Tag Archives: banding a shank for cosmetic reasons

This Greenwich House Antique Imported Briar Crowned Pot Turned into a Nightmare


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when I start working on a pipe there is can be a sense of gloom or expectant trouble. That was the case with this one. I thought it would be a straightforward clean up and restoration. Little did I know what lay ahead for me in this restoration. Time would tell and I would share it here with you my readers. It started as usual. I recognized the brand on this pipe but could not remember any of the details. Jeff picked this pipe up from an antique store in Ogden, Utah, USA back in 2019. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Greenwich House [arched over] Antique and on the right side Imported [over] Briar. It was the Greenwich House tag that grabbed my attention. You know how sometimes a name just sits on the edge of your memory beyond your reach but you still know it? That is what this name did to me. The finish is quite dirty with a cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The worm trails on the sides and base reminded me of a Custom-Bilt but a bit more smooth. The crowned rim top was more elegant. The saddle style stem was old vulcanite and other than deep tooth marks it was quite clean, Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started. He took close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to give a better picture of what he was seeing as he prepared to clean it up. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. The inner edge appears to be burned and damaged but it was hard to tell for sure. The stem had some deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button and some light calcification at the sharp edge.Jeff took his characteristics photos of the bowl sides and heel to give a clear picture of the grain around the bowl and the style of the worm trails carved into the sides and heel. It is a nice piece of briar.The stamping was readable though a little faint on the left side of the shank. It read Greenwich House arched over Antique on the left. On the right side it was very clear and read Imported [over] Briar.I turned first to my blog on a previous restoration of a Greenwich House pipe. I had worked on one that was stamped Thoro-Kleen, a metal pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/24/a-piece-of-art-deco-greenwich-house-thoro-kleen/). I read through that blog and have included a pertinent piece of information on the brand below.

According to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Thoro-Kleen) the Greenwich House Thoro-Kleen was a metal pipe system from the same family as the Roybrooke, Comet, and Original Gridiron pipes, and parts from all are believed to be interchangeable. The pipes were sold by the Greenwich House Corporation, located in 1947 at 939-M 8th Avenue, N.Y. 19, N.Y…

From that I knew it was an American Made pipe that had been carved for or by a company known as Greenwich House Corporation in New York City.

I turned to the listing of American Brands on Pipedia to see if there was a listing for the Greenwich House itself (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_G_-_H). I found that there was not an article but the list of makers identified the brand and said that The Antique was made of Aged Algerian Briar. One more piece fell in place. The pipe I was working on was stamped Antique so I now knew the source of the Imported Briar.

But I still wanted a bit more information so I did a Google search and was taken to pipes made by Greenwich House on smokingpipes.com and other sites. Worthpoint, an auction site had several and also had one stamped Antique (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-greenwich-house-carved-1992675965). I have included the description from the sale item below as it is quite descriptive of the pipe in my hands.

Vintage Greenwich House Carved Antique Aged Algerian Tobacco Pipe. Good condition. Measures about 6.25″ long.

It is similarly stamped as mine and also similarly sized. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up this nicely grained Pot with his usual pattern. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the rim top and bowl. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airways were clean and the pipe smelled fresh. The pipe looked much better once the bowl and stem were clean. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the oxidation and then let it soak in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it with warm water when he took out of the soak. Before I started my part of the work I took photos of the pipe. I took close up photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition. The photo clearly shows the burn damage to the inner edge and the rim top at the back of the bowl. You can also see the roughening of the rest of the inner edge and rim top. It was going to take some work to bring it back. I also took photos of both sides of the stem to give a sense of the condition of both sides at the button. There is deep tooth marking and damage on both sides ahead of the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was readable but was more faint on the left than the right side. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and saw to my chagrin a stinger. I fiddled with it a bit to see if it was pressure fit or screwed into the tenon. There was no give to it. (This portends what is ahead, keep reading.) I set the stem down with the bowl and took a photo to give a general look at the proportions of this pipe.I started work on this one by using a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top at the back. I was able to clean and reshape the bowl by slowly working through the process. So far the restoration was going well.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding 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 and a horse hair shoe brush 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. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.   So far so good! I filled in the deep gouges on the top and underside of the stem and set it aside for the repairs to cure.After the repairs cured things took a horrible turn! If you have read this blog for long you know how much I dislike metal stingers. I find that they indeed condense moisture and fill the shank with horrendous muck. Soooo… I decided I would try to remove this one and give the stem a thorough cleaning. I have found that most stingers are either threaded and screwed into the tenon or are pressure fit. Either way a little heat loosens the glue or gunk that hold it tight and it is easily removed.

Well… the heat did absolutely nothing with this one. It did not twist or wiggle free. It was solid with or without heat… or cold for that matter. I was frustrated at this point and tried to pull it with pliers and the “wicked” thing snapped off! Now that usually does not matter either. I can easily drill it out with a small bit.

Again not so!! The remaining tube went well beyond the saddle on the stem. I drilled and drilled then filed the edges to smooth it out. At this point I should have just left it. But I DID NOT DO THAT. NO! I tried to pull out the remnant of the tube with a small file. And then a chunk of the tenon cracked off. You can see the offending tube in the tenon stubbornly laughing at me. Arggh… This was becoming much more of a  problem. Each step I took to remedy it made it actually worse. Now I would need to cut off the remaining tenon and the drill the stem and make a new tenon for it. OH MY! THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO!!

