Tag Archives: GBD pipes

Reworking a Damaged French Made GBD Speciale Standard 9465 Liverpool


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I purchased the lovely long shank GBD Liverpool from a fellow in Brazil, Indiana, USA. The grain on the pipe is a nice mix of flame, swirled and birdseye that works well with the brown stains of the briar and the black of the saddle stem. The rim top is crowned with a bevel inward and has some significant damage on the front right outer edge and top. The repeated burning of that area with a lighter flame has left behind a deep dip and burn that will need to be dealt with. It was hard to see with the thick cake in the bowl and the veritable eruption of lava over the top of the rim but it was very present. The finish was quite dirty with grit, grime and oils ground into the surface of the bowl and shank. The shank is stamped on both sides and on the left it reads GBD in an oval [over] Speciale [over] Standard. On the right side it reads France [over] the shape number 9465. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and well dented with tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The button area was worn as well. There is a GBD brass oval roundel on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe to capture its condition when it arrived at his place. It was going to take some work to bring this one back to life. But both of us thought that it would be worth it. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl that show the cake and overflowing lava on the top and edges of the bowl. It is really hard to know what it looks like under all of that. We have learned that it with either be badly damaged or it will have been well protected. Only cleaning it off would reveal which result was on this pipe. You can also see the burn damage on the right front outer edge. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and marks that are clear in the photos that follow. There is some oxidation and the calcification on the stem surface. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the dust and debris ground into the bowl. The burn damage on the outer rim edge of the right front is more apparent from the side view in the first photo. The grain is still quite nice. He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was faint but was still was clear and readable as noted above. The brass GBD roundel looked good as well. I always like to be able to set the pipe I am working on in its historical setting so I turn to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read through the brand history. Toward the middle of the article I found what I was looking for. I quote below:

The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory.

The premium lines of GBD offered very good values, and are considered amongst the most affordable high end pipe of the 1960’s and earlier and a rival in quality, design, and price to Dunhill. Smokers’ Haven was the main retail supplier for GBD’s in the US until the early 1980’s.

GBD produced consistently well made pipes, almost entirely of Algerian or Grecian briar. In the late 1960’s to late 1970’s, they introduced the “Collector” and “Unique” lines, made primarily by Horry Jamieson, who had carved for Barling for many years, and was skilled in freehand design. Older GBD pieces are excellent smokers and unique in design. They did an excellent executions of classic pipe shapes, as well as some beautiful freehands in the “Unique” line. [2]

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.

Since the pipe I was working on was made in France I knew that it was made either in Paris before 1952 or in St. Claude after that date and before 1981 when production moved to England. I also new that I was dealing with one of the better grade pipes with the Speciale Standard stamp.

I then followed the links included to a listing of the shapes and numbers on the GBD pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). The pipe I was working on was labeled by GBD as a 9465 which is a Liverpool with a round shank. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual focus on detail. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush and was able to remove the thick lava build up on the rim top. 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 Briarville’s Stem 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, inner and outer edges of the bowl other than the burn damage on the front right were in good condition. The crowned inner edge also has some rim darkening and burn damage on the front right as well. The stem surface looked good with some large and deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was faint but readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I decided to begin by dealing with the damage on the front of the rim top and bowl. I sanded it slightly to give a clear picture of the damage in the photo below. I have marked it in red to help identify the damaged area.Now I had a decision to make on this repair. I could top the bowl and shorten the height of the entire bowl to accommodate the damage on the front of the rim. To me this would look awkward as the dip is quite deep. The other option to me was to build up the dip in the rim top and edge with briar dust and clear CA glue (super glue) to the same height as the rest of the bowl. I decided to build up the bowl top. To begin the process I topped the bowl to give me a flat surface and to remove the other damage to the rim top.I wiped off the burned area with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off any debris. I layered on the first batch of CA glue and then used a dental spatula to put briar dust on top of the glue. I repeated the process until I had the rim top level. Once the repair cured I topped it once again to make sure that the repaired area matched the rest of the rim top. I used a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper.I took photos of the rim top and bowl front to show the repair. It is dark and still needs a lot of work but it is at least the right height and is smooth. You can also see the slight bevel that was on the inner edge of the rim on the rest of the bowl. I would need to continue that on the repaired area to match.I worked on the inner beveled edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a deep bevel. I also sanded the rim top repair to further smooth it out. The repair is starting to look good at this point.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and dust.   I restained the rim edge and top with a combination of Maple and Walnut stain pens to blend the colour to the rest of the bowl. The rim top looked darker but it looked much better than when I started the repair.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.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It worked very well and many of the marks lifted. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue and let the repairs cure. I used a small file to flatten out the repairs. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit 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.  This French Made GBD Speciale Standard 9465 Liverpool is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich contrasting brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the a finish that works well with the polished vulcanite 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 the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Speciale Standard Liverpool sits nicely on the desk top and in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ of an inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 35 grams/1.23 ounces. I will be putting it on the French Pipe Maker section of 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!

I like the shape & finish of this GBD Americana 1970 Diplomat


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a pipe was that was purchased from an antique mall in Northern Utah, USA early in 2020 and I am finally getting to it. It is a nice looking GBD with a smooth finish and a vulcanite saddle stem. It is stamped on the top side of the shank GBD in an oval logo [over] Americana. On the underside of the shank it is the stamped with the circular Made in London over England [over] the shape number 1970. The vulcanite saddle stem had a brass inlaid GBD oval. The finish was absolutely filthy with grime ground into the smooth finish. There was a light cake in the bowl and no real overflow on to the rim top. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem was fitted with a filter tenon. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did any clean up.   He took photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition of both. The photo of the rim top shows how clean the rim top actually was – other than some grit and grim it is smooth. The stem photos show tooth chatter and tooth marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a sense of the grain and finish on the pipe and the sheer filthy condition of the finish. There is still something attractive about the bowl even with the fills visible on the bowl sides. He took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. You can also see the top of the stem with the brass GBD logo. I turned to Pipedia and read the history section to see if I could find any information on the Americana Line. There was nothing specific in the main article there.

I turned to the related article on Shape numbers for GBD pipe to see if I could find anything about the 1970 shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I found the following listed item:There was a slight issue in the information above. I would indeed call the shape a Diplomat and it has a 1/8 bent stem. However, the shank is oval not round.

