Category Archives: Pipe Refurbishing Essays

Essays and pictorial essays on the art of refurbishing

Restemming and Restoring a Malaga Scoop


Blog by Steve Laug

Since I am already working on restemming pipes I figure I might as well fit a stem to a MALAGA bowl that Alex dropped by a while ago. It is an interestingly shaped piece and I really like the looks of it. MALAGA called this shape a scoop. The grain swirls around the bowl sides and shows some great cross grain on the rim top. It is a pretty clean bowl with a bit of darkening on the rim top and cake build up at the bottom of the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank horizontally with the stem shank junction and reads MALAGA. The finish on the pipe is very in great condition with a few dings and pits in the briar on the right front near the rim. It has the classic Malaga oil cured look and is a rich, natural brown colour. The stem was missing so I would need to fit and shape a new one for it. I went through my can of stems to find an oval stem that would work with this shape pipe. I picked a new stem blank that I thought showed some promise. I took photos of the pipe and the potential stem before working on it. The photos give a pretty clear picture of the shape of the pipe and its general condition when I received it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. If you are interested to learn more, then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker. I changed my habitual pattern of working on pipes with this one as the bowl was pretty clean. I would do the reaming later. I set up my cordless drill and drilled the airway in the tenon so that the guide on the tenon turner would fit. I put the PIMO tenon turner in the chuck and turned the tenon until it was the right diameter for the shank. I know many use a micrometer to set the tenon turner correctly but the way the tool is configured that has never worked for me. I always eyeball it and turn it in degrees. After each turning I check it in the shank. When I get close I stop and finish with sandpaper and files. Probably a bit of a troglodyte but hey, it works for me.Once I had the diameter so that the tenon was snug I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the pipe at this point. It is way for me to see if I like the proportion of the length of the shank and bowl with the length of the stem. I have gotten to this point on other pipes and pitched the stem in the can and turned a different stem. In this case I thought it would work very well. I would need to reduce the diameter of the saddle, remove the casting marks on the stem and give it a slight bend when I was finished. What do you think? I took some close up photos of the rim top and the fit of the stem to the shank to give you a clearer picture of where things stood at this point in the process. Incidentally, in the last photo below you can see the MALAGA stamping on the underside of the shank.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take off the casting marks on the sides and button end of the stem. I also used the sanding drum to remove the majority of the excess stem material on the saddle. I hand sanded it with a file and 220 grit sandpaper to get the fit close to a smooth transition. I little a tea light candle and heated the stem to bend it to the angle I wanted to work with the bowl. I took photos of the stem after the bending to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process. There was still a lot of fine tuning and shaping to do but the pipe was beginning to look complete. I liked the look of the new stem. Some of you may wonder why I sand the shank the bit that I do. My experience is that I can smooth out the transition this way. I know that others do it differently but this is my process. I continued to sand and shape the stem and fit it to the shank end. I beveled the mortise end a bit more than it was originally using a small half circle needle file. Once that was done I sanded the stem to smooth out the transition with the shank. The photos below show that it is getting closer to a fit. I took some close up photos of the fit of the stem to the shank at this point. It is getting better and better. I still need to do a few adjustments to the tenon to get a snug fit to the shank.I sanded the stem with 400 grit wet dry sand paper to polish out the scratches left behind by the files and 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each of the pads using Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine grits. I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. With the stem fit and finished I set it aside to work on the bowl. The bowl was in decent condition other than some darkening on the top and two small pits on the right front of the bowl. There was also a little bit of cake in the bottom one third of the bowl. Whoever had reamed it did not take the conical bowl into their thoughts. The rest of the bowl was well reamed but the bottom portion was not. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to clean up the bottom part of the bowl. I filled in the two small pits with clear super glue and when the patches cured sanded them smooth with 400 grit sandpaper. Unfortunately I did not take a photo of that part. Ah well. It is easy to get caught up in the process and forget the photos… I apologize for that.I polished the briar with 2400-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I found that with each successive grit of micromesh the grain stood out more and gave a shine to the pipe. I liked what I saw when I looked at it. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening is gone. The finish looks very good with the rich oil finish on the bowl and rim. I am very happy with the results. Now with both parts of the pipe finished, I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and 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 contrasting grain came alive with the buffing. The rich oil finish on the briar works well with the new, polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 9/16 of an inch. This one will be going back to Alex with the rest of his pipes that I am working on. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming with me on this nicely shaped MALAGA Scoop.

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New Life for a Sad, Old Kriswill Bent Egg


