Category Archives: Pipe and Tobacco Historical Documents

Read a Scientific Analysis of Smoking Pipes by Francis P. Ellsworth


A few years back a faithful reader and friend in Newfoundland sent me an Ellsworth Rotobowl pipe as a gift. He had picked up several of them that were unsmoked and knew my love the old smoking oddities that are part of the perpetual hunt for the perfect smoke. He immediately packed one up and sent it my way. I wrote a blog about the pipe and today it still is unsmoked as I am having a hard time smoking this unique old pipe. Here is the link to that blog if you want to have a look a the pipe – https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/15/gift-from-a-friend-in-newfoundland-rare-unique-unsmoked-ellsworth-roto-bowl/.

Then yesterday I received an mail through the blog from a reader, John S. who wrote me as follows:

Hello again, it’s been awhile. I just won an EBay auction for an Ellsworth Rotobowl with the original pamphlet. While looking for information on the pipe, your page came up 🙂

I was wondering if you would be interested in some pics of the “missing pages” of the pamphlet? If so let me know, and I will send you some pics.

I wrote John immediately and in short order he had photographed the pamphlet page by page and sent me the pics. I thought I would share them here so that any interested readers who either have a Rotobowl or are thinking about one have this information at their fingertips. Thanks for thinking of us John. Much appreciated. — Steve

Pipes by Bertram, Washington, D.C. Catalogue from 1950


Blog by Steve Laug

With the large collection of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased I have been looking for a catalogue of shapes from the company. We have over 200 of them that we purchased from a fellow who bought them at an auction in the shop when they closed down. The issue for us is trying to communicate between Vancouver and Idaho Falls what shape photos I need at any given time. Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages used to be a great resource but it is gone now. I found a couple of pages that were teasers on Pipedia showing the pages 2-3 and 6-7. This made me want to find more. I finally found a good portion of the catalogue through a layered search through Pinterest and other sites. The link is to a Cyrillic site that is a pipe history blog and they had the majority of the catalogue (https://historypipe.blogspot.com/2017/06/1950-pipes-by-bertram-washington-dc.html). I have saved the pages and added one from Pipedia… I am only missing a few pages now – pages 4-5, 18-19 and 20-21. Perhaps I will find those one day. Hope you find some use in this catalogue. Thanks.

I can’t believe it – rebornpipes is seven years old…


Blog by Steve Laug

One morning toward the end of May I was greeted by an Anniversary message from WordPress stating that rebornpipes was 7 years old. I was surprised that it was that had been that long to be honest. I have long since forgotten the exact year when the blog started and had no real idea of how long it has been going. I know that I started it in May and put up the first posts throughout the month. I had no recollection of the year I had done that. I find that the older I get the more quickly one year slides into the next and I lose track. With all that I am doing with work and home, remembering that kind of thing is not one of my priorities. I explain it to my wife and kids that it is like forgetting addresses but not forgetting locations. You ask me for an address and I typically don’t remember it but ask me how to get there and that is a different story. Ah well, it is good to have computer generated reminders of this kind of thing for folks like me.

After reading this reminder I have been thinking about the seven years that have passed. If I look at just the many pipes have re-entered the smoking rotations of people that alone is amazing. I looked at the stats on the Admin page and was a bit surprised to see that there are over 2800 individual blogs on rebornpipes. That means that we have recorded the restoration or refurbishing of over 2000 pipes from all levels of pipe craftsmanship. There are blogs on high-end pipes and on low end manufactured pipes and everywhere in between. These are solely the pipes belonging to folks who write blogs for rebornpipes or have sent us write-ups of their work. When you think about it in terms of pipes put back in use after being refurbished it is a lot of pipes.

That does not even begin to take into account those who have started their own blogs. Charles Lemon of DadsPipes and Dal Stanton of ThePipeSteward are two that come to mind. Those gentleman are doing great work and are bringing pipes back into service. (I know that Dal submits his work here and then reblogs it on his own site. However, when you consider he also lists pipes that can be commissioned for restoration it adds even more to that number.) I know that there are others who have also started their own blogs and pipe restoration businesses from our number that add to the mix. It is exciting to watch this community expand. The impact of rebornpipes continues to grow and develop and it is hard to know where it will go in the years ahead.

