Tag Archives: Charatan’s Pipes

New Life for a Charatan’s Make Sandblast 260 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an antique store in Utah that Jeff picked up on one of his pipe hunts.  The pipe is sandblast Zulu or Yachtsman shaped pipe. It is a rugged sandblast with some deep valleys and ridges around the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England [over] the shape number 260 near the stem edge and a Lane Era Circle L toward the bowl. There was a lot of grime and dust in the crevices and valleys of the sandblast finish. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat flowing onto the sandblast finish of the top of the rim – heavier toward the rear of the bowl. The inside and outside edges looked to be in good condition but we would know more once Jeff had cleaned it. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The interlocking CP logo was stamped on the left side of the taper stem. The stamping was readable but was faintly stamped. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top and inner edge. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the sandblast. It is quite stunning.The stamping on the top and underside of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above.  You can also see the CP stamp and the faint inset in the vulcanite.I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html) to see if I could find a listing for the Charatan’s Make London England in a sandblast finish. I knew that I was dealing with a Lane Period pipe because of the circle L on the shank but the stem did not have a DC bit as expected. I found this section that shows a similarly sandblast pipe with the same stamping other than the DC.Pipedia gives a great history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) that is well worth reading. There was also a helpful paragraph on the L stamping on the shank. I quote:

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.

Charatan pipes were not well distributed prior to the Lane Era, so very few pre-Lane pipes exist today. Herman Lane greatly grew the brand in the U.S., which caused corresponding growth in Europe.

Now I knew a bit about the pipe I was working on. It was made between 1955-1979-84 as show by the circle L stamp on the shank.  Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. There is some darkening around the inner edge that will probably remain but it is not too bad. The stem surface looked good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  The stamping on the underside of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. When I took it apart I noted the white Delrin replacement tenon. It was in excellent condition and the fit in the shank was perfect so I decided I would leave it alone.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. The bowl was in such good condition that I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The tooth marks on the top were not too bad and would likely sand out well. Those on the underside were deeper and sharper. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once they had hardened I used a needle file to flatten the repair to match the surrounding vulcanite. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the remaining chatter on the top of the stem and further blend in the repair on the underside. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I touched up the CP stamp on the left side of the taper stem with PaperMate Liquid Paper. I daubed it onto the stamping and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I was not overly hopeful as the stamping was not very deep but it was worth a try. Once it dried I scraped off the excess and left the white in the stamping. It is not complete but the original shape of the stamp is discernible.I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.       This Charatan’s Make London England 260 Zulu is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rugged sandblasted brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. The finish works well with the polished vulcanite oval taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charatan’s Make Sandblast Zulu sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Back to Briar from Bob Kerr’s Estate – a Charatan’s Make Belvedere 2502 Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work on the pipes in Bob Kerr’s estate for a while. I am getting closer to finishing restoring this large estate with only about 29 more pipes to do. This is the second of his two Charatan pipes that I am working on. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. This beautiful Charatan’s Make Prince is a great pipe to work on. It is a classic shaped pipe with a Charatan spin on the prince shape. It will go on the rebornpipes store.

This Charatan’s Make London England Belvedere smooth finish with lots variation in the grain around the briar is a beauty! The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank and reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England [over] Belvedere. On the right side it has the shape number 2502. The grain grime and dirt ground into the mixture of grain around the bowl. It had rich dark and medium contrasting brown stains that do not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a thick lava overflow sitting on the total rim top. The inner edge of the rim is dirty and may have some damage under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The replacement taper stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. It had the characteristic tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it.  He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim top and edges from damage. It was hard to know for sure from the photos.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain under the grime and grit ground into the finish. He took photos of the stamping on both side of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos and read as noted above. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.To try to figure out the era of the Charatan’s pipe I was working on I turned to the Pipephil website, Logos and Stampings. There is some really helpful information on each of the lines of Charatan’s Make pipes that entered the market. Here is the link to the section of the site that I turned to (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). There is an alphabetical listing of the lines but the Belvedere they showed had a stem made for a 9mm filter while the one I have is a nonfiltered pipe. The site did give a short history of the brand. I quote the portion that is most pertinent.

