Daily Archives: July 5, 2022

Restoring a Nino Rossi 1886 Shape 138

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another that caught my eye when I was going through my boxes of pipes to be refurbished. It was purchased off eBay from a seller in Spearville, Kansas, USA in March of 2017. So, it is another that has been sitting here for over five years now. I sent a message to Jeff to see if he had some before photos of the pipe to show the condition when he received it. He did and sent them to me via Messenger. The pipe is a unique shape but it was a real mess. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the signature of Nino Rossi [over] 1886. On the right side it is stamped with the shape number 138 and on the underside near the stem it read ITALY. The stem had the brand logo stamped on the left side as well and though fade it was readable. The finish was filthy with dirt and grime ground into the briar. There was some fading near the ride top of the bowl. The was some tarnish on the mid-shank brass band sandwiched between two white acrylic spacers. The bowl was heavily caked and there was a lava overflow on the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. It appeared to me that the bowl edges were damaged but I would not know for sure until the pipe was cleaned up. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The inside of the stem and shank was also filthy with heavy tars and oils to the point it was almost clogged. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up and I include those now. He took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the pipe and the cake in the bowl. You can see the potential damage on the inner edge. He also took photos of the stem to show the bite marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff captured the grain around the bowl sides and heel in the next photos. It really shines through even the grime. There are worn spots in the finish and numerous fills in the bowl and heel. They blend pretty well and I think after the clean up it will be a beautiful pipe. He took photos of the stamping on the shank sides and stem. He was able to capture them very well. Before I started to work on the pipe I wanted to remind myself of the background and history of the company. I find that when I do that it gives me another level of appreciation for the pipe that I am working on. I remembered that I had worked on a Nino Rossi 1886 pipe before so I turned to the blog I had written on the brand when I did that pipe and reread the history. Here is the link to the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2022/01/04/a-fun-restore-of-a-nino-rossi-1886-classico-in-shape-992/). While the shape is slightly different it was informative. I quote from the information I found on the blog below.

I turned first to Pipephil’s site to see what I could learn about the brand as generally the site gives a good summary (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-n1.html#ninorossi). I quote the information from the side bar below and a screen capture of the pertinent section on the site. I drew a red box around the pipe in the photo below with the same stamping as the one I am working on.

Brand founded in 1886 by Ferdinando Rossi senior. He established a factory in Barasso, 5 miles away from Varese. The pipes production by the 850 employees reached 50,000 pipes/day in 1936. Ferdinando Rossi junior headed the company from 1946 until close down in 1985.I turned to Pipedia to read the more complete history of the brand and learn what I could about a possible date for this pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Rossi). First, I wanted to understand the 1886 stamp on the shank under the signature stamp. I found that it was the year that the company acquired land and opened Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi.

Rossi acquired a large area of land in Barasso in the province of Varese and founded the Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi in 1886. For sure there was no lack of skilled workers and Rossi personally recruited 30 craftsmen of different occupations from the environment to get started. After a few years the enterprise had developed well and entered into export trades. In 1892 e.g., the ledgers registered the first pipes shipped to Brazil.

I quote a summary section of the article below.

From, approximately, Twenties, Rossi pipes were marked with “FRB” (Fratelli Rossi Barasso) or “MFRB” (Manifattura Fratelli Rossi Barasso), into an oval and above “OLD BRIAR” (or similar – sometimes, there was also “MFD. BY ROSSI”, as “Manufactured by Rossi”); on the stem, there was generally the “R” letter in circle. However, “FRB OLD BRIAR” was maintained for the “traditional pipes” (for cheap models – see below), surely, to Sixties.

From, approximately, the fiftieth anniversary (1936), pipes were marked with “Rossi” (in cursive font), with model name just under it; on the stem, there was “ROSSI” (for expensive models like “extra”, which had the best quality; “racine”, which was rusticated by hand; “extra grain”, which was accurately sandblasted; “super”, which had the best briar selection, and a limited production; “fiamma”, which was the best selection of Sardinia and Greece briar, and a very limited production) or “R” in circle (for inexpensive models like “standard”, “grana” and “FRB”).

From, approximately, Seventies, until 1985, Rossi pipes were marked with “ROSSI”, in an oval (sometimes there was also “ITALY” on the shank); on the stem, there was “ROSSI”. In these years, appeared the signature “Nino Rossi” (in cursive font): he was the last heir of the factory.

With that information, I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had thoroughly cleaned up the pipe. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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. There was some darkening on the inner edge of the rim and top that would need to be dealt with. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub to remove as much of the oxidation as possible. He soaked it in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it with warm water. The acrylic stem was clean but had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was an N logo on the left side of the stem. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the rim top and bowl as well as the stem to give a sense of the condition of both. The rim top had some damage and darkening to the inner edge and rim top on the right front and back side. The bowl was out of round and need some work. The stem cleaned up well and there were tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the sides and underside of the shank. They are readable as noted above.I took the stem out of the shank and took a photo of the overall look of the pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening and damage on the inside edge of the bowl and the rim top. I used a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and a wooden ball to clean up the bevel on the inner edge and the top of the bowl. I touched it up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the top and edges down with a damp cloth and the rim top and edges looked much better. I wrapped a piece of dowel with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the inside walls of the bowl to smooth them out. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled I the deep tooth mark on the top and underside of the stem with black CA glue. Once it cured I used a small file to flatten the repair and shape the button edge. I sanded the repair smooth to blend it into the surface of the stem with the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The stem was looking better with the repairs and polishing. 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 gave it a final rub down with Obsidian Oil. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the N stamp on the left side of the saddle. I applied it and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft towel. The resultant stamp looked very good.This Nino Rossi 1886 Shape 138 ¼ Bent Stack with a briar shank extension and a short saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The beautiful grain on the briar and the briar shank extension that shines through the polished finish is stunning. There is a brass spacer with a white acrylic space on each side between the shank and the extension. It looks great. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. 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 Nino Rossi 138 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 56 grams/1.98 ounces. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipe Makers Section. If you are interested in this pipe 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!

