Restoring the final pipe of the Thrift Shop Foursome – A GBD Tapestry 1970 Diplomat


Blog by Steve Laug

I was scanning through Facebook Marketplace and came across a collection of four pipes that were being sold near where I live in Vancouver. I messaged the individual and it turned out it was an animal rescue/hospital thrift shop. They were selling the four pipes and the rack with all proceeds going to their charity. My second daughter and I made the drive over to visit and have a look at the pipes. I have included the photo from the advertisement to show the pipes and their condition. The label on the sale was inaccurate but I could see what at least three of the pipes were and I was interested.When I parked in front of the shop and went in the clerk brought out the pipes and rack so I could have a look. In the order they are in the rack from left to right the pipes were as follows: A GBD Tapestry 1970 Shape (Diplomat), a Brigham 228 two dot sitter in a shape I had not seen before, a Chacom Meridien 811 Dublin with a diamond shank, and a Kriswill Saga 140. The Brigham and the Chacom both had cracks. The Brigham had a hairline crack in the bowl and Chacom a cracked shank. I paid the price we agreed on for the pipes and headed home.

I wrote Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes who is the go to guy for all things Brigham and asked him about the pipe. He said it was a shape he did not have and did not have on his shape chart. I thought about it overnight and sent it off to him on Monday morning. I look forward to his blog on this pipe as it is a really Danish looking Brigham.

That left me with three pipes to work on. I worked on the Chacom Meridien first and have written about the work (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/07/23/repairing-and-adding-a-touch-of-antiquity-to-a-chacom-meridien-diamond-shank-811-dublin/). The second pipe, a Kriswill Saga Scoop has also been finished (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/07/restoring-an-interesting-kriswill-saga-140-scoop-egg/). The final pipe, the GBD Tapestry was a great looking shape but it was also a bit of a mess. The bowl had not only a moderate cake in the bowl and lava on the rim top toward the back side. The edges looked quite good with darkening on the back rim top. The mixed finish sandblast with smooth patches was filthy with ground in grit and grime. The stamping on the pipe was minimal. On the underside it read GBD in an oval [over] Tapestry over London England [over] the shape number 1970. The chairleg stem had the brass GBD roundel  on the topside. There was a lot of oxidation, calcification and tooth marks on chatter on both sides. It was tired but showed a lot of promise. I took photos of the pipe as it was when I brought it home.  I took some close up shots of the bowl and rim top along with the stem to show the condition of both. You can see the cake in the bowl. The rim top shows the lava coat that is all the way around but heavier on the right rear and side. The photos of the stem show its condition. You can see the oxidation, calcification, some paint spots and tooth marking in the photos below.I took photos of the stamping on underside of the shank and it read as noted above. I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to give a sense of the beauty of contrasting finish of sandblast and smooth panels on the bowl and shank. It is a nice looking pipe.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read the history section to see if I could find any information on the Tapestry Line. There was a paragraph toward the end that gave a list of the pipe grades and where Tapestry fit into the brand. I quote:

The following list comprises the better grades in descending order:  Pedigree, Pedigree I, Pedigree II, Straight Grain, Prodigy, Bronze Velvet, Virgin, Varichrome, Prestige, Jubilee, New Era, Prehistoric, International, Universe, Speciale Standard, Ebony, Tapestry, New Standard, Granitan, Sauvage, Sierra, Penthouse, Legacy, Concorde.

I turned to the related article on Shape numbers for GBD pipe to see if I could find anything about the 1970 shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I found the following listed item:There was a slight issue in the information above. I would indeed call the shape a Diplomat and it has a 1/8 bent stem. However, the shank is oval not round.

I turned to another Pipedia article (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) looking for information on the Tapestry line. I found it listed under the heading of a  List of GBD Models. It said:

Tapestry — Factory unknown: light brown sandblast, geometric panels masked before blasting. -TH: Chairleg stem. -catalog (1976).

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I began my work on the pipe by reaming out the cake. I started the process by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake down to bare walls. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I finished the bowl work by sanding the inside with piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was finished the bowl was clean. With cake removed I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime ground into the briar and to remove the buildup of lava on the rim top and edges. It really was a nice looking piece of briar. I scraped the walls of the mortise with a small pen knife to scrape away the thick tarry buildup that was present. I cleaned out the mortise, the airway into the bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It was very dirty with tars and oils and took a lot of swabs and pipe cleaners. I had already put the stem in the deoxidizer so cleaning the airway would have to wait.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the darkening on the rim top. I was able to remove much of it. The rest would lessen with polishing.I dropped the stem into a soak of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and set it aside for several hours while I worked on the bowl.While the stem soaked I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the debris. The bowl began to take on a deep shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish my fingertips and into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast portion with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The product brought the briar to life and gave some depth to the finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I took it out of the Briarville Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rubbed it down with a coarse cloth. The oxidation was still present but primarily around the fancy turned portion of the stem. I remembered to clean out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I scrubbed the surface of the stem with Soft Scrub cleanser on cotton pads until I had removed the remaining oxidation. The stem was actually starting to look very good at this point in the process.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Stem Polishes. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This GBD Tapestry 1970 Diplomat turned out to be a real beauty with some nice grain on both the sandblast portions and the smooth patches. I put the stem on the shank and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it to deepen the shine. The grain on the briar came alive with the buffing and the gold of the band was a great contrast between the briar and the polished vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside Diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.23 ounces/35 grams. It is really a great looking pipe. The oval shank and fancy chair leg style stem looks excellent. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the British Pipe Makers section shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.

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