On top of those known individuals within our community are also the unknown ones. I cannot begin to give you numbers for the individuals – male and female who have entered the hobby after reading the blog. I know there are many because of the emails that I receive in thanks and with questions. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not receive several emails from blog readers who have questions about restoration procedures or brands. This an exciting part of the blog for me because it is the outcome that I had hope for when I started. I remember when I started restoring pipes there was little information available online. I had to reach out to kind and helpful pipemen who answered my questions willingly. I know that rebornpipes fills a niche that has contributed to making pipe restoration and refurbishing accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.

Another part of the over 2800 blogs is that of making information available on brands and makers. I have scanned dozens of pamphlets, catalogues and brochures that have been sent to me and added them to the information that it available. I have also received many scanned documents as gifts to be added to the blog. The beauty of this is that there is a lot of research that has been done on brands pulling together information from a variety of sources online – Pipedia, pipephil, pipemaker websites and Patent sites. This is easily accessible to anyone searching for information. There is a repository of booklets, brochures and pamphlets that have been made available on a lot of different brands. rebornpipes blogs and materials are often high on the Google searches that folks do and for that I too am thankful. It has been a process to get here but it is also something grand to celebrate as it is also an outcome I had dreamed of when I started.

Finally rebornpipes also includes other pieces of pipe information such as reviews of books, tools, supplies and pipes. These are brief and experiential reviews to enable the readers to peruse them prior to investing in them personally. I have also included some of my own contributions to pipe lore through Father Tom stories, short stories and personal reflections on the art and craft of pipe refurbishing. This was also an outcome I had dreamed of when I started the blog. rebornpipes really does have a broad range of information available to the reader who uses it. Sometimes I forget the breadth of material that is stored on the blog.

As I close these reflections I want to thank each of you readers for faithfully being part of our community and also submitting your work to be included. It is great to be a part of this community of people that really make distance quite irrelevant. I realized that seven years is a remarkable time for a blog to be active and growing. Each year is marked by growth of daily readership and also materials. It surprises me that the readership continues to grow with people following us from around the world. I had no idea when I began of the reach the blog would have nor of the community of refurbishers that would be built. For that I am truly grateful.

Here’s to the next seven years and more….

Finally, a Zeus Pipe Marketing Pamphlet


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I received a message and note on the blog from Dan C. Sanford thanking me for the work on rebornpipes. He had come across the blog most recently when researching a Zeus pipe and Google sent him to rebornpipes. Dan is a pipe restorer as well and it was good to hear from him. He included a link to a shout out he did for me on YouTube. Thanks Dan! Here is the link to the video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgpJHhTam7o).

But what interested me even more than the shout out was something he showed in the video. He held up a Zeus pipe that he had picked up at a local antique shop for a very reasonable price. The pipe had come with the original Marketing Pamphlet that was included with all Zeus pipes. I have never seen the document before and was anxious to see it. I wrote Dan a message and thanked him for the shout out and also asked if he would be willing to scan or photograph the pamphlet to make it available to all of us here on rebornpipes. Dan replied that he would do that for me and it was not long before he sent it via Messenger. I have included it here. Thanks Dan.

 

Malaga Pipes Catalogue of Pipes and Tobaccos


Over the past year I have been slowly but surely working through the Malaga pipes that Jeff and I purchased from George Koch’s (pictured to the left) estate through his daughter Kathy. She has been wonderful to work with and is a faithful reader of the blog. Recently she was going through her files and came across a wealth of Malaga Pipe Shop documents and thought of Jeff and me. We are the recipients of that material and I want to share them here.

Keyser Hygienic Pipes Pamphlet


Blog by Steve Laug

Here is a copy of the pamphlet that came with my newly restored Keyser Hygienic Pipe that came from an English Garden Shed (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/09/27/restoring-a-keyser-hygienic-patent-from-a-garden-shed-in-england/). It really is a fascinating read and gives a sense of history of the era the pipe was made. It includes a letter on the care of the pipe as well as a cut away picture/diagram of the Keyser Hygienic system. On the inside there is a shape chart that Is very helpful. I have looked for one for a long time so I was glad to see this. Enjoy.

The text of the Care of the Pipe document above is hard to read. I have included it below. Here is in all of its quintessential “Britishness”.

Smoked by Connoisseurs.

The Care of the pipe

The following suggestions will enable the owner of a KEYSER HYGIENIC PIPE to obtain the best results.

In the early stages it is advisable to only half fill the bowl and smoke slowly, increasing the amount of the charge after the first few pipefuls. Never refill on top of a half smoked charge. Always allow the bowl to cool before refilling.

