Restoring a Vauen College 350 Rusticated Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This past week, after some email correspondence I received a package with three Vauen pipes that a friend here in British Columbia wanted me to restore for him. The one was a broken shanked Vauen Meerschaum and the other two were rusticated briars. The first of the briars was a Vauen rusticated Billiard with a 9MM Filter stem. The rim top had some lava build up in the rustication and a moderate cake in the bowl. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The finish was dirty but had a charm that was characteristic of older rusticated Vauen pipes. The pipe was stamped on the underside of the shank and read College [over] Vauen followed by the shape number 350. It was quite lightweight and would clean up quite nicely. The tenon was set in the shank and the stem fit over it. The stem was quite clean and was made of black acrylic with the characteristic Vauen White Dot. There was light chatter on the surfaces near the button on both sides but no tooth marks at all. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took photos of the rim top and the top and underside of the stem. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The stem is very clean in regards to tooth marks an damage. It is dirty but otherwise great. It is a nice looking pipe.The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the overall look of the pipe. It is really a nicely looking Billiard that will look great once it is cleaned up.I wanted to remind myself of the background on the Vauen brand before I started my work on the pipe. I turned first to Pipephil’s site ( 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.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 also turned to a blog written on rebornpipes by Dal Stanton ( 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 (

… 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 descendent 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 reamed out the cake on the bowl walls with a PipNet Pipe reamer and  cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls smooth with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. 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. I scrubbed the rugged exterior of the bowl and the stem with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it off with warm water to remove the grime and the soap. It looked much better once it was clean. 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 rustication. 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 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 of the Vauen College 350 Billiard 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 stem. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 depth of the rustication really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black acrylic stem is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the bowl and shank. This Rusticated Vauen College 350 Billiard  was another fun pipe to work on. It really is a quite stunning piece of briar whose rustication flows with the cut of the briar. The pipe is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.02 ounces/ 29 grams. This is the first of three Vauen Pipes that I am working on for my friend. Once I finish the threesome I will be sending them back to him. Thanks for reading my reflections on the pipe while I working on it.


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