Breathing Life into a GBD Autumn Gold 1260 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from EBay on 11/25/2017 from Omaha, Nebraska, USA. The pipe is a classic newer GBD Billiard shaped pipe with an intricate three layer band on the shank. It has a rope like carving in briar sandwiched between two brass bands. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads GBD in an oval [over] Autumn [over] Gold. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 1260. On the underside of the stem it is stamped Italy. There was a lot of grime ground into the finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a thick overflow of lava on smooth rim top and inner edge of the rim. The inside and outer edges looked to be in good condition. The saddle stem was amber acrylic and was dirty and the  stamped GBD logo was worn. It had tooth chatter and deep tooth marks on the top and underside near and on the button. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the thick lava on the smooth rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the heavy chatter and deep tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a sense of what the briar looked like. The finish quite light and under the obscuring dirtiness of the bowl you can see some nice grain peeking through.   The stamping on the left and underside of the shank is clear and readable as noted above.   I turned to Pipephil and there was nothing listed for the Autumn Gold model of GBD pipes. I was a little disappointed but have gotten used to that for some the newer GBDs. I have hit the wall in the search for information many times on these.

I turned then to Pipedia to see if I could find anything. On the main page there was a great summary of the history of the brand lots of information on the more known models. There was a short reference under the section labelled Current GBD Production that referred to the Autumn Gold Model (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD#Current_Production). I quote below:

Current GBD website. GBD is now made by Cadogan, who also make Comoy of London, Dr. Plumb’s Perfect Pipes, BBB, and Orlik Pipes. [3]. Since the merger in 1981 with Comoys, GBD pipes are not considered to be of the quality they were under the original companies. Metal rondelles were discontinued after the merger with Comoy. The brass rondell made a reappearance on new production GBD’s. The new lines are Autumn Gold, Bermuda, Facet, Pub and CW (Churchwarden).

At the bottom of the listing on Pipedia there was a link to a section on the various models so I clicked on the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) and finally found something. At the bottom of the listing of models of GBD pipes there was a list of GBD seconds. I have included the first three models listed there below. The third model down in the list is the Autumn Gold. That was the extent of information that I could find.

List of GBD “Seconds”

The lines listed below are either 2nds or lines made for other makers/pipeshops. Please send me any corrections or additional information you might have on these.

  • Americana — Factory unknown: –
  • Arizona — Factory unknown: –
  • Autumn Gold — Factory unknown: –  …

Armed with that information that I was working on a Cadogan era GBD pipe (made after 1981) I turned to work on the pipe itself.  Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.   The rim top cleaned up quite well but there was a lot of darkening on the rim top and there was damage on the front inner edge of the bowl. There was some checking on the inner walls of the bowl that I would investigate further in the clean up process. The outer edge of the bowl looks good. The amber acrylic stem had some deep tooth marks on the button surface and on the stem ahead of the button as well. There was a lot of chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I captured the stamping on the left side but forgot to take a photo of the shape number on the underside.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is another proportionally pleasing pipe.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the the darkening on the rim top and inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had finished it looked better.    I polished the smooth rim and shank top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the debris.   I noticed that I had not addressed the checking on the bowl walls at this point and it shows up in the above photos quite clearly. I set aside the polishing for a bit and worked over the bowl walls. I used a PipNet Reamer to cut back the remaining cake in the bowl. I took it back to bare briar. I followed that with scraping out the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper and was able to smooth out the damage. Though there were still some check spots the overall condition of the bowl was certainly much better than it looked prior to this. With the checking addressed and the little that remains cleaned up, I turned back to polishing the bowl with the last three micromesh sanding pads. The bowl had taken on a deep shine. The bowl and rim looked very good so I rubbed it 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 about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled them in with clear super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once they had cured I used a small file to flatten them and start blending them into the surface of the stem.  I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing it 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 touched up the faint GBD Oval stamp on the left side of the saddle stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I worked it into the remaining stamp with a tooth pick and buffed it off with a soft pad. It is better but still faint.This Cadogan Era GBD Autumn Gold 1260 Amber Acrylic Stem Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The golden stain on the briar highlights the grain around the bowl and shank. It works well with both the shape and the polished amber acrylic saddle stem. I put the 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 and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Autumn Gold Billiard is another pipe that fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 50 grams/1.76 ounces.  I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the British Pipemakers Section shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

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