Tag Archives: Carved Figural Meerschaum pipe

Restoring and Repairing a Carved Sultan Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another of those pipes that I have no idea when or where it came from. With Jeff and my penchant for picking up pipes where ever we go it could honestly be from anywhere. As for the when, that is and will remain a mystery. This is a carved figural meerschaum Sultan Head Bent pipe with an acrylic (Bakelite) stem. The pipe has no identifying stamping on the shank or stem and even on the shank end when the stem is removed. It is a dirty pipe but the bowl was surprisingly clean. The rim top had some lava and darkening around the inner edge but otherwise looked very good. There was a lot of dust and debris in the carving around the turban and the beard. The creases around the neck and eyes were also filled with dust and debris. The shank showed three hairline cracks on the top and right and left sides. None were big or deep but they were present. My guess is that they came from over tightening the stem on the shank. There were also scratches on the shoulders and collar forming the shank. The taper stem was in very good shape with a minimum or tooth chatter and marks on the top side near the button. The button edges were in excellent condition. It was overclocked slightly and that would need to be dealt with. Here are some photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table.   I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the condition of the rim top, bowl and the inner edge of the bowl. You can see the inside of the bowl and note that it was quite clean. The rim top looked good with some darkening and developing patina on the inner edges. The stem was in decent condition.      I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the flow of the pipe. The pipe was going to look good once it was cleaned and polished.I have circled the hairline cracks in the photos below. They are quite light but in reality they are visible, I can also see the on the shank end with the stem removed. I went through my bands and found a thin profile brass band that had a slight cap that would go over the shank end. I used some clear super glue on the band and on the shank end and pressed the band in place on the shank. The fit was good and it should provide a cushion for the stem and tenon protecting the stem from being overturned. A side benefit was that the slight thickness of the band corrected the overclocked stem. I took photos of the pipe with the stem in place to give you a sense of what the pipe looked like. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to get the grime and debris out of the grooves and carving. I rinsed it with running water (keeping the water out of the bowl and shank) and dried it off with a towel. With that the outside was clean and definitely looking better… progress!    I cleaned out the mortise, shank in the briar and airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and 99% isopropyl alcohol. The pipe was dirty with lots of tars and oils. I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It is definitely looking better and I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil when I finished.        This Carved Sultan Head Meerschaum Figural with a Bakelite taper stem turned out to be a great looking pipe. The features of the face and the beard as well as the wraps of the turban look really good. The amber coloured Bakelite stem also turned out very well. The thin brass band adds a nice touch to the classy look of the pipe. I polished stem and the bowl lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel and the finish just popped and came alive. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish 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 pipe took on life with the buffing. The developing patina on the beard, turban and shank work well with the polished amber coloured 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 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches wide x 1 ¾ inches long, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The interesting old Meerschaum Sultan will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another estate pipe.

Refreshing a NOS, Large, Long Shank Meerschaum Sultan


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff was contacted by a fellow in Scotland who had a couple of meerschaum pipes that he wished to sell. This was one of them – a large, long shank, full bent, carved Sultan head with roses carved at intervals along the shank. It was in unsmoked, new old stock condition. The bowl is pristine and other than a few scratches so was the exterior. The shank and bowl have some colouration to it that I think must be due to the original waxing the bowl received when it left Turkey. The stem was an amber acrylic that had dulled over time but did not have any tooth marks or scratches. It had an orific opening in the button. On the right side of the stem near the shank/stem junction it is stamped Made in Turkey. The tenon is a threaded metal with a stinger apparatus integrated into the unit. There is also another metal stinger apparatus attaching the shank extension to the shank coming out of the bowl. I have never seen this type of connection in a meerschaum but I am sure others of you might have. The airflow seems unrestricted when either sucked on or blown through. It is a well carved pipe that needs polishing and simple cleaning. I took some close up photos of the carving and the bowl. The airway enters the bowl at the bottom in the middle. The rim top shows a scratch near my thumb. It is unsmoked as can be seen by the first photo. The second photo shows the carved Sultan head from the front. It is well executed and carved.I took the pipe apart and took photos of the various parts from different angles to show the carving on the shank and the bowl. The rose pattern on the shank extension and the details of the beard are well carved. The metal stinger connector on the stem and the shank extension are visible as well. The diameter of the stem does not match the diameter of the shank so that the pipe cannot be used in a shorter configuration. Scrolling through the photos below gives you a good idea of the condition of the pipe and the details of the carving. I took some photos of the acrylic stem to show its condition before I started to polish and restore the pipe. It is amber, almost butterscotch coloured acrylic with some interesting patterns in the swirls. The threaded metal tenon is a single unit so to remove the stinger would entail clipping the ball off the end of the threaded tenon. I am not willing to do that and will leave it intact.I ran some pipe cleaners through the stem to remove the debris of time in the airway and button. What came out was some dust from the original drilling that was the same colour as the stem material. Otherwise the stem was very clean and unsmoked.The tenon was slightly overclocked so I gave it a coat of clear fingernail polish to build up the threads so that when it was in place in the shank it aligned properly.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Some wet sand with all the pads but I have found that generally just wet sanding with the initial three grits is sufficient to remove the deeper scratches. The rest of the pads further polish the stem material. I polished the shank extension with micromesh as well. I sanded the smooth portions with 1500-12000 grit pads to raise a shine. I lightly went over the smooth surfaces of the roses to polish them. You can see the shine develop through the photos below. With the rest of the pipe polished it was time to turn my attention to the bowl. I wet sanded all of the smooth portions of the rim, the Sultan’s turban around the top portion of the bowl and the shank and collar of the pipe. I carefully worked on the cheeks and forehead of the carved face with the micromesh to shine it as well. I gently polished the smooth surfaces of the rosette on the turban and the beard of the figure with micromesh pads. The photos below show the developing shine on the bowl. This large, carved figural meerschaum is a real beauty with well carved features of a sultan head on the bowl flowing into the shoulders on the shank. There is a shank extension with roses carved around the round tube and diagonally up the sides. There are rustic portions in between the first two rings of roses. The shank then transitions to a smooth portion for about an inch, another ring of roses and then a smooth shank up to the end where there is a metal insert in the tenon to separate the stem from the shank. The stem is a screw in type with a metal stinger. The material is an amber acrylic that is in great condition. The unsmoked bowl and smooth rim top is in perfect condition. The acrylic stem is high quality and shined up well. I carefully buffed the bowl by hand using a shoe brush and waxed it with Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it again with the shoe brush to raise the shine on the meerschaum and acrylic. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The new old stock meerschaum is slightly coloured from the wax and sitting but it is unsmoked and ready to break in. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 11 1/2 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches, Chamber Depth: 1 ¾ inches. This large meerschaum will fit really nicely into the collection of any meerschaum collector. I am still deciding whether to smoke it or sell it on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in acquiring it let me know by email to slaug@uniserve.com or send me a Facebook message. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.