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A Rare Beauty


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a spectacular freehand pipe that came in a group of pipes that I bought from Chicago. Freehand pipes have been all the rage among collectors for many years, thanks to the Danes. But this one is not from Denmark – it is from the United States. The pipe is absolutely beautiful and a superb example of American pipe-making craftsmanship. I have been wanting to work on this pipe for ages, but other things always got in the way. Now is the time. Carpe diem!The pipe is a American freehand pipe by the esteemed pipemaker, Sandor Herskovitz. You’ve never heard of him? Do not worry – few have! Not many of his pipes are available on the secondary market. The gorgeous briar wood on this pipe really makes an impression. I am not able to date the pipe, as the photo shows all of the markings to be seen. It simply shows the word Sandor on the left-hand side of the stummel.Little information exists on Pipepedia about him. What information they do have comes from the proprietor of the Red Door Consignment Gallery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

Sandor Herskovitz (of Flushing, NY) used to make pipes and sell them out of a public park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the late 50s and early 60s. Tom Benz had a pipe created for his wife, Hilda, that is a foot with a big toe sticking up. Sandor signed it “Made for Hilda, Sandor”. Tom Benz gave the pipe to a friend who later passed. His daughter gave it to the Red Door Consignment Gallery in Harrisburg, PA to sell. Coincidentally, my father, Leonard Berman, saw the pipe and asked me to e-mail Tom Benz to ask who the man was who used to make pipes in the park. By sheer coincidence, Tom Benz wrote back with the name Sandor Herkovitz and said the pipe was originally his! Of course, I offered it back but he declined and is allowing the public to enjoy it at our gallery. I will continue to research this pipe maker and hope others will contribute as well.

I did my own sleuthing on Sandor Herskovitz. I do not know his life-span for certain, but US genealogical records indicate that a man named Sandor Herskovitz was born in Hungary in 1898, naturalized in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1923, and died in Erie, New York in 2002. This seems likely to be our man.

I also found two newspaper articles that mentioned Herskovitz in the 1970s. The first article comes from the Washington Post on 13 April 1978, regarding the Spring Arts and Crafts Fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland:

Finding the unusual can be an important factor in the craftsman’s success. By applying his trade to his hobby, Sandor Herskovitz of Flushing, N.Y., found a distinctive way to sculpt briar pipes. For shapes, he found inspiration in the shoes he had been selling for years for Genesco, a shoe corporation. From making pipes in the shape of Benedict Arnold’s boot and Abigail Adams’ shoe he has gone on to make a camera shape for a Nikon executive, a foot shape for a podiatrist and a vertebra shape for an osteopath. His Liberty Bell pipe sent to Washington for the Bicentennial caught the eye of pipe-smoker Gerald Ford. “Maybe I got a little ham in me, maybe that’s why I do it,” said Herskovitz. “You take a piece of wood and you never know what’s inside.”

The second article comes from the Michigan Daily on 20 July 1978, regarding the Ann Arbor Art Fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

The vendor of another of the more unusual Art Fair wares is New York pipe carver Sandor Herskovitz. “The things I sell, nobody else sells,” said Herskovitz, puffing on a wooden pipe in the shape of a bare foot. The artist’s array of designs ranges from an abstract, roughly-textured wooden pipe to an intricate miniature replica of Benedict Arnold’s boot. “I sell all over the country, and these are the best handmade pipes in the world, I think,” Herskowitz said. “The people seem to like our pipes in Ann Arbor.”Clearly, Herskowitz was an experienced and talented pipe man. It seems likely that the pipe dates from the 1950s–1970s. I am delighted to be able to work on a pipe like this. One can not only see, but also feel, the quality of the briar and the work he put into it.

On to the pipe and, beautiful though it was, it had a few issues. The stem had some oxidation and plenty of tooth chatter and scratches. It desperately needed a polish. It also had problem with the tenon insofar as it did not fit properly in the stummel’s mortise. Meanwhile, the stummel also had some problems. There was plenty of lava on the rim (and some minor burning), lots of cake in the bowl, and the bowl was pretty darn dirty. In addition, there was a small crack in the wood of the face of the shank. It seems reasonable to deduce that the crack may have been as a result of the misfitting tenon on the stem. This pipe was going to require some work, but it was definitely worth it for such a beauty. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was fairly successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. Next, I had to carefully remove some of the bulk from the stem’s tenon. Since I do not have a tenon-turning tool, I used my Dremel Rotary Tool. This was a bit scary, since the Dremel tends to have a mind of its own. I had to work precisely and gingerly. In the end, I managed to remove just enough and the stem now fits perfectly in the stummel.Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the dents and the button on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I did the same to the remaining tooth marks. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took the bowl down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was some nastiness inside this stummel, but fortunately not too much – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed any latent dirt and the miserable stains that blighted the wood. I had to work especially hard on the rim of the pipe. Obviously, this is a freehand (with a freehand sort of rim) and, as a result, I do not have the luxury of using a topping board to remove some of the lava. I used a small butter knife to gently chip away at the lava. I then used more Murphy’s with a scrub brush to get into the crevasses. This actually worked quite well. As I mentioned earlier, there were some small burn marks on the rim of the stummel that also needed to be addressed. A lot of this was removed by the Murphy’s. For the burns that remained, I took some oxalic acid on a Q-tip and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed! As you will see, the treatment worked very well and the rim is much improved.On to another issue with this pipe: the crack in the shank. My first step was to ensure that the crack would not continue to creep after I had repaired it. To that end, I took a micro-drill bit, inserted it in my Dremel, and very carefully drilled a hole right through the wall of the shank. This was quite nerve-wracking, but it worked perfectly. Look how thin that drill bit is! I then needed to apply cyanoacrylate adhesive to the crack in order to seal and repair it. I covered the end of the shank with painters’ tape. That done, I carefully applied some adhesive to the tiny hole and the length of the crack. Finally, I clamped it shut and let it sit overnight to cure. This was a great success – obviously, the crack would always be visible, but I was really pleased with how the repair looked. After this, the entire stummel was treated to a scrubbing with all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) and some distilled water. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. The wood on this pipe is stunning! Now it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. I had to be especially careful with the bench polisher on the stummel, since the edges have a tendency to catch on the buffing wheels. I have to admit, this did put my heart in my throat a few times!

