Tag Archives: articles by Robert M. Boughton

The CPF Arcadia: A Pipe Out of Time


Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited
https://www.roadrunnerpipes2k.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors

Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.
— Anonymous, quoted in “The Monkey’s Paw,” W.W. Jacobs, from The Lady of the Barge, 1902

INTRODUCTION
Whatever inspiration led Cliff Edwards to write the lyrics to the song that became Disney’s theme, “When You Wish upon a Star” – in which one’s heart need only be in the dream for no request to be too extreme, and fate will be kind – must have been, to be gentle to all of the Mouseketeers out there, in an alternate reality to mine.  I’ve long had two rules: be careful what you ask for, lest you get it, and above all, never ask for what you deserve, because everyone has done things that should have had stiffer consequences.  I’m not being cynical.  From my experience, it’s just the way whatever Higher Power we call by various names helps us humans avoid being selfish and greedy, at least those who ask for guidance now and then if not more.

Of course, I’m not perfect, in fact, far from it.  I found myself during the past two months or so becoming more and more fixated on acquiring not just any new pipe, but one made by the Colossus Pipe Factory.  Then I began my hunt in earnest, with eBay searches and general Googling, but to no avail.  At last I got a hit with a pair of pipes titled, in a somewhat jumbled way, “Vintage Smoking Pipe Tobacco Lot of 2 Arcadia CPF London England Briar.”  From that description alone I thought maybe I was going to see something made by an Arcadia brand and a rare English CPF.  There were enough photos, however, and they were good, to determine without doubt that a big, smooth poker stamped on the right MADE IN/LONDON ENGLAND was one mixed-up part of the seller’s heading, and CPF Arcadia was the other.  The disarray of the title and the low price I paid – about $45 – told me the seller didn’t know what he had and the other bidders were not sure enough that the CPF was real to risk going higher.

Before bidding anything and after studying the pics of the alleged CPF – and I mean I really poured over every detail of them – I was certain it had to be a fake, except for the band on the shank.

From the photos that I snapped when it arrived in the mail with the poker I believe is a Ben Wade reject, the only authentic-looking parts of a CPF are the band, bone tenon and stem.  Otherwise, honestly, I could see where the basic chunk of wood could have been fashioned into a stummel long ago before some Flower Child got ahold of it and turned the bowl into a psychedelic pin cushion, but I could not imagine anyone alive more than a century ago, especially the Old World masters employed by CPF, fashioning such a monstrosity, as I saw the pipe before its comic beauty grew on me.  I even used the “m” word in an email I sent to Steve, with a link to the eBay sale, in which I more or less implored him to tell me it wasn’t real, meaning a genuine CPF.

Needless to say, I was shocked when Steve not only replied that the Arcadia was real and “very old,” an age distinction he had never before made to me, but that he had worked on a meerschaum like it a couple of years ago.  Here are some before and after shots of Steve’s meerschaum, which indeed bear a scary resemblance to my old briar.

A.F. & Co./BBB Spotted Meerschaum photos courtesy Steve Laug.

The severe chicken pox-like similarities are undeniable, and I scrutinized every word and photo of Steve’s blog in hopes of connecting the dots (I’m so sorry, that just popped out) of the definitely funky tobacco pipe specimens.  Struck by a gung-ho fit to research the abbreviation “AF&C0” in Steve’s third photo above, I interrupted my reading to find the answer before continuing and learning Steve already had done so: Adolph Frankau & Co. of England.  Steve’s work restoring the meerschaum that he also dated to 1905, thanks to great detective work tracing the unique hallmarks on the sterling silver band, was phenomenal, in particular the addition of a Bakelite stem that he not only fitted to the shank but made look as old as the original stummel.

Now, in case anyone thinks my choice of details a mere glut of disconnected trivia, I’ll make my point.  Steve took one look at the weird pipe for sale on eBay, flashed on the A.F. & Co./BBB meerschaum he gave new life and instinctively sensed a connection.  I have to say, I had doubts despite the almost genetic resemblance.  After all, there was no indication my CPF Arcadia was a Frankau import.  By the time Steve and I connected on the phone to discuss the two pipes and other matters, I had restored the Arcadia and warmed to its charms.  Although lacking any proof of the pipe’s date of manufacture such as Steve dug up for the meerschaum, certain minute observations and research led me to conclude it was created in the latter part of the 19th century.  Steve concurred.

In particular, I finally figured out that the stem was not Vulcanite but black horn, and the metal band boasted that it was “Nickel Plated.”  What kind of pipe brags about having a nickel plated band?  Nowadays, that’s the bottom of the barrel.  So I looked up nickel plating history online and learned that in 1837 the first crude electrochemical nickel plating of platinum was accomplished.  Really?  Someone thought to cover up the most precious metal with nickel?  You bet he did, and in 1869 a better process that became the industry standard for 70 years was discovered.  The purpose of nickel plating certain other metals, of course, remains nickel’s resistance to tarnishing and corrosion.  The only logical explanation for the proud “NICKEL PLATED” stamp on the band of my CPF, therefore, is that the process was still relatively new.  Given that point and the use of black horn stems being much less common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when amber and Bakelite predominated, I am satisfied the pipe was created in the waning years of the Victorian Era.

Returning to Steve and his inspired flash that the “knobby meer,” as he called it, and the CPF Arcadia are related, Steve told me he now questions whether the meerschaum is a real BBB, owing to certain unstated problems with the band.  Steve is the expert, but this time I have to disagree and urge him to stick with his instincts.  The notion of the meerschaum, knobs and all, being a bona fide BBB is no wilder than my briar, with its gaudy plastic bulbs and brass studs, being a genuine CPF, and I do not mean to suggest in a roundabout way that neither is the truth.  Granted the extremity of different materials used to make the pipes, and the necessity of alternate methods for achieving the knobby looks, and still further suspending disbelief because of the admitted implausibility of the idea, I nevertheless can’t help thinking that the connection is the actual crafter of the two pipes.  To be blunt, I think the same person made both of them.  Of course, I will never be able to prove the theory.  Well, isn’t that convenient, as the Church Lady used to say.

With a little more research, I was pleased to settle with much more certainty a question that nagged Steve in his blog of the unusual meerschaum: was there a connection between it and BBB?  As several of the sources below show, the link is clear.  Frankau, who started business in 1847, died in 1856.  At that time, his widow was persuaded to continue operation of A.F. & Co. under the control of Frankau’s very young assistant, Louis Blumfeld, who was then only 18.  Blumfeld started BBB (for Blumfeld’s Best Briar, later Britain’s Best Briar), the famous triangular symbol for which he trademarked in 1905 – again, the year Steve’s meerschaum was made – under the A.F. & Co. banner.  BBB seems to be the first pipe maker with a trademark.  And so the connection, if I haven’t made it obvious, is that A.F. & Co. owned BBB.

Arcadia, part of the modern-day Peloponnese, a peninsular region of southern Greece (capital, Tripoli), is also a reference to Greek mythology.  The mythological Arcadia was named for Arcas, a hunter who became king of the utopic wilderness and is best remembered for teaching the skills of baking bread and weaving.  In Arcadian myth, Pan, the god of shepherds, hunters and the wilds, is said to have roamed the region with dryads, nymphs and other spirits.  The name, therefore, is an odd one for this pipe, unless it’s a reference to the Calydonian Boar killed by the king’s daughter, Atlanta.

CPF had an ephemeral but brilliant run from 1851 to c. 1915, producing with the unparalleled skill of its Old World craftsmen some of the most astounding pipes, meerschaum and briar, ever created.  That’s all I need tell of CPF’s history, as Steve’s account in the sources below is the definitive authority.  Another link to a few of the CPF beauties in Steve’s Wonderland collection shows examples that are far closer to what I had in mind when I was wishing for a pipe of that great brand to find its way to me.

But that’s what can happen to someone who wishes for something.

RESTORATION
A few close-ups show the peculiarities and problems I found.  The first, featuring the front of the bowl, makes the little, round, plastic bulbs – which I did not yet know the means of connection to the bowl – appear red instead of their actual light brown.  Scratches all over the uneven surface that is spotted with the bulbs and brass studs presented awkwardness to remove.  The second shot, of the rim and chamber, has the correct color of the bulbs and at a glance seems the hardest part of the pipe’s repair but in fact was the easiest. The third pic made me happy the band was already spinning on the shank so I could leave it out of an early alcohol soak.  The grime and stains would come off, but I knew I could not fill in the missing patches of nickel.  Then there was the stem, top and bottom, with moderate tooth damage that would typically be no hassle to eliminate if it were Vulcanite.Before I continue, take a close look at the bowl and count the bulbs and brass studs.  There are seven bulbs and four studs, and the arrangement may seem random.  But look again, and you’ll see a very odd order: on the left side, the bulbs start on the top left to right and then down to the bottom right; the studs move diagonally from the lower left to the middle.  On the right side, the opposite is true: the bulbs go from top left down to bottom left and then bottom right, and the studs are diagonal from top right to middle.  On the front, three bulbs form a diagonal, tic-tac-toe line from top right to bottom left, or vice versa if you prefer.  Finally, the back shows all four corners with bulbs.   The person who crafted this pipe had a very playful sense of order.

Thinking the Arcadia stem was Vulcanite but knowing it would do no harm anyway, I tossed it and the one from the Ben Wade reject candidate in an OxiClean bath.  The usual old dirt and tobacco residue came off both.  The first pictures after the bath show the stem not yet fully dried, and the next three dry. This was when I snapped that perhaps the stem material was not Vulcanite and Googled black horn, although if I had ever heard of such a variety of that organic material, it was dredged up from my subconscious.  I emailed Steve somewhat stupidly without photos.  He replied that horn has striations that are visible under a magnifier, so I shot him back the above photos and asked if the last showed the kind of marks he meant.  His brief response was, “Definitely horn.”  In the meantime, I had followed up with 220-grit sanding and wet and dry micro meshing from 1500-12000.While the stem had been taking a bath, I soaked the stummel in Isopropyl alcohol.  I was worried about the possible effects of the alcohol on the bulbs, but somewhat less catastrophic in the potential result than the Trinity Tests of the atom bomb south of Albuquerque nearing the end of World War II, I took a gamble.I started the next longer part by sanding the rim with 400- and 1000-grit papers, then the rest with 1000. Smoothing the chamber with 60- and 320-grit papers, I followed up with a full micro mesh of the rim and rest of the outer stummel.I thought Fiebing’s Dark Brown leather stain would be good for the stain.I performed the retort and decided to add a coat of Fiebing’s Burgundy.  I was satisfied with the color result, but in the process of flaming and micro meshing after the latter stain, a couple of the bulbs went M.I.A. Faced with the not altogether unanticipated contingency of somehow having to replace a bulb or two, as I still considered them, I had already considered using small push pins, the kind for wall maps, and had found a couple of places online that carried close to the same shade of brown in case it became necessary.  Hoping to avoid the time waiting for them to arrive by mail, however, I scoured this wannabe big city that is lacking in so many of the amenities found in the real thing.  The best I could find was the following box of 200 map pins in every color but brown (any shade of it!).  The good news was that they only cost $2.99 minus tax at a hobby store.  I concluded it would be necessary to replace all seven of the bulbs for the sake of consistency and suppose I might have opted for a conservative dark blue or even black, but as Tom Cruise’s high school character in Risky Business put it, “Sometimes you just have to say what the @#$*!”  Besides, Christmas is coming up.  The smaller brown pin below was an original I twisted out.The one prospect I didn’t even consider until I examined the holes left by the missing “bulbs” was that some antique version of map pins might have been used when the pipe was adorned in such an unconventional way by its maker.  But when the time came to remove the bulbs that were still intact, I found out they were indeed nothing more than map pins from more than a century ago.  All I had to do was snip off the longer metal ends of the new ones and Super Glue them into the slots.  I still don’t know how the brass studs are attached because I didn’t want to mess with them.  I’m curious by nature, but I have limits.  My dad always said, if it works, don’t fix it.