The brand was founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brand name has been overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc.(NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) followed up on freehand production.

I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find more information on the brand and possibly a link to the Belvedere line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) but once again in the general article it was not listed.  It did give a little more historical information. I quote the pertinent parts and have highlighted in red the sections that give information on this particular pipe.

In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian/Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes. These pipes got very popular soon, and thus Charatan moved to a bigger workshop in Prescot Street, just around the corner. Here he began to make briar pipes which should make the name famous the world over. Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s Make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Being the undisputed No. 1 in English pipemaking, Charatan was approached by Alfred Dunhill who was unsatisfied with the quality of the pipes he imported from France. During 1908 – 1910 Dunhill bought pipes from Charatan paying exorbitant prices to ensure he had some of the very best pipes for sale in England. In 1910 he lured away Joel Sasieni, one of Charatan’s best carvers, and opened his own small pipe workshop on 28 Duke Street. On the retirement of his father in 1910 Reuben Charatan took over the family business…

…The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950… Charatan records are almost non-existent before Lane due to a factory fire, making it difficult to date pre-Lane pipes. Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

I continue digging further into the dating of the pipe, but what I had found was a good start for me. If some of you would like to try your hand at dating it more accurately as to the time period it came out you might want to check out the article on Pipedia on Dating Charatans (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans).

I also reread the article on Pipedia by the Italian fellow who contributed some really helpful information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan_-_Milan_2014). I quote the section on the Second period: Reuben Charatan 1910 – c. 1962

– In 1962 Herman Lane took over the business from the Charatan family, although he had already influenced production from the 1950s.

– The pipes were mostly larger than the previous ones and corresponded in size to Dunhill group 5. These are slightly less rare, but still difficult to find.

– Stem: Usually in ebonite, saddle shaped or tapered, bearing a fine “CP” stamp, underbore system (see below) used when necessary.

– Shank: The shape code is stamped on it together with the nomenclature “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” arranged in two lines. From 1955 onwards on the models marketed for the USA there is also a serif and circled capital “L” (but not all models bear this) which resembles the pound sterling symbol. The “L” is for Lane, the importer.

From 1958, Lane changed the nomenclature for models marketed for the US to clarify the message: “MADE BY HAND”.  In this period the underbore was introduced. Its manufacturing period ranged between 1920 and c.1930. This model was equipped with a duralumin plunger trap fitted in the stem, which served to clean the residue more easily. This particular model bore a special stamp on the stem, and also had its own catalogue…

QUALITY GRADES…The stem did not only display the stamps mentioned above. Another stamp that can help dating is the one referring to the quality of the pipe. Until Herman Lane arrived on the scene there were four quality grades. Starting with the lowest: Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme. Lane went on to add higher grades from time to time: Supreme S, Supreme S100, S150, S200, S250, S300, Coronation, Royal Achievement, Crown Achievement, and Summa Cum Laude; these last three are extremely rare and almost impossible to find. He also invented other, different grades, even changing the previous pipe classification standards. We will not go into detail here, but it means that if we find an S100 or Coronation the pipe was manufactured following Herman Lane’s acquisition. In particular, the FH mark, or Freehand pipe was commissioned to the famous Danish craftsman, Preben Holm.

I am also including a shape chart from that site. I have drawn a blue box around the 2502 Prince shape.With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. The stem still had a lot of deep oxidation. I took photos before I started my part of the work.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows damage on the inner edge with some charring on the front inner edge. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. I took the stem off the shank and took some photos to give a clear picture of the pipe from the left side profile and the top looking down. It is a really pretty pipe.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now on to my part of the restoration of this Charatan’s Make 2502 Prince. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on the rim top. I followed up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to remove the damaged area and bring the bowl back into round. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I touched up the stain on the rim top with a Maple and a Cherry stain pen blended on the top. Once the bowl was polished it would blend in well with the rest of the briar around the bowl.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I worked over the rest of the remaining oxidation and the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point it is starting to look much better.  I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Charatan’s Make Belvedere Prince from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the sandblasted grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charatan’s Make Belvedere 2502 Prince fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

The next pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – a Charatan’s Make Belvedere 2012


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work on the pipes in Bob Kerr’s estate for a while. I am getting closer to finishing restoring this large estate with only about 29 more pipes to do. This is one of his two Charatan’s pipes that I am working on. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. This beautiful Charatan’s Make Lovat is a great pipe to work on. It is a classic shaped pipe with a Charatan spin on the Lovat shape. It will go on the rebornpipes store.

