture, decorations or utensils (emphasis mine).

It was also used to make “mourning” jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes (emphasis mine). Pistol hand grips and rifle shoulder pads were also made from gutta-percha, since it was hard and durable, though it fell into disuse when plastics such as Bakelite became available (emphasis mine). Gutta-percha found use in canes and walking sticks, as well.

The material was adopted for other applications. The “guttie” golf ball (which had a solid gutta-percha core) revolutionized the game. Gutta-percha remained an industrial staple well into the 20th Century, when it was gradually replaced with superior (generally synthetic) materials, though a similar and cheaper natural material called balatá is often used in gutta-percha’s place. The two materials are almost identical, and balatá is often called gutta-balatá.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 scrubbed the base with the Oil Soap and rinsed it off with warm water. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. The varnish coat on the bowl was still spotty and would need to go but otherwise it was quite nice. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem portion of the base had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I removed the bowl from the base and took photos of the parts. The threaded bottom of the bowl was in good condition. There some staining on the face of the bowl and on the bottom of the portion of the bowl that screwed into the base.   I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the varnish coat from the briar. The briar looked much better without the shiny coat. I wiped down the threads with acetone as well to remove the grit in the threads.   I polished the bowl and the rim top and sides with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a cloth.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl top and sides 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.     It was in very good condition so I polished the gutta-percha stem portion of the base 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 Gutta-percha and Briar Bowled Revolver with a barrel shaped like a gun barrel is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the bowl back on the base 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 carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the bowl with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Revolver Shaped Pipe fits 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 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 33g/1.16oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Beautification for an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 30 Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120+ Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Bertram Bent Bulldog Grade 30 with a saddle vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the top left side of the diamond shank and reads 30. Next to that it is stamped on the top of the left side of the diamond shank it is stamped Bertrams [over] a faintly stamped Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There are also some nicks on the backside of the bowl toward the back top. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 the lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and deep tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. There were also two notable fills – one on the back edge of the rim cap and one where the shank joins the bowl. He took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is on the top of the left side near the bowl and reads 30. As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/). I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Bent Bulldog has a nice mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 30 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge on the back. The inner edge of the rim is out of round from the damage. The stem surface had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.     I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The shape number 30 is followed by the brand stamp Bertram Washington DC is on the top of the left side mid shank.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage.  I used a Cherry Stain Pen to touch up the sanded areas and blend them into the bowl. I am still experimenting on the best time to stain. In this case I did it before polishing with micromesh to see how that would work. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a cloth.    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 and turned to work on the stem. Of all the Bertram stems I have worked on from this lot this pipe had the deepest tooth marks. I painted the surface with a lighter flame to lift them and made very little progress. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair cured I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dray sand paper. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Bertram Washington DC Grade 30 Bent Bulldog with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Bertram 30 Bulldog fits 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 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 43g/1.52oz. 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!

Restoring An Early Butz Choquin “A Metz” No. 2


Blog by Paresh

Over the last few years that I have been on eBay, I have had mixed experiences about buying pipes. After a few trial and errors and dealing with various sellers on eBay, I have shortlisted a few sellers who have consistently and flawlessly been delivering pipes to me and over the years a bonding has developed between us. The best part about these sellers is the description of the condition of the pipe that is up for sale/ auction. One such seller is a French gentleman who always has unique French pipes up for sale in his store. The next pipe that got my attention is a beautiful bent billiard with a horn stem that came to me from this seller last year.

The pipe is a large bowled bent billiards with brass shank end band with a dark brown cherry wood (?) shank extension and a horn stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “BUTZ- CHOQUIN” in an arch over “A” over “METZ” in an inverted arch, all in block capital letters. The bottom of the shank bears the stamp “No 2” at the shank end just below the brass band. The horn saddle stem has the logo “B C” stamped in to the left side of the saddle. The brass band is stamped as “DOUBLE” over “B” followed by four leaf clover followed by letter “L”. The entire stamping on the brass band is within a shield cartouche. An interesting piece of information that I learned is that the Four Leaf Clover is a symbol of GOOD LUCK! Nearly two years ago I had worked on another inherited CHOQUIN A METZ with an Albatross wing bone shank extension and horn stem. The pipe had silver adornments at the shank end and tenon end of the horn stem. Here is the link to the write up;

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/17/a-challenging-restoration-of-vintage-era-first-choquin-a-metz/#comments

I had researched the pipe and the brand then and also recollect the overwhelming response to the queries that I had posted on pipe restorers group on FB. The similarity in the stampings was proof enough for me to be convinced that the pipe currently on my work table is from the early 1900s. But I was desirous of trying to narrow down to an exact period.

I searched pipedia.org to see if it contained the details that I sought. The site has very scant information about the brand with lots of pictures, but what is available makes it an interesting read and I quote;

“The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings. (The above describes the CHOQUIN A METZ pipe I had worked on earlier dating it to 1858)

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of Butz-Choquin. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.”

From the above reading, this pipe is pre-1951 when Berrod- Regad purchased the trademark and relocated the workshop to Saint- Claude. The stampings of A METZ is the proof pointing towards pre-1951, the birth town of Butz- Choquin pipes. Secondly, the horn stem and cherrywood shank extension narrows down the dating to be pre-1920 since thereafter, vulcanite and other stem materials gained popularity and preference over bone/ horn stem. Thus, I think the pipe dates from somewhere 1910s to 1920.

