Tag Archives: article by Kenneth Lieblich

A Very Spiffy Peterson Kildare Bent Bulldog


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

How fine it is to come across a pipe as comely as this. I found this republic-era Peterson bent bulldog at a local antique fair and I was charmed by it right away. There is a feeling of satisfaction in just looking at it and a feeling of comfort with it in hand. Despite its rather shabby appearance when I found it, the pipe held great promise – and I was sure that I could tease out its beauty with a little TLC. Let’s have a closer look. This Peterson pipe has the classic bulldog shape: diamond shank and tapered stem. In this case, it also had a very nice bend and the traditional Peterson P-lip stem. The markings on the left side of the shank are Peterson’s [over] “Kildare”. The right side of the shank showed Made in the [over] Republic [over] of Ireland. Further along the right side of the shank was the shape number: 80S. Naturally, the Peterson logo “P” was engraved on the stem. I know something about Peterson pipes, but little about the Kildare line, so I went over to Pipedia to have a look. Obviously, there is a long and very good article about Peterson – here is the link. Here is a brief quotation about the republic-era pipes:

1950 – 1989 The Republic Era – From 1950 to the present time, the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated. During the 1950’s and 60’s the Kapp & Peterson Company was still in the ownership of the Kapp family. However, 1964 saw the retiral of the company Managing Director Frederick Henry (Harry) Kapp.

No mention was made of the Kildare line there, but Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg’s book, The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson, did make mention of it:

Kildare (1965–) First issue of line with matte-finish in Classic Range shapes, P-Lip and fishtail mouthpiece. Second issue C.1979 as Kildare Patch, with rusticated patches on pipe surface. Third issue 2010, matte-brown, P-Lip or fishtail mouthpiece, no band. Fourth issue 2011-, burgundy sandblast finish, nickel army mount, fishtail mouthpiece, exclusive to smokingpipes.com.So? Does this mean I have a First Issue Kildare or a Third Issue Kildare (it’s clearly not Second or Fourth). Truth be told: I don’t know for sure. But the First Issue is the only one that specifically mentions the Classic Shapes, of which the 80S is one. So I have no reason to think that this isn’t from the earliest (1965-79) range. I am more than happy to be corrected by someone who knows more than I do!

Let’s have a closer look at this pipe. Someone had clearly attempted to clean the pipe in the past. Their cleaning job was mediocre, but better than nothing. The near side of the rim of the bowl had a clear burn mark. Mercifully, the burn looks quite superficial. The stummel has a couple of small nicks, which are not a big deal. The two grooves which wrap around the bowl were fairly grungy and would need to be cleaned. Fortunately, the stem was in good shape – just some oxidation to address. There was an inner tube in this pipe and it needed to be cleaned. I threw it in some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and let it soak for a while. I took it out, cleaned with some SoftScrub, gave it a rinse, and gave it a polish. Much better.Stem next. As usual, I cleaned the insides with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and some pipe cleaners. Fortunately, it wasn’t too dirty inside. Then I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton rounds – that removed some exterior dirt. Then, of course, I stuck it in the deoxidizing solution overnight. The next day, I scrubbed it down with some SoftScrub on cotton rounds. Before moving on to sanding, I wanted to restore the stylized “P” logo on the stem. I could see that the impression was shallower at the bottom than at the top. I painted that “P” in white and let it dry. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing (from 3,600 on). Setting aside the stem, I grabbed the stummel and started on that. Fortunately, this pipe didn’t need to be reamed, but other cleaning still needed to be done. Just like the stem, I cleaned the insides with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and some pipe cleaners and Q-tips. One has to keep cleaning until the pipe cleaners no longer show any interior filth.Since I wasn’t sure what was done in the previous owner’s cleaning job, I decided that a de-ghosting session would be sensible. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. I then took some 400-grit sandpaper and gently sanded down the inside edge of the bowl. I wanted to remove any remaining detritus. Following that, I grabbed a dental tool and dug out the muck that filled the two grooves on the bowl. I was actually surprised how much stuff was in there. Once done, I thoroughly cleaned the outside with Murphy’s on cotton rounds. I gently “topped” the pipe in order to safely remove the burn on the rim. The burn was very slight, so it didn’t take much. The pipe was really beginning to look beautiful. I followed that up by cleaning the insides of the stummel with some dish soap and tube brushes.Almost forgot the little dents on the underside of the bowl! Those were easily repaired with cyanoacrylate adhesive and briar dust. After this, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand the stummel smooth. I then applied some Before & After Restoration Balm which I massaged into the wood and let sit for 20 minutes or so. After that, I rubbed it with a microfiber cloth. The balm brings out the best in the beautiful wood. It makes things shine and really shows the lustre. Finally, I took it to the buffer and used some White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax.This Peterson Kildare really came out well. I am proud of the work and I’m sure the new owner will love it! I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘Irish’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5⅜ in. (136 mm); height 1¾ in. (45 mm); bowl diameter 1⅝ in. (41 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is 1¼ oz. (39 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restoring a Kaywoodie Churchwarden


