Blog by Steve Laug
I went through my box of pipes that needed to be restored and came across this interesting looking chunky Bent Billiard with a smooth rim top. The bowl and the shank were rusticated with a tight pattern approximating a sandblast finish that feels great in the hand. I was really interested in what it would look like once it was finished. The pipe came to us back in 2017 from an antique store in Stevensville, Montana, USA. It was stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. It read Oscar [over] Aged Briar. That was followed by a Savinelli S shield and the shape number 616 [over] Italy. The finish was very dirty with ground in oils and dirt. At the junction of the heel of the bowl and panel with the stamping there was some thick putty like substance that was almost like dried wood glue and nasty looking. The bowl had a thick cake in it that overflowed with lava on the rim top and down the sides of the cap. The thick vulcanite taper stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks on the surface of the stem and the button itself on both sides. There was also some sticky residue around the stem next to the shank. It was a dirty pipe but it had some amazing potential that shone through the dirt and debris. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava coat and scratches on the rim top. The exterior looked dull and lifeless but still we both saw something. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification and tooth damage on both sides of the stem surface and button. He took photos of the dirty rustication on the heel and sides of the bowl to show the pattern of the finish and the beauty of the briar. It really is very nice.He captured the dried wood glue on the heel of the bowl on the area between the smooth panel and the heel. It is hard to know what is going on there. We will know more once it is cleaned.He took photos of the stamping on the pipe. It was on the underside of the shank and was clear and readable as noted above. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html) to have a look at the Savinelli Oscar. There was no new information there however I did learn that the Oscar often had fills in the briar so it helped to clarify the patch on the bottom of the bowl/shank.Pipedia has a great history of the brand that is worth a read if you have not already read it (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). It is brief and pointed. There is also a great shape chart on the site. I have circled the 616 in red in the chart below.
Armed with that information it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils as well as the residue on the bottom of the bowl/shank junction. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. There was some darkening on the beveled inner edge of the rim and some scratches on the smooth rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on the surface near the button and on the button itself on both sides. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. You can also see the fills on the bottom of the bowl near the stamping in the photo below. It is a solid fill and there are no cracks internally or externally at this point. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts. It is really a great looking chunky Bent Billiard.I started the work on the pipe by cleaning up the scratching on the rim top and the darkening on the beveled inside edge of the bowl first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper for both. It looked better when I was finished.I polished the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 attentions to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem surface and the button with the flame of a lighter. I sanded out the remaining tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet 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 am excited to finish this chunky Savinelli Oscar Aged Briar 616 Bent Billiard. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I also hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain on the rim top and the depth of the brown/black rustication popping all around it. Added to that the polished black vulcanite taper stem was beautiful. This shapely Rusticated Oscar Bent Billiard is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 68 grams/2.40 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that I soon put on the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipemakers Section. If you are interested in carrying on the pipeman’s legacy. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.