Reviving a Vauen Luxus

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a handsome Vauen, which I acquired from a Craigslist pipe lot. Although not an old pipe, it is a handsome one. It’s rather big and hefty, but not heavy, and feels good in the hand. I’m really glad that my customer picked out this pipe, as it has been sitting around unused for far too long. I’m happy that it has found a new home.This pipe is a Vauen Luxus 2013 chunky, bent billiard with a beautiful horn ferrule, It also takes a 9 mm filter. The stem has the traditional Vauen white dot (not unlike Dunhill’s) and, most interestingly, it has a P-lip, very reminiscent of Peterson’s. The ‘2013’ does not refer to the year of manufacture, rather, it refers to the shape number. The markings on the pipe are as follows: on the left side of the shank, it reads Vauen [over] Luxus. The underside of the shank shows the model number 2013, and the top of the stem shows the classic white Vauen dot.I searched on Pipedia for some history of the Vauen brand. Here’s what I found:

In 1848 Karl Ellenberger and his partner Carl August Ziener turned an idea into reality in Nuremberg. In the first German pipe manufacturing company they produced tobacco pipes from selected woods for connoisseurs throughout the world.

The Vereinigte Pfeifenfabriken in Nuremberg (known in short as VPFN) was brought into being in 1901 with the amalgamation with the Gebhard Ott pipe factory founded in 1866, also in Nuremberg. In this way, a business was created under the management of Ernst Eckert, a scion of the founding family Ott, and its products and services were to attend and shape the culture of tobacco and smoking in Europe and overseas for a long time – for 150 years now.

In the 1920s, VAUEN had taken out a trademark on a white dot on the mouthpiece for Germany and Austria, at the same time that Dunhill had done the same for the international market. The companies ended up in court with the result that Dunhill may use the white dot internationally, whereas VAUEN may use it only in Germany and Austria and has to use a differently-coloured dot for all other markets. They have used light blue and grey dots internationally since then. The white or coloured dot denotes the higher quality pipes of VAUEN; the lower-end pipes are only marked by the VAUEN imprint on the stem.

In the search for a term which would be easy for all pipe friends to remember and not confuse with anything else, Ernst Eckert’s son, Adolf Eckert coined a new name for the business in 1909.

VAUEN, consisting of the initial letters V (pronounced VAU) from Vereinigte Pfeifenfabriken and the N (pronounced EN) of Nuremberg. A brand name for the future had been created.

After 1945 Ernst Eckert, son of Adolf Eckert, succeeded in overcoming the destructive effects of the war with an unshakeable pioneering spirit. VAUEN grew to become a business with a worldwide reputation once more.

Alexander Eckert, now the fifth generation of pipemakers, has been at the head of the oldest German pipe-manufacturing company since 1982. The company, which has been in the hands of the founder’s family since it was established, is expanding again in importance as a result of increased international commitment.

Over at Pipephil.eu, they note that “Some of the pipes in Vauen’s Dr. Perl line (Germany) are equipped with a conventional P-lip stem.” In this context, the word ‘conventional’ is referring to the same P-lip invented by Peterson in 1898.

On to the pipe: given that it wasn’t very old, the pipe was in pretty good shape, but as usual, there were a couple of issues. The rim on the stummel was blackened and a bit burnt – that would need to be addressed. The insides were fairly dirty and would need some work to clean out. There were also some small fills in the wood, and they had ever-so-slightly expanded so that you could feel them when rubbing your finger over the surface. My customer didn’t want the fills dug out and replaced, so I would need to stain the fills instead. Mercifully, the beautiful horn was in good shape and wouldn’t need anything other than a polish. The stem needed some work. It was definitely dirty inside and the cavity that holds the filter would need a thorough cleaning. The stem also had some calcification and tooth marks/dents that would need addressing. In addition, the button would need to be reshaped. The stem was first on my list. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. Unfortunately, this didn’t really work, but I have ways of sorting this problem out.

Then, I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. It was pretty dirty and required quite a few pipe cleaners. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover.The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation on the stem.The bite marks on and around the button had to be dealt with, so I whipped out my black cyanoacrylate adhesive to fill those in and let them fully cure. 

I then sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. Next, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order. The bowl really needed reaming so I used the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper on a dowel to eliminate as much as possible. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside these stummels and it took a lot of cotton to get them clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes.I used a toothbrush and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel and then the lava on the rim of the pipe.The burn marks remained, so in order to remove the remaining burns and nicks on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe.A de-ghosting session also seemed in order, so I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Just before sanding, I covered the horn with painter’s tape to prevent any damage to it. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) on the stummel to make it lovely and smooth. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the wood.In order to minimize the appearance of the fills, I opted to apply some stain to the wood. First, however, I used some furniture pens on the fills and the newly sanded rim to darken them a bit. I began by applying a layer of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the pipe. After applying the dye, flaming it with a BIC, and letting it set for a few hours, I wiped the stummel down with isopropyl alcohol to remove much of the dye. Then it was time for the second round of staining, following the same steps as before. Finally, it was off for a trip to the bench polisher. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what it needed. The lovely shine made the wood look absolutely beautiful. This Vauen Luxus looks fantastic and arise ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I know that the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6 in. (150 mm); height 2.3 in. (59 mm); bowl diameter 1.4 in. (35 mm); chamber diameter 0.8 in. (20 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2.5 oz. (72 g). Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.