And so, without further ado, here is the finished CPF Arcadia. CONCLUSION
I’ve come to love this pipe out of time that should have been made in the Art Deco period, which didn’t really get rolling until 1925 and hit its peak in the 1930s art scenes of Europe and the U.S. – or even the hippie  (or psychedelic, counterculture and what-have-you) movement of the 1960s into the ’70s).  If this restoration taught me anything, it’s that sometimes wishing for something vague can lead to a happy ending.  I’ve come to love this pipe and will happily keep it if it doesn’t sell.  And it is for sale, for the right price on my site, or a good trade.

SOURCES
https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/30/enlivening-a-mysterious-old-knobby-oval-shank-meerschaum-bowl/
https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/22/reflecting-on-a-few-of-my-cpf-pipes-colossus-pipe-factory-pipes/
https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/
https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/metals-metal-products/nickel-plating-history/
https://www.google.com/search?q=when+you+wish+upon+a+star+lyrics&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS857US857&oq=when+you+wish+upom+&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l5.7556j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Adolph_Frankau_and_Co
https://adolphs.weebly.com/blog/adolph-frankau-tobacco-pipes
https://pipedia.org/wiki/BBB
https://trademark.trademarkia.com/bbb-71008248.html

Pipe Smokers’ Laws – Borrowed with Appreciation


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Member, Facebook Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society
Website Roadrunner Restored Pipes
Blog RRP
Falderal About Me
Photos © the Author except as noted

For once I have a contribution to make, which I am so grateful to have chanced upon while surfing the Web for something I no longer even remember (and said forgotten search therefore being of no consequence), that needs no opening quote or official introduction.  I have no idea what category this offering falls under but doubt the change to my typical format will be met with anything less than approval and pleasure by the majority of this forum’s readers and contributors.  My  only request – call it a suggestion, if you prefer – is that the following list, courtesy of the Ozark Pipe Smokers of Rogers, AR, USA, be given a thorough reading with all due sobriety and gravity.  And I hereby move for its formal adoption by all pipe clubs, everywhere.  Anyone wishing to second the motion may do so by commenting below.

Another L. J. Peretti of Boston – Square Shanked Rhodesian


Blog by Dal Stanton

When Jon put the L. J. Peretti out on the table I was excited.  I was in Oslo, Norway, where I met up with two colleagues who work in Ukraine – we were there watching a world class biathlon event and we had a great time.  Jon knew that I was restoring pipes for the Daughters of Bulgaria and had a couple pipes that he was no longer smoking.  He picked the Peretti up off eBay some time ago and he passed it on to me to restore for a new steward – a task I was more than willing to take on!  I grew a bit attached to the Boston-based Tobacconist L. J. Peretti Co., when I restored my first Peretti which my son had gifted me for Christmas.  It was a challenge as I salvaged the original Peretti stamp on the surviving squared saddle stem half and added the other half by cannibalizing another stem and accomplishing a stem splice.  For a look at this project look here:  Peretti Square Shanked Billiard.  I brought the ‘new’ L. J. Peretti home to Bulgaria and the first picture below shows the two Perettis – a remarkable resemblance in the sharp squared shanked style.In the interest of full disclosure, when I first saw the ‘new’ Peretti in Oslo, I really wasn’t sure what the shape classification would be.  The first indicator I cued on was the double groove – Bulldog?  Then, the classic Bulldog usually has a diamond shank/stem.  Rhodesian?  The squared shank didn’t fit.  Ok, a Billiard or Apple with a cool grooved ring going with the squared shank, which I think is very attractive.  My questions gave way to an email to Steve for his input and his response came very quickly.  His call is a squared shank Rhodesian.  My response, “Sweet!”  That works for me.  When I did my original research on the Peretti name I discovered the genesis of a significant story of Americana pipe history with the establishment of the L. J. Peretti Company of Boston in 1870, the second oldest tobacco shop in the US, second only to Iwan Ries & Co. of Chicago established in 1857 (See: Link).  It started in 1870, Libero Joseph Peretti arrived in Boston from Lugano, Switzerland, putting in motion the historical axis that exists today in an iconic tobacconist shop that continues to serve patrons by hand-blending tobaccos from around the world to taste.  One can take his empty bowl to the shop in Boston at 2 1/2 Park Square and test different blends under the watchful assistance of L. J. Peretti staff – total ‘old school’ and I like it! With an appreciation for the L. J. Perretti Squared Shank Rhodesian on my work table, I take more pictures to fill in the gaps. The left side of the shank is stamped “STRAIGHT GRAIN” and, interestingly, the right side is “L.J. Peretti”.  As is true of my other Peretti, usually the name is stamped on the left side.  This Peretti’s pedigree is on the right side of the shank.  The squared, tapered stem has the classic “P” stamped and in good shape. The chamber shows significant cake and will need to be cleaned down to the briar.  The rim has some significant damage on the right side and significant lava flow.  I will need to clean bowl and rim to see what might be lurking beneath.  The Rhodesian upper dome has cuts – one noticeably dissects the twin grooves.  There’s a good bit of grime in the grooves and at least one lightened fill on the heel – with the flat heel this Rhodesian is also a sitter – a nice feature for the table!  I also detect some dents on the squared shank corners – this old boy has taken a bit of bruising along the way.  The stem shows no oxidation but the button shows some biting and tooth dents – both upper and lower button lips have clench marks.  ‘Straight Grain’ is stamped on the shank and the grain has some striking features that will be visible once the grime is cleaned and things shined up a bit.