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a charming and looooong Kaywoodie Dublin churchwarden (twelve inches long), commissioned by the daughter of a friend, for her fiancé. She was determined to get her beau a churchwarden as a gift. Fortunately, I was able to lay my hands on one and did a nifty restoration job on it. This pipe was made by the well-known American pipe company, Kaywoodie. The markings on the left side of the shank read Super Grain [over] Kaywoodie. On the right side of the shank is the shape number: 95. The left side of the stem has the traditional Kaywoodie logo, a club: ♣.   I went over to Pipedia, in order work out a rough date for this pipe. I know that the very old Kaywoodies have four-digit shape numbers – and this pipe obviously only has two digits. On the list of Kaywoodie shape numbers, the following information was shown:

Shape #                 Description                                                         Years Produced

95                           Extra Long Dublin Churchwarden              1932-1937, 1947-1972

So, at its youngest, this pipe is a minimum of 50 years old. Having said that, however, I think it’s older because the scant information I could find suggests that the 95 was not produced in Super Grain from at least 1968. I also don’t feel that this pipe falls into the earlier year ranges. My best estimate is that this pipe dates from the period of 1955 to 1968. Sadly, I cannot be more precise than that. The following photo shows the pipe in question from a 1955 Kaywoodie catalogue:The pipe was in decent condition. The pipe had been well-smoked add the bowl and shank were quite dirty, but nothing outlandish. The bowl had notable cake on the inside and some lava on the rim. I felt that some burning was possibly there too. Similarly, the stem was relatively clean – not much oxidation to speak of, and what I would describe as “typical” tooth marks on the bit. The stem was somewhat bent out of shape (in the yaw, pitch, and roll axes) and would need to be corrected. Finally, some previous owner had decapitated the drinkless filter system. Time to get to work. The stem was first on my list. I wiped the outside down with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I cleaned out the insides with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and some churchwarden pipe cleaners. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the few bite marks and dents. This was reasonably successful in raising the damage. It wasn’t perfect, but it was improved.

As I mentioned, the stinger thing had been lopped off. There was no repairing it – and I didn’t want to anyway! What I did do, however, was to gently sand down the cut edge with metal sandpaper in coarse, medium and fine grits. This worked beautifully and I was pleased with the results. I cleaned off the end with some alcohol on a cotton pad and gave the metal a quick polish. I then heated the stem with my heat gun and gently worked the twisted stem back into place. I have bent many stems before, but this one was by far the trickiest – perhaps because it was so long. There was considerable resistance in the stem and, after correcting the yaw and roll axes, I opted to leave some of the pitch – figuring that discretion was the better part of valour. Or, rather, I didn’t want to break the darn thing!

Fortunately, the stem was in good enough shape that it didn’t need a soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. I simply scrubbed and scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads. I built up the remaining marks on the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and then cured it with the aid of some CA glue accelerator. I then carefully sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing (from 3,600 onward). Now for the stummel. I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the PipNet reamer to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately, there were none.   I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took a fair amount of cotton to get it clean. I used cotton rounds and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel. I soaked the rim of the pipe in Murphy’s in order to soften the lava. This worked well, but burn marks remained on the wood of the rim. I followed that up by cleaning the insides of the stummel with some dish soap and tube brushes. Next, I decided to de-ghost the pipe in order to remove any lingering smells of the past. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Often, to remove burn marks, I use oxalic acid, but, in this case, the burning was too extensive. I should say that the burning wasn’t severe or deep – just wide. In order to safely remove the burns on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe.Before sanding, I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. It does lovely things to the wood. Once I polished it with a microfibre cloth, I sanded the stummel down with all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit). Finally, I applied some more Before & After Restoration Balm and buffed it with a microfiber cloth a second time. I then took the pipe to my bench polisher and buffed it with White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax. Wow – the pipe really looks lovely. My friend’s daughter presented her fiancé with the pipe and he seemed quite pleased with it. I met the lucky fellow myself and I know that he will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restoring a Classic Custom-Bilt


