Category Archives: Pipe Related Essays

Short and not so short essays on pipes and tobacciana

Cleaning up and restoring a Shadow Box on the Process of Manufacture of a Briar Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

My friend who is moving offered me this interesting old shadow box. It is entitled PROCESS OF MANUFACTURE and shows the movement of a block of briar to bowl with a mouthpiece. It was in pretty rough shape with the felt board with briar on it loose in the frame with the nails loose in the back. There was some kind of logo or label missing at the top of the shadow box and there appeared to also be a pipe missing from the flow of manufacture. Each item was labeled. From left to right by row the labels read as follows:

Row 1 – Briar Block, Prepared Briar

Row 2 – Turning of Bowl, Turning of Stem, Shaping of Bowl

Row 3 – Polished by Hand, Fitted Rough Mouthpiece, Finished Mouthpiece (third piece is missing).

Row 4 – Ready for smoking (wrong pipe in the clamp there).

I was looking forward to cleaning it up and repairing it to hang above my desk once I moved back into my basement office. The photo below shows what it looked like when I received it.I used a small hammer to reattach the nails that were sticking out on the back of the frame. It tightened both the backing and the corners of the piece. Each block had a screw through the backing into it holding it in place. I took the pipe out of the bracket at the bottom of the shadow box and sure enough there was a threaded hole in the back of it. That told me that it was the missing piece in the last spot in the third row in shadow box. I used some wood glue and a tooth pick to anchor the blocks to the back board. I set it aside to cure. The photo below shows the newly glued in place blocks. I talked to my friend about the missing pipe and he said he remembered that the display was originally a Butz-Choquin display. The missing sticker/logo at the top would have been a Butz-Choquin logo. He also believed that the finished pipe was in a box that he had dropped off for me to clean up. I went through the box and sure enough, in a Stanwell pipe sock was an unsmoked Butz-Choquin Billiard that was a perfect match to the size and shape of the block. I put it in place in the clamp at the bottom of the frame and it looked complete. I also knew that I was dealing with a Butz-Choquin display so I would need to print a BC logo for the top area of the box. I did a quick Google search and found exactly what I wanted. I cut it out with scissors and used a glue stick to attach it to the felt back board. I took a photo of the shadow box at this point in the process to show how it looked. We are in the process of having my basement office restored after flooding. My daughter and I chose the gray charcoal paint for the walls with a white ceiling and white trim and doors. There will be an oak desk and oak bookcases coming back in place. I chose a spot over my desk for this shadow box and hung it on the wall. It was the very first picture I have hung since the painting and restoration work. The finished shadow box looks amazing on the wall and the contrast with the paint is perfect. The piece will hang above my work desk that I also use for working on pipes. It is a silent witness to the process of birthing a pipe from a block of briar. It also links my restoration work of rebornpipes to the ongoing life of a briar. Thanks for taking time to read this.

Enjoying a Steve Morrisette Custom Modified Sandblast Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been on a recent pipe buying binge and before I took my trip to Europe I ordered a new one. I had seen that Steve Morrisette had been posting some great looking smooth and sandblast finished pipes for sale on Facebook. I have several of Steve’s pipes and they are great smokers. He was selling these for $125 shipped buyers choice. He called them SM Modified pipes. The pipe below showed up in one of his listings and I was hooked. It was a beautiful sandblast pipe with an amber acrylic taper stem. The stain looked to be oxblood or cordovan but I liked it either way. There was a smooth band on the shank end that looked great against the stem. Here is a photo of the pipe from Steve’s listing.I wrote Steve the following email with a few questions and to see if he would ship to Canada. I have included our email exchange below. First my questions and second his response. I specify as we are both Steve!

Hi Steve
Hope you are doing well… I am definitely interested in the sandblast SM Modified pipe. Is it still available? Will you take PayPal? Can you tell me what is modified other than the stem??

Hi Steve!
Yes, still available. I thinned down and opened the mouthpiece up and got the drilling correct. Cleaned up the blast and coated the bowl, stained it with cordovan stain, put a VERY light coat of shellac and then melted a light coat of powdered beeswax on it. Now the engineering is correct and it is a pretty nice pipe – and handsome too. Big capacity but not overly heavy. Hope that answers your query.

