Daily Archives: October 10, 2022

Reviving a Mastercraft Imported Briar Bulldog

January of 2018 was when I saw this Mastercraft Bulldog on the eBay auction block.  The Bulldog seemed to have good ‘bones’ from the seller’s …

Reviving a Mastercraft Imported Briar Bulldog

This old timer Dal restored is a real beauty. Give the blog a read.

Revisiting a Favourite Pipe Shop in Budapest – The Pipatorium (Would it still be there?)

Blog by Steve Laug

When I knew I was heading to Budapest again in September 2022 I was certain that I wanted to visit a shop that had first gone to in October 2010 (twelve years ago now). I have visited and revisited this particular pipe shop in Budapest several times over the years. I have gone there and each time I visited it had been reduced more and more by the restrictive laws and interventions of the Hungarian government. I was not sure the shop would still be there this time as it had been seven years since the last time I had been there. I am including the link to the blog I wrote on the last visit below (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/10/10/will-it-still-be-there-next-time-memories-of-the-pipetorium-in-budapest-hungary/).

It was quite a shop back in 2010 when I made my first visit. To me it was the epitome of the old European Tobacco Shop. It was small and packed with all kinds of pipes and pipe accessories. The back walls behind the counter were packed with tins and pouches of tobaccos and pipe cleaners and tampers and… the list could go on. Everything one needed for smoking – pipes, tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, even books for teaching how to use your pipe lined the shelves. The owner was a hobbitlike fellow that obviously enjoyed his shop and had a keen eye for all things pipe. If you could not figure out what you needed he was a master at it. Along the walls and in the display window were pieces of pipe history from a far removed time period that gave you a glimpse of the way things once were. It was the oldest independent pipe shop in Hungary founded in 1933 and still in operation when I was there in 2010. When I went back in 2015 and it had become significantly less even though the old fellow who ran the shop was still there at that time. It was located at József krt. 38, Budapest, Hungary 1085 and was open from 10am to 6pm during the week. My hope was that the shop would still be there on this visit.

I was hoping that the unique little shop with its hobbit like shop keeper had not changed. The following three photos are pictures of what the shop looked like the first time I visited it in 2010. I have included them to show the stark contrast to what I met on this trip. The building was cut stone and the arched doorway had the words Dohanybolt over the door. There was an awning that had flowers and copper tiles. When I had been there the first time in October 2010 the awning looked as it is in the first photo below. The door itself occupied the right side of the archway and had the words PIPA painted on the glass. The left side of the archway was a display window that I spoke of above. There were pipes and racks, old tins and pouches and pipes from days gone by that I had never seen the likes of. There were old meerschaum and briars and decorative tins and jars of tobacco that no longer was sold. To the left side of the door on there was a rich red sign with a pipe in an oval that had the words Pipatorium across the bottom. Above the Pipatorium sign on the wall there had been an elaborate sign that stood out from the wall on wrought iron braces. It was in Hungarian but left little doubt as to its meaning. The pipe in the middle made it clear that it was a pipe shop and the date at the bottom made clear the date it had been established. To me that sign became the singular memory that stuck in my mind of the outside of the shop. The last time I visited in 2015 all the identifying signs were removed and a sanitized storefront remained. Last time I remember that my friend said that the shop owner was struggling with the oppressive laws regarding tobacco and the signage and frontage of tobacco shops. I included these photos of the amazing sign that I remembered so well even though I knew that it was gone. We turned the corner on József Krt came to the location of the shop. I was surprised. Even though I had been here since it had been sanitized I would easily have walked right by without knowing that I had missed it. All of the unique, classic pipe signage was gone and in their place was the circular government tobacco shop sign. The display window to the left of the door and the window on the door itself had been painted over. The front of the shop looked like the photo below. I don’t know about you but the sanitized look was lacking all of the previous charm of the original shop. From the outside there was no reason to believe that the shop of my memories was still there. Everything I loved about the curb appeal of the place was still gone and as in 2015 the place had a cold sanitized looking frontage. The fancy awning had been removed and in its place above the door a motorized metal shutter had been installed so that when the shop was closed even the door disappeared and in its place was a steel door that made the place not only “safe” in the eyes of the government but also made it disappear. I just paused and shook my head trying to fathom the loss of another of my memories. I wondered what was behind the door. I really wondered if anything would be left.

Honestly, I was expecting the worst. Would the inside of the shop be worse than even the memory of my last visit? Would the sanitizing hand of governmental bureaucracy have even stripped away even more of the inside of the shop? I was not sure. The painted windows and door had darkened what had once been a bright hobbit hole of a shop. I looked at the wall to the right of the counter – yes, it still had the display cases but they were much more empty. I looked at the one to the right and saw that the shelves of older pipes and museum like pieces was gone and not even a remnant of them was present. There were screws in the wall where displays had been. The back wall still held the counter but in this post-COVID world even that had changed and been locked behind a glass wall that not only protected the owner from me but left little sense of the original humanity of the shop. The shelves were lined with tobacco and it seemed to be a large selection but on closer examination  proved to mostly filled with cigarettes and the makings and rolling papers of the same. The right corner of the photo below shows what remained of pipe tobaccos – a mere remnant of what had been there before. In the place of Hungarian and Czech tobaccos were now primarily MacBaren pouches and tins that are now available throughout the EU. Tucked at the bottom of the shelf in the corner were several small pouches of Hungarian tobaccos.        The hobbitlike owner who I had met previously still sat behind his counter. We visited and talked about the state of his shop. He told me that he was saddened by the changes that had been forced upon him by the government regulations. He said that he was still surviving. I shared with him my memories of the way the shop had looked when I had been there previously and the special place it occupied in my mind from that first visit. I could tell that he too missed those days. Sitting in the darkened shop with none of the charm that drew people like me into it interior must have been very difficult for him. I picked up some of the only Hungarian Tobaccos that remained in the shop – one labeled Jacht and the other Primus 1 and both were Virginias. There was nothing left of the Balkan Tobaccos that had special display on the wall. The right wall had a smattering of cigars and a selection of throw away lighters. The shop was a skeleton of what it had once been. I took a photo of him holding my purchases so I would have a clear memory of the visit.I bade him farewell for perhaps the last time and made my way back to the door and out to city beyond. Before leaving the shop I took another look around at the interior of the shop. I took in the now meager displays of pipes and tobaccos and wondered if this would be the last time I came to this shop. If things continued as they had in past seven years then who could truly say if the marvelous Pipatorium would be here on my next visit to Budapest. Time would tell.