I work on the stummel first.  Taking the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use the two smallest of the four blades available to me and ream the chamber, removing the carbon cake build up to the briar. I then fine tune the ream by using the Savinelli pipe knife which enables me to remove residual cake in more difficult angles.  To clean the chamber further, I take a piece of 240 grit sanding paper and wrap it around a Sharpie Pen and sand the surface of the chamber then clean the left-over carbon dust with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber walls appear to be in good condition.  The pictures show the progress. I now use undiluted Murphy’s Soap with cotton pads, a bristled tooth brush and a brass wired brush to clean the stummel surface, scrub the rim and clean the grime out of the twin grooves.  As I’m cleaning, it becomes evident that the left front of the upper dome is scorched from what appears to be the aftermath of using a lighter flame over the side of the rim to light the tobacco.  I do not use a lighter for this reason – it is difficult to angle the flame without bringing damage to the surface briar.  I use matches and bring the flame directly over the chamber and draw the flame directly to the tobacco.  I’ll need to send Jon a note about this!!!  After scrubbing with all available tools, I rinse the stummel with tap water without introducing water into the internals.  With the rim now clean, the extent of the damage is revealed.  The final picture in the set below, on the lower part of the picture shows this damage. Since my day is ending, I decide to hydrate the stummel surface with a light application of olive oil.  I also decide to use a kosher salt and alcohol soak to work on the internals overnight.  I twist a cotton ball and stuff it down the mortise to act as a wick to draw the oils and tars out.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt and hold my palm over the top and give it a shake to displace the salt.  Using an eyedropper, I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% and leave the stummel in an egg crate for stability and turn off the lights.  The pictures show the progress.The next morning the salt, as expected had discolored somewhat and the cotton served as a wick drawing oils and gunk out of the stummel internals.  I follow with a barrage of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to finish the cleaning job.  The pictures show the progress.I now face the most daunting part of the restoration of this L. J. Peretti Squared Shank Rhodesian.  I take more pictures for a closer look at the problems.  The burn and scorching damage on the rim and upper dome of the stummel are significant.  The rim at the 11:30 position is cratered severely and it appears that the rim burned and the charred part chipped off after becoming brittle.  From this area, down on the left side to the 7:00 position there is damage but not as severe.  My concern is whether there is healthy briar beneath what I’m seeing or has the wood charred more deeply?  If so, a lot of briar will need to be removed to repair the rim via topping, but this could impact the Rhodesian proportional balance between the upper and lower parts of the bowl – divided by the twin grooves.  This repair reminds me of a rim rebuild I did with a ‘Throw-Away Pipe’ that had little rim left.  With a desire to salvage as much of the rim as possible, I will very lightly top the pipe but only to gain the ‘high ground’ of the rim and then fill the craters and divots in the rim with a briar dust and superglue putty.  I want to ‘build-up’ the rim instead of losing it on the topping board and creating a squat-top, disproportionate Rhodesian.  The pictures show the damage and the challenges. It will be difficult to top the rim evenly with the soft spots created by the charred briar.  With the chopping block covered with 240 grit sanding paper, I very lightly begin to rotate the inverted stummel.  I take pictures to mark the gradual process.  When I arrive at the maximum topping progress, most of the rim has found it’s ‘high ground’ leaving the remainder of the damaged areas more visible.  This allows me to strategically apply patches on the rim.  I notice that there is additional carbon on the inside lip of the chamber so I take out the Peretti Pipe Knife once more and scrape the additional carbon exposed by the topping.  The pictures show the progress of the rim repair. The focus for the briar dust – superglue patch will be the 11:00 area (see above).  The remainder of the damage on the inner rim will be addressed by creating an inner rim bevel.  To prepare the area for the patch I clean it with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Using Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue, I mix it with the briar dust until it reaches a viscosity like molasses.  Using a toothpick as a trowel, I apply the putty excessively over the area with the plan of sanding it down.  I put the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.  I’ll give it a full 12 hours. The next day, the patch has cured well.  I begin sanding down the excess briar dust patch by using a half-rounded needle file to contour the inner chamber part of the patch.  My goal is to reestablish a round rim by blending the patch with the curvature of the inner rim.  After this I smooth and blend the area further with 240 grit paper.  When satisfied, I turn to the top of the rim using a flat needle file to bring the bump of the patch gently down to the briar rim surface.  The surrounding wood is softer and I avoid collateral filing as much as possible.  I follow to further smooth and blend the whole patch with 240 grit paper.  The pictures show the shaping progress. With the primary patch shaping complete, I want to introduce a bevel to the inner rim lip to remove damage as well as blend the entire rim contour – seeking a round rim.  I believe a bevel always ‘up-classes’ a pipe, too!  I use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel –  careful to remember the patch area is harder and it is easy to dig in to the surrounding softer briar.  After the 120 grit paper, I smooth and blend further with 240 paper. I complete the rim repair by returning to the topping board with a light topping first with 240 paper followed by 600 grit paper.  This ties things together.  The first picture shows the completed patch shaping to mark the progress of the bevel.  I think things are looking good at this point with the rim repair. Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny, I discover that my topping inadvertently leaned toward the front of the stummel. This is very evident when comparing the twin grooves to the rim pitch (first picture below).  We do not have a parallel alignment which should be the case.  When I looked back at the pictures above showing the incremental topping process, this is confirmed when the front stummel part of the rim was sanding and the shank side less so.  The result I see is the Rhodesian’s dome lop-sided and that just won’t do.  Even though I’ll give up briar real estate, I take the topping board and hang the stummel over the edge of the 240 paper.  I work only the shank-side of the rim which needs to be lowered and leveled with the front side.  Gradually, I find greater alignment with rim and grooves, though there is still a bit of pitch but not as pronounced. It will work.  I reinstate the bevel and I’m satisfied with the progress.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and turn to the stem.  I use 240 grit paper to smooth out the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit and sand the upper and lower button lips.  By removing the superficial indentations in the vulcanite, I am then able to identify what needs to be filled.  After wiping clean the area, I use Starbond Black Medium KE-150 CA glue to drop fill tooth dents in both the upper and lower button lip as well as the upper bit area.  After application of glue, I spray an accelerator on the cosmetic fills.  I do not use accelerator when the strength of the glue is the issue as the use of an accelerator tends to weaken bonds – from my reading.  I follow with a flat needle file to freshen the button lines and then sanding with 240 grit paper to smooth out the file marks and fills and to blend. I then move to sanding the whole stem.  With some great input from Al Jones in a recent restoration regarding safe-guarding the crisp lines and edges of stems, I mount the stem to the stummel with a plastic disk I fabricated between the two.  This keeps the sanding from creating shoulders over the edge of the vulcanite.  I also wrap the 240, then 600 grit paper around a clothespin half to create a flat sanding surface to guard the sharp edges of the squared shank square and not rounding them.  After completing the sanding, careful to guard the Peretti ‘P’ stem stamp, I buff the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Turning to the internals of the stem, I use pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the airway.  I notice that the pipe cleaners have difficulty passing through the slot so I widen it a bit using a rounded needle file against the upper and lower slot opening.  That did the trick.  Pipe cleaners move freely and now, cleanly.  Pictures show the progress.With the stem repairs completed and the internals cleaned, I’m ready to commence the micromesh pad cycle on the LJ Peretti’s squared shank.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem which revitalizes the vulcanite.  The pictures show the amazing vulcanite ‘pop’ emerging. I put the stem aside to dry.With the stummel showing scorching damage on the upper dome extending downwardly over the grooves, I take another picture for a closer look.  I use a medium grade sanding sponge to address the damaged area.  I need to remove the charcoaled wood and get down to healthy briar beneath the surface.  To aim for uniformity throughout the stummel, I use the sanding sponge on the entire surface, careful to guard the nomenclature on both sides of the shank.  I follow the medium grade sponge with the light grade sanding sponge to finish addressing the charred wood and minor cuts and pits on the stummel surface.  It looks good.  The shank stamping, STRAIGHTGRAIN, is starting to show itself as the grain shows through the once scorched dome area.Taking micromesh pads, I now wet sand the stummel using pads 1500 to 2400.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Wow.  I cannot believe the grain making an appearance on this L. J. Peretti Rhodesian.  The pictures show what I watch emerge through each micromesh pad cycle. To get a big picture look at the Peretti, I reunite the stummel and stem.  As with my last Peretti restored, I like the squared shank’s flow from stummel as it tapers out through the stem.  This Rhodesian’s stem tapers whereas my other Peretti Billiard has a squared saddle stem.  Both, very nice variations of the same concept – a classy shank style. Because of the beauty of the grain I’m seeing, I’m tempted to stop at this point, and finish up with carnauba – I like the natural briar that much.  The only issue is that I would like to apply a darker brown shade of dye to better blend the patch and repair of the rim which stands out as is.  The pictures show the story.In preparation for the staining phase, I use a sharp dental probe and run it through the grooves to dislodge any briar dust from the sanding process.  There is a good bit of compressed residue coming loose.  I follow by wiping down the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the surface.  On the stummel heel, I detect one lightened fill.  I darken it with a stain stick to encourage blending.  I also touch up the patch fill on the rim to help blending and masking the patch after dye is applied.  Pictures show the preparation steps. To stain, I use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye mixed with isopropyl 95% at 50/50.  I use a large dropper to do the mixing in a shot glass.  With the mixture ready, I heat the stummel using the air gun expanding the briar making a better receptor for the dye.  When heated, I use a doubled-over pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the stummel surface.  I apply the dye liberally seeking to achieve 100% coverage.  When completed, I fire the wet dye which immediately ignites the alcohol in the dye, setting the hue in the grain.  I repeat the above application of dye and flaming after a few minutes.  I put the stummel aside to rest for several hours before removing the fired dye crust.  The pictures show the set-up and the progress.  With the stummel resting, I restore the Peretti’s classic stem ‘P’ with white acrylic paint.  Restoring the stem stamping for me is special, along with guarding the nomenclature – and is why I went through a stem-splice with my first Peretti restore – to save the surviving saddle stem piece with the old, warn ‘P’ stamp.   I apply white acrylic paint to the ‘P’ in a large gob over the area to allow the paint to fully saturate the ‘P’ imprint.  I allow it to dry fully.  Later, when dried (it doesn’t take long), I use the edge of a toothpick and gently scrape the area removing the excess but leaving the paint in the stamp imprint.  Using the side of the toothpick has worked for me as it is a harder surface, yet soft as it’s wood.  The flat area of the toothpick passes over the stamp and does not disturb the paint.  I’m pleased with the results.The next morning, the stummel is waiting to be unwrapped of the flamed crust.  Using the Dremel high speed rotary tool, my tool of choice given the tight quarters of my work table on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I mount a felt buffing wheel set at the slowest speed, and use Tripoli compound to apply the gentle abrasion to begin the final buffing stages.  I first purge the wheel of old compound running it against the metal adjustment wrench, then with new compound on the wheel, I apply it to the surface.  I do not use much downward pressure but allow the speed of the wheel’s RPMs and the compound to do the work.  I methodically move over the stummel surface in areas with the sheen of the overhead lamp providing the ‘headlights’ letting me know to spread the compound or apply more to the wheel.  I take a picture to show the felt wheel application of Tripoli compound – I had to stage it because I don’t have enough hands to take a picture and hold stummel and Dremel!  After completing the Tripoli cycle, I lightly wiped the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, not wanting to lighten the hue but to blend certain areas on the heel and shank.  I avoid wiping down the bowl area – it looks good.  Dark enough to mask repairs but on the lighter side to show the striking straight grain definitions.Following the Tripoli compound, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to Blue Diamond compound.  With the Dremel remaining at its slowest speed I apply the lesser abrasion of Blue Diamond compound to buff the surface preparing it for the carnauba wax application.  I reunite the squared tapered stem to the stummel and apply Blue Diamond compound to both.  I know this borders on eccentricity, but as I was finishing the Blue Diamond cycle, I notice that the rim patch done earlier was showing a ridge around the patch, and not flush with the rim.  A bit late in the game to notice this, but it won’t do.  Very strategically, I roll a piece of 600 sanding paper and address the ridging.  I follow with the full set of 12 micromesh pads folded and strategically addressing the area.  Finally, I apply a dark brown stain stick and lightly wipe a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to blend the area.  Finally, I run the Blue Diamond wheel over the rim and I’m back to where I started.  The patch is visible, but now without the ridges that draw attention to the repair.  Now, the rim is smooth to the touch.  Much better.  Before and after pictures follow this small detour! With detours behind, I hand buff the stem and stummel with a flannel cloth to remove compound dust from the surface before applying carnauba wax.  I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and increase the speed of the RPMs to 2, a bit faster than the slowest speed, and I apply carnauba wax to both the stummel surface as well as to the mounted stem.  After 3 cycles of applying carnauba wax, I hand buff the pipe with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the grain further.

I appreciate Jon giving me this L. J. Perretti while we were in Oslo.  I’m happy to recommission this very attractive Square Shanked Rhodesian – the grain is exceptional and I like the square shank style of both Peretti’s I’ve restored.  The squared shank, not a common Rhodesian configuration, allows this Rhodesian to function like a ‘table sitter’ as well while one plays their card or board games.  If you are interested in adopting the L. J. Peretti Square Shanked Rhodesian, take a look at my blogsite, The Pipe Steward.  As always, all the profits of the sales from my restorations go to help the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Identifying, Categorizing and Refurbishing a Masta Diplomat


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Member, Facebook Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/ Now Open!
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author except as noted

“Who are you?” [Inigo Montoya screamed to the man in black.]
“No one of import.  Another lover of the blade.”
“I must know!”
“Get used to disappointment.”

— William Goldman (b. 1931), U.S. novelist, playwright, screenwriter, in The Princess Bride, Ch. 5, 1973

INTRODUCTION
Having a firm belief that no one and nothing in this world exists without importance and consequence, although whether for good or bad is debatable, I have developed a certain passion for inquiring of those I think might have the answers I seek.  When on frequent occasions that approach fails, I research.  By no means do I always find conclusive documentation, but I’m with Inigo Montoya in the great story of the power of true love referenced above, rejecting the worldview of growing accustomed to disappointment.  When successful, I tend to be thorough; when I strike out, it’s more like crashing and burning.

By way of an example of a success story, I found myself unable to make out any nomenclature on the pipe this blog concerns other than Made in London above England, and below that what looked like 140.  I went on a hunch that it might be a Comoy’s and consulted a meticulous list of that maker’s shape numbers.  They skipped from 133 to 158.  At this early, eyes-on exam stage of the refurbish, I was not even convinced the first digit of the shape was a 1 – it might have been a mere scratch – and so I looked for just 40.  Both that and 41 were missing.  Thus, for the sake of pure curiosity, I made my way all the way up through the 800s and discovered that Comoy’s has a 340 and a 440, both straight and with an M denoting Medium (the former a billiard and the latter a Rhodesian, FYI).