I have reproduced some snippets of information about Cherry wood for those readers not familiar with this wood (like me of course!)

GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The heartwood of cherry varies from rich red to reddish brown and will darken with age and on exposure to light. In contrast, the sapwood is creamy white. The wood has a straight-grain, a fine, uniform, satiny and smooth texture, and naturally may contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets.

WORKING PROPERTIES
Cherry is easy to machine, nails and glues well, and when sanded and stained, it produces an excellent, smooth finish. It dries fairly quickly with moderately high shrinkage, but dimensionally is stable after kiln-drying.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
Cherry is of medium density with good bending properties, has low stiffness, and medium strength and shock resistance.

AVAILABILITY
Readily available.

MAIN USES
Fine furniture and cabinet making, moulding and millwork, kitchen cabinets, paneling, flooring, doors, boat interiors, musical instruments, turnings, and carvings.

Initial Visual Inspection
This is a three piece Butz- Choquin pipe with a briar stummel, a Cherry wood shank extension and a horn stem. The first thing noticed was the fit of the shank extension in to the stummel (marked with blue arrows) and that of the screw in tenon end of the shank extension in to the stem (marked with red arrows) was not flush and seamless. The stummel shows some nice mixed straight and cross grains all across. The stummel had dirt and grime accumulated over the surface giving it a dull and lifeless look. One fill is visible on the right side in the stummel surface. The pipe, as it sits on my work table, is shown below. Detailed Visual Inspection
As observed earlier, the pipe has three parts, the briar stummel, a tapered Cherry wood shank extension and lastly a horn stem. Each of these three parts will be inspected and addressed separately.The chamber has a thin even layer of cake in the chamber. The chamber walls shows signs of being gouged with some sharp serrated tool that may have been used for reaming. The rim top surface is without any serious damage, save for some minor dents. The inner rim edge has been made uneven by reaming with a knife and appears slightly darkened at the front and rear of the stummel. However, the outer edge has a few very minor dents and dings. The old smells from the tobacco are overwhelming. The gouges to the walls are most probably limited over the surface of the thin layer of cake and should be eliminated once the cake is completely reamed out. The issues of minor dents/ dings over the rim top and darkened inner rim edges will be addressed by topping. Cleaning of the chamber should reduce these old ghosting smells. The stummel surface has a thin coat of lacquer that has peeled off from the surface at a number of places. The stummel, with some beautiful scattered mix of straight and cross grains over the entire surface, has dirt and grime ground in to it over the years. However, these grains are hidden under all the dirt and grime. The stummel has one large fill in the briar on the right side (encircled in pastel blue) and a number of minor scratches all over the surface. Once the stummel surface has been thoroughly cleaned, the beautiful grains over the surface should be easily appreciable. I shall refresh the single fill with a mix of briar dust and superglue. Sanding the surface with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper will address the issue of scratches and also completely eliminate the lacquer coating.   The draught hole opening in to the mortise is drilled above the end wall of the mortise, forming a sump/ well for accumulating the oils and tars, thus providing a dry smoke. This sump is dirty with accumulation of old oils and tars. The draught hole is also clogged making the draw hard and laborious. The cleaning of the sump will necessitate resorting to salt and alcohol treatment. Once this process is completed, the ghosting should be completely eliminated.   The brass shank end band came off easily. The band is completely oxidized from inside as well as outside with signs of corrosion over the inside surface. The band is cracked at one place. There is nothing much I can do about the crack in the band other than stabilize it with superglue. Maybe a weld could be a permanent solution, but neither do I have the expertise nor the equipment to execute such metal repairs. I shall polish the brass band to a nice shine and this will add some nice bling to the overall appearance of the pipe. The tapered Cherry wood shank extension still has the bark intact over the surface. The cherry wood extension is a nice reddish brown colored piece that has taken on darker hues with age (remember the property of a cherry wood that I have mentioned above?). This bark has been chipped in a few places exposing the light colored inner surface. The tenon end of this extension has a prominent groove (marked with yellow arrows) that suggest the presence of a band at the end that had come loose over a period of time and is now lost. The threaded tenon end of this extension has worn off threads (indicated with blue arrows) while the extension that fits in to the shank has cracked surface (marked with pastel blue arrows). The threaded stem end tenon is tapered and shows heavy accumulation dried glue and debris at the base. This, most likely, is the reason for the gap between the horn stem and the shank extension when fitted. The shank end tenon has a inner tube that provides the required rigidity and protection to the tenon. Both ends of the shank extensions are covered in dried oils, tars and gunk. I shall fabricate and fix a brass band over the shank extension at the stem end. Once the brass band is in place and the dried glue and debris from the base of the stem end of the tenon is cleaned, the seating of the stem over the cherry wood shank extension would be flush and seamless (I hope so!!). The issue of worn out threads can be addressed in two ways; firstly coat the tenon with clear nail polish which, while being a temporary solution, has the advantage of being able to take on grooves matching the stem and making for a better fit. The second option is of using CA superglue coating which is a more permanent solution but, I guess, will make for a push- pull type of fit between the shank extension and the horn stem when the glue hardens. I shall decide on the best course of action whence I reach that stage in restoration.  