Cleaning up a Great Looking L.H. Stern Sterncrest 266 Bent Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one that Jeff picked up from an antique store on the Oregon Coast, USA early in 2019. It has been sitting here for a long time. It is a nice looking bent Apple with great grain. The stem is a taper that looks very good. The stamping on the left side of the shank read LHS in a diamond with Sterncrest [over] the top of the diamond and with Imported Briar under the diamond. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 266. The shank had a line around the entirety that appeared to be left behind by a missing band. The finish has great grain that flairs up from the heel of the bowl. It is unique and attractive. There was a lot of grime and grit ground into the finish of the bowl. There was a heavy cake in the bowl  and a heavy overflow of lava on the sandblast rim top. The fit of the stem in the shank was smooth and flawless. On the left side of the stem was a silver diamond LHS logo inlaid on the stem. The stem was vulcanite and it was lightly oxidized, calcified and had some wear on both sides near the button.  Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl. The rim top showed thick coat of lava was heavier on the backside and was thick enough that I hoped it would protect the rim edge. You can also see a fill on the back of the bowl toward the top. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching, oxidation and calcification on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.   Jeff took a photo of the heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the well done shape and he amazing grain around the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above. You can see the line in the briar from where the band had previously been set. I turned first to Pipephil to get a quick review of the brand ( I quote the information listed 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 supplier for US soldiers during WWII.

I also did a screen capture of the section on the Sterncrest line. I have included it below. Sure enough the pipe originally had a sterling silver band. I would need to look through my bands and see if I could find a band that would fit the shank.I then turned to Pipedia to have a look at the history of the LH Stern brand and see if there were any pipes like the one in hand ( There were photos of many different LHS Sterncrest pipes but none quite like this one. The history was worth a read and I have included a summary of that below:

Ludwig Stern, a successful pipe manufacturer since 1893 and closing around 1960, reorganized his company along with his brother Hugo Stern, opening a factory in 1911. They named the company L&H Stern Smoking Pipes & Holders. The newly formed company was moved into a six story building on the corner of Pearl and Waters street Brooklyn, NY.

Thoroughly organized in all departments, and housed in a well-lighted and ventilated modern office and manufacturing building, the firm of L&H Stern Inc. is located near the first arch of the Manhattan bridge, near the river and convenient to the Brooklyn bridge, which makes it accessible from all the hotels in the metropolis for visiting buyers. The structure is six stories with a seventeen-foot basement, with light on three sides through prismatic glass windows, the first floor being seven feet above the sidewalk. Light enters the upper floors from all four sides.

L&H Stern is known to every important wholesaler and jobber in the country. LHS manufactures a complete line of briar pipes. Ginmetto wood pipes are also made, as well as Redmanol goods, the man-made amber. The first substitute for amber. Everything, even down to the sterling silver and other metal trimmings are made under one roof.

With the information I learned in the above articles I had the background on the pipe. Now it was time to work on it.

I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes that we pick up along the way. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and the rim top was actually very visible and it looked good. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath for several house. He rinsed it off with warm water and clean out the internals. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove the remaining oxidation on the stem. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver it looked very good. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The rim top looked very good with a little darkening along the inner edge of the bowl at the back. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. The stem was very clean with tooth chatter on both sides near the button. There were some deep scratches on the topside.I took a photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank 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 some great grain on the bowl and shank.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I worked it over with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips 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. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.     I smoothed out the marks from the missing band as best I could and readied the pipe shank for a new silver band. I found a sterling silver band in my collection of bands. I smeared the shank end with glue and pressed the band in place on the shank.I wiped the band down with a jeweler’s cloth to remove the tarnish. It did not take a lot to remove the tarnish and when it was finished it looked very good. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I looked at the worn areas on the stem and decided to sand them out with 220 grit sandpaper and start polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the stem 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.   It is fun to come to end of the restoration of the LHS Sterncrest 266 Bent Apple. It turned out to be a nice looking pipe. The finish came alive with the work I had done on it. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished shank ring and black vulcanite saddle stem. It really was beautiful. This LHS Sterncrest 266 Bent Apple is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 47grams/1.66ounces. It is a beautiful pipe that I will soon put on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. 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 pipeman or woman.



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