Cleaning up an UNSMOKED/NOS Ehrlich Select Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on is another UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK pipe. This one was Panel Billiard with a square shank and saddle stem. It had a perfectly clean and debris free bowl and rim top that showed that it had never been smoked. The finish was shop worn an dirty but had some nice grain around the bowl and shank. There was a peeling varnish coat on the outside of the bowl and shank. There were some small flaws and fills around the bowl. It was stamped on the left side of the shank and read Ehrlich Select [over] Imported Briar. The inside of the bowl appears to have some stain that has permeated the briar but it is clean. It has a vulcanite square saddle stem that is lightly oxidized. The stem bears Ehrlich “E” logo on the left side of the saddle. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. I took photos of the bowl and rim top and the stem surfaces to show the condition of both. The bowl, rim top and edges look very good. The stem is also in great condition other than the light oxidation and speckles of grime stuck to the surface of the stem – on the saddle and on the blade.I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. The Ehrlich logo of circle E is on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem is also in good condition. The stamp is filled in and very dirty.I took the stem off the shank to show the look of the white spacer on the stem and overall look of this interesting panel pipe.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I was able to remove the varnish coat on the bowl and shank with the pads. I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad. The briar took on a rich shine and there was some nice grain around the bowl and shank sides. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the pipe. I worked it into the briar because the product cleans, enlivens and protects the briar. I let the pipe sit with the Balm for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a soft towel. The Balm did its magic and the pipe looked really good. I set the bowl aside and did a bit of reading on the history. I have worked on quite a few Ehrlich pipes in the past and wanted to refresh my memory of the back story of the brand. I checked first on Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-e1.html) and found photos of various pipes. The picture of the first pipe is stamped similarly to the one I am working on. The EHRLICH is stamped the same way. There are no photos of the SELECT. I am including a screen capture of the pertinent information. There was no other information in the sidebars.Then I turned to Pipedia and was more successful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ehrlich%27s). I quote a portion of that article below that gives a bit of history and more importantly cleared up where the pipes came from for me.

The David P. Ehrlich story – Pipemakers and Tobacconists for a Hundred Years, 1868-1968.

The David P. Ehrlich Company has remained solely in the hands of one family during its century of business, yet it has had several firm names and locations. David P. Ehrlich went to work in 1881 at the age of twenty for Ferdinand Abraham, who dealt in cigars and tobacco and who had begun business in 1868 at 1188 Washington Street in the South End, but in 1880 moved to the center of the city, where the firm has been ever since. David Ehrlich married the boss’s daughter. In 1916 the name became the David P. Ehrlich Company and Mr. Ehrlich devoted the rest of his life to this business. Since David’s death in 1912 it has been owned by – his nieces and nephews including Richard A. and William Ehrlich.

Ehrlich shop has since 1880 had a predilection for historic sites. 25 Court Street was close to the spot where from 1721-1726 James Franklin had, with the assistance of his brother Benjamin, published The New-England Courant. In 1908 the firm moved a few doors up Court Street to number 37, on the opposite corner of the alley that is grandiloquently named Franklin Avenue. This new location was on the site of the one-time printing office of Edes and Gill, publishers of the Boston Gazette, in whose back room some of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party assumed their disguises. Soon after the end of World War II at which time the store was located at 33 Court Street a move around the corner to 207 Washington Street brought the shop diagonally across from the Old State House and onto the site occupied from 1610-1808 by the First Church of Boston. The demolition of 207 Washington Street in 1967 caused still another move to 32 Tremont Street, adjoining King’s Chapel burying Ground, which is the oldest cemetery in Boston.

The David P. Ehrlich Co. has not just occupied sites intimately associated with Boston history and institutions; it has in the past century become a Boston institution in its own right. It has specialized in fine cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. In addition to the retail business, the firm has long specialized in the manufacture of pipes, both from Algerian briar root…

That gave the history of the brand and was written in a way that fascinated me. I included a lot of because of that. I knew that the pipe I was working on was stamped Imported Briar which generally points to a pipe made elsewhere for Ehrlich and brought to the US.

I turned my attention to the stem. It was lightly oxidized from sitting around in the store who had stocked it. I scrubbed it with cotton pads and Soft Scrub all purpose cleanser. I worked on it until the stem surface was clean and ready polish.I touched up the Circle E stamp on the side of the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique gold. The stamp was not deep so while it worked there are spots on the circle where it is light.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK Ehrlich Select Imported Briar Panel Billiard with a Saddle Vulcanite stem looks really good. The grain around the bowl and shank stands out with the contrasting brown stains. I put the pipe back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping on the stem so as not to damage that). I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe 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 1.20 ounces/34 grams. It is a great looking pipe and one that will be going on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section. If you want to add it to your collection let me know via email to slaug@uniserve.com or by message. Thanks for walking through the cleanup with me.

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