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is from a group of pipes that Paresh purchased from a rag picker in Mumbai, India. The fellow had found a large number of pipes as he was going through rubbish bins and contacted Paresh. This is a tired and worn looking Kriswill. I knew looking at it even before the stamping was checked that this was a Kriswill because there is something distinctive about the shapes. The pipe is stamped (though it is faint now from wear) Kriswill Hand Made in Denmark. The pipe was filthy and unusable. I think it was from the generation who smoked a pipe to death and then pitched it. The finish on the pipe is very dirty and the sandblast is almost worn smooth. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a lava overflow on the rim top. I can see some damage to the inner edge of the rim but because of the cake and tars it is hard to know what the inner edge looks like. The stem was broken at the tenon and there was a very strange set up keeping the pieces together. I took photos of the pipe before cleaning it. The photos give a pretty clear picture of the shape of the pipe and its general condition when I received it. At first glance I thought that the tenon was broken off in the shank but as I examined it I came to believe it was even worse. It looked like someone had glued something in the shank and Gerry-rigged a connection to the stem. The photo below shows what I saw. What is not clear in the photo was a piece of metal in the centre of the mortise area. It looked like a tube but when I tried to push air through the shank it was absolutely plugged.I was going to have to try to drill out the shank but before I did that I examined the shank and stem more closely. The stem had been hacked pretty seriously so that the diameter was not even close to the diameter of the shank. In the centre of the mortise the metal tube turned out to be a 2 inch long finishing nail. It appears that the nail was used to keep the stem in place in the shank. For what? I don’t have an answer for that as it was utterly unsmokable. Once I removed the nail with a pair of needle nose pliers I was able to blow air through the shank. It was at least clear. I used a drill bit slightly larger than the mess in the shank and carefully drilled the shank. It did not work to clear out the shank! However, it was clear what was there – it was a tube made of masking or painters tape! I took a pen knife and twisted it into the mortise and was able to pull the tube free of the shank. The last photo shows everything that had been in the shank to hold the stem in place on the shank. I could surmise from the length of the stem what I would need for a replacement stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that had the right sized tenon and was the same length and width as the broken stem. It was a saddle stem instead of a taper but I liked the look of it on the pipe. I pushed it in place and took the following photos. I would need to reduce the diameter of the saddle, bend the stem and do a general cleanup, but it was a keeper. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank to show that it reads Kriswill. Underneath it says Hand Made in Denmark but that stamping is faint and only readable in a bright light or with a lens.With the stem chosen I set it aside to work on the bowl. I really hate working on dirty pipes! I can’t say enough how much I appreciate my brother Jeff doing the lion’s share of the reaming and cleaning before I even work on pipes… It is these few that I have to clean up that make me thankful and realize how much work he does before I get them here to restore. Thanks Jeff. The bowl had a thick cake and a heavy overflow of lava. It was obviously someone’s favourite pipe.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the smallest cutting head. The bowl on these old Kriswill pipes is conical so the PipNet only goes so far down the inside. I reamed out the bowl as far as the reamer would reach and then used Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to finish the project. I scraped the rim top with the pipe knife to remove the majority of the lava and could see that the rim edges and top were damaged with burn marks.To remove the damage to the top of the rim I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on it to remove the burned areas and the damage to the inner edge of the rim as much as possible. I am happy with how it turned out.I lightly beveled the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a cleaner look. The look of the bowl at this point is far better than when I started the rim clean up. I will still need to polish the rim and match the stain to the shank end smooth portion. Fortunately for me this old Kriswill originally had a smooth rim top so it will look like new.I polished the topped bowl rim with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. With each successive grit of micromesh the grain stood out more and gave a good finished look to the pipe. I liked what I saw when I looked at it. There was a little variation in stain colour between the rim top and the shank end so I decided to stain both to get a good blend. I used an Oak stain pen to match the colour of the shank and smooth spot where the stamping was. Once the stain had cured for that time I moved on to the next step in the process.It dawned on me at this point that I had been so intent on getting the plug out of the shank and topping the bowl that I forgot to clean out the shank! I normally do that right after reaming the bowl but forgot. It goes to show you that if you vary an habitual pattern even a bit you will leave steps out. I stopped the process and went back and cleaned out the shank and airway to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until the pipe was clean and smelled fresh.With the rim top and bowl polished and the shank and airway CLEAN, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening and lava are gone. The finish looks very good with the contrast between the rich, dark brown and the Oak stain on the rim and shank end. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a file and a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape the diameter of the saddle portion of the stem to fit the diameter of the shank. It took a lot of filing and sanding to get it to this point but there is a lot of fine tuning work to do. The shank is not round but it is more of a vertical oval in shape so the stem will need to match it to have a seamless fit. It is a lot of hand shaping work to get the two to match. I sanded the scratches and the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the shank and saddle portion into line. I further sanded and shape it with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches. This is the beginning of the polishing process on the stem. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and put it back in the shank to take progress photos. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This pipe has had quite a journey to this point in time and space. It somehow traveled from Denmark where it was made to Mumbai, India. There is was found abandoned, binned and found by a rag picker who then sold it to Paresh in another region of India. From Paresh it traveled to me in Vancouver, Canada. In April it will travel to Nepal with me and back Paresh in India. I only wish that it could tell its story. All I know is that I have extended its life of usefulness and given its purpose back as it was intended.

I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 contrasting grain came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting browns and black colouring works well with the new, polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. I will be taking this pipe with me to India soon and giving it back to Paresh. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this battered and weary Kriswill.

New Life for a Charatan’s Make 30120DC Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is a Charatan’s Make Canadian with a Double Comfort saddle stem. It came to my brother and me in the lot that included the pipe cabinet and 21 pipes. It has a beautiful sandblast finish on the shank and bowl. There is a smooth, crowned rim top and a smooth band at the shank end. The bottom of the shank has a smooth panel that has the stamping on it. It is stamped Charatan’s Make (over) London, England (over) 30120DC which is the shape number and the DC which marks a Double Comfort bit from the Lane Era. Once again is a nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this lot. It is a brand that I have worked on over the years. It is on the far right side of the first shelf in the photo below. I have circled it in red to make it easier to identify.Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. It was dirty and worn looking. There was a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The smooth rim top was hidden under the grime and lava coat so it was hard to know what was underneath in terms of damage. The sandblast is well done and really shows the grain. It is quite deep and rugged and the oxblood stain over black stain makes it really stand out. The stem is vulcanite and oxidized. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some scratching on the stem surface. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the saddle stemmed Canadian shape. Here are two close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show you the thick build up on the rim and the heavy cake in the bowl. It is hard to see if there is any damage on the inner or outer edge of the rim. There is a thick cake in the bowl that is hard and rough. There appears to be some interesting grain underneath all the lava. The close up photos of the stem shows the damage to the top and underside of the bit in front of the button and on the button surface itself. The next photo shows the stamping on underside of the shank of the pipe. It is clear and legible.I decided to take some time to review my knowledge of the brand. I turned to the Pipephil website for a quick overview of the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). I quote a short overview of the history from that site.

The brand 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 brandname was 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) follows up on freehand production…

…The “DC” stamping after shape # was introduced when Dunhill took control of the company in 1979. DC means “Double Comfort” saddle bit.

I turned to Pipedia for a bit more history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan). I quote pertinent parts of the article.

…Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”.

I also read the translated article on Pipedia that was referenced in the opening article. It is entitled Dating of Charatans has been translated for Pipedia by Mathias Acciai. This study by Fabio Ferrara of Monterubbiano – Italy is based on more than 2000 old Charatan pipes he studied from the “Basciano stock” purchased by Mario Lubinski – Fermo. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I quote in part.

…Things started to change in 1965 after Lane’s acquisition of the Ben Wade brand and related machinery. (Actually Lane acquired only few of Wade’s machines and not its entire factory in Leeds, that was destroyed during WW II).

