Daily Archives: March 4, 2022

Restoring a Millennium of Tynwald Black, Faceted Meerschaum Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen to work on is an interesting faceted Black coloured Meerschaum Bent Billiard. It is a pipe that we found somewhere along the journey but have no record of when or where we picked it up. It is a classic Manx style African Meerschaum pipe. It was stamped on the ferrule on the shank end had had the Manx running legs logo and read Millennium [arched over] Of Tynwald in a circle around the . It was in great condition when I brought it to the table. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and some lava on the rim top and edges of the bowl. The brass coloured ferrule was in good shape but had scratches that would need to be polished. The stem had the same running legs logo on the top of the saddle. There was some oxidation and calcification on the stem surfaces as well as light chatter and tooth marks near the button on both sides. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work. I took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have a thick lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.  I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the brass ferrule. It reads as noted above. I also captured the stamping on the stem to show the running legs logo there as well. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to have a look at the parts and overall look. I did a quick search on Google to see what I could learn about the Millennium Of Tynwald brand. The first link I found was for one that was on Worthpoint that had a fascinating description of the brand (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/meerschaum-pipe-manx-millennium-1979-464084331). I include a portion of that quote below.

Manx Tynwald Millennium Meerschaums Pipe. The pipe will probably date from 1979 the year of the Millennium. Made in the Isle of Man by J Laxey & Co. Meerschaum production ceased in 2002. From the 1960’s they produced bowls for Barlings and Petersons among others.

I am not sure how the year 1979 is linked to the Millennium but somehow the write above associates that and dates his pipe. I am not clear about the dates of the pipe. I know that it was made prior to 2002 when the Laxey Factory closed.

I turned then to Pipephil and did a quick search there for information linking the Millennium brand stamp with Manx (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/nonbriar/meer.html). Sure enough the link was there. I have included a screen capture of a pipe with the same ferrule and stem stamp as the one that I am working on. I also included a note from the sidebar.Laxey Pipe Factory (closed in 2002). Other brands from the factory: “Manxpipe”, “Manxman”, “Manxland”. See also: Man Pipes

I turned to Pipedia to have a read about the history of the Laxey Pipe Company on the Isle of Man (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Laxey_Pipes_Ltd.). There was a short history of the brand that I included below.

Laxey Pipes Ltd. resided in a historical 19th century four-storey Man stone building at The Quay, Old Laxey, Isle of Man, which thankfully has been preserved.

The company specialised in the production of meerschaum pipes using the Meerschaum mined by the Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation in the Amboseli basin in Tanganyika (since 1964 part of the United Republic of Tanzania).

Please note: you may often find names like “Manx Pipes Ltd.”, “Man Pipe Co.” and others more, but there is no indication of another Isle of Man pipe producer other than Laxey Pipe Ltd. at any time!

 Laxey Pipes Ltd. marketed own brands like “Manxpipe”, “Manxman”, “Manxland” e.c. Names like “John Bull”, “White Knight” (unwaxed), “Domino” (black, or lined) indicated some shapes / colours of Laxey’s own series. The stems either showed the astronomical sign for “male” or “man” (circle + arrow), or the crest of the Isle of Man, the 3-legged X in a circle. Manxpipes and Laxey’s other brands were available through pipe retailers in general, but also were sold (mainly) to tourists through their own shop in Laxey.

Furthermore Laxey Pipes Ltd. manufactured the meer bowls for Peterson, Barling, Nørding and others from the later 1960’s until 2001. Man Pipe e.g. was a brand distributed by Comoy’s. The bowls usually showed no nomenclature indicating the orderer. “Genuine Block Meerschaum” was engraved frequently. Often, just the stems were different, while bowls were the same.

Supply of meerschaum from East Africa ran out (Kenya / Tanzania exhausted, Somalia inaccessible), and thus the last Laxey meers were supplied to trade in May, 2001. Laxey Pipes Ltd. tried to survive continuing with briar pipes – mainly in the Danish style -, but to no success. It closed down business in July, 2002.

After publishing this blog I received a response on Facebook about the stamp on the ferrule and more information about the brand and logo. I quote from Adrian Sacco

The millennium referred to is the 1000th anniversary of Tynwald, the Isle of Man parliament. It’s the oldest/longest continuous government in the western world. The Isle of Man is a self-governing British crown dependency located between Great Britain and Ireland. It is not part of the UK…  Just to add, the famous “three legs” is the symbol of the Isle of Man. It’s called a triskelion. The Manx motto is “quocumque jeceris stabit “ which translates “whichever way you throw me I stand”. This reflects the resilience often found in small island nations.

Thanks Adrian for the added information on the pipe. Very helpful.

