Tag Archives: GBD pipes

Restoring #4 of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A GBD International Brandy

Blog by Steve Laug

Once again time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read this so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The fourth pipe I chose to work on from the lot was an interesting Brandy shaped GBD International with a carved and black stained rim top. It had some beautiful mixed grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button was in excellent condition. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This petite looking GBD International with a Plateau rim top appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim filled in the carving that was a hallmark of the International line but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and scratches in the vulcanite on both surfaces. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. The stem did not have the GBD brass medallion on the top of the saddle nor did have the later stamped and painted logo. Jeff 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 and edges from damage. The third photo shows the lava flowing down the outside of the bowl leaving a thick dark ring around the outside of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was still readable even though it was faint. On the topside of the shank it read GBD in an oval (GBD Logo) over International over London Made. On the underside London, England over the shape number 1970. The shank was very dirty as you can see in the photos. The GBD International Line came out in the 1970’s (not to be confused with the shape number stamped on the underside of the shank. I looked up the line on Pipedia to get a good description (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I quote from there:

International — France, unknown if also made in England: medium brown smooth, carved top rim, rim stained black. -TH: Matt take off finish “with just a hint of surface waxing” -catalog (1976).

Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edge and top of the button.I am once again including the tribute that Jennifer consented to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.



Once again 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 mixed grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the right side of the outer edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl (I have circled the spot in red in the second photo below). He soaked the stem 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 close up photos of the carved blackened rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It looked almost flawless. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides.I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on both the top and underside of the shank. It read as noted above.I polished the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked on the darkened area on the rear right side of the outer edge of the rim. I was able to remove much of the damage with the sanding. The photos tell the story. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar of the bowl and the carved rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the carved finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter in and to remove some of the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process.I shaped the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The multi coloured stained finish on this briar is quite beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The petite pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this old timer. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.




The Challenge Continues… Restoring a Vintage Era GBD

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

As I had remarked earlier in my write up on the late 1850s era FIRST CHOQUIN, A METZ (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/17/a-challenging-restoration-of-vintage-era-first-choquin-a-metz/),I could not contain my curiosity to open the third, and the last, box of my inherited pipes. In addition to the regular collection of Barlings, Charatans,Comoys and other assorted collection, I came across two pipes which caught my fancy!!!!!

The pipe on the left bears a football stamp that reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ” and the one on the right side simply reads “GBD”  (there are other stampings on the silver ferrule, details of which will be highlighted when it comes up for restoration). Both of these pipes looked vintage and unique enough that I immediately Facetimed with Mr. Steve of rebornpipes. His admission that he is willing for a trade off with me for these two pipes was an indication enough for me to know and understand their uniqueness!!! Thus these two pipes moved to the top of my unorganized and chaotic list of restoration. 

Having now restored the CHOQUIN and experienced the challenges that these vintage pipes pose, I was faced with a dilemma of whether I should consider restoring the GBD or take a break and restore another unique and interesting pipe. Mr. Steve suggested the latter and hence I decided to undertake the restoration of the GBD amidst my hectic schedule.  

This GBD is a long and large pipe with a fairly large and deep smooth briar bowl and a steeply raking shank, the end of which is adorned by a sterling silver ferrule.The horn stem is connected with the shank by a long and hollow Albatross wing bone extension having sterling silver end caps at either end, most probably to strengthen it. The stem attaches itself to the wing bone extension by screw-in type tenon which is attached to this extension. The bowl is stamped on the left side of the shank as “GBD” in an oval encirclement and is the only stamping seen on the stummel. The Sterling silver ferrule at the shank end bears the oval stamp of “GBD” over “M R C LTD”,all in separate squares, over a rhombus which in all likelihood, enclosed the faded number “925” for Sterling silver. For its age, the stamping is crisp and clear.

The large bowl shows beautiful, densely packed birdseye grain on the right side and extending to the front of the bowl,while a combination of tightly packed straight and cross grain adorns the left side and back of the bowl. The shank on the bottom surface appears to be divided into two exact halves, the right side with closely packed birdseye while the left side has tight straight grains. These grains on either side of the shank extend neatly in a straight line to the front of the bowl dividing the grains in symmetrical equal halves.

I searched Pipedia for information on this brand and this model in particular. Even though I could neither find any pictures or mention of this particular pipe that I was working on, I did find some important snippets of information which helped me making an intelligent guess as to the vintage of the pipe. I have reproduced the information that I had gleaned from Pipedia:


In 1850 three gentlemen got together in Paristo establish a firm dedicated to the fabrication of Meerschaum pipes – a courageous step in politically restless times. Ganneval probably came from the area of Saint-Claude where he had learned making wooden pipes. Bondier’s family obviously came from Paris and had immigrated in 1789 to Geneva. He himself had worked as a wood turner in the clay and china pipe industry in and around Saint-Claude making stem extensions etc. Donninger was an Austrian or Swiss and had worked in Vienna, the world’s center of the Meerschaum pipe. They agreed on the acronym GBD selecting the initials of their surnames.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more”British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co.in London.

The business relation to GBD in Paris began as early as 1870. Being the most important customer in the English speaking world, Oppenheimer & Co. were designated as sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA and Canada in 1897.Especially Adolphe Oppenheimer had a burning interest in the pipe business, and Louis’ son James Adler shared that. He should play the most important role in the amicable merger of GBD. A. Marechal, Ruchon and Cie. in Paris was now Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. (see Marechal Ruchon & Cie. page) – a British firm with four directors: Adolphe Oppenheimer and James Adler had their seat in the head office in London while Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon went on leading the GBD factory in the Rue des Balkan in Paris, which was considerably extended and modernised. Ruchon acted as CEO.

Marechal Ruchon & Cie. was a company owned by Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon (“& Cie” is the french equivalent of “& Co”) which owned the GBD brand from the end of the 19th century until 1902 when they sold Marechal, Ruchon & Cie. to Oppenheimer Pipe,which in turn changed the name of the company to Marechal, Ruchon & Co., Ltd. Upon the creation of Cadogan, however, the brand was no more, remembered only in the name of the GBD Marcee pipes made until just after the Second World War.

