Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the table is a nice looking oval shank Billiard with an oval saddle stem. The shape number and line information is worn off with buffing. The stem has the GBD brass rondelle in the top of the saddle. There is a very faint GBD stamp in a logo on the top of the shank and some very faint stamping on the top and underside. This pipe was purchased from a antique seller on 04/07/18 in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. The finish was very dirty but the briar shows some beautiful grain on the bowl and shank sides. The bowl had a thick cake and heavy lava overflow onto the rim top. It looked like the edges and top were damaged but we would know more once it was cleaned. The stem did not show oxidation but had bite marks on the top and underside of the stem surface of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he cleaned it up. He captured the thick cake in the bowl and the heavy lava cake on the rim top. It really was a mess. I really wondered what the rim would look like under that. There appeared to be an inner bevel on the rim top. The photos of the stem show the tooth marks on the top and underside of the button surface. He captured the grain around the bowl sides and heel in the next photos. You can see the grime in the finish and a flaw in the briar on the lower front of the bowl. The stamping on the shank is very faint. It appears that there is a GBD in an oval and the faint numbers on the shank that are not clear. The brass oval on the stem top is in good condition. I did some digging on Pipephil and found that a French made GBD that was shown on the site was the same shape as the one I am working on (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-gbd.html). I have included a screen capture of the section below. The stamping on the one in hand is unreadable so I cannot be certain but it certainly looks like the same pipe. I turned to Pipedia to read about the French made GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I have included the following information on the French made GBD. It gives me a possible date for the making of this pipe if it is indeed a French made pipe. That date is somewhere between early 1950s and the time the pipes moved to be made in England (1981). I quote:
The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory. At about that same time GBD merged with Comoys, since then all production for both GBD and Comoy comes from a single factory.
I then turned to a section on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers) where the shape numbers are listed. I went through the list and looked for an oval shank Billiard. I found the following listing that fits the pipe.
Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the lava, oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. The beveled rim top had some darkening on the whole rim top though darker on the backside of the rim and there were cuts, dings and nicks in the surface. The stem photos show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem and the button surface. It appears that the brass GBD rondelle is slightly crooked.I took photos of the faint stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The GBD oval is barely visible on the top of the shank. There are also remnants of the shape number on the underside. I decided to address the damage on the rim top and edges. To begin I sanded the top of the rim on a topping board to smooth out all the cuts and ridges on the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to start the bevel on the inner edge of the rim. The goal would be to restore the original one. I then used a wooden ball wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to work over the rim top and give the inner edge a bevel. I filled in the flaw in the briar on the front of the bowl heel with clear CA glue. I set it aside to cure. I carefully filled it so I could polish it off with 1500 grit micromesh once it cured.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used some black CA glue to rebuild the button top and bottom. I set it aside to let it cure. Once it cured I used a small file to redefine the button edge and flatten out the surface of the stem. Once I had removed the largest part of the fills I used clear CA glue to fill in the air bubbles and work on the repaired edge shape. I then used the file to flatten and reshape those repairs. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the GBD Mystery Oval Shank Saddle Billiard and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This classic oval shank Billiard shape and finish really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – straight, flame and birdseye – popped with polishing. The repaired black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. This GBD Oval Shank Billiard fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.23 ounces/35 grams. This beauty will be going on the rebornpipes online store in the French Pipemakers Section. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.