The stem is a beautiful tapered saddle stem that is made from horn. The dark and light fibrous striations contrast beautifully all along the stem surface. The stem is bone dry and dirty. There is a deep tooth indentation on either surface of the stem in the bite zone. The button edges on either surface are slightly worn out with a few bite marks. The oval horizontal slot is completely clogged with accumulated oils and tars. The threaded saddle end too shows accumulated gunk. The insides of the saddle stem are lined with a thick felt lining (indicated with violet arrows) that was put in place to snugly hold the worn out tenon of the shank extension in place. This too could be a contributory factor for the incorrect seating of the stem over the cherry wood shank extension. The major challenge in this project will be to ensure a correctly aligned and flushed seating of all the parts in to each other to improve the aesthetics and functionality of the pipe. The thick felt lining needs to be removed as it is unhygienic and most importantly, it was not supposed to be there in the first place!! The horn stem, once cleaned and polished and hydrated will look stunning to say the least with the contrasting dark and light cretin fibers making for a visual treat.  The Process
I started this project by reaming the chamber, with size 3 head of PipNet reamer. With my fabricated knife, I removed the cake from areas where the reamer head could not reach. I used a 180 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust presenting the walls for my inspection. The ghosting is still significant and I think more than the chamber, it the gunk in the sump and mortise that is the main culprit for the old smells. The chamber wall are in pristine condition save for some minor scratches that still remain from the old reaming. The draught hole appears slightly widened and extended forming a small channel to the foot of the chamber, likely caused due to enthusiastic use of pipe cleaner by the previous piper. These issues are superfluous, cosmetic and inconsequential to the overall functionality. The chamber wall and foot are all solid with another century of smoking pleasures left in it.   I followed up the cleaning of the chamber with that of the shank internals. Using my fabricated knife and dental tools, I first scrapped out as much of the accumulated dried crud from the sump and walls of the mortise as was possible. I further cleaned the mortise with q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners and alcohol, I cleaned the shank internals and the airway. A number of pipe cleaners later, the shank internals are somewhat clean however, the draw is nice, smooth and even. Traces of old oils and tars can be seen at the end of the mortise and at the base of the sump. The ghosting is still pretty strong and would necessitate using more invasive methods to eliminate these old smells. Before subjecting the stummel to salt and alcohol bath, I decided to clean the external stummel surface to remove the thin coat of lacquer and the dried glue from the shank end. I wiped the surface with pure acetone on a cotton swab. Though the lacquer coat is completely removed, the dried glue did not give way. The ghost smells in the chamber were still quite strong and hence I decided to address this issue. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I use a cotton ball which is an at par substitute to the kosher salt as I have realized over the last few years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim’s inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol goes down, having been absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and scraped out all the loosened tars and gunk from the sump. However, the airway and the draught hole was a different story. For the love of money, I couldn’t get a folded pipe cleaner in through the airway. The moistened gunk was so hard and tightly packed that I also had to use a drill tool from the Kleen Reem reamer tool to dislodge the gunk from within the air way. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush, Scotch Brite pad and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel, horn stem and the cherry wood shank extension. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel, stem and shank extension under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the internals of the shank, shank extension and stem, with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the all the three parts aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. Next, I removed the old fills from the stummel surface with a sharp dental tool. I cleaned the gouged out spots with cotton swab and alcohol in preparation for a fresh fill. Using the layering method, I filled the gouged out spots with CA superglue and briar dust. I always ensure that the fill is above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in subsequent sanding and blending in of the fills with rest of the surrounding surface. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure.  While the stummel fill was curing, I tackled the issues with the cherry wood shank extension. I begin with cleaning and removing all the dried glue and debris from the base of stem end tenon of the shank extension using dental tools and sharp knife. I scrapped out all the dried glue and pieces of the felt lining from the tenon and wiped it with cotton swabs and alcohol. However, hidden beneath all the dried glue and debris was a crack that ran the entire length of the tenon (indicated with yellow arrows). Close scrutiny of the crack assured me that the crack, though deep, did not extend to the inner wall of the tenon. I shall stabilize the crack first by filling it with thin CA superglue (for deeper spread) and further strengthen it with a coat of medium CA superglue. In fact, I decided to coat the entire tenon with superglue to provide a protective coat over the tenon surface.   I further cleaned the tenon with a Scotch Brite pad and dish washing soap in preparation of coating it with superglue. The stem end tenon cleaned up nicely. Just to be on the safer side, I insert an old pipe cleaner smeared with petroleum jelly in to the tenon. This will prevent clogging of the tenon airway in the event that the superglue percolated inside the airway. I filled the crack with thin CA superglue and once that had cured, I coated the entire tenon with a thin layer of medium CA superglue. I set the shank extension aside for the glue to harden.  