This pipe was a delight from start to finish and its beauty only increased through the restoration process. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6¼ in. (160 mm); height 2½ in. (60 mm); bowl diameter 1½ in. (40 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (20 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2 oz. (60 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Firing Up the Carburetor


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is an amazing, old Yello-Bole Carburetor. It has lovely proportions and very nice lines. It was clearly a well-made pipe, but it was a mess. It came to me in a lot off of Craigslist, here in the Vancouver area. There were several interesting pipes in this lot, but I grabbed this one because I wanted to learn more about carburetor systems in pipes. This seemed like a good starting point. The pipe turned out beautifully, but it was not clear that that was going to be the case when I started! This is a bent-egg-shaped pipe – and a really pretty one too. It felt very nice. There is plenty of information to be had on Yello-Bole pipes, but this one is slightly tricky to date. The markings on the left of the shank read Yello-Bole [over] Carburetor [over] Genuine Briar. On the right side of the shank is the model number 9567. Also, on the stem, there is a whitish circle, unlike the yellow circles of old. RebornPipes has a few write-ups on Yello-Bole Carburetors, but none quite like this one. I believe this pipe to be a bit newer than the previous restorations – certainly dating after 1955 and before 1972. I say “certainly” because when S.M. Frank & Co. Inc. bought out Yello-Bole et al from KB&B in 1955, they ceased using the KB&B clover-leaf logo. This pipe does not have the clover. The history of Yello-Bole’s carburetor system is quite interesting. I am borrowing from an old post of Steve’s to relay the following information:

I decided to look up the patents on the US Patent site and see what I could find about about them and the date they were filed (https://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm). I searched first for the US. Pat. 2,082,106 that was stamped on the top and left side of the shank. I assumed it referred to the Patent for the Carburetor but I was not certain. I found a drawing and description of the carburetor system of a patent filed by R. Hirsch on April 21, 1936 and granted on June 1, 1937. I have included those pages below. For those interested in the problematic dating of Yello-Bole pipes, please refer to this link which has some useful information: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/kaywoodie/dating-yello-bole-pipes-t86.html.

Anyway, on to the pipe, and – as I mentioned – it was very attractive, but a bit of a mess. The stem was dark and dreary. It had significant oxidation and plenty of tooth chatter and scratches. Meanwhile, the stummel also had some problems. There was plenty of lava on the rim, some small burns, cake in the bowl, and a few scratches here-and-there. The staining of the wood needed to be revivified too. The finish on the wood had come off in spots and that was going to need attention. Also, the carburetor itself was impregnated with gunk. This pipe was going to require quite a bit of elbow grease, but I was looking forward to working on this one. It is a pipe that still has many decades of use in it.

The stem was first on my list. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was somewhat successful in raising the damage. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads (and a toothbrush) to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.I also decided to paint the “O” on the stem with some white nail polish. This sort of “paint” works very well in filling in the markings and is quite resistant to wear-and-tear.This stummel was quite a mess. The lava on the rim was so substantial that I first gently scraped it with a knife to remove as much as possible. I then decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of nastiness inside this stummel and – boy-oh-boy – it took a lot of cotton to get this thing clean! I also used some cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, and a straight pin to clean the carburetor. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some castile soap and tube brushes. But that was just the inside! I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a toothbrush, and some cotton pads. Wow – I got a lot of filth off the stummel and I began to see some signs of real beauty in the wood. A sign of good things to come! But I still needed to address the patchy finish on the wood. It may have looked good once upon a time, but no longer. So, I opted to soak the stummel in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours. This will usually remove the sort of deteriorating finish I was faced with. When I took the stummel out of the alcohol bath, I scrubbed the wood with a brush (to remove any remnants) and left it to dry. In order to remove the lingering bits of finish (and eliminate any nicks on the rim), I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. I opted to carry on sanding the whole stummel with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to even everything out. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to finish it off. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. There is some beautiful wood after all – and look at that bird’s-eye! On to another problem: the colour. During the course of its previous life and my vigorous cleaning, this pipe had lost some vibrancy of colour. So, in order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain.I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very elegant pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure.