Cadogan Investments Limited is a subsidiary of A. Oppenheimer& Co. Limited. It was formed by Oppenheimer Pipe in 1920 as a holding company for its many recent acquisitions, including BBB,Loewe & Co.,two pipe factories in St. Claude and others. It continued to acquire pipe brands and makers for decades, adding GBD and others to their marquee.

It is from the last two paragraphs above, that I can judge that this pipe was made somewhere between 1902 and 1920!!!!!!


The large, deep chamber shows a decent amount of cake build up with overflow of tars and tobacco oils on the surface of the rim top. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the cake has been reamed back to the bare briar. The inner and outer edges of the rim show a few odd minute dings. Once I have scraped the lava overflow from the rim top, I shall decide on the method to tackle them and may even decide to let them be. I do not envisage any major surprises inside the chamber as the bowl feels solid to the touch from outside.Air flow is laborious and constricted through the shank and will improve once the internals are cleaned.

The surface of the stummel is covered in oils and tars from the overflowing lava and is sticky to the touch. There are a few dings to the surface of the stummel, more particularly near heel of the bowl and bottom surface of the shank. Should I address them by sanding, I am not sure, as I fear losing the patina during the abrasive process of sanding with sandpaper.

While I was handling the stummel, I realized that the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end had come loose. I removed the ferrule and what was revealed turned my stomach inside out. The glue was hard and dry and the briar had totally dried out and the shank end opening was uneven. I could even make out one small crack running down from the lip of the shank opening. Talk about challenges!!!! This will have to be addressed without fail.

The Albatross wing bone extension is dirty and covered in dirt and grime. There are two superficial cracks on either side near the shank end. I        know these cracks are superficial as the bone surface around it is solid and without any give. These cracks will have to be addressed. The sterling silver end cap towards the tenon end has a flared out rim which is uneven. This causes the bone stem to sit unevenly on the rim. Air flow through the shank extension is clean and full.

The horn stem shows some minor tooth chatter on both the top and underside, but more prominently on the top surface. This should be taken care of by sanding with a 220 or higher grade sand paper. All in all, the stem appears to be pretty solid. The edge of the lip on both upper and lower surface is slightly damaged and will need to be sharpened. Air flow through the stem is open and full.

The sterling silver ferrule and bone shank end caps are deeply oxidized and show the patina normal for its age. Once they are cleaned and shining they will add a class to this pipe.


I started the process of restoration by reaming the chamber with size two of the PipNet reamer head and progressing through to size three. I followed up the reaming with scraping the remnants of the cake from the walls of the chamber and the rim top surface with my fabricated knife.Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%. I gently scraped the rim top surface with a sharp knife. Removing all the cake from the chamber and rim top revealed that firstly, the rim was well rounded with no charring and only a minor chip and secondly, as I had anticipated,there was no damage to the inner walls of the chamber.

With 220 grit sand paper, I cleaned the internal and the external surfaces of the shank end opening, which until now was covered by the sterling silver ferrule, to remove all the carbon build-up, oils, tars,grime, dried briar wood and the dried glue. This process results in even more dried briar crumbling off, leaving behind a gaping hole. This needed to be restored as the damage is to that portion which supports the Albatross wing bone extension where it sits in to the shank. I conferred with Mr. Steve and it was decided to reconstruct the damaged portion by layering the gap with superglue and briar dust as the glue hardened immediately on coming in contact with the briar dust.

Before beginning the reconstruction of the broken shank end, I cleaned the internals of the shank, using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips, shank brushes, all generously dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The pipe cleaners would not pass through the mortise airway and the draught hole and so had to resort to more invasive methods. I straightened a paper clip and curving it, probed the insides of the mortise and the airway. After some efforts, I was able to dislodge the block. I scraped the inner walls of the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula. I gave a final cleaning with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol till the pipe cleaners came out, well, clean!!!  The heap of pipe cleaners and q-tips that are seen in these pictures are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I must have gone through an entire packet of 50 of both types of pipe cleaners, in addition to the q-tips and brush cleaning!!!!!

I, thereafter, began the process of reconstructing the broken portion of the shank end. I folded a pipe cleaner to fit snugly in to the opening of the shank end. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I smeared the pipe cleaner with Vaseline jelly and inserted it in to the opening.I applied first layer of superglue and pressed a little briar dust over it and let it set for a few minutes. This is followed by another layering and continued this process till I was satisfied with the reconstruction. I set the stummel aside overnight for the reconstruction to cure.

As the shank end reconstruction was curing, I initiated the repair and clean up of the Albatross wing bone extension and the horn bone stem. I cleaned the internals of the wing bone extension and the horn stem with bristled and normal pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol.Once the internals were clean, I cleaned the external surface of the extension with cotton swabs dipped in Acetone and finely applied superglue over the superficial crack. This was done primarily to stabilize, strengthen and prevent further spreading of the superficial crack and obviate any chances of air escaping from these cracks in future. I set the wing bone extension to cure overnight along with the shank end repair.

As I had remarked during my initial visual inspection, I felt that the tooth chatter on the lower and upper surface of the horn bone stem should be taken care with sanding it down with a 220 grit sandpaper. How wrong was I! After sanding the upper and lower surfaces of the horn stem, I realized that the tooth chatter was deeper than I had anticipated and would have to be addressed with a fill of clear superglue. And so I filled these tooth chatters with superglue and the stem too joined the ranks of the shank end repair and wing bone extension on the rack for curing overnight.

The next evening, after a hectic and tiring day in office, I decided to work on the shank end reconstruction. I filed the external repaired area with a flat head needle file and carefully matched the profile of the fill with that of the surrounding area so as not to adversely affect the fit of the ferrule at a later stage. I frequently checked the progress by fitting the ferrule over the shank end. I achieved a perfect profile match by sanding the shank end with a used 150 grit sand paper. Once the external profile was matched, I worked on the internal adjustment of the reconstruction to match the seating of the wing bone extension in to the mortise using a round needle file. I frequently checked the seating of the extension in to the mortise and making necessary adjustments by filing till I was able to achieve a perfect fit. To be honest, it was not as easy as it appears while reading it.The amount of time and concentration required cannot be described in words.