Next, I worked on the horn stem and cleaned out all the old felt cloth lining and gunk from the threaded saddle portion of the horn stem. I further cleaned the stem internals and insides of the saddle with pipe cleaners, q- tips and isopropyl alcohol. The threads in the saddle are nice and deep and would help in creating matching threads over the superglue coated tenon in the shank extension.   Continuing with the stem repairs, I filled the deep tooth indentation in the bite zone on the upper stem surface with clear medium CA superglue. Once the fill had hardened sufficiently, I similarly filled the tooth indentation in the lower stem surface. I set the stem aside for the fills to cure. By this time, the superglue coat over the tenon of the shank extension had completely cured and I could continue with working on the shank extension. I decided to attach the missing brass band at the stem end of the shank extension. I rummaged through the various bands that I have and found one that was a near match with the size of the stem end of the shank extension. I tried a rough fit and realized that the band was a tad smaller than the shank extension face and also the band was larger than the groove in the shank extension surface. I addressed these issues by sanding down the shank extension end to match the band size and sanding down the band to a size that would fit the groove. I have had a terrible experience of using a sanding drum on my hand held rotary tool once and since then I have been doing such band modifications by manually sanding it on a piece of 150 grit sand paper. I fixed the modified band to the shank extension using superglue. The aesthetics of the pipe has been transformed completely by this addition and I am very pleased with the appearance of the shank extension at this point. Next, I addressed the issue of the exposed lighter hued surface in the shank extension caused due to chipped bark from the surface. I stained the lighter surface with a Mahogany stain pen followed by a coat with black sharpie pen. I applied the coat alternatively in layers till I achieved a perfect blend with the rest of the shank extension surface.   With the stem repairs being set aside for curing and the shank extension repairs completed, it was time to work on the stummel again. The stummel fill has cured completely at this point in time. With a flat head needle file I sand the fill and achieved a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. To achieve a perfect blending in of the fill I sand the entire stummel surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. The minor scratches that were observed at the bottom surface of the shank were also addressed by this sanding. The fill has blended in nicely and further polishing with micromesh pads should further mask this fill and sanding marks left behind by the abrasive 220 grit sand paper.    However, I am not very happy with the appearance of the rim top surface at this stage of restoration process. The rim top appears darkened all around and suspected charring in 2 o’clock and 9 o’clock directions (encircled in yellow). To address these issues, I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper, checking frequently for the progress being made. Once I was satisfied that the issues have been addressed, I wiped the rim top with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust. I am happy with the appearance of the rim top after topping. To bring a nice shine and eliminate the scratch marks left behind by the abrasive sandpaper, I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean simple lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar and the cherry wood extension with my finger tips 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 grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The stains that I had applied to the shank extension have perfectly blended with the rest of the cherry wood surface and look amazing in its rich dark reddish brown color. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. With the stummel completed save for the final wax polish, I turned my attention back to the stem which had been set aside for the fills to cure. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface and followed it up by sanding the fills with a 220 grit sandpaper to achieve a perfect blend. The stem repairs looked good till the time I clicked pictures of the stem at this point. I was horrified when I saw the pictures as staring back at me on the lower stem surface were air pockets and that is every pipe restorer’s nightmare!! I cleaned out the old fill and applied another coat of CA superglue. Once the glue had cured completely, I repeated the entire process of filing and sanding as described above. However, the end results were the same with air pockets still presenting themselves in all their ugliness. I had repeated the entire process of refill, curing, filing and sanding two more times with the same results!! I have to accept this fact, live with it and move ahead with polishing the stem with micromesh pads.To bring a deep shine to the horn stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the horn.  I polished the brass band at the shank end with Colgate tooth powder and it really amazes me at the shine it imparts to the metal ring. I reattached the sterling silver band to the shank end using superglue taking care that the band was firmly pressed in place. The crack in the band was also stabilized with the superglue.  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.To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave 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 deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. The coat of superglue that I had applied to the stem end tenon of the shank extension had matching threads cut in to it when I tried to seat the tenon in to the threaded saddle of the stem. However, it’s only at a particular angle that the seating of the horn stem over the shank extension is flush. It does need more tweaking, but as per my mantra “LESS IS MORE”, I shall let it be for now as the attachment of all the pipe parts in to each other is snug and solid. Maybe a few years down the line, I may address the issues of air pockets and the seating of the stem…