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is this handsome and rugged Custom-Bilt Oom Paul. I acquired this pipe with Steve at one of those antique fairs where the term ‘antique’ is most loosely applied. Editorial comments aside, the fair was good fun and Steve and I enjoyed ourselves. This pipe piqued my interest because I know that there are many admirers (or should I say ‘fanatics’?) of Custom-Bilt pipes. Clearly, this one had had an active life and looked awfully tired now, but I felt I could bring it back to its best. As you can see, the pipe has the classic Custom-Bilt rustication on it. These marks are reminiscent of Tracy Mincer’s original work and are seen as something of a hallmark of the brand, nowadays. On the left side of the shank, the markings were as follows: Custom-Bilt [over] Imported Briar. No markings on the right side and no markings on the stem.The history of Custom-Bilt pipes is an interesting one and the most comprehensive source of information comes from The Custom-Bilt Pipe Story by Bill Unger. By all the accounts that I’ve heard, it is a very good book. I haven’t had the chance to read it myself, but it would appear to be the fount of knowledge on these pipes. If you’ve got a copy of Unger’s book that’s you’d like to get rid of, please drop me a line!Pipedia’s article on Custom-Bilt consists primarily of review’s of Unger’s book. It offers a cursory view of the markings and their approximate dating. My pipe’s markings correspond to “Stamp Number Three” as seen below, even though the markings on my pipe are not identical to that one. Thus, this pipe seems to be from the Wally Frank era.Pipephil provided a bit more information on the brand, although not strictly related to my pipe.Finally, the pipesrevival.com website has yet more information on Custom-Bilt pipes. This page seemed to confirm that my pipe is from the Wally Frank era, but my interpretation of the photos, etc. is that this is from the early part of that era – probably the early 70s. It is difficult to be sure, but that seems reasonable. In any event, if you are interested in these pipes, I recommend reading all three websites.I figure that this pipe must have been a good smoker because it had been thoroughly used and there was plenty of wear from its long life. This wasn’t a difficult restoration, but there were a lot of steps and it took longer than usual. The stem was heavily oxidized. There were a few minor scratches and a couple of notable tooth dents, and the inside was definitely dirty. However, the real issues were on the stummel. It had accumulated much dirt and debris over the years. The bowl had tons of cake inside and the rim was coated in lava (and potentially burn marks). The front edge of the rim was damaged, presumably from banging out dottle on a hard surface over the years. The grooves of the rustication were embedded with debris and there was a notable burn mark on the back-right part of the bowl, near the shank. Meanwhile, on the left of the bowl, there were a couple of fills (including a major one) that would need addressing. I haven’t even mentioned the miscellaneous scratches, dents and other marks all over the place! Let’s get restoring. The stem was first on my list. I wiped the outside with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the few bite marks and dents. However, it did not do much. Then I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Given the amount of oxidation, this one needed the usual overnight Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover bath. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. With that done, I built up the dents on the top and bottom of the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) all over to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.You may notice that the stem looked odd – well, you are right. Over time, it gradually straightened itself out. I wanted the end of the stem to be roughly parallel with the rim of the bowl, so I brought out my heat gun and heated the vulcanite stem to make it malleable. The heat gun is very powerful – it doesn’t take long! When soft, I gently curved the stem over a wooden dowel. The dowel provides a firm surface and a proper curve. Once I had the bend I wanted, I left the stem to cool and set itself in place.

When I was done, I noticed some unusual “stretch marks” on the stem where I’d bent it. Then I asked Steve about it and learned that it does happen occasionally. Suffice it to say, it was extremely annoying as I had to go back and sand that section again. Lesson learned: bend the stem before sanding it!All that finished, I set the stem aside and I began work on the very dirty stummel. Firstly, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately, there were none. As the photos show, there was quite a mound of debris. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. It was ridiculously dirty and took up the country’s supply of cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. Next, I used cotton rounds and a toothbrush to scrub the outside of the stummel. Due to the lava on the rim, I carefully used a knife to scrape away as much as I could. All that scrubbing accentuated some very ugly fills which had been repaired with typical red putty.To exorcize the ghosts of tobaccos past, I decided to de-ghost the pipe. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. Although it helped, the de-ghosting was not as successful as I hoped. As a result, I plopped the stummel in my alcohol bath overnight. This removes old stain and cleans debris, odours etc. As you can see, after the bath, the stummel looked rather naked but much cleaner. I next used a dental pick to dig out the awful putty in those fills, as I felt I could do better. I redid the fills with a mixture of cyanoacrylate adhesive and briar dust. The main fill on the back of the bowl was in an awkward position for sanding and making it consonant with the surrounding wood was tricky. In any event, I used some miniature files and various grits of sandpaper to make it look good. Next was the burn on the backside. I took some oxalic acid, used several Q-tips, and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed. The burn dramatically improved and any stain I would later apply would cover it up. Fortunately, the burn was very superficial and did not affect the integrity of the wood at all.To remove the nicks on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. However, since I did not want to top the pipe too much, the bashed-in front edge of the pipe would have to be addressed differently. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to attempt a repair. The hot and moist steam can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I opted to ever-so-slightly round the rim of the pipe in such a way that looks both natural and handsome. Then I sanded the stummel down with all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit). The smooth areas got all nine pads, whereas the rusticated areas on received only the last four. Although almost all of the nicks were removed, a hint of a couple of wounds remains. This is part of the story of this pipe – it is its history. Due to all the necessary work for this pipe, I needed to restore the colour, so I stained it with Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye. First, I brought out my heat gun and spent a couple of minutes thoroughly heating the wood, so it would be as receptive as possible to the stain. I needed the brown to penetrate well into the wood, to give the best results. I applied dye with a cotton dauber. I flamed it with my BIC lighter, let it set, then coated it again with dye, flamed it again, and let that set too. I decided to let the pipe sit overnight. This dye is alcohol-based, so I used isopropyl alcohol to wipe down the pipe and remove excess stain. My intent was not to create a new look for this pipe, but rather to restore the original colour. Finally, I took it to the buffer and used some White Diamond and a few coats of Conservator’s Wax. This pipe took a lot of work, but it was worth it. This Custom-Bilt looks fantastic again and is ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner! I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 4¾ in. (120 mm); height 5⅛ in. (130 mm); bowl diameter 1½ in. (38 mm); chamber diameter ⅞ in. (22 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2⅜ oz. (69 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Bringing Back a Ropp Cherrywood