Staying on the stummel restoration, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel and the rim top surface with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush and rinsed it under running tap water, taking care that water does not enter the chamber and the mortise. I dried the stummel using paper towels and soft, absorbent cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The beautiful grain really stands out at this stage with the symmetrical division of grains on the lower surface of the shank, more distinct and clear. It is easily one of the best grained pipes that I have in my collection. Somehow, I was not satisfied with the way the rim top surface had cleaned up and I again sought the advice of my mentor, Mr. Steve, and received his reply, in his peculiar style, as “I would”, that’s all he had remarked!!!!!!

And so my initial plan for not topping the rim top was shelved and I decided to carefully top the rim surface. This would also help to address the one single chip on the rim’s top surface and also to remove traces of lava overflow. I topped the rim surface with 220 grit sand paper.Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the stummel rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage. The single chip was addressed to a great extent, but was still an eye sore. Using a folded 150 grits and paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a very light bevel to mask the chip. Though the bevel is not easily discernible, it helped address the issue of the chipped rim inner edge.

I followed it up by micromesh polishing pads,wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. It was at this stage that DISASTER struck!!!!! The stummel slipped from hands and crashed to the ground, shattering the reconstructed shank end and sustain a big ding to the heel of the stummel. Oh my!!! What agony it would be to reconstruct,re-profile the exterior and readjust the seating of the extension in to the mortise. But at this stage of restoration, I was left with no recourse but to reconstruct.

 This time around, I slightly tweaked the process. I wound a cotton rag around the complete stummel, less area to be repaired, so that the glue and briar dust does not spill over rest of the stummel and create more work for me. I completely sanded the earlier reconstructed portion and applied a layer of superglue and let it cure for a few minutes. Once the glue had hardened, I applied second layer of super glue and pressed some briar dust over it. I repeated this process of layering till I had achieved a matching top surface. I applied a final layer of superglue over the complete reconstruction and set it aside to cure overnight.

The next evening, I worked on the wing bone extension and the horn stem. I sanded the fills on the shank extension and the stem with a 220 grit sand paper. I sharpened the edges on the lip with the help of a flat head needle file and a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. When the fills were matched with rest of the surface, I progressed to micromesh polishing, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the shank extension and the stem with a moist cloth after every pad and rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil on the surface after every three pads. The Albatross wing bone extension and the horn stem is nice, smooth and clean. The wing bone extension has retained its natural coloration and there is nothing one can do anything about it. I finished the restoration of the wing bone extension by polishing the sterling silver end caps with cigar ash. At this stage, the entire assembly of the extension and screw-in type of bone stem looks beautiful, smooth, shiny and classic. I call it a day and decide to work on the stummel the next evening.

I start work on the stummel by filing the external surface with a flat head needle file and go through the entire process described earlier to match the exterior and internal surface with the sterling silver ferrule and seating of the Albatross wing bone extension respectively. I was extra careful this time around while working the stummel. You may find it amusing, but I sat on my double bed while I worked on the stummel!!!! Such a fright this incident had caused.

Then there was the issue of a dent near the heel in the stummel surface. Mr. Steve suggested adopting the steaming method to address this dent. Though theoretically I was well conversed with this method, I had never attempted it before and now to attempt it on a pipe of such vintage, beauty and value, had me in doubts. Added to this, I did not have any electric iron in my room as all the laundry, including ironing, is done by the washer man (I do enjoy certain privileges that come at my seniority in my organization). But seeing no other way out, I decided to give it a go. I improvised a bit and heated my trusted fabricated knife on a candle flame, soaked a thick Turkish hand towel and placed it on the dent. When I felt that the knife was sufficiently hot (well, I got it nicely hot!!!), placed it over the hand towel and over the dent. When there was a nice sizzling sound and a thick whiff of steam, I immediately removed the knife away from the surface and with a thumping heart, removed the hand towel to inspect the results, and boy was I pleased!!! The dent was reduced to nothing with the briar expanding nicely to lift the dent due to the steam, but it did leave behind a stark discoloration around the area. After a brief discussion with Mr. Steve and exchange of pictures, he suggested to rub some ‘Before and After’ balm in to the affected area to see if this would help in addressing the issue. Fortunately, it did!!!!Since I had attempted this steaming method for the first time, I was too preoccupied and missed out on taking pictures, my sincere apology to all those who were looking forward to these pictures.

To match the repaired surface with the rest of the stummel, I went through the complete micromesh polish cycle again.

At the end of 12000 grit pad, I rubbed a little quantity of ‘Before and After’ restoration balm in to the stummel with my fingers and set it aside for 10-15 minutes while I polished the sterling silver ferrule. The transformation in the briar is amazing to say the least!!!!! I buffed the stummel with a soft cotton cloth. I finish this stage of restoration by re-attaching the nicely polished and shining sterling silver ferrule over the shank end using super glue.

To finish the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about 40% full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  Afterwards, I wiped/buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel to the polishing machine,maintaining 40% speed and applied several coats of carnauba wax.

I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!

PS. During the journey of restoring this beauty, my Guru and mentor, Mr. Steve was always around with his words of wisdom and encouragement to egg me on towards completing this project. It felt like he was holding my hand and helping me take my first baby steps around towards completing this restoration. Thank you once again, Mr. Steve.

Redoing a Poorly Restored EBay GBD Super ‘Q’ 9436

Blog by Steve Laug

Probably one of the most irritating parts of the art of pipe restoration is when a pipe comes to me from an EBay seller who sold it as fully restored and ready to smoke and it was not. The story of this pipe started with that description. On the weekend I received a call from a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me this GBD Faux Spigot. It had a nickel ferrule and a nickel adornment just above the Delrin tenon. The tenon was drilled out for a 6mm filter. The stamping on the bowl reads on the left side GBD in an oval over Super ‘Q’. On the right side it had a Made in London over England COM stamp with the shape number 9436 next to that. On the underside of the shank it has an M stamped next to the ferrule. I asked him where he had picked up the pipe and he said that he had picked it up on EBay. Knowing that, I began to look more carefully at the pipe.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The rim and exterior of the pipe had been coated with a shiny varnish coat with some significant grime on the rim top under the varnish. The nickel had also been coated with the varnish and had run on the stem adornment. The stem also had some deep bite marks on the surface ahead of a very worn and ill-defined button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon had a lot of tarry buildup in it from smoking the filter pipe without a filter. Not much effort seems to have been made to remove it. The inside of the shank was also covered with a tobacco juice lacquer that was also gumming up the airway. When I blew through it, the draught was constricted. The inside of the bowl was another story. The bowl had been lightly reamed leaving behind a fairly thick cake that was checked and cracked giving the bowl interior a very fractured look. The bottom half of the bowl had not seen the blade of the reamer and was dirty. There was debris in the airway as it entered the bowl. I have to say that the pipe was a mess and the work that had been done would make my job harder.