As a wet heel does not form in the bowl of a KEYSER HYGIENIC PIPE it is recommended that each charge is smoked right to the bottom, allowing the bowl to carbon evenly and preventing waste of tobacco.

It is inadvisable to allow carbon to become more that 1/8 inch in thickness, as expansion of carbon when hot may result in cracking the bowl. When the carbon lining becomes too thick, reduce it, but do not remove it entirely; leave a carbon lining of about 1/16 inch.

The trap of the Keyser Hygienic Pipe should be emptied frequently; hold the pipe in a vertical position, remove vulcanite and pour out the moisture. The pipe should be cleaned regularly with ordinary pipe cleaners, and the vulcanite only should be rinsed occasionally with a non-flammable cleaning fluid and dried off with a pipe cleaner; on no account should water or steam be used.

The practice used by our forefathers of treating their clay pipes with alcohol and other liquids  should not, on any account, be used on a briar pipe as it has a serious detrimental effect upon the smoking qualities and life of briar and may result in cracking the bowl.

The KEYSER HYGIENIC PIPE is designed to prevent moisture, tobacco and ash being drawn into the mouth and to prevent, also, moisture entering the bowl and a wet wad of tobacco forming which is always wasted.

It is due to the patent stem – fitted exclusively to the KEYSER HYGIENIC PIPE – that the whole of the tobacco can be smoked, thereby preventing waste and showing a considerable saving. The absence of moisture permits the bowl to carbon right to the bottom, ensuring a sweet, clean, wholesome smoke, free from the moisture with which pipe smoking is usually accompanied.

Each pipe is produced individually and is an outstanding example of a product upon which Engineers and Pipe Craftsman work in harmony.

MANUFACTURED BY
MERTON PIPES (LONDON) LTD
UNIT 17, 784/792 HIGH ROAD
LONDON N17 0DA, ENGLAND
AND KEYSER MANUFACTURING CO

Scientifically designed – Made by British Craftsmen Printed in England

Whatever it takes to make a pipe usable – A Creative WWII Trench Repair


Blog by Steve Laug

I was on Facetime recently with Paresh and Abha in India, talking about pipe restoration and what they were currently working on together. Paresh showed me some of the pipes that they were working on as well as several that he wanted to send to me to work on. One of them was a pipe that had come to him from a family friend who told him it came from WW2 and had belonged to a German soldier. He was not sure what to do with this one and almost felt that it was not worth working on. A piece with that kind of story attached is always interesting to me and I wanted to see it and also work on restoring it. Paresh brought the metal box that the pipe came to him in and the assortment of pieces that made up the pipe to the table to show me what was there. It had what looked like two stem options with it. The one that looked right was a Perspex stem. He was able to remove the brass shank extension from the bowl while were talking and thought he had broken it. I did not think so but underneath the brass there was a broken shank. The brass had been slipped over the broken shank as an extension. The pieces could all be combined to make a functional pipe. I was excited to get this pipe and work on it. Here are some photos of the pipe box. It bears the initials CK and a raise pipe on the cover. When the box was opened the pipe parts were scattered in the larger compartment. There was a bent wire in the box as well. I have a theory how that was used and will talk about it shortly. It is obvious that the box was made to fit a pipe in the upper compartment and tobacco and lighting material in the lower portion. There is a fabric piece fixed to the lid that keeps the pipe from moving around the box.Paresh kept the box in India and mailed the pipe parts to me to see what I could do with them. It took a long time for the pipe to arrive in Vancouver from India. I would have forgotten about it if Paresh had not sent me WhatsApp messages to see if it had made it here. Finally there was a parcel notice hanging on my door when I came home from work. The postie had written that a package was at the post office and I could pick it up the next day after 1pm. I picked it up the next day after work and brought it home. I carefully unwrapped the plastic sleeve that enclosed the box. I cut the tape that held the box closed. Inside were the pipes that Paresh wanted me to work on. The “War” pipe was in a plastic bag and wrapped in bubble wrap. I carefully took it out of the wrappings and put it on the desk. I took the following photos to show the condition of all the parts before I started the cleanup and restoration.I examined the pieces carefully to see if I could come to any conclusions about the provenance of the pipe as it now stood. The bowl was in rough condition but I thought it could be cleaned up to at least carry on the trust of a pipeman from the past. The brass was very interesting and had been cut off on one end. Each end had a different diameter. One end was the size to fit on the broken shank and the other fit the wooden extension. The wooden extension appeared to be oak or a like hard wood. The inside appeared to have been burned and was darkened on each end. It had a copper ring around the end where the stem went. The ring had been hammered smooth and worked onto the shank end to keep it from splitting when the stem was inserted. The two stems were interesting. The white one looked like a cigarillo holder to me and probably was the first stem to be used on the pipe. It could possibly fit over the wooden extension prior to the addition of the copper ring. That leaves me to assume that the clear stem was a later addition and the ring was added to make sure that it did not split the wood when inserted. All parts were very dirty but I could see how they went together to make a smokeable pipe. We talked about the background of the pipe on Facetime and also on WhatsApp several other times and he told me the story that had been passed on to him by the friend of his family. I wrote to Paresh and asked if he could give me a summary about the pipe – write down some of what he had told me in our conversations. This is what he wrote to me.