Bog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a Ropp Cherrywood Churchwarden, commissioned by a friend. As you may know, Ropp is possibly best known for their cherrywood pipes, this is one of the more attractive cherrywoods I’ve seen in a while. The key here is that they’ve kept the design simple: a solid, handsome stummel and an elegant, lithe stem. They nailed this one. I’m glad that my friend picked this one out; he made a good choice! Of course, this pipe was made by the venerable French pipe company, Ropp. The markings on this pipe were on the underside of the bowl and read Ropp (encircled in an oval) [over] De Luxe [over] Made in France [over] 919. This number is the shape number, and it was somewhat. From Pipedia, here is a very brief history of the Ropp company:

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830–1907) acquired a patent for the cherrywood pipe in 1869. In 1870, he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Bussang, in the Vosges mountains. Around 1893, his business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames in Upper Burgundy. The pipes were a big success in export as well. Shortly before 1914, Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and its colonies. Probably in 1917, a workshop in Saint-Claude in the rue du Plan du Moulin was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923, another small building in Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added. Cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises in 1994. The pipe was in very nice condition. The stummel had been lightly smoked add the bowl and shank were a bit dirty, but nothing extraordinary. There was a sticky substance on the underside, possibly the remnants of a price sticker. Similarly, the stem was relatively clean – not much oxidation to speak of, and only a few tooth marks on the bit. Time to get cracking. The stem was first on my list. I wiped the outside down with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I cleaned out the insides with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and some long pipe cleaners.I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the few bite marks and dents. This was quite successful in raising the damage. This technique doesn’t always work, but it did here.Fortunately, the stem was in good enough shape that it didn’t need a soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. I simply scrubbed and scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads.  I built up the remaining marks on the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and then cured it with the aid of some CA glue accelerator. I then carefully sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing (from 3,600 onward).Now for the stummel. It was in nice condition, with very few nicks or scratches, which was a relief!  However, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took a fair amount of cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I used cotton rounds and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel. Next, I decided to de-ghost the pipe in order to remove any lingering smells of the past. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Following that, I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped a piece of 220-grit sandpaper around it, and sanded the inner side of the chamber. The circular shape and motion of the sphere gradually returned the edge to a perfect circle. This takes time and patience, but it is quite effective. As you can see, the outside of the bowl still has the original cherrywood bark and I definitely didn’t want to risk damaging it. Although I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) on the top and bottom, I used only 4,000 through 12,000 on the sides. I performed a similar operation on the shank. Finally, I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and buffed it with a microfiber cloth. Again, to preserve the bark, I didn’t use the bench buffer on the sides of the bowl and shank, though I did apply Clapham’s Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish. However, I did buff the top and bottom with White Diamond and carnauba wax on the bench buffer. All shiny and lovely, I know that the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 11 in. (280 mm); height 1⅞ in. (48 mm); bowl diameter 1½ in. (38 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2 oz. (58 g). If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Paint It Black!


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a very pretty, unsmoked bent apple sitter from the French company, Courrieu, based in the Provençal town of Cogolin. A customer of mine wanted an attractive yet inexpensive pipe – he decided on this one, as it was both unsmoked but flawed, and therefore inexpensive. The markings were as follows: on the left side of the shank were the words Vieille Bruyere [over] Courrieu [over] Cogolin. The right side had no markings, but the left side of the stem had the image of a Gallic rooster – a national symbol of France and, subordinately, traditionally associated with Courrieu.Pipephil gave me a brief overview of the Courrieu brand:Ulysse Courrieu started carving pipes in Cogolin in 1802. Courrieu certainly is the oldest French briar pipe factory. The family corporate is managed (2009) by René Salvestrini who married a Courrieu daughter.

This pipe had some fine briar wood and looked like a well-made pipe. However, despite being unsmoked, this pipe still had some issues. The stem was clearly unused but had acquired some minor oxidation over time. The band around the shank was heavily tarnished; so much so that I was unsure if it was tarnished, or actually damaged, and if I would need a new band.There were also some minor abrasions and staining. Most notable, however, was a substantial crack in the shank, as shown in the photographs. The crack extended through the wood into the mortise and would require some careful work to repair successfully. On a pleasant note, the stinger was in immaculate condition. Other than buffing it with a microfiber cloth, it needed nothing else. One of my customer’s stipulations was to stain the pipe black. No problem as far as I was concerned. However, many people don’t quite understand what they will get when they request a black pipe. They often think that the pipe will end up as some sort of shiny lacquered item, but that’s not the way it works with me. I won’t use lacquer on pipes and I need to make it beautiful in other ways. Fortunately, my friend was aware of this and I endeavoured to make it as attractive as possible.