I turned to another Pipedia article (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) looking for information on the Americana line. I found it listed under the heading of a  List of GBD “Seconds”

It said: The lines listed below are either 2nds or lines made for other makers/pipeshops. Please send me any corrections or additional information you might have on these.

Americana — Factory unknown.

I knew that I was working on a GBD second labeled Americana. It was a decent looking pipe with some nice grain. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe following his normal cleaning process. In short, he reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the smooth bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the lava and debris on the rim top and was able to remove it. 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 scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He soaked it in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. It really looked good.   I took close up photos of the stem and the rim top to show both how clean they were and what needed to be addresses with both. The rim top and bowl edges look very good. The stem looked better and the tooth marks and chatter were very visible. I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. You can see from the photo that it is readable. I removed the stem from the bowl and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the beauty of the pipe. I decided to start my work on this pipe with the stem. I “painted” the stem with a Bic lighter to try and lift the tooth marks in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift them quite a bit. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once the repairs cured I used a file to recut the edge of the button and reshape it. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter and blend them into the surface of the acrylic. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem 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.    The tenon was drilled for a 6mm filter. I fit a Savinelli Balsa Wood Filter in the tenon and the fit is perfect. I am assuming it will take all 6mm filters without any issue.   I set the stem aside and turned to the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. The began to take on a deep shine.    I rubbed the it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl with my fingertips to get it into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the GBD Americana 1970 Diplomat back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain peeking through the dark finish. The vulcanite saddle stem stands in contrast to the dark colours of the bowl. It is a light weight pipe that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things. Have a look at it with 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. The weight of the pipe is 40 grams/1.41 oz. This one will soon be on the British Pipe Makers Page on the rebornpipes online store. 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 generation.

Not sure what to call this strange St. Claude, France GBD Coronet 753


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when you are pipe hunting there is one that just grabs you. That was the case with this interestingly shaped GBD. Neither Jeff nor I had seen a GBD 753 shape before and never one with this style stem. The stamping on the bowl and the logo on the stem all seem to point to a later date for this one but the St. Claude stamp bring questions to that assumption. It is a bit of a mystery and was just one of those that spoke to us. We picked it up from an auction early in 2020 in Noberly, Maryland, USA. The pipe was stamped on the top of the shank and read GBD in an oval [over] Coronet. On the underside it read St. Claude [over] the shape number 753. The pipe itself was in filthy condition. The bowl was thickly caked and there was a thick lava overflow on the beveled rim top. The briar was very dirty with grit and grime ground into the surface. The stem was dirty and oxidized with calcification on the stem end. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There was a faintly stamped GBD logo in a rectangle that was very worn. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his clean up on it. He took some photos of the bowl and rim top to show their condition. The cake is thick and there is debris on the walls of the bowl. The rim top has a thick coat of lava and between that and the cake it is hard to know the condition of the rim edges. Clean up will reveal the condition. The stem looks pretty good with light tooth marks on both sides. The oxidation and calcification is present and clear. The logo stamp on the top of the stem is worn and light. It may not survive clean up. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel to give as sense of the shape and condition of the briar. It is a beautifully shaped pipe with some nice grain. He took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above. He also captured the logo on the stem top. You can see how faintly it is stamped and how it is fading. The line as new to me though I have worked on a lot of GBD pipes over the years. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-gbd.html) to see what I could find. Sadly there was not any information on the Coronet line from France.

I turned then to Pipedia to first check the section on the history of the brand and see what I could find there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I found some interesting information that helped to date the pipe to the time period between 1952-1981. I quote as follows from the section.

The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory. At about that same time GBD merged with Comoys, since then all production for both GBD and Comoy comes from a single factory.

The premium lines of GBD offered very good values, and are considered amongst the most affordable high end pipe of the 1960’s and earlier and a rival in quality, design, and price to Dunhill. Smokers’ Haven was the main retail supplier for GBD’s in the US until the early 1980’s.

GBD produced consistently well made pipes, almost entirely of Algerian or Grecian briar. In the late 1960’s to late 1970’s, they introduced the “Collector” and “Unique” lines, made primarily by Horry Jamieson, who had carved for Barling for many years, and was skilled in freehand design. Older GBD pieces are excellent smokers and unique in design. They did an excellent executions of classic pipe shapes, as well as some beautiful freehands in the “Unique” line.

I then followed the links to the list of models and information that was on each of the models/ lines of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I found the listing for the Coronet there. The quote further defined the time line of the pipe. It appears that it was made between 1951 and 1976 when it appeared in a catalogue. I quote as follows below:

Coronet — France, unknown if also made in England: Lower priced GBD, “take off” brown/black stained matt finish with “recessed platform” mouthpieces. – catalog (1976). These low cost pipes were possibly not always produced in normal GBD shapes.

I followed the links to another section of the brand that listed the shape numbers for me and I was able to find the shape I was looking for (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I quote the section below.

753 author one-eighth round

From all of that information I had learned that the pipe was a French Made GBD Coronet made in St. Claude France between 1951-1976. It was made with a matte finish and a recessed platform style stem. I also learned that it was an AUTHOR shape with a 1/8th bend to the stem. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I have to say I was really looking forward to seeing what Jeff had done to this French Made St. Claude GBD Coronet pipe when I took it out of the box. It had shown such beauty through the grime so I was quite sure it would be stunning. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned the remnants of cake back with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and oils. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the tars and oils there. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed off the deoxidizer with warm water and wiped the bowl and stem down with a light coat of olive oil to rehydrate both. The pipe really was quite stunning. You can see the nicks on the heel of the bowl but they do not lessen the beauty of the pipe. I took close up photos of the stem and the rim top to show both how clean they were and what needed to be addresses with both. The rim top had some darkening around the outer edge at the front that would need to be addressed. The stem looked better but the light tooth marks and chatter were still present. I would need to remove those to bring the stem back.I took photos of the cleaned up stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable.I removed the stem from the shank and took photos to show the overall look of this beautiful pipe.I decided to work on the nicks in the underside of the bowl with clear CA glue. Once it cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper blending them into the rest of the bowl.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad. The grain began to really come alive through the polishing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it 1500-12000 pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to protect it and preserve it. I polished it with Before  After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished the polishing with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I am really happy with the way that this GBD Coronet 753 St. Claude Made Author turned out. It really is a beautiful looking pipe with great grain. The “recessed platform” mouthpiece is a unique feature of this pipe and sets it apart. I am not sure why this is a GBD Lower end model. To me it is a top grade pipe with great unique details. The grain really came alive with the buffing. The rich brown and black stains of the matte finish gave the grain 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 GBD Coronet Author really is a beauty and feels great 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 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 49 grams/1.73 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!