To say that it was restored and ready to smoke was an outright lie. If it had been cleaned and the only issue was the cake I would have been good with that. If the rim top had been cleaned before the shiny coat I would have been good with that. But to cover it up and make it shiny to hide a poor job is deceptive at worst and shoddy craftsmanship at best. I pointed out the issues with the pipe to the fellow who had stopped by and suggested that he have me clean it up for him the way I think that it should have been cleaned. He was game so the pipe stayed with me when he left. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work to show the general condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top is not smooth. There are chunks of grime/lava under the shiny top coat. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  There is also some sagging shiny coat on the nickel stem adornment that is visible.I cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. The debris that came out was astonishing for a “restored” pipe. I scraped the walls of the mortise with a sharp pen knife to remove the lacquer build up there. When I finished the pipe smelled cleaner.I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer. I cleaned up the debris with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and sanded the walls with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to see behind all the cake what the walls looked like. Sadly they were as I expected – very checked with spidery cracks. I took a few photos of the damage to the inside of the bowl to give an idea of the extent of the checking and fissures on interior walls. This is typically caused by smoking too hot.To protect the bowl wall I mixed up a batch of charcoal powder and sour cream to make a paste. I pressed the mixture into the crevices and fissures on the walls of the bowl and painted a top coat of the mixture with a folded pipe cleaner. I set the bowl aside to cure and turned my attention to the damaged stem.I used a needle file to redefine the button on both sides of the stem and sanded the tooth marks out the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I filled in the remaining deeper tooth mark with super glue and when it cured sanded it smooth to match the surface of the stem.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. Once the bowl coating cured I worked on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – 3200-12000 to remove the tarry deposits around the surface. I scrubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm and after it sat for a short time I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Here is what it looked like at that point. 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. I am looking forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Thanks for tolerating my rant at the beginning about redoing EBay “restored” pipes. Also if any of you have ever heard of the GDB Super ‘Q’ line let me know. Thanks for looking and thanks for any help you might give.

Revitalizing a GBD Colossus International London Made 1759 London England

Blog by Dal Stanton

This is the second pipe I’ve restored that was commissioned by Paresh.  Like the first, a Tom Howard Jumbo Rustified Squat Tomato, this is a large pipe and the name reflects this – a GBD Colossus International.  It truly is a ‘Colossus’ with a huge stylish stummel that is cut with angles that makes one think of a ‘dinner’ pipe.  With the clear, acrylic stem and canted, sharp angled stummel – and his sheer size, sets this pipe on an upper shelf.  Paresh commissioned the GBD from the For‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! section and this pipe, along with the Tom Howard, benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Here are the pictures that got Paresh’s attention.The left side of the stummel encases the nomenclature, Colossus (in cursive script) [over] GBD (in oval) [over] INTERNATIONAL [over] LONDON MADE.  A classic brass GBD rondel is embedded in the acrylic stem, placing the dating of the pipe as pre-Cadogan.  On the right shank side is stamped LONDON ENGLAND [over] 1759, the GBD shape number.  I also see a ‘D’ stamped on the lower side of the shank which I have no information on!

Based upon the straight COM LONDON ENGLAND and the brass rondel, this GBD is dated pre-Cadogan which is 1981 and earlier.  In the GBD Pipedia article, this reference places the pipe in the 60s or 70s naming the lines that GBD had during that time.  ‘International’ is nestled in the middle of the list.

The following list comprises the better grades in descending order:

Pedigree, Pedigree I, Pedigree II, Straight Grain, Prodigy, Bronze Velvet, Virgin, Varichrome, Prestige, Jubilee, New Era, Prehistoric, International, Universe, Speciale Standard, Ebony, Tapestry, New Standard, Granitan, Sauvage, Sierra, Penthouse, Legacy, Concorde.

