Daily Archives: May 19, 2023

New Life for Tired Looking Charatan’s Make London England 90 Sandblast Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe is a beautiful sandblast Dublin shaped pipe. The sandblast is quite rugged and it is a very tactile pipe. I thought this would be another chance to walk you through my process of working on each pipe that we purchase. Jeff has set up a spread sheet to track where the pipe came from, the date of purchase and what we paid for it so that we know what we have invested in the pipe before we even work on it. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. This particular pipe was purchased on 09/18/2020 from a seller in Los Angeles, California, USA. I also want you to understand why we take the photos we do. If you have followed for a while then you will see the familiar pattern of the photos we include both in the before and midstream process of working on a pipe. It is not accidental as the photos have been taken to help me make an assessment of the pipe Jeff sees before he starts his clean up work. The photos of this pipe has some extra photos. We do this to record the condition that the pipe was in when received it and to assess what kind of work will need to be done on. When I look at these photos this is what I see.

  1. The first thing I see is great looking Dublin shaped pipe with a rugged classic Charatan pipe.
  2. The finish is dirty and there is grime and grit ground into nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl. The blast highlights some interesting grain in the swirls and ridges of the finish.
  3. The rim top has some lava and debris on the top and the inner edge is coated with the thick cake from the bowl. There are some nicks on the outer edge of the bowl. I think cleaning will reveal a real beauty.
  4. The bowl has a thick cake and debris on the walls that hides the walls and the inner edge of the bowl but once it is clean we will know what the bowl and edges really look like. The outer edges look good and there does not appear to be any obvious burn damage to the top or bowl edges.
  5. The vulcanite taper stem is in good condition – dirty, calcified, oxidized and has tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. There is a CP logo left side of the stem that is readable but missing the colour that is usually in it.

Overall my impressions of this pipe is that it is a great looking pipe a very rugged and tactile sandblast around the bowl sides. I think that once cleaned up it will look pretty amazing. The shape looks like it will be comfortable to hold. The photos below confirm the assessment above.Jeff took close up photos so that I could have a clearer picture of the condition of the bowl, rim edges and top. The rim top photos confirm my assessment above. The cake in the bowl is thick with tobacco debris stuck on the walls. The rim top has lava, grime and wear around the top and edges in the sandblast surface. You can also see the condition of the outer edge and the inner edge is in great condition. The bowl seems to be round and other than being in a used condition it is in great shape. The photos of the vulcanite stem surface from various angles confirmed my assessment of its condition. You can see that it is dirty in the first photo below. The stem has some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.     Instead of telling you what I see in the next photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel I want to hear from you. Tell me what you see? What does the finish look like to you? Are there any visible problems or issues that stand out to you? Are the cracks or scratches in the valleys of the rustication or the high spots? Are there visible fills, flaws or fissures in the briar? Any visible issues on the heel of the bowl? These questions should help you to see what I am looking for when I see these photos.    He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is stamped with a cursive L in a circle followed by Charatan’s Make [over] London, England. Next to that is stamped the shape number 90. The stem is faintly stamped with a CP logo on the left side of the taper. What stands out for you in the photos of the stamping on the pipe? What do you look for in the stamping? I know it is dirty but what do you see underneath the grime on the surface of the briar?An added part of pipe restoration for me is to try to gather as much background on a brand and maker as I can find. With Charatan that is an enjoyable web to untangle. There is a lot of information and it can lead to understanding what era a pipe was made in. To try to figure out the era of the Charatan’s pipe I was working on I turned to the Pipephil website, Logos and Stampings (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). There is some really helpful information on each of the lines of Charatan’s Make pipes that entered the market. There was not a sandblast stamped like the one in hand. The site did give a short history of the brand. I quote the portion that is most pertinent.

The brand was founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brand name has been overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc.(NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) followed up on freehand production.