Nowhere near the point of declaring defeat, I took what some Internet search engines refer to as the “I’m Feeling Lucky” approach and Googled “tobacco pipe 140 shape number.”  I should have been in Vegas with the hit I got that was luckier than my wildest dreams, for at the top of the list on the first page was “Images of tobacco pipe 140 shape number.”  The third of these in the preview window was the spitting image of my pipe, albeit a sandblasted version.masta1 Armed with a brand name, I looked first in Pipephil, where I read of Masta being a British pipe brand founded in about 1900 that was “integrated to Parker-Hardcast[le] Ltd in 1967.” Pipephil, as it turned out, had a shape chart that was not savable. That’s why I tracked down this copy elsewhere, showing shape 140, a Diplomat, relegated to the end under “Other Shapes.”masta2 Here is a 1938 bill of sale from the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. to Las Vieilles Bruyères de Corse. (Old Briars of Corsica).masta3 Once again I found discordant information on a brand, and this time differing views of its quality. Moving to Pipedia provided the fullest overall account of Masta’s lineage, with the same approximate information as Pipephil, but noted the complete full name as the Masta Patent Pipe Company Ltd. Pipedia goes still further in pointing out that the brand seems to be out of production, and since Dunhill owns Parker/Hardcastle, it is therefore a big part of the picture. Claiming, without source citation, that as part of Parker/Hardcastle, Masta was produced “primarily for the Scandinavian market,” the Pipedia entry concludes with an unfortunate appraisal that “Masta was at the end rarely the equal of a Parker.”

This last rather snarky comment, which paints Masta as inferior rather than superior to Parker (but leaves Hardcastle unmentioned), is also vague and raises several issues. One, when indeed did the manufacture of Masta pipes end? Two, in what way or ways was the brand somehow less than the implied superlative qualities of a Parker? Three, given Dunhill’s standards during the period of time in question, which I acknowledge is uncertain but clear enough, why would that great pipe maker assign an insignificant brand to Parker/Hardcastle, much less make such a careless purchase in the first place? Four, for argument’s sake (and I am not making this argument), let me throw in the key question: if Pipedia is right, could an antipathy of the two proud old British pipe houses toward the perceived interloper, Masta, have affected a decline in the quality of the new kid on the block? The last part is thrown in as something to chew on, that’s all.

I propose the following answers to these basic questions.
1. The end of the line for Masta remains undetermined, but the probable answer is sometime in the early to mid-1970s.
2. In no way whatsoever are Masta pipes either inferior or superior to Parker. Both brands are often sandblasted to hide blemishes or stained dark enough that any irregular grain is obscured. There are, of course, gorgeous exceptions in both brands.
3. Dunhill’s acquisition of Masta was anything but uncalculated. The reasons Dunhill purchased Masta were premeditated to cash in on the market for well-made pipes that could be offered at lower prices, and to eliminate one more of the many competitors of the day.
4. Addressing the possibility that an overblown and unwarranted competitive drive could have existed, with Parker and Hardcastle gunning to discredit and eliminate the hapless Masta, all I can do is resurrect the great line from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”: You bet your sweet bippy it could have. But to be fair, there is a lack of strong support for this theory.
masta4masta5 An account of the – ahem – sticky history between Dunhill and Hardcastle comes from the trustworthy source of Iwan Ries and Co. Ltd., tobacconists since 1857. Founded in 1908, Hardcastle made for itself a solid reputation “among the numerous British mid-graders.” [Emphasis added on the final word.] Then, in 1935, Dunhill made a somewhat bold challenge to Hardcastle, throwing down the glove as it were, by commencing construction of a new factory smack next-door. Within a year, the Hardcastle family had sold 49% of the interest in its business to Dunhill.

In 1946, Dunhill delivered the final blow to Hardcastle, buying its remaining shares and consuming it altogether into a mere Dunhill subsidiary. Members of the Hardcastle clan were allowed to continue serving on its board and retain a semblance of independence that came to an end in 1967 when – you guessed it – Hardcastle was put to the final indignity of being merged with the likes of Dunhill’s Parker Pipe Co. created in 1923. On top of everything else, being forced to tolerate close-quarters with a riff-raff commoner such as the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. must have been the harrowing final straw for both Parker and Hardcastle.

Now we come to another authority concerning Masta: a British seller of estate pipes called Reborn Briar (no relation to this forum). Call me biased if you like, but this site being situated in the same country of manufacture of all four of the related brands mentioned, I suspect it might have an upper hand as far as insights are concerned.

According to Reborn Briar, Dunhill acquired Masta in 1960 as one of its own seconds, seven years before the Parker/Hardcastle additions and reassignment of the Masta name. A splendid-looking Masta Patent Pipe Co. natural tall billiard sitter that was sold by Reborn Briar for GB£40 (a tad more than US$51 at today’s exchange rate) can be seen at the first source link below. An obvious smooth version of the sandblast pictured above, the pipe has beautiful birds-eye grain and a sleek but sturdy look to it, by every angle shown ready to provide a cool, pleasant tobacco enjoying experience. I would, in fact, be happy to add the pipe to my own collection at that price.

Last but not least is the telling information about Dunhill’s low view of Parker pipes that is related with chilling, blunt eloquence by Cup o‘ Joes. To begin, consider Dunhill’s word for the pre-worked stummels it passed on to Parker as “its failings,” rather than the standard term seconds, for stummels deemed less than ideal for use with its own name under the quintessential English pipe maker’s exacting standards of excellence. In fact, during the early relationship between Dunhill and Parker, many of the unfinished pipes it dumped on Parker bore a large X over the Dunhill stamp. Even “Damaged Price” with the actual revised amount was made a permanent imprint in the wood. What’s more, not just a minor flaw or two separated a pipe destined to be a Parker instead of a Dunhill. The crude shapes passed off to Parker would have been rejected altogether after the initial turning process because of significant flaws. Perhaps most telling of the Dunhill-Parker unhappy connection is a lack of any documentation that Dunhill ever marketed or advertised Parkers in its catalogs or stores. For more details on this no-doubt stressed liaison, see the last source link below.

Nuff said about that.

RESTORATION
masta6masta7masta8masta9 The first order of business was scooping out old tobacco that had the unusual appearance of being better suited for cigarettes.masta10 I ran a few Everclear-soaked cleaners through the shank and bit before giving most of the stummel a nice, long soak in alcohol, careful to an almost neurotic state not to leave the shank submerged. I will never forget the GBD Prestige debacle in which I obliterated the last remaining revenant-like nomenclature, and was determined to avoid the same mistake. I made periodic turns of the bowl in the Everclear to keep the stripping of old finish even. I have heard that using strong alcohol to clean Lucite air holes can lead to severe damage to the polymethyl methacrylate plastic (the same as Perspex). Perhaps that is so, but in my experience a quick job of it is safe and effective. No harm was done to this bit in its refurbish.masta11masta12 After about an hour and a half, I removed the stummel from the alcohol, worked one regular pipe cleaner (not bristled and not extra fluffy) through the shank and another through the bit, to dry the inside of the plastic and ensure no damage; stuffed a small soft cotton gun cleaner cloth into the chamber and scrubbed that area dryer while doing the same to the outer part of the wood. I took off the remaining stain with 320-grit paper.masta13masta14 The bit, while a good match for the easy bent Diplomat shape of the original Vulcanite one that came engraved with an M on the pipe, was not an even fit to the shank. Note the gap. Holding the bit and the opening of the shank side by side up to a light, I saw the problem was in the bit that was uneven on the right side of the second picture below (the left in the photo). I admit I still have trouble with the counter-intuitive nature of thinking my way through how to adjust this kind of misalignment, but I used 150-grit paper in slow, patient steps until it fit.masta15masta16masta17 Then I reamed the chamber and sanded it with 150-, 220- and 500-grit paper.masta18 Micro meshing the stummel all the way from 1500-12000, the briar took on a nice, darker shine.masta19masta20masta21 After applying Fiebing’s medium brown boot conditioner and flaming the alcohol out of it, I progressed from 3600-12000 micromesh before achieving the lightness I wanted with superfine “0000” steel wool.masta22masta23masta24masta25masta26 The tenon was undersized, making the bit spin, and so I added a small layer of Black Super Glue. After it dried, I retorted the pipe – again violating established practice by boiling the Everclear through the Lucite bit and into the chamber, but also again with complete success.masta27 Very gentle turning of the steel wool around the tenon took it from an over-tight fit to just right, twisting onto the bit with ease. When the retort was finished, I once more ran a cleaner through the bit’s air hole to assure it stayed in shape, and both ends of two more in the shank until they came out clean.

Thinking the bit was done, upon closer examination I noticed very fine scratches. I decided to see if an OxiClean soak would work those out, and indeed it did. I completed the project by running the bit on the clean electric buffer and the stummel using brown Tripoli and carnauba, alternated on the “clean” buffer, which, by the way, I do in fact clean on a regular basis.masta28masta29masta30masta31
CONCLUSION
Masta pipes, before and during their affiliation with Dunhill/Parker/Harcastle, were well-crafted instruments for enjoying tobacco and, in many cases, beautiful pieces of work. Whatever the reason for its eventual demise, the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. name should be remembered, and the examples of its creations available for purchase today are more than worthy of consideration by pipers in general and collectors in particular. Or maybe vice-versa.

SOURCES

http://estatepipes.co.uk/shop/Masta-Patent-Standard-Tall-Billiard-588
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m3.html
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Masta
http://www.iwanries.com/Hardcastle_C1516.cfm
https://www.delcampe.net/en_GB/collectables/invoices-commercial-documents/united-kingdom/facture-de-la-manufacture-de-pipes-the-masta-patent-pipe-coy-ltd-st-georges-works17-eden-grove-holloway-london-n-7-216950551.html
http://www.cupojoes.com/pipes/parker/

Rejuvenating an American Bentley Apple


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“I don’t want to be pretty. I want to be better. I want to be perfect.”
― Kimber Henry (Kelly Carlson), in “Nip/Tuck,” Season 1, Ep. 1

INTRODUCTION
A nip and tuck is a minor plastic surgery procedure. “Nip/Tuck” (FX channel, 2003-2010) is a racy drama/dark comedy about the realities and sometimes horrors of the cosmetic surgery profession, with some truly grisly moments. Although this restoration involved only normal and accepted methods of pipe fixing, some of them resulted in drastic improvements of the U.S. Bentley apple that needed a full makeover. And so I flashed back on the bawdy TV series.

I bought the pipe on eBay for $6 when I tracked down its nomenclature that identified it as a Kaywoodie second. The seller, who is more into oddball collectibles than tobacco pipes and therefore knows nothing about the latter, had sold me a genuine white briar Kaywoodie 12B bulldog for $10.00, but then had the unfortunate duty to inform me he lost it somewhere in the clutter of his home. He promptly refunded my payment and assured me that both he and his wife would continue searching for the misplaced bulldog and forward it to me free of charge when it was located.

Why I chose to give this fellow a second chance is anyone’s guess, but it paid off. Both the Bentley and the full Kaywoodie white bulldog arrived soon after in the same package. Grateful for my business and true to his word, the seller charged me only for the Bentley. It just goes to show there are good folks everywhere, even some in Ohio who don’t enjoy or collect smoking pipes. Appreciating the excellent fortune I had in acquiring these two pipes for the normal shipping fee of one, I nevertheless suggested that the good gentleman in the Midwest begin checking the pipes he stumbled upon now and then at http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html, or at least a browser search, before choosing such low prices. However, his response indicated he hadn’t a clue what I meant. Sadly, I had to let the urge to be helpful go, and look forward to taking advantage of his generosity more and more in the future.
When I opened the box in my car outside of my Post Office and saw the white briar bulldog first, I smiled as I turned it in my hands and concluded a little work would make it whole and vital once more.Bentley1 Then my attention turned to the Bentley, and I laughed hard enough to draw attention from the occupants of the car next to mine. The chamber was so full of built-up cake, in such a uniform circle leaving only a virtual pinpoint of space to load tobacco, that I ignored the other Postal customers and continued guffawing. So amused and excited was I by the challenge of restoring the Bentley, I had to resist the impulse to get out of my car and show it to the complete strangers next to me.