This is confirmed by information sent to me from Al Jones, who knows more than most about GBD pipes.  Al sent me a PDF of Jerry Hannah’s finish guide and one reference for an ‘International’ comes from the 1976 catalog. Unfortunately, I found no listing for a shape number of 1759, but the shape is most definitely at least a 3/4 bent – not sure I would call it a Billiard but the sharp canted stummel reminds one of a Dublin! Looking more at the pipe’s condition, it bears normal scratches and nicks from normal use.  The rim is darkened with some lava flow.  There are a few light fills on the side of the stummel that need to be examined.  The acrylic stem has tooth chatter that needs addressing.  The amber colored airway should clean nicely.  I take some additional shots to show the issues. Starting with the basic cleaning, I ream the chamber of the light cake using the Pipnet Reaming kit revealing fresh briar.  The depth of the chamber becomes evident at almost 2 1/2 inches (2 7/16 to be exact) as it swallows the 3 blade heads I use to clean the carbon cake!  This chamber will pack a good bit of tobacco!  Following the Pipnet blades, I use the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to fine tune and clean the chamber further reaching the depths.  Finally, I sand the chamber by wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen.  I finish the clean up of the chamber by wiping out the carbon dust using a cotton cloth wetted with isopropyl 95% and inspection of the chamber shows no problems.  The pictures show the progress. To clean the externals, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad to scrub the briar and darkened rim. I also use a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  Pictures show before and after.Continuing with the stummel cleaning, I work on the internals with pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%. I also utilize a shank brush to work through the draft hole as well as a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  The pipe cleaners and cotton buds start coming clean, but later, at the close of my work day, I’ll also utilize a kosher salt and alcohol soak to clean and freshen the internals further.Now, looking at the acrylic stem, it’s difficult to see with the pictures I’ve taken, but the button has some compression dents and the bit is clouded from tooth chatter.   The pictures show the starting point.   I first run a bristled pipe cleaner dipped with isopropyl 95% to clean the airway.Then, using a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the bit and button to work out the tooth marks and compression dents on the button lip.  Following this, to erase the scratches of the filing and 240 grit paper, I sand using 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool. Moving from the steel wool, I wet sand the stem using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sand from 3200 to 12000 to bring out the glassy shine of the acrylic stem. I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel with speed set at about 40% and apply Tripoli compound to the entire stem.  I follow this using another buffing wheel, same speed, and apply White Diamond compound.  To remove the compound dust, I buff the stem with a felt cloth.  Acrylic stems love to be buffed up and this GBD Colossus International’s stem is looking great!  The acrylic is like glass. Looking now at the stummel, to address the dents and scratches on the surface, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with the remaining pads, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I enjoy watching the grain emerge during the micromesh cycles.  This GBD stummel has a lot of briar real estate and the grain is beautifully showcased.  The pictures show the emerging grain. With my work day closing, I continue the cleaning of the internals of the stummel using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To do this I create a wick by pulling and twisting a cotton ball and stuffing it down the mortise and airway as far as I can manage with a rigid straight wire.  I then place the stummel in an egg crate for stability and fill the huge chamber with kosher salt which leave no after taste as its iodized cousin.  I give the stummel a shake capping the bowl and then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes and the alcohol has been absorbed, I top off the chamber again.  Then, I set it aside until the morning.  The following morning the salt has discolored and the wick has an ink-like color on the top – not sure what that is.  I clear out the expended salt and use paper towel to clean the chamber.  I also blow through the mortise to dislodge used salt.  I then use a pipe cleaner and cotton bud dipped in isopropyl 95% to make sure all was clean, and it was. With the sanding of the GBD stummel with micromesh pads, the briar grain naturally darkens and deepens through the process.  I look again at the fills I identified earlier which are solid but they had lightened.  I want to darken and blend these fills at this point in the process.  I use a maple dye stick and gently color the fills.  To blend, I feather wipe the fills with a cotton pad wetted with a bit of alcohol.  The result looks good. Before proceeding to apply compound to the stummel surface, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to deepen and enrich the briar.  I apply some Balm to my finger and work the Balm in to the briar.  As I’ve noted on previous restorations, the Balm begins with a light oil texture and thickens as it is applied.  I like the Balm because it treats the natural briar hue and deepens and enriches the look.  I take a picture after applying the Balm and before wipe/buffing it off after a few minutes standing. I now mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, with speed set at approximately 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the briar surface.  After this is completed, I reunite the GBD Colossus International acrylic stem with the stummel and apply coats of carnauba wax.  I do this after changing cotton cloth buffing wheels on the Dremel – at the same speed.  I finish the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.This GBD Colossus International lives up to its name.  The stummel is huge and the grain showcased is a beautiful labyrinth of swirls.  Completing the ensemble is the glass-like acrylic stem with an amber vein dissecting the 3/4 bent orientation.  Paresh commissioned the GBD Colossus International from For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! and will have the first opportunity to acquire the GBD in the The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Restoration of a GBD Rockroot # 1345 Sitter

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that caught my fancy for restoration was a GBD ROCKROOT # 1345. This pipe has beaten Kriswill “Chief”  # 20 and Kriswill “ Golden Clipper” to the finish line, though not decisively since I do not have stain pens and I had to leave the rim top duly sanded to remove all the oils and tars and burn marks. Personally though, I rather liked the look of the contrast the rim provided to the dark coloured pipe bowl, shank and stem. But I have seen other similar GBDs and they all had the nice bowl coloured rim top which also looked beautiful!!!! Hence, my attempt at darkening the rim top. Without darkened rim top!! You decide and suggest please!!!

This pipe has a relatively smaller sized bowl with wire rustications running vertically along the bowl with circular wire rustications run around the shank. This wire rustication runs along the entire rim top. The bottom of the bowl is flat, smooth and bears crisp stampings with ‘GBD’ in oval over ‘ROCKROOT’ over ‘LONDON ENGLAND’ in a straight line over # ‘1345’. The saddle stem has a very subtle and delicate bend with just the lip touching the table top which coupled with the flat bottom of the bowl, makes it a perfectly balanced sitter. A brass oval roundel rim with embossed GBD is embedded in the saddle. This should polish up very nicely. INITIAL INSPECTION
The initial visual inspection of the pipe revealed the following:

The bowl was heavily caked with oils, tars and grime overflowing onto the rim top and down the bowl along the vertical wire rustications. There appears to be some deep charring along the inner edge of the rim on the right hand side in 1’o’clock direction and on the left side in 7’o’clock direction. The extent of the damage to the rim can only be determined after reaming the bowl.The thin wire rustication on the rim top is worn out at certain places. The rest of the rustications along the bowl and shank is filled with dust, oils, gunk and dirt which has been accumulating over the years. Air did not pass through the stem. When the stem was removed from the shank, visual inspection revealed a completely blocked mortise and airway. The stem, too, was slightly blocked.The stem was heavily oxidized with heavy calcification near the lip. There was heavy tooth chatter extending up to an inch from the lip towards the saddle on both sides of the pipe. But thankfully there were no deep bite marks or holes. The lip on both sides has also been chewed out of shape.Dimensions:
Length – 5 inches
Bowl height – 1.5 inches
Bowl depth – 1 1/8th inches
Bowl inner diameter – 7/8  inch
Bowl outer diameter – 1.5 inches

As usual Abha, my wife, started work on the bowl while I addressed the stem. Using a Kleen Reem reamer and British Buttner pipe reaming tool, Abha removed most of the thick cake in no time. The reason being a 1 inch deep bowl!!! She had been very careful in avoiding the edges which had the charred marks. While Abha was working her magic on the bowl, I painted the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to try to lift the light tooth chatter. The lightest of the tooth chatter evened out and the remaining ones were lifted to the surface. I had to sand out the stem to smooth out the tooth chatter. At this point, using a 220 grit paper, I sanded down the stem till the surface felt even and smooth to the touch. I tightly folded a piece of the grit paper and using its edge tried to shape the edges of the lip. Then I applied Extra virgin olive oil to the stem and kept it aside to be absorbed by the stem. And as usual, I just forgot to take pictures of the stem at this stage!!!

Thereafter, I turned my attention to the bowl with hesitation. This was so because the reaming had revealed that the issue of charring was something I had not handled before. I immediately Facetimed  Mr. Steve and sought his advice. It was decided that a smooth surfaced rim, akin to the smooth bottom of the bowl, will add an interesting character to the pipe and will also take care of the charred inner edge of the bowl.