This Yello-Bole Carburetor is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe makers section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5¾ in. (145 mm); height 2¾ in. (50 mm); bowl diameter 1⅛ in. (29 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is 1⅜ oz. (40 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Brebbia Brandy


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is this lovely Brebbia Marco. It came to me in a large lot from France. It was a decent lot of pipes, but the person who sold it to me decided that the best way of shipping to Canada would be to simply throw them all in a box and tape it up. Ugh. The pipes in this lot were figuratively all over the map: some beautiful, some hideous; some very old, some newish; some pristine, some mostly destroyed. This pipe called out to me as being very attractive and one that could easily be brought back to life. It was also the only Italian pipe in the lot. This pipe is a Brebbia. Or maybe it is a Marco. Or maybe Marco is a line of Brebbia pipes. Or maybe Marco is a sub-brand/second of Brebbia. Or maybe Marco is the name of a pipe shop that sold Brebbia. There is not much information to be found specifically for the name Marco in connection with Brebbia. The markings on the top of the shank read Marco [over] Real Briar. On the underside of the shank, the markings read Disp. Reg. [over] Brebbia. Also, on the stem, there is an encircled, cursive M. If you have any information on the connection between Marco and Brebbia, please let me know in the comments below. Thank you.This is a brandy-shaped pipe – and a really pretty one too. It felt very comfortable in the hand. It was obvious from the start that this was a great pipe that just needed some attention and TLC. I learned from Pipedia and Pipephil that the Brebbia pipe company was named after the locality of Bosco Grosso di Brebbia in Lombardy, Italy. The company was founded by Enea Buzzi and Achille Savinelli in 1947, but they parted ways in 1953. Mr Savinelli went on to form his eponymous company, while Mr Buzzi kept the factory and created Maniffatura Pipe Brebbia – they produce MPB and Brebbia pipes. Mr Buzzi’s family still run the company today.On to the pipe – and it had a few issues. The stem was mostly fine. No significant oxidation or calcification to speak of, plenty of tooth chatter and scratches, and a filthy inner-tube. The stem also had a strange piece sticking out of the end of the bit – more about that later. Meanwhile, the stummel was where the real problems lay. The outside of the bowl had many scratches and deep gouges. I was not at all sure that they were going to come out. There were also several burn marks on the rim and what looked like ink on the bowl. The inside was pretty dirty too. The stem was first on my list. The inner-tube was extracted fairly easily. It then went for a soak in some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. I let it sit for several hours and then cleaned it off and it looked much improved. I then finished it with some metal polish and moved on.I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was not particularly successful in raising the damage. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The problem I had was the odd-shaped piece coming out the end of the bit. Steve explained that it was an implement to prevent bite-through on the stem. Aha! I learn something from Steve every day. This certainly made sense, but it made cleaning the stem a real problem, since I could not be sure that the bit was fully clean with that piece in place. In order to solve the problem, however, I needed to clean out the stummel first.This stummel was a bit of a mess inside. I first decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. In fact, I also used the drill bit that came with the KleenReem in order to loosen the debris that blocked the draught hole. I took the bowl down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was some filth inside this stummel and it took some cotton to get it clean. A de-ghosting session also seemed in order, so I thrust cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit for 24 hours. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged.Then, to finish off cleaning the inside of the stem, I put it back together with the stummel and used my pipe retort system. This system uses boiling isopropyl alcohol and a vacuum (a void space, not the household item) to clean the interior of a pipe. As you can see by the brownish colour of the alcohol, the retort worked well. I managed to extract lots of otherwise inaccessible filth from inside the pipe. After the retort, I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Back to the stummel: I finished cleaning up the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. Some stains were pretty stubborn and I had to scrub hard, but this did eventually remove the remaining dirt. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.Now that it was clean, I could address the gouges and burn on the stummel. I took some oxalic acid, used several Q-tips, and rubbed. The burn did improve but never fully disappeared. I gently poked at it with a dental tool in order to assess the wood. I took solace from the fact that the burn was very superficial and did not affect the integrity of the wood at all. In order to fully remove the burns on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe.

Having completed that, I was able to address the scratches and gouges. I took out my steam iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. I was concerned about this because there were so many marks all over the wood. Fortunately, there was considerable movement – I was really pleased with the results. The repair was not perfect, but the remaining scratches would be improved by sanding. With the damage mostly repaired, it was time to sand down the stummel. I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to wet/dry sand everything smooth. Then I added a bit more Before & After Restoration Balm and something unusual appeared. Beneath the markings on the top of the shank, I could see the remnants of an old set of markings. Amazing! It was difficult to figure out exactly what it read, but Steve and I think it might be Fiammata [over] Straight Grain. If you have any information/thoughts, please let me know in the comments below! Upon completion of the stummel, there was a brief moment when I considered whether I should stain the pipe. On reflection, however, I just loved the light colour of the wood so much that I wanted to leave it as is. I applied more Before & After Restoration Balm, then took it to the buffer.A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look absolutely beautiful. In fact, it turned out so well that this pipe has already sold! I know that the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