RESTORATIONBentley2

Bentley3

Bentley4

Bentley5 This one was going to take some work, to be sure. The chamber – well, I needed to think about how even to start that. The rim, I knew, would be no problem. The bit was slightly off its mark when tightened. The old polish and stain was worn away in areas, in particular the sides. And of course, there were scratches everywhere. All in all, I was exhilarated.

Having decided to bore my way through the huge blockade of years of determined and, I must admit, evenly-executed accretion of chamber char in increments, I chose a 17mm fixed reamer and went at it. With just enough room at the top to insert the reamer – I was even grateful the single user of the pipe had somewhat obsessively filled it to the same exact point about an eighth of an inch below the rim – I slowly cranked away, emptying the carbon dust and checking the progress as I moved deeper. I used to document the height of the pile of carbon with each restoration, but I gave up on that long ago. Suffice it to say there would have been a small hill of it in this case. Just getting to the bottom took about a half-hour. Here are pictures of the halfway point and the first strike of gold at the bottom.Bentley6 I gave the bit, which was in pretty good shape, an OxiClean wash, for the most part to help clean out what had to be an ugly mess of ignored old saliva and tobacco juice.Bentley7 While the bath was doing its magic, I sanded off all of the old wax and stain using 500-grit paper and took off the rim char with super fine steel wool.Bentley8

Bentley9

Bentley10 Removing the bit from the wash, I rinsed it and tried micromesh from 1500-4000, but there was still a small area on both sides of the lip end that needed more attention with 320-grit paper, then another progression of the micromesh.Bentley11

Bentley12 I worked on the briar with a micromesh progression from 1500-4000, as usual, and it did the trick for most of the outer area. I also used 200-grit paper followed by 320 and 500 on the chamber to smooth it out.Bentley13

Bentley14

Bentley15 Clearly, the sides and rim still had small scratches, and so I used 800 micromesh to remove those blemishes before working my way up the scale again.

The stem was off just a tad. I heated the tenon with my Bic, threw a small rag over it and used clamped the pliers down. I had to use all of my might to make it budge, but it was straight. Below are the before and after shots, which are barely different.Bentley16 After a pre-scrub of the shank with wire cleaners dipped in Everclear, which removed quite a bit of nasty old gunk, I retorted the pipe. Then I chose, after careful consideration of whether or not to let it go with the natural finish, to darken the wood just a little using Lincoln Medium Brown stain, which is lighter than the regular brown, and flamed it.Bentley17 A gentle rub with 4000 micromesh took off the char, and I rubbed it with a soft cotton cloth.Bentley18

Bentley19

Bentley20 Time for the buffer wheels, I applied red and white Tripoli to the stem, using the clean wheel after each. I did the same to the wood, adding White Diamond and carnauba.Bentley21

Bentley22

Bentley23 And this time I remembered not to over-do the sanding on the nomenclature.

CONCLUSION
Some say pride is a sin, but I am happy with the results. After all of that work, I’d love to keep this beautiful, elegant Bentley apple. But I’m going to have to sell her. Oh, well. My P.A.D. is so bad, I’m sure I’ll find something else to keep – like the Kaywoodie 12B bulldog.

The B(ew)itchin‘ Pipe – A Lost Episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.”
― Rodman Edward “Rod” Serling (1924-1975), U.S. TV/film writer, narrator, anti-war and –racism activist, in “Vogue” magazine [April 1957]

INTRODUCTION
Good evening. Imagine, if you will, a rather large college town in the heart of the American Southwest, population estimated at a little more than half a million. This sprawling urban area does not appear on any globe of the Earth, nor do its lights draw the attention of a satellite passing far overhead at night in the vacuum of outer space. Nevertheless, due to the proximity of two of the country’s three top nuclear weapons developers to this liberal college and arts metropolis, it is likely the target of hundreds if not thousands of such warheads from other, potentially hostile nations or terrorists, foreign and domestic.

In today’s episode, we are about to meet a 53-year-old man named Robert Boughton, who as a matter of record resides in this sprawling burg. Mr. Boughton knows the twin peaks that are, atop the one, success and hope, and the other, defeat and futility. At the moment, he is at the very zenith of the heap of that more and more common social malaise that people glibly call the harried man. He is finding his way through one of the more interesting times of his life, in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse. Honest, hard-working and trustworthy, he has had more jobs than he could ever recall to put down on a government security clearance application, from maintenance man to assistant manager in hotels; neighborhood delivery boy to photojournalist for newspapers, and, most recently, both caregiver and pipe restorer – tobacco pipes, he always adds to prospective new customers he doesn’t know as he offers them his card.

During the past seven years, Mr. Boughton has postponed his lifelong pursuit of a literary career to dedicate almost every waking hour as caregiver to a mentally unstable roommate with a slightly shorter list of physical disorders, one of them fatal; a shrewish man a few years over the hill who carries his misfortunes the way some brag about drug abuse or petty thievery, but in his case molded into the very form and execution of his tragic worldview by the madness of living day-to-day knowing he is deteriorating from the core of marrow of his brittle bones to the disappearing sheath around every nerve fiber and the corresponding loss of sight and voluntary movement, and finally to the thin skin of his failing frame.

Mr. Boughton’s roommate has no idea how close he has come to being granted his repeated if insincere request to be put out of his misery; to a drive far out onto a back road of the desert for a very long stay. He has pushed Mr. Boughton to the limits of his self-control – to the end of his wits and the edge of his sanity. But the downward spiral is about to change, as you will soon understand. For not long ago, Mr. Boughton caught sight of a pinhole of light in the abyss; a hobby that helped him survive the slings and arrows that another writer once called outrageous fortune.

And now all of Mr. Boughton’s troubles are about to change for the better from the simple purchase of an estate lot of seven tobacco pipes in time to write off as an expense on last year’s business income taxes. All of them would have been finds for more than the $25 he paid for the lot – but at a glance, the real gem, in the eye of the restorer at any rate, first went unnoticed. See if you can spot it in the following picture from our gallery, which we call “Lot #7: Tobacco Pipes.” Robert1 If you correctly identified the L&H Stern Straight Billiard, on the right in the middle, as the object of Mr. Boughton’s growing obsession, shall we say, then you either have what is commonly referred to as the Sixth Sense or you are an astute collector of fine pipes.

The Park Lane, an invention of the company’s primary founder, is stamped with U.S. Patent № 1908630, issued May 9, 1933. Mr. Boughton has always appreciated the elegant – in expressions of poetry, law, logic and art, to name a few – and as for Patents, he considers this one, being only two pages including the obligatory illustration of parts, to be as brief and comprehensive as they come.Robert2

Robert3 L&H Stern Inc. was officially organized in 1911 by one Ludwig Stern (the L in the initials, which in the early days were fashioned L. & H. S.), with his older brother, Hugo (the H). Ludwig emigrated from Germany as a young man, after his brother, who was five years older.

(And now, if the audience will permit a brief side-bar, a point of interest: Ludwig worked for the largest supplier of tobacco products to the entire state of New York – somehow providing an estimated 90% of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and other related items to manufacturers and retailers in the area – as early as 1899, the year the behemoth tobacco supplier was spawned. Called the Metropolitan Tobacco Company, a corporation born of a cartel of others in the same business known to everyone who was anyone within the industry as the “Tobacco Trust,” became the object of a drawn-out restraint of trade civil complaint. The original trial and both appeals of said cause were decided, not surprisingly, in favor of the tobacco industry defendants. The small shops, banded together as plaintiffs, now collectively relegated to historical obscurity by a single last name and “et al.,” were forced to close. I submit for your consideration one question: could the wheels of justice have been greased in this case by the main product of the second of the Seven Deadly Sins? This is offered as food for thought – only available at your local diner in the Twilight Zone.) [See Link 2.)

The brothers moved the re-formed business in 1920 to Brooklyn. The new location, in a seven-story building, was – for the then-ubiquitous craft – in a convenient part of town now known by its acronym, D.U.M.B.O. (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It remained there until closing in the mid-1960s. [See Link 3.] LHS was already so well respected in the business at the time that the company reorganization and move were news in those bygone days. [See Link 4.]

The LHS Park Lane Billiard included a brown and orange swirled Cumberland bit, handmade from Ebonite and fashioned in this case to look like wood. Mr. Boughton considered the task of restoring this pipe to be distinctly good fortune and a pleasure of restoring, in particular because of a certain aspect of the repair that was new to him. The line was made only in the 1930s. [See Link 5.]

At the present moment, Mr. Boughton is busy at work attempting to restore the WDC Park Lane to its original state. As noble as the endeavor may be, the only problem, with this peculiar specimen, is the invisible transformation the pipe has undergone during years of smoking by a single prior owner who had the good grace to love it. As Mr. William Shakespeare so aptly put it in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,/And therefore is wingèd Cupid painted blind.” Now, meet Mr. Boughton in his favorite activity – restoring tobacco pipes with every ounce of his love.

RESTORATION
Robert4

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Robert7 The last shot of the Park Lane prior to restoration, above, makes the most serious problem I encountered apparent. The bit was off by about an eighth of a turn, which may seem negligible to one who has never enjoyed the ruminating quality of a fine pipe, but is in fact a microcosmic chasm along the lines of the Grand Canyon to the general viewer.

The flaw was masked by the seller of these estate pipes, who, with no small amount of duplicity, placed a piece of paper around the metal tenon screw built into the opening of the shank.Robert8

Robert9 The wily culpability of this particular ilk of seller is obvious from the freshness of the paper. Hence the conspicuous starting point for my restoration.

At this point of experience restoring pipes, I consider myself a journeyman in the craft. Although familiar with various ways to tighten Vulcanite, Ebonite, Lucite and other tenon materials, I was unable to locate any useful information on the Internet – the modern day Library of Alexandria, which was dedicated to the Muses, or nine gods and goddesses of the Arts – concerning the re-alignment of metal tenons fixed either to the bit or shank.

Nevertheless, finding myself without a clue how to proceed, I sent an email to Steve Laug, who soon replied with the suggestion that I read his recent online blog on the restoration of an LHS Purex Bulldog. This amused me, as the many notices of comments on the blog in question were forwarded to me, I wondered what all the hoopla was about and had intended to check it out.