This Charatan’s Make London England Belvedere smooth finish with lots variation in the grain around the briar is a beauty! The pipe is stamped on the left of the shank and reads Charatan’s Make over London England over Belvedere. On the right side it has the shape number 2012. The grain grime and dirt ground into the mixture of grain around the bowl. It had rich dark and medium contrasting brown stains that do not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a thick lava overflow sitting on the total rim top. The inner edge of the rim is dirty and may have some damage under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. It bears the CP stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. It had the characteristic tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim top and edges from damage. It was hard to know for sure from the photos.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain under the grime and grit ground into the finish. He took photos of the stamping on both side of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos and read as noted above. You can also see the CP stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.To try to figure out the era of the Charatan’s pipe I was working on I turned to the Pipephil website, Logos and Stampings. There is some really helpful information on each of the lines of Charatan’s Make pipes that entered the market. Here is the link to the section of the site that I turned to (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). There is an alphabetical listing of the lines but the Belvedere they showed had a stem made for a 9mm filter while the one I have is a nonfiltered pipe. The site did give a short history of the brand. I quote the portion that is most pertinent.

The brand was founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brand name has been overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc.(NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) followed up on freehand production.

I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find more information on the brand and possibly a link to the Belvedere line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan) but once again in the general article it was not listed.  It did give a little more historical information. I quote the pertinent parts and have highlighted in red the sections that give information on this particular pipe.

In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian/Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes. These pipes got very popular soon, and thus Charatan moved to a bigger workshop in Prescot Street, just around the corner. Here he began to make briar pipes which should make the name famous the world over. Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s Make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Being the undisputed No. 1 in English pipemaking, Charatan was approached by Alfred Dunhill who was unsatisfied with the quality of the pipes he imported from France. During 1908 – 1910 Dunhill bought pipes from Charatan paying exorbitant prices to ensure he had some of the very best pipes for sale in England. In 1910 he lured away Joel Sasieni, one of Charatan’s best carvers, and opened his own small pipe workshop on 28 Duke Street. On the retirement of his father in 1910 Reuben Charatan took over the family business…

…The pre-Lane period (prior to 1955) and the Lane era pipes (1955 to until sometime between 1979 – 1984) are of primary interest the collector. The Lane era is often quoted as beginning about 1950… Charatan records are almost non-existent before Lane due to a factory fire, making it difficult to date pre-Lane pipes. Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

The section called Miscellaneous Notes had some interesting information. The pipe I was working did not have the Double Comfort (DC) bit which helps give more credence to an early pre-Lane date for this one. It also does not have the Serif L on the shank which adds to my belief of its early date.

Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”…

…The Lane Trademark serif and circled L indicates the pipe is from the “Lane Era” (approx. 1955 to 1979 -1984?), however it appears that both the English factory or Lane themselves sometimes, or perhaps even often forget to stamp the L on a pipe. The Charatan factory was known for inconsistencies, especially in stampings. Therefore, although an L on the pipe definitely defines it as a Lane Era pipe, the lack of it could simply mean the pipe missed receiving the stamp from the factory. The lack of the trademark could also mean the pipe was destined for the European market.

I continue digging further into the dating of the pipe, but what I had found was a good start for me. If some of you would like to try your hand at dating it more accurately as to the time period it came out you might want to check out the article on Pipedia on Dating Charatans (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans).

I also reread the article on Pipedia by the Italian fellow who contributed some really helpful information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan_-_Milan_2014). I quote the section on the Second period: Reuben Charatan 1910 – c. 1962

– In 1962 Herman Lane took over the business from the Charatan family, although he had already influenced production from the 1950s.

– The pipes were mostly larger than the previous ones and corresponded in size to Dunhill group 5. These are slightly less rare, but still difficult to find.

