Tag Archives: GBD pipes

An Interesting Pipe To Work On – a GBD Prehistoric Xtra Horn


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe has attracted the attention of my wife, Abha, since the time I had received three huge boxes of pipes that once belonged to my Grandfather. So when she took the plunge of helping me in restoring all these inherited pipes, this was one of the first she had earmarked for cleaning up. After she had done the initial cleaning up, this pipe languished at the bottom of the pile of around 50 plus pipes that she had cleaned up. And it was during the period of my stay at home on compulsory leave due to the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) that this pipe came up for restoration.

The pipe with its forward canted Horn shape with a long military mount vulcanite stem has a delicate feel and look to it. It has beautiful and deep sandblast with some astonishing grain patterns that are seen over the stummel surface. The shank end is adorned with a gold ferrule that adds a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. It is stamped at the foot of the stummel as “PREHISTORIC” in Gothic hand followed by “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA”. The gold ferrule is stamped as “GBD” in an oval over four different shaped cartouches bearing the stampings, from left to right, numeral “6 (or is it 9 ?) in a rhombus followed by purity grade number “.375” in a rectangle followed by date code letter “F” and lastly the symbol of the city Assay Office that has worn out but I guess it appears like a LION HEAD with protruding lines from the four corners. The vulcanite stem is stamped, not very deeply, on the left side as “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA” in a slight upturned arch. The stampings, save for the Assay Office, is crisp and clear. There is plenty of material available on pipedia.org on the brand GBD that makes for an interesting read. The link below should take you to the relevant page on pipedia.org. For the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant portions that are related and of interest with respect to the pipe that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD).

Early GBDs were made only in one single grade concerning the wood’s quality, later supplemented by a second one, and there was only a very limited number of finishes. But toward the end of the 19th century, the demand changed. For example the Britons preferred darker stainings. More differentiated customer’s wishes made the introduction of additional markings necessary. GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models who’s names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments. The standard quality was stamped simply with GBD.

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 claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era— in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.

Dating GBDs
Xtras haven’t been made since the 1930’s.

That this pipe currently on my work table was made from 1918 to 1930s can be inferred from the information gleaned above:

(a) GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models whose names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments.

(b) The ferrule stamping of AO points to the fact that the pipe is post 1902 as Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London in 1902.

(c) The Prehistoric, an entirely new and unusual line that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was introduced after WW I.

(d) Xtra hasn’t been made since 1930s.

To pinpoint the year of make of this pipe, I decided to follow the stampings on the ferrule. Here, I was not very sure about the Assay Office hallmark as it was pretty buffed out and the numeral could have been a 6 or a 9. But having worked and researched a few silver hallmarked pipes, I guessed that the Assay Office hallmark should be a lion head. I visited https://www.gold-traders.co.uk/hallmarks/

This site is a step-by-step guide to help identify the carat/ purity, Assay Office and year of hallmark on all things gold. All things matched up perfectly and I have included a screen shot of the final result.From the above, it can be conclusively indentified that this GBD Prehistoric Xtra was made in England (London Assay Office) in 1921, give or take a year as the ferrules were always sent to the Assay Office in bulk to be used over a period of time, usually a year.

Initial Visual Inspection
As I have mentioned above, this pipe was initially handled by Abha and she is not in a habit of taking many pictures as she works on each piece of briar. There are not many pictures to give the readers an idea about the condition of the pipe before she had worked her magic and presented me with a nice clean canvas to carry forward my repair and refurbishing tasks. I have included a description of the initial condition of the pipe as documented by her.

This pipe has a rather small and narrow bowl in a classic Dublin shape with a pronounced forward cant. The chamber tapers towards the foot and has a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The chamber had an even layer of thick hard cake. There was a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. Through this thick layer of lava, a crack is clearly visible over the rim top (marked with yellow arrows) that extends over both the inner and outer stummel surface on the right side in the 5 o’clock direction. The rim top was darkened considerably and I had suspected a charred inner rim edge in 6 o’clock direction (marked in green). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply sandblasted stummel surface has very beautiful grain patterns and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the sandblasted patterns are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar was looking lifeless and bone dry and had taken on black dull hues. The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted.

The high quality vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit were seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon end had accumulated ash and oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed.    Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using scotch brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

The Process
The stummel crack was something that would essentially require materials and equipment that are available to me at my work place; therefore, I had no option but to relegate the stummel repairs to a later date.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. Since vulcanite has a property to expand and regain its original shape when heated, I heat the bite zone with a candle flame to raise the tooth chatter to the surface. The deeper bite marks were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, Abha polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  Further repair and refurbishing work would have to be put on hold till I rejoin my work place.