I got out my hacksaw and carefully cut all the way around the broken tenon. I purposely did not cut the tube as I wanted to see how far into the stem it actually went. I pulled it out with a pair of pliers and took a photo of the length of the offending tube once it was free of the airway. You might laugh at this point and I invite that. This was a lot of work to go to just to clean out the airway in the stem. But now I could replace the tenon. I went through my tenons and had one that was a close fit to the shank of the pipe. I would need to drill out the stem to take the threaded replacement tenon but I was hoping that this part would proceed without more things going awry. I started drilling with my cordless drill and a bit slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I continued going through various bits up to ¼ inch which was the size I would need to receive the threaded tenon end with some modifications. You will notice the repairs to the deep tooth marks still have not been smoothed out.I modified the threaded tenon with a Dremel and sanding drum. I removed the should on the middle of the tenon and reduced the diameter of the threaded portion so that I could glue it in place in the stem. I cleaned up the edge between the thicker portion and the threaded portion with a flat rasp to make the fit smooth when inserted in the stem. I inserted it in the stem and took a photo.Before gluing the tenon I the stem I put all the parts together to make sure that everything lines up correctly. It looks good so I take photos to show it at this point in the process. With the alignment correct I coated the threaded end of the tenon with black super glue and pushed the tenon in place in the stem. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure and went and had a cup of coffee with Irene. I needed to lick my wounds a bit on this whole mess!After coffee I went back to the stem to clean up the repairs on the top and underside of the stem. I flattened out the repairs with a flat file to begin to blend them into the surface. I followed that up with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend it in. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the 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. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. While I liked the look of the new stem on the shank it felt like it was missing something to me. I really wanted to give it a special touch that would set it apart and make the look spectacular. I went through my band collection and found a perfect 14K Gold band that would do just what I wanted. I took down the end of the shank to enable a snug fit. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank end. I finally finished this nightmarish restoration of a pipe that should have been quite simple. The Greenwich House Antique Import Briar Crowned Pot with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that everything came together. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain  on the smooth portions really popped and the worm trails carving look good as well. I put the vulcanite 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. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The finished Greenwich House Antique Pot is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 2.29 ounces/65 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the American Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

This Opera pipe is a traveler – France to Utah, USA and now to Vancouver, Canada


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work top is an interesting piece that is well traveled. It was made in France and somehow ended up in Ogden, Utah, USA and now it is residing here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We picked up from a fellow who bought it at and estate sale in Utah back in early 2019. Jeff cleaned it up in 2020 and now I am working on it in 2021. It has been sitting for awhile in our backlog of pipes. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank in script and reads P. Viou underlined with a flourish. At an angle underneath that it is stamped in uppercase and reads SUPER. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Bruyere [over] Extra followed by the shape number 3030. It has some interesting grain around the bowl and shank that shines through the grime on the finish. The bowl had a moderate cake and some overflow of lava on the top inner edge. The original stem was lightly oxidized at the back end and had tooth marks on both side near the button. The shoulders of the shank or stem seem to be slightly rounded from the photos. Jeff captured the look of the pipe in the photos he took before his work. The moderate cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim edge and top is visible in the next photos. There also appears to be some darkening or perhaps burning on the inner edge. It will be clearer once the pipe is cleaned. The stem shows some oxidation and calcification on the button end with tooth marks and chatter visible on both sides. There was an oily corkscrew style stinger in the tenon when the stem was removed. The bowl had some nice cross grain and birdseye grain around the sides. The unique oval shape really followed the grain well. The next photos show the stamping around the sides of the shank. The first two photos show the left side of the shank. The third photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank.You can see the rounding on the edges of the briar in both photos below. The fit of the stem to the shank is off. Earlier this morning Kenneth stopped by for a visit and I was working on this P. Viou pipe. Kenneth has a developed a love for French pipes and a growing knowledge of the brands so I asked him some questions and we chatted about that. Later this after I wrote him and asked him for information on the brand. Here is his response with a few links as well.

Paul Viou was the brand and fictional name of a French artisan who sold his pipes by correspondence and then he was a pipe supplier for military institutions. He also made sculpted pipes and sometime used horn stems. The brand is currently sold by Jacques Craen and made by Genod in Saint-Claude, after having also belonged to Paul Guilland and Vuillard. They are stamped P. Viou, and made primarily for export.

He included the following links for me to read a bit of history. I ran the French articles through Google translate and got a good idea of the brand. The first article ties Genod under Jacky Craen to a younger carver he trained named Sebastien Beaud.

https://www.fumeursdepipe.net/pipiersCcraen.htm?fbclid=IwAR2SpMLdFREZh_WyOLuwZsTUTSUx5Ohoyr6cl3JChpTYk-U1lUgZflFG4Aw

Jacques (Jacky) Craen was born in 1944, and learned the trade with his grandfather at the age of 15. Eleven years later, once his “classes” are over, he became the owner of the Genod house.

