Daily Archives: December 2, 2020

This long shank Bulldog really came out looking amazing

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is one that came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff or I did and we cannot remember where and when we picked it up. Our memory is that it has been sitting around for a while waiting to be restored. It does not have and stamping on the left side of the shank. On the right side it reads Made In [over] London, England. The vulcanite saddle stem has no identifying marks that help with identification. The pipe has an interesting mix of grain – swirls, birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and long shank. When the pipe arrived here it was very clean. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. I took photos of the rim top and the stem. The photo of the rim top shows how clean the bowl looks and some of the damage to the inner edge of the bowl. There is also a small sand pit in the middle of the rim top at the back of the bowl. The stem still had some oxidation that would need to be worked on. The photos also show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button. I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give an idea of the flow and form of the pipe. It is a nice looking Bulldog. The pipe reminded me of another long shank Bulldog I had restored previously so I turned to the blog about that restoration and reread the article. That pipe had been stamped ROTA’S, Made in London, England and was a Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/20/restoring-a-bit-of-a-mystery-rotas-made-in-london-england-long-shank-bulldog/). I have included a photo of the finished sandblast pipe below.When I worked on above ROTA’S Pipe I recalled thinking that it reminded me of another pipe. I quote what I wrote in that blog below.

While I was working on the pipe there was something about the shape, particularly the cap above the twin rings and the way the bottom of the bowl flowed into the diamond shank that reminded me of some GBD Bulldogs that I had worked on. I searched online for long shank GBD Bulldogs and found the one that I was thinking about. The link led me to a pipe on the site smokingpipes.com – a GBD Celebrity 268 Bulldog. I am including both the link and a picture below (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=141918). While the GBD has a slightly shorter shank on it you can see the similarity to the Rota’s pipe and the no name Made in London England pipe on the table now. There is certainly a possibility that both pipes came from the GBD factory in London. However the mystery still remains cloaked in uncertainty.

Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the damaged inner edge of the rim. I cleaned up the edge and removed the damaged briar on that portion of the bowl. Once I finished it looked much better than when I started. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.  I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. 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 my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks on the surface of both sides. It worked very well and I would be able to buff the remnants out with micromesh. I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner and cotton pads to remove the remaining oxidation in the vulcanite.  I polished the vulcanite 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.     Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the Made in London, England Long Shank Bulldog back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the rich brown stains around the bowl. The black vulcanite saddle stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. It is a light weight pipe that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 38grams/1.34oz. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes online store in the British Pipe Makers section. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Refreshing a Zenith Double Walled Ceramic Calabash

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that we purchased from an antique store in in Montana, USA on one of Jeff’s pipe hunts. It is a double walled ceramic pipe with an acrylic stem. The pipe is stamped on the brass band on the shank and reads ZENITH [over] HOLLAND. Like a meerschaum it has begun to develop a nice patina around the sides of the bowl mid bowl. The finish was dirty and there was gum from price tags on the surface of the stem. The bowl was moderately caked and there was some darkening on the inner edge of the rim. The edges looked to be in excellent condition. The stem was in good condition other than the labels that had been stuck on it and some tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The pipe showed 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 condition of the rim top and domed edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the porcelain bowl looked like.    He took photos of the stamping on the band. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I turned to Pipedia to look up the brand and find out the background on the Zenith brand as I like that background on the pipes I work on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Zenith). For me the background adds colour to the restoration work. I quote in full the article below.

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes

Zenith is a porcelain pipe brand whose origins go back to 1749 when half the population of Gouda, around 10 thousand people, were employed in pipe manufacturer.

The brand itself was created at the end of World War I and belongs to Royal Delft. The factory has always been in the same family, and Aart van der Want (eighth generation) has been its head since 1984.

(The following is courtesy, Amsterdam Pipe Shop)


The history of the Zenith factory starts in 1749 when Pieter van der Want becomes master pipe maker of the Gouda pipemakers’ guild. He is the first of eight generations of pipe makers in succession from father to son. From the 1950’s the Zenith company is the oldest pipe factory in the world, the firm Chacom in Saint-Claude, founded 1780, is the second oldest.

After having produced clay tobacco pipes for a period of over 150 years, the Gouda factory modernizes its techniques. Pipes were no longer pressed from stiff pipe clay in metal moulds but are shaped in plaster moulds with liquid clay, the so-called slib cast technique. The backed products are covered with a transparent glaze that gives them a smooth, shiny and delicate look. The glaze also makes them less breakable.