A Pipe of Distinction


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a very personal pipe – and one that is staying in my collection. The photo you see below is of my late grandfather, in the early 1970s, smoking a charming Bewlay Canadian pipe. It is this pipe’s restoration that I am recounting today. I do not know where my grandfather acquired it (or under what circumstances), but I suppose it does not ultimately matter. My grandfather was an enthusiastic pipe smoker and he clearly enjoyed this one. I am definitely looking forward to cleaning this one up. It has a value well beyond dollars.The pipe is from The House of Bewlay and is a Canadian shape. What a charming and elegant pipe! In order to read the markings correctly, I used my old trick of rubbing chalk over them (like a gravestone) and that helped a lot. The pipe’s markings read Bewlay [over] Twenty. The other side of the pipe shows the shape number, 003 [over] London Made. This sort-of corresponds with a Bewlay catalogue from the late 60s, as you can see in the photos. I say, “sort-of”, because the brochure shows shape numbers 001 and 002. I do not know the exact date of the pipe, but it is likely from the late-1960s or early-1970s. Let us read a bit more about Bewlay from the Pipedia article:

The English brand of Bewlay & Co. Ltd. (formerly Salmon & Gluckstein Ltd.), was in business from the early 20th century until the 1950s. The brand ended up being sold and taken over by Imperial Tobacco Co. The shop chain closed in the 1980s but there seems to be one shop still in business on Carr Lane in the city of Hull. Bewlay pipes were made by prestigious firms. Notably Barling, Charatan, Loewe & Co., Sasieni, Huybrecht, and Orlik. So understandably, the English considered a Bewlay pipe a quality pipe.

Anyway, on to the pipe – and what a beauty it was. However, it was not without its issues. The stummel had the following problems: lava on the rim, a notable burn to the rim, plenty of cake in the bowl, a couple of nicks to the bowl, and a tired, worn-out colour of wood. By the way, the strange “stains” to the bowl are, in fact, old bits of newspaper. After my grandfather died, the pipes were wrapped in newspaper and stuck in a box. The newspaper got wet at some point in the intervening years. Meanwhile, the stem had its own set of problems: some oxidation and calcification, minor tooth marks and dents, a filthy stinger, the ‘B’ logo was a bit worn, and (worst of all) a large chunk of vulcanite missing from the bit! This pipe was going to be a bit tricky, and I needed to be especially careful to ensure the missing vulcanite would be repaired properly – so it could be used for many years to come. The stem was first on my list. This stem has a stinger in it – and it was being quite stubborn about coming out of the tenon! I opted to warm the stem and stinger with a hair dryer and this provided just enough softening of the internal goo to allow me to pull it out. The stinger then went for a soak in some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. I let it set for several hours and then cleaned it off and it looked much improved. I then finished it with some metal polish and moved on. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was fairly successful in raising the damage. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. I also built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure.Now it was time to make a patch for the missing chunk of vulcanite. This patch was made with a mixture of cyanoacrylate glue and activated charcoal powder. This created a black, resilient mush that would be very hard-wearing when cured and would work perfectly for this repair. Thanks to Steve’s instruction, I first plugged up the stem’s draught hole with a pipe cleaners coated in petroleum jelly. This ensured that any of the cyanoacrylate and charcoal mush would not accidentally plug up the air passage in the stem. This was a tricky business and it took some real patience and effort to make it work. As the photos show, after I applied the cyanoacrylate and charcoal mush, it looked pretty darn ugly, but I was expecting that. I also managed to get some of the bits of pipe cleaner bristles into the repair! No big deal – those were quickly excised. After the curing, I pulled out the Dremel rotary tool and began to remove the excess material. This was also the preliminary step in shaping the button. To carry this process on, after the Dremel, I used a miniature file to further shape the button and make it suitable for sanding. I used another file on the inside to ensure there were no rough edges in the bore. I then sanded the stem down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. It is worth noting that a repair this big on a stem will never be completely invisible, but I was very pleased with how I managed to make the stem of my grandfather’s pipe look so good. Just before finishing with the Micromesh pads, I took the opportunity to repair the “B” logo on the stem. It had faded – both by loss of paint and also by fingers inadvertently smoothing out the “B” over time. So, I added some acrylic paint with a paint brush, let it dry, and buffed it to make it look good. The “B” is back, but, as later photos reveal, a little bit has disappeared into history.On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake, and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside this stummel – it took many pipe cleaners et cetera to clean it out.I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed the bits of aforementioned newspaper and any remaining dirt. I also soaked the rim in Murphy’s for a while just to loosen up the lava. In order to remove the lingering bits of lava and fix any nicks on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the lava, without altering the look of the pipe. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. What a difference that made! There is some beautiful wood under the grime! Having completed that, I was able to address the small nicks on the stummel. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divots with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it cure. Now, with the nicks filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to wet/dry sand everything smooth. Then I added a bit more Before & After Restoration Balm. Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look absolutely beautiful. This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and has a very elegant feel to it. It took a lot of work, but I am proud of it and the final product is (hopefully) worthy of my beloved grandfather’s memory. Obviously, this is one pipe that I am keeping for myself and adding to my collection. I am sure that I will be enjoying this one for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