Thank you for your valuable time in reading through these penned processes and my thoughts. Always praying for the health and well-being of readers of rebornpipes and their loved ones. Cheers!!  

Beautification of another American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Squat Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120+ Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Bertram Squat Bulldog Grade 60 with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the lower left side of the diamond shank and reads 60. On the top of the left side of the diamond shank it is stamped Bertrams [over] a faintly stamped Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There are also some nicks on the backside of the bowl toward the back top. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 the lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. There were also two notable fills – one on the shank end right side top and bottom.He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade note is on the underside of the left and read 60. As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/). I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Squat Bulldog has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 60 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl but otherwise looked very good. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with no damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. Bertram (Washington DC is stamped faintly) is toward the top of the left side mid shank. On the underside of the shank is stamped the Grade 60 number.     I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the damage.   I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a cloth.  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 and turned to work on the stem. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Squat Bulldog with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 Bertram 60 Bulldog fits 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 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 40g/1.41oz. 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!

Refurbishing A C1977 Barling # 5264, T.V.F Square Shanked Pot


Blog by Paresh

The next pipe that I decided to work on is a classic Pot shaped pipe with a square shank that boasts of beautiful mix of straight and smattering of Bird’s eye grain all around the stummel surface. The flat bottom of the stummel, which also bears the stampings, makes it a perfect sitter. This pipe is stamped on the flat bottomed shank surface as “Barling” in script over “5264” over “LONDON ENGLAND” in block capital letters. The flat right side of the square shank is stamped “T.V.F”. The stampings are all crisp and deep. A sterling silver ferrule at the shank end breaks the monotony of the darkened stummel and the black of the vulcanite stem. The ferrule is stamped as “STERLING” over “SILVER” over “E.B” over “W.B” over the three hallmarks in a cartouche. There is a lion, a leopard head, and the lower case letter “c”. The leopard head identifies the city of the Assaying to be London, England. The lion is the mark for 0.925 Sterling Silver and the letter “c” is the date stamp. The trademark Barling cross adorns the top surface of the saddle of the vulcanite stem. The size, shape and feel of the pipe are solid to the touch. Barling’s pipe brand has been well researched and chronicled on pipedia.org and by Steve when he worked on many of Barling’s pipes over decades and thus, shall not waste time in repeating the information that is available. I too have carefully read and researched this brand as I do have many pipes that I have inherited and date this pipe as being a Corporate Era pipe. I have based my conclusions based on the following facts that I have read on pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling)

Early Corporate Era Nomenclature

A script Barling logo replaces the block “Barling’s Make” logo. Makes sense, no Barlings are making pipes.

The pipes retain the 4 digit model number introduced in mid 1962, but they also introduce a size 1, which means that there are 4 digit numbers beginning with a 1. The model number is placed right below the Barling logo.

The words LONDON ENGLAND are stamped below the model number. The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” Stamp is discontinued.
Ye Olde Wood and TVF have both been discontinued. They will return in the mid 1960’s.

The Corporate Era pipes all bear a script “Barling” logo with no apostrophe and no “s”. Since these pipes share the same markings as others manufactured as late as 1970 and beyond, it is difficult to distinguish which are made from Family Era materials and which are not. One clue is the absence of a TVF stamp. Initially, the TVF stamp was dropped, but it was back in use as early as 1965, if not earlier.

The hallmarked sterling silver band and cap helps in the dating with great accuracy and the first site that I visit is www.silvercollection.it

I browsed through the alphabetical listing of maker’s mark for E.B over W.B without frame and narrowed it down to as being Edwin Barling and William Barling. Here is the link to the information http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXE2.html

I captured a screen shot of the information that was available and have reproduced it below. Next I followed the link to the dating guide of the London Assay Office to date this pipe. I have included a hallmark chart for dating the pipe. I put a red rectangle around the letter for 1977. It is the same style of “c” and the cartouche that holds the letter stamp, matches the photo as well.http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarks.html