Now to work! As you saw, the band was pretty awful, so I brought out some SoftScrub on a cotton round and duly scrubbed away, taking care not to bend the soft metal. I was delighted at how well that turned out, as I had feared that the band was damaged beyond repair. Once clean, I buffed it with a jewelry polishing cloth and it looked like new. Hurray! Even though the stem had never been smoked, I ran a few pipe cleaners through it to ensure maximum cleanliness. There was some latent dust, but it was easily dealt with. I used some cotton rounds and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the top layer of oxidation. Then the stem went for an overnight bath in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. After this, I used some white nail polish and carefully painted the embossed Gallic rooster on the stem. I painted the area carefully and let it set for a few minutes. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Then I set the stem aside and moved on to the stummel. The next order of business was to scrub the outside of the stummel with some cotton rounds and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Despite being unsmoked, the stummel was reasonably dirty from sitting abandoned for decades.Then it came time to address the crack in the shank. To ensure that any crack repair is successful, I need to make sure that the crack won’t elongate. I took a micro-drill bit and drilled a hole through the wall of the shank into the mortise, at the very end of the crack. By doing this, I prevent the crack from growing any further. Look how tiny the drill bit is! You can also see the drilled hole at the end of the crack. I also removed the old yellow adhesive you can see below. I needed to apply cyanoacrylate adhesive to the crack to seal and repair it. First, however, I stuffed the mortise area with some folded pipe cleaners, coated with petroleum jelly. This would prevent the adhesive from dripping inside the shank and creating further problems. After that, I carefully applied a bead of adhesive to the tiny hole and the length of the crack. Finally, I clamped it shut and let it sit overnight to cure. This was a great success – obviously, the crack would always be there, but I was really pleased with how the repair looked. I then sanded the adhesive down, as well as the stummel. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit). Having completed that, it was time for the staining. First, I brought out my heat gun and spent a couple of minutes thoroughly heating the wood, so it would be as receptive as possible to the stain. I needed the black to penetrate well into the wood, to give the best results. I applied Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye with a cotton dauber. I flamed it with my Bic lighter, let it set, then coated it again with dye, flamed it again, and let that set too. I decided to let the pipe sit overnight. Upon the morrow, I stained and flamed the pipe another two times, always making sure I warmed the pipe with my heat gun first. This dye is alcohol-based, so I used isopropyl alcohol to wipe down the pipe and remove excess stain. I am very happy with the results. Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. I think the black came out very well on this pipe. I know that the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 4½ in. (114 mm); height 3½ in. (89 mm); bowl diameter 1¼ in. (32 mm); chamber diameter ⅝ in. (16 mm). The weight of the pipe is 1½ oz. (43 g). If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restoring an Impressive Meerschaum Figural


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block, we have a unique and large, carved, meerschaum figural pipe. As I’m sure you know, meerschaum is a German word which literally means “sea foam” (meer = sea and schaum = foam). Incidentally, schaum is also where we get the English word scum from. But where did the Germans get the meerschaum word from? Obviously, meerschaum is so called because it is white and light, but the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology further explains that the term is itself a translation of the Persian word kef-i-daryā – literally meaning “foam of sea”. Now you can impress friends at your next cocktail party. I acquired this pipe in a large lot in the summertime. This meerschaum pipe was notable as its stem had been lost in the mists of time, on its way from Asia Minor. I searched through the lot of pipes that it came in, but there was no sign of it. Fortunately, Steve kindly supplied me with a suitable stem which worked perfectly. The pipe is a large piece of block meerschaum, presumably from Turkey, although it has no markings of any sort. However, it has all the hallmarks of Eskişehir, so I feel confident in saying it’s Turkish. As for the carving, I’m not totally sure what it is meant to be. I can’t tell if it’s intended to be an image of the Virgin and Child, people from an ancient Anatolian myth, or some historical characters with which I am unfamiliar. Steve didn’t recognize them either, so if you have some idea who these people are, please feel free to clear up the mystery with a comment below.

The pipe was in very nice condition, though a bit dirty. There was dust and debris in the grooves and even on the smooth surfaces. It had been smoked, though not heavily. The main part of the pipe was in good condition, without any notable damage. There was a tenon left in the shank that was broken and would need replacement. There was also a meerschaum shank extension which was dirty, but otherwise in good shape too. To work! I began by removing the tenon in the shank with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Meerschaum is too fragile for a proper reamer, so I used 220-grit sandpaper on the end of a wooden dowel to clean out the bowl and it turned out very nicely. I then cleaned the shank with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and Q-tips. One of the frustrations of cleaning meerschaum is that once smoked, the stains never go away. However, I did what I could and cleaned the shank extension in a similar manner. There were some unusual purple stains on parts of the meerschaum. I don’t know what they were, but I took a good-quality eraser and they came off with ease, fortunately. Then I took Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton rounds (and Q-tips) and cleaned the meerschaum. It’s important to be cautious in one’s use of fluids around meerschaum. Allowing it to soak in a liquid causes it to soften. I also used a soft bristle toothbrush with the Murphy’s in some of the nooks and crannies. Now that the figural was all clean, I set about using my MicroMesh sanding pads to polish up the meerschaum. I didn’t use the coarser grits over the entire pipe – only in the areas that required it – as I didn’t want to risk any damage. I neglected to take pictures, but I also rubbed some Clapham’s Beeswax into the meerschaum. In fact, I used Q-tips as well to get it into the nooks and crannies. Then I let it sit for 15-20 minutes, buffed it with a microfiber cloth and then repeated the beeswax process. Worked like a charm! As I mentioned, Steve was kind enough to give me an acrylic stem which came with its own push-tenon. He also gave me a handful of other plastic, bone and metal tenons so I could find the right fit for the pipe in question. The stem was terrific, but it had been used and was plenty dirty.First, I removed the push-tenon by heating it lightly with my heat gun. That allowed it to unscrew without much trouble. I then cleaned out the stem and tenon with the usual lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol, cotton pads, Q-tips etc. Just like meerschaum, acrylic tends to stain after smoking, no matter how dutiful you are with your cleaning. However, I put in a lot of elbow grease to sterilize the stem and tenon as much as I could. I even used some Castile soap and tube brushes. There were a couple of very small nicks on the stem, which I repaired with cyanoacrylate adhesive. However, I forgot to take pictures of that. I then used all nine MicroMesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) and some Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Once that was done, I fitted a new bone tenon for the shank extension and a new mortise for the push-tenon. Finally, as meerschaum pipes don’t do well on a bench-polisher, I buffed the pipe by hand with a microfibre cloth. And that’s that! This big meerschaum looks fantastic and is ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the “Meerschaum” section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 7½ in. (190 mm); height 3½ in. (89 mm); bowl diameter 1½ in. (38 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (20 mm). The weight of the pipe is 4 oz. (114 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