Next I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find more information on the brand and possibly a link to a sandblast finished Dublin (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) but once again in the general article it was not listed. It did give a little more historical information. I quote the pertinent parts that give information on this particular pipe.In 1950 Herman G. Lane, striving to expand his business in Great Britain, made contacts with the Charatan family. Apparently Lane got a certain influence soon, but it was not until 1955 that Lane Ltd. became the sole distributor for Charatan’s in the United States superseding Wally Frank. This can be documented in a “biography” written for Herman G. Lane titled “Leaves from a Tobaccoman’s Log”.

Thanks to Herman G. Lane’s dedicated labor Charatan became hugely popular in the States. As reported by Ken Barnes in an interview with Rick Newcombe, Reuben Charatan passed away in 1962, and his widow sold the firm to Herman Lane 1 or 2 years after his death.[1] In the early 1960s Charatan pipes were the first to overstep the $100 Dollar line in US pipe sales. In 1978 Lane’s heirs sold the Charatan company to Dunhill. The Prescot Street factory was closed in March 1982. Thereafter the fame and quality of the make declined.

The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950.

Charatan records are almost non-existent before Lane due to a factory fire, making it difficult to date pre-Lane pipes. Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 1960s and early 1970s.

From this I am fairly certain I am dealing with a Lane pipe made after 1955. There is also a circle L script mark that is a Lane stampings on the pipe which also supports this.

I continued digging further into the dating of the pipe, but what I had found above was a good start for me. If some of you would like to try your hand at dating it more accurately as to the time period it came out you might want to check out the article on Pipedia on Dating Charatans (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans).

I also reread the article on Pipedia by the Italian fellow who contributed some really helpful information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan_-_Milan_2014). I quote the section on the Second period: Reuben Charatan 1910 – c. 1962. I have highlighted a portion of the section on the shank in red to point out some more helpful dating information.

– In 1962 Herman Lane took over the business from the Charatan family, although he had already influenced production from the 1950s.

– The pipes were mostly larger than the previous ones and corresponded in size to Dunhill group 5. These are slightly less rare, but still difficult to find.

– Stem: Usually in ebonite, saddle shaped or tapered, bearing a fine “CP” stamp, underbore system (see below) used when necessary.

– Shank: The shape code is stamped on it together with the nomenclature “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” arranged in two lines. From 1955 onward on the models marketed for the USA there is also a serif and circled capital “L” (but not all models bear this) which resembles the pound sterling symbol. The “L” is for Lane, the importer.

From 1958, Lane changed the nomenclature for models marketed for the US to clarify the message: “MADE BY HAND”.  In this period the underbore was introduced. Its manufacturing period ranged between 1920 and c.1930. This model was equipped with a duralumin plunger trap fitted in the stem, which served to clean the residue more easily. This particular model bore a special stamp on the stem, and also had its own catalogue…

QUALITY GRADES…The stem did not only display the stamps mentioned above. Another stamp that can help dating is the one referring to the quality of the pipe. Until Herman Lane arrived on the scene there were four quality grades. Starting with the lowest: Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme. Lane went on to add higher grades from time to time: Supreme S, Supreme S100, S150, S200, S250, S300, Coronation, Royal Achievement, Crown Achievement, and Summa Cum Laude; these last three are extremely rare and almost impossible to find. He also invented other, different grades, even changing the previous pipe classification standards. We will not go into detail here, but it means that if we find an S100 or Coronation the pipe was manufactured following Herman Lane’s acquisition. In particular, the FH mark, or Freehand pipe was commissioned to the famous Danish craftsman, Preben Holm.


The Lane Trademark serif and circled L indicates the pipe is from the “Lane Era” (approx. 1955 to 1979 -1984?), however it appears that both the English factory or Lane themselves sometimes, or perhaps even often forget to stamp the L on a pipe. The Charatan factory was known for inconsistencies, especially in stampings. Therefore, although an L on the pipe definitely defines it as a Lane Era pipe, the lack of it could simply mean the pipe missed receiving the stamp from the factory. The lack of the trademark could also mean the pipe was destined for the European market.