Thus, it is with certainty that I can now say that this pipe is from the Corporate Era with 1977 hallmarked year. Though not from the family era, the pipe still has the classic shape, draw and feels nice in the hand that Barling’s pipes are so famous for.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a decent medium bowl size with chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches and thick walls. The stummel boasts of some beautiful straight and mixed grains all around. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava and dirt accumulated over the years of heavy smoking and uncared for attention to cleaning and maintenance. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over rim top and a chip and charring to the inner rim edges. The stem is heavily oxidized with very minor tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The pipe’s appearance, as it sits on my work table, does present an encouraging picture. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl has a wide rim with thick chamber walls and has a chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The draught hole is at the bottom and center of the chamber and this construction should make this pipe a great smoke. The chamber has an even layer of hard cake. The rim top surface is covered with thick lava overflow and through this layer of lava a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears dark and I suspect charred inner rim edge in 12 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 6 o’clock directions (encircled in yellow). The outer edge too has a few minor dings, but is otherwise in pristine condition. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The dark inner rim edges, in 12, 10 and 3 o’ clock directions, may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the rim top surface. The faint ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned.The smooth stummel has a classic Pot shape with a chamber that is evenly broad right down to the bottom/ foot of the stummel. The square shank has a sterling silver ferrule at the end. The surface is covered in dust, lava overflow and grime through which one can make out the beautiful (predominantly) thin straight grains. There are a few minor fills in the briar surface; one at the heel and couple others in the left panel of the square shank (all encircled in yellow). The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. For a pipe that has been so heavily smoked, there are surprisingly no dents and ding over the stummel surface. The mortise shows accumulation of dried oils, tars and gunk. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, any other damage or flaws (which I think there will be none) will come to the fore. I shall check the fills for softness once the stummel surface has been cleaned and refresh these fills if required. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water will highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will help in imparting a nice shine to the briar. The high quality vulcanite square saddle stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Minor tooth chatter can be seen in the bite zone with calcification at base of the buttons. The horizontal slot end is clogged with dried gunk. The trademark crossed Barling stem logo is sufficiently deep and needs to be highlighted. Overall, given the vintage of the pipe and the fact that it has been well smoked, the stem is in a pretty decent shape and with a little elbow grease, it should polish up pretty well. The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first addressing the stem issues. It has been my experiences that stem repairs and polishing almost always takes the maximum time in the complete restoration. I first clean out the stem internals using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. With a sharp dental tool, I pry out the entire gunk from the horizontal slot. To save on the pipe cleaners, I clean the stem internals with a thin shank brush and dish washing soap and finally rinsing it with warm water. Next, I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 180 followed by 220 grit sand papers. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. 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. Thereafter began the arduous and time consuming process of sanding the stem with 320, 400, 600 and finally 800 grit sandpapers. I wet sand the entire stem with a piece of 1000 grit sand paper. I rubbed a generous quantity of EVO deep in to the vulcanite and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed in to the surface. All through the stem refurbishing process, I was particularly careful about preserving the stem logo of crossed Barling. This made the entire process a bit too tedious but it is always worth the effort as the vintage value and originality of the pipe is preserved. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After Fine/ Extra Fine” stem polish. This product developed by Mark Hoover helps to remove minor scratches from the stem surface while further eliminating what little oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I am pretty pleased with this appearance of the stem.With the stem refurbishing completed, I worked on the stummel by scraping the chamber with my fabricated knife to remove the carbon deposits from the walls. I also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The inner rim edge was charred in 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock direction which have been encircled in yellow. I scrapped off the charred briar from these areas and now the chamber is out of round. The chamber walls are solid and in pristine condition with no heat lines/ fissures. I shall give the inner rim edge a slight bevel to get the bowl back to a perfect round and mask the damage. The ghost smells are considerably reduced and should be eliminated once the shank and mortise internals are cleaned. The rim top surface is still considerably darkened and would need to be thoroughly cleaned to know the exact damage to the surface. I followed up the reaming of the chamber with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are now greatly reduced and should be eliminated completely when the shank internals are cleaned with shank brush and dish washing soap. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. As anticipated, this thorough cleaning of the shank eliminated the strong ghost smells from the chamber and now the pipe smells clean and fresh. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The rim top surface has darkened and is uneven. I shall have to resort to topping to address these damages. There are two fills which appear to have softened and would need to be refreshed. I continued with the stummel repairs and addressed the issue of refreshing the two fills; one at the heel another on the left side panel of the square shank. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill in the left side panel of the shank and one at the heel of the stummel. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. Once the fills had hardened (which was almost immediately), using a flat head needle file I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend the fills with the rest of the stummel surface.Next, I addressed the darkened and uneven rim top surface.I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth even surface and the darkened surface was greatly reduced. The damage to the inner rim edge in 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock and  3 o’clock direction were also addressed to a great extent. I am very happy with the appearance of the rim top and rim edges at this stage of restoration. The charred surfaces will be addressed by creating a nice bevel over the inner rim edge. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully gave a bevel to the inner rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage with the bowl in a nice round shape. Next, I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and dings that would otherwise show after micromesh polishing cycle. This also helped in fine blending of the fills with the rest of the stummel surface. I am very pleased with the progress made thus far.  I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I also polished the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end with the micromesh pads to a nice shine. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips 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 grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dark browns of the fine straight grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar.   The only cosmetic, yet important aspect that remained was to refresh the stem logo. I applied a coat of white correction ink over the logo and once dried, I gently wiped it with a cloth. The logo is now clearly visible.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 and polishing. Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. 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 looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. P.S. This was a project that I was looking forward to work on and research since the stampings on the stummel and that on the sterling silver ferrule, prima facie, appeared to be at a variance with each other. The stampings on the stummel pointed to corporate era made pipe whereas the E.B over W.B stamping on the sterling silver ferrule made me believe (incorrectly though) this pipe to be a Family era made. However, at the end of my research, all the stampings matched up perfectly. This pipe should make an interesting addition to collection of Barling’s pipe.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

Fresh Life for a Comoy’s The Everyman London Pipe 126 Smooth Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. It is a Comoy’s made The Everyman pipe. It is a nice piece of briar under all of the grime ground into the finish. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads The [over] Everyman [over] London Pipe. On the right side it reads 126 (shape number) next to the shank. There is also the circular Comoy’s COM stamp Made in London in a circle [over] England. The bowl was moderately caked with a light lava coat on the top of the rim heavier toward the back of the bowl. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The stem was obviously a replacement as it did not have the characteristic 3-bar logo that is usually on the Everyman pipes. The stem had the same deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button as the rest of the pipes in this estate. Jeff took photos of it before cleaning to show that even though it was dirty the pipe showed promise.   I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean out the bowl completely and the rim top. He removed the tars and lava and left behind a clean top that would need some stain touch ups. The stem was oxidized with scratches, tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button and on the surface edges of the button itself.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. He did not include the stamping on the right side in his photos.Before starting my cleanup work on the pipe I turned my favourite go to sites on background of brands. The first is Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-e4.html). There I looked up the Everyman brand and confirmed what I remembered about it being made by Comoy’s. From there I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). I went directly to the section on Comoys pipes. I found this shape chart. The shape number 296 is shown as a Large Canadian. I have drawn a red rectangle around it in the photo below.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 had some scratches and nicks in the briar. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with no damage. The outer edge has some small nicks but also looked good. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem was a replacement and I think I have an original stem in my collection of stems that will fit the pipe.   I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side was stamped The [over] Everyman [over] London Pipe. On the right side was the shape number 126 next to the shank and the Comoy’s COM Stamp Made in London in a circle [over] England. The stamping is clear and readable.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered. I knew I had an original stem for The Everyman London Pipe in my cans of stems so I went through them until I found it. The fit to the shank is almost perfect. There needed to be a little adjustment made for a perfect fit but it was going to work well. I took a couple of photos of it before I tried it on the shank.Here is what the pipe looked like with the “new” original stem.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition between the shank and the stem. It did not take too much to make it smooth and once I was finished it looked original. With the new stem fit on the shank I turned back to cleaning up and polishing the bowl. I polished it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish to clean, enliven and protect the new finish. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation on the vulcanite.I turned my attention to the “new” stem. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. This Comoy’s Made The Everyman London Pipe 126 Pot came out looking very good. I am glad I remembered that I had an original stem in my can of stems and that it FIT. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The smooth finish looks really good in person with great grain around the bowl. It should be a great smoking pipe with a good hand feel. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to your pipe rack if you have been looking for a reasonably priced Comoy’s The Everyman London Pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this estate Comoy’s Made pipe.

