Cleaning up an Ehrlich Special Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on is one that has been here in my box to work on since around 2016. It is a well made, beautifully grained Panel Billiard with a square shank and taper stem. It had gone through Jeff’s cleaning before it came here so it was quite clean. The bowl had been reamed and the rim top scrubbed. The stem was still oxidized so I would guess that we picked it up before we started using Mark Hoover’s Before & After Stem Deoxidizer. The finish looked very good with amazing cross grain on the front and back of the bowl and birdseye on the bowl sides. It was very beautiful under the dull finish at this point. It was stamped on the left side of the shank and read Ehrlich in block caps. On the right side it was stamped Imported Briar [over] Special. It has a vulcanite square taper stem that is oxidized and is very tight in the shank. The stem bears Ehrlich “E” logo on the left side. 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. There was some darkening on the op and inner and outer edges look very good. The stem is also in great condition other than the oxidation and speckles of grime stuck to the surface of the stem.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. The Ehrlich logo of E is on the left side of the stem is also in good condition. I took the stem off the shank to show the overall look of this interesting panel pipe. It really is a beautiful piece of briar.I set the pipe aside to do a bit of reading on the history of the brand before I worked on it. 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 second pipe is stamped similarly to the one I am working on. The EHRLICH is stamped the same way and the E logo is the same. There are no photos of the SPECIAL. 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.

There were some deep scratches on the underside of the shank that I decided to steam out. I used a flat table knife, a damp cloth and the flame from my gas range to heat and create steam to raise the scratches. It worked quite well and removed some and minimized the others.  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 turned my attention to the stem. It was oxidized but did not have any tooth marks or chatter on either side. 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 E stamp on the side of the stem with white acrylic nail polish. I worked it into the E stamp with a tooth pick to get it into the grooves of the stamp. It was deep enough that it looked very good.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 Ehrlich Special Imported Briar Panel Billiard with a Taper 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 it). 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 1.34 ounces/38 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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