Restoring a Payne to Its Former Glory

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is an interesting pipe of Leonard Payne’s making. I acquired this pipe from an “antique” shop in Cloverdale (just outside Vancouver) – although it is doubtful how many genuine antique things were in the shop. Here’s a photo of me in situ, with the pipe.I love the prince shape, and I was excited to work on this pipe. The gentleman who commissioned this pipe is a regular customer of Steve’s, so I was all the more delighted.

On to the pipe itself! It was certainly a charming pipe, but it was grungy and had an unholy quantity of tooth marks, dents, lava, cake, and just general filth.  The markings on the left side of the shank read Leonard Payne [over] Original. On the left side of the stem, there was a faint capital ‘P’.I little while back, I detailed my restoration of another Payne pipe, in a tale I entitled, The Frog Prince. I will repeat the information I wrote there about Leonard Payne. He was born in England, moved to Canada in the 1950s, and died in the Vancouver area within the last few years. Payne was, to put mildly, an idiosyncratic pipe maker. I can do no better than quote Mike Glukler of Briar Blues (found on Pipepedia):

“Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C. Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe, it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a ‘carburetor’ system at the shank/stem junction. Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus ‘correcting’ the weakest link”.In addition, there was a photograph that Steve found of Payne on Reddit that appears to date from the 1960s. The original poster on Reddit told me that the photo comes from the City of Surrey archives. I have no idea why it is in French (or why it’s in the Surrey archives), but here is my translation of the text on the right:

“Pipe makers are not on every street corner in Canada! Leonard Payne, originally from England, didn’t know the challenges he would face and that’s probably what influenced his decision to come and try his luck in Canada. After his arrival in 1957, he and his family settled in Vancouver, where he first found work as a tool maker – and made pipes in his free time. In 1959, he decided to become a full-time pipe maker, and since then he has had department stores in all parts of Canada among his clients. He imports briar blocks from Italy and pipe stems from England.”My customer selected this pipe because (a) he wanted a prince manufactured by Leonard Payne, and (b) he wanted a Payne that didn’t have a carburetor system or the reattached shank. Providentially, this pipe fit the bill on all counts.

The stem on this pipe was in decent shape, with a small draught hole. But most remarkably, the button had been decapitated or stolen by a goblin. At any rate, the button was not there, and I knew that I would have quite a job on my hands.   Well, to work! I briefly considered finding a new stem for this pipe, but I believed I should try to work with the original parts before seeking a different solution. So, first on the list was constructing a new button for this pipe. I started by sanding off the end of the stem with some 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the bottom. In order to fashion a new button, I needed to minimize the rounding on the end of the stem and make the face even. Then I took out some small files and began cutting into the vulcanite, carving out a new button. This was a tricky business and it took some real patience and effort to make it work. After much nerve-wracking work, I had successfully carved out a new button and smoothed it with files and sandpaper. The following is a tedious series of photos showing the progress of the stem! Next, I used a thin file to widen the draught hole. The end result is better than what these photos show. Finally, I could move on to the regular cleaning procedures for the stem. First, I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Fortunately, it wasn’t overly dirty, and it only needed a handful of pipe cleaners.Then, I wiped down the stem with SoftScrub, before sending it off for a bath 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 I could easily remove it. Then I scrubbed with more SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. After this, I used nail polish to restore the logo on the stem. I painted the area carefully and let it fully set before proceeding. I worried that this wouldn’t work, as the ‘P’ was so faint. Fortunately, I ended up being wrong and some of the ‘P’ came back to life.I then 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. Hey – this looks like a real stem! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I always want to use the original parts of a pipe, if possible, and I’m glad this worked. Setting the stem aside, I moved on to the bowl. I started by reaming it out. I used the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake inside and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately, there were none. After that, I used cotton rounds and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel and a toothbrush with Murphy’s for the lava on the rim of the pipe. Oddly, there appeared to be shiny bits of a previous coating on the stummel, left over from some other time; I figured my sanding would remove these marks, so I ignored them for the time being. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took a fair amount of cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. Next, I decided to de-ghost the pipe to remove any lingering smells of the past. 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 any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Here are the “before” and “after” photos: Having completed that, I was able to address the small nicks on the rim and the bowl. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try to raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. The repair was not perfect, but the remaining scratches would be improved by sanding. 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. After this, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to remove the frustrating scratches in the wood and make everything smooth. Additionally, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.  At the buffer, a dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look beautiful. I am pleased with this pipe – it was tricky work, but thoroughly enjoyable for me. Best of all, I know that the new owner will enjoy 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. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.