This WWII pipe was handed over to me by one of my best buddies who has a family tradition of serving in the Army. This pipe once belonged to his eldest maternal Uncle who had participated in WW II as a Sepoy (an Indian soldier serving under British or other European orders) and later during the war rose to become a Junior Commissioned Officer. He had participated in the Operations in North Africa as part of a British Indian Division. It was during one of the battles at El Agheila during November – December 1941 that he had picked this up this pipe with its case from one of the overrun German trenches as a souvenir and had been with him since…. – Regards, Paresh

That was the information that I was looking for about this pipe. It is one thing to assume that the pipe was a War Memorabilia but another thing to get the history behind it. Thanks Paresh. Now I knew that I was dealing with a German soldier’s pipe and pipe case that had been left behind either when he was killed or when he abandoned German trenches in haste fleeing the British Indian Division. His friend’s uncle had picked up the case from the trench as a souvenir. It had remained in the family in the case in parts since that time.

This is where my imagination took over and tried to figure out how the pipe had come to its current state. I wonder what was in the mind of the pipeman who put the pieces together. So I took what I could see and imagined the following scenario from the parts.

Somewhere along the journey of the soldier CK and his pipe he had broken the shank on what must have been his only pipe. It was broken and either could be thrown away as garbage along the way or perhaps he could rebuild it. The broken shank was the impetus for repairing the pipe and the way it was done was highly creative.

The remnant of the shank was carefully modified with a knife judging from the way the broken shank end was carved. The pipe man had used his knife to create a ledge around the broken part where it connected to the bowl. A brass shell casing was cut and modified to fit on the shelf that had been carved thus repairing and lengthening the shank. The shell casing was pressed onto the carved shank until it was almost flush with the back side of the bowl. A piece of wood – branch or an oak stick was “drilled out” by heating the bent wire in the box until it was red hot and then inserting it repeatedly down the middle of the wood branch until there was an airway burned into the center. You can still see the burn marks on the inside.

The one end of the shank was drilled out and inserted into the small diameter end of the shell casing. The other end, the shank end of the piece of was carved out with a knife to receive a stem. There was a hammered copper ring that had been crafted and pressed onto the stem end of the shank. The box contained two different stems with the pipe. The first was a cigarette or cigarillo holder that could have been fit over the top of the dowel. Not very pretty and not very functional as it did not fit well. The second stem was a Perspex stem that was quite long. It obviously was the one used with the pipe as the airway was very dirty. There was also some internal burning in the stem itself that is odd. I wonder if the soldier who fashioned the pipe did not put a burning wire up the stem to open it as well and damage the internals of the stem.

I probably will never know the story behind the pipe for sure but what I have imagined is certainly a very real possibility. Whatever the story is the pipe is a fascinating piece of WWII memorabilia.

With the imagination satisfied and combined with the story that came with the pipe I examined the pipe parts to see what I was dealing with. It was obvious that the pipe was smoked a lot. It was probably the soldier’s only pipe and it rarely sat unlit by the looks of it. The bowl was thickly caked and damaged the externals were worn. It appeared that the pipe had been dropped a few times as there were deep gouges in the briar on the heel of the pipe. The finish on the briar was worn out and dark but underneath there were remnants of what looked like nice grain. The rim top was damaged and the inner edge of the bowl was rough. The bowl appeared to have been repeatedly reamed with a knife. The airway entering the bottom of the bowl was also worn from the piece of wire in the pipe case. I would clean up the pipe and leave the character intact. Many would have left the pipe as it was but to me the work that the original pipeman did to keep the pipe useable made me want to carry on his legacy and give Paresh a chance to at least smoke it.