Part II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I took a closer look at the crack on the right side of the stummel in the 5 ‘O’ clock direction. This crack extends over the rim top surface and in to the chamber. With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack and also dislodged the entire lava overflow that had embedded itself in to the crack over the rim top. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall and outer stummel surface at this stage. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I decided to thoroughly clean the rim top and the stummel again to remove all the dirt and dust that had accumulated since last one year and also to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I cleaned the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. With a brass wired brush, I cleaned the rim top to remove the lava overflow. The stummel and the rim top have cleaned up nicely.   Next I decided to address the crack to the stummel surface. I marked the end point of the crack on with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify the end point later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole. I had to mark and drill a second counter hole as I later realized that the crack extended slightly below the first one that I had drilled. I ran the sharp dental tool along the crack to remove the dirt and debris that may have been lodged in the crack. I filled the drilled holes and the crack to the stummel surface with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. I also filled the crack at the rim top surface with the mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I used a tightly folded 180 grit sand paper to sand the fills and had carefully moved along the ridges of the sandblast to achieve a near perfect match. I vigorously brushed the rim top with a hard bristled brass wired brush to further blend the fill with the rest of the rim top surface.    Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the crack to the wall of the chamber. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage.I refreshed the stem logo by first coating the logo with a white correction liquid and once it had dried, I wiped it lightly with a cloth. I polished the stem surface with “Before and After Extra fine” stem polish developed by Mark Hoover. This polish helps in removing the minor scratches left behind due to sanding while imparting a nice shine to the stem.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated crack needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.  Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the 9 carat gold ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine. The blast pattern on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the vintage, shape rarity and the contrast that the gold ferrule imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of GBDs to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. In one of my previous blogs, I wrote that the question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I gave my third reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with you, my readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The fourth reason is that every restoration project that I undertake is a new challenge for me. It sets my adrenaline pumping as I see the beauty of the pipe being unraveled before my eyes as I progress through each process of restoration. It helps me keep myself motivated and I wake up to each morning with enthusiasm to address the challenges that any project throws at me. Upon successful completion of repairs and refurbishing of a pipe to make it beautiful and most importantly FUNCTIONAL, gets me to a nice peaceful sleep at night… isn’t that what we all strive for?     

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

 

Restoring a GBD Ebony 789 Beautifully Grained Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another one that came to me from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop after he died. I was asked to clean them up and sell them for the shop as it has since closed. This GBD Pot is an interesting looking piece – great grain showing through underneath the grime. There is straight and flame grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads GBD in an oval [over] Ebony. On the right side it is stamped London England [over] 789. The finish was dull and lifeless with a lot of grime ground into the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. It had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe when I received it. I was curious about the GBD Ebony line. I turned to Pipedia’s GBD Model Information to get a bit of information on the line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I have included a screen capture below:I turned to Pipedia’s listing of shape numbers (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). I have included a screen capture below:The Ebony line was made in England and maybe France. They were stained with light to medium brown stain and muted black undertones. It was listed as appearing in 1976 catalogues with a matte finish with dual tone. Now it is was time to work on the pipe itself.