However, awaiting Steve’s reply did not hinder me from proceeding with certain steps I knew, such as the fact that the stinger extension of the tenon should come off. Thinking of that, I tried heating the entire aluminum tenon with the flame of a Bic, careful not to touch the shank opening beyond the part of the tenon Ludwig Stern referred to as the flange [see p. 1, Fig. 2, part 10 of the Patent]. Unfortunately, the tenon still would not budge. Even the stinger [illustrated as a whole as part 9, with parts 13, 14 and 15 forming its length and pushing into part 8] seemed to form a single piece. I was aware this would be odd, if not unprecedented, but after four attempts, I swear it would not come off.Robert10 One lesson I did manage to learn from my dad in his countless frustrated endeavors to teach me about mechanics was that if a part of a mechanism or machine would not come free using reasonable pressure, don’t force it. But, always believing that not all of his maxims were absolute, I suspected he meant it as a guideline that was not immutable under controlled conditions I might someday, by some miracle, learn to recognize. Therefore, I found a small wash rag and a pump plier that I feared might be overkill, but it was all I owned that had not been stolen by previous apartment owners. I also possess a wicked sense of adventure at moments like these. Adjusting the rivet to match the job, I then wrapped the small towel around the base of the tenon/stinger by the flange and loosely clamped the end of the plier over the tenon. As I applied pressure, I could feel the two sides of the mouth turn and clamp firmly down on the rag-covered metal. Gripping the bit in one hand, I turned the plier with my other and immediately felt it begin to move. Slowly, it came free and undamaged.Robert11 In the meantime, Steve replied with the suggestion that I read his recent online blog on the restoration of an LHS Purex Bulldog. This amused me, in a good way. As the many notices of comments on the blog in question were forwarded to me, I wondered what all the hoopla was about and had intended to check it out.

Reading through to the first mention of the difficulty encountered by Steve, my heartbeat quickened. Confident I was on the verge of making the discovery that would enlighten me, I continued, on the edge of my seat on the couch in my living room, as though I were reading a real page-turner of a book or watching an Alfred Hitchcock thriller or perhaps “The Twilight Zone.” Indeed, in my mind I envisioned the Canadian master at work in his studio, so vivid were the words and photographs flashing across his computer screen.

Nearing the expected moment of revelation, I was consumed with anticipation – only to come to a single photograph of Steve’s LHS shank that dashed my hopes in a nanosecond, as is the popular if peculiarly à propos phrase these days; for the illustration revealed the exact reverse of my predicament, one that could not be repaired in the same fashion.

Delayed but not daunted, I set out to do that which I knew I should have attempted in the first place: taking the Park Lane to my own friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, I humbly sought his advice.

Before doing that, I continued where I had left off, cleaning the tenon and stinger inside and out, including the corroded threads that screwed into the bit, using a small square piece of cotton cloth soaked with Everclear and bristly cleaners that passed through the airways. To be done with it, I also ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the air hole of the bit, and when it came out filthy, recalled Steve’s words in his blog that this sort of pipe often needs considerable cleaning of the shank and bit. Quite a few cleaners later, I had the mess under control for the time. Known to my dad for having “a mind like a steel trap” and to my friends as being on the stubborn – or, as I prefer to think, confident side – I was by whatever label loathe to surrender to any challenge.Robert12

Robert13 When I arrived at the pipe shop and we exchanged pleasantries, I presented my distressed pipe. Chuck, pipe of the day in mouth, put on his eyeglasses and examined the LHS closely. Within a blurring handful of seconds, my older, more experienced mentor made his diagnosis, telling me with his typical certitude to heat the tenon before tightening it into the bit. A man who prefers to let people learn as much as they can on their own, Chuck then offered the rare treat of extra advice: “It will be counter-intuitive.”

Intrigued, I took a seat in the pipe shop and, starting a fresh bowl full of tobacco in a new pipe, mulled over the problem in my mind. In a flash, I thought of a comparison, and unfortunately blurted it to the complete perplexity of all of the cigar smokers present.

“Like turning into the skid on ice!”

Chuck, caught unawares by the outburst and not at first grasping the metaphor, at last smiled and said, “Yes, something like that.”

At home later, the first chance I had, I sat down with my movable feast of standard implements of construction, including quite a few that were improvised, to make my first attempt at the genuine repair of a loose bit.Robert14 Following Chuck’s advice, and keeping the counter-intuitive dog treat in mind, I was set to apply heat to the tenon stinger when the idea struck me to try removing the stinger again. Of course, then it came out with a simple turn of my fingers, apparently loosened by the work I did earlier and the passage of time.

And so I flicked my Bic and held it under the small tenon with even more care not to burn the precious Cumberland bit. (A Cumberland, by the way, is made from a special sort of Ebonite that can be colored with limits, which in turn is a particular variation of Vulcanite. This subject, I understand from research, is a matter of some hot debate.) With the tenon blackened, I quickly tossed a small rag over it and grabbed my pump pliers, clamping them firmly and remembering not to turn the small metal insert opposite from the direction the bit was off but toward it – as one would, if one hoped to avoid losing control of a vehicle and crashing or rolling, turn into the skid on black ice. Thus one particularly memorable experience on a bridge late one night in Colorado Springs, when my training and reflexes saved me, proved useful in this new endeavor. Each of several increasingly difficult rounds of this process brought the bit closer until it was aligned snugly.

Reaming the chamber and sanding it with 150-grit paper before 200 and then 320 was an easy task, as was using super fine 0000 steel wool to remove the rim char and excess dark stain that was popular when the pipe was made somewhere around three-quarters of a century ago. The rim and bowl then only needed a progression of micromesh from 1500-4000.

At this late stage of the restore, I retorted the pipe, again, unfortunately, with the tenon in place. I at least left the stinger aside for that process, which required about five Pyrex tubes of Everclear boiled through the pipe’s innards to clear out decades of crud and juices soaked into the briar from considerable use by someone who loved this pipe.

I stained the briar with Lincoln Brown boot stain, as opposed to Medium Brown which appears lighter, and flamed it before removing the thin layer of char with gentle rubbing using 3600 micromesh.Robert15

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Robert17 At last I am at the end of this rather strange, I admit, blog. I buffed the stem with white and red Tripoli and White Diamond, using a soft cotton cloth and a clean wheel between each. Then I used white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba on the wood, with the same steps between each.Robert18

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Robert21 CONCLUSION
Mr. Boughton had intended to offer this fine LHS pipe for sale at his online store. But following an odd impulse he could neither resist nor explain, he found himself loading a bowl of one of his best tobacco blends and, before he knew it, striking a match and placing the flame to the firm top layer.

The magical qualities of the pipe immediately became apparent. Where he had been tense to the point of explosive results, he was consumed with a sense that all was right in the world. Continuing to puff the mysterious pipe that had somehow found its way to him, he pondered the possible reasons behind the overwhelming sense of attraction to the diminutive pipe. Nothing he could imagine provided a satisfactory explanation, and Mr. Boughton also found he no longer cared.

Mr. Shakespeare also wrote, on the same subject and in the same play: “And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.” Truer words may never have been written.

For at that very moment, although Mr. Boughton thought he was sitting on his sofa in his suddenly less dreary little apartment in the heart of the American Southwest, he was, in fact, still on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

SOURCES
1. “The Twilight Zone,” Introduction, Season 2, with thanks. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052520/quotes

2. Locker et al. v. American Tobacco Co. et al, NY Sup. Ct. (1907), pp. 115-124. https://books.google.com/books?id=34g7AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=metropolitan+tobacco+company+brooklyn&source=bl&ots=hQ6aVa_tY8&sig=1uaY2AesgKT4mCKepaOyan9gB9I&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MIiQVZGuHYizoQSxsouAAg&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=metropolitan%20tobacco%20company%20brooklyn&f=false

3. L&H Stern background, including D.U.M.B.O.
Featured Fade – L & H Stern – Smoking Pipes & Holders – DUMBO – Fred King

4. Magazine story on L&H Stern 1920 move.
https://books.google.com/books?id=rpc7AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA22&lpg=RA1-PA22&dq=l%26h+stern+inc&source=bl&ots=cDWCX4gIom&sig=eLu9PUkd8JzfNPCZDb7df71R4Ic&hl=en&sa=X&ei=M5-MVbi1FM7IogThw5ToDg&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=l%26h%20stern%20inc&f=false

5. LHS Park Lane dating confirmation.
http://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/united-states/moreinfo.cfm? Product_ID=100458

A Possible Peterson Croydon That Could Be the Twin of another Reborn Pipe; or, Two Minds with Almost a Single Thought


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”
― Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, 1835-1910), U.S. author and humorist, in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” [1876]

INTRODUCTION
I often wonder what my life would be like today had my mother married the man she loved – a well-known Apollo Program astronaut who later even tried to convince her to leave my dad. But she chose the space research and development nerd in the Brooks Brothers suits instead of the man in the dark blue uniform – which he sometimes traded for a big, bulky, white one with a sealed helmet to protect him from the void of space – who had the Right Stuff.Rob1 By the time he called again, I was about 10, living in the well-to-do Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, and Tricky Dick had somehow just been re-elected President. Even I knew what a mistake that was. I got out of bed late one night during one of my parents’ Gatsby-like parties to answer the phone upstairs in the hallway. A hushed voice, halting in surprise, asked, “Is Kit – your mother – there?”

I told him she was at the party downstairs and said I could go and get her, but he quickly said no, asking me to have her call him and giving me his nickname. He must have thought I wouldn’t know who he was, but meeting him when I was just a toddler was something I never forgot. “Yes, sir, I’ll tell her, Colonel So-and-So [not his real name],” I replied, and can still hear him almost choke up over the long-distance phone line 43 years ago. Speechless for a moment, he at last suggested I just tell my mother in the morning, and I said, like a good little soldier on a mission, “Okay, sir. I understand.” And somehow I did.

Some events seem probable had my mother not married the man in the Brooks Brothers suits: I likely would have followed the astronaut to the Air Force Academy, and he would have been proud of me until he died some years back, unless I beat him to it in the service of my country. But the rest is blurry, except that I am still fatherless although my dad is alive and well.

Oh, and one more thing. I would not be here in beautiful Albuquerque, searching for treasures in pipe lots and one at a time and all the other right places.

RESTORATION
Looking online last week for background information on Croydon, I found links to various sites showing versions said to be made in London and Surrey, England as well as Spain, but without photos showing the nomenclature. Then I found a site for a definite Croydon brand from a Dutch carver named Lex Brouwer. There were also several sites for other brands, including Hilson and Peterson’s, with Croydon lines. I felt safe ruling out Hilson, which is known for its meerschaum lined chambers and mostly glazed clay bowls and shanks. Imagine my surprise to find an old Reborn Pipes blog by our host himself, from three years ago (June 20, 2012), about a ruined Croydon he believed was an old Peterson and of course re-made it to look perhaps better than new! Here are, top to bottom, his Croydon before restore and mine:Rob2

Rob3 Clearly, the similarity of the two pipes, other than the identical stampings of CROYDON over BENT, is not in these two before shots. What is amazing is how alike our vision of the finished pipe should be. (No fair skipping ahead to see what I mean! Bad habit!) Maybe even scarier is the fact that Steve’s modifications were made by necessity, about which you can read at https://rebornpipes.com/2012/06/20/old-croydon-reborn-3/, while mine were just for the sake of personal preference and nothing else. I might just as well have reamed and sanded the chamber, scrubbed and retorted the insides, lightly micro-meshed the bit below the lip and given the whole thing a nice new buffing.Rob4

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Rob9 But I’m just sick and tired of all the rusticated pipes that are finished with black stain! Enough is enough, I say! At least for this restoration, which I can only call that because of the initial stripping of the insidious stain, starting with 300-grit sandpaper followed by 400 and micromesh every grade from 1500-4000.Rob10

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Rob15 I wanted to remove as much of the black from the crooks and crevices of the rustication as possible. Yes, my goal was to eradicate it if possible, which proved impossible with my knowledge – short of soaking only the wood in Everclear, which was problematic what with having to plug both ends of the draught hole and keeping the metal tilted up and out of the 95% alcohol. I suspect the alcohol would have eaten its way past any stoppers I might have devised anyway, and besides, I have had enough experience stripping pipes this way to have learned that less, in most cases, is better. Of course, in the case of Steve’s Croydon, he had absolutely no choice but to do a total makeover, even to the point of considering the idea of re-Christening the completed work a “Croydon-Reborn.” Reading his blog, I was touched by the apparently sincere struggle he had with the entire process he has many times since performed with ever-increasing brilliance.