Essentially Charatan acquired a brand, rather than a real pipe manufacturing business. Furthermore Lane commissioned some pipes to Preben Holm and Wilmer, for the Ben Wade brand. Charatan took part in this operation too since some Danish freehands were displayed in its catalogue (while the so called ‘seconds’ were marked Ben Wade).

 

In mid 1976 Charatan was acquired from Lane by Dunhill. That obviously resulted in some major changes until 1982, when Dunhill decided to shut down the historical Charatan factory in Grosvenor Street.

From this moment on all Charatan’s pipes have been produced by Dunhill in the Parker/Hardcastle factory in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

It is worth noting that the factory was in Forest Road and not in 32 St. Andrew Road, Walthamstow, where the Dunhill factory was located since 1982.

In 1988 Dunhill sold Charatan to J.B. Russell and the production was moved to France. For many this is considered Charatan’s dark period.

The last change was in 2000, when Charatan was once again acquired by Dunhill and for a few months, the production was moved again to the Parker /Hardcastle site. This operation has to be viewed as Dunhill’s goal to give a new life to an old brand of the past, and the production of Charatans, Invictas, Simmons, and Hardcastles is taken over by Colin Fromm in Invicta’s site in Chatham. This information leaked during a recent interview with Marc Burrows, head of Dunhill’s shop in London’s Jermyn Street, who claimed that recent Charatans (from 2003) seem to be superior to those of the first Lane era!…

I quote a section of the article that helps me date the pipe I am working on.

…Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960…

This tells me that the pipe I have on the table came out after 1960. To try to date it further I moved on in the article. I found some help there from a section entitled, Identification of a fifth era pipe (First Dunhill era, 1977-1981).

Dunhill finally acquired Lane Ltd. in April 1976. To be honest this era should begin that year, however to clarify matters, knowing that during the first months everything changed in the production, I assume the beginning of this era to be 1977.

The characteristics of this era are close to the previous one, except for the absence of the LANE symbol (approx. ending of 1980).

In this very first period Dunhill didn’t change the production site and the original methods, making plans for the future, and the real revolution took place in 1982.

You may come across a pipe of the ‘old generation’, It is important to note that if the DC has been added later, it is often out of line with the shape code…

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P (until approx. 1980)

3) Absence of £ on the shank (from the end of 1980 approx., this is because during the first period Dunhill kept the £, as Lane Ltd was property of Dunhill that could use its trademark)

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence of the writing “Made by Hand – In – City of London” (until 1979)

6) The pipes marked Chippendale are just a Belevedere series, On the mouthpiece, instead of the CP they display CD.

The Charatan’s Make on my work table has a double comfort saddle bit and has the DC code after the shape number. There is an absence of the L on the shank and “sings the praise of London production. The CP logo appears to match pipes from this period so I would date the pipe to the First Dunhill era, 1977-1981. That is getting the date a bit closer for me and is probably as close as I can get at this point.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe leaving a clean rim. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the darkening on the surface of the rim toward the back of the bowl. There were also some small nicks in the surface of the rim. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looks really good. The stem photos show the oxidation on the surface of the Double Comfort bit and the tooth marks and the wear on the button surface on both sides. The top of the saddle is stamped with the CP mark and the underside bears a Regd No. that will be clearer in the next photos of the stamping.The underside of the shank has clear stamping with the name and shape number of the pipe. The underside of the stem also bears a Reg’d No stamp with the number 203573. The photo below shows the stamping on the shank and the stem.I started my cleanup on the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening and damage on the inner edge of the round rim top. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cloth. I touched up the stain on the rim with a Mahogany stain pen and blended it into the grain. Once it dried I buffed it with Blue Diamond to spread it out. With the rim top cleaned and restained, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast and smooth surfaces of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the scratches and the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper avoiding damaging the stamping on both sides of the saddle. I cleaned off the surface with a cotton swab and filled in the tooth marks on both sides with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure for a few hours and when it had cured I smoothed out the fills with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I filled in the stamping on the saddle of the stem with white liquid paper. I worked it into the grooves with a tooth pick. Once it dried it I scraped off the excess with the tooth pick and sanded the stem some more with the 400 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with some Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra to deepen the shine. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.

Mr. Pickwick “Ashford” Restoration


By Al Jones

This pipe showed up on a thread on a pipe forum that I frequent and the forum member said it came from the grandfathers estate of a friend. He asked if it was worth restoring. As a Sasieni fan, I immediately recognized it as the iconic “Ashford” shape, which is the shape 88 in the Four Dot family and on this seconds line as a shape 1088. It had the football shaped “Made In England” COM that was used in the family era from 1946 to 1979. I’ve had numerous Sasieni 2nd’s lines come across my work bench, but not a “Mr. Pickwick”. I couldn’t find anything specific about this line, but in the Stephen P. Smith article on Pipepedia, he writes:

“Through the post war years, Sasieni added shapes and lines. While the Four Dot remained their most famous product, the company also sold lines of “seconds” under various names, such as Mayfair, Fantail, Olde English, and Friar. These were pipes made of good wood, but possessed of some flaw, usually filled with putty.” Shortly after posting this blog entry, a member of the PipesMagazine.com forum sent me this 1939 catalog page for Mr Pickwick pipes.

I made a few comments about the pipe and volunteered to restore it for the owner (who was seeking a restoration). I don’t do many pipes besides my own these days, but some pipes are just a joy to work with and I knew that I’d like to have this one on my work bench.

The owner sent me the pipe and it arrived in great condition. It had the typical oxidized stem and a heavy cake in the bowl. The stem fitment was excellent and it had no serious issues. But I could see it held promise. Here’s the pipe as it was delivered:

I used a worn piece of scotchbrite to remove the build-up on the bowl top and it was then reamed with my Castleford set. The bowl had been carved a bit with a knife, but very solid. The nomenclature was strong. I soaked the bowl with sea salt and alcohol. The stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-clean solution

Following the alcohol soak and Oxy-clean soak, I mounted the stem and removed the oxidation with 400, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grade wet paper. The P stem logo was faint, but ultimately, I was able to remove the oxidation and retain a faint semblance of the P. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. The briar had a few dings, most notably near the shape number. I used a wet cloth and an electric iron to steam out those dents and marks. There was some scorch marks on one edge of the bowl. I elected to diminish them with micromesh sheets and the bowl was buffed with White Diamond and Carnuba wax. I could have restained the bowl and possibly removed some of the dark spots, but I would have never been able to replicate the patina of age the bowl had earned. The owner agreed and we settled on that level of restoration.

