By Al Jones
Most of the pipes I buy these days are purely for the enjoyment of restoring them and for resale. I rarely add a pipe to my collection, unless it is something special. GBD 9438’s always catch my attention and this one happened to be a New Era grade, which was currently missing from my collection of 9438’s.
I’ve owned and restored over 20 different 9438’s in the past ten years. The 9438 is the famous “chubby rhodesian” shape by GBD and a favorite of mine. A few years ago, GBD collector MIke Hagley told me that GBD’s with the full-width stem were Cadogan era pipes, even if they had the brass rondell and “London, England” stamp. I prefer the “wasp-waist” tapered width stems like on this one and eventually, sold all of my full-width stemmed GBD’s.
The “New Era” finish came in two different finishes, “Rich Ruby Finish” or a “Warm Brown, two-tone finish”. This particular New Era has the ruby finish that I prefer and it appears to also have the two-tone finish. Below is a catalog page showing the grade and that finish. Also of interest is the description of the “hand cut stem”. This pipes tenon is the “bullet style” that is on all stems that are stamped “Hand Cut”. This stem does not have that stamp, but the button finish looked hand cut to me. So it appears that not all hand-cut stems were stamped that way.
The pipe was in very good shape as delivered. It has some darkening on the bowl top and the top of the bowl appeared to have some fading from the sun. The stem was in great shape – with just minor teeth abrasions. There were some scuffs and dings on the briar, but I thought they would steam out. The stem fitment was excellent as was the nomenclature. Below is the pipe as it was received.
I removed the mild cake and used some worn micromesh to clean the bowl top. I used a wet cloth and an electric iron to steam out some of the dings. I mixed up some Fieblings Medium Brown and Oxblood stain to smooth out the stain color on the bowl top, which worked perfectly. The briar was later buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax. The bowl was soaked with sea salt and alchohol and the shank thoroughly cleaned with a bristle brush.
With the stem mounted, I used 800, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 grade wet sandpaper to remove the oxidation and teeth abrasions. One tiny tooth mark remains near the button. The stem was buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.
Below is the finished pipe, I’m very happy to add this one to my collection.