Daily Archives: June 24, 2022

Restoring and Restemming a Made in Ireland Peterson’s Premier Selection 493 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe was a mess and one that obviously had been “ridden hard and put away wet”. The finish and condition was abysmal. It was definitely a stranger to any cleaning! This one is a smooth Bent Billiard that has a rich coloured finish around the bowl sides and shank under the grit and grime of years. This pipe was purchased from an antique mall on 08/27/21 in Bozeman, Montana, USA. The finish is almost bland looking it is so dirty it was hard to know what to expect once it was cleaned. It was stamped on the  left side of the shank and read Peterson’s [over] Premier Selection. It was stamped to the right of the shank and reads MADE IN IRELAND with the shape number 493 next to the bowl. It was filthy when Jeff brought it to the table. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava on the back of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The outer edge looked good. The replacement Biteproof stem was oxidized and had a chunk missing from the left side of the stem at the button. There was also tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on the rest of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and there was a heavy lava overflow on the rim top and the inner edge. The stem is broken, oxidized, calcified and grimy. It was a mess. Jeff took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain that was around this bowl. The grain is quite beautiful around the sides of the bowl and shank. It is a nice looking pipe. He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is 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). There was a short note toward the bottom of the page about the series. It is definitely referring to the newer line that came out later. I quote:

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson) to first pin down a date that the pipe was made. I knew that the Made in Ireland stamp would give me that. I quote:

As usual when trying to get accurate facts in regard to Peterson history, something will jump up and get in the way. They are missing many of their records. The following is the best that we can do for a guide to the myriad markings during the period 1922 – 1949. Prior to 1920 it was rare for a country of origin to be stamped on the pipe, just Peterson’s Dublin on the band. After 1921/22, if it is stamped “MADE IN IRELAND” and the “Made in” is stacked over “Ireland” or “MADE IN EIRE” or several other forms, it was made between 1922 and 1938. A considerable number of Peterson pipes were stamped “Irish Free State”. From about 1930 to 1949, most of the pipes (those which were stamped) were stamped “Made in Ireland”.” If the stamp reads “MADE IN IRELAND” in a circle, the pipe was made between 1939 and 1948. These are all “pre-Republic” pipes. I can tell you that the mark “Irish Free State” was adopted in 1922;and replaced by “Eire” in 1937 and then by “Republic of Ireland” in 1949.

That gave me a date for the pipe – it was made between 1922 and 1938 as can be proved by the Made in Ireland stamp on the right side of the shank.

I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Peterson’s Kapp-Royal Pipe. On page 310 it had the following information.

Premier on the shank (c. 1953- c. 1981) A high grade line of Classic Range shapes for the US market introduced by Rogers Imports in their 1953 catalog. Offered in smooth or sandblast finish, a P-lip mouthpiece with an aluminum P. The first occurrence of this logo in the ephemera. The Tan Bark Premier appeared in the ’69 Iwan Ries catalog. COM of Made in over Ireland, a PREMIER stamp also appears over SELECTION and will be distinguished by an inset brass P on the mouthpiece. See system for SYSTEM over PREMIER stamp.

Judging from the Made in Ireland stamp, the pipe I am working on is probably made between 1922-38. The contrary piece of the puzzle is that the second red highlight above dates it to between 1953 and 1981. It is missing the original P-lip stem and the P emblem on the stem side. So once more we enter the realm of Peterson’s mysteries. Anyone have any ideas on this one.

I was utterly surprised when I took this pipe out of the box and compared it to the before photos. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Surprisingly the walls looked unscathed from the heavy cake. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. Since the stem was ruined he did not clean it. He sent the ruined stem along so that I could use it to fit another stem. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived. The cleaned up rim top looked very good around the edges and the top. I took some close up photos of the rim top and edges to show how well it had cleaned up. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the damage on the left side of the stem near the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and went through my stems and found one that matched the broken one very well. I would need to reduce the diameter of the tenon and then I would work the stem to fit correctly.I started my work on this pipe by fitting the new stem to the shank. I had to reduce the tenon with 220 grit sandpaper to fit the shank. As with all diamond shank pipes, the sides were not equal in measurement so I had to shave off some of the vulcanite or some of the briar to get a proper fit to the shank. I did the work with some 220 grit sandpaper until the transition was smooth all the way around the shank and stem. There is more work to do but it is getting there. With the stem fit I removed it and turned my attention to the bowl. I know some of you would have kept working on the stem but I needed a change of pace so I went to the bowl for awhile to address this darkening on the rim top and edges. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and work on the darkening on the top.I polished the briar and worked to blend in the sanded areas on the rim top and shank end with the surrounding briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and assess progress. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the twin rings around the cap with a shoe brush. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention back to the stem. Started by opening up the slot in the button with a small saw. Once I had it the way I wanted I turned to the rest of the stem. I worked on the shaping and smoothing out the sanding marks with 220 grit sandpaper and starting polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I cleaned the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The stem was very dirty so it took a bit of work to get the oils and tars out of it. Once it was cleaned it smelled very good. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this beautifully grained, restemmed Peterson’s Premier Selection 493 Straight Bulldog. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful mixed grain all around it. The Bulldog looks great with the new replacement black vulcanite stem. This smooth Classic Peterson’s Premier Selection Bulldog 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: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 38 grams/1.34 ounces. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I will be putting on the rebornpipes store in the Irish Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for your time and as Paresh says each time – Stay Safe.