Resurrecting an interesting GBD  Square Shank Dura Mount 9488 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

I have quite a few of the pipes in this collection that we purchased from the older gentleman. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. You have seen many of the pipes that he had. These included Dunhill, BBB, Orlik, Barclay Rex, a cased Ben Wade, an H. Simmons all briar, Hardcastles and some Meerschaums. There were also some assorted others that I will get to in the days ahead. It was a great collection.

Now it was time to work on some of the single pipes that he had. The next one of these is a interesting Pot that is stamped on the left side of the diamond shank and reads DURA [over] GBD in an oval [over] MOUNT. On the right side it is stamped LONDON, ENGLAND [over] 9488 (the shape number). The stamping is clear and readable. It is a nice looking Pot that has the kind of damage to the rim edges that I have come to expect in this lot. The Duramount fitting on the shank end is something I have not seen before. The vulcanite saddle stem does not have any stamping on either side. It is the top pipe in the above photo.

Jeff took some photos of the GBD Dura Mount 9488 Pot before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The rim top and both inner and outer edges are so thickly covered that it is hard to know their condition. It appears that there is a large chip on the outer edge at the back of the bowl that will require a bit of attention. All of the issues will become clearer after the clean up. He took photos of the top and underside of the vulcanite stem showing the oxidation, calcification, tooth marks, chatter and wear on the stem and button. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some interesting grain even through the dirt and debris of many years.   Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank to show the clarity and readability of the stamp. It reads as mentioned above. He also took a photo of the brass GBD logo on the stem. I turned to Pipephil’s site and to the general GBD listing for the GBD Dura Mount pipe and other than a picture of the pipe and the stamping on Pipedia there was not any significant information on the line. I turned to the section on Pipedia on GBD Model Information to see what I could find (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). There was one short line that I quote below.

Dura Mount — Factory unknown: Metal stem/bit fitting?

I assume from the design of the pipe the note above on Metal Stem/Bit Fitting ? is referring to the aluminum shank extension and mortise that holds the tenon firmly in place. I would guess that it was designed to protect both the shank and the tenon by providing this “DURABLE” shank end.

This GBD DURA MOUNT 9488 Pot is an interesting looking pipe. Because the old gentleman that we bought the pipes from intimated that he purchased his pipes at the Manhattan Barclay-Rex store I would imagine that he bought this one from them as well. I was unable to pin down any information regarding the date this pipe was made but the fact that it is among the old timers I have been working on makes me think it is older as well.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the dimensions of the grain. The chip on the back of the rim top was clear and looked like a relatively easy repair. The edges looked good otherwise. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and scrubbed it with Soft Scrub to remove the remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The top and inner and outer edge of the rim showed damage. There was serious damage back outer edge of the bowl. The stem had tooth marks just ahead of the button and on the button surface. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is readable and clear.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the damaged rim top and edges. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the nicks the inner edge of the bowl. I lightly sanded the rim top in preparation for the repair to the back outer edge. I stained the chipped area with a Maple stain pen to match the bowl and then built it up with clear CA glue. Once the glue cured I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the outer edge with 220 at the same time. I took a photo of the rim top at this point in the process. I polished the briar and aluminum shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I stained the rim top with a Maple and a Cherry Stain pen to match the surrounding briar. Once it is buffed the match should be perfect.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 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 set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem on both sides to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift most of them. I filled in what remained next to the button with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured, I sanded them with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the stem and reshape the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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 Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful GBD Dura Mount 9488 Pot back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain on this pipe really is a great looking. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.34 ounces /39 grams. This GBD Dura Mount is another great find from this collection. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

GBD 5841S Bulldog Restoration


By Al Jones

It has been a while since I’ve had a GBD on my work bench.  Here’s yet another oddball GBD shape, one I’ve not yet encountered.  The typical GBD bent bulldog shape is the 549.  I’ve seen and restored a 584S, but this one is oddly stamped 5841S.    I have not seen this shape in any of my saved GBD catalogs. This one has the brass rondell and “London, England” stamping used on pre-Cadogan era pipes (made before 1981).

The pipe had an oxidized stem and a heavy cake in the bowl, including some tobacco left from the last time it was smoked.   The beveled bowl top also has some build up on the rim. Below is the pipe as it was received.

I used a worn piece of scotchbrite on the bowl top followed by 8,000 grit micromesh sheet. I reamed the cake and found the bowl interior to be in great shape. The bowl was soaked with alcohol and sea salt.

Following the soak, the stem was mounted and the oxidation removed with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grade wet sandpaper, followed by 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish. The bowl was buffed with White Diamond rouge, followed by several coasts of Carnuba wax.

Below is the finished pipe.

Another Christmas Vacation Restoration – A GBD London Made in London England C789 Pot


Blog by Dal Stanton

With Christmas behind us and with New Years before us, I’m thankful to be with family during these holidays.  This was the first Christmas with my mother in Florida in many years – it has been great!  It has also been great on her second floor screened-in balcony which has served as The Pipe Steward worktable.  My wife caught me in action!