So now I knew clearly what the modifications are that he makes to the pipe. I really like the way he engineered my previous pipes so I was looking forward to seeing how well this beauty would smoke. We struck the deal and he shipped it out before I left on my trip. When I returned over a week ago the pipe was still not here so I was wondering if perhaps it had been stuck in customs. Then yesterday a very beat up box with the dreaded yellow customs tape signalling that it had been opened arrived. It was so squashed and beat up that I wondered what I would find inside. But when I opened the box all was intact and the pipe was in perfect condition. I took some photos of it once I had unwrapped it. The sandblast is even more beautiful in person than in the photos. The mechanics of the pipe are perfect and the draught exactly how I like it. Here are some photos of the pipe. I took photos of the pipe in a silver pipe rest to get a sense of the proportion and look of the pipe in a rest position on my desk top. It is a beauty that I hope to smoke this weekend. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. It is clear and readable. It has the Steve Morrisette oval SM logo stamp and underneath that is a CM stamp which I am assuming means Custom Modified.I removed the stem from the shank to capture the variations in colour on the amber acrylic, the Delrin tenon and the cordovan stain on the sandblast. It really is a beauty! I am looking forward to loading up a bowl of some aged tobacco I have here and enjoying a bowl this weekend when Kenneth stops by. My only wish regarding this beauty is that it would have been great to see some before photos to know what the pipe looked like before Steve worked his magic on the pipe. But all things considered it is not necessary as it is a beauty. Thanks Steve for a great pipe. If you are looking for a well made pipe at a reasonable price you might contact Steve Morrisette about these Custom Modified pipes. Here is his email if you want to reach out to him smpipes1@gmail.com . Enjoy your pipes!

 

Adding Another Jack Howell Pipe to my Collection  – A Great Looking Straight Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The second pipe I added after the S. Bang to my collection is also another one that came to me from Robert Lawing of Lawdog’s Pipes. It was also listed on a post I was reading from Robert on Facebook regarding some pipes he worked on that were for sale. It was a beautiful Jack Howell Straight Billiard with a shank ring that was made of vegetable ivory I believe. It caught my eye and I was very interested in adding it to my collection. I have several of Jack’s pipes that I enjoy already so adding another is a pleasure for me. The first is an acorn and the second is a short nosewarmer Lovat. Both are great smoking pipes. I have included the link to my review of those pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/04/27/a-review-two-pipes-by-jack-howell-an-acorn-and-a-lovatnosewarmer/). I copied the photos that Robert sent me to look at. I wrote to Robert and we chatted and I soon was able to purchase it. I had him send it to my brother Jeff along with the S. Bang. Jeff later sent it to me with some other pipes that I would need to work on. Everything about the pipe ticked my boxes. The grain around the pipe, the ivory looking shank band and the size all were what I wanted. It was light weight and comfortable in the hand. The shape is a classic Billiard shape that really highlights the grain around the sides and shank. It is well designed and really shows off the grain. It is a beautiful pipe. I turned to Pipephil to remind myself of the background of the brand and get a sense of the stamping on the pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html). I did a screen capture of the material there and also included the side bar information. I remember meeting Jack at the 2004 Pipe Show in Chicago. I have included that below.Artisan: Jack Howell begun to be known after his participation in the 2004 Chicago Pipeshow.

I also turned to the article on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Howell) for more information and background. I quote below.

Jack Howell plays clarinet in the Pittsburgh Symphony and makes pipes part time. Except for when the symphony isn’t playing — vacation, say, or a global pandemic — then pipe production goes into gear. For current production, check out http://www.howellhandmade.com. And maybe have a look at the blog.

The following is Jack’s bio from his website:

Jack Howell, Maker

“Every rabbit needs two holes” — Jack’s Dad

I have early memories of watching my uncles whittle things with their pocketknives. I was, I dunno, six or seven years old when I started asking for a pocketknife so I could whittle. My dad said, no, I’d cut myself. But he gave me a file and access to a pile of cedar shingles that we used for kindling and said when I could make things with a file we would talk.

Perhaps that was meant as discouragement because a regular bastard file isn’t much for wood removal, but it’s not much for skin removal either, so there’s that. I set to with the file. Before too long I’d settled on my first oeuvre, a sort of Easter Island head. Which turned into the pommel of letter openers, and before long my dad gave me a knife, a Cub Scout model with one cutting blade and a can opener. I headed straight for the shingle pile, where it took me about ten minutes to cut myself.

Anyway, I’ve been making things for a long time, gradually getting to the point where I used tools with which I could no longer afford to cut myself. Along the way I became a professional musician, my manual skills coming in handy making clarinet reeds. I’ve also made knives, and bamboo fly rods (you can get a book I wrote about that at http://www.thelovelyreed.com), and other stuff. I started making pipes in 1999 and sold my first one in 2004. I went to a few Chicago and Columbus shows, was pretty visible on the old ASP forum, yada yada yada. My production has gone up and down as my musical employment has gone up and down, but for a number of years it stayed around 50 pipes a year. Once I joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as bass clarinetist I only made a few pipes here and there on commission, because, well, I was practicing my ass off.

​Recently my dad’s wisdom has become evident. When I went to dust off my website it had come unhooked from my domain host, no idea how long it had been down and nobody had said anything about it, so . . . ​I’m back.