Armed with that information, I started my clean up of the pipe by reaming it with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bowl walls. I further cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I finished the cleaning of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper. I smoothed out the bowl walls and checked for cracks and flaws. All looked very good. I cleaned off the build up in the rim top with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall knife and scrubbed it with cotton pads to remove the residual grime. I looked better but there was more work to do. I scrubbed the interior of the bowl, shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. It was full of tars and oils that with a bit of work came clean. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the finish. 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. You can see the interesting carved lines on each of the facets of the bowl. It adds an almost primitive touch to the bowl.      I polished the nickel ferrule with micromesh sanding pads with a jewelers cloth to remove the oxidation and give it a shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed it with Soft Scrub cleanser to remove the oxidation and light calcification. It took a lot of oxidation off the stem as can be seen in the photos.   I sanded the light tooth marks and chatter out of the surface and removed the remaining oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I touched up the running legs logo with white acrylic fingernail polish. Once it cured I scraped it off and polished it with a worn 1500 grit micromesh pad. 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 am excited to finish this Laxey Pipes Millennium Of Tynwald Black Faceted Meerschaum. I put the pipe back together and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to deepen the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to further raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with etched facets all around it. Added to that the brass coloured ferrule and the polished black vulcanite stem and you have a beautiful pipe. This Millenium Of Tynwald Meerschaum is great 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 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 51 grams/1.80 oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that I will be adding the British Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store. I you are interested in adding it to your collection please let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe and for reading this blog.

A Decorated Veteran

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is this superb Ropp Six. It comes from a group of pipes I purchased from France. I love this pipe. I have a particular interest in French pipes and pipeworks, and I grabbed this one to restore for my collection. This is an old, old pipe with a few wounds (i.e. a veteran pipe with decorations) and needs just a little help to come back to life. This pipe was made by the venerable French pipe company, Ropp. Ropp has been around for a long time and their early pipes are really quite wonderful (the less said about their modern pipes, the better). The markings on the left-hand side of the shank read Ropp [over] Six. The right-hand side of the shank reads 886, presumably the shape number. Also, on the stem, there is the Ropp logo: Ropp, encircled in an oval.This pipe shape is a Rhodesian – a variation of the classic Bulldog. A Rhodesian will have a cylindrical shaped shank, not a diamond shank like the Bulldog. This is a really pretty pipe and feels very comfortable in the hand.

From Pipedia, here is a very brief history of the Ropp company:

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830–1907) acquired a patent for the cherrywood pipe in 1869. In 1870, he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Bussang, in the Vosges mountains. Around 1893, his business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames in Upper Burgundy. The pipes were a big success in export as well. Shortly before 1914, Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and its colonies. Probably in 1917, a workshop in Saint-Claude in the rue du Plan du Moulin was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923, another small building in Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added. Cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises in 1994. On to the pipe: it was in decent shape, but it had a few issues. The stem had a bit of oxidation and calcification, but – mostly notably – it had substantial bite marks, top and bottom. The stummel also had a few issues. The outside of the bowl had some scratches and a couple of fills that needed to be addressed. These are the “decorations” I referred to in the title of this article. There was lava and debris on the rim, and a few burn marks too. The inside was pretty dirty too – it would need a thorough cleaning. The stem was first on my list. This stem has a stinger in it – and it was being quite stubborn about coming out of the tenon! I opted to warm the stem and stinger with my heat gun and this provided just enough softening of the internal goo to allow me to pull it out. The stinger then went for a soak in some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. I let it set for several hours and then cleaned it off and it looked much improved. I then finished it with some metal polish and moved on. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was not successful at all in raising the damage. More work would need to be done. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Even the bore was clogged with debris! It took an awful lot of work to get this clean! Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. After this, I used some nail polish to restore the Ropp logo on the stem. I painted the area carefully and let it fully set before proceeding. I built up the dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. On this occasion, I actually built up several layers of the glue over a few days. I must admit, it was an annoying and frustrating process because, at this stage, it never looked quite right. I then sanded the adhesive down – first with a small file – then with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. This stummel was a bit of a mess inside, so I first decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took the bowl down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. There were some very thin craze lines inside the bowl, but they were small enough that I elected to leave them as they were. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was considerable filth inside this stummel and it took a lot of cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes.

I used a small butter knife to gently chip away at the lava on the rim. I then used more Murphy’s with a scrub brush to remove any remainder. This actually worked quite well. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed any latent dirt that blighted the wood.

In order to remove the remaining burns and nicks on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe.Having completed that, I was able to address the small nicks on the stummel. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. The repair was not perfect, but the remaining scratches would be improved by sanding.I lined the fills with cyanoacrylate adhesive and briar dust. After letting them cure, I sanded the fill repairs down with 200-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpaper. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) on the stummel to finish it off. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. There is some beautiful wood after all. It is a very handsome, decorated veteran. In order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. I then added a second coat – just to make sure. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain. I applied some more Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very handsome pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure. This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and has a very elegant feel to it. It took some work, but I am proud of it and the final product suits me to a T. It retains some wounds from battle, but, as Steve would say, they are part of this pipe’s story. This is one pipe that I am keeping for myself and adding to my collection. I am sure that I will be enjoying this one for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.