I remember acquiring this GBD Pot a few years back from an eBay seller from Cave City, Arkansas.  She had a few different pipes on the auction block and in the end, we were able to work out a bundled agreement which was mutually beneficial.  The bundle included GBD London Made, Selection Italy, GBD Americana, Dr. Grabow Omega and  No Name Algerian Briar.  I was attracted to the GBD Americana included in the bundle which joined my personal collection.  The unique grain is amazing (See: The Striking Grain of a GBD Americana – Made in London England Bent Billiard).  The other GBD in the bundled deal caught Chris’ attention in the online For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection where he also found the Fratelli Rossi ‘Century Old Briar’ (See: A Mobile Christmas Vacation Restoration of an Exquisite Fratelli Rossi Century Old Briar Billiard) which was last on the work table and soon to join Chris in Alabama.  The GBD London Made Pot now on the table also shows great potential.  Here are a few of the pictures of this GBD. The nomenclature is Cadogan era markings.  On the left shank flank is stamped the GBD set in an oval.  Beneath the oval, the arched text LONDON MADE is stamped.  The Cadogan era stem stamp is the GBD in and an oval repeated.  The right side of the stem is stamped in circular fashion, MADE IN LONDON – with the ‘IN’ occupying the center of the oval.  Beneath the circular text is stamped the COM, ENGLAND.  Beneath the COM is the shape number, C789, the designation for a Pot shape.  However, after some searching and finding nothing to explain it, I was flummoxed by the ‘C’ affixed to the shape number.  I decided to send a quick note to rebornpipes contributor, Al Jones, to see if he can shed some light.  Al’s response confirmed the ‘C’ as being a ‘rogue’ letter.  After the merger in the early 80s, differing letters would appear on GBD pipes with no clear understanding what they referenced.

The dating of the GBD on my table I’ve described as a ‘Cadogan Era’ pipe.   Pipephil records that GBD’s metal stem rondels were discontinued after 1981 when GBD merged with Comoys.  The absence of this brass rondel on the stem places this pipe post ’81 and later.  The rounded COM designation rather than a straight lettering (London England), also points to a post-merger GBD.  The GBD also has a random letter, ‘J’ on the underside of the shank.  I’ve seen these letters before on Cadogan era pipes and it seems that Comoy’s used several letters for what are perhaps part numbers, but this isn’t confirmed.I have researched other GBD pipes that have been on my worktable and I always enjoy a refresher from the fruit of that research.  The story of GBD pipes is an interesting one starting in France in 1850 with an unexpected partnership, not coming from businessmen, but fellow pipe makers who felt they could make a go of it.  This excellent article, Finding Out Who Created GBD – Story of a Pipe Brand – Jaques Cole was reposted on rebornpipes and is an excellent read for framing a historical appreciation for a pipe name and its development – GBD.

Who were these creators? Ganneval, Bondier and Donninger were three ‘Master Pipemakers’ who got together in Paris in 1850 to manufacture meerschaum pipes. It was a bold decision as these were troubled times in France. Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte has returned after the 1848 revolution and become President of the Republic. Following a coup d’etat in 1851, he made himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852. He was incidentally a keen pipesmoker and may well have owned one or more early GBDs.

The focus of the ‘GBD’ enterprise in the late 1800s was primarily the production of meerschaum pipes but in the 1850s, with Saint-Claude’s discovery of briar and its special qualities for making lasting, heat-resistant pipes, GBD adapted and added briar to its list of materials.  GBD boasted in the end of the 19th Century as having 1500 models that customers could choose from – though Pipedia’s article on GBD clarifies this unbelievable number as counting each shape three times due to three different stem materials used.  GBD straddled its French identity and its adopted English identity through various acquisitions and changes in ownership, yet, keeping the initials of the founders firmly in place.  Pipedia’s history is helpful to understand these historical iterations:

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. Charles Oppenheimer had founded this successful trade business in 1860 as an import-/export house. His brothers David and Adolphe and brother-in-law Louis Adler soon joined him. Adolphe took over when Charles went to Germany as British ambassador. Briar pipes were among the first products traded. 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.

Though English owned, pipe production continued in Paris and soon Oppenheimer acquired two factories in Saint-Claude in 1906, increasing its production.  Also, during this period, Oppenheimer continuing to expand, built a pipe factory in London, but this operation failed to live up to expectations until the genesis of WW I when demand for pipes increased for the front line and production fell in the French factories as men were called to the front lines.  The shift of GBD being identified more distinctly as a British pipe emerged after the close of the war even though production continued in London and France through the 1920s.  I find the next Pipedia excerpt interesting because it marks well how GBD had fully transitioned from its origins, the handshake of 3 French pipe makers, to a macro-business continuing through the 1900s.

In 1920 Oppenheimer had purchased BBB (Blumfeld’s Best Briar, formerly A. Frankau) and little later Loewe & Co. and large shares of Comoy’s of London. The economic crisis in the early 1920s induced the foundation of Cadogan Investments Ltd., named for its seat at Cadogan Square in London. The Cadogan group was a superordinated holding company, in order to tune all activities of Oppenheimer’s brands in the pipe industry. Whereby an extensive independence of the single brands was preserved. Remember, the Oppenheimers and Adlers weren’t pipe specialists, but rather sales people who depended on their experts in the British and French plants.

In 1952 the Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude and since the 1980s most GBD pipes come from London.  The higher-end GBD pipe lines are of good quality and many feel they stack up well against the array of Dunhill offerings yet more affordable.  The Pipephil.eu history of GBD says that the Saint-Claude pipe factory closed in 1981 leaving only London as the producer of GBD pipes.