I have included some shots that Robert included of the pipe from various angles to highlight the grain and the shape of the pipe. It is a real beauty. Robert included a photo of the underside of the shank. It is stamped Howell [over] JH [over] the year the pipe was made – 2008. It is a great looking pipe.Now it was time to enjoy the pipe itself. I loaded a bowl with Seattle Pipe Club’s Deception Pass and sat on my porch and enjoyed a bowl while watching the world pass by on the sidewalk in front of my home. It was a great smoking pipe that met all of my expectations. It is one that I will continue to enjoy for years to come. Thank you Robert for making this possible.

Finally Added an S. Bang Pipe to my Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Several months ago now I was reading a post that Robert Lawing of Lawdog’s Pipes posted on Facebook regarding some pipes he worked on that were for sale. One of them was a beautiful S. Bang Squat Apple with a Boxwood shank extension. It caught my eye and I was very interested in adding it to my collection. I copied the photos that Robert sent me to look at. I wrote to Robert and we chatted and I soon was able to purchase it. I had him send it to my brother Jeff who later sent it to me with some other pipes that I would need to work on.Everything about the pipe ticked my boxes. The grain around the pipe, the shank extension and the size all were what I wanted. It was light weight and comfortable in the hand. The shape is quite uniquely Bang! I have had an eye on pipes from that brand for several years now and this shape is one that I have had an eye on. The angles of the pipe shape where the bowl and shank join combine a round apple like shape and the rounded rectangular shank and the Boxwood extension. The comfortably shaped, black vulcanite stem was a great contrast with the  Boxwood and the briar. The next photo that Robert sent was of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It reads S Band [arched over] Kobenhavn. Under that it is stamped Handmade [over] In Denmark [over] B. The stamping was clear and readable. To help me understand the stamping a bit more I turned to Pipephil’s site and read what it said about S. Bang pipes (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s1.html). I have included a screen capture of the section below as well as the side bar information below the capture.Sven Bang opened his tobacco and pipe shop in 1968 in Copenhagen. He was more a business man than a pipe carver and began to hire pipemakers. About half a dozen succeeded each other in his workshop during the 1970’s (Ivan Holst Nielsen, Jan Wideløv, Phil Vigen…). At least Per Hansen and Ulf Noltensmeier stayed and when Sven retired in 1983 they took over the company (in 1984) keeping its name.

I knew from that the pipe I have was made for the European market and bore a B grading which is quite high. I also knew that it was made after 1984 when Ulf and Per took over the company so it was made by one of them. I am including two final pictures that Robert included for me below.To close my understanding of the pipe I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/S._Bang). I quote the section from the article where the company changed hands from S. Bang to Hansen and Noltensmeier in 1984. It is a great read so I have included it below.

Svend Bang retired in 1984. Evidently he felt a great deal of pride in the product that he initiated throughout his career and retirement and until his death in 1993.

Once Hansen and Noltensmeier took over the company (in 1984) they knew it was best to retain the S. Bang name – the two carvers always shared the same philosophy about that. Noltensmeier and Hansen were determined to maintain top quality at the expense of increased numbers. The only change they made concerns the stamping on the pipes changing from the English version “COPENHAGEN” to the Danish “KOBENHAVN”.

Still, they are two separate carvers, with their own styles and preferences. Each makes his own pipes – there is no “assembly line” construction at S. Bang. They bounce ideas off of each other, of course, and admit that when problems arise in a pipe, it is nice to have a partner to discuss them with.

Though they carve pipes as individuals, there are similarities in their work. All Bang pipes are made with black, hand-cut vulcanite stems.

The same engineering is used by both carvers as well. The shape and size of the tobacco chambers vary according to size and design of the pipe, but each carver follows the same design guidelines for choosing the proper chamber dimensions. The smoke channel is always engineered for optimum performance.

Bang pipes are noted for the high definition and fine contrast in the grain. They undergo a double staining process to achieve that effect. The technique makes the grain leap from the bowl of the pipe, making well-grained wood become extra ordinary. The same coloring, however, will produce different results in different pieces of briar, making each pipe truly individual.

Per Hansen is the designated sandblasting artist for the team. He personally takes those pieces that are to be sandblasted to Stanwell, and is permitted to use the sandblasting equipment himself. That is the only S. Bang process, though, that is not executed by the individual carver of each pipe. Everything else, including the famous S. Bang silverwork, is done in the shop by each of the carvers on his own pipes.

Now that I had read through the background it was time to enjoy the pipe itself. I loaded a bowl with Seattle Pipe Club’s Deception Pass and sat on my porch and enjoyed a bowl while watching the world pass by on the sidewalk in front of my home. It was a great smoking pipe that met all of my expectations. It is one that I will continue to enjoy for years to come. Thank you Robert for making this possible.