Restoring a GBD Speciale 728


Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on several pipes for a fellow in Israel over the past few months and he is great to work with. He has great taste in pipes and the ones he has purchased from me have also been beautiful. Periodically I receive an email from him about another pipe he was interested in purchasing EBay. This next one was one that caught my attention. He sent me the link and wanted my opinion on it. It was a nice GBD with a brass rondel on the stem top. It is stamped with the GBD oval over Speciale on the top of the shank and on the underside it has the shape number 728. GBD called this one a Rhodesian according to their shape charts but I would not call it that. To me it is more of Dublin/Scoop and has some great looking grain around the bowl sides, rim and shank. The pipe appeared to be in decent condition and lightly smoked. Not too many days after that he wrote me to say he had won it and he had it shipped to me rather than to him in Israel. We chatted back and forth about it via email and I would let him know when I received it. Here are the pictures that the EBay seller included with the advertising. I always like to be able to set the pipe I am working on in its historical setting so I turn to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read through the brand history. Toward the middle of the article I found what I was looking for. I quote below:

The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory.

The premium lines of GBD offered very good values, and are considered amongst the most affordable high end pipe of the 1960’s and earlier and a rival in quality, design, and price to Dunhill. Smokers’ Haven was the main retail supplier for GBD’s in the US until the early 1980’s.

GBD produced consistently well made pipes, almost entirely of Algerian or Grecian briar. In the late 1960’s to late 1970’s, they introduced the “Collector” and “Unique” lines, made primarily by Horry Jamieson, who had carved for Barling for many years, and was skilled in freehand design. Older GBD pieces are excellent smokers and unique in design. They did an excellent executions of classic pipe shapes, as well as some beautiful freehands in the “Unique” line. [2]

The following list comprises the better grades in descending order:

Pedigree, Pedigree I, Pedigree II, Straight Grain, Prodigy, Bronze Velvet, Virgin, Varichrome, Prestige, Jubilee, New Era, Prehistoric, International, Universe, Speciale Standard, Ebony, Tapestry, New Standard, Granitan, Sauvage, Sierra, Penthouse, Legacy, Concorde.

The pipe I am working on was stamped Speciale and though it does not say it was made in France I think it was like the other Speciale pipes I have worked on. Thus I knew that it was made either in Paris before 1952 or in St. Claude after that date and before 1981 when production moved to England. I also new that I was dealing with one of the better grade pipes with the Speciale Standard stamp.

I then followed the links included to a listing of the shapes and numbers on the GBD pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). The pipe I was working on was labeled by GBD as a 728 which is a Rhodesian/Poker according to the chart. It has an oval shank though and I am not sure I would classify it as either of those shapes.

The pipe arrived this week in a Bubble Mailer from the seller in Italy. To me it is a questionable way to ship pipes as they can be easily damaged. I was concerned when I opened the mailer to examine the pipe inside. Fortunately the seller had separated the stem and bowl and wrapped each in thick bubble wrap which certainly helped. I examined the pipe carefully to assess both the condition of the pipe and what I needed to do with it. There was a light cake in the bowl and no lava on the rim top or edges. There light scratches on the rim top and on the sides of the bowl. The pipe was stamped on the on the top and underside of the shank as noted above. The finish was surprisingly clean and shiny with some great grain showing through. As I looked over the finish it appeared to me that bowl had been varnished to give it that shininess. I personally don’t like that kind of coating as I feel that it gets in the way of the briar breathing and often bubbles when the pipe is heated. The stem had the inlaid brass oval rondel on the top of the saddle portion. The vulcanite stem was fairly clean and there was light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I have included them below. The cleaned up rim top looked very good around the edges and the top. I took some close up photos of the rim top and edges to show how it looked when it arrived. There were a few dents and scratches in the crowned top. The inner and outer edges looked good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on the surface near and on the button itself.I took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to have a look at the parts and overall look. You can also see the inner tube in the tenon. It is removable and I will take it out and clean it up in the process.To remove the varnish coat from the briar I wiped it down with cotton pads soaked in acetone. It worked very well and took off the varnish but did no remove the stain finish. It was clean and the grain stood out more clearly. Once the bowl was polished and waxed I think that the rain would sing. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. With the outside polished I decided to clean the insides of the pipe and shank next. I reamed the bowl with the third cutting head of a PipeNet pipe reamer to take the thin cake off the walls of the pipe. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I polished the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  I scraped the inside of the shank with a small pen knife to remove the tars and oils that had built up on the walls of the pipe. I scrubbed the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol and worked on it until the shank was clean. I cleaned out the slot in the button and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. It was quite dirty but with the scrubbing it was very clean. I decided to de-ghost the bowl with alcohol and cotton pads. I stuffed the bowl with cotton pads and twisted one up to insert in the shank. Once those were in place I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol. I set the bowl in an old ice cube tray to hold the bowl upright. I set it aside until the morning. At that time the cotton was very dirty with tars and oils both on the twisted cotton in the shank and the bolls stuffed in the bowl. I cleaned out the shank and mortise with alcohol to remove any debris. The pipe smelled much better. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the scratches and tooth chatter out of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this beautifully grained GBD Speciale 721 with a saddle stem. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful mixed grain all around it. The polished bowl looks great with the black vulcanite stem. The removal of the varnish will enable the briar to breathe. This smooth Classic GBD Speciale 721 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 47 grams/1.62 ounces. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I will be sending it off to the fellow in Israel shortly and I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he receives it. Remember that we are only trustees of our pipes and long after we are gone the pipes will go onto the next person who takes on the trust. Thanks for your time and as Paresh says each time – Stay Safe.