Now looking more closely at the GBD Pot on my worktable, the bowl has thick cake buildup in the chamber.  This will need removing to inspect the chamber walls for heating problems.  The stummel finish is dark and bears the grime of years of service. The stem has heavy oxidation and a good amount of tooth chatter.  To begin, I clean the airway of the stem with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%.This is followed by then adding the GBD stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to address the oxidation issues.After several hours soaking in the solution, I fish the stem out and squeegee the excess liquid from the stem with my fingers and run pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol through the airway to clear away the Deoxidizer.  Cotton pads are also used to wipe off the raised oxidation.The stem is then treated with paraffin oil to help condition and rejuvenate the vulcanite.Turning now to the stummel, I take another look at the chamber. The cake is thick, and the lava flow is substantive over the rim.  There is little doubt that the former steward enjoyed his GBD and that this indicates a good smoker on the table. After putting down paper towel to minimize cleanup, I go to work on removing the carbon buildup to allow the briar beneath to have a new start and to inspect for problems.  I use all 4 of the Pipnet Reaming Kit blades heads and this is indicative of the large chamber of this GBD Pot.  I follow the reaming with the Savinelli Fitsall tool to further scrape the walls and finish by sanding with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  A pocketknife is also employed to scrap the lava crust off the rim.  This reveals a smart internal rim bevel which is nice. With the cake cleared out, working on the balcony of my mother’s condominium where my Christmas Vacation mobile work desk is located, I use the natural sunlight to inspect the chamber.  Not surprising, I can see some heating veins on the chamber wall.  The thick cake on the GBD contributed to this heating problem.  A carbon cake needs only to be the width of a US dime.  When the cake is too thick, its expansion and contraction during the service of the pipe causes undo stress and heating on the briar.  The worst-case scenario is an eventual burn-through or a severely cracked bowl.  These veins are minor, thankfully, and will be addressed by applying pipe mud later. Pipe mud helps the formation of a protective cake. The scraping of the rim reveals some dings on the edge from normal wear. Continuing the cleaning process, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean the darkened, grimy briar surface. I take a few pictures to mark the start. A cotton pad did the scrubbing with Murphy’s and a brass bristled brush helps with the rim.  Using brass brushes is less intrusive and a softer approach to cleaning.After this, the stummel is taken to the sink and using anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap and warm water, the mortise is scrubbed with shank brushes.  After the stummel is rinsed thoroughly, I bring it back to the table.Doing a quick survey of the stummel, the chips on the rim are evident along with scratching on the briar surface on the aft quadrant of the bowl.Next, focusing more on the internals, cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to do the job.  I also use the small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls.  The previous cleaning in the sink did a good job.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort and the buds and cleaners are coming out lighter.  I’ll continue the internal refreshing later using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. Continuing with the stummel, the rim is not in good condition and coupled with the scratching and fill on the stummel surface, sanding will be necessary.  I start from the top and work my way down. I begin by topping the stummel to refresh the rim.  I use 240 grade paper to begin on a chopping board.  After inverting the stummel, I give it several rotations.I stop to check the progress not wanting to remove more rim briar real estate than is necessary. While I’m at it, I also refresh the rim with 240 paper using a hard surface to press the paper.  I do the same with 600 grade paper and after changing the topping paper to 600, I give the rim several more rotations to further smooth the rim and remove the imperfections.  The picture below shows a much-improved rim.  A knot can be seen on the shank-side of the rim.  It doesn’t appear to be a fill.The spot on the rim has an indentation and is not smooth to the touch.  I decide to fill it so that the rim surface is smooth.Using a sharp dental probe, I dig out any loose material.After cleaning off the area with alcohol, I then apply a drop of clear CA glue to the pit and put the stummel aside for the patch to cure.It doesn’t take long for the patch to cure.  I use a flat needle file and a tightly rolled piece of 240 paper to do some precision filing and sanding to remove the excess patch mound. The rim patch is completed after again returning the stummel to the topping board with 600 grade paper.  After a few more revolutions to blend the patch, the patch looks good and is smooth to the touch.To address the dents on the shank-side of the rim lip and the multitude of scratches over the stummel, I use sanding sponges.  Starting with the rough grade, I sand over the entire stummel, carefully maneuvering around the nomenclature on both sides of the shank.  I follow the roughest grade with a medium grade then a fine grade.  The results are good.  Sanding sponges help to cleanup the blemishes on the briar surface less invasive than sanding paper. On a roll, I continue the stummel sanding with the full set of micromesh pads.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 grade, the stummel is wet sanded.  Following this, dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 complete the job. Wow!  The grain on this GBD is active and expressive.  This is looking good.  Before continuing with the stummel, I decide to continue the internal cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This process continues the cleaning of the internal briar as the salt and alcohol draw out the tars and oils.  I start by stretching and twisting a cotton ball to form a ‘wick’ that helps draw out the oils.  Using a stiff hanger wire, I guide the wick down the mortise and through the airway to the draft hole.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt and place the stummel in an egg carton to provide the stability and necessary angle for the stummel.  Kosher salt is used rather than regular iodized salt because unlike the latter, kosher salt leaves no undesirable aftertaste. Then, using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% is put in the chamber slowly until the alcohol surfaces over the salt.  After waiting a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the salt and cotton and is then topped off with a little more alcohol.  I put the stummel aside for several hours to allow the soak to do its thing.  With the stummel soaking, I return to the stem.  The earlier Before & After Deoxidizer soak did a good job.  A few pictures are taken of the upper and lower bit to look at the damage.  The bit has been chewed and mauled.  The button, upper and lower, shows bite compressions. The process of heating the vulcanite, a rubber compound, causes expansion of the material helping it to regain its original condition.  After several Bic lighter painting sessions, I take two more pictures to compare.  The heating method does not seem to have helped too much this time around.  Perhaps, but only marginally. To address the residual tooth chatter and compression, I apply black CA glue to both sides of the bit filling the compressions and building the button.  To hold the CA glue in place, I use an accelerator that cures the glue more rapidly holding the glue in place.    After the CA patch thoroughly cures, I go to work with a flat needle file bringing the patch mound down to the stem surface level – upper and lower. The button lip is also refreshed during the filing process.Following the filing, 240 sanding paper erases of the rough scratches of the filing and further shapes the button.  To remove the roughness, the sanding is expanded to the entire stem – upper and lower. Following the 240 sanding, I transition to wet sanding with 600 grade steel wool.  It was going so well until it wasn’t.  Oh my.  Restoration of pipes has as a goal returning a pipe to its new, and often, better than new state.  Yet, with all the efforts to do this, mistakes happen that diminish this goal.  While wet sanding with 600 grade paper, the paper inadvertently swept over part of the GBD stem stamping and it disintegrated.  One of the sad realities of the merger was the loss of the brass stem rondel.  Replacing it was more of a press of paint on the stem surface which has little compression or indentation into the vulcanite.  It is this indentation that protects the paint and gives it purchase or hold power.  After I did the carnage, the sick feeling in my gut continued as I vainly tried to repair the damage with the application of white acrylic paint.  I launched an email with the picture to Steve to see if he had any ideas how to salvage the situation.  His reply came quickly:

Hey Dal

I have that happen as well… it is not reparable. I just left mine half missing to give an idea of what it looked like originally. It happens and nothing can change that