 

 

 

The Resurrection of Frog Morton


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Beside all the venerable gentlemen in the long history of pipe smoking, I am a but newborn infant. I have only immersed myself in this wonderful hobby in the last few years, and one of things that especially rankles my ever-ravenous brain is learning about wonderful tobacco companies that no longer exist and no longer produce the tobaccos that become semi-mythic to those of us who have never tried them.

McClelland Tobacco Company is a perfect example of the sort of company that no longer exists – but I wish did. I am mildly obsessed with tobaccos from McClelland and I have only tried a couple of their blends — thanks to the kindness of fellow pipe smokers, particularly Steve. My opportunities to try these old tobaccos have been exceptionally few and far between. The one that always springs to mind for me was trying McClelland’s Anniversary blend (from 2002), some twenty years after its release. That was a magnificent experience.I recently came across a post about recreating their legendary Frog Morton tobacco. I wish I could find the post (but can’t), but I will do my best to do it justice here. I’ve never had the chance to try any of the original Frog Morton tobaccos – and there is no question of me affording the prices to buy old, original tins on the secondary market – so this is the best I can do.

This recreation is whimsically called “Ghost of Frog Morton” by its originator, and I was keen to blend it myself to see the results. Allow me, for a moment, to go off on a brief tangent about the name of McClelland’s original Frog Morton. As many of you will already know, Frogmorton (as one word) is the name of a village on the Great Road in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. It is in Eastfarthing and is not a town of any great significance, but reference is made to it twice in the Lord of the Rings: once in The Fellowship of the Ring, at the end of the Prologue, when it is displayed on a map of the Shire; and later in The Return of the King, when Tolkien writes:

“As evening fell they were drawing near to Frogmorton, a village right on the Road, about twenty-two miles from the [Brandywine] Bridge. There they meant to stay the night; The Floating Log at Frogmorton was a good inn. But as they came to the east end of the village they met a barrier with a large board saying NO ROAD; and behind it stood a large band of Shirriffs with staves in their hands and feathers in their caps, looking both important and rather scared.”Many books about Middle-Earth include minor references to Frogmorton, including Day’s A Tolkien Bestiary, Fonstad’s The Atlas of Middle-Earth, Foster’s The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth, Hammond and Scull’s The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, Strachey’s Journey’s of Frodo, and Tyler’s The Tolkien Companion – among others.

Back to the tobacco: it is a Virginia-Latakia mix. On the original tins, Frog Morton is described as “An exceptionally rich, smooth and dark Latakia mixture for the pipe”. Well, I love Latakia and Virginia, so this resurrected “Ghost of Frog Morton” should be a winner for me.The procedure to make it couldn’t be easier, and it is certainly worth a try. To begin, I ordered the ingredients from my preferred tobacco merchant. The two components of this blend are Peter Stokkebye English Luxury PS 17 and Lane Limited HGL. I ordered four ounces of each, figuring that half-a-pound would be good enough to start with and share with friends.I emptied the contents of the two tobacco bags into a large, glass salad bowl – incurring raised eyebrows from my beloved wife. I took several minutes to thoroughly mix the tobaccos together. I did not want hidden chunks of one tobacco or another persisting in this blend. With gloved hands, I mixed and separated and tossed and blended and turned over all eight ounces. I hummed and hawed for some time about how to store it. Normally, I cellar tobaccos in Mason jars in two-ounce increments. However, I wanted to keep this batch all together, so I used a canning funnel and put it all in one large Mason jar.Voilà – my first quasi-blending! I obviously don’t have the real Frog Morton to compare it too, but reports suggest that it is a very good imitation of the original. I’m going to let it sit for a while and I’ll get back to you all once I’ve tried it.I hope you enjoyed reading this brief tale of bringing a classic tobacco back to life. If you are interested in my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

 