I had sent the batch of pipes from the shop to my brother Jeff in Idaho and he had cleaned them up for me. It was several years ago now that he sent them back to me and I am just now getting to finish them. He reamed them with a Pipnet Reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife.  He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the grime in the rustication. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the tarry residue and oils in the shank and airway. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the stem surface. When it arrived here on my work table I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. The bowl was a definite improvement but the stem still showed a lot of oxidation.   The rim top looked really good. The inner and outer edges were in excellent condition. There was no charring or damage to the top or edges. I was pleased. The stem look good but there was still some heavy oxidation and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The underside was worse than the topside.   I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the look of the pipe as a whole.The pipe was in great condition so I moved to polishing the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between each pad with a damp cloth. By the end you can see the shine on the briar.   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. You can see the grain showing through the deep glow.   I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter. I filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. Once it cured I smoothed out the surface of the repair with a needle file. I sanded out the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     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 Ebony 789 Pot is another great looking pipe that came to me from the local pipe shop estate that I am restoring and selling for them. It has turned out to be a great looking pipe. The medium brown finish and dark highlights makes the grain stand out and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl 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 GBD pot fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I have a variety of brands to work on from the shop. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Fresh Life for a GBD Pedigree 254 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked GBD pipes. There is just something about the brand and their take on shapes that catches my eye. This particular GBD is a really nice looking Canadian with a saddle stem – at least I would call it a Canadian because of the oval shank. It is stamped both on the topside and underside of the shank. On the top of the shank it is stamped with the GBD Oval over Pedigree. On the underside it is stamped London England 254. There is also the brass GBD oval roundel on the top of the saddle stem. It was dirty but the bowl had been reamed back to bare briar. There was a light lava coat on the inner edge. The pipe had a rich medium brown stain that highlighted nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. There is a band on the shank that appears to be an add on. The shank is not cracked though it is thin on the top and underside. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The vulcanite saddle stem was in good condition with some oxidation and light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us even though the bowl is clean. The beveled rim edge has some lava buildup. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the left side of the shank and both sides of the half saddle acrylic stem. They are clear and readable. It read as noted above.The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I turned to Pipephil and looked to see if there was any information on the Pedigree line. There was nothing there other than a great brief history. I turned to Pipedia to the specific section on GBD to read about the line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). There was a page from an Oppenheimer Catalogue on the Pedigree line. I have included a screen capture of that page below.Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was in decent condition with a bit of buildup on the rim top but virtually no cake in the bowl. He cleaned up the bowl walls 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 light lava on the beveled rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the inside bevel of the rim top. Both the inner and the outer edge of the bowl look very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean and there is some oxidation and some minimal tooth chatter on the button and surface just ahead of the button.I took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It really is an elegant and  delicate looking pipe with great grain.I was happy with the way the rim top and edges looked so I did not need to work on them more. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. The tooth marks and chatter on the stem were not deep. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This delicately shape classic GBD pipe came together amazingly well. Thanks to the fact that it was in pretty good condition before we started it was a clean pipe to work on. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the stunning grain on the pipe. The black vulcanite saddle stem just adds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished GBD Pedigree Canadian is quite beautiful and is a classic Canadian shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. It is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like this delicate and elegant GBD pipe and it is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I had a GBD pipe sock around that I have put together with the pipe. This pipe will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

A New Start for a GBD London Made 2871 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

One thing about having so many boxes of pipes to work on surrounding my work table is that I can always find one that grabs my attention to work on now! I had passed over this one a few times in the past weeks but this morning I decided it would join the days queue. It is a great looking Zulu shape pipe made by GBD. It is a newer, post Cadogan GBD I believe as it does not have the brass roundel on the stem but just a stamped GBD oval. It was a really dirty and well-loved pipe when we received it. The bowl had a thick cake and the lava overflow on the rim made it impossible to see in the inner edge of the bowl. It had some nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. The button surface appeared to be unharmed. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us there. It was obviously a well-loved and oft enjoyed pipe!The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on both sides of the shank and the top of the tapered stem. They are clear and readable. The topside has the GBD Oval logo over London Made. On the underside of the shank it reads London England over the shape number 2871 and a P next to the shank/stem junction. The last photo below shows the GBD oval stamped on the top of the oval tapered stem.The photos of the stem show the oxidation on the stem surface as well as the tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I have worked on quite a few GBD London Made pipes over the years so I turned to the rebornpipes and did a quick search to see what I had in terms of a bit of background and some dating information on the line. I found a blog on a 9664 shaped London Made that gave me the background information I was looking for (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/10/cleaning-up-a-gbd-london-made-9664/). I quote:

I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the London Made. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand and a list of various lines of GBD pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information). I quote the section where I found the reference to the London Made.

London Made — Factory unknown: Some might not be marked with GBD logo and some with additional “house” stampings. Introduced in 1978(?) plain wax finished branded pipes” available in at least six stains. – catalog (1981)

