Daily Archives: January 7, 2022

New Life for an Italian Briar Church Warden with a Great Story Attached


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased off eBay on 11/16/2017 from Chesapeake, Virginia, USA. I think what captured Jeff was what he read on the paper wrapper around the pipe. It read as follows: The pipe belonged to W.W. Hallbrook (Wales). Janet’s father – died 5/1/37 in Oil City, PA. That alone attaches a story to the pipe. It also provides a date for the pipe – pre-1937. The pipe was a Dublin with a long straight stem. The finish had a peeling, worn varnish coat over a dark oxblood stain. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick coating of lava on the rim top. The stem had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. It was heavily oxidized along the entire length. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he unpacked it and before he started his clean up work. It is a charming pipe with an interesting journey. I wish it could talk and tell us the story of its journey from Italy to Wales and then to Oil City, Pennsylvania, USA. From there it traveled to Idaho Falls, Idaho and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the thick lava coat on the top and on the inner edge of the bowl. I am hoping that it protected the edge from damage. He also took photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. You can see the peeling varnish coats and the wear and tear around the bowl. It has some nice grain poking through the varnish and is a rich reddish colour. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It read as noted above and was faint but readable. There is not a lot of information to be gleaned from the stamping on the pipe. Not much can be learned from the Italian Briar stamp. It is hard to know for certain about the maker but there is something KB&B like about the shape and the finish of the pipe. One can imagine origins of the pipe can’t one? LOL! Makes a great tale anyway. I don’t know why but the pipe sat in a box of pipes to be restored until this morning. That is just over 4 years it sat here moldering with the other pipes in the box. But today is the day for its rebirth. I raise a bowl and say, “Here’s to you Janet’s Father – W.W. Hallbrook”.

I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I slid it out of the wrapper around it. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was still lightly oxidized – probably from sitting here this long. The varnish coat was still peeling some but the grime was totally gone. I could see some great grain poking through. Time to work. I removed the stem from the shank and took photos of the pipe and stem to give you a sense of what the pipe looks like. The stem is an older style straight one with no flare at the button end. There is also a very different style stinger pressure fit in the tenon.The rim top had cleaned up very well and all of the varnish was gone from the top. The inner and outer edges of the rim looked very good with no burn damage. There were some scratches in rim top.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.I started my work on the pipe by removing the peeling varnish coat. I removed the stem and wiped the briar down with acetone to strip back the varnish coat.I wiped off the bowl with an acetone dampened cloth pad to remove any remnants of varnish that remained on the finish of the bowl. I took the following photos to show what the pipe looks like at this point. The grain is peeking through and it looks really good. The first photo below shows the flaw in the finish. Jeff captured it and the photo shows  that is a flaw/fill that came out. I filled in the chip/flaw in the underside of the shank with clear super glue and briar dust. I am happy with the way it blended in. I have drawn a red circle around it in the photo below.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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 to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed off the oxidation on the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads. I was able to remove the majority of it.Once the oxidation was removed was in good condition. The chatter and marks were very light and could be polished out. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once I stripped off the varnish and refinished this Italian Briar Churchwarden with a long vulcanite stem is a beautiful pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich reddish-brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the older style vulcanite 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 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 Italian Briar Churchwarden 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: 12 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.34 ounces /37 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. 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.

Life for a Beautifully Grained Royal Saxon Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe was bought from an online auction on 04/04/19 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. It is a nicely grained Canadian with a Sterling Silver shank band and a vulcanite taper stem. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and burn damage all around the inner edge of the bowl. There is also a burn mark on the outer edge on the front top and left edge of the bowl. There are some nicks in the left side toward the front of the bowl. The finish is very dirty with a lot of debris and grime ground into all the way around. The Sterling Silver band is oxidized and tarnished. The stamping on the pipe is on the top of the shank and reads Royal Saxon. There is no other stamping on the briar. The band is stamped Sterling Silver on the top side. There does not appear to be any cracks in the shank so it is solely for cosmetic purposes. The stem is oxidized and has tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. Jeff took some photo of the pipe before he started his work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the burn damage on the top and on the beveled inner edge of the bowl. He also took photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. You can see the small chip/nick on the front middle of the bowl on left side. It is solid but it is visible at this point.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top of the shank and the silver band. They read as noted above and were in excellent condition. I checked on both Pipephil’s site and Pipedia for information on the Royal Saxon brand and neither site had any information. I checked on Who Made That Pipe and again found no information. So I Googled Royal Saxon Smoking Pipes and found information on Worthpoint and on Smokingpipes.com that said the pipe was an Italian Made pipe. They showed a variety of shapes – smooth, rusticated and blasted that all were stamped exactly like the one I am working on. Thus I know that the pipe is an Italian Made pipe but I have no idea who made it.