At any rate, I chose the kinder, gentler approach of going over the wood again, but with super fine 0000 steel wool and focusing my tiring hand-work on the celestial but microcosmic canals and pocks. Then I did the full range of micromesh again from 1500-4000.Rob16

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Rob22 As is apparent, my efforts to remove even a little more of the blackness were fruitless. I should have known better than to try, but still not refrained from using the steel wool and another thorough micromesh progression for its fine effect on smoothing the wood and making it glow.

It was time, if not overdue, for retorting, which took a surprisingly low number of Pyrex test tubes of boiled Everclear shot through the stem and shank into the chamber filled with cotton that came out with any brown, and another to boil up and drain out several more times to confirm the job was done right.

Now, for the point of all this technically unnecessary work obliterating the certainly OK original black stain. What I was looking for was something closer to the briar’s true color but dark enough to cover the grain and fill in the grooves. I decided on Lincoln Marine Cordovan (Burgundy red) boot stain, knowing that except with the lightest shades of briar, it leaves only a subtle redness. Here it is, first stained and flamed, then gently buffed with 3200 micromesh and then after being hand-coated with Halcyon II to sit a while before buffing on the clean wheel.Rob23

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Rob25 Everything so far had worked out just right to do the minor clean up needed on the upper top and bottom of the bit, and including the lip, while the wax on the briar dried a little and worked into the wood. I micro-meshed the bit with 1500, 2400, 3200 and 3600 before buffing with red and white diamond, using the clean wheel and a soft cotton rag after both. Below are two shots before and one after, as both sides ended up the same.Rob26

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Rob28 The last part of the job was to put the briar to the clean buffer with a light touch, re-join the two separated parts of the pipe and again wipe the whole thing with a cotton cloth.Rob29

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Rob35 I caught the slight smudge on the top of the stem in the photos above after taking them and fixed the problem. Now for the final, left view photos of Steve’s finished Croydon and mine side-by-side.Rob36 CONCLUSION
This was, of course, no competition, if only because of the fact that Steve’s was done three years ago, a few months before we ever “met” online. But had they both taken place at the same time, his would, hands-down, be the winner. Being able to take a pipe in the abominable condition in which Steve found his and clean it, rusticate the bowl and shank himself and replace not only the stem but, it appears, the band using the exact types with which an original is created astounds me…and inspires me.

If I still drank, Steve, I’d have two, one for me and one for you. But I wouldn’t stop there, so I guess I’ll have to settle for a Monster!

Finding a Heart for an Aristocob Aluminum (Rhodesian?)


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

The Wizard of Oz: “As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”
The Tin Woodsman: “But I still want one.”

― From “The Wizard of Oz” (movie, 1939)

INTRODUCTION
As a movie and trivia buff, not necessarily together, one of my favorite questions that comes up now and then in conversation and on quiz shows is “When was the Golden Age of Hollywood?” I like it because of the slippery term Golden Age, which implies years forming a great period of time with specific world-changing events and personages, as in the Bronze Age or the Age of Enlightenment. It’s also a trick question, the expected (but incorrect if often accepted) answer being 1939. Granted, in that one year, some of the great movies in Hollywood history were made, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Stagecoach,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Wuthering Heights”. But the true and more agreed upon answer would be 1930-1959, which encompassed “All Quiet on the Western Front” to “Anatomy of a Murder”.

All of this is my way of approaching a term I often refer to but did not coin, the Golden Age of Pipe Smoking. In my mind, although the exact timeline is sometimes said to have begun as long ago as the mid-1800s, this period was from the 1930s into the ’70s, when pipes were ubiquitous and respected all over the world, as reflected in motion pictures, TV and society in general. Below are a few famous Hollywood pipe men: Fred Astaire, John and Lionel Barrymore, Harry Belafonte and Fred MacMurray.Cob1 My own dad and almost all of his friends enjoyed and in many cases had collections of the magic briar social lubricant. The subject of this blog, a brand of pipe named with perhaps tongue-in-cheek humor, is one of the quirkiest, most unusual examples conceived during this wonderful age that I believe is experiencing a renascence: the Aristocob, invented by Joseph W. Zarikta for the Al Cobb Corporation and granted U.S. Patent №. 3,292,639 on December 20, 1966.Cob2 The Al Cobb Corp. became Al-Cob Corp. in Grand Haven, Michigan, and still later Aristocob Inc. in Caledonia, Michigan before being taken over by the Missouri Meerschaum Company in Washington, Missouri. Missouri Meerschaum made the corncob inserts from the early 1970s until 1983, and since then replacements have not been manufactured, but with dedicated searching some will, on occasion, show up when they are found and offered online. Even though I could not locate any for this restoration, I know they still pop up because of several sold-out listings I found on eBay. However, by most accounts the original inserts, or even self-styled replacements, are high maintenance contraptions that quickly become wet, mushy and, in short, nasty to use. Still, our esteemed host, Steve, emailed me the following message: “I love those old aristocobs. They are sweet looking retro experiments.” Indeed they are. I even found several sites where this pipe is given the high description of “art deco.”

Nevertheless, I believe I have found a more suitable and permanent solution to the problem, even if it does detract from the good, old timey flavor of the maker’s intent: briar inserts made to fit the Aristocob. [See http://www.owlpipes.com/#!new-collection/c1jn5.%5D For this restoration I ordered one, and considering I bought the beat-up old pipe itself for $2 at a yard sale, the $25 cost of the briar insert should be worth it. As timing allowed, the insert arrived on Friday but was too big for my home mailbox, where the package was sent due to a mix-up with PayPal, instead of the Post Office Box I use most often. And the Postman being too lazy to walk to my door (or just afraid to do so in my neighborhood), I picked it up at the Post Office Saturday.

This restoration, therefore, takes place in real-time, as I write this.

RESTORATION

SATURDAYCob3

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Cob11 Before venturing to my neighborhood Postal Station, which is the local training site and therefore deplorable, I decide to do a preliminary clean-up of the metal. The oxidation on the bowl, in particular in the threads and deep grooves, comes off with ease using a pair of small, thin, cotton gun cleaning patches soaked in Everclear. I am able to use the same patches to clean the threaded lid inside and out. The identical process on the chamber removes most of the old tobacco juice and minimal oxidation except for the brown grime near the opening of the air hole. For that I dip a bristly cleaner in the alcohol and run it through the wide open, tubular shank and into the bottom of the chamber. The shank needs a second swabbing.Cob12

Cob13 The pipe cleaner dipped in freshener that I run through the air hole of the bit comes out clear, but it doesn’t hurt to try. The outside of the bit, with almost no scratches, buffs up nicely using micromesh. I place the filter, in this case a Medico because it fits and I have a few – and with this pipe, a filter really will be necessary – into the stem.Cob14

Cob15 And so the time to face the ordeal of the long, slow line at the Post Office comes. An hour later I am home again with my new briar insert and a surprise: a small key chain fashioned with a little chunk of lightweight, pale briar, both of them in a nice bag with a drawstring.Cob16

Cob17 Now, something about the nakedness of the insert, being briar instead of the traditional corncob, just doesn’t sit right with me. Even when I test the fit by dropping it in the chamber and screwing on the lid, while indeed the briar is the correct size, the raw part of the rim that shows, beneath the top of the aluminum lid when I screw it on, is wrong. I ask myself (not out loud, but in my head – I’m not crazy, even if at times I ramble and digress), “Would I ever, even on the most rushed or easygoing project, conceivably consider leaving any rim unpolished?”

“Hell, no,” is my immediate response, though still silent. And so the next stage begins with what is intended to be just a quick sanding, micro-meshing and waxing of the rim. In point of fact, I try only the progression of micromesh, but that reveals the need for sanding, which I accomplish with 400-grit paper before re-doing the micromesh.Cob18

Cob19 SUNDAY
But of course, once I start down that road – as simple as settling for the polished rim of the insert with its newly exposed even grain would be, given that it is the only part that will show through the lid – I simply cannot bring myself to leave the sides completely unfinished. Still, I approach this task with nowhere near the detail I would give a regular briar bowl. A fast sanding with 320-grit paper followed by 400, then micro-meshing, satisfies me, and it shows in the photos below. I consider doing the bottom of the insert, with a small hole drilled to allow moisture to pass in this most bizarre system pipe, but good sense does get the better of me, when my mind comes around to the reality of the resulting damage to anything sitting for long in the potential quagmire that the lucky buyer of this fine pipe might create even without the genuine, disposable corncob inserts.Cob20

Cob21 Now, as midnight approaches, the second day of sporadic work on the Aristocob reaches its end and extends into another, as seems to be the nature of my life so often these hectic days. I need to run to the nearest Walmart anyway, to buy more distilled water, distilled white vinegar and baking soda to continue with the final few steps of this experimental restoration.

MONDAY

Having secured the necessary ingredients for the culmination of an exciting and hopefully successful restoration, the next stage is to soak the aluminum for ten minutes or so in enough of the pure vinegar to cover all of the metal. As I have never before had occasion to work with aluminum in this sort of project, I have not tried the unusual method of cleaning any part of a pipe, and must trust a fellow pipe club member who actually makes his living engaging daily in this process to remove dirt and other substances from industrial parts made of the same material, and at the same time brighten it. I do, at least, confirm online that the procedure is an established and excellent means of accomplishing the goal.Cob22 While the aluminum soaks, I enjoy a brief respite from my toils, with a pipe-full of some of the last of my C&D Pirate Kake in a newly-acquired Castello Old Antiquari KKKK Sandblasted Bulldog. There is no doubt this is a bulldog compared to the dubious designation of Rhodesian that, with clear reservations, I suggest for the Aristocob by way of calling the art deco thing anything other than that.

Alright, then; the aluminum Rhodesian has soaked for 12 minutes now in white vinegar, and I am one step closer to seeing if the well-intentioned advice of my fellow piper has any merit to it. First giving the metal pieces a basic rinse with tap water, I replace them in the plastic container for a thorough dousing in a concoction of the same with an unspecified and therefore liberal amount of baking soda stirred in to rid the aluminum of any residual acidic vinegar.