A Pair of Gift Antique Pipe Reamers From Kenneth to add to my collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Yesterday I had a great visit with Kenneth Lieblich on my front porch. We enjoyed some Seattle Pipe Club Tobaccos – Potlatch (his) and Deception Pass (mine) while looking at some of his latest acquisitions. He had picked up some very nice pipes in the last little while from sellers here in the Vancouver area. He also pulled out two interesting old pipe reamers from his bag that he had brought for me to add to my collection. The one on the left is stamped MADE IN FRANCE on both sides of the handle. There was also an adjustable screw on the top that expanded and contracted the reaming head to fit a variety of bowls. The one on the right side is stamped PERRY’S [over] HEDGEHOG [over] PIPE REAMER on one side and on the other is it stamped HEDGEHOG [over] a filigree [over] PIPE REAMER [over] MADE IN ENGLAND. The second one is not adjustable as the first one is. Both have the look of Medieval Instruments of torture rather than simple reamer to remove the cake. The first reamer (the one on the left above), the French Made one is significantly smoother than the Hedgehog. It is made by perforating the metal around the head. The perforations were lifted slightly and would work to scrape off the cake on the sides of the bowl. Interestingly the head is not sharp on the fingers of my hand when I held it. It was made in such a way that once inserted it was turned clockwise it would remove the cake in the bowl. The adjustment screw on the top adjusted the diameter of the head to match the walls of the chamber and the depth to which it would remove the cake in the bowl. The second reamer (the one on the right above), the Terry’s Hedgehog Made in England is quite a bit rougher than the French one. The cutting head is made by perforating the metal around the head. The perforations were lifted higher than the French one and would work to scrape off the cake on the sides of the bowl. Interestingly the head is very sharp when held in the fingers of my hand. It was made in such a way that once inserted it was turned either direction in the bowl it would remove the cake in the bowl. The cutter could not be adjusted to the diameter of the bowl and it was quite rough in it stripping back of the cake. It is not one that I would use very often on any of my pipes without damaging the walls of the bowl.  You can see from the photo that it is wider at the bottom the reamer than at the top.I leaned the two reamers together to capture a photo of the end of the reamer. The larger of the two is the French Made one. You can see from the photo that it is split in the middle and when the screw is adjusted it expands. The head of the Hedgehog has the two sides tightly closed and it is not adjustable. I also took photos of the two from the top to show the butterfly handles. These two will join my box of pipe reamers and reaming tools once I have it back when our basement is fully restored and returned to normal. These are two nice additions. Thank you Kenneth for the gift.

Restoring a Tom Howard Saddle Stem Rhodesian Scoop


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased on eBay on 01/04/17 from Portland, Maine, USA. It is a rusticated squat Rhodesian that is in good condition. It is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left side it is stamped Tom Howard. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. The stamping is clear and readable. I have worked on quite a few of Tom Howard’s pipes in the past and later in the blog will give a bit of the history (thanks to Dal or Pipesteward.com). At this point I have to say that the pipe is well made and actually has a similar rugged beauty and finesse to a Tracy Mincer Custom-Bilt in my opinion. The age of the pipe and the oils in the finish has given the pipe a rich reddish brown finish. There is also some nice grain that the shape follows well. The finish was dirty with dust around the nooks and crannies of the worm trail rustication. There were some spots of what looked like cream coloured paint right outer edge of the rim cap. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top showed darkening and some lava. The inner edge appeared to be in good condition. The vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the darkening and lava overflow on the rim top. The photos of the stem show the oxidation, calcification and tooth marks and chatter on the surface and on the button on both sides. The photo of the side and heel of the bowl shows the carved worm trail rustication and the grain on the smooth portions of the pipe. It looks quite nice under the grime and dust.    The stamping on the sides of the shank is shown in the photos below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above.   Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to refresh my memory of the brand. I remembered that Tom Howard was a notable figure beyond pipe making. I also remembered that Dal Stanton had worked on one and done a great job ferreting out the history of the brand and the maker. I turned to his blog on the brand and read what he had written during his restoration of one of the Howard pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/09/16/the-vintage-notoriety-of-tom-howard-and-his-jumbo-squat-rustified-tomato/). I have included the portion of the blog on the history below for ease of reference. (Thanks Dal!)

I had never heard of a Tom Howard stamp on a pipe and after I put the name in search tool on Pipedia I was surprised to find what I found.  Tom Howard was a vintage celebrity in America during the 1940s and 50s.  Here’s what Pipedia said about Tom Howard the man:

Tom Howard was a popular comedian and personality in the 1940s/50s, known for vaudeville stage and radio work. But he also was a skilled pipe maker. In a Popular Mechanic article from 1947 he is written up as the “Hobbyist of the Month, Tom Howard.” He made pipes in his workshop outside his home in Red Bank, NJ. Starting about 1939 and looks like into the late 1940’s or later. He purchased briar blocks by the bag as well as stem blanks, and in his well-equipped shop he handcrafted his pipes, in about three hours on average. He was a true craftsman, also specializing is intricate model boats, trains and brass canons, all built to scale.

I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a zany Q&A game show that was spoofing the ‘serious’ Q&A game shows.  It was called “It Pays to Be Ignorant”.   Here is what the Wikipedia article said:

It Pays to Be Ignorant was a radio comedy show which maintained its popularity during a nine-year run on three networks for such sponsors as Philip Morris, Chrysler, and  DeSoto. The series was a spoof on the authoritative, academic discourse evident on such authoritative panel series as Quiz Kids and Information Please, while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951. The series typically aired as a summer replacement.

Snooping a bit more, I found an online site that had the July 5, 1951 episode of ‘It pays to Be Ignorant’ available for viewing.  I watched it and it was like I was in a time machine!  The video also included period advertising for cars and tobacco and Tom Howard in form, dawning a professorial gown and a gravelly 1950s vaudeville tin can voice.  It’s great! I clipped a picture of the episode.  If you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:  The Internet Archive.

The Pipedia article I included above, referenced one more source to learn a bit more about Tom Howard.  In a 1947 Popular Mechanics edition he was named ‘Hobbyist of the Month’ – but it didn’t say which month!  With a little bit of help from Google, I found Archive.org that housed old editions of many periodicals including Popular Mechanics.  I started in January and started searching – thankfully they had a search tool I utilized for each month.  Finally, I found the article in the Popular Mechanic 1947 June’s edition.   For the absolute nostalgia of it, and for the interesting information it adds about Tom Howard and especially his pipe production, I’m including the pages here for you to read – including the cover page!  I couldn’t pass it up!  Armed with the great information Dal had provided it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had carried out his thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked much better when I received it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the darkening and the damage to the inner edge of the rim on the back right. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The taper stem came out looking quite good. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some damage to the button surface itself.     I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show what I was working on. The stem also shows a small aluminum stinger in the tenon.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage and darkening on the right rear of the rim top. I sanded the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and gave the inner edge of the bowl a slight bevel to remove the damage and blend it into the rest of the rim edge.   I polished the smooth parts of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.  With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out the marks and tooth chatter on the surface. I started the polishing with a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Tom Howard Rhodesian/Scoop turned out to be a nice looking pipe. The rusticated finish looks quite good while not obscuring the grain around the bowl. The stain used on the bowl served to highlight the grain on the bowl. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Tom Howard Rhodesian is a large pipe and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 70grams/2.47oz. I will be adding it to the American Pipe Makers Section soon if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

I Finally Took the Plunge and Bought a Jose Rubio Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been following Jose Rubio on Facebook for a long time and reading his page that showed his work. I really like the looks of the deep sandblast finish that he has worked out. It really does show the cross grain and ring grains very well and his finish really makes them stand out. I also like his smooth finished and the shank adornments that he uses. His stem work really looks well done and very comfortable. Each time he posted a picture or a series of pictures of his current work I paused and spent time looking at the pipe. Several weeks ago he posted a pipe that really got my attention. It was one of those moments when PAD (pipe acquisition disorder) reared up in my and I wanted this pipe. I included the photos of the pipe below that he originally posted.I put the desire for the pipe on hold for a bit and did some research on Jose Rubio. I wanted to understand what drove him and his passion. I turned first to one of the sellers that I follow here in Canada – Maxim W. Engel (who lives in Toronto). Maxim has been selling and following Jose. He has done a great job summarizing his work (https://pipes2smoke.com/collections/jose-rubio). I quote from that below as he captures my feelings about what I have seen very well.

Jose Rubio has been repairing and making pipes for over 35 years. His goal was to create a superb looking pipe that was also a superb smoker. He takes great pride in hand selecting only the best blocks. All his pipes have a slight V shaped interior as he feels this is the best shape for the largest variety of tobacco types…

He is almost fanatical about his stems, made from Grade “A” German Vulcanite and  that all stems be between 4-4.2 millimeters thick and hand sands the sides edges. His stems are amongst the best I have ever seen.

His sandblast almost always have deep ring grain which he achieves by only using smooth straight grains and a 5 part blasting process that takes him 10-12 hours per pipe. He is absolutely convinced that his deep blasting, by creating a greater surface area, delivers a cooler smoke. He has recently cut back his production to 90 50 pipes a year. Jose Rubio’s sandblast are among the best there is. — Maxim

I turned then to Pipedia and was surprised to find that Maxim had written that article as well. It is slightly different from his words on his Pipes2smoke site (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Rubio). I quote that below.

Jose Rubio started at first as a collector then later as a pipe repairman. After a few years he started to make pipes within his goal being not only to create a superb looking pipe but a superb smoking pipe. He takes great pride in hand selecting only the best blocks. All his pipes have a slight V shaped interior as he feels this is the best shape for the largest variety of tobacco types to deliver of their best.

He is almost fanatical about his stems and insists that all stems be between 4-4.2 millimeters thickness and the sides edges be smooth, which he hand sands. All are made from Grade A German Vulcanite. His stems are amongst the best I have seen. His sandblast almost always have ring grain which he achieves by only using straight grins and a 5 part blasting process. It takes him up to 12 hours to sandblast a pipe. He is absolutely convinced that his deep blasting by creating a greater surface are delivers a fresh and cool smoke. His pipes are individually crafted to the highest engineering tolerances to deliver the best smoking characteristics. He makes a maximum of 110 pipes a year.

