Restemming and restoring a meerschaum lined Vauen Dr. Perl 1242 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This past weekend a fellow stopped by on a recommendation from a local pipe shop about my restemming a couple of pipes that he purchased on Ebay. Both of the pipes were Vauen pipes and both were sandblasted with P-lip style stems. The stems had the additional feature of being 9mm filter pipes. The first of these I chose to work on was the sandblast billiard that had a meerlined bowl. The tenon had snapped in the shank in the process of the shipping and the thin filter stem was stuck in the shank. The meerlined bowl was also dirty and had a light to moderate cake on the walls. The rim top was stain dark from use and was much the same colour as the stain on the bowl. The finish was dirty but had a charm that was characteristic of older sandblast pipes. The pipe was stamped on the underside of the shank and read Vauen [over] Dr. Perl. That was followed by the shape number 1242 followed by the crossed pipes Vauen logo. It was quite lightweight and would clean up quite nicely. In chatting with the fellow on Sunday he was clear that he wanted to get rid of the p-lip stem altogether and have an acrylic fishtail style stem in the same shape made for a 9mm filter tenon. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took photos of the snapped tenon on the stem to show how close to the shank it had broken. The broken tenon was tight in the shank and would be difficult to remove.I took a photo of the meerschaum insert in the bowl. It looks good in the photo below. It is smooth and shows some darkening on the top of the insert where it seems to almost blur into the surround briar.The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I wanted to get some background on the Dr. Perl pipe by Vauen. I turned first to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-v1.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site. There was a great sidebar that gave some history of the brand. I include both of them below. There was also a note at the bottom of the screen capture below that has a link to the Vauen Dr Perl variant on the P-Lip pipe.In 1848, Karl Ellenberger and his partner Carl August Ziener establish a pipe factory in Nuremberg. In 1901 they merge with Gebhard Ott an other factory in town and they create a firm named Vereinigten Pfeifenfabriken Nürnberg (abbreviated : VPFN*). Shortly after Ernst Eckert, a member of the Ott family became manager of the society. During the 20th century Adolf, Ernst (jr) and Alexander Eckert (CEO in 2012) followed one another at Vauen’s head.* VPFN : “V” is said VAU in German (pronounce faou) and “N” becomes EN. Hence VAUEN.

I followed that link on the bottom of the photo above (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/p-lip-en.html). I found that there was description of the Vauen Dr. Perl that had the same style stem as the pipe I was working on. I have included a screen capture of the Dr. Perl pipe below:I could not find anything in the information to help establish the date for the pipe but it is fascinating to see the look of the P-lip.

I also turned to a blog written on rebornpipes by Dal Stanton (Pipesteward.com) that I quote a section from the blog below that gives a great sense of the history of the German brand and some photos from the website (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/04/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-german-vauen-6294-p-lip-saddle-billiard-for-a-special-young-lady/).

… I turn to the question of the history of the VAUEN name? I look to the History section of the VAUEN website and again, I am impressed with the presentation. Whenever I work on a pipe, and especially when a pipe name is new to me, I enjoy looking at its history to appreciate the pipe more fully now on my worktable. From VAUEN’s website:Quality and a wealth of ideas have a long tradition at VAUEN. 160 years of VAUEN: that means 160 years of skilled workmanship and modern technology and 160 years of experience in fulfilling the individual wishes of today’s pipe lovers, and those of tomorrow.

In Nuremberg in 1848, Karl Ellenberger and his partner Carl August Ziener turned an idea into reality: Germany’s first pipe manufacturer produced tobacco pipes for connoisseurs around the world using a selection of the best wood. In an amalgamation with the Gebhard Ott pipe factory, which was founded in 1866 in Nuremberg, the Vereinigten Pfeifenfabriken Nuremberg (United Pipe Factories Nuremberg, or VPFN) was born in 1901.  Under the management of Ernst Eckert, a descendant of the founding Ott family, a company was born whose products and services would shape the tobacco and smoking culture in Europe and overseas for the next 160 years and counting.

The question about the name, VAUEN, not being a name of a person and why it is capitalized throughout is explained:

In his search for a name that would be easily remembered by all pipe lovers, Ernst Eckert’s son, Adolf Eckert, coined a new name for the company in 1909: VAUEN – a composition of the first letters V (pronounced vow) of Vereinigte Pfeifenfabriken and N (pronounced en) of Nuremberg. A brand for the future was born.

Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. I needed to pull the broken tenon from the shank but it was harder than I thought it would be. I tried to drill it out but it would not move. I painted it with alcohol to try to soften the grime on it but again no movement. I was nervous about putting it in the freezer because of the meerlining so I was left to other methods. I finally used a knife to scrape away as much of the tenon as possible. I finally used a small file and was able to pull out the last piece of the broken tenon. With it gone I sanded the mortise smooth with a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper until the fit in the shank was smooth.I examined the bowl and saw that the meerschaum insert ended just above the entrance of the airway. It is a meerschaum sleeve rather than a bowl insert. The bottom of the bowl is still briar. I carefully scraped out the cake on the meerschaum walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to make it smooth.I cleaned out the mortise and airway into the bowl and the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol until they came out clean. In chatting with the pipeman who brought me the pipe we decided to add a small thin brass band for decorative purposes. I went through my bands and found one that was a perfect fit. I put a thin band of glue around the shank edge and pressed the band into place. I took photos of the new look of the pipe. I really like the looks of the band in place.  I restained the briar portion of the rim top and edges with a combination of Black and Walnut stain pens to match the colour around the bowl sides. It looked much better. I polished the meerschaum portion a bit as well but it has some great colour to it.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingers and used a shoe brush to press it deep into the crevices of the sandblast. The product works to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank and enliven and protect the briar. After it sat for 15 minutes I wiped it off with a soft cloth. The briar really came alive with a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I put it in a cup of water and boiled the water to straighten out the new stem. Heated the stem and the water in the microwave for 2 minutes until the material became flexible. I straightened it out and set the stem shape with cold running water.I sanded out the light remaining tooth marks and chatter in the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the bowl and thick shank. This Meerschaum Lined Vauen Dr. Perl 1242 Billiard was another fun pipe to work on. It really is a quite stunning piece of briar whose shape follows the flow of the grain on the briar. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown 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 1.48 ounces/42 grams. The first of two Vauen Dr. Perl Pipes that were dropped off for me to clean up and restem. Once the second is finished, I will be sending them back to the pipeman who dropped them off. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I working on it.

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