I did a bit of digging on Savinelli seconds but no Royal Saxon was listed as made by them. I also checked with Lorenzo as they made a lot of seconds lines and there was no listing for the Royal Saxon so I was at a dead end. Oh well – now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up this nicely grained Royal Saxon with his usual pattern. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the rim top and bowl. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airways were clean and the pipe smelled fresh. The pipe looked much better once the bowl and stem were clean. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the oxidation and then let it soak in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it with warm water when he took out of the soak. Before I started my part of the work I took photos of the pipe. I took close up photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition. The photo clearly shows the burn damage to the inner and outer edge of the bowl at the front. You can also see the roughening of the rest of the inner edge and rim top. It was going to take some work to bring it back. I also took photos of both sides of the stem to give a sense of the condition of both sides at the button. There is tooth marking and damage on the top of the button on both sides as well as ahead of the button. The silver band is shown in the photos and is clearly tarnished.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank and silver band. It was readable but had some faint spots. What was interesting to me is that in the first photo there is also a stamp that shows up on the top side of the stem that I had not seen before. It is almost like a Old English “C” but I am not sure.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the proportions of the whole.The first photo below shows the condition on the rim top, outer and inner edge before I started reworking it. I took a photo of the wooden ball that Kenneth gave me that I use in beveling a rim edge. I started work on this one by topping the bowl to take care of the deep burn marks on the top at the front of the bowl. I then reshaped the top and the bowl edges with a piece of sandpaper on a wooden ball. The ball and sandpaper helped clean up the beveled edge and blended in the burn and cuts in the briar as well as bring the bowl back into round. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further shape the bowl. Once I had it smoothed out and shaped I gave it an initial coat of stain with an Oak Stain Pen to match the stain colour around the bowl and shank. Lots of polishing yet to do but it is looking better. The burn mark on the top could not be totally removed without changing the profile of the pipe so I minimized it and it is significantly better. It will just be a permanent part of the pipe’s story.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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 to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I polished the Sterling Silver band with a jewelers cloth to remove the tarnish and protect it from further tarnish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I wanted to see if I could use some acrylic white fingernail polish to bring back the stamp to readability on the top of the stem. I applied the acrylic and let it cure. I scraped it away and it was a little readable but not clear enough.I “painted” the stem with the flame of a lighter to try and lift the tooth marks on the stem and button surface. While it did some lifting there were some deeper ones that remained. I filled them in with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I flattened them out with a small file and recut the button edge. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This nicely grained Royal Saxon Canadian with a Sterling Silver Band and a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite 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 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 Royal Saxon Canadian 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: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.13 ounces /32 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. 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.

Restoration of an Edwardian Lady


I have been waiting for this write up. As Charles noted Bakelite is highly repairable when this happens. However he also experienced many of the pains of doing this… thanks for sharing this restoration Charles.

This intricately carved meerschaum figural pipe came to me as part of an estate lot. It had waited patiently for restoration for a few years before I managed to get repairs underway, and even then it took me months to complete the work, picking away at it in the spaces between other jobs.

As you will see in the following series of images, the pipe is carved in the shape of a decidedly Edwardian lady, complete with a rather large hat perched atop a pile of Gibson Girl hair. A similarly large bow tied under her chin balances the look, while the sweet, contented expression on the lady’s face speaks of many hours of peaceful smoking for the gentleman lucky enough to call her his own.

The stummel arrived in dirty but undamaged condition, a testament to the care shown by its stewards over time. Alas, the stem was not…

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