Below is the finished pipe.

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The Largest Malaga Rusticated Billiard I have ever seen


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is a rusticated Malaga Billiard that is the largest Malaga I have worked on. It is like a war club in my hands which are not tiny! The rustication is rough and chipped glass like. There is a smooth band around the shank end and on the underside it is a little wider to accommodate the MALAGA stamp in the briar. The stem is a marbled brown Lucite saddle bit that is quite nice with the reddish brown stain on the bowl and shank. This is another nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this 21 pipe Michigan pipe lot. Along with this Malaga there were two others that are very interesting Malaga shapes. The Malaga I am working on now is on the mat in front of the rack. It is the first pipe on the right and I have circled it in red to make it easy to identify. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Like the rest of the pipes from the Michigan collection this pipe was dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the outer edge of the rim filling in the rustication. The inner edge of the bowl was hidden under the grime and lava coat so it was hard to know what was underneath in terms of damage. The rustication was like broken glass and the tactile feel is really interesting. It is not like any of the Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It is quite deep and rugged and the medium brown and red stains give the rustication depth and dimension. The stem is pearlized Lucite with swirling browns and copper hues that is quite interesting. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the large, saddle stemmed billiard. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and some darkening. Some of the rustication is filled in with lava toward the back of the bowl. There is also a general accumulation of dust and grime in the rustication. He also took a photo of the right side and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the interesting rough rustication that covers the pipe. The rugged rustication gives the pipe a tactile sense when held in the hand and should be interesting as the pipe warms up when smoked. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The photo shows stamping MALAGA. The stamping does not have the quotation marks that I have seen on some of the pipes. The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There are also some marks on the sharp edge of the button.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damage to the flat surface of the rim and the inner edge on the right side and toward the front of the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils leaving behind a little darkening on the back side of the rim top. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition with no damage. The Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show how good the condition is. The stamp is deep and legible. It clearly reads MALAGA without the quotation marks that are sometimes used around the stamp.I decided to address the darkening on the backside of the rim top first. I used a brass bristle wire brush to work over the rustication on the rim top. I was able to remove much of the darkening with the wire brush. The rim top looks significantly better after the brushing.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rustication but I was able to work it in. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked rim top looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I filled the damaged areas in and build up the surface with clear super glue and set the stem aside until the repairs cured.When the repairs were cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the repaired areas and the tooth chatter disappeared.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and buffed it with a microfiber cloth. This is the first fully rusticated or “carved” finishes as Malaga called them, that I have worked on. I have worked on partially rusticated but never one with this kind of very cut glass like finish. It is extremely well done and it is a large pipe. The combination of stained rustication with the swirled Lucite stem is stunning. I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 oil cured briar is very light weight and the red and brown stain colour works well with the polished variegated copper and brown acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 15/16 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished Malaga pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection and trying out this brand. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me it was an interesting pipe to restore.

A Cutty Tavern Pipe – Recommissioning a Historical Classic as a Gift for a Steward of History


Blog by Dal Stanton

Tavern Pipe
By Suzie Baker

Summary and excerpts of the artist’s description:
Here the subject poses as an American Colonial man from 1776; he actually posed on Washington’s Birthday.  He has a ruddy complexion and piercing blue eyes. From my perspective, he is more interesting to paint than a golden-haired beauty.

He poses with a tavern pipe. This type of pipe was a communal pipe used in pubs in the 18th century. After each use, the pipe stem was cut away then replaced on the mantel for the next user. I chose a color scheme appropriate to the time period and drew inspiration from Rembrandt’s work in the direct gaze, dark background and loose handling of paint, especially in the clothing….

Let me first tell you the story about the commissioning of the Cutty Tavern Pipe now on my worktable and then I will tell you about the gifted artist I discovered in my research about tavern pipes, Suzie Baker, and her amazing offer to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria with her ‘Tavern Pipe’.Living in Bulgaria, the opportunities to talk with our grown children (and growing grandchildren!) residing in the US, is a special treat.  My son, Jonathon, reached out to me on FaceTime with a special, ‘historical’ request.  Jonathon desired to commission a special ‘historical’ pipe as a gift for Andrew, a friend who was leaving his job as the assistant curator of the Dearborn Historical Museum – an American city in the state of Michigan that takes its history seriously.   Jonathon, while serving on the mayoral appointed Dearborn Historical Commission, befriended Andrew as Andrew fulfilled his duties as a curator for the museum tasked with safeguarding Dearborn’s history.

Today, Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, is proud to be one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.  Yet, Dearborn’s history is predominantly shaped by the controversial industrialist and auto manufacturer, who called Dearborn his home, Henry Ford (1863-1947).

When Jonathan shared his desire to commission a pipe with some historicity as a gift for a CURATOR of a museum, and that museum was the Dearborn Historical Museum, I was anxious to rise to the challenge that that request presented.  I did a fast dictionary search on Google to see a working definition of ‘Curator’.  This is what I found:

Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, left, and his son, Edsel, in one of their car showrooms in January 1928. (AP) from Washington Post article (link)

Curator:
a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.
“the curator of drawings at the National Gallery”
synonyms: custodian, keeper, conservator, guardian, caretaker, steward

I took special interest in the last word listed as a synonym of curator – ‘steward’, which speaks to my ‘Pipe Steward’ sentiments.  Understanding that we are not the owners ultimately but protecting and caring for that which belongs to others to pass it on.  I understand this as I handle pipes which are laden with their own histories revealed in the nomenclature, but often the history and legacies of that pipe’s steward(s) joins the pipe’s legacy moving together to the future.  As a curator, Andy participated in guarding history.  History by its very nature comes with a blend of beauty and goodness coalescing with ugliness and pain – each side of the pendulum is history which we guard so that we do not forget it and continue to learn from past triumphs and failures – even when it’s not comfortable.

