Tag Archives: Block Meerschaum pipes

Redeeming an English Made Flumed Block Meerschaum Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past two weeks I was traveling in Alberta with my brother Jeff and his wife, Sherry. In between work appointments and presentations we took some time to visit local antique shops and malls. We found quite a few pipes. In a small Antique Shop in Lethbridge we found a few interesting pipes. The second of the ones that I am working from that find is an oval shank meerschaum Zulu. It has a flumed top and some colouring happening around the bowl and the shank. The saddle stem has a ribbon shaped/bookmark stamped logo on the top of the saddle. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a little lava and some small scratches in the edges of the bowl. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the underside of the shank below the shank/stem junction was faint but readable and read Genuine Block Meerschaum with an arched Gt. Britain at the stem shank joint. On the right side of the shank it is stamped JAMBO. The vulcanite stem was had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. There were tooth marks on both sides and on the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The rim top had some lava build up on the edge and there were some small nicks on the inner edge. Other than being so dirty it appeared to be in great condition. The stem was dirty and there was tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the button surface itself. The stem was lightly oxidized.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank joint. The photo shows the stamping Genuine Block over Meerschaum. Next to that there was an arched stamp that read GT BRITAIN. There was a small nick in the underside of the meerschaum next to the vulcanite stem. I also noted that there was a stamping on the left side of the shank – it read Jambo.While we were traveling I decided to do a bit of work on some of the pipes that we had found. This was the second one that I worked on. I scraped the inside of the bowl with a sharp knife. I scraped the tars and lava off the top of the rim with the same knife. I took the stem off and you can see the metal tenon set in the shank of the pipe. It is anchored firmly and the stem pressure fit over the top of the tenon.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with warm water and some Dawn Dish Soap to remove the buildup of grime around the bowl and on the rim top. I rinsed it well and wiped the bowl down with a clean paper towel to polish the finish on the bowl. I decided to follow up on my initial cleaning of the bowl and shank. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl.I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank, the metal mortise and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the bowl walls and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to wipe of the dust. I touched up the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl with a black stain pen to restored the colour to the edges and the top. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I know that it was designed for briar but I used it for meerschaum and it works well. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.     I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This is a beautiful Flumed top Block Meerschaum Oval Shank Zulu with a black saddle vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and is a beauty. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum had already begun to take on a patina and it came alive with the buffing. The rich mottled browns of the meerschaum colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this Block Meerschaum, English made Zulu to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the first of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt.

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Redeeming an English Made Flumed Meerschaum Author


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past two weeks I was traveling in Alberta with my brother Jeff and his wife, Sherry. In between work appointments and presentations we took some time to visit local antique shops and malls. We found quite a few pipes. In a small Antique Shop in Lethbridge we found a few interesting pipes. The first of the ones that I am working from that find is an oval shank meerschaum Author. It has a flumed top and some colouring happening around the bowl and the shank. The saddle stem has a ribbon shaped/bookmark stamped logo on the top of the saddle. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a little lava and some small scratches in the edges of the bowl. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the underside of the shank below the shank/stem junction was faint but readable and read Genuine Block Meerschaum with an arched Gt. Britain at the stem shank joint. The vulcanite stem was had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. There were tooth marks on both sides and on the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The rim top had some lava and a few nicks on the inner edge. Other than being so dirty it appeared to be in great condition. The stem was dirty and there was tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the button surface itself. The stem was lightly oxidized.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank joint. The photo shows the stamping Genuine Block over Meerschaum. Next to that there was an arched stamp that read GT BRITAIN. There was a small nick in the underside of the meerschaum next to the vulcanite stem.While we were traveling I decided to do a bit of work on some of the pipes that we had found. I scraped the inside of the bowl with a sharp knife. I scraped the tars and lava off the top of the rim with the same knife. I took the stem off and you can see the metal tenon set in the shank of the pipe. It is anchored firmly and the stem pressure fit over the top of the tenon.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with warm water and some Dawn Dish Soap to remove the buildup of grime around the bowl and on the rim top. I rinsed it well and wiped the bowl down with a clean paper towel to polish the finish on the bowl. I decided to follow up on my initial cleaning of the bowl and shank. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl.I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank, the metal mortise and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the bowl walls and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to wipe of the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This is a beautiful Flumed top Block Meerschaum Oval Shank Author with a black saddle vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and is a beauty. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum had already begun to take on a patina and it came alive with the buffing. The rich mottled browns of the meerschaum colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this block meerschaum, English made Author to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the first of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt.