Charatan pipes were not well distributed prior to the Lane Era, so very few pre-Lane pipes exist today. Herman Lane greatly grew the brand in the U.S., which caused corresponding growth in Europe.

Generally, when the pipe is stamped with the BLOCK letters “MADE BY HAND” it means the pipe was probably made between 1958 and 1965”

Generally, block letters “MADE BY HAND” and some of the other nomenclature in script (i.e. City of London or Extra Large next to the MADE BY HAND) means the pipe was made sometime between 1965 and the mid 1970s. The total script nomenclature “Made by Hand in City of London” evolved over this period of time, so many pipes had variants, such as Made By Hand in block letters and City of London in script, or some other variation of the terms or stampings.

It is believed the FH was used on Charatan pipes between 1957 and 1967-68. Three different sizes were used. The Charatan Logo (CP) on the pipe bit was changed over the year

Now I knew I was working on Lane pipe which actually means it was between 1955 and 1988 as shown by the stamping.

Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am sure many of you will shake your head and ask maybe even out loud, “Why is he including this again?” However, please remember that the point of these blogs is not to wow your with the work or make you shake your heads but I want you to know the details of the work we do so you can do your own. Back in 2020 Jeff wrote a blog about his cleaning process. I am including a link to that now so you can see what I mean about his process. Do not skip it! Give it a read (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/20/got-a-filthy-estate-pipe-that-you-need-to-clean/). Here is the introduction to that blog and it is very true even to this day.

Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!

For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.

In the blog itself he breaks his process down into two parts – cleaning the stem and cleaning the bowl. Each one has a large number of steps that he methodically does every time. I know because I have watched him do the work and I have seen the pipes after his work on them. He followed this process step by step and when the pipe got to me it was spotlessly clean and ready for my work. The inside of the stem, shank and bowl were clean and to me that is an amazing gift as it means that my work on this end is with a clean pipe! I cannot tell you how much difference that makes for my work.

  1. The first thing I see is great looking Dublin shaped pipe with a rugged classic Charatan pipe. It is clearly stamped and is a shape 90.
  2. The finish is clean and the grime and grit have been removed from the finish on the bowl. The sandblast looks very good as well. There are some great patterns in the sandblast.
  3. The lava, grime and dust on the rim top has been removed and it has revealed that the inner edge is clean and burn free. The outer edge of the bowl is also in good condition. The nicks turn out to be spots where the stain has lightened.
  4. With the thick cake reamed out the walls of the bowl are clean and they look very good with no checking or burn damage to the walls. The inner edge also looks very good with no damage.
  5. The vulcanite stem is in excellent condition – it is clean and has light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. The fit of the stem to the shank looks good. The CP logo on the left side of the stem is faint but the stamping is very deep and should hold some whitening very well.