I began with cautiously sanding the inner edges of the bowl to remove as much of the charring as possible. Using Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush I removed as much of the accumulated tars and lava from the rim top as I could. I lightly topped the bowl on a 220 grit sand paper. The charred portion of the briar came apart in chunks during the topping process. Thereafter, I tried to round off the inner edges of the bowl as much as I possibly could, by creating an inner bevel to cover up and address the charred portion. However, the bowl still remains out of shape.As can be seen, the bowl edge in the 1 o’clock (front right) and 7 o’clock (rear left) directions has moved out too far. I was not too inclined to sand down the other edges to merge with the moved out edges for fear of losing too much briar and further thinning the rim top. Any suggestions whether I should go all out with the inner edge to completely round it or leave it as is are welcome.  Once the bevel was made and I had sanded out as much of the charring as I was comfortable with, I sanded down the rim with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 – 2400 grit and dry sanding with 3200 – 12000 grit. Using a brush and Murphy’s Oil soap, I cleaned the exteriors of the bowl, rim top and shank and rinsed it under running water. The bowl was wiped dry using a cotton cloth and left to dry out overnight. Turning my attention back to the stem, I wiped it down with a soft cotton cloth. On close inspection, I realized that there was one bite mark on both sides which was not raised and also that the lip edge was not defined/sharp. I mixed up activated charcoal powder with clear CA glue (the glue that was available to me here, has a tendency to come off in lumps. Hence I was skeptical about its function in this process) and applied it on both sides of the stem to fill in the bite mark as well as on the tip edge to define it further and set it aside to cure overnight. Next morning, I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the thin wire rustications of the dried out bowl. Every time I use this balm, I cannot help but appreciate how effectively it works to enliven and refresh an old briar bowl. I rubbed a small quantity of balm with my fingers into the thin wire rustications on the bowl and shank and kept it aside for a few seconds. Using a horse hair brush, I buffed the bowl and shank and worked the balm deeper into the closely packed rustication. I rubbed it down with a soft cloth to a bright shine. I had to use a lot of muscle power and time to get the desired shine since I do not have a wheel. I was satisfied with the way the bowl had turned out up to this point in the restoration.Thereafter I turned my attention to the stem. The fill of CA super glue and charcoal powder had cured sufficiently. Using needle files, I started filling away carefully and cautiously restricting the filing only to the filled areas. Using a flat head needle file, I filed away the excess filling and was satisfied with the end result. I used a 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fill. I further polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads. Wet sanding with 1500 – 2400 grit pads helped reduce the sanding marks left behind by 220 grit papers to a great extent. I wiped it clean and coated the stem with extra virgin olive oil and let it rest for some time. This allows the vulcanite to absorb the oil. Thereafter I dry sanded the stem with 3200 – 12000 grit micromesh pads and applying olive oil after every third pad. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. I shared the pictures of the bowl and stem with Mr. Steve for his opinion and advice for further improvement. As is his style, Mr. Steve first appreciated the effort and suggested that a darker stain would look good. Since he was well aware that the stain pens I had ordered did not reach me, he suggested an ingenious and practical way of staining using local and readily available material. He suggested boiling black tea leaves in a little water and making a very strong and thick brew, letting it sit overnight. Using cotton swab/cue tip dipped in this brew, gently apply onto the area that is to be stained.

I followed his advice and applied it to the rim top of the Rockroot. After allowing it to rest for a few minutes, I gently wiped it off with a soft cotton cloth. The results are truly amazing. Mr. Steve further advised me to use regular black boot polish to further stain and bring back the shine to the rim top. The results of this can be seen in the following pictures of the finished pipe.This restoration has been a fantastic journey of learning, trials and frustrations which I enjoyed to the fullest. I cannot thank Mr. Steve enough for his wise, practical and timely advice and sharing his immense wealth of experience so readily with a novice like me. Thanks Steve!!!

Recommissioning a GBD International Carved Rim Bent Bulldog London Made

Blog by Dal Stanton

This Bulldog is simply cool.  It was one of those wonderful surprises one hopes for when you buy many pipes in one fell swoop on eBay.  In many of my restoration blogs I’ve mentioned the Lot of 66 which I landed last year while back in the US.  What can I say – God knew that I was restoring pipes to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria and this Lot of 66 has been a gift that keeps on giving.  It isn’t possible to see all the pipes in the landscape pictures provided and one hopes in the percentages – there has to be some good pipes in the Lot!  Here is the Lot of 66 that I saw then and have pictured several times before.  I’m not positive, but the GBD Rustified Rim Bulldog is on the extreme lower right below – only his bowl showing.Many of my restorations for the Daughters come from people seeing a pipe in my “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only” section on The Pipe Steward blog.  I came up with the idea of this ‘before restoration offerings’ when I found that when people visited us here in Bulgaria, they would know about our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria and that I restored pipes that benefited that cause.  Almost always they wanted to see what pipes I had in the “Help Me! Basket” and they would choose one to be restored.  The interesting thing I discovered was that people live in hope for what something can become.  Estate pipes can be pretty nasty, but people know the amazing wonders of what the restorative processes can produce and so they see the potential and trust me to realize that hope as I bring a pipe to The Pipe Steward worktable on the 10th floor of a former Communist apartment block in Sofia, Bulgaria!  What a story!  I’m living the dream 😊.

Chris, a dedicated pipe man and regular contributor on the Facebook group, ‘The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society’ was ‘Pipe Dreaming’ while tooling around looking at the offerings and saw the GBD International Bulldog.  What attracted him to the Bulldog was the unique rustified rim with hearty agreement from me.  It adds a flair that you don’t often see on a London Made Bulldog.  The bent stem is cool, too, adding a bit more flare.  Here are some of the pictures Chris saw in the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only” page: Chris commissioned the GBD Bulldog, which put it in the queue for restoration.  After the restoration is completed and published, I then place a value on the pipe resulting from my research.  The commissioner has the first opportunity to claim the pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  Chris will have first dibs on this Bulldog when completed.