Information and pipe photos, courtesy pipes2smoke.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pipesmaker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joserubiopipes/

City: Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

I was excited to read that Jose Rubio had been a pipe repair person. Since I am one as well this intrigued me to see how he applied what he had learned and seen in that work to move ahead as a pipe maker. I decided it was time to contact him and see what he had in mind with the pipe. We fired messages back and forth and he sent me a lot of photos of the pipe to guide me in my decision making process. I am sharing some of those photos below. The deal was sealed once I saw the pipe. I wrote Jose and closed the sale. I paid him through his PayPal account and he said it would go out on Monday morning. He sent me the tracking number and on Friday afternoon the pipe arrived in Canada from Spain. It took just five days to come from him to me. I was astonished when my wife brought it in and handed it to me. I sat for a bit in my chair with the bag on my lap contemplating opening it and having a look. I got up from my contemplation and took the package into the kitchen to open it. I cut the mailing package and found a small bubble wrapped package inside. I removed the tape holding the wrap in place and found a second smaller bubble wrapped package and nicely made pipe pouch with Jose’s logo on the front and royal blue draw strings.I unwrapped the second package and found a small parcel wrapped in yellow tissue paper. At this point I knew I was dealing with the stem but I had not even looked at the bowl. I unwrapped the tissue and a most beautiful and well made stem was in my hands. The button and slot were perfect to my liking. The tenon was flawless. It was a very nice looking piece. With that I opened the pouch and removed a beautiful business card and another tissue wrapped parcel. I am very impressed with the care that Jose took with the packing and the classy looking pouch, cards and personal thank you. Wow. Well done. I unwrapped the bowl and took my time looking at it. It was stunning. I slowly, carefully inserted the stem in the shank. What a beautiful looking pipe! The dimensions of the pipe are quite diminutive but were exactly what I expected – Length: 13cm/ 5.11 inches, Height: 3.81cm/ 1 ½ inches, Tobacco chamber height: 3.7 cm/ 2 ¾ inches, Tobacco chamber diameter: 19 mm/ ¾ of an inch, Weight: 44 grams/ 1 ½ ounces. It really is a beautiful pipe and the workmanship is flawless. I love the combination of the stains chosen, the smooth rim top and the brilliant sandblast. The acrylic shank ring is beautiful and the stem work is magnificent. The bowl is conical (Maxim calls it V shaped) as Jose believes that is the best bowl shape for smoking. The inside of the bowl is sanded smooth and looks almost too good to smoke! The fit of the tenon in the mortise is perfect and the chamfered/funneled end of the tenon is another fine touch making for a better smoke. I took some photos of the pipe once I removed it from the pouch. I will fire the pipe up this weekend. But just on craftsmanship alone and design I highly recommend considering Jose Rubio if you are in the market for a beautiful, craftsman Hand made pipe. I do not think you will be disappointed. Thank you Jose.

Reflections on the breadth of reach of rebornpipes


Blog by Steve Laug

On my recent trip to Milan, Italy I was struck by the reach and the breadth of connections of rebornpipes. I visited the Al Pascia Shop in the city and was known. I had given my rebornpipes business card to the proprietor when I arrived and once he looked at it he said he knew me. It turned out he was a long-time reader/follower of rebornpipes. I was known in a city I had never visited in a shop that I had never been to before. It was because of rebornpipes.

During the trip I was speaking with Paresh in India and told him of the experience and he shared that he had a similar one. He spoke of a pipe that he purchased from a seller in Turkey who upon hearing his name immediately felt connected because he had read Paresh’s work on rebornpipes. Once again it was because of rebornpipes.

I have had that experience repeated numerous times in a variety of pipe shops around the world wherever I have visited them. As with these times the link is always rebornpipes. The connection is very real and the reach is quite wide. I never cease to be amazed.

This gave me pause to reflect on what is happening now that rebornpipes is close to 10 years old (May 1, 2022). There are many writers/contributors from around the world who have shared their restoration and refurbishing work on the blog. None of us are paid for our contributions. We are merely doing it for the desire to pass on what we are learning and to encourage others to step out and give refurbishing a try. For every one of those readers who write and tell us of our influence there are many who never have written but when we meet them in person they speak out like they know us very well.

It is these silent ones that I continue to run into around the world who somehow feel connected to us because of a common love of all things pipe related. When I began rebornpipes many years ago I had hoped to provide a place for this to happen. I wanted it to became a community of restorers and refurbishers who shared their work, techniques and the learning curve with each other and any one interested enough to follow us and read.

In many ways that continues to happen quite remarkably. Many have joined the community and shared their experiences and work with the larger community. A side result that has happened, that I never imagined, is that an ever growing number of folks have created their own refurbishing blogs and Pipe Related blogs and have broadened and enriched the hobby. Examples of these blogs include Charles Lemon’s DadsPipes, Mark Irwin’s Peterson Pipe Notes, Dal Stanton’s The Pipe Steward, Ryan Thibodeau’s Lunting Bear Pipe Restoration and a host of others.