A Labour of Love


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is the very first GBD I have had the pleasure of restoring. I titled this story A Labour of Love because the work involved was far more than I could have imagined for such a beautiful pipe. The pipe is a GBD Colossus and I acquired it in a group of pipes I purchased from a fellow in the Eastern US. It was definitely a mixed bag of very good and very bad. Some pipes were destroyed beyond repair, some pipes were filthy but repairable, some stems were missing their stummels, and some stummels were missing their stems. This was one of those – a stummel without a stem. Makes it a bit tricky to smoke, methinks. This pipe is a calabash-shaped GBD Colossus. As the photos show, it is stamped on the left side of the shank with GBD [over] International [over] London Made [over] Colossus. On the right side it is stamped Made in London [over] England [next to] 9552 – this, of course, is the shape number. There is quite a bit of information on GBD on the Internet – they have a long and storied history in pipemaking. In this case, I was curious about International and Colossus. The main Pipepedia article on GBD tells us about their origins:

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

The Pipedia article provides a lot more information on their interesting history. I would encourage you to read on here. The shape number 9552 corresponds correctly with GBD’s identification of this pipe as a calabash. The page on GBD models states the following concerning the International line and the Colossus size:

International – France and England made: medium brown smooth, carved top rim, rim stained black. In addition to the pipe line and shape information stamped on the pipe, GBD also had codes for plus sized pipes. These codes in ascending order of size were Conquest, Collector, Colossus.

I also took this screenshot from Pipephil:Anyway, on to the pipe – and what a gorgeous pipe it was (and such a big bowl)! However, it was absolutely filthy and had a few issues. The stummel had the following problems: tons of lava on the rim, notable greasy/sticky stains to the bowl and shank, plenty of cake in the bowl, a few scratches here-and-there, and a few small burns on the rim. Meanwhile, the stem had a few problems of its own. Oh wait. No stem. Umm, yeah, that is going to be an issue. This pipe was going to require some considerable work, but I was really looking forward to restoring this one. Well, suffice it to say that first on my list of tasks was to find a stem for this beauty. However, GBD stems are not just lying around, sad to say. In this case, Superman Steve came to my rescue. He had a spare GBD stem that suited my pipe very well. I was (and still am) deeply grateful to him for getting that stem for me. I will come back to the story of how I fit the stem a bit later. By the way, here is a photo of Superman Steve:This stummel was quite a mess. I first decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer (which I broke in the process) and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners, and lemon isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of nastiness inside this stummel and – boy-oh-boy – it took a lot of cotton to get this thing clean! As I mentioned earlier, the rim of the stummel was pretty ugly and also needed to be addressed. A combination of techniques was used to sort this out. In order to remove the lingering bits of lava and fix the nicks, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the lava and the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. I then took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and sanded the inner bevel thoroughly. This was to achieve on the inner part of the rim the same thing that I achieved by “topping” the rim on sandpaper. A de-ghosting session seemed in order, so I thrust cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit for 24 hours. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. Some stains were pretty stubborn and I had to scrub hard, but this did eventually remove the remaining dirt. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. Having completed that, I was able to address a small nick on the shank. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divot with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it cure. Now, with the nick filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to wet/dry sand everything smooth. Then I added a bit more Before & After Restoration Balm. On to the stem, and what a trial it was. As mentioned, Superman Steve got me a GBD stem and that was terrific: the stem was clean and in nice shape. So what is the problem? Well, its width did not quite match the width of the shank. The stem was slightly wider. So, with 200-grit sandpaper in hand, I began removing the excess vulcanite. As silly as it sounds, this took a couple of hours of work to get this right. The photos below detail the lengthy process to both remove the excess and ensure evenness all around the stem face. At long last, I managed to get the size and shape just right, but the faces of both the shank and stem were not matching in the way that one would want. I took the decision that this pipe would benefit from a thin – emphasis on thin – band around the end of the shank. My jar of bands proffered a lovely, thin band that perfectly suited this pipe. With a quick application of glue, the band was on and things were looking much improved. I used some of my Micromesh pads to give that extra shine. In order to finish up the stem, I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ it with its flame in order to lift the slight tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Of course, since the stem was straight, it did not suit the pipe and needed to be bent. The end of the stem needed to be parallel with the rim of the bowl. I did not have a heat gun at the time, so I brought out a hair drier and heated the vulcanite stem in order to make it malleable. After heating it for 90 minutes (yes, you read that correctly), it became obvious that the hair drier just did not generate enough heat to bend the stem. I then realized that I was going to have to use the nuclear option: dipping the stem in boiling hot water. This is a nuclear option because the water added an horrific oxidation to the stem – the worst I have ever seen. When it was finally soft, I gently curved the stem over a wooden dowel. The dowel provided a firm surface and a proper curve. Once I had the bend I wanted, I left the stem to cool and set itself in place. I then had to go back and use all nine Micromesh pads (and the Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil) again to restore the black lustre. A few four-letter words might have been silently uttered in the process, but I digress… Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look absolutely beautiful.