With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from the section quoted that the London Made originally came out in 1978 in a variety of colours. Now I had an idea of the age of the pipe and it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 photos of the rim top and stem. The inner edge shows some damage on the back right side and a bit on the left side. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean.I took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It really is a nice looking pipe with great lines.I started my restoration work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the inner edges of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round. It did not take too much work.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem and started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with some Denicare Mouthpiece polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like the texture of red Tripoli. It works well to polish out some of the scratches. I find that it does a great job preparing the stem for polishing with micromesh sanding pads.From the information I could find online the stamping on the stem was white. I have successfully used Paper Mate Liquid Paper to restore/replace the white fill in the stamp. I apply it with the dauber included and scrape off the excess with a tooth pick and finger nail. In this case some of the oval stamping was faint but the GBD was sufficient to look better.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This was a pipe I was looking forward to seeing what it looked like when I put it back together. The change in condition and appearance of the pipe was remarkable. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is quite beautiful and is a lovely Zulu shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. It is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like the way that GBD makes the Zulu shape. They have made their Zulu very recognizable. This is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Look at this beauty – a GBD Prodigy Sandflame 9696 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is one I have been looking forward to working on. It came in its original box as can be seen in the next two photos. The pipe was in a GBD pipe sock. The box was in great condition and read London Made GBD Prodigy. On the end of the box it reads Prodigy Sandflame 9696 which is the model and shape number. It is a nicely grained sandblast freehand with a white acrylic stem. Jeff took pictures of it as he unpacked it from the box.The pipe was in very good condition when he took it from the box. There were not a lot of issues to deal with in the cleanup and restoration. It is stamped on the underside of the shank GBD in an oval over Prodigy over Sandflame over London England. There was some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl, heavier toward the back side with a bit of darkening on the plateau top. There was a thick cake in the bowl that had remnants of tobacco stuck in it. The finish was dirty and there were spots of grime and oils. The white acrylic fancy saddle stem had a brass GBD roundel on the left side of the saddle. There were tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. There was tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. There was some darkening in the airway of the stem at the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the tars and darkening on the inner edge of the rim top. The cake in the bowl is thick and there is tobacco debris on the walls of the bowl. There were some shiny spots on the plateau rim top that would need to be cleaned off. The finish on the bowl is dull but still very stunning.Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the sandblast grain on this particular piece of briar. It is quite stunning with the plateau rim and plateau shank end. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is polished and waxed. He took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. The GBD oval and the Prodigy line is double stamped. The rest of the stamping is clear and reads SANDFLAME over London England. He included the side of the stem with the brass GBD roundel on the left side of the saddle stem. This pipe has a classic freehand saddle stem that has a great profile. The white acrylic stem is in good condition other than tooth marks and chatter on the stem at the button. There is some darkening in button and airway. The photos below show the condition of the stem. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if I could find any direct information on the Prodigy line and sadly there was nothing there regarding this line. I turned to Pipedia listing under GBD Model Information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) and read through that information. I found a description of the line that I include below.

Prodigy — England, unknown if also made in France: According to the 1976 catalog these were a limited production “oversize” line available in just a few shapes. Natural finish…

There was also a note at the bottom of the page that had a description of the pipe that I have in hand.

I also have an interesting Prodigy Sandflame, half bent tan sandblast free form with plateau top. I think it’s an unusual shape for a GBD…

I am pretty sure the pipe was GBD’s response to the Freehand craze of the 70’s but cannot prove that for sure. I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. I decided to take photos of the opening of the box so you can experience looking at this pipe the way I did when I received it from Jeff. I opened the box, took out the sock and removed the pipe. It really is quite stunning to look at the first time. I took the pipe out of the box and turned it over in my hands to see it from various angles. I always do that to get a feel for what I am going to have to do with the pipe in my part of the restoration process. In this case there was little to do. The pipe had come back looking amazing. Even the stem which had the most issues to work on when I looked at the photos above looked like new, with most of the tooth chatter gone. There was some darkening in the airway, the button and on the end of the tenon that would need to be looked at a bit but I was impressed. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. Just look at the sandblast grain on this Freehand pipe. It was quite beautiful! I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. The cake and lava overflow were gone and the inner rim looked better. Jeff had been able to get rid of most of the darkening and all of the lava and tars. The plateau rim top looked very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that it is a much cleaner. There was still some light tooth chatter and some darkening in the airway and button slot that I would try to minimize some more but it looked good.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. Often the stamping takes a hit with the cleaning and is lessened in it clarity. Jeff does a great job in leaving the stamping looking very good.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the plateau on the shank end in the photos below. It is in great condition.I started my restoration work on this pipe by addressing the darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge and followed that with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The finish rim top looked very good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get in the nooks and crannies of the blast and the plateau on the rim top and shank end. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I started by working on the tobacco staining on the white stem. I cleaned off the tenon end with a piece of folded sandpaper and was able to remove the majority of the stains. I worked on the inside of the button with a folded pipe cleaner and alcohol and remove all of the staining in the slot and button. I worked on the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners going both directions and scrubbing. I also used some Soft Scrub on a pipe cleaner and worked it back and forth in the airway. While it is definitely better there is still some remaining stain. I sanded out the tooth chatter and blended in the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining stains on the surface of the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Once again I love this part of the process when all of the parts come together and the pipe looks better than when we started the cleanup process. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. 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 it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a real stunning example GBD’s response to the Freehand Craze of the 1970s. The sandblast grain and the way the shape follows it is very well done. This is the first Prodigy I have seen or worked on and I have worked on a lot of GBD pipes. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This Made In London England Prodigy Sandflame 9696 Freehand is a great looking pipe in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I was having a FaceTime chat with Paresh while I was working on this one and it will soon be heading to India to join his collection of Freehand pipes. Thanks for your time.