Steve

Such is life….  I move on.I complete the wet sanding with 600 grade paper and finish this phase by applying 0000 grade steel wool.  Other than the stamping carnage, the stem looks great – repairs to the bit turned out very well – upper and lower.Next, the stem receives sanding from the full regimen of micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Following the wet sanding, dry sanding is used with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to protect the stem from oxidation and to rejuvenate it.     The kosher salt and alcohol soak worked through the night.  It continued the cleaning and refreshes the stummel.  The salt is soiled as well as the wick indicating that oils were drawn out during the process.  After removing the expended salt and wiping the chamber with paper towel, I also blow through the mortise to make sure salt crystals are dislodged. To make sure that all is clean, one cotton bud and one pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 99% were the proof of a clean and fresh pipe.Next, I attempted to reunite the stem and stummel to apply Blue Diamond compound, but discovered that through the cleaning process, the fit of the tenon into the mortise had tightened and was a bit too tight for comfort.  To remedy this, I use 470 grade paper to sand the tenon down.  To do this I wrap a piece of the sanding paper around the tenon and while pinching the paper tightly around the tenon, the stem is rotated to create the abrasion.  I did this a few times and tested after each.  When the fit was good, I finish by applying 0000 steel wool to the tenon to smooth it after the sanding paper.Next, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the rotary tool, with the speed set about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem and stummel.  It takes some time for the process to methodically apply the compound around the pipe.  After completion, a felt towel is used to wipe/buff the pipe to remove excess compound dust. Before applying wax, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel. I like how this product enhances and brings out the subtle natural hues of the briar.  After applying some to my finger, I work the Balm into the surface of the briar.  It thickens and it’s applied and once all is covered, the stummel is put aside for 20 minutes or so for the Balm to do what it does.After the time is complete, the stummel is wiped with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm and then it buffs up with the cloth.  Nice.I have two steps left.  First, to apply the wax and then to apply pipe mud to the chamber.  Another cotton buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed remaining at about 40%, and carnauba wax is applied to the pipe – stem and stummel.  After several rotations over the briar with the buffing wheel, I then give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to remove excess wax.As noted, because of some heating veins in the chamber, I decided to apply a layer of pipe mud over the chamber wall to help start a protective layer of carbon.  Pipe mud consists of cigar ash and water.  I have already filtered and sifted the ash to clean out chunks of stuff not wanted.  Using a pipe nail tool, I scoop some ash into a shot glass where I will do the mixing.A pipe cleaner is inserted through the draft hole to guard it from being blocked during the process.I use a large eye dropper to introduce small amounts of water and then mix with pipe nail.  It’s easy to get too much water in the mix and it becomes too runny.  If this happens, more ash is added to dry and firm up the mixture.  This I had to do a few times until the mud was the consistency of mud – yep.  Firm enough to hold shape and not drip off the nail.With the consistency good, I scoop some mud with the pipe nail and deposit it at the floor of the chamber and then spread it out like putting peanut butter on bread.  Starting from the floor and working up to the rim, adding mud as I go.  I use my thumb fingernail to run along the inner lip of the rim to create a straight edge of mud around the circumference. I let the mud cure through the night.  When it cures, it will lighten a good bit.  The next morning, the pipe mud was cured and the pipe was given another hearty hand buffing to raise the shine.

Other than the stem marking carnage I inflicted, this GBD came out exceptionally well.  The grain is lively and expressive with large swirls of bird’s eye on both sides of the bowl and horizontal straight grain on both the fore and aft sections of the bowl.  The grain also sweeps across the heel laterally.  Without doubt, the grain of this GBD Pot will hold one’s attention.  The bowl is ample for a good, long time of reflection packed with one’s favorite blend.  This is the second of 2 pipes that Chris commissioned, and he will have the first opportunity to claim this GBD in The Pipe Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me from my Christmas Vacation in sunny Florida!  Have a great New Year!

 

 

 

 

Breathing New Life into a GBD Oom Paul 235


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that we purchased from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. It is a beautiful darkly stained Oom Paul pipe with a tapered vulcanite bent stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads GBD in an oval logo [over] Oom Paul. On the right side of the shank it reads London, England over the shape number 235. The dark stain hides the grain around the bowl. The finish had a lot of grime ground into it. The bowl was moderately caked and there was a light lava coat on the top and the inner edge of the rim. The edges looked to be in excellent condition. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a brass GBD roundel on the left side of the taper stem. The pipe showed promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 the condition of the rim top and beveled inner edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification and chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like.      He took photos of the stamping on the shank and the stem. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. 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 cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 and inner edge of the rim looked very good. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a taper stem. It has a small stinger in place. I removed the stinger as it is short and loose in the tenon.   I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol and cotton pads to make the stain more transparent and make the grain more visible.    I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad. The pipe was in such good condition that started by rubbing it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works 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 polished the vulcanite stem 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 GBD Oom Paul 235 Dark Stained Briar Pipe with a full bent taper vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The brass GBD Logo is inlaid in the left side of the taper stem and looks very good. The beautiful grain that shines through the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad which real brings the shine out with the wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Dark Stained Oom Paul 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 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 63gr/2.22oz. I will be adding it to the British Pipe Makers section of 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!