Reflections on Turkish Block Acquisition


Blog by Fred Bass

The following was an article that Fred Bass sent me to hold in my files for him. The idea was that he was going to use it some time in the near future for a book he was working on Meerschaum pipes. Sadly that book was not completed to my understanding. It is an interesting short article that also became the base of a discussion on Smoker’s Forum All thing meerschaum group. RIP Fred, you are missed. Give the article a read!

February 1, 2009

This is about general considerations that have served me in decisions about purchases. It’s not an exhaustive guide, but more a line of thought brought by Buyer’s experience in the Meerschaum trades. I buy Pipes to smoke, so I don’t buy antiques.

I’ll start with new Turkish Block Pipes. Going from the starting point of looking at the works of favored Carvers, I’ll look at Pipes until one calls me. The best Carvers use the best block, which is the most important point of judging a Pipe’s quality. High grade Turkish Meerschaum is light in weight, is very porous, has no inclusions or deficits and has a pearl like translucent quality. It does not look like chalk. High grade Block will provide a cool and dry smoke, in addition to coloring well. Lesser grades will produce smoking experiences of less quality…, which is not to say that this is bad since a cheapie Meer will provide a better smoke than many other materials.

You are more likely to encounter Pressed Meerschaum (a composite of Meerschaum chips & epoxy) with No Name Meers and products of disreputable Carvers & Name Brands. High Grade Carver specific Pipes cost more, but you will have a Pipe that the Carver will take care of, should anything go wrong. This is an important consideration since Meerschaum is a product of nature and can possess flaws that become noticed only after the Pipe is smoked. These are Pipes that mean less to the Carver than the importance of his reputation, so you get a Pipe that is the best the Carver can produce. Bad news travels fast and reputation is everything in this cottage industry.

Other considerations, such as size, artistic merit and how well the Pipe fits into your world are worth consideration. The established Carvers will want premium price for their work, but there is never a question of quality. It’s a good idea to confirm that the picture you see is that of the Pipe that you want and whether a Case exists or is yet to be made. If the Pipe & Case are yet to be made, then determine how long it will take to be shipped to you. These same issues are best understood by both Buyer & Seller on commissioned Pipes as well. You can establish the quality of the Block and the color & material of the bit prior to payment.

When I’m evaluating a Pipe from an upcoming Carver, an estate Pipe or from a Retailer that I’ve not dealt with before, I first try to establish dialogue. No dialogue, no deal. If the estate Pipe Seller has little knowledge about his/her Pipe, I’ll still try and get information on the Pipe’s condition, type of connector joint and dimensions. The estate Seller should discuss the Pipe in the pre-sale encounter or I don’t bid. Sometimes, I discover that the Seller doesn’t know that the Pipe is a fraud, which is frequently the case with ‘Andreas Bauer’ and ‘Paul Fischer’ Pipes, in my experience. If you watch the Meerschaum markets, you will find promising Carvers who have yet to become well known. These Carvers will discuss their art with you and the prices can be very reasonable, as many will have just severed ties with Retailers and have started selling direct to Buyers. If there is something that you don’t see, then ask questions. Since I buy Meerschaums from the internet,

I ask a lot of questions. If the photos are poor quality and/or the Seller’s not answering your questions, then don’t put the coin down. I’ve touched on some of the major considerations involved in my own experiences, which are not offered as expert information. Instead, I’ve started this dialogue for all to share and participate in. I know little about the Antique market and just a bit about the African Block Pipes.