 

The 18th Pipe from the 19 Pipe Eastern Canada Lot – a GBD Popular 12 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

With two pipes left to finish for the fellow in Kitchener, Ontario I decided to work on one more of them. He had been referred to me by my local pipe and cigar shop. While I am not currently adding more pipes to my queue of repairs I have made a commitment to the shop to work on pipes for their customers. Generally they have one or two pipes that need a bit of work. This fellow sent me the following email:

I just came across my smoking pipes that I’ve had in storage for about 40 years. I’m wondering what you’d charge to have them refurbished. There are 17 in total (11 are Brighams and 6 are various).

It turns out he said he had 17 pipes. That was certainly more than I expected but I communicated that there was a large queue ahead of him and I would have to fit them in as I could. He was fine with whatever time it took. He sent me the following photos of his collection that he wanted restored. The first photo shows his eleven Brigham pipes – all very interesting shapes. The second photo shows the six various pipes in the collection – A Republic Era Peterson’s System 1312 (Canadian Import), A Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand, a Comoy’s Everyman London smooth billiard, a GBD Popular Dublin 12, an English made Kaywoodie Rustica 72B, a Kriswill Bernadotte 60 with a broken tenon. When the box arrived there were two additional pipes included for a total of 19 – a Ropp 803 Deluxe Cherrywood Poker and a Comoy’s Sandblast Everyman Canadian 296. It was a lot of pipes! I have been randomly choosing the next pipe to work on and chose the Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand that is shown in the second photo below. I have drawn a purple box around the GBD Popular 12 Dublin in the photo below. I have also put and X through all of the pipes that I have finished. I am making progress on the lot – I have finished 17 pipes now and this is the 18th.The 18th pipe that I took out of the box was a GBD Popular. It had a smooth finish. It was stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Popular in script. On the right side it was stamped Made in England and under that was the shape number 12. The finish was really dirty and spotty looking. The rim top had a thick coat of lava on the flat surface and the beveled inner rim. The bowl had a thick cake in it that was hard and crumbling. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. The GBD roundel on the left side of the stem looked good. It seemed to have tabs around the edges that held it on the stem surface.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl and the darkening and damage to the inner edge as well. You can also see the cake in the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition as mentioned above. I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to show what I was speaking about above. It is very readable. On the left side it reads GBD in an oval over Popular.  On the right side it read Made in England over the shape number 12.  The stem also had a GBD Roundel on the left side of the taper.   Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I looked first on the Pipephil website and found nothing on the Popular line. I turned to Pipedia and also was disappointed to find nothing on the line. Hitting the dead end I decided to turn to working on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to remove the cake. I cleaned up the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth them out. I was happy that the walls looked very good.   I scraped off the lava on the rim top with the edge of the Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the top of the rim and the bevel on the inner edge. I was able to make it look significantly better. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. They were dirty but the pipe is clean now.   I scrubbed the surface of the bowl and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grimes, oils and tars and leave the surface clean. I rinsed it off with warm running water to remove the grime and the soap.   I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris from the sanding. The rim top was looking very good after the final polishing pad.     Once I had finished with the 2400 grit pad I touched up the colour of the rim top using an Oak Stain Pen. It blended very well with the colour of the bowl and shank. Once it cured I went on with the polishing with the remaining micromesh pads. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I rubbed the stem down with Soft Scrub on with a cotton pad and it removed the oxidation. It was looking better.     I sanded out the remaining tooth marks, chatter and oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I rubbed down the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish, a red gritty paste and a cotton pad to remove the remnants of oxidation and to blend in the sanding. The stem is starting to show promise at this point in the process.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris.  I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine.   It feels good to be one pipe away from finishing the restoration of this 19 pipe lot from Eastern Canada. With the completion of this one I have finished 18 of the pipes. I put the English Made GBD Popular 12 Billiard back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain showing through the rustication on both sides and the smooth rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This nicely finished GBD Popular Billiard is nice looking and feels great in my hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Once again I am looking forward to what the pipeman who sent it thinks of this restoration. Only 1 more pipe to do in this lot! 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 the trust to the next pipeman or woman.