This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and has a very elegant feel to it. Steve told me from the beginning that this was a pipe I should keep for myself. So, this one is being added to my collection – and I am pleased to say that it smokes beautifully. I am sure that I will be enjoying this one for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of these pipes as much I as I did restoring them. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

The Apple of My Eye


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is as robust an apple-shaped pipe as you are likely to see. It is a beautiful and chunky Calvert Super De Luxe sort-of apple. It was one of a large lot of pipes that I acquired many months ago. It was a group of pipes off of eBay, but the seller was local to me so I picked them up in person. I do not remember the exact number, but there were 50-odd pipes. I have been making my way through them over the months. This pipe just spoke to me – I liked its powerful, rugged features and thought it would make a terrific restoration. Indeed, it might even be a good smoker too. There is not a lot of information to be had about Calvert pipes. The brand is listed on www.pipephil.eu and they quote Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell’s book, Who Made That Pipe?, as saying that the brand was distributed by Harry J. Gorfinkel. Meanwhile, www.pipedia.com makes reference to the name Calvert in connection with Fader’s Tobacconists of Maryland. Apparently, they had a line of pipes called Calvert after the street that the shop was located. I am quite sure that this is not my pipe and is completely unrelated to the Calvert mentioned by Wilczak and Colwell. The photos of the markings provided on www.pipephil.eu match perfectly with my pipe, so there it is.Fortunately, this pipe did not have too many problems. The stummel was mostly just drab and grubby. It also had a bit of cake in the bowl and a few scratches here-and-there. The colouring of the wood needed to be redone too. Meanwhile, the stem had a few problems of its own: there was some oxidation and calcification, and minor tooth marks and dents. The stem also looked weird to me: it was straight, but I thought it would be improved with a slight bend. I really like the shape and I was looking forward to working on this one. It just needed a new lease on life.The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the marks. This was only modestly successful in raising the dents. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Have a look at the photo showing the pipe cleaner sticking out of the end of the tenon – it was pretty yucky. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. I built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Once I was done with the polishing, I noticed a tiny piece of metal on the underside of the stem. I asked Steve about it and he said that he had heard that it was an indication that the stem was made from old tires. This is actually fortunate because it allows us to date the pipe to World War II or shortly thereafter (according to Steve’s memory). I mentioned earlier that I thought the stem did not look quite right. I asked Steve about it and he had the same impression. Essentially, I wanted the end of the stem to be parallel with the rim of the bowl. I brought out my heat gun and heated the vulcanite stem in order to make it malleable. The heat gun is very powerful – it does not take long! When it was soft, I gently curved the stem over a wooden dowel. The dowel provides a firm surface and a proper curve. Once I had the bend I wanted, I left the stem to cool and set itself in place.On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake, and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of nastiness inside this stummel – it took many pipe cleaners et cetera to sort that out. A de-ghosting session seemed in order, so I thrust cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturating them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit for 24 hours. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a scrub brush. That removed any remaining dirt. There was a small crack in the shank, but, thankfully it was minor and I addressed it effectively with some cyanoacrylate adhesive. The repair worked beautifully and quickly. Since this pipe is rusticated, I was not going to sand down the stummel with my Micromesh pads, but I did do it to the small sections that were smooth (i.e. where the markings were located). In order to avoid disturbing the rusticated sections, I masked these areas off with painter’s tape. This simplified the process a great deal.On to another problem: the colour. During the course of its previous life and my vigorous cleaning, this pipe had lost some vibrancy of colour. So, in order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. However, I noticed that there were some gooey marks on the stummel that needed to be removed before I stained the pipe. So, I opted to soak the stummel in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours beforehand. This will usually remove the sort of goo I was faced with. When I took it out of the bath, I scrubbed the wood with a metal brush (to remove any remnants) and left it to dry. Once dry, I applied some of Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain. I then embellished the stummel markings with some gold Rub’nBuff – just to add some flair. Since the markings were quite worn (and, therefore, shallow), the paint did not illuminate everything, but I still liked the effect a lot. I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very handsome pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure.This Calvert Super De Luxe is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6½ in. (165 mm); height 1¾ in. (44 mm); bowl diameter 1⅞ in. (48 mm); chamber diameter ⅞ in. (21 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2¼ oz. (65 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Five for the Price of One


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a quintet of pipes. Word has been getting around! My barber’s boss approached me recently about restoring his late grandfather’s pipes. Of course, I was only too happy to oblige. The fellow told me that his grandfather did not have fancy pipes, but he just wanted them to look good. Interestingly, he also asked that I not clean the pipes too much – he wanted some of the olfactory memories to remain. When I got my hands on the pipes, I realized what I was up against. These five pipes were really a mess. Quite frankly, if I had these pipes for myself, I would have tossed some on the firewood pile. But my customer wanted these pipes restored as a nice remembrance of his grandfather – and I completely understand and respect that. Since I restored these pipes all together, I thought I would write up their story altogether too – with a tip of my hat to my customer’s late grandfather.

Well, what have we got here? (1) A cherrywood pipe from Missouri Meerschaum, missing its stem; (2) another cherrywood pipe from Missouri Meerschaum; (3) a briar bent pot, marked Château Bruyère 32; (4) a briar egg, marked Savoy 710, missing its stem; and (5) a Brigham Voyageur 126 bent Rhodesian. Missouri Meerschaum is, of course, most famous for being the largest corncob manufacturer in the world – although they do make hardwood pipes too. Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell’s book, Who Made That Pipe? states that Château Bruyère (as its name suggests) is made in France by an unknown manufacturer. Pipedia tells us that Savoy is a brand of Oppenheimer Pipe/Comoy’s, which was also sold by M. Linkman & Co. Finally, Brigham is the famous Canadian pipe manufacturer. The markings suggest that this Brigham was made after the move of production to Italy.

