New life for an A. Selver Meerschaum Bent Cauldron

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table this evening is a pipe was purchased from an online auction on 02/18/21 from Upland, California, USA. It is a well carved cauldron shaped bent pipe that is decorated with carved leaves and flowers on the sides of the bowl. The cap of the cauldron is carved with interlaced branches. The shank is carved with interlocking circles like birdseyes. The stem is a tortoise shell acrylic that is slightly bent. The tenon is a threaded white Delrin that screws into the threaded meerschaum of the shank. The name A. Selver is carved in a smooth panel on the left side of the shank. I assume that is the maker of the pipe. The pipe had a thin cake in the bowl and dust and debris in the grooves of the meerschaum carving. There was dust, grime and some deep oils in the grooves on the left side of the rim cap. The rim top had some grime and tars on the top that was lava overflow. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up and removed the debris.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the light lava on the rim top. The inner edge had some darkening and some build up of tars and oils. All of the issues will become clearer after the clean up. He took photos of the top and underside of the acrylic Tortoise Shell stem showing the tooth chatter on both sides. Jeff also took some photos of the threaded Delrin tenon in the stem and the threaded inside of the shank to show the appearance and condition of both.Jeff took photos of the carved name on the left side of the shank identifying the carver as A. Selver. The right side and underside of the shank shows the carved eyes on the shank.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of meerschaum and the carving on the sides and heel. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some interesting patterns in the meerschaum even through the dirt and debris of many years. I wrote to two gifted Turkish meerschaum Master carvers on Facebook to see if they could give me some information on the carver. The first Master was Said Altinay who responded that the pipe appeared to be older and that he had not heard of the carver. He postulated that the master may have died. He said he would talk with his father about the maker. His father said that the carver is Ali Selver. He used to live in Eskişehir and now he is in Nevşehir  and is not carving pipes anymore. The second Master was Hilmi Çay who also said it was the name of a master who may have died. He was sorry he could not help me with more information. I wish to thank them both for the help they offered.

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 and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a Gentle Dish Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum 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 carving. The there were no chips or cracks in the carving and the sharp edges looked good. He scrubbed the acrylic stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and oils on the stem. 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 inner edge of the rim showed some darkening. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The carved flowers and leaves are well done. The signature on the left side of the shank – A. Selver is very readable and is well executed.I started my work on the pipe by scrubbing the areas on the side of the bowl and shank with a tooth brush and dish soap to remove what appeared to be grease and dirt stains.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the smooth surfaces of the meerschaum. 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 sanded the tooth marks and chatter smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing 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. It looks significantly better!With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Meerschaum Bent Cauldron back together and buffed it lightly on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The carved floral finish is a great looking. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 2.05 ounces /58 grams. This Meerschaum Bent Cauldron is another great find. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection it will make a fine smoking addition. 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.

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