Starting Again from Golden, Colorado – A GBD Meerschaum Lined 9437 Blasted Pot


Blog by Dal Stanton

Leaving life in Sofia, Bulgaria, and setting up a new life in Golden, Colorado, has not been without its challenges.  After living in Europe for over a quarter of a century, adjusting to life in the US has been every bit as difficult as when my wife and I left for Ukraine many years ago with 5 children in tow.  All those children are now married and have added 6 grandchildren for us to dote on!  When I packed up The Pipe Steward worktable in May and shipped it along with all our earthly belongings to Colorado USA, in an ocean-going and railroading 40’ container, I would not have guessed it would be November before I restored my next pipe.  The container arrived the end of August and the unpacking and reestablishing of a new home-base began.  I am thankful to God that through all our travels – airplanes and airports, we have remained well during uncertain times with pandemic on everyone’s minds.  My first ‘for USA’ pipe purchase came from Steve’s rebornpipes worktable.  A beautiful Butz Choquin Maitre-Pipier Deluxe that Steve had restored caught my eye and from Vancouver and it was waiting in Golden when we arrived from Bulgaria to begin our 14-day quarantine in June.  I enjoyed good fellowship with this classy BC during those initial days in Golden – Thanks Steve! After our container arrived, it has taken some time to unpack and settle – we’re still unpacking and organizing!  It was also a bit of a challenge to set up the worktable area. In Sofia, in our compact 10th floor flat, everything was arranged so the work process flowed.  The challenge was to recapture the ‘magic’ of that workspace here in Golden.  Even though I could theoretically have expanded my workspace adding larger, more powerful tools, I’m used to the Dremel being my main tool for polishing and buffing because of the former smaller workspace in Sofia.  So, staying with the familiar compact space works for me!  I decided to take a picture of my Golden workspace and include my first project, the GBD Meer Lined, that is on the same Bulgarian design work cloth which will continue to provide the background for The Pipe Steward restorations 😊.When pipe men and women commission pipes from my online For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, I ask them to be patient in waiting for their chosen pipes to work through the queue to reach the worktable.  Daniel has been more than patient!  He had commissioned 7 pipes (!) when we were still in Bulgaria and they reached the top of the queue when it was time for me to pack up in May.  Daniel shared with me that he’s from the Green Bay area of Wisconsin and follows rebornpipes.com and the Pipe Restorers Facebook group.  After finally getting setup in Golden and ready to pull the trigger, I emailed Daniel to make sure he was still a “go” with the pipes he had commissioned.  His response came quickly, and he was still good to go!  Here are his 7 – a nice selection of pipes all benefitting the work we continue to support in Bulgaria, the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Looking more closely at the GBD, I took more pictures of the first of Daniel’s commissions:  The nomenclature is stamped on the underside panel.  On the left side is the GBD incased in an oval [over] MEERSCHAUM LINED.  To the right of this is stamped, LONDON ENGLAND [over] 9437, the shape number which points to the designation of a Pot shape (Jerry Hanna’s GBD Shapes list on Pipedia).  The straight stamping of the COM, LONDON ENGLAND points to a pre-Cadogan era GBD which would be pipes made up to 1981.  This dating is also confirmed by the brass inlaid rondel which were discontinued after 1981 after the Comoy’s merger.  GBD’s history is involved and I enjoy a refresher with Jerry Hanna’s, “A Brief History of GBD” reprinted on Pipedia:

The company was founded in Paris France in the 19th century by Ganeval, Boundier and Donninger who were no longer associated with the company by the turn of the century. By the time they left the GBD name was well established and thus retained. In 1903 an additional factory was built in England and ran by Oppenheimer. The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory. At about that same time GBD merged with Comoys, since then all production for both GBD and Comoy comes from a single factory.  (I wasn’t kidding when I said it was brief! )

The GBD Meerschaum Lined Pot is an attractive pipe.  The only real issues that I see are addressed in cleaning at this point.  The blasted finish is in great shape and is set off very nicely with the Perspex – acrylic stem.  GBD used an early patented acrylic called Perspex before the merger in 1982 which is attractive except for the stained airway.  The sad reality of Perspex is that it is a bear and a half to clean the stain that builds up in the stem’s airway.  I learned from Steve’s tutelage some time ago that if one uses alcohol to clean this early GBD acrylic, it can result in small cracking or crazing.  I did a quick search on google to show an example of crazing.The alternative to cleaning Perspex and is a safer approach is to use lemon juice or a soft scrub product.  This will be the approach.  The other challenging part of this GBD restoration is to refresh the Meer lining which is totally covered with a thick cake which needs careful removal.

To begin this first restoration from my new worktable in Golden, Colorado, I focus on the Perspex stem which will take some patience to clean.  To take a conservative approach, I pour lemon juice into a plastic container and put the entire stem in for a long soak.  I’m hopeful that the natural acidic of lemon will begin the process of breaking down the staining in the airway without crazing.   With the stem soaking, I turn to cleaning the stummel.  I take a few pictures to show the Meer lined chamber. Using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, I gently scrape the chamber removing the rough clusters of carbon buildup on the chamber surface.  I also – again, gently, scrape the canted Meer rim. Using 240 grade sanding paper, I sand the Meer rim further to clear the blackened carbon buildup.  Using a Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 paper, the chamber is also lightly sanded to remove the carbon.  The aim of sanding the Meerschaum is not to remove the Meerschaum, but to cosmetically clean the surface. Next, using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%, the internals of the stummel are cleaned.  A dental spoon is also used to scrape the mortise walls. Switching now to the externals, using Murphy’s Oil Soap at full strength with a cotton pad, cleans up the blasted surface.  After scrubbing well, the stummel is rinsed with tap water.  I’m careful to keep the water out of the chamber and the mortise, keeping the Meerschaum dry.To condition the stummel, I apply Mark Hoover’s, Before & After Restoration Balm, to the blasted surface.  I like this product which teases out the deeper tones of the briar.  After squeezing a bit on my fingers, I rub the Balm into the surface thoroughly.  It begins with a cream-like consistency then thickens into a waxy substance.  After applying the Balm over the stummel, I put the stummel aside for 15 or so minutes for the Balm to do its thing. Then, using a microfiber cloth, the excess Balm is removed, and the surface is buffed up with the cloth.Turning again to the GBD clear Perspex stem, the process of cleaning the airway took a lot of effort.  I began the process by soaking the stem in 100% lemon juice.  To use alcohol on Perspex can result in crazing – fine spider web-like cracking running the length of the stem.  Using lemon juice employs natural acids which helps in the cleaning.  After soaking overnight, bristled pipe cleaners were employed.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results.  Next, I drop the stem in a soak of vinegar – another natural acidic which is not pictured.  Again, overnight in the vinegar bath.The vinegar soak made some headway, but real progress waited for the next step.  Using Soft Scrub with some bleach additive did the trick, but not without much scrubbing with bristled and smooth pipe cleaners.  I believe the lemon and vinegar soaks helped breakdown the residue.  The Soft Scrub finished the work.I’m pleased with the results of a giant labor-intensive cleaning process!  Before and after pictures show the transformation. There is still some residual staining in the tenon’s airway, but overall, I’m pleased.  The bit has no tooth chatter that I can see.  I forego sanding with 240 sanding paper and jump to wet sanding the stem with 600 grade paper to smooth the acrylic and bring it back to a pristine state.  Following the 600 grade sanding paper, 0000 grade steel wool continues the cleaning and smoothing.  This also shines the brass rondel nicely.Next, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads are used: starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Between each set of three pads, Obsidian was applied to the Perspex to condition it.  After reuniting the GBD stem and stummel, I take a picture to see the progress.  My oh my!  I’m liking what I see, and I think Daniel will as well.  Now on the home stretch, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel and Blue Diamond compound is applied to stem and stummel at about 40% power.  After applying the Blue Diamond compound using a felt cloth, I buff the pipe to remove the compound dust before the application of the wax.After mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel and increasing the Dremel speed to about 60% power, a light application of carnauba wax is applied to stem and stummel.  I increase the speed on the Dremel to aid the carnauba wax to heat and to be absorbed into the blasted briar surface.  Wax can collect on the rough blasted surface if this is not done.After application of the wax, a microfiber cloth is used to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.