So, the gauntlet was thrown: A Steward of History (Andrew the Curator) is celebrated for his service by the current president of the Dearborn Historical Commission (my son), who reaches out to The Pipe Steward (that’s Dal in Bulgaria) to commission a special pipe, with historical gravitas to adequately serve as an appropriate gift.  Jonathon asked for my recommendations, but relying on the Harry Potter principle in wand selection approach, I turn Jonathon loose

Keens Steakhouse reported to be the oldest pub/restaurant in NYC and that celebrates their history of clay cutty taven pipes and have a serious collection of clay pipes on display (Link from PipesMagazine.com).

looking through my virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection to discover which pipe would choose Andrew and let Jonathon know 😊.  After whittling the list down, one pipe did the choosing – the Cutty Tavern Pipe which I acquired from the Lot of 66 off the eBay auction block.  After Jonathon confirmed the commissioning, the first question that came to my mind, since I don’t know Andrew personally, was whether he is the kind of curator that enjoys a trip to the pub after a long day curating at the museum?  This was an important question for my historical research – how do you talk about Tavern Pipes without an appreciation for the natural and historical habitats from which Tavern Pipes have their genesis?  Thankfully, with a confident confirmation, Jonathan assured me that yes, Andrew would enjoy a pub.  With that settled, I began my research.

I found a short description of the Cutty shape on ThePipeGuys site to be a good summary and historical description of the Cutty Tavern Pipe.

Cutty

Tavern scene with a man smoking a pipe next to a barrel with a jug on top of it, his left foot resting on a bench. 1694 From the British Museum (Link)

There is no denying the resemblance that the Cutty bears to the clay tavern pipes of a bygone age. Delicately shaped, Cuttys typically have not an ounce of excess briar left in place. This delicacy of shaping necessitates the use of a special drill bit for the tobacco chamber, which tapers even more drastically than a Danish conical bit, and comes to a sharp point at its tip. A special honor is paid to this pipe, in that this type of conical bit is now called the “cutty bit”.

Notice, the ladies are not left out!
From Pinterist Pipe Smoker Group (link)

Many Cuttys still include the “spur” at the foot of the bowl, once again hearkening back to their clay ancestors, but while the spur of a clay pipe was the remnant of the manufacturing process, the briar versions are purely nostalgic. The bowl of the Cutty is heavily canted forward, which helps differentiate it from other long-shanked pipes like the Canadian. The Cutty may sometimes display a very unique stem, which is slim, slender, and round (almost like a straw). However, the majority of modern Cuttys now sport a tapered stem and come in many finishes.

Try simply googling ‘Cutty Tavern Pipe’ and 100s of images begin sharing different shards of the story and one feels like he’s in a time machine.  Of course, the briar descendants of the classic clay workhorse Cuttys of the 1800s and the early 1900s, claim this heritage as their own.

Elizabethans called a pipe a “little Ladell.”

TobaccoPipes.com adds this information in their ‘Complete Guide to Tobacco Pipe Shapes’:

As far as we can tell, the Cutty is the oldest pipe shape that is still available today.  

As early as the 16th century, pipe smokers would settle in at their favorite tavern and–if they had a high enough social status–would pull out a long clay pipe, almost always a Cutty shape.  This shape was common because it was easy to craft in the molds used for clay pipes (William Goldring, The Pipe Book: A History and How to:1973).  

In my digging into the Cutty clay pipe history, I discovered one very interesting and surprising article (at least to me) that a curator would appreciate.  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s (Virginia, USA) website, History.org, published an article by Ivor Noël Hume entitled, “Hunting for a Little Ladle – Tobacco Pipes” (link).  The author describes how archeologist can learn much about different periods of Colonial America in Williamsburg, Virginia’s, history through the recovery of thousands of clay pipe fragments!  As we’ve already mentioned, hygienic concern is the predominant theory.  An excerpt from the author is enlightening:

There are thousands of pipe fragments found in Williamsburg. An early explanation for their ubiquity had it that in colonial-era taverns’ pipes passed from mouth to mouth, but that in the interests of hygiene the previously lip-gripped section was broken off and thrown away. There is no documentary support for that notion, but it is known that used pipes were placed in iron cradles and heat cleansed in bake ovens before being issued to the next round of smokers.

And then I came across this picture that was among 100s of others on the google ‘Tavern Pipe’ image search page results – and I paused.  I see a pipe man in an age gone by and I immediately know what he’s doing as a fellow-pipe man.  Yes, he’s smoking his beautifully shaped long Cutty Tavern Pipe, but he’s doing something else much more important – that his Cutty clay is helping him to do – reflection.  He’s looking out the window, or at the hearth with his eyes, but his heart and soul are elsewhere, seeking understanding or perhaps a much-needed answer.  It is not lost to me as well, that his waiting quill – while ready to move and inscribe on the parchment the sought-out knowledge or answer that his reflection is cultivating, is at rest.  For that moment, the quill waits for the hand’s movement from the heart’s command.

Every pipe man and woman know that smoking a pipe is more than smoking.  It’s a ritual that brings us into calm or fellowship and a slowed time for reflection as we seek to negotiate life and care for loved ones and friends.  The name of the painting I was lost in was simply ‘Tavern Pipe’.  I knew at that moment I wanted to include this painting in the writeup of this special Cutty Tavern Pipe for a special friend of my son – a museum curator would appreciate what I see.

In the next moment I was composing my email to the artist, Suzie Baker, after I clicked on the link taking me to her website where I found her contact information.  This is what I wrote:

Dear Ms. Baker,

I’m writing to you asking for permission to use the picture of your beautiful painting, Tavern Pipe, in a write up I am doing on the restoration of a briar wood Cutty Tavern Pipe.  I came across your www.suziebaker.com site while doing research on tavern pipes.  I will give full credit to your work and website when I cite the information. 

I am an artist of another kind.  You can see my website at www.ThePipeSteward.com.  I collect old, used and often discarded vintage pipes and restore them.  I then sell them world-wide and give the proceeds to the Daughters of Bulgaria – a work in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  My wife and I live and work in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The pipe restoration hobby is a personal way I try to make a difference by talking about this issue to primarily a men’s world – pipe smokers.  Each restoration has its own write-up which you can see at the website.  I will not use the picture of your painting without permission and if given, will, as I said, give you and your site full recognition.  As a pipe lover and one who enjoys a bowl now and then, your painting captures something of the spirit of those who enjoy, and yes, love not only the smoking of pipes, but the beauty of pipes as they showcase both beauty and design.  I call my work, The Pipe Steward, is because unlike cigarettes and cigars (which I do not like!) pipes are often heirlooms and are passed down from generation to generation.  They often carry with them the memories of those who had them before. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request. 