Restoring A New-To-Me Brand – an LHS “Sternies”


Blog by Paresh

The next pipe that I picked up for restoration is a small sized classic straight Dublin shaped pipe that feels ultra light in the hand with a nice and comfortable feel in the mouth when clenched. This pipe came in one of couple of pipe lots that I had purchased on Etsy a few years ago and had been languishing in the lot of about 40- 50 pipes that Abha had done the initial cleaning for me. It languished at the bottom of the pile for no other reason than the fact that it was so nondescript that it did not attract my attention. However, with the continuing lockdown and partial suspension of work by Postal and Customs departments, my tobacco stock is fast depleting and this forced me to search for small bowled pipes. Thus, this pipe has now moved up in the line for restoration.

This pipe has a quaint little bowl size with some nice mixed grains. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “STERNIES” over “LHS” in a diamond over “IMPORTED BRIAR”. The set of stampings on this pipe are all crisp and in block capital letters. The vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.While researching any pipe, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes.com since this is one site where I usually find well researched information on any brand that has anything, even remotely related, to pipes!! Now, till the time I got this pipe on my work table, I had not heard or read anything on this pipe brand and now that I have decided to work on it, rebornpipes does have a write up by Steve on this brand. He had thoroughly researched this brand and makes for an interesting read. Here is the link to the write up:-

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/09/01/new-life-for-an-american-made-lhs-certified-purex-pencil-shank-prince/

To avoid the proverbial ‘reinventing the wheel’, I urge readers to go through the above write up to get a better feel of the brand. However, only a few relevant excerpts of the information that would help me in establishing the provenance of the pipe are reproduced below.

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 suppliers for US soldiers during WWII.

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:

Barrister

Marwyn

Park Lane

Radmanol

Warwick

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 overseas 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.

The grade “STERNIES”, as seen on the pipe on my work table, finds no mention in the 8 grades of pipe that have been listed in the 1944 catalogue. Also the fact that the stem bears no logo of two dots is a mystery (or has it been completely buffed off?). That fact apart, the stamping “IMPORTED BRIAR” points to post WW II production.

Thus, the LHS pipe currently on my work table is from the period 1945 to 1960s when LHS closed shop!!