After a long day involving far more than this restoration, which details I will spare the reader and try to make myself forget, I suspect the Old Antiquari is up for another ten-minute smoke, and I know I am.

Ten more minutes fly by, and the water and baking soda have done as much as they can to ensure the complete removal of vinegar. I rinse the metal again and dry the lid, bowl, shank and chamber with a cotton rag. I decide to use another cleaner to dry the inside of the shank and chamber air hole, only to discover that the combination of the vinegar and the following water-baking soda soaks has dredged up much more vintage grime. Both ends of the one dry cleaner, then a second dipped in Everclear and a third dry cleaner clear out the remaining mess, and I re-wipe the chamber with a rag.

The pipe is as ready as I can make it for reassembly. I drop the polished briar insert in place, screw on the lid and slide the bit with its new Medico filter into the shank, and give the whole thing a rubbing with the cotton rag.Cob23

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Cob28 CONCLUSION
Although not as shimmering as it once looked new in its package with a couple of spare corncob inserts, the vintage Aristocob Rhodesian, like the Tin Woodsman in Oz, has a new briar heart that matches the second part of “my galvanized friend[’s]” name. And this new transplant will last much longer than the original.

Stealing a Huge Savinelli 515 KS Champagne Panel


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“Cave ne venditor.”
“Let the seller beware.”
― From Latin, inspired by “Caveat emptor” – Let the buyer beware

INTRODUCTION
I might just as well have started this blog with former President Richard Nixon’s televised statement to 400 Associated Press editors on November 17, 1973, denying any involvement in the Watergate scandal: “Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.” He certainly did. But I thought the Latin reference was more appropriate to describe my fortunate acquisition of this unusual and magnificent example of a Savinelli panel pipe. After all, it’s not my fault the online seller probably thought he would get more for it. I suspect that in hindsight, he now wishes he had asked for a higher amount, perhaps as a “Buy Now” offer. I would have paid it, within reason. In fact, I went so far as to look for a charitable donation link to make up for some of the money I saved, but this seller didn’t have one.

The two aspects of this serendipitous acquisition that surprised me even more were that the other four bidders seemed not to recognize a fantastic bargain when it seemed to scream the fact at them, and that I lucked out in that no other serious collectors chanced upon the offer. The minimum asking price was $9.50. About 24 hours later, the first bidder appears to have made a max offer of $12.00 and for the moment had it for $10. Then the second entrant offered $14.50 because when I entered what I thought would be a sharply escalating war with my first $25 bid and two days left, a third-party had the beautiful pipe for $15. The second and third amateurs took the price up to $24.50 by the time I bumped my bid to $50 with 22 minutes remaining and my finger on a higher last-second bid should it have become necessary. It did not, and I won for a total of $29.45 with shipping. The vagaries of eBay bidding never cease to amaze me.

The Champagne, as with most varieties of the 515 KS shape, measures 6″ in length with a chamber diameter of ¾”x1″. The bowl is 5¼”x1¾”. The shank is a 2¼” square leading into the 2½” stem with a wide comfort bit. Check out these other versions.Robert1 When the box arrived, somehow I managed to keep it unopened on the seat beside me until I reached my next destination, the best old-style tobacconist in these parts, where I almost have my own cushioned chair and a cot to sleep on in the back. Taking a seat in my favorite spot, with its view of the whole shop, I retrieved my knife from my pipe go-bag and slit through the packing tape, then peeled open the glued sides of the box. Here is what I was overjoyed to find inside.Robert2

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Robert7 THE RESTORATION
Disregarding the few minor detractions seen in some of the photos above (namely, the rim, chamber and stem), this was a restorer’s dream. The nomenclature was crystal clear through the oil and dirt of handling: Champagne on the left shank, the Savinelli shield and 515 KS above Italy on the left and Savinelli Product on the bottom. Even the full black outline of the crown was still on the stem.Robert8

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Robert10 And for the first time in my experience, the chamber was all that needed sanding, with 150-grit paper followed by 320. I put the stem in a water and OxiClean soak for a half-hour while I gave the bowl and shank a quick bath with purified water and a couple of small pieces of cotton cloth, and then prepared the rim with super fine steel wool and the chamber as described.Robert11 Removing the stem from the wash, I ran a soft fluffy cleaner through the air hole, clearing out considerable grime. An initial concerted scrubbing of the rinsed and still wet outer stem with a soft meshed cotton rag followed by rubbing hard with a four-grade progression of micromesh from 1500-4000 removed all but a few pernicious patches of green. And so I replaced the stem in the OxiClean mix and gave it another hour. By then, a second fluffy cleaner came out almost clean, all discoloration was gone and the same micro-meshing left it ready for buffing.Robert12

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Robert15 I retorted the pipe with two Pyrex test tubes of boiled alcohol and eliminated the considerable smoke, carbon and other crud that had, over time, leached into the shank and bowl. A vigorous scrubbing of the inner shank with both ends of another fluffy cleaner pulled out the residual dark wet mess that remained after extraction from the briar; the same treatment of the chamber with hard, tight, squeaky turns of a final small piece of thin cotton cloth cleared the last bit of blackness there.

There were very fine scratches all around the panels of the pipe, but they were so minuscule that they all but vanished with steady, even, up-and-down strokes of 1500 and 3200 micromesh, and dissipated to a nice gloss with the final buffs of 3600 and 4000.Robert16

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Robert21 The final step of putting the stem to the wheels with white and red Tripoli and White diamond, clearing the excess and giving all of these a stronger grip with a gentle spin on an un-waxed buffing cloth, brought out a high, more durable sheen. The same approach, without the red Tripoli but adding two coats of carnauba, had the same effect on the briar.

The finishing touch was filling in the crown on the stem with a white china marker.Robert22

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Robert27 CONCLUSION
In my online pipe sales and service business, I have been successful in a steady upgrade of the brands and quality of products offered. I have listed and sold a number of pipes I dearly wanted to keep – including a smooth, old meerschaum bulldog with an excellent patina, a Comoy’s Satin Matte Christmas edition, a Jobey Fawn small apple, a WDC 14K band full bent smooth billiard and even a no-name Italian semi-rusticated full bent billiard that was exceptional in its resemblance to a Peterson full bent system pipe and was engineered as well as most of that brand’s models.

My struggle with the question of whether to add the newly restored Savinelli Champagne Panel to my private collection or offer it up for sale was the longest, most tortuous inner debate I have made due to my strong desire to add a Savinelli to the inventory, which I have in fact already done by sacrificing one of my old favorites, a Clark’s Favorite medium smooth churchwarden that sold immediately. But, as some might already have guessed, I succumbed to the more powerful voice urging me to keep this one. I know I can’t horde everything that comes my way, but I can select those that speak to me deeply and personally.

I have not even enjoyed the pipe yet, so recent was my decision not to let it go. That patience will almost certainly end today, and soon.

For the Love of an Amadeus Half-Bent Brandy


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“According to Diotima, Love is not a god at all, but is rather a spirit that mediates between people and the objects of their desire. Love is neither wise nor beautiful, but is rather the desire for wisdom and beauty.”
― Plato (429?–347 BCE), Athenian philosopher, in “Symposium,” 360 BCE

INTRODUCTION
Amadeus may be known best as the 1984 feature film that won eight Academy Awards and was titled after the fourth given (or in this case, chosen) name of the latter 18th century Austrian composer, more often shortened to Mozart. Christened Johannes Chrystosomus Wolfgangus Theophilis Mozart, the often inebriated genius preferred the Latin translation of Theophilis – Greek for “lover of God” – which is Amadeus, derived from amare, to love, and Deus, God. The name also happens to be a Greek pipe brand founded in 1975 by eight artisans.

The half-bent brandy I obtained as part of a multi-pipe estate lot last year is a mid-level example of an Achaki-Amadeus S.A. briar. The company’s products range in price new from $50 on sale to $320 at the regular rate. They are all made of high quality Mediterranean briar, and the Greek company is among the primary suppliers of that variety of wood to other makers including Stanwell, Vauen, Tsuge and the late Bjarne Nielsen of Denmark.

This Amadeus arrived in much better than usual shape except for the chamber and rim and some minor wear of the stem.AM1

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AM7 THE RESTORATION
I was eager to start a OxiClean bath on the stem. Knowing the stem hole as well as the outer area would benefit from a good soak for about a half-hour, I suspected that some of the chatter I could see in line with the lower lip would require more than that and even some sanding before micro-meshing.Am8

Am9 In the meantime, I had no trouble removing the little bit of blackening of the rim with easy rubbing using super fine steel wool, and the mild buildup of carbon in the chamber with a 19mm reamer followed by 150-grit paper and finished to silky smoothness with 320-grit.

Although the top of the stem was good after the soak, rinse and a wet micromesh work-over – building a grade at a time from 1500-4000 – the bottom, after the same treatment, indeed needed more work.AM10

Am11 And so I removed a little more of the chatter with 200-grit paper and applied some Black Super Glue.Am12

Am13 My work so far was easy, but being the glass-half-empty sort I was prepared to discover serious accreted grime when I commended the stage of clearing the mortise and shank with a wire-handled cleaner dipped in Everclear. But my luck continued. After a few passes that met no resistance and resulted in minor darkness of the cleaner, I decided with a rare sense of admiration that the previous owner had enjoyed the Amadeus brandy for some time and taken appropriate care of it. Reattaching the stem, I retorted the pipe with a mere two Pyrex test tubes of boiled alcohol.

As has been the case in many of my restorations so far, I was curious with the shade of the stain that I considered to be over-dark. To my way of thinking, as long as a careful visual analysis reveals no hidden reason for the extra obscuring, the clearer the grain, the better. And so, again with the utmost gentleness, I used a small piece of steel wool to lighten the briar and worked my way up the micromesh scale.Am14

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AM19 For those of you with more discerning eyes, the pieces of crud visible with enlargement of the last photo, showing the shank opening, resulted from a final impulsive sanding of the chamber. Rest assured none of it remained after I noticed and gave it a good blow.

The two pieces of the pipe were ready for buffing. I used red and white Tripoli and White Diamond on the stem (big surprise) and white Tripoli, White Diamond and three coats of carnauba on the wood.Am20

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Am26 CONCLUSION
There were no big problems with this restoration; no special problems to report or whine about; no particular distinction of the Amadeus itself, except for its very fine craftsmanship and, to me, less common country of manufacture. Still, it is a real beauty, an opinion I expressed in an email to Achaki-Amadeus to date the crafting of the pipe. Excepting the general pleasure of the simple but effective restoration, in fact, the most exciting aspect of the process came after the fact, when I received a response from one of the brand’s owners:

This is a line we used to make some good ten years ago. If you are in the USA it was imported in the country four years ago.

I hope I helped.

Thank you for your kind words.

Best regards

Makis Minetos

Please visit my blog:

http://www.acutabovebriar4.blogspot.com