Best regards, 

Dal Stanton
The Pipe Steward

In the past I’ve written notes like this to individuals and pipe houses asking for information about pipes to aid research and I press the ‘send’ button with a very low expectation that this burst of electrons ever finding their way back to my inbox.  I was surprised when her reply arrived so quickly.  Here is what she said:

Hi Dal,

Thanks for the request and your service to those caught in trafficking, a daunting and worthy cause. 

Yes, I would be pleased for you to use my image in your write-up. In fact, this painting is still available so if the posting results in a sale, I will donate 25-30% of the sale back to your worthy cause. The price and details are listed on my sight in the info under the painting (as seen on a computer screen) or info tag on a Mobile device. 

I am on an airplane currently and about to take off. I can send you the image tomorrow. Please let me know what resolution you require. 

Blessings,

Suzie Baker OPA
Vice President, Oil Painters of America 

 

 

Well, as the president of the Daughters of Bulgaria Foundation, her generous offer was something I could not refuse as we work for the benefit of the Daughters.  I appreciated her response and offer.  After looking at her website, I was drawn to the “About Suzie Baker” tab – who is this person?  Not only is she an accomplished artist, wife and mother, but she recognizes that her talent is a gift and she uses this gift to give back to others – especially artists.  There’s much more on this page that describes the accomplishments of this artist who also desires to be a benefactress of women who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Her ‘calling’ is similar to my own, as I seek to ‘give back’ specially to pipe men and women, the gift of restoring pipes that I am stewarding for a time, and at the same time, seeking to benefit the Daughters.  About Suzie Baker:

Giving Back

This artist also believes in giving back to the community of artists, and she is proud to serve as a Board Member with the Oil Painters of America. “Serving on the board with OPA is and will be a highlight of my career, primarily because of the opportunity it gives me to serve my fellow artists,” she says. “Being on the path of a working artist is a calling. I find helping others on their path a very satisfying pursuit.” She has also earned Signature Member status in numerous other prestigious art organizations: the American Impressionist Society, the

Click the picture for the Daughters!

National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, the Outdoor Painters Society, the California Art Club, and American Women Artists.” – from Suzie Baker, Fine Artist at https://www.suziebaker.com/info/suzie

Pipe men and women, if you would like to add the ‘Tavern Pipe’ to your collection of pipes and artwork and help a good and needful cause at the same time, the Daughters of Bulgaria, click the image on the right which takes you to Suzie Baker’s site with a full description of the Tavern Pipe painting, and a higher resolution picture to view. Contact information for Suzie Baker is also included.  When you contact her, simply tell her that it’s for the Daughters.

This story has told you about the son, the curator and the artist.  Now, the story turns to the Cutty Tavern Pipe on my work table – the main character!  I was fascinated by the research I did that shed light on this unmarked Cutty.  All the before-mentioned descriptions are true of this 9-inch Cutty Tavern Pipe.  Here are pictures that show you what I’m seeing.     This pipe is the perfect gift for the curator!  One more bit of research that showcases the historical uniqueness of clay Cutty Tavern Pipes and its relations to its briar descendants.  The severely canted and uniquely shaped bowl comes to a point as it ties into the long, pencil thin shank and stem.  A very interesting diagram I discovered at CanadianArchaeology.com (link) of the National Historic Parks Branch of Canada, depicts the historical development of the clay pipe bowl and provides the corresponding dating for that particular style.  As I look at the diagram’s images and comparing them to our Cutty, it was fashioned after the clay Cuttys belonging to the period from 1820 to 1860.  The canting and the bowl width, along with the spur, now ornamental for the briar, all seem to align.  I have no way of dating the Cutty Tavern Pipe heading to Andrew, but its history and heritage wrap around it even in the absence of a verifiable nomenclature.