Working on a GBD Standard 323 Smooth Apple from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work through Bob Kerr’s estate. The next pipe on the table is a GBD Standard Apple, smooth bowl and shank a beveled rim top. It is an Standard with a black vulcanite stem. I am continuing to cleanup Bob’s estate for his family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has a beautiful mix of grain under the grime on the finish. It is quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval over Standard on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped London, England and the shape number 323. It had a rich brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The inner edge of the rim and top are dirty and had a thick lava coat. The edges appear to have a bit of burn damage on the front inner edge and the front outer edge has a bit of wear damage. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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. There appears to be a little damage on the left front inner and outer edges of the bowl. Otherwise it looks pretty good.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain through the debris – both birdseye and cross grain. The finish was very dirty. There is a small putty fill on the lower right side of the bowl.     Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Standard. On the right is reads London, England over the shape number 323. On the left side of the saddle stem was an inlaid brass GBD rondel. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The edges of the button looked very good with slight wear on the edges.  I already cleaned up and restore another Standard from Bob’s estate and did the research on the brand while working on that one (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/10/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-working-on-a-gbd-standard-9136-bent-billiard/). In that blog I referenced an article on Pipedia. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I quote the section where I found the reference to the Standard.

I also turned to the reference page on the site for GBD shapes and numbers and could not find any information on that shape number (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). There was nothing there with the 323 number though there were other apple shaped pipes in the 335-345 numbers. So once again there is a mystery on this one.

With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from the section quoted that the Standard originally came out in the 20s. In the late 1930s the New Standard was introduced after the war. So this is another one of Bob’s older pipes – late 1920s to early 30s. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I am really appreciating Jeff’s help cleaning them up. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 good. The stem still sported some deep oxidation but otherwise it was clean. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. The rim top looks pretty good. There is some darkening on the top edge and a burn marks on the inner and outer edge. There is also some damage on the outer rim on the rim. The photos show a few small dents on the surface of the stem and the nick out of the top of the button on the topside. You can also see the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.      I am going to keep posting the next paragraph because of the importance of protecting the stamping/nomenclature.

One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration! Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

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

Now, on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Standard 323 Tapered stem Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was going to be a very easy job for me. There was some darkening and damage on the rim top, the inner and outer edges of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the top and the edges. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The first photo below shows the rim top when I started and the second one below shows it after the work. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I was able to minimize the damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It is still damaged but it looks considerably better. Once I clean it and stain it the rim edge will look better. I polished the rim top and sides of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and rim down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. The more I polished the rim top the more the rim blended in with the rest of the finish. I would not need to stain it.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.    I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.    I can’t tell you how great it feels to be moving through these 125 pipes – about 39 done so far! It is an overwhelming task that can only be achieved one pipe at a time. So each time I finish one of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate I look forward to what it will look like when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich medium brown smooth finish really popped with buffing showing the grain on the pipe. The polished thin black vulcanite taper stem went really well with the colours of the bowl. This old GBD Standard 323 Apple was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the classic GBD Apple shape that is very recognizable. The medium brown stain really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Working on a GBD Original 91327 Smooth Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work through Bob Kerr’s estate. The next pipe on the table is a GBD Original Billiard, smooth bowl and shank a beveled rim top. It is an Original with a black vulcanite stem. I am continuing to cleanup Bob’s estate for his family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has a beautiful mix of grain under the grime on the finish. It is quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval over Original on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped London, England and the shape number 91327. It had a rich brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The inner edge of the rim and top are dirty and had a thick lava coat. The edges appear to have a bit of burn damage on the front inner edge and the front outer edge has a bit of wear damage. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. There seemed to be a chip or nick in the middle of the button on the top edge. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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. There appears to be a little damage on the left front inner and outer edges of the bowl. Otherwise it looks pretty good.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain through the debris – both birdseye and cross grain. The finish was very dirty. There is a large putty fill on the right side of the shank near the bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Original.  On the right side it was stamped London, England over the shape number 91327. On the left side of the saddle stem was an inlaid brass GBD rondel.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. There is a deep nick in the topside of the button.I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the Historic line. I have heard of Original pipes but I have never seen one stamped with the five digit shape number like this 91327. The Pipedia article identifies the line as a French made pipe however, this one is stamped London, England thus contradicting the article that specifically says that the pipes were not made in England (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information).