– Stem: Usually in ebonite, saddle shaped or tapered, bearing a fine “CP” stamp, underbore system (see below) used when necessary.

– Shank: The shape code is stamped on it together with the nomenclature “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” arranged in two lines. From 1955 onwards on the models marketed for the USA there is also a serif and circled capital “L” (but not all models bear this) which resembles the pound sterling symbol. The “L” is for Lane, the importer.

From 1958, Lane changed the nomenclature for models marketed for the US to clarify the message: “MADE BY HAND”.  In this period the underbore was introduced. Its manufacturing period ranged between 1920 and c.1930. This model was equipped with a duralumin plunger trap fitted in the stem, which served to clean the residue more easily. This particular model bore a special stamp on the stem, and also had its own catalogue…

QUALITY GRADES…The stem did not only display the stamps mentioned above. Another stamp that can help dating is the one referring to the quality of the pipe. Until Herman Lane arrived on the scene there were four quality grades. Starting with the lowest: Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme. Lane went on to add higher grades from time to time: Supreme S, Supreme S100, S150, S200, S250, S300, Coronation, Royal Achievement, Crown Achievement, and Summa Cum Laude; these last three are extremely rare and almost impossible to find. He also invented other, different grades, even changing the previous pipe classification standards. We will not go into detail here, but it means that if we find an S100 or Coronation the pipe was manufactured following Herman Lane’s acquisition. In particular, the FH mark, or Freehand pipe was commissioned to the famous Danish craftsman, Preben Holm.

I am also including a shape chart from that site. I have drawn a red box around the 2012 Lovat shape.With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. The stem still had a lot of deep oxidation. I took photos before I started my part of the work.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top good but there was some damage on the inner edge with some charring on the front inner edge. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took some photos to give a clear picture of the pipe from the left side profile. It is a really pretty pipe.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now on to my part of the restoration of this Charatan’s Make 2012 Lovat. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to remove the damaged area and bring the bowl back into round.Sometimes the pipe does not come with enough work on it! Today I took the pipe to my old office to work on it while I waited for movers to come for our Canon Copier and some of the desks, computers and equipment. I was carrying it from my car to the office and it fell out of my hand and bounced off the asphalt parking lot. It left some nice road rash on the right side of the bowl. I tell you when that happens I want to cry!! This evening when I got home I filled in the divots of the rash with some clear super glue. Once it cured I sanded them smooth with micromesh and blended them into the surrounding briar.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It did not seat against the shank end when it arrived as could be seen from the photos at the beginning. Someone had trimmed the step down tenon slightly and done it crooked. To smooth that out and facilitate a snug fit against the shank end I cleaned up the tenon. I topped the tenon on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and straightened out the tenon end. It did not take too much work to get the fit right.I worked over the rest of the remaining oxidation and the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point it is starting to look much better.  I touched up the CP stamp on the left side of the saddle stem with some Rub’N Buff Antique gold. I tried some Liquid Paper but it did not stick. The Rub’N Buff worked well and highlights the fine stamping of the entwined CP on the left side of the saddle.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Charatan’s Make Belvedere Lovat from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charatan’s Make Belvedere Lovat fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Breathing New Life into a Charatan’s Make Special Bell 33X Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

I still remember the first Charatan pipe I picked up over 25 or so years ago. I remember finding it in an Antique Shop that is no longer around. It was Charatan’s Make Bell 33X with a Double Comfort (DC) bit on it and probably the craggiest looking sandblast I had seen to date when I found it. I still have that pipe and still fire it up with a good bowl of 5100. It is a smoking machine. So when I when I moved on to choose the next pipe to work on it was not a far stretch to pick the Charatan’s Make Special Bell 33X smooth that was in my box. It is a nice looking Dublin shaped pipe that Charatan called a Bell. All of the stamping is on the left side of the shank. It reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England. Under that it reads Special with the shape number 33X. The CP logo on the left side of the vulcanite saddle stem is clear and readable. It was dirty and was another well-loved pipe when we received it. The bowl had a thick cake and the lava overflow on the inner edge of the bowl a heavy on the back side of the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe had a rich medium brown stain that highlighted nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The vulcanite saddle stem was in good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us there. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the left side of the shank and both sides of the half saddle acrylic stem. They are clear and readable. It read as noted above. The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I turned to Pipephil to get a quick overview on the brand to refresh me in a quick overview of the history of the Charatan’s Make Brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). I quote a pertinent summary of the information I found there.

