Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from an antique store in Brookings, Oregon, USA. The pipe is smooth, nicely grained acorn shaped pipe with a Sterling Silver repair band and a saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on left side of the shank and reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England [over] Belvedere. There is also a cursive L in a circle that identifies it as a Lane Era pipe. A good portion of the stamp is covered by the silver repair band. There is no stamping on the right side of the shank. There was a lot of grime and dust ground into the smooth finish. The bowl was caked with a lava coat flowing onto the rim top and inner edge of the rim. The inside and outside edges looked to be in good condition but we would know more once Jeff had cleaned it. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There are no stamps on the stem and I think it is probably a replacement stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. The thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top and inner edge is visible. The photos of the stem show the oxidation, calcification and the chatter and tooth marks on the top and underside. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the grain around the bowl. It is quite stunning.The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above. To begin the work on this one I turned to a previous blog I wrote on a Charatan’s Make Belvedere and copied the material from there below (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/06/the-next-pipe-from-bob-kerrs-estate-a-charatans-make-belvedere-2012/). I quote:
To try to figure out the era of the Charatan’s pipe I was working on I turned to the Pipephil website, Logos and Stampings. There is some really helpful information on each of the lines of Charatan’s Make pipes that entered the market. Here is the link to the section of the site that I turned to (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). There is an alphabetical listing of the lines but the Belvedere they showed had a stem made for a 9mm filter while the one I have is a nonfiltered pipe. The site did give a short history of the brand. I quote the portion that is most pertinent.
The brand was founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brand name has been overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc.(NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) followed up on freehand production.
I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find more information on the brand and possibly a link to the Belvedere line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) but once again in the general article it was not listed. It did give a little more historical information. I quote the pertinent parts and have highlighted in red the sections that give information on this particular pipe.
In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian/Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes. These pipes got very popular soon, and thus Charatan moved to a bigger workshop in Prescot Street, just around the corner. Here he began to make briar pipes which should make the name famous the world over. Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s Make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.
Being the undisputed No. 1 in English pipemaking, Charatan was approached by Alfred Dunhill who was unsatisfied with the quality of the pipes he imported from France. During 1908 – 1910 Dunhill bought pipes from Charatan paying exorbitant prices to ensure he had some of the very best pipes for sale in England. In 1910 he lured away Joel Sasieni, one of Charatan’s best carvers, and opened his own small pipe workshop on 28 Duke Street. On the retirement of his father in 1910 Reuben Charatan took over the family business…
…The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950… Charatan records are almost non-existent before Lane due to a factory fire, making it difficult to date pre-Lane pipes. Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…
The section called Miscellaneous Notes had some interesting information. The pipe I was working did not have the Double Comfort (DC) bit but I am pretty certain that the stem was a replacement. It has Serif L on the shank makes the Lane Era designation certain.
Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”…
…The Lane Trademark serif and circled L indicates the pipe is from the “Lane Era” (approx. 1955 to 1979 -1984?), however it appears that both the English factory or Lane themselves sometimes, or perhaps even often forget to stamp the L on a pipe. The Charatan factory was known for inconsistencies, especially in stampings. Therefore, although an L on the pipe definitely defines it as a Lane Era pipe, the lack of it could simply mean the pipe missed receiving the stamp from the factory. The lack of the trademark could also mean the pipe was destined for the European market.
I continue digging further into the dating of the pipe, but what I had found was a good start for me. If some of you would like to try your hand at dating it more accurately as to the time period it came out you might want to check out the article on Pipedia on Dating Charatans (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans).
I also reread the article on Pipedia by the Italian fellow who contributed some really helpful information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan_-_Milan_2014). I quote the section on the Second period: Reuben Charatan 1910 – c. 1962
– In 1962 Herman Lane took over the business from the Charatan family, although he had already influenced production from the 1950s.
– The pipes were mostly larger than the previous ones and corresponded in size to Dunhill group 5. These are slightly less rare, but still difficult to find.
– Stem: Usually in ebonite, saddle shaped or tapered, bearing a fine “CP” stamp, underbore system (see below) used when necessary.
– Shank: The shape code is stamped on it together with the nomenclature “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” arranged in two lines. From 1955 onwards on the models marketed for the USA there is also a serif and circled capital “L” (but not all models bear this) which resembles the pound sterling symbol. The “L” is for Lane, the importer.
From 1958, Lane changed the nomenclature for models marketed for the US to clarify the message: “MADE BY HAND”. In this period the underbore was introduced. Its manufacturing period ranged between 1920 and c.1930. This model was equipped with a duralumin plunger trap fitted in the stem, which served to clean the residue more easily. This particular model bore a special stamp on the stem, and also had its own catalogue…
QUALITY GRADES…The stem did not only display the stamps mentioned above. Another stamp that can help dating is the one referring to the quality of the pipe. Until Herman Lane arrived on the scene there were four quality grades. Starting with the lowest: Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme. Lane went on to add higher grades from time to time: Supreme S, Supreme S100, S150, S200, S250, S300, Coronation, Royal Achievement, Crown Achievement, and Summa Cum Laude; these last three are extremely rare and almost impossible to find. He also invented other, different grades, even changing the previous pipe classification standards. We will not go into detail here, but it means that if we find an S100 or Coronation the pipe was manufactured following Herman Lane’s acquisition. In particular, the FH mark, or Freehand pipe was commissioned to the famous Danish craftsman, Preben Holm.
I am also including a shape chart from that site. I drew a green rectangle around the 373 Salisbury shape as it is the same shape that I am working on. (The red rectangle was for the previous Lovat 2012 that I worked on.
Now I knew a bit about the pipe I was working on. I had a shape name and number that I did not have previously as it is covered by the silver band. It was now time to work on this Salisbury shaped Charatan’s Make Belvedere.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. There is some damage on the inner edge on the rear back of the bowl. The stem surface looked good with some remaining oxidation and some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on the right and left side of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. There is also a repaired crack extending into the word Belvedere that explains the silver band on the shank.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It would clean up and be a gorgeous pipe.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the briar of the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I polished the sterling silver band with a jeweler’s cloth to remove the tarnish and protect the silver from further tarnish. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I put the stem in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover from Briarville USA. I am still experimenting with the product to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem. I let it soak overnight and took it out of the bath and wiped it down with a paper towel. I scrubbed the surface of the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the remnants of oxidation on the stem surface. The photos show the stem at this point. I sanded out the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The stem was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Charatan’s Make Belvedere in a 373 Salisbury Shape is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich, brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the gorgeous straight and flame grain. The finish works well with the polished Sterling Silver repair band and the vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charatan’s Make Belvedere Acorn/Salisbury sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!