Hopefully the steps above show you both what I look for when I go over the pipe when I bring it to the work table and also what I see when I look at the pipe in my hands. They also clearly spell out a restoration plan in short form. My work is clear and addressing it will be the next steps. I took photos of the whole pipe to give you a picture of what I see when I have it on the table. This is important to me in that it also shows that there was no damage done during the clean up work or the transit of the pipe from Idaho to here in Vancouver. I carefully went over the bowl and rim top to get a sense of what is happening there. In this case once the rim top and edges were cleaned the rim cap and edges showed no damage. There was also no damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The top of the rim is washed out and missing some stain in spots. I also go over the stem carefully. The fit to the shank is snug and the transitions are smooth. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem and the button. I took photos of the rim top and stem sides to show as best as I can what I see when I look at them. I always check to make sure that the clean up work did not damage the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is in excellent condition and is very clear and readable. The stamping on the stem though washed out is deep and very readable. I love just looking at the lay of the pipe and the proportion of the hand made pipes. I like to remove the stem from the shank to get a sense of what was in the mind of the pipe maker when he crafted the pipe. The photo shows its beauty in flow and shape.   I started my work on the clean bowl by addressing the fading of the stain on the rim top. I used a Walnut stain pen to blend it into the colour of the surrounding briar. It looks very good.I rubbed down the bowl and shank with Before & After Restoration Balm. It is a paste/balm that is rubbed into the surface of the briar. The product works to deep clean the nooks and crannies of finish, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and into the rustication with a horse hair shoe brush. I let it sit for 10 minutes then wiped it off with a soft cloth then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine in the sandblast. The photos I took of the bowl at this point mark the progress in the restoration. It is a gorgeous pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface at the button with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift them all quite well. I sanded out what remained with 220 grit sandpaper and the starting the polishing with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I touched up the stamp on the side of the stem with white acrylic fingernail polish. I let it dry and then sanded the stem with a worn 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and water to wet sand the stem. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton rag after each sanding pads. But I find it does two things – first it gives some protection to the stem from oxidation and second it give the sanding pads bite in the polishing process. After finishing with the micromesh pads I rub the stem down with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish as it seems to really remove the fine scratches in the vulcanite. I rub the Fine Polish on the stem and wipe it off with a paper towel and then repeat the process with the Extra Fine polish. I finish the polishing of the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to let the oil absorb. This process gives the stem a shine and also a bit of protection. The final steps in my process involve using the buffer. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the light scratches in the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I have found that I can get a deeper shine if I follow up the wax buff with a buff with a clean buffing pad. It works to raise the shine and then I hand buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is always fun for me to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished stem. It really is a nice pipe. The mix of smooth and rusticated finishes around the bowl sides and shank looks great with the rich black and brown stains. The Charatan’s Make Sand Blast 90 Dublin feels great in my hand. It is a well balanced pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.34 ounces/38 grams. It is a beautiful pocket sized pipe that I will soon be adding to the rebornpipes store in the British Pipemakers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. It should be a great smoking pipe.

Hopefully the style of writing of this blog is helpful to you in some way. In it I wanted to show both what I am looking for and how I move forward in addressing what I see when work on a pipe. Let me know if it is helpful to you. It is probably the most straightforward detailed description of my work process that I have done. As always I encourage your questions and comments as you read the blog. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipe men and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of those who follow us.

Making a Brigham Voyageur Just a Bit Spiffier

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a good-looking 1-dot Brigham Voyageur. I acquired it (with some other stuff) from a local gentleman and, subsequently, a friend of mine said he wanted me to clean it up for him. No problem – the pipe was in good shape to begin with. This pipe really feels good in the hand. It has that look – no one could mistake it for anything but a Brigham. This is one of the newer Brigham system pipes – one can tell it’s newer because of the Delrin tenon (the old ones were aluminum). The markings on the pipe are as follows: on the left side of the shank are the words Brigham [over] Voyageur. Beside that is the shape number: 129. Also, on the left side of the stem is the classic dot of the Brigham company.I read through the article on Pipedia on Brigham Pipes. You can read it here. It’s a good article and contains lots of helpful information. I have included the chart below from the site as it shows the Standard (1 Dot) pipes and includes the Voyageur and the shape number, 29. The one dot pipes identify the pipe as part of the 100 series and the series shape is #29. Therefore, the shape number stamping is 129.As Steve has done in his restorations of Brighams, I am including information below from Charles Lemon’s website on the dating etc. of Brigham pipes. Check it out here. I quote from both Charles’ article below:

The Transition Era (2001 – 2006). The biggest change to hit Brigham since the advent of the Rock Maple filter occurred in 2001 when Brigham moved production from Toronto to Italy. The product lineup was, not surprisingly, heavily impacted, with the most obvious change a sharp decrease in the number of pipe shapes available.