Another aspect of purchasing new Meerschaum Pipes, where some real bargains can be found, is the upcoming source of new Carvers. These are artisans that have been selling to Retailers and have established a degree of excellence, that promises to continue improving with time. At some point, they decide to break out on their own and start selling direct. They are trying to create a name for themselves and will use top quality Block as they attempt to establish a reputation with their art. The Pipes that are posted for sale will be the best effort that the Carver can produce and the prices will be lower, as there is no middleman to pay. Customer satisfaction will be the primary concern for these Carvers as they attempt to increase their market. This is a good time to get in on the action, since in time, as their work becomes more widely acknowledged for it’s superior quality, the prices will increase. This market is apparent to those who follow the Meerschaum trades. For the inexperienced, it is best to seek direction from more seasoned Pipesters and those that have access to the current markets. If you know what to look for, you can find some outstanding quality Pipes that appeal to your individual tastes, at very reasonable prices.

The Estate Meerschaum market is related to this in many ways, but there are differences. The first consideration that should be taken into account is the Pipe’s condition, and how much $$ it will cost to bring it into a smokable condition. This is not about Antiques, as they are more for Collectors than they are for those who buy Pipes to smoke. You should consider the cost of repair as the hidden total cost of the Pipe. If repairs have already been done on the Pipe, are they professional quality (?) and are they effective (?) are questions you should find out prior to purchase. Does the Seller know the Pipe’s legacy. Is the Pipe indeed what the brand designation on the case claims it to be, or is it a mediocre Pipe that has been put in a case of known reputation, in order to sell it for a higher price? If your plan is to continue to develop the Pipe’s Patina, does it look like the Pipe has been taken care of or did Uncle Charley use a blow torch to light it? Abused Meerschaums can be brought back to part of their former glory, but this takes time and the Patina is the most difficult to preserve and/or restore.

These are the basics, but by no means are they the whole story of either the Estate market or the newly initiated Carver direct seller. It is a good start on these issues and leaves room for the contributions of others, which is welcome.

Refreshing a Lattice Work Meerschaum Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I really am enjoying working on the last batch of pipes that my brother sent me. He does such a great job reaming and cleaning them that I have a fun job of bringing life back to a clean pipe. The next one up on my work table came in its own black vinyl (leather-covered??) case. From the outside the case looked like it contained a large apple shaped or round shaped pipe. The brass latch on the front edge and the hinges on the back were in great shape. There was a circle on the top outside of the case that looked like it had originally had a sticker logo on the outside of the case. It had long since disappeared and left its imprint on the surface of the case. The black case looked promising and made me wonder what was going to be inside. Jeff said he had picked this one up at an auction and it was in great shape.I opened the case and inside it was lined with golden yellow coloured velour. Nestled in the base of the case was a nice looking lattice meerschaum pipe that I think some would call and egg but to me was a bent billiard. The stem was a red acrylic with a Teflon/nylon push tenon and a nylon mortise insert. There was some light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button on both sides and a small chip mid button edge on the outside.I took the pipe out of the case and took pictures of it before I did my polishing and clean up on it. It really looks good. Other than the chatter on the stem and the chip in the top of the button the rim top had some darkening and light build up. Jeff had reamed the bowl and scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with a soft soap. He had also cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem. It was very clean. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem. You can see from the rim top that there was some darkening along the back edge of the bowl. There is some colouration happening on the top and underside of the shank and on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The rim is also taking on colour. It should not take too much work to clean off the darkening. The stem had some chatter than is visible around the button on both sides as well as a small chip that is visible in the photo of the top side of the stem.The thickness of the button lent itself to topping it slightly. I used the topping board and put the surface of the button face against the sanding board. I worked it against the sanding board and remove the chip that was on the face of the button. I filled in the remaining portion of the chip with clear super glue and set it aside to cure.I sanded nicks and the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button and blended the repair into the rest of the button surface with 220 grit sandpaper. With the sanding and reshaping there was sanding dust in the airway on the stem so I cleaned it with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned off the white nylon push tenon. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish using both the fine and extra fine versions. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I polished the sides of the bowl and shank at the same time with the pads. I the polished stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I buffed the bowl with a soft microfiber cloth. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Soft Beeswax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me a message or an email to slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over beautiful lattice meerschaum.