The beauty of this of course is the expansion of the hobby through the reach of each of these blogs as well as through the ongoing contributors to rebornpipes. People such as early contributors – Al Jones, Fred Bass, Gan Barber, Chuck Richards, Kirk Fitzgerald, Piet Binsbergen, James Gilliam, Al Shinogle, Greg Wolford, Robert Boughton, Brian Devlin, Bas Stevens, Mark Domingues, Eric Boehm, Les Sechler, Martin Farrent, Mike Leverette, Alan Chestnut, AJ Verstraten, Josiah Ruotsinoga, Cody Huey, Chiz Szymanski, Jace Rochacki, Joey Bruce, John Williams,  Joyal Taylor, Bill Tonge, Pat Russell, Andrew Selking, Anthony Cook, Aaron Henson, Troy Wilburn, Dave Gossett, Dutch Holland, Bill Hein and Joe Gibson had all contributed articles throughout the early days of the blog.

That does not take into account the current contributors – Al Jones (continues to faithfully post), Dal Stanton, Paresh Deshpande, Kenneth Lieblich, Mike Belarde, Bri Hill, Ryan Thibodeau, Jeff Laug, Alex Heidenreich, Viktor Naddeo. Like any time you make a list of contributores I am sure there are others that I have missed both past and present.

The lists above give you an idea of the breadth of the contributors and the amazing thing is that they are from many countries. They include men and women and people from a wide range of ages and walks of life. This alone is remarkable but the level of craftsmanship and ingenuity demonstrated by these folks is even more so. Rebornpipes has truly gathered a company of fine folks who contribute much to the hobby we love and serve.

This is all behind the scenes and many readers do not see the many names of those who have written or are writing for rebornpipes. It is gratifying to me to think about when you consider the humble beginning we had in 2012. I had put many articles on the blog and few people actually bothered to stop by and read it. Then one day Neill Archer Roan published a post on his own widely read blog encouraging people to check out rebornpipes. I am forever grateful to him for his vote of confidence.

To get a feel for the growth lets look as some numbers. In 2012 there were 39,646 views and 2,316 visitors. This year (up to October 8) there have been 340,700 views and over 166,800 visitors. The blog has had visitors from every continent and from over 200 different countries around the world. I am astonished at the growth. I want to take this time to thank all of you for your contributions and patronage over the years.

I sit quietly now as I finish my reflections on this post. I have to confess that never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would happen. Never did I imagine walking into a shop in another country to look at a pipe and tobacco and have the folks in the shop say that they know me. Those are things that are beyond my comprehension. I am just thankful to have been able to put together a blog that obviously meets a need and has created its own niche not only here in Canada but around the world. Thank you all for you help in making this a reality.

Adding An Italian Made Baldelli Ceramic Tobacco Humidor to the collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I were contacted by a seller in California about some pipes she was selling and this ceramic tobacco humidor. She sent photos of the pipes and two photos of the humidor to me so that I could have a look at it. The first photos shows that it was marked Baldelli in script on the top of the humidor lid. The name did not mean anything to me. I know nothing about ceramics and humidor makers as I only have a few older no name ones and nothing like this one. It was made of ceramic and the round shape reminded me of an old cookie jar that I grew up with. It was a humidor that I wanted for my own collection. The second photo shows the seal on the inside of the lid along with a patent number from both the USA and Italy. The US Patent Number is 365568 and the Italian Patent Number is 47581A82. I looked under both numbers and could find nothing define what the patent applies to. My guess would be that it applies to the sealing mechanism on the lid of the jar.I did a quick Google search on the Baldelli Ceramics name to see what I could  learn on the net. I found a link on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldelli_ceramics). It gave a brief article on the brand and the family that made the ceramics. I quote it in full below.

Baldelli ceramics have been made by Ceramiche Baldelli in Città di Castello, near Perugia, Italy, since 1943.

The Baldelli family have been making ceramics for four generations. Ceramist Dante Baldelli (1904-1953), a ceramist working since the 1920s, who became the director of Ceramica Rometti di Umbertide,[1] opened his own workshop in 1943, in piazza Gioberti, Città di Castello, accompanied by his brother Angelo and gradually assisted by his oldest son Massimo, who was eight at the time[2] but who took over the business at the unexpected death of his father in 1953, aged eighteen; under his leadership production was being sold in US department stores from the 1970s.

During the 1980s, Massimo Baldelli’s daughter Simona and her husband Lorenzo Colacicchi joined the family business.[3]

In the early 1990s the Baldelli studio resited to the country outside Città di Castello.

When it arrived Jeff took photos and sent them to me. We debated putting it on the rebornpipes store but the more I looked at the photos the more I wanted to reserve it for myself. That may change once I have it in hand but for now I am looking forward to having a look at it once we can cross the US border again and spend some time with them.

Oh… and just for those who are curious here are the dimensions of the humidor: the diameter of the bottom of the humidor is 5 ½ inches and the height is 8 inches. It is a good sized humidor and the internal seal really is fascinating to me. Here are those other photos.