Daniel More, President of Brigham Enterprises Inc. explains the move to the EU: Admittedly the hardest decision we ever needed to make. With an aging skilled work force we were losing the skills required at an alarming rate. We made attempts to bring in new people but we were not effective in staving off the atrophy. We were fortunate though to be able to move by increments allowing us control and comfort throughout the process. For example, instead of turning our own bowls we began to purchase turned bowls; then we had stems added with sanding at 100-grit ; then sanding to finer degrees; then staining and so on. The last bit of control was grading.

 I still visit the manufacturing facility in the EU at least once a year to discuss QC and pick shapes and designs. The shift [to the EU] resulted in fewer shapes. However, one of the biggest benefits was access to a wider variety of finishes. We had never been able to offer a sandblasted pipe and the access to accessories like rings and different colours, I think, allowed us to make the line more interesting

Coincidental with shifting production to the EU was the move from the original aluminum tenon/filter holder to one made of a composite material. Daniel More provides insight into the switch:

Principally there were two catalysts for the change. We were using a very specific OD for our Aluminum Tenons. In fact, we were one of only two companies in North America using this OD, the other being an aircraft manufacturer in California. When this aircraft company shifted to an alternative, it left us and us alone purchasing this specific size. To stay with Aluminum, our only alternative was to purchase an oversized OD and tool this down to our requirements results in significant expense due to the wasted material costs.

We had, for many years, experimented with a number of composite materials for both the tenons and Distillator Tips. The issue was always heat resistance. Technology having advanced as it did by the 1990’s presented us with a selection of alternatives. We tested 10 different compositions before landing on the formula we still use today.

Cost saving aside, the Composite Tenon virtually eliminated the breaking of shanks. That is, when a pipe shank would break due to leverage (think, in the pocket and sitting down), we could not repair this. The Composite Tenon would now break away rather than the shank allowing for an inexpensive repair versus having to throw out “an old friend”. Without a doubt, there were many cries about the inferior Composite Tenon breaking but with our offer to provide no cost tenon repairs we assuaged this concern. We still offer to this day no charge repairs for broken Composite Tenons – no questions asked.

During the Transition Era, the 100 – 300 series pipes looked very similar to Canadian-made pipes and continued to be recognized by their traditional brass pin patterns. These lower series pipes were offered in 9 shapes. The 400 series disappeared temporarily, while the 500 to 700 series pipes, available in only 8 shapes, lost their brass pins and were identified only by their 3-digit shape numbers.On the whole, the pipe was in very nice shape. It didn’t appear to have been smoked too much.
The stem had a few tooth marks/scratches – nothing too serious. The stummel had some lava on the rim, small marks on the rim, and some light caking in the bowl.
I began by wiping the outside down with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I then took some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners, and cleaned out the internals. Fortunately, the pipe had been well-maintained, so this wasn’t too dirty.I managed to address the tooth scratches with some 220- and 400-grit sandpaper. 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. Then to the stummel. Firstly, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake 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. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took some cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes.
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.
I decided to de-ghost the pipe in order 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.Having completed that, I was able to address the lava and small nicks on the rim and the bowl. I used a piece of tool steel to gently scrape away the burn residue. I then took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped a piece of 220-grit sandpaper around it, and sanded the inner side of the chamber. This removed the lava on the inner edge of the rim, smoothed out the nicks.I then sanded the smooth parts of the stummel with all nine Micromesh pads. Naturally, I added a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm. This made the wood shine beautifully. I let it sit for about fifteen minutes and then buffed it with a microfibre cloth. In sanding the rim, some of the lovely burgundy colour was removed, so I next set about correcting that. I opted for two aniline dyes: Fiebing’s Black and Fiebing’s Oxblood. I had to approach this mix carefully, to ensure that it matched the pre-existing colour. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain.I applied some more Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A very precise use of White Diamond and a few coats of Conservator’s Wax made all the difference. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very handsome pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure for my friend. 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.