Blog by Steve Laug
I am enjoying an evening free to work on a few pipes. The next pipe on the table came from an antique auction gallery on 05/22/20 in Mebane, North Carolina, USA. It is a uniquely rusticated Italian made pipe with a smooth rim top and shank end that is capped with a brass ferrule. On the left side of the shank it was stamped Molina [over] the shape number 80993. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Italy. It is a brand I have heard of but know little about so I am glad to learn about it. The pipe is a bent apple that is nicely shape. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the briar of the bowl and shank sides. The bowl was thickly caked and there was an overflow of lava on the top and edges of the rim. The front inner edge and rim top appeared to have burn damage that looked like it had been lit repeatedly with a torch lighter. The stem was a fancy Lucite taper stem that fit snugly in the shank and had brass band that was made to look like three rings. There also appeared to be the remnants of a faint stamp on the left side of the stem. The stem was dirty, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava and dust ground into the finish of the rim top and edges. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. You can also see the damage on the inner edge of the bowl on the front. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, chatter and tooth marks.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is an interesting rustication under the grime and thick debris. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It clearly reads as noted above.I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick summary of the background of the Molina pipe. (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m6.html). I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section on the site.In the sidebar it included the following information that I have included below.
Artisan: Giovanni Carollo, a former employee of the Rossi factory. Machine crafted mass production. Pipes mainly aimed for German and US market.
I turned to Pipedia to see what else I could learn about the brand and found a brief but fascinating article on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Molina_Pipe). I quote it in its entirety below.
Molina pipes has it’s origins in Barasso in Lombardy. It was born from what was left of the old Rossi pipes factory, that started in the early 1900s. Molina’s inheritance from Rossi pipes does not only consist of the factory but also the machinery and methods of production. The name Molina refers to a district where you could find mills powered by water.
I followed the trail there to the Molina Pipe website (https://www.molinapipe.it/). It had a great summary of the history.
Molina still lies in part on the antique Rossi factory, a peculiar but not a casual circumstance. it represents an excellent example of industrial archeology. its working environment is enriched with the modernized charm of the past.
Molina’s inheritance from Rossi pipes does not only consist of the factory but also of ancient machinery and methods of production, antique ”secrets” ,antique recipes and production procedures used over 100 years ago.
The name molina has even a longer history, it is up to today used to refer to a district where you could find mills powered by a rush of water.
I knew that I was working on a Molina pipe from the remnants of the old Rossi pipe factory and that the pipes were made mainly for the US and German market. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the debris on the rim top and was able to remove it. The burned area was very clear once he had cleaned it off. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove remaining oxidation on the ferrule and the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. Other than the burned area on the rim top and edge it really looked good and the bowl itself was in excellent condition. The rim top and the inner edge had serious burn damage all around but the heaviest damage was on the front of the bowl. It really looked to be the victim of repeated assault by a torch lighter. If you have one keep it away from your pipe. The stem had a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was clear and read as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The tenon is Delrin. I decided to start my work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I topped the bowl on a board with 180 grit sandpaper. I chose a lower grit sandpaper because the damage was quite deep. Once I had topped the damaged areas and found solid briar I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape and rework the inner edge of the rim. It took a bit of work but the rim top looked much better. I polished the rim top and edge with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the scratching and polish the smooth briar. I restained the rim top and edges with a Walnut stain pen to match the other smooth portions of the bowl and shank.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the rustication. The product works 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides with clear CA glue. Once the repair cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This beautiful Rusticated Molina 80993 Bent Apple with a taper acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Molina Bent Apple fits nicely in the hand and the tactile finish feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 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 57grams/2.01oz. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly in the Italian Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!