Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction out of Romney, West Virginia, USA. It is an interestingly rusticated Pot shaped pipe with a taper vulcanite stem with a briar and brass ring on the stem. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights deep rustication. This pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank and reads Velani [over] Classica [over] Brut. Next to that is the shape number 202. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top and the inner and the outer edges of the bowl are pretty beat up. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. I have worked on quite a few Aldo Velani pipes over the years but this is the first small classic shape that has come across my work table. It is an interesting piece. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup.He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the heavy lava coat. The outer edges of rim are in rough condition but it hard to know what the inner edge looks like at this point. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. He also captured the shape of the stem and the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. Jeff took a photo of the pair of rings around the stem – a briar and brass ring. Once they are polished they should look very good. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustication around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime in the rustication and ground into the surface of the briar. You can also see the wear on the top edge of the bowl. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank and stem. It is clear and readable as noted above. The stem has the typical AV stamp. I turned to Pipephil to refresh my memory of the brand. I knew that it was a Barontini made pipe but was not sure of the details (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-a3.html#aldovelani). I am including a screen capture below.From the side bar on Pipephil I was reminded that Aldo Velani is the fictional name for a sub-brand of Barontini that was mainly intended for export.
I turned to Pipedia to see if I could learn a bit more about the brand and the link took me to Cesare Barontini’s page (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Velani). It also confirmed the information from the side bar above. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. It is clean but it is very damaged. It looked like the pipe had been hammered against a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl showed chipping and burn damage all around. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads as noted above. It is clear and readable. The stamp on the left side of the stem is readable but shows some damage.I removed the stem and the extension from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a Pot shaped that should be interesting once it is all cleaned up. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by topping the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage on the rim top and minimize the damage on the inner and outer edges. I worked over the inner rim edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and smooth it out. I polished the briar and acrylic shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I recut the button and flattened the repairs with a needle file. I followed that by sanding out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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. The photo below shows the polished stem. This rusticated Velani Classica Brut 202 Pot with a fancy taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and the rustication really came alive. The rich brown stains of the rustication took on a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Velani Rusticated Pot is a beauty and feels in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!