Breathing Life into a GBD Oxford Saddle Stem Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from EBay on  06/11/2016 from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The pipe is a classic newer GBD Billiard shaped pipe with a varnish coat on the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads GBD in an oval [over] OXFORD. On the right side it is stamped Made in England. The finish is quite shiny and has some nice grain highlighted by the contrast stain. The bowl was moderately caked around the first ½ inch down into the bowl then there was bare briar. It was quite clean and the inner edge looked to be in good condition. There was a small nick on the left front outer edge. The saddle stem was vulcanite and was lightly oxidized. It had a stamped GBD Oval logo that was in good condition. It is a nice looking newer GBD made by Cadogan and will make someone a great small billiard. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo 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. Though there are no photos of the top and underside of the stem it is remarkably clean and undamaged. The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. The stamp on the stem is also quite clean. I turned to Pipephil and there was nothing listed for the Oxford 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 nothing there on the Oxford model.

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 ( 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 some of models listed there below. I have highlighted the Oxford in red in the list below. 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.

  • Matt Special — England, unknown if also made in France: “Warm Amber” on black dual tone Matt finish, “mid-priced” private label. -catalog ( 1976 ). This style was listed under “Private Brand Pipes” in the catalog which means that GBD would stamp a custom name of the pipe, often the name of a pipe shop or chain.
  • Medley — England, unknown if also made in France: “A collection of oversize Conquest and Collector shapes…varying shape selection”, varying finishs. -catalog ( 1981 )
  • Oxford — England, unknown if also made in France: –
  • Peerless — England, unknown if also made in France: –

Armed with that information I knew 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 and edges of the bowl looked great. There was one small nick on the left front outer edge of the bowl but otherwise the outer edge looks good. The vulcanite stem was very clean with no tooth marks or chatter. There was some light oxidation that I would need to deal with but otherwise it was clean. The stamping on sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is another proportionally pleasing pipe.The bowl and rim looked very good so I rubbed the pipe down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 needed to remove the light oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it down with Soft Scrub and was able to clean it up significantly.   I polished the vulcanite 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.     This Cadogan Era GBD Oxford Vulcanite Saddle Stem Billiard is a great looking pipe. The contrasting brown and black stain on the briar highlights the grain around the bowl and shank. It works well with both the shape and the polished vulcanite 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 Oxford 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: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 32 grams/1.13 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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