I also turned to the reference page on the site for GBD shapes and numbers and could not find any information on that shape number (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). There was nothing there with a five digit number so I checked the listing of the last 3 digits, 327 and did not find one. So once again there is a mystery on this one.

All of my research did not really help pin anything down. The shape number was a dead end and the line description was also a contradiction. I was dealing with a bit of anomaly – a French made saddle Billiard stamped London, England with a saddle stem. In terms of dating the pipe I can only guess that it fits in with the late 50s to late 60s of Bob’s other pipes but I cannot know for sure. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I am really appreciating Jeff’s help cleaning them up. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 good. The stem still sported some deep oxidation but otherwise it was clean. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks pretty good. There is some darkening on the top edge and a burn marks on the inner and outer edge. There is also some damage on the outer rim on the rim. The photos show a few small dents on the surface of the stem and the nick out of the top of the button on the topside. You can also see the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.     I am going to keep posting the next paragraph because of the importance of protecting the stamping/nomenclature.

One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration! Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

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

Now, on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Original 91327 Saddle Stem Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was going to be a very easy job for me. There was some darkening and damage on the rim top, the inner and outer edges of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the top and the edges. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The first photo below shows the rim top when I started and the second one below shows it after the work. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I was able to minimize the damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It is still damaged but it looks considerably better. Once I clean it and stain it the rim edge will look better.  Some how the fill that was obvious in the first photos that Jeff took seem to have expanded and filled in and with the polishing and sanding it disappeared. I can see it but it was not worth repairing or replacing. I polished the rim top and sides of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and rim down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. The more I polished the rim top the more the rim blended in with the rest of the finish. I would not need to stain it.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the divot on the top of the button on the top side and built up the edge on the underside with clear Krazy Glue.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.    I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I rubbed it down with “No Oxy Oil”, a product I am trying out from Briarville Pipe Repair. So far it is an impressive product that is very similar to Obsidian Oil. I will continue to experiment with it.  I can’t begin to tell you how great it feels to be moving through these 125 pipes – about 38 done so far! It is an overwhelming task that can only be achieved one pipe at a time. So each time I finish one of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate I look forward to what it will look like when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich medium brown smooth finish really popped with buffing showing the grain on the pipe. The polished thin black vulcanite saddle stem went really well with the colours of the bowl. This old GBD Original 91327 Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the classic GBD Billiard shape that is very recognizable. The medium brown stain really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Working on a GBD Historic 115 Sandblast Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work through Bob Kerr’s estate. The next pipe on the table is a GBD Historic Billiard, sandblasted bowl and shank and a smooth panel on the underside of the shank with the stamping. It is a Prehistoric with a black vulcanite stem. I am continuing to cleanup Bob’s estate for his family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has a beautiful mix of grain under the grime on the sandblast finish. It is quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval over Historic on the underside of the shank. That is followed by stamping London, England and the shape number 115. It had a rich mix of black and dark brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The inner edge of the rim and top are dirty and had a thick lava coat. The edges appear to have a bit of burn damage on the front inner edge and the front outer edge has a bit of wear damage. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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. There appears to be a little damage on the left front inner and outer edges of the bowl. Otherwise it looks pretty good. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain through the sandblast – both birdseye and cross grain. The finish was very dirty.   Jeff took photos of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the underside it read GBD in an oval over Historic. That was followed by London, England over the shape number 115. On the left side of the saddle stem was an inlaid GBD rondel.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.       I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the Historic line. I have heard of Prehistoric pipes but I have never seen one stamped Historic. It is another one that is a mystery in terms of the line. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). There is nothing specific on the Historic line.

I also turned to the reference page on the site for GBD shapes and numbers and found the one for the 115 shape but it called it a Prince of Wales and said that the saddle stem had a 1/8 bend. To me a Prince of Wales is a Prince shape pipe and the one that I was working on is definitely a billiard (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). The vagaries of clearly pinning down GBD Shapes is evident in this seeming contradiction. I also did a screen capture of the section and from the various Model information. That also was an interesting conundrum in that the pipe in my hand was not smooth but had a sandblast finish like the Prehistoric with a smooth beveled rim top. I combined the screen captures in one picture below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information).  All of my research did not really help pin anything down. The shape number was a dead end contradiction as was the line description. I was dealing with a bit of anomaly – a Sandblast Billiard stamped Historic not Prehistoric with a straight thin bit stem. In terms of dating the pipe I can only guess that it fits in with the late 50s to late 60s of Bob’s other pipes but I cannot know for sure. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 good. The stem still sported some deep oxidation but otherwise it was clean. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks pretty good. There is some darkening on the top edge and a burn mark on the inner edge at the front. There is also some damage on the outer rim on the rim. The photos show a few small dents on the surface of the stem. You can also see the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.    I am going to keep posting the next paragraph because of the importance of protecting the stamping/nomenclature.

