A Singularly Interesting Restoration of a Full Bent Peterson


Blog by Steve Laug

My friend Ken wrote and asked me if I take this older Peterson’s Full Bent to clean up and restore for him. Today it arrived in the mail. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Peterson’s [arched over] System [over] 2 in a circle (which I believe is the grade stamp). There is no stamping on the other side of the shank or on the underside. The silver ferrule is stamped on the left side K&P [over] three hallmarks – the seated woman, the harp and a letter “P”. To the right of that it is stamped Peterson [over] Dublin. The pipe looks to be an old timer. The bowl was quite dirty with a moderate cake in the bowl, some tobacco bits and a spot of what looked like moldy tobacco stuck on the wall. The sump was filled with tars, oils and some spots of mold as well. The pipe reeked of old wet and moldy tobacco. It was a mess. The rim top had a build up of lava on the top and edges. The inner and outer edge looked good with no nicks. The finish was very worn and scratched. The silver ferrule was oxidized and dirty. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started my clean up work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the bowl to give a clear idea of what I was working on. It had a light lava coat that is hard to see in the photo. The bowl had a moderate cake that is not very visible and moldy particles on the back wall and in the sump and mortise. The stem had straightened quite a bit and there was oxidation, calcification and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the side of the shank and the silver ferrule – it reads as noted above. It is clear and undamaged. The second photo gives a clear photo of the hallmarks on the silver. They read as noted above.I am including the link to the Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson).

I always like to date the year a pipe was made while I am working on it. In the process of working on a pipe if I can pin down a date that it was made that it adds another dimension to the restoration process. Once I have identified the hallmarks on the pipe then I use a Hallmark chart to pin the date down. In the case of Peterson’s pipe with a silver band I use a hallmarking chart that Peterson included in their catalogs and on their website

I have a copy of the hallmark charts in one of the Peterson catalogs that I have uploaded to the blog on rebornpipes. I turned to that chart to lock down the date letter for the Sterling Silver System that I am working on. Here is the link to the site (https://rebornpipes.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/peterson-cataloguecomp_page_27.jpg).

The chart defines the meaning of each hallmark on the silver band. The first one is of a seated woman with a harp is known as the Hibernia stamp and identifies the pipe as made in Ireland. The second stamp is a crowned harp which is a fineness mark denoting the high quality of silver that was used. The third stamp in this case is an uppercase “P” in a cloverleaf rectangle. I have included a larger screen capture of the chart in the photo below. Following that I have included a blown up capture of the chart with the “P” in a red box. That dates it to 1930/31. It is interesting to note that there is an asterisk after the date under the boxed “P” stamp above. The note at the bottom of the page is hard to read in the above photo. I looked it up on another chart and found out that it read as follows:

“Up to and including 1931, the date letter was changed on June 1 each year. From 1932 on it was changed on January 1.”

It is thus interesting to note that the date was a significant change in the dating methods came about the year after this pipe was made.

Now that I had the date pinned down to 1930/31 it was time to work on the pipe itself. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cut the cake back to bare walls. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The bowl looked very good on the inside. With the inside cleaned out I turned my attention to the exterior of the bowl. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I worked on the rim top, the bowl and shank and the inside of the bowl itself. I was able to remove the grime and tars with the soap and rinsed it off with running water to remove the tars and soap. The bowl looked very clean. While I scrubbed it the glue that held the band in place loosened and the band came off in my hands. The glue was a mess underneath, it was uneven and chipping. I would need to be replaced to hold the band firmly in place.I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and sump with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. It was filthy and I wanted to make sure to kill whatever was lurking in the bit of tobacco in the bowl and sump. It smells and looks much better now.I cleaned of the old glue on the shank end, sanded it to smooth out the surface and reglued the ferrule with an all purpose white glue. I adjusted the ferrule to the angle of the shank end and set it aside to dry.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each sanding pad to remove the debris from the surface. The briar began to take on a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips. I works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes and then buffed it off with a soft cloth. With these older pipes I try to keep the old patina in tact so I was glad to see that the finish looked very good with the Balm. I polished the silver ferrule with a jewelers cloth to remove the tarnish, polish and preserve the silver. The silver looks very good and the hallmarks are clear and readable as noted above. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned it out with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and 99% isopropyl alcohol. It took quite a few cleaners to get the grime and debris out of the stem, but it smells sweet now. I loaned my heat gun to my daughter so I had to resort to old methods to bend the stem to correct angles. I heated it with the flame of a Bic Lighter until the vulcanite was pliable then carefully bent it to the angle I wanted. I cooled it with water to set the bend.I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down between sanding pads with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I am excited to finish this 1930/31 Peterson’s System Circle 2 Full Bent. I put the pipe back together and buffed it lightly 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 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 deep sandblast all around it. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This sandblast Peterson’s System Circle 2 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: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 66 grams/2.33 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one I am working on for my friend. I will be sending it back to him soon. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

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