GBD (Pipedia’s article on GBD), was the handshake enterprise started by three French ‘Master Pipemakers’, Ganneval, Bondier and Donninger in Paris in 1850 to manufacture Meerschaum pipes, which was the primary material used in manufacturing pipes along with clay.  This was true until the discovery of briar in Saint Claude, France, a discovery that changed the pipe manufacturing world.  In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London, which began the shift of GBD to being primarily a British enterprise, even though GBD pipes continued to be produced in Paris and Saint Claude, until 1981, with the closing of the French operation when the name, GBD, was merged with the Cadogan Group.  I enjoy rehearsing the historical developments of pipe names and companies because they add to the enjoyment and appreciation of restoring pipes.

I take some additional pictures of the GBD International Bulldog on my worktable. The nomenclature has on the left side of the shank, a GBD circled with an oval over INTERNATIONAL over LONDON MADE.  The right side has LONDON ENGLAND over 546, the shape number.  The shape number lines up as a Bulldog, ¼ bent, Diamond shank according to Jerry Hanna’s GBD shapes chart listings in Pipedia.  The dating of the pipe is pre-1980s.  The stem’s brass rondel along with the “London, England” stamp indicates a pre-Cadogan era GBD.  The merger was 1981.  This information is clear.

There’s some information that is proving to be a bit more difficult to mine in my research.  I’ve contacted Al Jones (Upshallfan), a regular contributor to rebornpipes, on a few GBDs I’ve restored in the past.  Al is a gold mine of information about GBDs and I appreciate his help.  Previously, he had sent me a PDF he had gleaned from now defunct www.perardua.net/ entitled ‘GBD Model Information’.  From that PDF I found this reference regarding the ‘International’ line of GBD.  I clipped it:I was excited to get a lead on what appears to be a GBD pipe line of “carved top rims” that were stained black.  The reference in the second line is to a 1976 catalog where I could hopefully find more about the International line.  Hopeful of finding this catalog, I went to the internet.  Unfortunately, I could find nothing.  Also disheartening, the usual go to page for catalogs, Chris’ Pipe Pages, I discovered some time ago, now seems to be defunct.  Sad.  So, again I sent Al a note with some questions.  His reply came very quickly with this picture of at least one ‘GBD International’ from the 1977 Tinderbox catalog.  The writing is not easy to make out but the “M.” example of the International line is a nice looking oval shank Volcano shape which I can make out has a carved rim like the Bulldog.  With this information, my thinking is that the GBD Bulldog I have is dated from 1976 but earlier than 1981.  Again, much thanks to Al Jones!Looking at the GBD International Bulldog itself, it is in decent condition.  There is some cake build up in the chamber and the carved rim shows some expected grime but not too much.  The twin dome grooves are full of debris and need to be cleaned.  The bowl itself looks very good – it has some expected grime, but the briar looks exceptional underneath.  It will look good when cleaned up.  The stem has some deep oxidation and the bit shows some dents and tooth chatter that will need correcting.

I begin the restoration of this GBD International Bulldog by adding the stem to a soak using Before & After Deoxidizer.  After running pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% through the internals of the stem, it joins 5 other pipe stems in queue for restoration.  I leave the stem in the soak for a few hours then fishing the GBD stem out, I wipe it off with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil.  I also put a pipe cleaner through the stem to push the fluid out and follow with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% to assure that the airway is clear. After cleaning the stem of the Deoxidizer, I can still detect oxidation in the vulcanite.  I take another picture of the stem with the aperture open more to show what I’m seeing.I decide to give the stem another soak in an OxiClean solution.  After covering the rondel with petroleum jelly, I put it in the soak. I’m not sure if the brass rondel will react or not to the OxiClean, but I take no chances.While the stem is in the OxiClean cooker, I turn to the stummel.  First, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to remove the carbon cake from the Bulldog’s chamber.  It takes 2 of the 4 blade heads available in the kit.  I follow this using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to fine tune more by scraping the chamber walls removing more carbon.  To get down to fresh briar, I then wrap a 240 grit piece of sanding paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  To clean up, I wipe out the carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. Moving along with the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub the surface of the briar.  To clean the rim, I use a bristled tooth brush with Murphy’s to clean the carved angles and valleys.  I then rinse the bowl with cool tap water.  The last thing I do is take a sharp dental probe and run it through the twin dome grooves to remove the small debris that had lodged in the grooves.  With my wife’s help, I record a picture of this surgery.Since I like working on clean pipes and I know new stewards like smoking with clean pipes, I turn to the internals of the stummel.  Using cotton buds and pipe cleaners with isopropyl 95%, I go to work.  I’m thankful to discover that there is little resistance.  Later, at the end of the day, I’ll clean the internals further by using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.With the internals clean, I turn again to the briar surface.  To enliven the tired finish and to remove the small nicks and cuts that come from wear, I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  With each cycle, I enjoyed watching the grain emerge.  This GBD International Bulldog has nice grain – nice vertical flames rising to the carved plateau.  I’m liking this. I also want to freshen the carved black plateau – rim.  I use a black furniture dye stick to apply to the rim.  Later, when I apply compound, I’ll blend the black more, so it has more textured matte depth. Now, back to the stem.  The GBD stem has been soaking in OxiClean as a second salvo against the oxidation in the vulcanite.  After taking it out of the OxiClean bath, I use 600 grade paper and I wet sand the stem.  I work on the areas that show the deeper oxidation.  I then use 0000 steel wool and work over the entire stem, paying close attention to the area around the rondel.  I’m not 100% satisfied, but I may do more after I work on the bit. I take a picture of the upper bit and the lower bit to show the tooth dents.  The upper is not bad but the lower has two significant clinch bites and some damage to the button lip.To lessen the severity of the dents I heat the vulcanite using a Bic lighter by painting the dented areas with a flame.  As the vulcanite heats, it naturally expands and retakes some of the original ‘foot print’ of the dent.  I heat both upper and lower.  The upper will easily sand out but the lower still has work to do.To fill the dents and rebuild a little of the button, I use Starbond Black Medium CA glue.  I spot drop the black CA glue on the dents and then I use an accelerator to quicken the curing time.I then use a flat needle file and 240 grade sanding paper to sand down the patches.  I use the file to freshen the button – to reestablish crisp button edges.The following two pictures show the lower bit/button work – first in progress then completed with filing and 240 paper.I continue the smoothing and erasing of the 240 scratches by using 600 grade paper and then finishing with 0000 grade steel wool.  The patches look good, oxidation seems to be abated and the button shaping will be greatly appreciated by a new steward!I now turn to micromesh pads by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stem looks good. Turning now to the stummel, to enrich the briar grain I apply Before & After Restoration Balm.  I put a little on my finger and work it into the briar surface.  As I work it in, the liquid thickens into a wax-like substance.  After some minutes, I wipe off the Balm using a clean cloth.  As the Balm comes off, the surface buffs up nicely.With my day ending, I continue cleaning the internals of the stummel.  I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I fashion a wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball. I insert the ‘wick’ down the mortise into the airway.  I then fill the chamber with Kosher salt which, unlike iodized salt, leaves no aftertaste.  I then situate the stummel in an egg crate giving it stability and then add isopropyl 95% with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top the alcohol once again and then turn out the lights.The next morning the soak had produced results with soiled salt and the wick absorbed more oils and tars.  I remove the expended salt to the waste and wipe the chamber with paper towel.  I also blow through the mortise to remove any remaining salt particles.  I then expend a few more pipe cleaners and cotton buds to clean up left overs from the soak.  The internals are as fresh as I can make them.I reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, setting the speed at the slowest.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  I also work on blending the black matte plateaued rim.  What I discover regarding the rim is that when I simply buff it with the Blue Diamond compound, is shines it up!  The exact opposite than dulling it down to a matte, charcoal look.  Then I came up with the idea of simply wetting a cotton pad with alcohol and dabbing it over the rim to dull the finish.  It worked like I was hoping.  I take a picture of before and after.  It’s difficult to see different shades of black in a photo!  But it does look good – the effect is striking. After completing the compound application and blending the rim, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove residue compound dust in preparation for the wax.  I then switch to another cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% full power and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to both stummel and stem.  After application of the carnauba, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

