Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that we purchased from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. 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. This next one is a cased Meerschaum. The case is stamped on the inside and reads Paul Fischer Genuine Block Meerschaum. The stamping on the satin lining was readable and clear. The exterior of the cardboard case was covered in a marbled brown vinyl and in worn condition with just a few nicks around the edges. The meerschaum was dirty but underneath the grime was a nicely developing patina on the smooth bowl. The bowl was caked and filled with tobacco as if it was laid down mid smoke. There was a light overflowing lava coat on the back side of the rimtop. The edges looked to be in good condition. The amber coloured acrylic stem was dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were also scratches in the surface of the stem. It did not have any identifying stamps. The alignment and fit to the shank is very good. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim top. You can see the half smoked bowl of tobacco that is left in chamber. You can also see the lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the nicks, scratching, chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the meerschaum looked like around the pipe. The finish is showing some patina developing around the bowl. He unscrewed the stem from the shank to show the inset threaded metal tenon in the shank end.I turned to Pipedia and looked up the information on the site (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Fisher). I quote from there.
From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’ – Paul Fischer was a well-known Austrian meerschaum pipe artisan who settled in downtown Manhattan, New York, and took American citizenship. Symbol: F. See Ed Burak who worked with Paul for 6 years in the 1960s.
On Smokingpipes.com there was a Paul Fischer meerschaum for sale and Bear Graves did the write up (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/italy/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=52153). I have included it below for the information it gives.
I know that it’s not all that often that we see a carved meerschaum in the American estate section, but there was a time when Turkey had little issue with exporting the material, nor carvers from other countries working with the same. Paul Fischer made meerschaums for Kaywoodie and (if memory serves) Ed Burak did some work for Mr. Fisher, early in his career.
Paresh Deshpande did some work on a Kaywoodie Meerschaum and included some helpful information on dating this pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/kaywoodie-meerschaum-pipes/). I include the pertinent section below.
Kaywoodie Block Meerschaums were made from 1938 to the mid 1960’s. The meerschaum pipe business by Kaywoodie was revitalized when Paul Fischer was hired and emigrated from Austria to run the meerschaum pipe department. Kaywoodie meerschaums were available in earlier years but not as prominently as when Paul Fischer came on board. He left in 1960 to make meerschaums under his own name. We continued to make them for several years after he left until we could no longer import meerschaum from Turkey”. (http://www.brothersofbriar.com/t21079-kaywoodie-block-meerschaum)
Given that information I knew that the pipe was made by Paul Fischer and Austrian immigrant to the US. When he first came he worked for Kaywoodie and then in 1960 left to make pipes under his own name. So I know that the pipe I am working on is at least made after 1960.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He carefully cleaned out the unsmoked and smoked tobacco and 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 scrubbed the stem with the Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it under running water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. It looked pretty good. The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed from the back rim top. The edges looked very good and there was slight darkening on the back top side. The stem surface had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo of the pipe as a whole. You can get a clear picture of the pipe from the photo below. I polished the bowl and shank with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiping it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and debris. Even though this was a meerschaum pipe I have learned that Before & After Restoration Balm works really well on it as well. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the meerschaum. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. It was time to wax the meerschaum now. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coat of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. I heated the meerschaum and worked it into the surface of the bowl, shank and rim. I let the wax sit for a little while and then buffed with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine and bring a shine to meerschaum. It is a nice looking pipe. I polished the amber acrylic 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 smooth Block Meerschaum Bent Billiard, carved by Paul Fischer with an amber coloured acrylic taper stem is a great looking pipe. I gave 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 Paul Fischer Meerschaum Bent Billiard 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 48gr/1.66oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly in the Meerschaum Pipes – CALABASHES, SMOOTH & FIGURALS. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!