Breathing Life into a Rusticated KBB Yello-Bole Imperial 68C 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 also the size of a Peterson’s House Pipe  – same size and shape. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads 68C followed by KBB in a Cloverleaf. That is followed by Yello-Bole [over] Reg. US. Pat. Off. [over] Imperial [over] Cured with Real Honey. The stamping is clear and readable. There is also stamping on the underside of the ferrule that reads Nickel Plated and has the KBB cloverleaf logo.

The rim top and edges both look to be in good condition. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rusticated finish is dirty and lifeless. The shank has an end cap or ferrule that is loose on the end of the shank. The shank is drilled like a Peterson’s system pipe with a sump and the entrance to the airway at the top of the mortise. The long vulcanite saddle stem very much like a KB&B Wellington 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 Yello-Bole Imperial House 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 and the unique rustication 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 a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and the cut glass like rustication even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the Yello-Bole circular yellow logo on the top of the stem. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what I could find out about the brand and the timeline of the pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-y.html). I found a photo of a pipe with the same stamping as the one that I am working on though it does not have the inlaid O on the briar shank. It is stamped exactly the way that the one I have – Yello-Bole, Reg US Pat Off, Imperial, Cured with Real Honey. I have included a screen capture below.I also have included a quote from the side bar on the site below.

In 1932 Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KB&B) expanded their program consisting of KB&B pipes, Reiss-Premier and Kaywoodie as the mainstay brands by introducing the Yello-Bole line.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Yello-Bole) to check out the history of the brand a bit to refresh my memory. I am including a section from the site on dating the pipes.

Tips for Dating Yello-Bole Pipes

  • KBB stamped in the clover leaf indicates it was made in 1955 or earlier as they stopped this stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank.
  • Pipes from 1933-1936 they were stamped “Honey Cured Briar”
  • Post 1936 pipes were stamped “Cured with Real Honey”
  • Pipe stems stamped with the propeller logo were made in the 1930’s or 1940’s – no propellers were used after the 1940’s.
  • Yello Bole used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 1930’s.
  • Pipes with the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it were made in the 1930’s, this stopped after 1939.
  • Pipes stamped BRUYERE rather than BRIAR it was made in the 1930’s.

This information that I found. The KBB stamped in a clover leaf indicated the pipe was made in 1955 or earlier. Further work identifies the pipe stamping “Cured with Real Honey” dates the pipe as made after 1936. The lack of a propeller logo on the stem and the lack of a yellow circle on the shank side moves it to post 1939-1940.  So I knew that the pipe was made between 1940 and 1955. 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 saddle area of the stem 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. The yellow circle on the top of the stem is inlaid and is in excellent condition.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by regluing the nickel band on the shank end. I dabbed the shank end with white all purpose glue and pressed the ferrule back in place and aligned it to the shank.I used a worn brass bristle brush to clean up the surface of the briar. I worked over the finish around the bowl and shank to remove any of the debris and the varnish coat on the briar. 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 scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub, a Scotch Brite scrubbing pad and cotton pads to remove the remaining oxidation on the stem. I coated the stem with the Soft Scrub and scoured it with the Scotch Brite scrubbing pad. I wiped it down with some more Soft Scrub and a cotton pads to remove the loosened oxidation.  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 KBB Rusticated Yello-Bole Imperial House Pipe back together and lightly buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 rustication on this pipe really is a great looking and reminds me of cut glass. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 9 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 3.14 ounces /89 grams. This KBB Yello-Bole Imperial House Pipe is another great find our hunts. 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.

1 thought on “Breathing Life into a Rusticated KBB Yello-Bole Imperial 68C House Pipe

  1. Paresh Deshpande

    Hi Sir,
    This is exactly like the one I had worked on, but mine was smooth surfaced. A wonderful restoration. Always in awe of your work.
    Regards, Paresh

    Reply

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