The French Collection


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

No, not the French Connection – but French Collection! I have long had an interest in French pipes and pipemaking. In recent decades, French pipes have received a fair amount of derision – and deservedly so. However, early French pipes are very often beautiful, well-made, and – best of all – good smokers. In my own small way, I am aiming to resurrect the reputation of early French pipes. There are superb pipes to be had from France. This blog post is about the restoration of the first pipe that is going into my “French Collection”.

The pipe in question has no markings whatsoever. So how do I know it’s French? Well, I don’t have absolute proof, but I’ve got good circumstantial evidence: the pipe has a very French look to it, it smells like old French tobacco, it came in a lot of exclusively French pipes from France, and – most definitively – Steve thinks it’s French too.  As the photos show, this is a cutty-shaped pipe, albeit without the spur. However, it shows the distinctive, canted bowl of the cutty. It is a handsome pipe with a jaunty look to it, and I liked the pipe straight away. As I mentioned, this pipe has no marks of any kind. This obviously makes identification trickier. I know that Georges Vincent-Genod company used to make pipes similar to this once upon a time, but I cannot, in good conscience, definitely ascribe this pipe to the GVG company. Having said that, the following pipe from Genod certainly has its similarities…The age of this pipe is quite interesting. As you can see, the stem of the pipe is made of horn and has an orific button at the end. For more information on the orifice button, take the time to read Steve’s interesting article on the subject. This type of button is a feature that apparently disappeared by the 1930s, so the pipe must be around a hundred years old, right? Not so fast. The stummel has a threaded tenon made of metal – not bone (as one might expect from a century ago). Steve, my walking encyclopedia, informed me that the fact the tenon is in metal (instead of bone) suggests a date closer to World War II. He figures that the stem itself could be significantly older, but that it was left over in the factory and married to a ”newer” stummel. Therefore, we can surmise that the pipe is about 80 years old.

Let’s have a closer look at the condition of the pipe. The stem was dirty and worn, with plenty of evidence of tooth marks and dents. The insides were dirty too, but nothing too unusual. Meanwhile, the stummel was incredibly dirty.The bowl was so full of cake and the rim so overwhelmed with lava, that I couldn’t really tell what the condition of the wood inside was. Certainly, there was some lovely patina on the old wood on the outside of the bowl.I wanted to work on the stem first, but needed some help to unscrew it! I brought out the heat gun and gave a quick blast to loosen the goo holding the pipe together. That loosened the stem sufficiently to unscrew it. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. There was some filth there and I needed to remove it. I attacked the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol. It required a good amount of cotton to come clean. Now work on repairing the tooth marks, etc. on the outside of the stem. I built up the bite marks on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. There were a couple of small worm holes (or something similar) on the stem and I filled them the same way. Upon closer inspection, the button on the stem was a bit mangled. Simply doing the normal sanding wouldn’t do. I opted to use a small file and rework the horn to ensure a proper shape.Following that, I sanded the adhesive down with 220- and 400-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the beautiful designs in the horn, with some Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Now for the stummel. The brass ferrule came off very easily. I set it aside for now and would return to clean it later. First, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the KleenReem and the PipNet to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. Wow, there was a lot of debris! I took the chamber down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately (and surprisingly), there were none.Following this, I cleaned the insides with the requisite pipe cleaners, Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. As the stack of cleaning materials show, it was a mess!I also took this opportunity to wash the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and remove as much grime as I could. The pipe’s rim was so caked with filth that I opted to soak it in a jar-lid of Murphy’s to soften it. Then I used a brush to work out all the gunk on the rim. As the pictures show, the rim was badly worn. There were gouges and burn marks. Additional work would need to be done. Before that, however, I decided the pipe needed some additional TLC and I chose to de-ghost it. I thrust cotton balls in the bowl (and plugged up the shank) and saturated it with isopropyl alcohol. I left it overnight and let all the evil spirits in the pipe leech into the cotton. Once complete, the pipe looked great and smelled even better.I was, at first, very reluctant to “top” the pipe – that is to say, gently and evenly sanding down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. I was reluctant because I loved the height of the bowl and didn’t want to change it. However, I did decide to do it – it just didn’t look right without it. I was especially careful this time, so as to remove the bare minimum from the rim.As I mentioned earlier, there were some burns on the inside of the rim that also needed to be addressed. I took some oxalic acid on a cotton swab and rubbed and rubbed. The burn improved but not sufficiently, in my opinion. So, I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and sanded until such time as the burns were removed. I proceeded very carefully, as I had to ensure that I was not removing too much. I think I got it just right and the rim looked much improved. After this, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand the stummel smooth.I then applied some Before & After Restoration Balm which I massaged into the wood and let sit for 15-20 minutes. After that, I rubbed it with a microfiber cloth. The balm brings out the best in the beautiful wood. It makes things shine and really shows the lustre. I came back to the brass ferrule. It was pretty dirty too. I used some SoftScrub on a cotton pad and scrubbed it clean. Then I buffed it with a microfibre cloth and made it shine. I reattached it to the stummel with some glue and let it set.Finally, it was off for a trip to the buffer. The more I look at this pipe, the more I really like the elegant lines and the old-time feel of the wood. At the buffer, a dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed to shine properly. All finished! This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and has a very sporty feel to it. It took some work, but I am proud of it and the final product suits me to a T. It retains some wounds from battle, but, as Steve would say, they are part of this pipe’s story. This is one pipe that I am keeping for myself and adding to my newly-founded French Collection. I am sure that I will be enjoying this one for many years to come. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6½ in. (165 mm); height 2 in. (51 mm); bowl diameter 1¼ in. (30 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is ⅞ oz. (25 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this restoration as much as I enjoyed restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restoring an Amphora Sandblasted Bent Billiard