Armed now with a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the Cutty Tavern Pipe on my table, I take a closer look at his condition.  The briar, somewhat subdued underneath the dirt and grime, is beautiful.  The surface itself shows that it has been well loved and used by a previous steward.  There are nicks and dents over the bowl surface as well as the shank. The pipe shows signs of wear but has been well-cared for.  I say that because, with a shank of only 7/16 inches wide at the stem joint, the fact that the shank hasn’t cracked at this very thin juncture is amazing!  A caution to the future steward, be careful with the stem mounting and removal!  The shank IS pencil thin.  Looking at the rim, there are some dents on the external lip and some significant lava flow over the backside of the rim.  The conical chamber has moderate cake build up which I will remove to provide the briar a fresh start.  The long pencil stem shows some oxidation and tooth chatter on the bit.  The button and slot look to be in good shape.To begin the restoration, using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% and long shank brushes, I clean the internal airway of the pencil stem.  It was dirty.After soaking for several hours, I remove the stem and take a closeup shot to reveal the raised oxidation – the olive green layer is now to be removed.To remove the oxidation, I wet sand the stem using 600 grade paper.  Following the sanding, I apply a 0000-grade steel wool on the entire stem as well cleaning the surface further.  To begin the process of rejuvenating the vulcanite, I apply a mineral oil – paraffin oil, to the stem and put it aside to absorb.  It’s looking good!I begin the cleaning process of the stummel by reaming the chamber.  Because of the small, tapering chamber, I do not use my regular Pipnet Ream kit but instead go directly to using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and it does a stellar job.  It reaches very easily to the difficult areas at the floor of the chamber and negotiates well the angle of the conical bowl.  Using 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber to clean further the carbon cake.  Finally, I clean the carbon dust using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After inspecting the chamber, I see no heating problems with cracks or fissures.  I move on. Next, to clean the external surface of the stummel I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub.  This does a great job.  I also utilize the straight edge of a pocket knife to gently scrape the lava crust from the rim and then use a brass wire brush to work on the burned area of the rim.  The cleaning well removes the finish on the stummel, but there remains a darkened area on the rim where there was scorching.  To complete the basic cleaning regimen, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds to work on the internals of the mortise.  With the stem internal airway as dirty as it was, I am not surprised to find the mortise equally mucked up with tars and gunk.  After I put on surgical gloves, my first hurdle was to clear the entire airway.  The first pipe cleaners I plunged into the abyss would not push through the draft hole – something was blocking. After a few attempts, the pipe cleaner pushed old tobacco through, and it was finally cleared.  In addition to pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in alcohol, I use a long-wired shank brush wetted with alcohol to clean the airway.  A dental probe was also helpful reaching in and excavating the collected tars off the mortise walls.  To increase my cleaning leverage more, I use a drill bit almost the size of the airway, hand turning it as it moves up the airway, scraping the tars of the briar as it goes.  Finally, some headway is realized, and cotton buds begin to lighten.  I’m satisfied with the cleaning for now.With the workday ending, I continue the cleaning of the internals using a kosher salt and alcohol bath.  I first stretch and twist a cotton ball to form a ‘mortise wick’ that I insert into the long, narrow shank of the Cutty.  I use a slender painter’s brush to help force the cotton down the airway.  I then situate the stummel in an egg carton and fill the bowl with kosher salt.  Kosher salt doesn’t leave an aftertaste like iodized salt.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until is surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes as the alcohol recedes and then top it off.  I turn out the light to let the salt and alcohol do it job through the night. The next morning the soak has done the expected job.  The kosher salt and cotton wick are soiled after drawing out oils and tars from the internal cavity.  I empty the bowl of salt, wipe the chamber with a paper towel, use a shank brush and blow through the mortise to remove any left-over salt crystals.  To make sure the cleaning is complete, I expend a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners and find great results. A refreshed pipe for the curator! Moving on!I look now at the rim.  With the dents I see on the outer lip and the scorched darkened briar on the inside of the rim lip, I decide to top the stummel lightly to remove most of the damage to the rim and to freshen the rim lines.  After placing 240 grade paper on a chopping board, with the stummel inverted, I rotate the stummel over the paper several times to top the stummel.  I check to make sure I’m remaining true and finish with a few more rotations. I change the paper on the board to 600 grade and rotate the inverted stummel a few more times to smooth the rim surface further following the coarser 240 grit.  Not all the darkened briar is removed, but I’m not willing to give up more of the rim’s briar.  I focus now on the internal lip of the rim and introduce a bevel to remove more of the darkened briar.  I first cut the bevel using a coarse 120 grade paper followed by 240, then 600.  With each grade of paper, I fold it into a tight roll and then pinch it against the inner rim with my thumb.  I work the rolls around the rim so at the end it is an even, consistent bevel.  I like the subtle softening of the internal bevel and it accomplishes sufficient removal of damaged briar.I move on to the stummel preparation.  As I identified above, I find some significant cuts and dents in the stummel, and especially in the narrow shank.  My guess is that the pipe was stored in a can with the stem inserted first.  The cuts in the shank look like injuries sustained as the shank rubbed against the can edge – my theory.   I take a few pictures to show this.  I decide to fully clean the briar surface and I use 240 grade sanding paper over the entire stummel followed by 470 grade paper.  I then wet sand the stummel using 600 grade paper.  The pictures show the progress. Next, I use sanding sponges to sand and smooth the surface more.  I start with a coarse sponge, then medium then finally, a light grade sponge.  The grain starts emerging during the sponge sanding process.  It looks good. While inspecting the shank afterwards, I notice the crevasse that remains in the shank.  I use a magnifying glass to take a closer look.  It doesn’t appear to be a trauma resulting in a crack but a gouge or cut.  To be on the safe side and for cosmetic reasons, after wiping the area with alcohol to clean it, I apply CA glue to it to seal it. After applying a drop of CA glue on the crevasse, I put the stummel aside giving time for the CA glue patch to cure.With the stummel on the side, I turn back to the stem and look at it again.  The tooth chatter that was evident before was fully removed during the earlier wet sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 steel wool.  I decide to move now to the micromesh phase by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The pencil stem looks great! The CA glue patch applied to the crevasse on the shank has cured and is ready to be sanded down and blended.  Using 240 grit paper, I sand down the initial patch mound until it is flush with the briar surface.  Following this, I again use 600 grit paper to erase the 240 scratches and to smooth it out.  As before, I then apply each sanding sponge, starting with the coarse sponge, medium then light. I can still see the scar, but it is now sealed and smooth to the touch and blends in nicely.  A needed detour. With the repair finished, now I apply micromesh pads to the Cutty stummel.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  Following I dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The spur even gets its time in the sanding process! During the micromesh phase, I watch the grain emerge and it is beautiful, and see the Cutty bowl design more clearly.  The horizontal grain flanking both sides of the bowl run parallel with the shank.  The cant of the bowl is accented by the grain as the bowl seems to jut out with the grain.  The effect catches the eye.  Added to this is the bird’s eye grain that is on the fore and rear of the bowl.  Whoever turned this block of briar into the Cutty was insightful and could see what the lines would do with the canted Cutty angles.  The picture of the Comoy’s Blue Riband 347 Cutty below (link) has the same eye catching grain motif.  I found this picture of a Cutty as I was doing an online survey looking at the different hues that briar Cuttys come in generally.  Of course, you will find a spectrum of color from dark to light as you look at the googled image pages.  Yet, as I looked at 100s of pictures, what seemed to be resonating with me was the darker hues like the Comoy’s above depicts.  Of course, the clay Cutty is white, but the older ‘English’ classic feel was communicated more through the darker hues like this striking Comoy’s.  My decision was made, and after assembling my desktop staining tools, I mix together Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye 2 parts to 1 with Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye in a shot glass.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol to clean it, I insert into the mortise two doubled pipe cleaners to serve as my handle.  I then heat the Cutty stummel with a hot air gun to open the briar helping it to be more receptive to the dyes.  Using a folded pipe cleaner as an applicator, I ‘wash’ parts of the stummel with the dye and then ‘flame’ it using a lit candle.  As an aniline dye, the alcohol combusts when it meets the flame and as the alcohol burns off in a ‘puff!’ it sets the dye pigment into the briar.  I methodically apply the dyes to the entire stummel flaming as I go. When thoroughly covered, I put the stummel inverted on a cork situated in a candle stick holder to rest through the night allowing the dye to settle.  I discovered that this period of resting is important as it helps guard against the newly applied stain to come off on the fingers later when the pipe is first put into service and the briar is heated for the first time.The next morning I’m ready to start ‘unwrapping’ the fired and dyed stummel.  The firing creates a crust on the surface which I initially remove with the use of a felt buffing wheel applying Tripoli compound.  I mount the felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel, set the speed at the lowest RPMs because I do not want to create too much friction and scorch the briar.I methodically work the felt wheel through the crust revealing the briar grain underneath the crust.  Throughout the process, I purge the felt wheel often as it collects the crusty fired dye.  I stage a picture (below) to show the contrast after the felt wheel applies Tripoli compound and has unwrapped a portion of the stummel revealing the stained grain beneath.  After I complete the initial unwrapping of the entire stummel, I change from a felt cloth buffing wheel to a cotton cloth wheel and increase the speed of the Dremel to 40% full power.  I then apply another round of Tripoli compound with the softer cotton wheel.  I discovered doing this after the felt wheel helps to angle in to the crook of the shank/bowl junction better, but it also removes more dye blotches revealing a sharper grain contrast.After completing the second round of Tripoli, I wipe the stummel with a cotton cloth wetted with alcohol.  This can lighten the finish if I choose to rub more aggressively but I don’t.  I’m satisfied with the color, but the wipe helps blend the finish further and remove excess dye.I follow the Tripoli compound by applying the finer Blue Diamond compound.  I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, keep the speed at 40%, and apply the compound.  I apply it to both the stummel and the stem.  Since the stem is longer, it’s easier to keep them separated as I apply the compound.Following the Blue Diamond, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted, the speed remains the same and I apply Carnauba wax to both the stem and stummel.After completing the application of wax, I try to reunite the stem and stummel and discover that the tenon/mortise fit is too snug for comfort.  This often happens after internal cleaning and the briar is wet and that can expand it microscopically – enough that forcing the tenon into this pencil thin shank is a recipe for disaster – cracking a shank is not a fun thing to deal with! To remedy this, I wrap a piece of 600 grit paper around the tenon and sand it down until it fits more easily and snuggly.  This restoration has told an interesting story.  The Cutty Tavern Pipe looks great.  The dark brown finish and polishing regimen has resulted in a unique Cutty bowl drawing even more attention.  The Cutty Tavern Pipe’s lines are classic and harken back to a day gone by when these pipes were fashioned with clay and were held proudly by both those with means and the common man and woman who had gathered with friends to enjoy each other at the pub and a smoke.  A fitting gift for a curator of history and even more so, the commissioning of this pipe by my son, benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The unexpected turn in this story is the painting, ‘Tavern Pipe’, depicting the pipe man and his pipe – an accurate and telling image captured on canvas by the brush of a gifted artist, Suzie Baker, whose generosity is making available a percentage of the sale of this painting to the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Is there a pipe man or woman out there to bring the Tavern Pipe home benefiting the Daughters?  I hope so!  Thank you for joining me!