He produces around 8,000 pipes in the year, of which 500 are unique pieces. He works by smoking red Amphora and listening to classical music.

In the summer of 2001, he welcomed a young boy of 21 who enjoyed woodworking. His name was Sébastien Beaud. He returned the following summer, spent a few years with Ewa, until May 2005. At the beginning of 2006, he returned as a worker, finally succeeding Jacques Craen.

You can visit the workshop, and watch this young man work who “emphasizes the pleasure of smoking”. In 2011, Sébastien offered the brand “Sébastien Beo”, only in the USA, from heads that he reworked.

The second and third articles are the same and they tie Sebastien Beaud to Genod, Jacques Craen (Jacky) and to the Paul Viou mail order business. Once again I used Google translate to get a fair read on the article. I include it below.

http://lapipedesaintclaude.com/genod-et-viou-l-aventure-continue-p-27.htm?fbclid=IwAR09q_bVkuPvIG0Qc8DA1ClM2BNntfAPOMgZ8rv5vLe67k5K2sw4jAKqomA

https://www.amagalerie.com/artisan/paul-viou-maitre-pipier-a-saint-claude/?fbclid=IwAR1kErCvYY98vcJ6kh8c72SGf5pW5NcPZ6f8pjHlVLZYfeKChOlDRl0pBR4

Genod and Viou, the adventure continues –

Sébastien Beaud, a young Saint Claude pipe maker. After working in the Genod boutique during the summer of 2001, the idea of ​​becoming a master pipe maker slowly matured in Sébastien Beaud’s mind. With the help of many Saint Claude Pipe Masters, Jacques Craen, and mainly Denis Blanc, as well as Roger Vincent, he was able to learn the passes necessary for the complete making of a pipe.

Thus prepared, he decided to take over the Genod business in 2006. Today, he continues to develop the tourist activity initiated by Jacques Craen, opening his workshop to the public to show him the making of the noble bouffarde, as well as the mail order sale inherited from Paul Viou.

The pipe makers of Saint Claude tirelessly seek to make better pipes. Sébastien Beaud is refining his techniques to the delight of fellow pipe smokers.

Thanks Kenneth for the links and the information. It looks like I am working on one of those mail order pipes that was made primarily for export. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe very well as usual. He has detailed his process other places so I will summarize it here. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to loosen the oxidation and remove the grime. Then he soaked it in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl. The cake has been cleaned out and the lava is gone. There is still some darkening and damage to the inner edge of the rim that I will need to deal with. The photos show that the stem looks really good. There is light chatter and some tooth marks on the underside but it is quite clean. The photos of the stem show the rounded shoulders on the briar at the stem/shank junction. I really dislike that look on a pipe. On the left side of the stem there is a faint P. Viou stamp. It is not deep enough to repaint but it is present.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. You can see the corkscrew stinger in the tenon. It is quite a contraption. It is also removable.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the damage on the inside edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and to remove the darkening. It looked better once it was finished.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris. The bowl really began to shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish 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. The product brought the briar to life and gave some depth to the finish. Now it was time for me to deal with the rounded shoulders on the shank and clean up the stem/shank fit. The damage that had been done to the shank end made it impossible to change the diameter of the shank or the stem and maintain the integrity of the shank. I decided to band it with a thin brass band that I would reduce the depth on so as not to cover too much of the stamping on the shank. I would lose a little bit of the R on SUPER but to me the fit of the stem to the shank was worth the loss. I used a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the depth of the band. I was able to remove over half of the depth.  I placed the band on the end of the shank lightly and carefully heated it with a Bic lighter. Once it was hot the metal had a little play in it and I was able to press it onto the shank for a tight fit. You can see the depth of the band is greatly reduced and it did not cover any of the stamp on the right side of the shank and only the R on SUPER.I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the fit against the band. The fit was perfect and the gaps and rounded shoulders were a thing of the past. To me the band also added a touch of “Opera” bling to the pipe that made it look great.With the rounded shoulders of the shank taken care of it was time to deal with the tooth marks on the stem. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift all of them on the topside and all but one deeper one on the underside. I filled in the tooth mark on the underside with clear CA glue and let it harden. Once it had hardened I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I also smooth out the coarseness of the topside of the stem at the same time. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil as I find that it enlivens and preserves the vulcanite. In the polishing process it also give the micromesh pads some bite. I finished polishing it with Before & After Stem Polish – both fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.With the stem finished I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I noticed that some think I use White Diamond but I have not used it for quite awhile opting instead for a finer polish called Blue Diamond. It give the bowl and stem a rich polish. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Do not skip these steps as they add depth to the shine. The finished P. Viou Super Bruyere Extra Opera 3030 pipe is a lovely pipe with great cross grain and birdseye. The thin brass band took care of the poorly fit stem and rounded shoulders and the rich polish make it quite elegant. The dimensions of the finished pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outer bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches long X 1 inch wide, Chamber diameter (oval) 7/8 of an inch long X 5/8 of an inch wide. The weight of the pipe is 1.09 ounces/31 grams. It is a lightweight and great looking pipe that should be a pleasure to smoke. I will be putting on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration!