Tag Archives: bowl topping

The Vintage Notoriety of Tom Howard and his Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve never restored a pipe where the person who made it had more notoriety than the pipe name itself.  The Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato came to me along with several others from a good friend I worked with in Ukraine several years ago.  Dave Shain is also a fellow pipe man and restores pipes and has a great website, www.ThePipery.com.  In 2017, Dave won the Master of Pipes award from the Chicago Pipe Collectors Club for his work and charitable activities through The Free Pipe Project where Dave spearheads a program to send quality restored pipes to servicemen serving their country.  I visited Dave where he lives near Atlanta, Georgia, and we had a great time renewing our relationship.  He showed me his workshop, pipe and tobacco collections, and of course, we settled down in the ‘Barn’ flanked by a vintage Ford pickup – his Man Cave, to share a bowl or two.  It was a fun reunion!  I left with a tin of his aged Escudo and several pipes he wanted me to restore for the Daughters of Bulgaria, which I was more than happy to do.  Thanks Dave!The Tom Howard is now on my worktable because another pipe man, Paresh, saw it on The Pipe Steward site in my section, For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!  This is where I post pipes that are in my electronic ‘Help Me!’ basket that others can commission to add to their collections.  Like me, through rebornpipes’ Steve Laug’s encouragement and tutelage, Paresh started restoring some of his own pipes in India, where he lives, and publishing his write ups on rebornpipes.  This LINK will take you to his restorations published on rebornpipes – he does a great job!   After seeing some of my restorations online, Paresh visited The Pipe Steward and saw some pipes that chose him – like Harry Potter and the wizard’s wands!  One thing I’ve learned in my growing relationship with Paresh as we’ve communicated back and forth between Bulgaria and India, is that he doesn’t like large pipes – he LOVES large pipes!  And this Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato got his attention – here are the pictures he saw in For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!The pipe is marked on the left shank with ‘Tom Howard’ in cursive script and ‘Imported Briar’ on the right shank side in the same script.  For a Squat Tomato, I’ve labeled it a ‘Jumbo’ because it has a definite stout presence in the palm.  The dimensions of the bowl give you an understanding of Tom Howard’s presence: Length: 5 5/16 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Bowl width: 2 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/4 inches.I had never heard of a Tom Howard stamp on a pipe and after I put the name in search tool on Pipedia I was surprised to find what I found.  Tom Howard was a vintage celebrity in America during the 1940s and 50s.  Here’s the Pipedia said about Tom Howard the man:

Tom Howard was a popular comedian and personality in the 1940s/50s, known for vaudeville stage and radio work. But he also was a skilled pipe maker. In a Popular Mechanic article from 1947 he is written up as the “Hobbyist of the Month, Tom Howard.” He made pipes in his workshop outside his home in Red Bank, NJ. starting about 1939 and looks like into the late 1940’s or later. He purchased briar blocks by the bag as well as stem blanks, and in his well-equipped shop he handcrafted his pipes, in about three hours on average. He was a true craftsman, also specializing is intricate model boats, trains and brass canons, all built to scale.

I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a zany Q&A game show that was spoofing the ‘serious’ Q&A game shows.  It was called “It Pays to Be Ignorant”.   Here is what the Wikipedia article said:

It Pays to Be Ignorant was a radio comedy show which maintained its popularity during a nine-year run on three networks for such sponsors as Philip MorrisChrysler, and  DeSoto. The series was a spoof on the authoritative, academic discourse evident on such authoritative panel series as Quiz Kids and Information Please, while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951. The series typically aired as a summer replacement.

Snooping a bit more, I found an online site that had the July 5, 1951 episode of ‘It pays to Be Ignorant’ available for viewing.  I watched it and it was like I was in a time machine!  The video also included period advertising for cars and tobacco and Tom Howard in form, dawning a professorial gown and a gravelly 1950s vaudeville tin can voice.  It’s great! I clipped a picture of the episode.  If you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:  The Internet Archive.

The Pipedia article I included above, referenced one more source to learn a bit more about Tom Howard.  In a 1947 Popular Mechanics edition he was named ‘Hobbyist of the Month’ – but it didn’t say which month!  With a little bit of help from Google, I found Archive.org that housed old editions of many periodicals including Popular Mechanics.  I started in January and started searching – thankfully they had a search tool I utilized for each month.  Finally, I found the article in the Popular Mechanic 1947 June’s edition.   For the absolute nostalgia of it, and for the interesting information it adds about Tom Howard and especially his pipe production, I’m including the pages here for you to read – including the cover page!  I couldn’t pass it up!   With a greater appreciation for the pipe man, Tom Howard, I take another look at the Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato before me and based upon the articles above the dating of this pipe could range from the late 1930s to the early 50s as Tom Howard died in 1955 at the age of 70 according to Wikipedia.  The chamber has very little cake buildup.  The rim is worn and the rustification on the rim is filled or simply worn down – I’ll need to clean this to see.  The inner lip of the rim is darkened by scorching.  The rustified stummel is attractive – it has scratches and blemishes from use.  The smooth briar around the rustification is nice looking – I think it will look very nice after cleaned and spruced up some.  The stem has some oxidation and the bit shows minor tooth chatter.  I notice too, that Tom Howard but a subtle bend on the saddle stem to give the stem a definite orientation – nice touch and it looks good too.I begin the restoration by cleaning the internal airway of the stem using a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and then adding it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems of pipes in queue to be restored.  After a few hours I remove the stem from the bath and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) removing the light oxidation that was raised from the vulcanite.Turning now to the stummel, to remove the light cake in the chamber I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Even though the cake is light, I want to give the chamber a fresh start.  I jump right to the 3rd largest blade head and finish using the largest.  I follow the reaming blades by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the chamber wall further, then finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I inspect the chamber wall and it looks good – no cracks or heat fissures.  The pictures show the process. To clean the external surface of the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also utilize a bristled tooth brush to clean the rustification as well as a brass bristled brush to work on the rim and the dark scorching on the inner lip. Turning to the internals, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners with isopropyl 95% to clean. I also employ dental spatulas to scrape the mortise walls as well as a drill bit to clean the airway.  I sized a bit just large enough to fit the airway and hand-turn the bit to clean the tars off the walls.  After some time, the cotton buds and pipe cleaners start coming out cleaner.  Later, I will continue the internal cleaning by giving the internals a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning to the stem, I use 240 grit paper to sand out the roughness and tooth dent in the bit area – upper and lower.  I follow this by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grit paper.  I then use 0000 grade steel wool to sand/buff the stem.  The pictures show the progress. While I was sanding, I notice that the draft hole in the button is not shaped well – a bite compression or something.  I use a sharp needle file to even the opening and I repeat the sanding process for the button end – 240, 600 and 0000 steel wool.With my day ending, I continue the cleaning of the stummel internals by utilizing a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I create a ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  I then insert it and stuff it down the mortise into the airway as much as it will allow.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt – why kosher?  It will not leave a residue taste as iodized salt.  I place the stummel in an egg cart to keep it steady and fill the bowl with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top it off once more – and turn off the lights. The next morning, the kosher salt/alcohol soak had done its job.  The salt and wick are soiled by drawing out more tars and oils.  I throw the used salt in the waste and wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to dislodge any remaining salt.  I then use a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to make sure.  All is good – clean – and I move on! Looking at the stummel, I see several scratches on the smooth briar surrounding the rustification.  The rim isn’t even and it is worn.  I decide to freshen the rim by topping the stummel but only lightly – I don’t want to erase the rustification that Tom Howard placed there many years ago!  Using 240 grade paper on a chopping board, I invert the stummel and give it a few rotations and look.  I do this a few times and decide I’ve taken off enough.  It looks good and the rustification remains intact.  I then switch to 600 grade paper on the topping board and give the stummel a few more rotations.  This erases the rougher 240 scratches and smooths the rim surface.  The pictures show the topping process from the start to finish. Darkened briar remains on the inner ring of the rim from scorching (picture above).  To address this, I introduce a gentle internal bevel using 120 grade paper, followed by 240, then 600.  With each paper grade, I roll the piece of sanding paper into a tight roll and rotate it around the circumference of the internal lip by pinching the paper with my thumb.  This allows a uniform beveling to emerge.  The pictures show the progression. Now to the briar surface.  The smooth briar has a lot of small scratches and rough places throughout.  The first picture below also shows an example of Tom Howard’s rustification processes not contained to the rustification areas. I will spot sand these areas. First, I sand out the overrun rustification marks with 240 and 600 paper.  And then, to address the smooth briar of the entire stummel, I use a rough grade sanding sponge to remove the scratches and blemishes.  I then follow with a medium grade sponge then a light grade sponge.  Taking the stummel to the next step, I wet sand it with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  All I can say is, ‘Wow!’  I love watching the grain emerge through the micromesh pad regimen.  Each pad teases out the grain a bit more.  The pictures show the progression. I put the stummel aside and pick up the Tom Howard stem and using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand.  Then I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads, I apply a generous coating of Obsidian Oil that revitalizes the vulcanite stem.  The result is the glossy pop we all expect! Looking again at the stummel, there are some pinhead fills on the left shank side that need to be addressed as well as the worn rustification cuts that have fill material visible and generally, is lighter than desired.  I take some pictures of the different things I see.In the Pipedia article of Tom Howard, there were several pictures of his pipes that were provided courtesy of Doug Valitchka, which give an idea of the original motif used when Tom Howard rustified his pipes.  The picture below shows a dark shaded rustification, though it appears that Mr. Howard put a dye on this stummel to give it a more reddish hue.  Using this picture as a guide, I use a walnut dye stick to color and blend the pinhead fills and to redefine the rustification, yet I prefer the natural briar hue of this Tom Howard Squat Tomato and will not stain the stummel. Now, to ‘rough up’ the rustification, I mount the Dremel with a more abrasive felt buffing wheel set at 40% full power and apply Tripoli compound to the rustification.  The effect is that this softens the hue – blends it more so that it doesn’t look painted.  I think it does the job and I like the blending!I buff the stummel with a felt cloth to remove leftover compound and I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  This Balm works well to bring out the deep hues of the natural briar.  I squeeze some Balm on my finger and I work it into the stummel and rustification.  The Balm begins as a light oil texture then thickens as it’s works into the briar.  I let is set for several minutes then I wipe/buff the Balm residue off with a microfiber cloth. I then reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the stummel, maintain a 40% full power speed, and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  As before, using a felt cloth, I buff the pipe to remove compound dust left behind before waxing.  I then mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, maintain the same speed, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I finish by giving the pipe a good hand-buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine of the briar even more.

I’m pleased with the results of the Tom Howard Jumbo Rustified Squat Tomato.  I’m pleased with the textured blending of the rustification with the backdrop of beautiful smooth briar.  The contrast between the two is attractive.  I’m thankful to Dave Shain for giving me this Tom Howard to restore for the Daughters.  I’m also thankful for having discovered through the research the story of an interesting man.  Tom Howard was an accomplished comedian and stage person during his time.  But most interesting to me was his pursuits at home – in his workshop making quality pipes – not on a factory production line, but one pipe at a time with his own hands.  His love of pipes and placing them in other’s hands reminds me somewhat of my own worktable – the love of restoration and passing pipes on to others.  Paresh commissioned this Tom Howard and he will have the first opportunity to acquire him in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

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Whatever it takes to make a pipe usable – A Creative WWII Trench Repair


Blog by Steve Laug

I was on Facetime recently with Paresh and Abha in India, talking about pipe restoration and what they were currently working on together. Paresh showed me some of the pipes that they were working on as well as several that he wanted to send to me to work on. One of them was a pipe that had come to him from a family friend who told him it came from WW2 and had belonged to a German soldier. He was not sure what to do with this one and almost felt that it was not worth working on. A piece with that kind of story attached is always interesting to me and I wanted to see it and also work on restoring it. Paresh brought the metal box that the pipe came to him in and the assortment of pieces that made up the pipe to the table to show me what was there. It had what looked like two stem options with it. The one that looked right was a Perspex stem. He was able to remove the brass shank extension from the bowl while were talking and thought he had broken it. I did not think so but underneath the brass there was a broken shank. The brass had been slipped over the broken shank as an extension. The pieces could all be combined to make a functional pipe. I was excited to get this pipe and work on it. Here are some photos of the pipe box. It bears the initials CK and a raise pipe on the cover. When the box was opened the pipe parts were scattered in the larger compartment. There was a bent wire in the box as well. I have a theory how that was used and will talk about it shortly. It is obvious that the box was made to fit a pipe in the upper compartment and tobacco and lighting material in the lower portion. There is a fabric piece fixed to the lid that keeps the pipe from moving around the box.Paresh kept the box in India and mailed the pipe parts to me to see what I could do with them. It took a long time for the pipe to arrive in Vancouver from India. I would have forgotten about it if Paresh had not sent me WhatsApp messages to see if it had made it here. Finally there was a parcel notice hanging on my door when I came home from work. The postie had written that a package was at the post office and I could pick it up the next day after 1pm. I picked it up the next day after work and brought it home. I carefully unwrapped the plastic sleeve that enclosed the box. I cut the tape that held the box closed. Inside were the pipes that Paresh wanted me to work on. The “War” pipe was in a plastic bag and wrapped in bubble wrap. I carefully took it out of the wrappings and put it on the desk. I took the following photos to show the condition of all the parts before I started the cleanup and restoration.I examined the pieces carefully to see if I could come to any conclusions about the provenance of the pipe as it now stood. The bowl was in rough condition but I thought it could be cleaned up to at least carry on the trust of a pipeman from the past. The brass was very interesting and had been cut off on one end. Each end had a different diameter. One end was the size to fit on the broken shank and the other fit the wooden extension. The wooden extension appeared to be oak or a like hard wood. The inside appeared to have been burned and was darkened on each end. It had a copper ring around the end where the stem went. The ring had been hammered smooth and worked onto the shank end to keep it from splitting when the stem was inserted. The two stems were interesting. The white one looked like a cigarillo holder to me and probably was the first stem to be used on the pipe. It could possibly fit over the wooden extension prior to the addition of the copper ring. That leaves me to assume that the clear stem was a later addition and the ring was added to make sure that it did not split the wood when inserted. All parts were very dirty but I could see how they went together to make a smokeable pipe. We talked about the background of the pipe on Facetime and also on WhatsApp several other times and he told me the story that had been passed on to him by the friend of his family. I wrote to Paresh and asked if he could give me a summary about the pipe – write down some of what he had told me in our conversations. This is what he wrote to me.

This WWII pipe was handed over to me by one of my best buddies who has a family tradition of serving in the Army. This pipe once belonged to his eldest maternal Uncle who had participated in WW II as a Sepoy (an Indian soldier serving under British or other European orders) and later during the war rose to become a Junior Commissioned Officer. He had participated in the Operations in North Africa as part of a British Indian Division. It was during one of the battles at El Agheila during November – December 1941 that he had picked this up this pipe with its case from one of the overrun German trenches as a souvenir and had been with him since…. – Regards, Paresh

That was the information that I was looking for about this pipe. It is one thing to assume that the pipe was a War Memorabilia but another thing to get the history behind it. Thanks Paresh. Now I knew that I was dealing with a German soldier’s pipe and pipe case that had been left behind either when he was killed or when he abandoned German trenches in haste fleeing the British Indian Division. His friend’s uncle had picked up the case from the trench as a souvenir. It had remained in the family in the case in parts since that time.

This is where my imagination took over and tried to figure out how the pipe had come to its current state. I wonder what was in the mind of the pipeman who put the pieces together. So I took what I could see and imagined the following scenario from the parts.

Somewhere along the journey of the soldier CK and his pipe he had broken the shank on what must have been his only pipe. It was broken and either could be thrown away as garbage along the way or perhaps he could rebuild it. The broken shank was the impetus for repairing the pipe and the way it was done was highly creative.

The remnant of the shank was carefully modified with a knife judging from the way the broken shank end was carved. The pipe man had used his knife to create a ledge around the broken part where it connected to the bowl. A brass shell casing was cut and modified to fit on the shelf that had been carved thus repairing and lengthening the shank. The shell casing was pressed onto the carved shank until it was almost flush with the back side of the bowl. A piece of wood – branch or an oak stick was “drilled out” by heating the bent wire in the box until it was red hot and then inserting it repeatedly down the middle of the wood branch until there was an airway burned into the center. You can still see the burn marks on the inside.

The one end of the shank was drilled out and inserted into the small diameter end of the shell casing. The other end, the shank end of the piece of was carved out with a knife to receive a stem. There was a hammered copper ring that had been crafted and pressed onto the stem end of the shank. The box contained two different stems with the pipe. The first was a cigarette or cigarillo holder that could have been fit over the top of the dowel. Not very pretty and not very functional as it did not fit well. The second stem was a Perspex stem that was quite long. It obviously was the one used with the pipe as the airway was very dirty. There was also some internal burning in the stem itself that is odd. I wonder if the soldier who fashioned the pipe did not put a burning wire up the stem to open it as well and damage the internals of the stem.

I probably will never know the story behind the pipe for sure but what I have imagined is certainly a very real possibility. Whatever the story is the pipe is a fascinating piece of WWII memorabilia.

With the imagination satisfied and combined with the story that came with the pipe I examined the pipe parts to see what I was dealing with. It was obvious that the pipe was smoked a lot. It was probably the soldier’s only pipe and it rarely sat unlit by the looks of it. The bowl was thickly caked and damaged the externals were worn. It appeared that the pipe had been dropped a few times as there were deep gouges in the briar on the heel of the pipe. The finish on the briar was worn out and dark but underneath there were remnants of what looked like nice grain. The rim top was damaged and the inner edge of the bowl was rough. The bowl appeared to have been repeatedly reamed with a knife. The airway entering the bottom of the bowl was also worn from the piece of wire in the pipe case. I would clean up the pipe and leave the character intact. Many would have left the pipe as it was but to me the work that the original pipeman did to keep the pipe useable made me want to carry on his legacy and give Paresh a chance to at least smoke it.

I decided to clean up all of the parts individually. I scraped out the brass shell casing with a small pen knife and then scrubbed the inside with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until the inside was as clean as the shiny brass exterior. The first photo shows the cut edge that the wooden extension inserted into. The second photo shows smooth edge that sat on the carved ledge against the bowl and the other edge was the cut edge. I cleaned the wooden extension next, scraping the grit and tars that had built up on the inside. The end that fit toward the bowl had an airway drilled through from the other end. It looked to me that the airway had been burned through with a hot wire. It was darkened from being inserted into the brass and as it had oxidized it had coloured the wood. The end that held the stem was carved to receive the tenon. It had been banded with a copper ring to stabilize the wood. I used a pen knife to scrape the grime out of the extension and then cleaned it with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the insert end and remove some of the damage to the wood.With the brass and wooden shank extensions cleaned it was time to clean the bowl. I took a photo of the bowl to show the thickness of the cake on the walls and the trough that had been carved in the bottom of the bowl to the airway leaving the bowl. It looks to me that the trough has been gouged out over time by cleaning the pipe with the wire that was in the box. The cake on bowl walls was thick and uneven all the way around. It was also quite crumbly and soft. The pipe smelled musty from the years that it had been sitting since the war. Once it was removed there would be work to be done to smooth out the walls of the bowl. There are spots that appear quite thin and there will need to be at least a bowl coating done to protect the bowl.I carefully removed the cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping it from the walls. You can see from the photos how crumbly and soft the carbon chunks were. I wrapped some 220 grit sandpaper around a piece of dowel and sanded the walls to remove the remaining cake.I used a dental spatula to rebuild the inside back edge of the bowl rim with clear super glue and briar dust. This was just the first step in the process that would take a lot more work to bring it back to a useable condition.I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I did not want to remove much of the briar, just smooth out the damage. The first photo shows the topping and the second the rim after topping.I filled in the divots in the bottom of the bowl and carefully repaired what looked like a crack in the briar with clear super glue and briar dust. Once the repair had cured I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I carefully sanded the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I set the bowl aside and worked on putting the parts of the shank extension back together. I heated the brass shell casing with a Bic lighter to expand it enough to be pressed on to the wooden shank tube. I scrubbed the tube with Before & After Pipe Balm and lightly sanded the extension with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the brass and copper band with micromesh sanding pads.I cleaned out the inside of the newly reassembled shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I cleaned out both ends of the new shank.I cleaned out the broken shank on the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol in preparation for gluing on the shank extension. I dried it out and coated the shelf with white all-purpose glue. Once the glue was in place I pressed the shank extension onto the bowl. I wiped away the excess glue. Once the glue had set I took pictures of the pipe at this point in the process. To match the stain remaining on the bowl I used the mislabeled tan aniline stain. It is a reddish-brown almost cordovan coloured. I figured it would match the existing colour very well. I applied the stain with a dauber and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage on the bowl was even.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to even out the coverage and make the stain more transparent. I wanted the grain to show through the finish. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and the inside of the bowl.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem at this point in the process. It was truly a mess. There were tars and oils lining the airway making it almost black and there was damage to the interior of the stem material around the airway. I started the cleaning process using liquid cleanser and pipe cleaners to remove some of the tars. I was able to get a lot of the stuff out of the airway.I used a small round needle file to further clean out the airway. I sanded the interior of the airway to smooth out the surface of the drilled area. I ran alcohol dampened pipe cleaners through after the files to clean out the dust. The stem was finally getting clean. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the airway after filing. The photos also show the internal damage to the stem from what looks like fire. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I rubbed down the briar and the oak shank extension with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar and oak with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The grain is really starting to stand out. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I carefully 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 newly stained finish works well when polished to really highlight the variety of grains and mask the damage around the bowl and shank. The polished Perspex stem works together with the beautiful grain in the briar and the brass and oak shank extension to give the pipe a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem demonstrate the creativity of the German soldier CK who left it in the trenches of North Africa. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 1 inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The pipe is ready to head back to Paresh in India once I finish the other ones he sent to me. This pipe has really travelled – from Germany to North Africa to India to Canada and back to India. I wish it could tell its own story. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting piece of memorabilia. 

Restoring an Old-Vic 8523


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I decided to work on is a smallish beautiful bent Dublin shape with unique hexagonal  giving the appearance of a honey collection cell in a beehive. These are definitely not hand crafted rustication as the perfect geometry, details and alignment of these tiny hexagons is difficult to achieve by hand. But, nevertheless, it is one handsome looking pipe!!!!

As described above, this dude has these rustication all over the stummel and over the round shank, save for a smooth portion on the bottom of the shank which bears all the identification marks of this pipe and the rim top which looks amazing. It is stamped on the left corner of the shank with “Old-Vic” in with old style curls. The end of the letter “c” curves back in a linear fashion and underlines up to the letter “d” in the name Old , before fading off gradually. Old-Vic is followed by “# 8523”. Just below the number and starting from the end of the letter “c” in Old-Vic, it is stamped as “CENTURY OLD” over “BRIAR ITALY”. Towards the right end of the shank and mid way, it bears the stamp “BURL GRAIN” in an arch over a very faint stamp which I could not make out. The vulcanite saddle stem is of high quality and is stamped on the left side of the saddle with “OLD-VIC”.Not much is known about this brand other than that these were made by LORENZO and hence the Italian connection. I have to concede that Italian pipes are very desirable looking with perfect proportions and beautifully crafted. I had even made an attempt to know more about this line of Lorenzo pipes by emailing Lorenzo’s American distributors, but have no response from them since last 15 days. Mr. Dal Stanton, if you are reading this piece, please enlighten me with your MANTRA for making these guys respond!!!!!!!!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in these are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This Old-Vic is no exception to this observation. The small hexagonal pockets are filled with dust while the smooth bottom of the shank is covered in dust and sticky grime. The fact that the hexagonal patterns are dirty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to a very dark reddish brown stain on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken black hues. The bowl is narrow and tapers down towards the draught hole. The chamber is so filled with cake that I am unable to reach the bottom of the bowl with my little finger. The build-up of the cake is more heavy in the bottom half of the bowl. The mortise is full of oils and gunk and air flow is restricted. The rim top is smooth and the grains are accentuated with a lighter stain, which can be seen through the overflowing lava. The inner and outer edge of the rim is in pristine condition with no dings or dents. The vulcanite stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brown in color!!!! Some light tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both side is crisp and without any damage. The quality of vulcanite is good. THE PROCESS
I started this project by removing the cake from the chamber and cleaning it. However, no sooner did I start, I realized that my Kleen Reem pipe reamer would not fit in the chamber. The cake was so densely packed and thick that my British Buttner reamer could get damaged. So, the only option left was my fabricated knife!!!!  It was laborious, but the task was accomplished. I found the chamber to be solid and without any heat fissures or cracks. To finish the chamber, I used a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to sand the inner walls. This was followed by 220 and 400 grit sand paper and now we have a smooth and even surface on the walls of the chamber, ready for taking on a fresh layering of carbon cake!!!!! I wiped the rim top with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This helped me to get rid of all the overflow of lava as well as the dirt and dust that had accumulated on the rim surface. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated all the traces of old smells from previous usage. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed through all the hexagonal patterns, cleaning them thoroughly. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.While the stummel was drying, I worked the stem. In order to address the minor tooth chatters, I flame the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. This brings most of the tooth chatter to the surface. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. I wanted to highlight the grains on the rim top as well as enhance the contrast with the rest of the pipe. To achieve this aim, I sand down the rim top using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The rim top now has a deep shine with grains popping out and now with a magnificent contrast with rest of the stummel. Once I was satisfied with the stem and rim top restoration, I started work on the stummel which has dried by now. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To finish, using a cotton cloth and brute muscle power, I gave it a final polish. I re-attach the stem with the stummel. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up.

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes – Restoring a Barontini De Luxe Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is also from George Koch’s estate. It is a Barontini De Luxe Brandy shaped pipe with a quarter bend. The pipe was one of many that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. The Barontini came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. To me it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. Each pipe I work on I remind myself of the man and in the work give a remembrance to the pipeman who owned these pipes. Having held a large number of his pipes in my hand and having a pretty good feel for the shapes, colour and stems that he liked, I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I am including Kathy’s brief bio of her father and a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. Here is George’s bio written by his daughter.

Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others.

He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan.

We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

Each blog I have posted I thank Kathy for providing this beautiful tribute to her Dad. Jeff and I appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. We are also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.

The next the pipe is a nicely shaped Barontini Brandy with an acrylic stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – straight, flame and birdseye that is highlighted by the rich reddish brown stain. The top of the bowl is had some burn marks and some damage. The stamping on the top side of the shank read Barontini over De Luxe. On the underside it has the shape number 702 and Italy at the shank/stem junction. The gold and brown, swirled, pearlized Lucite stem had light tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. The interior of the pipe was caked and had cobwebs. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some light lava overflow and some darkening. There appeared to be some rim damage on the inner edge toward the front of the bowl. You can see the wear on the rim top, the cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl. It also looks like there are some cobwebs in the bowl. The pipe is dirty but in good condition.  He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank from the side to show the grain on this pipe. The finish is very dirty but this is a beautiful pipe. Jeff took some photos to capture the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The first photo shows the top side of the shank with the stamping Barontini De Luxe and the second shows the shape number 702 on the underside. The third photo shows the ITALY stamping on the underside near the stem. There is also a B stamped on the acrylic stem.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.I looked up some information on the brand on the Pipephil website to get a quick overview of the history (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b2.html). I did a screen capture of the listing for the brand. The fascinating thing that I learned in this quick overview was the connection to the entire Barontini family and to other companies like Aldo Velani. It is interesting to see the breadth of the brand in the following screen capture. The  pipe I am working on it stamped like the third photo down – the Classica and the B on the stem is identical to that pipe’s stamping.Pipedia gives further history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barontini,_Ilio) under the listing for Ilio Barontini. I quote that article in full as it has the connection to the De Luxe pipe that I am working on.

Cesare Barontini, who was in charge of the Barontini company since 1955, helped his cousin Ilio Barontini to establish a pipe production of his own.

Ilio started to produce machine-made series pipes of the lower to the middle price categories. Fatly 80% of the pipes went to foreign countries, the bulk being produced for various private label brands. Some of the own lines like “de Luxe”, “Etna” or “Vesuvio” gained a certain popularity. Citation: “Next to excellent craftsmanship Ilio Barontini pipes offer a wood quality, that is almost unrivalled in this price category!”.

The pipes being around still there were some unconfirmed utterances that Ilio Barontini brand has been absorbed by Cesare Barontini or even Savinelli. Who knows?

Now I had some idea of the maker of this Barontini. It appears to be one of the machine made Barontinis in the De Luxe line. Fueled by that information it was time to get working on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it.

Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and the damaged areas were obvious. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The Lucite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damaged areas on the surface clearly. There are damaged spots on the front inner edge and the back inner edge. There are also some deep dents and nicks in the flat surface of the rim. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button. There was one deeper tooth mark on the underside near the button.I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the damaged surface of the rim and made it smooth once again.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim. The rim top is looking far better at this point.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 wiped the rim off after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The rim really shone once it was polished. Once it was polished the rim was ready to be stained. I started by using stain pens. I used a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. It was the closest I could get to matching the bowl. Once it cured it was streaked and not quite a match. The first photo below shows the rim after the stain pen.I carefully wiped the rim down with some isopropyl alcohol to smooth out the stain. Once it was smooth I restained it with some Fiebing’s aniline stain. I used a tan coloured stain and flamed it once I had stained the rim. I repeated staining and flaming until the coverage on the rim matched the bowl sides. The second photo below shows the look of the rim after this staining. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the top and more chatter and a deeper tooth mark on the underside of the acrylic stem at the button. I cleaned off the surface of the stem with alcohol and filled in the deep tooth mark with clear super glue. Once it cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. It did not take too much sanding to remove the marks and smooth out the stem surface. When it was sanded it was smooth and the marks were gone. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is the thirteenth pipe that I am restoring from Kathy’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward once again to hearing what Kathy thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Barontini Brandy from George’s estate. More will follow in a variety of brands, shapes and sizes. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly so if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust from her father send me an email or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

New Life for a Chacom Prestige Chubby Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was one that my brother Jeff picked up somewhere along his travels through antique shops or online auctions. This one is a nice looking chubby billiard with a classic look and shape. It has some great birdseye grain around the sides of the bowl and shank and some cross grain off-center on the front, on the back and on the top and underside of the shank. It has a smooth natural finish to the bowl that highlights the grain. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Chacom over Prestige. There is no other stamping on the shank or bowl. The finish was dull and a little dirty but otherwise very good. The rim top was chipped and dented with a little damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl had a light cake in it that would be easy to deal with.There was one fill on the left side of the bowl toward the bottom. The stem was vulcanite and had some tooth chatter and scratching on both sides near the button. The stem had a silver double Diamond inlay on the left side. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup up work. Jeff took a photo of the rim top and bowl. You can see that the cake is quite thin. The rim is slightly beveled inward and there are some nicks in the edge. The rim top has dents and nicks in it that are quite deep. The outer edge of the bowl looks good.Jeff took close up photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see that it is sharp and readable. The first photo shows the stamping and the double diamond logo on the stem. The second photo gives a closer look at the stamping on the shank.Jeff had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. The finish looked very good once it had been scrubbed. He lightly reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe came to me clean and ready to do the restoration. I took some photos of the pipe to show the condition at this point in the process. I took some photos of the rim top and sides of the bowl to show the damage to the surface of the rim. The dark area on the inner edge at the bottom of the photo (left side of the bowl) is a nick and it has been lightly charred. There is also some darkening on the back edge of the bowl and some nicks and dents that need to be removed. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition. There is some light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button but otherwise it is in good condition.I took some photos of the grain around the bowl. In the first photo you can see the only fill toward the bottom of the left side of the bowl. The grain on the pipe is quite stunning. I have worked on quite a few Chacom pipes over the years so I know most of the history or at least know where to turn to refresh my knowledge of the brand. Chacom tobacco pipes are made by the famous Chapuis-Comoy Company. The Chacom brand, a combination of the first three letters of each of the family names. It is the signature brand out of dozens produced by the nearly 200 year-old pipe-making family. Chacom tobacco pipes where the number one pipes in France, Belgium and The United States after World War II. The history of excellence in french pipe construction continues today ( https://www.tobaccopipes.com/chacom-history/). A good timeline on the brand can be found on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Chacom).

I started my restoration of the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top. I topped the rim on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I checked the progress repeatedly as I only wanted to remove the damage and not too much of the briar. The second photo shows the rim top with the damaged areas removed and the rim looking very good.I used an Oak stain pen to match the colour on the bowl. I took the photo below to show the quality of the match.I addressed the dented fill on the lower left side of the bowl next. I filled it in with a drop of clear super glue and set it aside to dry. When the glue dried I sanded it flat with a corner of 220 grit sandpaper and blended it into the briar with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. I touched up the stain with an Oak stain pen. The colour was slightly off but once I buffed and polished the bowl it would blend in well.I polished the briar with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth the finish and blend in the restained portions of the bowl. Once I had that finished with the 2400 grit pad I checked the rim top and edges and was not happy with the dark spot on the inner edge of the right side. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the edge a bit more to take care of that. I resanded the top with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.I finished polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The briar is shining and the repairs have all but disappeared. In some of the photos I notice a bit of carbon on the walls of the bowl so I wrapped a piece of dowel with some 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and the rim top as well as the briar shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. After it had been sitting for a little while, I buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. They were not deep so it did not take tooth much to remove them.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust on the vulcanite. I finished the polishing process with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished polishing and wiping it down I set it aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and 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 contrasting light brown stain on the smooth briar with the polished, black vulcanite stem worked together to give the pipe a unique look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Chacom Prestige chubby billiard that needs a new home. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. This one will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful billiard.

Farida’s Dad’s Pipes #6 – Restoring a Charatan Make Distinction


Blog by Steve Laug

I am back working on one of the pipes that came from the estate of an elderly gentleman here in Vancouver. I met with his daughter Farida a year ago and we looked at his pipes and talked about them then. Over the Christmas 2017 holiday she brought them by for me to work on, restore and then sell for her. There are 10 pipes in all – 7 Dunhills (one of them, a Shell Bulldog, has a burned out bowl), 2 Charatan Makes, and a Savinelli Autograph. I have restored all but three of them – a Dunhill Shell and the two Charatan’s Makes. His pipes are worn and dirty and for some folks they have a lot of damage and wear that reduce their value. To me each one tells a story. I only wish they could speak and talk about the travels they have had with Farida’s Dad.

The bowl was thickly caked and the cake had flowed over onto the smooth finish on the rim top forming hard lava that made the top uneven. The inner and outer edges of the rim were both damaged. On the right front of the bowl the rim had a burned area – it was not a deep burn but it had darkened. On the back of the bowl there was damage on the inner edge of the bowl and it looked like it might be slightly out of round. The stem was oxidized but otherwise in good condition. There was a thick sticky, oily substance on the surface of the stem that I could scrape with my fingernail. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides in front of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. The outer edge has damage on the front right – burn damage and wear that comes from lighting a pipe repeatedly in the same spot. The inner edge at the back middle also shows damage but I won’t know until I remove the thick lava overflow on the surface. The stem had tooth chatter and some bite marks on the top and the underside of the stem just ahead of the button.I took a photo of the left side shank stamping – it is readable but faint on the left side.It has been a while since I have worked on the remaining pipes that belonged to Farida’s Dad. I thought it might be helpful to remind us all of the background story of these pipes. Here is the material that I quoted in previous blogs. I have included both the written material and the photo that Farida included of her Dad.

When I wrote the blog on the Classic Series Dunhill and thinking about its travels, Farida sent me an email with a short write up on her Dad. She remembered that I had asked her for it so that I could have a sense of the stories of her Dad’s pipes. Here is what she wrote: My dad, John Barber, loved his pipes. He was a huge fan of Dunhill and his favourite smoke was St. Bruno. No one ever complained of the smell of St. Bruno, we all loved it. I see the bowls and they’re large because he had big hands. When he was finished with his couple of puffs, he would grasp the bowl in the palm of his hand, holding the warmth as the embers faded. The rough bowled pipes were for daytime and especially if he was fixing something. The smooth bowled pipes were for an evening with a glass of brandy and a good movie. In his 20s, he was an adventurer travelling the world on ships as their radio operator. He spent a year in the Antarctic, a year in the Arctic and stopped in most ports in all the other continents. He immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties, working on the BC Ferries earning money to pay for his education. He graduated from UBC as an engineer and spent the rest of his working life as a consultant, mostly to the mining companies. Whatever he was doing though, his pipe was always close by. 

She sent along this photo of him with his sled dogs in the Antarctic sometime in 1953-1954. It is a fascinating photo showing him with a pipe in his mouth. He is happily rough housing with his dogs. As a true pipeman the cold does not seem to bother him at all. Thank you Farida for sending the photo and the background story on your Dad for me to use on the blog. I find that it really explains a lot about their condition and gives me a sense of who Dad was. If your Dad was rarely without a pipe I can certainly tell which pipes were his favourites.As I looked over the pipes I noted that each of them had extensive rim damage and some had deeply burned gouges in the rim tops. The bowls seemed to have been reamed not too long ago because they did not show the amount of cake I would have expected. The stems were all covered with deep tooth marks and chatter and were oxidized and dirty. The internals of the mortise, the airway in the shank and stem were filled with tars and oils. These were nice looking pipes when her Dad bought them and they would be nice looking one more when I finished.

Here are the links to the previous five blogs that I wrote on the five pipes that I have finished. The first was a Dunhill Shell oval shank pot (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/04/restoring-a-1983-dunhill-shell-41009-oval-shank-pot/). The second was a Dunhill Classic Series Shell Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/08/faridas-dads-pipes-2-restoring-a-1990-lbs-classic-series-dunhill-shell-billiard/). The third pipe was a Savinelli Autograph (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/15/faridas-dads-pipes-3-restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-4/). The fourth pipe was a Dunhill Red Bark Pot that was in rough shape (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/03/10/faridas-dads-pipes-4-restoring-a-dunhill-red-bark-pot-43061/). The fifth pipe was a Dunhill Root Briar Bent Billiard https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/07/faridas-dads-pipes-5-restoring-a-dunhill-root-briar-56-bent-billiard/

Today, I went back to the remaining three pipes in the collection today and chose to work on one of the Charatans – a triangular shank Dublin. It was dirty but I was able to read the stamping. On the top left side of the triangular shank it is stamped Charatan’s Make, over London, England over Distinction. On the right side it was stamped Made By Hand in the City of London. I cannot see any shape number on the shank as it is pretty worn. The smooth finish was sticky with oils and thick grime. The bowl felt oily to touch.

To try and figure out the era of the Charatan’s pipe I was working on I turned to the pipephil website on 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 unfortunately they did not list the Distinction. 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 Distinction 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 bold 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.

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.

…Generally, when the pipe is stamped with the BLOCK letters “MADE BY HAND” it means the pipe was probably made between 1958 and 1965”

Generally, block letters “MADE BY HAND” and some of the other nomenclature in script (i.e. City of London or Extra Large next to the MADE BY HAND) means the pipe was made sometime between 1965 and the mid 1970’s. The total script nomenclature “Made by Hand in City of London” evolved over this period of time, so many pipes had variants, such as Made By Hand in block letters and City of London in script, or some other variation of the terms or stampings. The Charatan Logo (CP) on the pipe bit was changed over the years.

I found an interesting Russian site on the various lines of Charatan. Here is the link to that site – http://brbpipe.ru/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/T-shop_1-2011-12_56-69_3.pdf. I did a google translation of the section on the DISTINCTION line.

The first of two medium sized factories. Neutral flame grain under contrast stain. Sometimes, however, there is a completely fantastic, almost perfectly smooth cross cut, sometimes – inclined to the side of the smoker flame. The most important thing: in this and the next grade begins a serious predominance of freehand over cataloged shapes.

The reason for this predominance lies in the strategy of educating carvers. Both medium grades are the launch pad for those who sought the right to work with top grades. Where the freaks have become the rule. The master had to work out a sufficient number of freehands and show a personal fantasy, so that he was allowed to work with the best, selective locks. And if at this “school of life” you could make extra profits … well, you remember that in this regard, there was a little iron Hermann.

I also found a description of the Distinction on VKpipes. Here is the link to that site, https://www.vkpipes.com/pipeline/charatans-make-distinction. I quote from that site.

Distinction was one of the most successful and valued lines of Charatan’s pipes from the “first Lane era” (1961-95). These years the old good Charatan’s family manufactory turned into the brightest star of the pipe making by means of new investments, a successful management and a creative approach of the Charatan’s artisans. There’s no shape number on the pipe: it was made by one of the leading carvers at this factory regardless any catalogues…

I also found a list of the various lines of Charatan’s Make Pipes that helps to place the Distinction in the hierarchy of pipes. Here is the link to the list https://www.reddit.com/r/PipeTobacco/comments/z9knr/charatan_models_shape_information_for_the/. I will be posting it as a separate blog shortly. The Distinction line is just below the Executive line and just ahead of the After Hours line – both Charatan’s Make Freehand Straight Grains.

From all of the historical data I could work through this Charatan’s Make Distinction was one of the higher grade pipe from the mid 1970’s Lane era. 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 had enough for me to start working on the pipe itself and see what lay beneath the heavy tars and oils.

I began working on the pipe by reaming the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I used two of the four cutting heads to clean out the cake. The bowl was thickly caked so I started with the smaller of the two and worked my way up to the second one which was about the same size as the bowl diameter. I cleaned up what remained in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and scraped it back to bare briar. I finished by sanding the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped in sandpaper. I worked on the top of the rim with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the heavy buildup that was there. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the top surface of the rim and clean up the damage to the edges. I did not have to remove a lot and repeatedly checked it to make sure that I had removed enough but not too much. I wanted to take the rim top down until the burn damaged area was smooth and minimized. The second photo shows the burned and damaged areas clearly. I continued to top the bowl until I had removed the damage. I wiped down the rim top with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the sanding dust. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to break through all the grime. I rinsed the bowl under running water to remove the grime and grit. I repeated the process until I had the bowl clean. I took photos of the cleaned exterior of the bowl to show where things stood at this point in the process. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the inner edge of the rim until I had removed most of the damage on the back inner edge.With the externals clean it was time to clean out the mortise and shank and airway into the bowl and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula and a pen knife to loosen the tars before cleaning. I worked on the bowl and stem until the insides were clean. I wiped down the exterior of the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any remaining oils and grimes from my cleaning of the bowl and rim. Once the alcohol evaporated the briar was very dry but also very clean. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth finish to clean, enliven and protect the new finish. It also evened out the stain coat and gave the stain a dimensional feel. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. There was some darkening on the rim top on the right front and around the inner edge of the bowl but the briar was solid all around the bowl. The bowl looked really good at this point in the process. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on both sides with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad and filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repair cure.While the stem repair was curing I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and put a folded pipe cleaner in the shank. I filled the bowl with alcohol to leech out the oils and tars in the bowl. I set the bowl in an old ice cube tray and let it sit throughout the day while I was at work. I find that cotton balls work as well as kosher salt and the folded pipe cleaner leeches tars out of the shank as well. The first photo shows the pipe when I set it up early in the morning. The second shows it after it sat all day. The cotton balls were dark brown with the oils that had wicked out of the briar. The pipe smells fresh and new now!When the repair had cured I used a needle fill to clean up the sharp edge of the button. I sanded the repairs on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the surface of the vulcanite.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish, using both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes to further protect and polish out the scratches. When I finished with those I gave it a final rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry.  With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the sixth of Farida’s Dad’s pipes that I am restoring from his collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Farida thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. This Charatan Distinction will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you want to add it to your rack. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another of the her Dad’s pipes. I have two more of his pipes to work on – one more Dunhill and one Charatan’s Make.

Bringing a Butz Choquin Simour 1507 Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

With this blog I worked on another of the pipes from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. This is the twelfth of the pipes from collection. For a reminder to myself and those of you who are reading this blog I will retell the story of the estate. Last fall I received a contact email on rebornpipes from Kathy asking if I would be interested in purchasing her late Father, George Koch’s estate pipes. He was a lover of “Malaga” pipes as well as others and she wanted to move them out as she cleaned up the estate. We emailed back and forth and I had my brother Jeff follow up with her as he also lives in the US and would make it simpler to carry out this transaction. The long and short of it is that we purchased her Dad’s pipes – Malagas and others. Included in the lot was this interesting Butz-Choquin Classic Pot shaped pipe with an inset of what looks like copper on the left side toward the rear of the bowl. The condition of all them varied from having almost pristine stems to gnawed and damaged stems that need to be replaced. These were some well used and obviously well-loved pipes. Cleaning and restoring them will be a tribute to this pipeman. Jeff took these photos of the Butz-Choquin before he cleaned it. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl to show the thick cake and what looked like potential damage to the inner edge of the rim at the right front and the middle at the back. He also took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the finish and the copper insert I spoke of above.  The stamping on the left side of the shank clearly reads Butz-Choquin and underneath it is a bit more faint but looks to read Simour. On the right side it is stamped St. Claude over France and a shape number 1507 beneath that.The stem was in better condition than most of the others in the collection. There was light tooth chatter on both sides near the button and the sharp edge of the button had some tooth damage. As I look at it I wonder if it is not an acrylic stem. We shall see.Those of you who have followed me for a while know how much I love getting to know about the pipeman who held the pipes in trust before me. That information always gives another dimension to the restoration work. This is certainly true with this lot of pipes. I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. Once again, I am including that information with this restoration so you can know a bit about the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before they are passed on to some of you. I include part of Kathy’s correspondence with my brother as well…. I may well be alone in this, but when I know about the person it is almost as if he is with me while I work on his pipes. In this case Kathy sent us not only information but also a photo of her Dad with a pipe in his mouth.

Jeff…Here is a little about my dad, George P. Koch…I am sending a picture of him with a pipe also in a separate email.

Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others. He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan. We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all.  He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

Kathy, once again I thank you for providing this beautiful tribute to your Dad. We so appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. I am also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.

Jeff cleaned this one up before he sent it my way. He is really good at the cleanup work. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, plateau rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The lava mess on the rim was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. It revealed the burned areas on the inside edge of the rim that I was wondering about. However, without the grime the finish looked really good.  The feather or leaf carvings in the briar of the bowl and shank look good and the inset of what I thought looked like copper was flat. The acrylic stem would need to be worked on but I really like the shape. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some close up photos of the rim and bowl to show the damage to the rim top and edge. Jeff did a great job on the cleanup but boy did it reveal some damaged spots. I have circled the damaged areas in red in the first photo below. I have also included some photos of the stem to show the condition before I polished it.The pipe has some stunning grain and then it has this copper coloured insert in the side of the bowl (It may well be a piece of copper, I will know more once I polish it). I am still trying to figure this out. I wrote an email to Butz-Choquin to see if they can give me information on the line. We shall see. The next photo shows the inset.The next photo shows the leaf or feather carvings on the shank and the grain pattern. This is a pretty piece of briar.I had an interesting challenge ahead of me – to try to remove some of the damage to the rim edge without damaging the carved feather/leaf on the rim top. I needed to reduce the burned area on the rim top so that I could bevel the edge inward to hide the darkening in those spots. I progressed slowly on the topping board, checking every couple of rotations to make sure I was not making things worse.Once I had the burn damage removed I worked on the darkening on the top surface of the rim toward the front and at the back side of the bowl. I was able to minimize the damage on the top. I sanded those areas with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it in better. I beveled the rim inward with a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I was happy with the finished look of the rim edge. A good blend of stains will blend in the edge even more.I stained the rim top with a Maple stain pen first to blend it into the rest of the bowl. I worked on the inner bevel with Cherry and Walnut stain pens to darken the edge of the rim. I feathered the stain toward the out edge of the rim top and buffed it by hand to smooth out the transitions between the pens.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the carved feather/leaf patterns around the bowl, rim and shank. I rubbed it into the smooth portions to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and the help of a horsehair shoe brush. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Here is where things are after the balm. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. As I polished the briar the inset metal began to stand out. I was pretty certain that it was a piece of copper. It really began to shine and flash on the side of the bowl. It was an interesting touch to add that kind of adornment to a pipe. I set the bowl aside at this point and turned to work on the stem. I used 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I also worked on the edge of the button to reshape it at the same time.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth.