Blog by Steve Laug
This restoration started with an email from a reader of the blog name Tim. He had written the following email to me with a request. I have included that email below.
Hello Steve, I have a cased set of 1919 Charles Maas pipes that have been smoked hard and put away wet. Can I send them to you to have them restored? I’m a huge fan of your work and use your site often as inspiration, but these are outside my ability. – Tim
The first thing that caught me was the age of the pipes. I am a real sucker for old briar. The next thing that grabbed my attention was the brand – Charles Maas. That is a brand that I have not worked on and not heard of and it is English! The third thing that grabbed my attention was that they were a cased pair – which can often mean matching briar. All of those things conspired against my resolve to not add more work to the queue right now because of the demands of my day job and my own large number of restorations awaiting attention. I wrote him back and asked for pictures of the pipes to see if that would save me or draw me in further. Tim responded with photos and the magic words – I am not in a hurry!
Hi Steve, Here are the pictures. I’m not in a hurry.
I looked through the photos and assessed what needed to be done and took the plunge. I had Tim mail them to me. I was hooked and completely drawn into the project.Tim’s package arrived on Thursday and when I got home from work I opened it to have a look at the pipes first hand. I took the case out of the well packed box and this is what I saw. The case was suede with a fine leather edge around the sides. There was a thin gold line around the case edges. When I opened it I saw Tim’s 1919 label and the two pipes. There was a gold banded Bulldog and a nice stubby billiard. Both were nicely carved bowls and both had been heavily used and worn.I took the pipes out of the case and took pictures after I examined each of them to assess what needed to be done. They really are a classic set that should look great once finished. I made the following list summarizing the damages on the pipes and sent it to Tim. There is a lot of work to do to bring these back to life.
1. The rim top is badly damaged leaving the top uneven and thicker/taller toward the back of the bowl.
2. The inner edge of the bowl is quite thin on the front side from burning and over reaming of the bowl.
3. The outer edge is chipped and uneven on the bowl front.
4. The finish is worn and damaged with signs of burn darkening all around the rim cap.
5. The band has a ragged edge on the top, rear corner of the diamond shaped band.
6. The stem has deep compressions from tooth marks on both sides at the button
7. The inside of the bowl has some checking but they are not as deep as those on the billiard.
1. The rim top is badly damaged leaving the top uneven and thicker/taller toward the back of the bowl and more damaged than even the Bulldog.
2. The inner edge of the bowl is thicker than the bulldog but still thinner on the front side than the rest of the bowl. It is still thick enough.
3. The outer edge is chipped and uneven on the bowl front showing some burn marks.
4. The finish is worn and damaged with paint marks on the surface.
5. The bowl is slightly out of round with chips and marks on the inner edge
6. The stem has deep compressions from tooth marks on both sides at the button. 7. The inside of the bowl is badly checked and will need to examined for integrity.
Both pipes have been heavily reamed and they were quite clean inside. It appeared that previous earlier reaming somewhere along the way had left the inner edge chipped and damaged. That is the assessment of both bowls and it is clear from the list that there is a lot of work to do on both of them.
It was time to work on the pipes. I chose to deal with the Bulldog first (Part 1). If you were to ask me why I actually have no idea even though it is first above. I took some photos of the pipe before I began, to catalogue what I saw before I started. It was surprisingly clean. The bowl had been reamed and the airways cleaned. There was no stamping on the shank of the pipe. The gold band had hallmarks on it that Tim had said led him to the 1919 date for the pipes. The hallmarks are CM in an oval which is the mark for Charles Maas. To the right of that is a “6” in s diamond followed by 375 which is the mark for 37.5% or 9 carat gold. That is followed by a “d” and another mark that could be a lion’s head which indeed identifies the pipe as London Made and “d” identifies it as a 1919 pipe.
I turned to an English silver and gold hallmark guide to see if I could find information on the maker CM (http://www.silvercollection.it/ENGLAMAAS.html). Sure enough it was very clear that the CM in and oval linked to Charles Maas. I have included the information from the site on the brand.
Charles Leopold Maas was active in London from 1883 at 13 Jewin Crescent, EC as manufacturer and importer of smokers’ pipes of various types, including “recherché” and “meerschaum”.
The firm entered various silver hallmarks as pipes were often silver-mounted as were manufactured in precious metal many of its smokers’ accessories and walking sticks.
In 1890 (London) and 1910 (Chester) Charles Maas entered a conjoined hallmark with Marcus Maas (manager).
In 1910 the firm removed to 1A Aldermanbury Avenue. Interesting to note that from 1891 the firm used a hallmark “CM surmounted by a crown” to characterize its “Unsurpassed quality Corona Mounts”. The punches with the crown were cancelled on request of Charles Maas having the Sheffield Assay Office written on 28 February 1896 that the crown represents their hallmark and is objectionable. The firm was converted into a limited liability company in c. 1915. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. You can see the chipping and damage to the top and inner edges of the bowl. The left side is thin toward the front of the bowl. The stem shows some deep tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the left side of the pipe as it really gave a good picture of what the pipe must have looked like when new.I decided to start work on this pipe by addressing the damaged rim top and edges. I built up the front edge of the bowl with briar dust and clear CA glue. My goal was to bring it up as close as possible to the height of the bowl on the left side. It took a bit of layering to get there. I also filled in the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl at the same time. Once I had the height as even as possible I topped the bowl on a topping board with 180 grit sandpaper.Once I had it topped I took a few photos to show what it looked like at this point in the process. There is still work to do but it is definitely getting there. I sanded the repair on the front of the bowl a bit as well. Much work to do!I worked over the shape of the rim cap and rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and small files to capture the original shape as much as possible. You can see the build up on the rim top and edges from the photos below. I am pretty pleased with the overall appearance of the cap and top at this point in the process. The repairs are very clear at this point.I still had work to do on the rim top and cap but I also wanted to work on the inner edge. I repaired the damage there with the super glue and briar dust as well. I was not looking to build it up too much but to take care of the deep cuts and gouges on the left front of the edge. I sanded the repair with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper and I was happy with what I was seeing at this point in the process.I decided to give the repaired edge and top a quick coat of Walnut stain to see what it looked like. I find that doing this often shows flaws that need to be addressed in the repair and makes it easier to see where I am with the top and edges. There was still a long way to go to get it the way I wanted but it was truly beginning to take shape. I used a knife blade small file to clean up the twin rings around the repair on the front of the bowl. I started the polishing process with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with the pads in preparation for restaining the bowl. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth. My goal was to remove the scratching left behind by the repairs to the rim top and cap. I was able to remove them.Once it was smooth the briar was ready for staining. I stained it with a Feibing’s Light Brown aniline stain. I applied it and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage of the briar was good.I buffed pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove the crusty coat of stain. I then polished it with the remaining micromesh pads -3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar of the bowl with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the grooves around the bowl cap. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to try to lift the tooth marks in the surface on both sides. I was able to lift it some but not completely. I filled in the remaining dents with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once they cured I used a small file to recut the button edge and flatten the repairs to blend them into the surface. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation on the saddle and also to further blend in the repairs. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing the surface with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I gave the stem a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I am really happy with the way that the rebuild of the rim and cap worked on on this Charles Maas Bulldog (the first of two in a cased set) turned out. It really is a great looking pipe with lots of character. The old style hard rubber mouthpiece and the gold band really look good with the brown of the briar. The grain really came alive with the buffing and a sense of depth came out with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charles Maas Bulldog really is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 23 grams/.81 oz. The pipe will be going back to Tim once I have finished the little billiard. I think this little cased set is a real beauty.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!