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a pipe which was selected by a customer of mine in the prime of his youth. Understandably, this very young fellow wanted a handsome and inexpensive pipe and chose this Amphora sandblasted bent billiard. I acquired it in a lot of pipes from a gentleman living on Vancouver Island. It was quite an assortment of pipes, as they ranged from horrible to beautiful. The selected pipe looked like a handsome, solid pipe that would smoke well and my young customer took a liking to it immediately. So did I – the sandblast is really quite attractive and I felt that he had made a good choice. The underside of the shank had the pipe’s markings. They read as follows: Genuine Briar [over] Amphora-Holland. Next to that was Amphora [over] X-tra-845. Secondarily, the Amphora logo (and encircled ‘A’) was on the left side of the stem. This logo was quite worn and I was unsure if I could restore it. Clearly, this pipe had been well-loved, as it arrived with some marks and general wear, and the stem was pretty nasty. There were also a couple of fills, but I was confident that those would be easy to handle. Amphora is a Dutch pipe brand of long-standing and they are perhaps best known because of their pipe tobacco. I must admit that whenever I heard the word “amphora”, I immediately think of this:I have cobbled together the brief bits of information from Pipedia, Pipephil, and the forums of PipesMagazine. Amphora was a brand of the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory, owned by Elbert Gubbels & Sons B.V. They produced several other brands, such as Douwe Egberts and Royal Dutch. Dr Grabow also produced bowls for them for some time and I have reason to believe that this particular pipe was from the Grabow factory. The Royal Dutch Pipe Factory went bankrupt in 2012. For some further speculative information about Amphora, please read Robert M. Boughton’s article here. Off to work! First, I wiped the filthy stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. There was oxidation and calcification there and I needed to remove it.The bore in the mouthpiece was clogged with debris (yuck!) and I used a dental pick to remove it. I feared that this might hint at the filthy horrors awaiting me in the stem. Fortunately, although the stem was pretty dirty, it was not as bad as I had feared. I had no problem cleaning out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Before the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover, I used some SoftScrub to remove the first layer of filth and give the soak the best chance of working. It then went into the bath overnight. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. Once clean, I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the bite marks. This did very little, but I built up the bite marks on the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. Following that, I sanded the adhesive down with 220- and 400-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem, with some Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Now for the stummel. Firstly, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Following this, I cleaned the insides with the requisite pipe cleaners, Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. As the stack of cleaning materials show, it was a mess! I also took this opportunity to wash the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and remove as much grime as I could. The pipe’s rim was so caked with filth that I opted to soak it in a jar-lid of Murphy’s to soften it. Then I used a wire brush to dig out all the gunk. As the pictures show, the rim was badly worn and had lost a fair amount of colour. So, I took one of my furniture pens and touched it up. A bit later, you’ll see how much the rim improved. I decided the pipe needed some additional TLC and I chose to de-ghost it. I thrust cotton balls in the bowl (and plugged up the shank) and saturated it with isopropyl alcohol. I left it overnight and let all the evil spirits in the pipe leech into the cotton. Once complete, the pipe looked great and smelled even better.   I really liked the colour of the pipe and felt that it didn’t need any stain, so I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm which I massaged into the wood and let sit for 15-20 minutes. After that, I rubbed it with a microfiber cloth. The balm brings out the best in the beautiful wood. It makes things shine and really shows the lustre. Finally, it was off for a trip to the buffer. I used neither White Diamond nor carnauba wax because I didn’t want to lose any of the beautiful sandblast. Also, carnauba wax gets gummed up in the grooves. Instead, I used Conservator’s Wax and my bench buffer. One of the pictures below shows me holding two stems, but the stem in question is the one on the left (with the arrow). All finished! This is a handsome pipe with a beautiful sandblast and a classic look. I know the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come and he’s already told me that he’s thoroughly enjoyed several bowls with it. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

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.