Short history of the brand. Brand 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) follows up on freehand production.

I turned to Pipedia to the specific section on Dating Charatans to fill in more of the gaps (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I was hoping to be able to solidify the time period that the pipe was made. In reading through the material I am pretty confident that the pipe is a Third Era Pipe. I have included the section from the article that helped me arrive at this conclusion.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4)Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker than in previous eras

I am also including a photo from the article that shows the same stamping as the one I am working on. The one I have has a different shape number (33X) and also does not have the Lane’s L stamp visible on the left side of the shank in the photo below.I posted the stamping on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group on FaceBook and Paige Simms and I dialogued a bit about it. Michael Stanley responded first and echoed my thinking. Paige Simms followed up with the rest of the dialogue. It was a very helpful conversation.

Michael Stanley: The “X” denotes a non DC mouthpiece. And imho, that, was a good move!

 Steve Laug: Thanks Michael I would agree.

Paige Simms: I beg to differ my friends. The ‘X’ denotes a ‘special’ pipe in grain, size or maybe shape. I have several DC stemmed pieces stamped ‘X’

Paige Simms: No ‘Lane stamp’ may mean made before 1958ish…….or they forgot to stamp it. LOL. But the shape number ’33’ probably dates it pre1968. How is it stamped on the right side of the shank? IMPORTANT

Steve Laug: Nothing on the right side Paige… Everything is on the left

Paige Simms: Meaning then, the pipe was made before 1955 or 1960. The nomenclature change after the ‘blank right shank’ was in block letters “MADE BY HAND”. That stamp started in 1956 or 1961. (And ran for 5 years only). I was a founding member and I learned well from ‘The International Charatan Pipe Smokers Society’. That’s a Great pipe!!!

Steve Laug: What is the 1968 referring to above?

Paige Simms: The first year of the “Lane stamping”

With that information in hand Pipedia informed me that I was dealing with an era of Charatans pipes that were quite common. It was known as a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965). According to the information from Pipedia the pipe was made in the early 1960s. From Paige Simms information it pushed it back a bit further to being made before 1955 or 1960. The nomenclature change after the ‘blank right shank’ was in block letters “MADE BY HAND”. That stamp started in 1956 or 1961. (And ran for 5 years only).  I now had an idea of the age of the pipe and a bit of its story – it had been made between 1955-1961. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the back side of the rim top and inner edges the damage became evident. There was some significant damage on the back inner edge of the bowl that included chipping and burning of the surface. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean and there is some minimal tooth chatter and marks on the button and surface just ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the stem and shank of the pipe. It is clear and readable. I took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It really is a nice looking pipe with great lines.I started my part of the restoration work on the pipe by trying to address the burn damage on the back inner edge of the rim. The least invasive method was where I started. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to try and smooth out the edge while keeping the bowl in round. While I was able to smooth out the edge and keep it round the burn damage on the back of the rim top needed something a little more invasive. This is probably a step that some will find unnecessary but I feel somewhat compelled to try to bring it back as close as possible to the original look. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I finished it I smoothed out the inner edge again. The third photo below shows the newly shaped rim top without the burn damage. Fortunately it was not too deep and the topping was minimal. I was happy with the rim top and edges now so it was time to polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I was also hoping to blend the newly topped bowl into the finish of the rest of the pipe. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I apologize for the next photo but I did not catch it until later in the process when it was too late to go back and retake the photo.I touched up the rim top up with a blend of oak and maple stain pens to match the rest of the bowl. I forgot to take a photo of that. When the stain was cured I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. The tooth marks and chatter on the stem were not deep. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This older Charatan pipe came together quite well. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the black vulcanite saddle stem. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Charatan’s Make Special 33X is quite beautiful and is a lovely Bell shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. It is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 5/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like this Bell shaped Charatan’s Make Special pipe and it really does remind me of one of my first pipe finds. This is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Thanks for your time.