Breathing Life into a strange German Made Trogesa French Briar House Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

I have only a couple more of the pipes from the old fellow’s collection left to do and they have some challenges that I need to think through before I tackle them. For a bit of a break I am doing some others that we have here in the queue. The next pipe I chose to work on came to us from an online auction back in 2018 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. This pipe is the size of a Peterson’s House Pipe  – same size and shape. It is an interesting system pipe that is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads TROGESA [over] French Briar [over] GERMANY. The stamping is clear and readable.

The rim top looks to be in good condition with some nicks on the outer edge. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the finish is dirty and lifeless. The shank has an end cap that is part of an inset mortise in the shank that is cylindrical with a tube at the top that enters the bowl at the bottom of the chamber. That mortise cylinder is also quite dirty. The long vulcanite saddle stem is similar in design to the KB&B Wellington or Yello-Bole style P-Lip. The airway comes out on the end of the button like those stems rather than the top like a Peterson’s stem. The stem does not have any stamping and is heavily oxidized but has light tooth chatter but no tooth marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took some photos of the Trogesa Pipe before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.   Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the light scratches on the surface of the rim and edges. There is some light lava on the inner edge but nothing too thick. He took photos of the top and underside of the vulcanite stem showing the oxidation, calcification, tooth marks, chatter and wear on the stem and button. Jeff took photos of the end of the stem and the internals of the metal insert in the shank end. It is definitely and interesting pipe. I will try to get a few more detailed pictures of the shank end once I have it in hand.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some great grain even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the look of the shank cap on the end. It is definitely a different looking cap and fit.I wrote to Dutch Pipe Maker Martin Romjin to see if he could give me any information. In the past he has been a great resource for Dutch and German pipes. I figure it was worth a shot to see if he could help me out. Here is his reply (thanks Martin).

Hello Steve, sorry for it took me so long to answer. I have no idea…..never heard about TrogesaI will contact a friend, maybe he knows

He answered, “it seems like stamped TROBE SA….Trobe is a major supplier of smoking supplies in Germany. Had these made in France. Bimalt in the Netherlands has also had this done. Inspired by the Peterson pipes. Peterson’s system pipes were a great success and they wanted to get a piece of it.”

This information was all that I could find on the brand but the description fit very well. It is stamped both French Briar and Germany so that matches. It is also a pipe obviously inspired by Peterson’s Pipes so that also fits well. The last sentence stating that since Peterson’s System pipes were a great success both Trobesa/Trogesa and Bimalt wanted a piece of the action. Now I have a better idea of the brand. Made for a supplier of smoking supplies in Germany it is a beauty. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the dimensions of the grain. The chip on the back of the rim top was clear and looked like a relatively easy repair. The edges looked good otherwise. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and scrubbed it with Soft Scrub to remove the remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The top and inner and outer edge of the rim look to be in good condition. The bowl is a bit oval in shape rather than round but appears to have been made that way. The stem was clean of tooth marks and had light chatter on the button surface. There was some residual oxidation on the underside of the saddle area that would need to be dealt with. I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It is readable and clear. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. I took some photos of the mortise area and shank. It is a metal (aluminum?) insert with a tube at the top that angles to the bottom of the bowl. It is an unusual reverse Calabash system that I have not seen before.I started my work on the pipe by polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank 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 set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation on the saddle area and smooth out the tooth chatter on the button area. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful and unusual German made Trogesa French Briar House Pipe back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain on this pipe really is a great looking. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 9 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 2.36 ounces /67 grams. This Trogesa French Briar German House Pipe is another great find from this collection. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.