I’m pleased to inaugurate my first restoration in Golden, Colorado, benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The GBD blasted stummel is a rich burgundy and the clear, glass-like Perspex stem is a classy touch to this Meerschaum lined Pot.  As the commissioner of the GBD Meerschaum Lined, Daniel has the first opportunity to claim the pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

Breathing Life into a GBD Tahiti Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next interesting looking large Billiard was picked up 2018 from a fellow in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It was a bit of an oddity for me in that it is a GBD pipe with a very different rustication on the bowl and shank than even the alligator finish I have seen. The finish was dirty but otherwise in good condition on the bowl and shank. There was a repair band on the shank that generally signals a repair on a cracked shank. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads GBD in the oval logo [over] TAHITI. I wonder if the shape number is not under the repair band. The line does not show up on any of the GBD materials that I have accessed. There was a thick cake in the shank and thick overflow of lava on the rim top that obscured potential damage on either. The stem was an original tapered vulcanite with the GBD Brass roundel on the left side. It was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There was also a gouge on both the top and underside of the stem mid-stem. It had a lot of potential. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. It is hard to tell what the inner edge of the bowl looks like under the lava coat. It is a very dirty pipe. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. He took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustication pattern around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the repair in the photo below next to the shank. I have used a red arrow to highlight the repaired area under the band.The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval followed by TAHITI on the underside of the shank there is no London England stamp and no shape number. I looked on Pipedia and Pipephil’s site for information on the Tahiti line and came up empty handed. There was no information on the line. I did a Google search on the brand and came upon a link on smokingpipes.com to a very similar looking pipe and a description (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=35108). On the site Bear Graves writes this description of the pipe:

One thing I love about the older GBD pipes is that they were never timid when it came to staying within shape charts, and they would often play with different carved finishes. “Tahiti” is a wonderfully appropriate name for this pipe. I can almost hear the ocean now.–Bear Graves

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. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. 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. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the darkening and damage to the rim top and edges of the bowl. There appeared to be some burn damage on the surface and inner edge of the rim. I took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show cut marks on the top and underside of the stem.The stamping on the underside of the shank was readable. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe.I started my work on the rim top by cleaning the top and edges with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on the top of the rim. The rim had a very nice inward bevel that when cleaned up was attractive. The grain on the top of the rim was very nice. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. Note the rim top and you can see the change to the look of the bevel that I worked on above.   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 ten minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the finish looked rich. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the damaged areas with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing them 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 the stem. The photos below show the polished stem.  I am pretty happy with the restoration of this GBD New Tahiti Billiard. The rim top looks far better and the finish is now and reveals the grain really well. There is a matte finish to the bowl that is rugged and rich looking. The stem is clean and smooth with no remaining damages. 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 large GBD Billiard 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: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 49g/1.73oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!  

Reworking one of my Early Restorations – a GBD New Standard 91327 Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

I restored this older GBD New Standard Lovat probably 15-20 years ago. I had not been working on pipes for too long – maybe a year or two. I really had no idea about staining or reshaping a stem or how to make the grain on the pipe like it must have when the pipe first came out. I was going through a box of pipes that I was getting rid of and came across this one in the bottom of the box. Looking at it closely I decided to take it on again and rework it. The finish was worn, the outer edge of the rim was in rough condition with chips out of it and the rim top had been topped but I had not even bothered to polish out the scratches from the sandpaper. The bowl was out of round and the inner edges were worn and had some nicks and gouges. The shank end was lighter in colour than the rest of the bowl. I had not even bothered to match the colours… good to see that I have still been learning. The bowl and shank were very clean so at least I had done that well back then. The stem still had some oxidation around the button. It had a lot of potential and I really wanted to see if I could bring it out with a bit more work. Time would tell!

The petite pipe is stamped GBD in an oval [over] New Standard on the left side of the shank and on the right side of the shank it reads London England [over] 91327 (shape number). I found that the New Standard was made in  England. It originally had a smooth finish with brown staining in what was called a “tobacco brown” finish. The shape number is one that I cannot find listed anywhere so I am not sure what to make of that but it is a neat little pipe. I have often found shape numbers on GBD pipes that are not on the list of known shape I did a quick look on Pipedia and found the flyer to the left that described the New Standard London Made Pipe (https://pipedia.org/images/b/b8/GBD_1961Flyer_NewStandard_Shape9447.jpg)

I took photos of the pipe when I took it out of the box before I started reworking it. You can see the overall look of the pipe at this point in the process. As you look at the photos of the pipe pay attention to the flaws in the previous restoration of this pipe. What do you see? As I work over the pipe let me know if I caught the things that you saw. Thanks for reading through this chronicle of a reworked restoration.

I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the damage to the rim top and edges of the bowl that I had not dealt with before. There were large nicks out the inner edge on the front and the rear of the bowl. There was also a chip out of the outer edge on the right rear of the bowl. You cannot see it from these photos but the rim top is not smooth and has a lot of sanding scratches that I did not bother removing. I took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the remaining oxidation on the topside and underside near the button and at the saddle.  The stamping on both sides was faint but readable. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe.I reworked and reshaped the edges of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and to bring it back to round. I gave it a slight bevel that will become obvious in the photos of the polishing process. (I forgot to take a photo of the rim top before I started the process of polishing it.)To even the stain colour around the bowl and make the grain stand out more clearly I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. Note the rim top and you can see the change to the inner edge worked above. I used a Cherry stain pen to touch up the sanded edges and top of the rim and blend them into the rest of the bowl.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 ten minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the finish looked rich. 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.  I am pretty happy with the upgrade to this GBD New Standard 91327 Lovat. The rim top looks far better and the finish is now uniform and reveals the grain really well. The stem is clean and no longer has residual oxidation in the crease at the button or the saddle.  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 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 small GBD 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 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 29g/1.02oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!