 

Restoring a Payne to Its Former Glory


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is an interesting pipe of Leonard Payne’s making. I acquired this pipe from an “antique” shop in Cloverdale (just outside Vancouver) – although it is doubtful how many genuine antique things were in the shop. Here’s a photo of me in situ, with the pipe.I love the prince shape, and I was excited to work on this pipe. The gentleman who commissioned this pipe is a regular customer of Steve’s, so I was all the more delighted.

On to the pipe itself! It was certainly a charming pipe, but it was grungy and had an unholy quantity of tooth marks, dents, lava, cake, and just general filth.  The markings on the left side of the shank read Leonard Payne [over] Original. On the left side of the stem, there was a faint capital ‘P’.I little while back, I detailed my restoration of another Payne pipe, in a tale I entitled, The Frog Prince. I will repeat the information I wrote there about Leonard Payne. He was born in England, moved to Canada in the 1950s, and died in the Vancouver area within the last few years. Payne was, to put mildly, an idiosyncratic pipe maker. I can do no better than quote Mike Glukler of Briar Blues (found on Pipepedia):

“Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C. Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe, it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a ‘carburetor’ system at the shank/stem junction. Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus ‘correcting’ the weakest link”.In addition, there was a photograph that Steve found of Payne on Reddit that appears to date from the 1960s. The original poster on Reddit told me that the photo comes from the City of Surrey archives. I have no idea why it is in French (or why it’s in the Surrey archives), but here is my translation of the text on the right:

“Pipe makers are not on every street corner in Canada! Leonard Payne, originally from England, didn’t know the challenges he would face and that’s probably what influenced his decision to come and try his luck in Canada. After his arrival in 1957, he and his family settled in Vancouver, where he first found work as a tool maker – and made pipes in his free time. In 1959, he decided to become a full-time pipe maker, and since then he has had department stores in all parts of Canada among his clients. He imports briar blocks from Italy and pipe stems from England.”My customer selected this pipe because (a) he wanted a prince manufactured by Leonard Payne, and (b) he wanted a Payne that didn’t have a carburetor system or the reattached shank. Providentially, this pipe fit the bill on all counts.

The stem on this pipe was in decent shape, with a small draught hole. But most remarkably, the button had been decapitated or stolen by a goblin. At any rate, the button was not there, and I knew that I would have quite a job on my hands.   Well, to work! I briefly considered finding a new stem for this pipe, but I believed I should try to work with the original parts before seeking a different solution. So, first on the list was constructing a new button for this pipe. I started by sanding off the end of the stem with some 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the bottom. In order to fashion a new button, I needed to minimize the rounding on the end of the stem and make the face even. Then I took out some small files and began cutting into the vulcanite, carving out a new button. This was a tricky business and it took some real patience and effort to make it work. After much nerve-wracking work, I had successfully carved out a new button and smoothed it with files and sandpaper. The following is a tedious series of photos showing the progress of the stem! Next, I used a thin file to widen the draught hole. The end result is better than what these photos show. Finally, I could move on to the regular cleaning procedures for the stem. First, I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Fortunately, it wasn’t overly dirty, and it only needed a handful of pipe cleaners.Then, I wiped down the stem with SoftScrub, before sending it off for a bath in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and I could easily remove it. Then I scrubbed with more SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. After this, I used nail polish to restore the logo on the stem. I painted the area carefully and let it fully set before proceeding. I worried that this wouldn’t work, as the ‘P’ was so faint. Fortunately, I ended up being wrong and some of the ‘P’ came back to life.I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Hey – this looks like a real stem! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I always want to use the original parts of a pipe, if possible, and I’m glad this worked. Setting the stem aside, I moved on to the bowl. I started by reaming it out. I used the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake inside and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. Fortunately, there were none. After that, I used cotton rounds and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel and a toothbrush with Murphy’s for the lava on the rim of the pipe. Oddly, there appeared to be shiny bits of a previous coating on the stummel, left over from some other time; I figured my sanding would remove these marks, so I ignored them for the time being. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took a fair amount of cotton to get it clean. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. Next, I decided to de-ghost the pipe to remove any lingering smells of the past. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Here are the “before” and “after” photos: Having completed that, I was able to address the small nicks on the rim and the bowl. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try to raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. The repair was not perfect, but the remaining scratches would be improved by sanding. To remove the remaining burns and nicks on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. After this, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to remove the frustrating scratches in the wood and make everything smooth. Additionally, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.  At the buffer, a dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look beautiful. I am pleased with this pipe – it was tricky work, but thoroughly enjoyable for me. Best of all, I know that the new owner will enjoy it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.