 

A Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Hand Made Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is a beautiful hand made Butz Choquin Calabash with both a rusticated and smooth finish. The cap and a patch on the left side of the bowl are rusticated while the rest is smooth. There is a horn shank extension that sets off the bowl from the black vulcanite stem. It came to my brother and me in the lot that included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes. The finish is a rich brown with black undertones and the rustication shows black in the grooves and valley while the high spots are brown. The left side of the shank is stamped Butz Choquin ovwe Maitre Pipier and the right side is stamped Fait Main over St Claude France. It is a unique piece like many of those in this lot. It is on set out in front of the cabinet’s first shelf, the first pipe from the left in the photo below. I have circled it in red to make it easier to identify.The finish on the pipe is dirty but looks good under the grime. I look forward to seeing it cleaned. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a lava overflow onto the rustication on the rim top. Both the inner and outer edges of the rim appear to be in good condition but because of the cake and tars it is hard to know what the inner edge looks like. Jeff took photos of the pipe before cleaning it. The photos give a pretty clear picture of the shape of the pipe and its general condition when we received it.Jeff took some photos of the bowl/rim top and the sides and bottom of the bowl to give and idea of the condition and the shape. The rustication pattern on the rim top is filled in with lava on the back and left side with dust and grime the rest of the way around the bowl. The cake is very thick. The rest of the photos show the condition of the rest of the bowl. It is a beautifully finished pipe with contrast stains of blacks and medium brown. They work well with the horn shank extension and the pattern of the rustication on the rim and left side of the bowl. He also took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The left side was clear and readable. It read Butz Choquin over Maitre Pipier. On the right side of the shank it was stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France, though Jeff did not include that photo. There was a clear circle on the left side of the stem that generally held a BC inside the epoxy but this one is empty.The stem had some deep scratching in the surface ahead of the button and some small tooth marks next to the button. There was also wear on the sharp edge of the button.Butz Choquin was a brand that I was familiar with having worked on quite a few of them over the years. I decided to check on a few sites to refresh the memory of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil and as usual the site gives a great summary. (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). I quote:

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

I also found the line of Fait Main Maitre Pipier pipes listed. The pipe I am working on is stamped the same way as the one in the screen capture below. The shape is different but the rest is the same. The capture has a small paragraph on the line that reads as follows: Pipes of the “Maitre Pipier” séries were crafted by Paul Lanier until he retired and after him by Alain Albuisson. I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin). I quote the article in its entirety as it gives a clear history.

The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of . In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked really good with no damage to the edges of the bowl or the top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how clean the top came out after Jeff worked it over. The outer edge and inner edges are clean and undamaged. The stem photos show some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.I took photos of the stamping to document what it looked like at this point in our cleanup process. You can also see some of the fills in the bowl and shank.With the rim top and bowl looking so good after Jeff’s cleanup work this pipe did not need any work on the briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth and rusticated briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rusticated patch on the left side of the bowl and the rim top look really good. The smooth finish has a great contrasting stain and looks very good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and marks on the stem with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I took a photo of the left side of the stem to show the missing BC inside the clear insert.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad.  I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This beautiful calabash with the rusticated cap and the patch on the left of the bowl was truly stunning. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the smooth parts of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rusticated patch and cap with Conservator’s 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 contrasting black and brown stain made the grain come alive with the buffing. It looked very good with the horn shank extension and the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2  inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this beautiful briar calabash on the rebornpipes online store soon. It may well the kind of unique pipe you have been looking for so have a look. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me.