Due to the porosity of the ceramic, the slib casted pipes absorb all the moist which attributes Zenith pipes the quality of a cool and dry smoke. In the 1920’s the product is perfected when the so-called “hollow bowl system” is introduced. Between the outside glazed pipe and the inner bowl an open space is created in which the smoke can circulate, where it cools down and the humidity of the smoke is absorbed by the pottery sherd. This invention makes the Zenith pipe to the ultimo dry smoker. Above that, ceramic is the best material to keep the aroma alive, without adding a taste of the pipe itself.


Zenith pipes are produced in a variety of designs and finishes. The ordinary pipe is single walled being mounted with a metal ferrule and a black vulcanite mouthpiece. From the moment of its introduction, circa 1900, millions were sold. After a period of smoking a picture appears on the pipe, that becomes visible when the pipe itself turns brown by the tobacco moist. These so-called mystery pipes were highly fashionable in the 1920’s but are still available with more recent images.

The best known series are the “Old Mokum” pipes. The shapes were designed from the 1970’s onwards by designers like Niels Keus and Dirk van der Want. Credit is that the designs are fully new and different to the common briar pipe. Pipes of the Old Mokum series are mounted with a black rubber plug that holds the vulcanite mouthpiece. The shape named Amsterdam is the larges and gives the best cooling. The smaller version is called Manhattan, having an almost time less look, modern for eternity. Especially younger smokers favour this shape. More traditional are the calabash and a heeled shape known as London.

More luxurious are the shapes from the series “Black Magic”, named after foreign towns like Karachi and Bombay. They are characterized by an own design line having a bulbous bowl and a sportive stem shape. Standard production colour is black, but white and blue varieties are available as well. Next to the round version the series are produced in an octagonal version named facet. Their shape is more subtle, the price however is a bit higher.

The “Gouda classic” is the line more like the traditional briar pipes or the meerschaum pipes. Straight and bent versions are in production with the standard billiard bowl, the Dublin and a bent London. These pipes are mounted with a gilt metal band that underlines their exclusive finish.

The Amsterdam Pipe Shop selection

Amsterdam Pipe Shop is the only shop in Holland that supplies the complete assortment of Zenith. Prices go from 30 to 95 Euro for the standard shapes. Compared to briar pipes these prices are very reasonable while the Zenith pipe offers a unique smoke experience because in no other pipe the taste of the tobacco is so pure as in ceramic. The cooling system is a guarantee for a dry, cool and tasteful smoke. Starting to smoke a Zenith pipe is simple as can be, since the long and annoying period of breaking in a new pipe can be skipped.

Next to the standard white versions Amsterdam Pipe Shop also carries the coloured Zenith pipes. Among them the shapes like Bombay, Karachi, also the Duke, a comfortable bent reading pipe. Above that, also a series of Delft blue versions are available, especially popular among American smokers.

From the article I followed a lead to the Amsterdam Pipe Shop and picked up the following page that gives a great summary of the history that is edited for the Pipedia article. I have included a screen capture of the entire page below as well as the link (http://www.pijpenkabinet.nl/Smokiana/04-E%20Zenith.html).Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He scraped the bowl of  the pipe with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the cake that was there.  He scrubbed both the interior and the exterior of the pipe and bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 Soft Scrub all purpose cleaner to remove the sticky glue on the topside and the grime on the surface. He rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top and inner edge of the rim looked very good. The glaze on the bowl shown beautifully the inner edges and bowl were very clean. The patina on the bowl looked very good. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is an acrylic taper stem. There is a cork gasket in the shank that holds the metal tenon firmly in place against the shank end. This photo shows some of the waves of patina that are developing along the walls of the shank and bowl. It really is a pretty pipe. The bowl was in excellent condition and the glaze on the ceramic sealed it well. I did not need to polish or wax the bowl at all. It really is an effortless cleanup for me in terms of the bowl after Jeff’s cleanup. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the light tooth chatter and marks near the button. 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 Holland Zenith Double Walled Ceramic Calabash with an amber coloured acrylic taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The stamped Zenith Holland stamp on the left side of brass ferrule is clear and readable. The patina that is developing around the bowl that shines through the ceramic glaze is stunning. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad which real brings the shine out with the wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Zenith Double Walled Ceramic Calabash 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: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 73gr/2.57oz. I will be adding it to the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!