Breathing Life a Peterson’s African Block Meerschaum Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a multi-faceted finish Peterson’s African Block Meerschaum pipe. This one is an apple shaped pipe that has facets around the bowl and shank. The rim top is flumed as was the style of the 60s and 70s. It has a saddle style Peterson’s stem on the shank end. It came to us from the estate of Anglican minister that was a great friend of mine here in Canada. I was in the airport in Hong Kong when his daughter contacted me to tell me of his death and asked if I wanted to take on his pipes. I told her that I was sad to hear of his death but would gladly take on his pipes to restore and sell.

This faceted apple bowl and shank adds a touch of depth to the pipe. The pipe was dusty in the meerschaum ridges and flat spots on the bowl and shank. The contrast of the colouration/patina developing on the high spots and shank with the flumed top looks very good. The bowl had a moderate cake and there was lava on the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is moderately caked and the rim top and edges have lava overflowing on to them. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.  Jeff took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the faceted finish around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. He took a photo of the left side of the vulcanite saddle stem to show the Peterson’s “P” stamp on the stem. I am pretty sure the pipe was made by the Laxey Pipe Ltd. on the Isle of Man for either another export company or for Peterson’s in Ireland ( I quote from the Pipedia article in full:

Laxey Pipe Ltd. resided in a historical 19th century four-storey Man stone building at The Quay, Old Laxey, Isle of Man, which thankfully has been preserved. The company specialised in the production of Meerschaum Pipes using the Meerschaum mined by the Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation in the Amboseli basin in Tanganyika (since 1964 part of the United Republic of Tanzania). Please note: you may often find names like “Manx Pipes Ltd.”, “Man Pipe Co.” and others more, but there is no indication of another Isle of Man pipe producer other than Laxey Pipe Ltd. at any time!

Laxey Pipe Ltd. marketed own brands like “Manxpipe”, “Manxman”, “Manxland” e.c. Names like “John Bull”, “White Knight” (unwaxed), “Domino” (black, or lined) indicated some shapes / colours of Laxey’s own series. The stems either showed the astronomical sign for “male” or “man” (circle + arrow), or the crest of the Isle of Man, the 3-legged X in a circle. Manxpipes and Laxey’s other brands were available through pipe retailers in general, but also were sold (mainly) to tourists through their own shop in Laxey.

Furthermore Laxey Pipe Ltd. manufactured the meer bowls for Peterson, Barling, Nørding and others from the later 1960’s until 2001. Man Pipe e.g. was a brand distributed by Comoy’s. The bowls usually showed no nomenclature indicating the orderer. “Genuine Block Meerschaum” was engraved frequently. Often, just the stems were different, while bowls were the same.

Supply of meer from East Africa run out (Kenya / Tanzania exhausted, Somalia inaccessible), and thus the last Laxey meers were supplied to trade in May, 2001. Laxey Pipe Ltd. tried to survive continuing with briar pipes – mainly in the Danish style -, but to no success. It closed down business in July, 2002.

I looked for the pipe on Pipephil and online and was not able to find any verification for who made the pipe for Peterson’s. I suppose that I will never know for sure but it appears that the pipe was made on the Isle of Man for export for another European pipe company. I am guessing that this one came from the time period of the late 60s or early 70s. That was as much as I could figure out.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare meerschaum. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked very good when it arrived.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top looked good but there was some fading on the blackening. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on the surface near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the stem. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable.    I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has an interesting style of rustication around the bowl.I polished the meerschaum bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad.   I touched up the rim top and edges with a Black Stain pen to match the colour of the top and the flume down the sides of the bowl. Once it was polished with the Before & After Balm and buffed with a microfiber cloth the stain would blend perfectly. I rubbed the meerschaum down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the meerschaum 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I touched up the “P” stamp on the left side of the saddle stem with Liquid Paper. I daubed it on the stem and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. Once it had dried I scraped it off and buffed it with a cotton pad. It looks better even though the stamp is faint in spots.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the meerschaum and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum has a rich glow with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the rich developing patina of the bowl. This Peterson’s meerschaum is probably made by the Manx Pipe factory on the Isle of Mann. The faceted finish on this pipe made it another fun pipe to work. It really is a quite stunning pipe whose shape and finish make it stand out. The thick/chubby shank makes it a very comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 37grams/1.31oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the Irish Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.


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