One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration!   Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

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

Now, on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Historic 115 Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was going to be a very easy job for me. There was some darkening and damage on the inner edge of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the edge. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I was able to minimize the damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It is still damaged but it looks considerably better. Once I clean it and stain it the rim edge will look better.  I stained the rim top and edges with a Walnut and Black stain pen. I blended the colours to match the rest of the bowl colour. I also stained the shank end with the two pens to blend them into the flow of the colour on the shank and bowl.     I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.       I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).      I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.    I can’t tell you how great it feels to be moving through these 125 pipes – about 35 done so far! It seemed like an overwhelming task that can only be achieved one pipe at a time. So each time I finish one of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate I look forward to what it will look like when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich dark brown and black sandblast finish really popped with buffing showing the contrast colours of stain on the pipe. The polished thin black vulcanite stem went really well with the colours of the bowl. The sandblast rim top, though slightly damaged looked very good. This old GBD Historic Sandblast 115 Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the classic GBD Billiard shape that is very recognizable. The combination of various stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Working on a GBD Original 115 Beveled Rim Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work through Bob Kerr’s estate. The next pipe on the table is a GBD Original Billiard, sandblasted bowl and shank with a smooth beveled rim and a smooth panel on the underside of the shank with the stamping. I am continuing to cleanup Bob’s estate for his family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I have been collecting and restoring GBD pipes for as long as I have worked on pipes. This one also has a beautiful mix of grain under the grime on the sandblast finish. It is quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval over Original on the underside of the shank. That is followed by stamping London, England and the shape number 115. It had a rich mix of black and dark brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The inner beveled edge of the rim and top are dirty and had a thick lava coat. The edges look pretty pristine under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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 edges look pretty good.     Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain through the sandblast – both birdseye and cross grain. The finish was very dirty.     Jeff took photos of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. On the underside it read GBD in an oval over Original. That was followed by London, England over the shape number 115. On the left side of the saddle stem was an inlaid GBD rondel.  Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. I turned to Pipedia’s article on GBD to see if I could find any information on the Original. It was a line of GBD pipes that was new to me. The article gives a lot in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). There is nothing specific on the Original line.

I also turned to the reference page on the site for GBD shapes and numbers and found the one for the 115 shape but it called it a Prince of Wales and said that the saddle stem had a 1/8 bend. To me a Prince of Wales is a Prince shape pipe and the one that I was working on is definitely a billiard (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Shapes/Numbers). The vagaries of clearly pinning down GBD Shapes is evident in this seeming contradiction. I also did a screen capture of the section and from the various Model information. That also was an interesting conundrum in that the pipe in my hand was not smooth but had a sandblast finish like the Prehistoric with a smooth beveled rim top. I combined the screen captures in one picture below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information).     All of my research did not really help pin anything down. The shape number was a dead end contradiction as was the line description. I was dealing with a bit of anomaly – a Sandblast Original Billiard with a straight thin bit stem. In terms of dating the pipe I can only guess that it fits in with the late 50s to late 60s of Bob’s other pipes but I cannot know for sure. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 good. The stem still sported some deep oxidation but otherwise it was clean. I took photos before I started my part of the work.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks good. There is some darkening on the top edge and a few light nicks and scratches on the surface. The bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the few small dents on the surface of the stem. You can also see the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.       I am going to keep posting the next paragraph because of the importance of protecting the stamping/nomenclature.

One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration!Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

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

Now, on to the rest of the restoration on this GBD Original 115 Billiard. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was going to be a very easy job for me. There was some darkening on the inner beveled edge of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the bevel. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.    I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.   I can’t tell you how great it feels to be moving through these 125 pipes – about 35 done so far! It seemed like an overwhelming task that can only be achieved one pipe at a time. So each time I finish one of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate I look forward to what it will look like when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich dark brown and black sandblast finish really popped with buffing showing the contrast colours of stain on the pipe. The polished thin black vulcanite stem went really well with the colours of the bowl. The smooth beveled rim top really stood out and gave the pipe a bit of class. This old GBD Original Sandblast 115 Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the classic GBD Billiard shape that is very recognizable. The combination of various stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.