Initial Visual Inspection
As I have mentioned above, this pipe was initially handled by Abha and she is not in a habit of taking many pictures as she works on each piece of briar. There are not many pictures to give the readers an idea about the condition of the pipe before she had worked her magic and presented me with a nice clean canvas to carry forward my repair and refurbishing tasks. I have included a description of the initial condition of the pipe as documented by her. This pipe has a rather small bowl in a classic Dublin shape and has a chamber depth of about 1.1 inches. The chamber had an even layer of dry flaky cake which is not very thick. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The rim top surface was covered in overflowing lava. The inner rim edge has minor charring in 6 o’clock and 11 o’clock directions (encircled in pastel blue) with some minor dings all along the edge. The outer rim edge is mysteriously darkened in the 12 o’clock direction. The draught hole is clogged and restricts the free flow of air through it. The ghost smells in the chamber are very mild. The smooth stummel surface has some very beautiful grain patterns and has a coat of lacquer that has worn off at a number of places giving the surface a blotched appearance. The stummel shows signs of vintage in the form of many scratches, dents and dings that it has acquired over a period of time. There a couple of fills over the stummel surface and are easily noticeable (encircled in yellow). The briar has accumulated a lot of grime and dust imparting the stummel a lifeless and bone dry appearance. The shank end has an aluminum spacer ring separating the shank end from the stem end when threaded in. On closer observation, it can be seen that a portion of this spacer extends into the mortise and is threaded which matches with the stinger threads.    The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and tooth indentations are seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge. The threaded aluminum stinger tenon end had accumulated ash and oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has dried gunk embedded in to it which will have to be addressed.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
Abha, my wife, reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper and scrapped out the entire lava overflow from over the rim top surface. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth. Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way using hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. She cleaned the stem surface under running warm water and scrubbed the surface oxidation from the stem using Scotch Brite pad and dish washing soap. The aluminum stinger was also similarly cleaned. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.    Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that she had not dunked the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution because of the metal stinger. The next issue that she pointed out was of the rim top surface not being even and the darkening of the inner rim edge. The third issue she pointed out was that the stummel surface had not cleaned up the way it usually does. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. To be honest, the pipe had cleaned up nicely. What she thought was unclean stummel was in fact the old lacquer coat that had come off in patches. The two fills, encircled in yellow, are now plainly visible. The right side of the stummel shows a few dents/ dings. The aluminum spacer ring at the shank end is greatly oxidized and would need to be polished to a nice shine. The mortise is nice and clean. Sanding the stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper should address the issue of dings to a great extent. Once the stummel has been completely scrubbed and free of the old lacquer, I shall refresh the fills with a mix of briar dust and superglue. A vigorous scrub with Scotch Brit pad and Murphy’s Oil soap should suffice to remove the old peeling lacquer coat. In case this does not work, a wipe with pure Acetone on a cotton swab will definitely address this issue. After the aluminum spacer ring has been polished, it will provide a nice bling to the overall appearance of the pipe.   The chamber walls are sans any damage. The inner rim edge is in good condition save for light charring (encircled in green) and a chip (encircled in blue). The outer rim edge shows just a hint of darkening in 1 o’clock direction, but otherwise in excellent condition. The rim top surface is uneven to the touch. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the heel and this construction geometry should make this pipe a fantastic smoker. Topping the rim surface should address the issues of uneven rim top, the charred outer rim edge while greatly reducing the inner rim edge damage. I shall, if need be, create a bevel to the inner edge to completely address the rim damage. The moment I saw and held the stem in my hands, I was not sure if the stem was vulcanite or made of some plastic derivative. It was very light weight and considerably harder than vulcanite. It was lightly oxidized and had minor tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The button edges on either surface are slightly deformed with tooth indentations. I shall not risk heating the bite zone with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth chatter but would rather try and sand it out. In case required, I shall further use charcoal and superglue mix to address this issue. I need to sharpen the button edges and shall do so with a flat needle file. The Process
I embarked on the journey of restoring this pipe by addressing the stem first since it would take considerable time to repair and polish. Abha had done a fantastic job of cleaning the stem both internally and externally and this facilitated me to straight away sand the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the raised tooth indentation and remove the oxidation from the surface. I follow it up by cleaning the surface with a cotton swab and alcohol. I wipe the stem with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap to deep clean the surface. The tooth chatter has been addressed to a very great extent. The minor tooth marks that remain will further reduce after I had sanded the stem surface with 320 to 1000 grit sand papers followed by the micromesh pads. The button edges are a lot straighter and crispier than before.I further sand the stem surface with 320 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sandpapers. I finished the sandpaper cycle by wet sanding the entire stem surface with a piece of 1000 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust and applied a small quantity of EVO to hydrate the stem.I completed the polishing cycle of the stem by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the tooth chatter nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I also polished the aluminum stinger and the spacer ring with micromesh pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound 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 I am happy with the appearance of the stem at this point in restoration.  With the stem refurbishing nearly completed, save for final polish using Blue Diamond and wax, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush, Scotch Brit pad and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I shall be candid in confessing that I was extra aggressive using the Scotch Brit pad as I was keen to completely remove the peeling lacquer coating over the stummel surface. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I once again cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The two fills have gone soft and would need to be refreshed. The stummel has cleaned up nicely with the old lacquer coat completely removed from the surface. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I shall refresh the fills over the stummel surface with a mix of briar dust and superglue. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill on the right side of the stummel and one on the left side of the shank. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file since you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. Using a flat needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface.   I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to loose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The issue of uneven rim top surface has now been completely addressed. At this stage, the slight darkening to the outer edge too has been completely addressed while the charring to the inner edge, though eliminated to a great extent, is still discernible. I shall create a bevel to the inner edge to blend and mask the damaged edge with the rest of the inner edge.  The inner rim edge appeared to be slightly uneven at the front and at the back end of the rim top due to charring and I decided to mask it by creating a bevel. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a nice and even bevel on the inner edge. I was careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevel. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges. I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress.I also polished the shank end aluminum spacer ring with the micromesh pads to a nice shine. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. The few scratches and dings that were noticed over the stummel surface too have been addressed by this stage due to the sanding and micromesh pad polishing. The fills are quite evident and whether to mask it using a dark brown stain or let it be, is a decision that I shall take subsequently.    Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the stummel surface with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I worked the restoration balm deep in to the briar wood. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. The stummel looks very handsome with the contrasting dark and light brown hues. The fills have blended in quite nicely with the surrounding dark brown hues taken on by the stummel surface after the application of the balm. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.    With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks fresh, vibrant and ready for its next innings with a piper interested in adding it to his/ her collection. This piece of briar feels fantastic in hands with its ultra lightweight, classic shape and a size that is just right for a quick smoke in between breaks. Thank you to all esteemed readers for joining me and walking with me through this restoration. Cheers!! P.S. I had consulted with my wife, Abha, whether or not to stain this pipe with a dark brown stain to mask the fills since she has a better understanding and appreciation of colors than me (isn’t that true for all the men?). She suggested that the natural color of the briar looks smashing while any staining will hide the grain patterns and that the fills actually blend in nicely when seen in person. It’s actually a fact that pictures highlights flaws more than they actually appear in person.

Praying for the safety and well being of all readers and their loved ones…