Oh my.  The grain on this GBD International London Made shouts for attention!  I’m pleased with the results.  The flame grain emerges from the heel of the bowl – out of densely populated bird’s eye and swirls to reach toward the dome of the stummel, culminating in the craggy plateau of the rim.  There’s a lot going on with this bent Bulldog. It is headed to The Pipe Steward Store and since Chris saw the potential of this GBD International, he will have first dibs on bringing the Bulldog home.  The sale of this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls (and their children) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!  I can’t resist starting off with a before and after picture lest we forget!

Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #1 – An Early GBD Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired several pipes for Paresh in India over the past four months or so and not long ago he sent me a box of seven of his Grandfather’s pipes. There is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the time period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad for many years and was a pipeman. Paresh follows in his love of the pipe and just recently found out that his Grandfather smoked a pipe as well. The first of the pipes I am working on for him is a GBD. It is an older one that has a silver band on the shank that is stamped with a GBD oval over four individual boxes – each is worn and hard to read. It is possible that it reads MRCLtd like the one in the first photo below which would identify the pipe as a French made GBD by Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. It could also be silver hallmarks with a lion (925 silver) and anchor (Birmingham) and two unreadable marks (one of which could give a date). Underneath them AO is stamped. AO could mean Alfred Oppenheimer which would date the pipe as after the Oppenheimer bought the brand in 1902 from MR&C Ltd. This would make it an early English made GBD pipe. The shank is stamped with a GBD Oval. There are no other stampings on the shank sides or the band. There is also a GBD Oval stamped on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem.Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowl, cleaned the rim and scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stem. She also cleaned off the silver band. The finish on the bowl is in very good condition and the GBD oval logo on the bowl was very readable. The silver band was scratched and worn. The GBD oval on the silver was faint but readable. The four hallmarks were very worn but it is possible that the first two are a lion and anchor but not certain. The stem was lightly oxidized on the underside and there was a GBD oval on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem. Interestingly for a stem that purports to be bite proof there is a deep tooth mark on the left side of the top near the button over the left twin bore and on the underside near the button on the right side. Both are directly over the twin bore airways.

The stem is unique and one that I have not come across before. From researching on the internet a bit it appears that the twin bore stem could be an early edition of the Tuskan Series that was London Made. Underneath the movable end cap diffuser it has something like the Tuskana Insertion with the twin bore stem. In the pipe I am working on it has the insert between the twin airways but it also has a diffuser cap at the end of the button. It is an amber coloured piece that covers the end of the button. There is a slight gap between the edge of the button and the cap that functions to diffuse the smoke. The end piece can be turned vertically to reveal the twin bore stem underneath. Like I said it is quite unique and I have not been able to find any other examples of this system on the internet. If any of you have any insight or information on this particular feature on GBD pipes please let me know. Thanks.I found an advertisement on the Pipedia link above which explains the Tuskana Insert. I have included that below.I took photos of the pipe before I started to work on it. It is a beautiful pipe that has some age on it. It has some very great looking grain on the bowl and shank. The rim top is worn, damaged on the surface and also has nicks around the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl was slightly out of round and there was still a light cake on the walls.I took a close up photo of the rim top and both sides of the stem. You can see the damage to the top and inner edge of the rim top in the first photo below. The second and third photo shows the top and underside of the stem. I have circled the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with red.I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.

Respected Sir,

Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.

My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!

Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.

In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Pete are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN”T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!

My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.

The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.

Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……

Thanks Paresh for this great descriptive take of your Grandfather. It really gives me a sense of the pipes that you have sent me and what they meant to him. It is obvious from the variety of pipes that you sent and the overall condition that he knew how to choose good quality pipes and obviously enjoyed smoking them throughout most of his life.

I removed the stem from the shank and started my work on the bowl itself. I cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the slight remnant of cake back to the bare briar. I wanted to check out the condition of the interior of the bowl. The inside looked very good once it was cleaned off. There was no checking or cracking on the bowl walls. There was no sign of burn out inside.To remove the damage on the rim top and to minimize the damage to the inner edge of the rim I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I carefully removed the damage without changing the shape of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inside edge of the bowl. I was able to remove much of the damage to the edge with the sandpaper and smooth out the bevel.  I polished the rim top and bevel with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and the scratches. I stained the rim with a Cherry stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl and shank.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed.  I polished the silver band with a jeweler’s cloth to remove the tarnish from the silver and give it a shine. It worked pretty well to bring it back to life. The second photo below shows the stamping on the left side.I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I cleaned the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol and dried it off with a cotton pad. I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure and called it night.In the morning I sanded out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave them both 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have six more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.