Repairing a Damaged and Non-functional Prancing Horse Cheroot Holder


Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted this damaged Meerschaum Cheroot holder by a fellow we have purchased a lot of pipes from. We have a good rapport with each other and have exchanged a lot of emails. He wrote that he had a small Cheroot holder he wanted to gift to me that was quite unique. It had a carved horse on the top of the shank. The horse was in great condition but the amber stem was crookedly glued to the shank and had broken in half. I gave the end of each piece of the stem a thin coat of glue to hold the pieces together. I put a greased pipe cleaner in and glued the parts and let it cure. I removed the pipe cleaner and took the following photos of the Cheroot holder. It was an interesting looking piece that had some great history if it could only speak to us. The airway in the stem was clear and but the bowl was clogged with tars and the rim top had a tar coat build up on the rim top. The airway was clogged with no draught. I took a photo of the glued stem to show the fit of the parts and also the fit of the stem to the shank. The pieces fit very well together but the fit of the stem to the shank was way off. You can see the gap at the top of the second photo below. The stem was crooked on the shank. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tar build up on the rim top. It looked much cleaner. There was some colour to the rim top. It looked much better.I used a tooth pick and a pipe cleaner to clean out the airway in the inside of the bowl. When I removed the pipe cleaner the bowl came off without damage and I was able to further clean it on the inside of the bowl and the shank of the Cheroot holder. Whatever was clogging it was rock hard. Once cleaned the bowl fit tightly into the shank. It was now clean to the shank end from both directions.I did a quick Google search for small carved animal Cheroot holder with amber stems and possibly a case. I looked through the various carved holders and found a carved Fox with the same bowl insert as the one I was working on and the same style amber stem as the one I was working on and also was broken at the end (http://www.keilsantiques.com/antiques/objets-dart/antique-carved-meerschaum-fox-cheroot-holder). I saved photos of the pipe from the site both outside and inside the case. You can see the similarities between the two carvings.  Unfortunately there was no real information on the carver or age of the piece.While I was cleaning the stem the glue came loose at the stem/shank joint. Nothing broke in the amber which I was happy for but the glue let loose. I was actually very glad because I could adjust the fit of the stem to the shank. The problem was that the shank had been filled in with the super glue and was rock hard. The shank was so thin that I would not be able to drill it out so I was now faced with the facts that the pipe was not going to be usable. I flattened out the end of the stem and the shank with a topping board to make a clean junction. I reglued it with clear CA glue and held the surfaces flat against each other until the glue hardened. You can see the look and fit of the newly refit stem in the photos below. I took a photo of the carved prancing horse on the top of the cheroot holder. It is actually well carved and in good condition.I took photos of the bowl and rim top and stem. You can see the clean bowl and rim top. It looks very good. The fit of the stem is very good. The repair is visible but should lessen with polishing. It is an interesting piece and a shame that it is not usable or fixable.I sanded the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth them out and blend them into the surrounding amber. It is looking better.I polished the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping down the stem after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. It is starting to look very good. I gave the bowl and stem a coat of Clapham’s Beeswax. I carefully put it on the bowl and the stem to protect and preserve it. I carefully polished it with a soft cloth. The last thing I wanted to do was break it again. The dimensions of the cheroot holder are Length: 3 ½ inches, Height: 1 inch,  Bowl diameter: ¾ of an inch, Chamber diameter: ½ of an inch. The weight of the piece is .49 ounces/14 grams. It is a great piece of tobacciana history and one that I will enjoy having in my collection for display. Once I have my office back in shape it will sit on top of a pipe cabinet on my desk top. Thanks for giving the blog a read. I appreciate all of you follow rebornpipes. Thank you.

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