I decided to clean up all of the parts individually. I scraped out the brass shell casing with a small pen knife and then scrubbed the inside with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until the inside was as clean as the shiny brass exterior. The first photo shows the cut edge that the wooden extension inserted into. The second photo shows smooth edge that sat on the carved ledge against the bowl and the other edge was the cut edge. I cleaned the wooden extension next, scraping the grit and tars that had built up on the inside. The end that fit toward the bowl had an airway drilled through from the other end. It looked to me that the airway had been burned through with a hot wire. It was darkened from being inserted into the brass and as it had oxidized it had coloured the wood. The end that held the stem was carved to receive the tenon. It had been banded with a copper ring to stabilize the wood. I used a pen knife to scrape the grime out of the extension and then cleaned it with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the insert end and remove some of the damage to the wood.With the brass and wooden shank extensions cleaned it was time to clean the bowl. I took a photo of the bowl to show the thickness of the cake on the walls and the trough that had been carved in the bottom of the bowl to the airway leaving the bowl. It looks to me that the trough has been gouged out over time by cleaning the pipe with the wire that was in the box. The cake on bowl walls was thick and uneven all the way around. It was also quite crumbly and soft. The pipe smelled musty from the years that it had been sitting since the war. Once it was removed there would be work to be done to smooth out the walls of the bowl. There are spots that appear quite thin and there will need to be at least a bowl coating done to protect the bowl.I carefully removed the cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping it from the walls. You can see from the photos how crumbly and soft the carbon chunks were. I wrapped some 220 grit sandpaper around a piece of dowel and sanded the walls to remove the remaining cake.I used a dental spatula to rebuild the inside back edge of the bowl rim with clear super glue and briar dust. This was just the first step in the process that would take a lot more work to bring it back to a useable condition.I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I did not want to remove much of the briar, just smooth out the damage. The first photo shows the topping and the second the rim after topping.I filled in the divots in the bottom of the bowl and carefully repaired what looked like a crack in the briar with clear super glue and briar dust. Once the repair had cured I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I carefully sanded the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I set the bowl aside and worked on putting the parts of the shank extension back together. I heated the brass shell casing with a Bic lighter to expand it enough to be pressed on to the wooden shank tube. I scrubbed the tube with Before & After Pipe Balm and lightly sanded the extension with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the brass and copper band with micromesh sanding pads.I cleaned out the inside of the newly reassembled shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I cleaned out both ends of the new shank.I cleaned out the broken shank on the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol in preparation for gluing on the shank extension. I dried it out and coated the shelf with white all-purpose glue. Once the glue was in place I pressed the shank extension onto the bowl. I wiped away the excess glue. Once the glue had set I took pictures of the pipe at this point in the process. To match the stain remaining on the bowl I used the mislabeled tan aniline stain. It is a reddish-brown almost cordovan coloured. I figured it would match the existing colour very well. I applied the stain with a dauber and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage on the bowl was even.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to even out the coverage and make the stain more transparent. I wanted the grain to show through the finish. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and the inside of the bowl.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem at this point in the process. It was truly a mess. There were tars and oils lining the airway making it almost black and there was damage to the interior of the stem material around the airway. I started the cleaning process using liquid cleanser and pipe cleaners to remove some of the tars. I was able to get a lot of the stuff out of the airway.I used a small round needle file to further clean out the airway. I sanded the interior of the airway to smooth out the surface of the drilled area. I ran alcohol dampened pipe cleaners through after the files to clean out the dust. The stem was finally getting clean. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the airway after filing. The photos also show the internal damage to the stem from what looks like fire. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I rubbed down the briar and the oak shank extension with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar and oak with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The grain is really starting to stand out. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I carefully 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 newly stained finish works well when polished to really highlight the variety of grains and mask the damage around the bowl and shank. The polished Perspex stem works together with the beautiful grain in the briar and the brass and oak shank extension to give the pipe a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem demonstrate the creativity of the German soldier CK who left it in the trenches of North Africa. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 1 inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The pipe is ready to head back to Paresh in India once I finish the other ones he sent to me. This pipe has really travelled – from Germany to North Africa to India to Canada and back to India. I wish it could tell its own story. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting piece of memorabilia.