Problems with these pipes? Wow – where to begin? Both cherrywoods needed new stems. After all, one was cracked beyond repair and the other was missing altogether. They had lava and burns all over, and plenty of cake in the bowl. Besides that, the stummels were just a bit grimy. The Château Bruyère was in really bad condition: tons of lava, cake, and serious burning; cracks galore on the rim; but at least the stem had only minor tooth marks and dents. The Savoy would, of course, also need a new stem, but its stummel was also a disaster: some fills; tons of lava and cake; and (worst of all) an enormous burn gouge on the rim. The Brigham was not too bad (compared with the others), but it still had the usual cake and lava. It also looked like the rim had been used to hammer nails! The stems were first on my list. Fortunately, Steve had a couple of new Missouri Meerschaum stems for me to use on the cherrywood pipes. That was the easiest part of this whole restoration! I also had to sculpt a new stem for the Savoy. Stupidly, I forgot to take photos of this procedure, but, suffice it to say, it was tricky getting the tenon to fit correctly and getting the edges of the new stem to match with the existing stummel. On the two pre-existing stems, I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ them with flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stems with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. They were terribly dirty and I went through a large number of pipe cleaners in order to clean them up. Once this process was done, the stems went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. On the Brigham, the tenon had come loose from the stem and needed to be repaired. I used my cyanoacrylate adhesive to sort that problem out and let it set. I also built up the small dents on the Brigham and Château Bruyère stems with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded the repairs down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stems. This ensured that they keep their shape and look like they should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stems. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. I should make quick mention of the stem I made for the Savoy. I had a blank and an old, spare stem to potentially use. I ended up using the blank because it fit better. Making a new stem is tricky and messy business, and Steve is far better (and more experienced) than I am at it. Basically, I used some 220-grit sandpaper to remove the excess material from the tenon (to ensure it fit into the stummel’s mortise) and from the tenon-end of the stem (to ensure that this end matches the shape and thickness of the shank). Once the basic shape is achieved, I use progressively finer sandpaper (and then the MicroMesh pads) to make the stem look just as it should. In this end, I was pleased with the results and I wish I had photos to show you of the process!All five stummels were a terrible mess: loaded with cake, filth, and an overall yucky feel. They had obviously been thoroughly smoked and enjoyed. Quite frankly, the grandfather must have smoked them until there was no more draw! Anyway, I first decided to ream out all of the bowls. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove most of the built-up cake – but not all. I didn’t take the cake down to bare briar, as my customer wanted some essence of his grandfather left in the bowls. The one exception to this was the Brigham, and I did ream it completely and brought it down to bare briar. My customer wanted only this pipe to be completely cleaned out. On all five, however, I did clean out the insides of the shanks with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of nastiness inside the shanks and it took a lot of cotton to get them clean! I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummels with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads and also used a tooth brush to get into the crevasses of the Brigham and the Château Bruyère. I actually soaked the rims in Murphy’s for a while, just to loosen up the lava. I followed that up by cleaning the insides of the Brigham with some dish soap and tube brushes. A de-ghosting session seemed in order for the Brigham. The de-ghosting consisted of thrusting cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturating them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit for 24 hours. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged. There was a great deal of damage to the rims of all the stummels – and that also needed to be addressed. In order to remove the lingering bits of lava, fix any nicks, and tidy up the look, I “topped” the pipes – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rims on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the lava and the damage, without altering the look of the pipes. However, some needed more attention than others. The two cherrywood pipes were straightforward enough, but a fair amount of work was needed on the other three. The Château Bruyère, as you will have seen, had fairly horrific damage to the wood of the bowl. There were so many cracks and burns that I was not sure if anything meaningful could be done. I did top the bowl, but stopped before I took too much off. There was no getting around the fact that this pipe was not going to be like new. I was comforted by the fact that this pipe was simply being cleaned up and was not going to be smoked again. I sealed off the cracks with cyanoacrylate adhesive, let them cure, and then sanded them smooth. It made a huge difference.But the Château Bruyère still needed a bit more help: re-staining. In order to create some external beauty to this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied my own mixture of some of Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye and some Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye. I then applied flame in order to set the colour. Worked like a charm! The pipe looked so much better after this.The Savoy had a large valley running along the rim of the bowl (not to mention some considerable burning). A combination of techniques was used to sort this out. I topped the stummel to start, but then I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and sanded it thoroughly. This was to achieve on the inner part of the rim the same thing that I achieved by “topping” on sandpaper. I then built up the remaining wound with a mixture of briar dust and cyanoacrylate adhesive. I was quite pleased with the results. Finally, I added a brass ferrule to the end of the shank and glued it in place. It gave the pipe a snazzy look. The Brigham was also tricky, but for a different reason. The Brigham had what I like to call a “broken nose”. The front edge was smashed in and would need to be built up. More than that, the repair would need to be rusticated so as to match the original rustication of the pipe. I am always worried about this sort of work because I dread the possibility of not getting the match right. In this case, I topped the Brigham first, but only slightly – just enough to make it neat and tidy. Then I built up the edge with a mixture of briar dust and cyanoacrylate adhesive. Then, I topped it a second time in order to even out the repair with the rim. Finally, I got out my Dremel and used that to rusticate the pipe’s “nose”. The results were quite good. Now, with the damage repaired on all five pipes, it was time to sand down the stummels. Just like the stems, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth on the three briar pipes (I did not sand the cherrywoods). A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummels’ grain

Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what these pipes needed to shine (literally and figuratively). The polishing was the cherry on top of a long road of recovery for these five pipes. The pipes began in the hands of a man who clearly loved smoking them. His grandson, honouring his grandfather’s memory, wanted them to look good again – but not so new that the essence of his grandfather was lost. It was my job to make sure that his grandfather was still in those pipes. I know that my customer will enjoy looking at those pipes (and remembering) for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of these pipes as much I as I did restoring them. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Saving a Parker


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a beautiful sandblasted pipe by Parker of London. I purchased a group of pipes from a fellow in the Eastern US. It was definitely a mixed bag of very good and very bad. Some pipes were destroyed beyond repair, some pipes were filthy but repairable, some stems were missing their stummels, and some stummels were missing their stems. However, there were a handful that were in decent condition when I found them and they just needed a helping hand – this Parker was one of those. Apologies in advance for the paucity of photographs. I guess I just got carried away with the work! Parker of London has an interesting history. Our friends over at Pipedia have provided this information:

In 1922 the Parker Pipe Co Limited was formed by Alfred Dunhill to finish and market what Dunhill called its “failings” or what has come to be called by collectors as seconds. Previous to that time, Dunhill marketed its own “failings”, often designated by a large “X” over the typical Dunhill stamping or “Damaged Price” with the reduced price actually stamped on the pipe. While the timing and exact nature of the early relationship remains a bit of mystery, Parker was destined to eventually merge with Hardcastle when in 1935 Dunhill opened a new pipe factory next door to Hardcastle, and purchased 49% of the company shares in 1936. In 1946, the remaining shares of Hardcastle were obtained, but it was not until 1967 when Parker-Hardcastle Limited was formed. It is evident through the Dunhill factory stamp logs that Parker and Dunhill were closely linked at the factory level through the 1950s, yet it was much more than a few minor flaws that distinguished the two brands. After the war, and especially after the mid 1950s the differences between Parker and Dunhill became even more evident, and with the merger of Parker with Hardcastle Pipe Ltd, in 1967 the Parker pipe must be considered as an independent product. There is no record of Parker ever being marketed by Dunhill either in its retail catalog or stores. Parker was a successful pipe in the US market during the 1930s up through the 1950s, at which point it faded from view in the US, while continuing to be popular in the UK. Pipedia goes on to say that the old Parkers had a patent number and dating code, but these were gone by 1957. I do not know the specific age of this pipe, but since it is missing both a patent number and dating code, it is safe to say that it was made after 1957. This sandblasted Parker has the following markings on the stummel: Parker of London [over] Bark 576. The stem has the letter P inside a diamond on the topside and it also has the word France on the underside. Furthermore, the following photo, showing one of Parker’s brochures, indicates that the model number 576 is a bent Dublin.Fortunately, this Parker was in pretty good shape when it came to me and that certainly made my job easier. There were a few small discolourations to the stummel and the overall colour was dull, but nothing too serious. The stem had a few nicks and dents, but I was not concerned. Really, this pipe just needed a day at the salon in order to look its best.

The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the marks. This was only modestly successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. It was a bit dirty, but not too bad and I only went through a few pipe cleaners in order to clean it up.I then scrubbed then stem vigorously with SoftScrub to clean it up nicely. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.

On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There wasn’t too much nastiness inside this stummel – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a toothbrush, and some cotton pads. That removed any remaining dirt. Fortunately, there was no notable damage to the stummel, so I didn’t have to address that. However, I did do some touch ups to the black stain with my furniture pens. Since the pipe had a sandblast finish, I obviously did not use the Micromesh pads to sand everything. Instead, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.

Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine gave the wood a deep black look.

In the end, what a beauty this pipe is! It is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘British’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 145 mm/ 5 ¾ inches; height 50 mm/ 2 inches; bowl diameter 38 mm/ 1 ½ inches; chamber diameter 21 mm/ .80 inches. The mass of the pipe is 47 grams/ 1.65 ounces. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

The Mystery of Blue Hill


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

The title sounds like a Hardy Boys story, does it not? Well, it is not that exciting. Next on the chopping block is a peculiar pipe: it is both superbly made and unattractively painted. In addition, its true origin is unknown. I actually acquired the pipe from Steve. I bought a grab bag of pipes from him a long time ago and this was among them. Fortunately for me, Steve’s legendary pipe-cleaning brother, Jeff, had already done his work on this. Although I do not care for the paint scheme, this is a beautiful pipe: excellent proportions, handsome manufacture, and undoubtedly a good smoker.There is one other peculiarity about this pipe: no information about its history and origins! The has a clear marking of “Blue Hill” on the shank of the stummel and the word “France” on the stem. Yes, we can obviously assume that the pipe was made in France, but there is nothing to be found on the name “Blue Hill”. My uneducated guess is that it was made for an English or American company – perhaps even a tobacco shop. As an aside, there is a different pipe maker who uses the name “Blue Hill Crafts”, but he has no connection to this pipe. All the usual sources (Pipedia, Pipephil, et cetera) have no listing for “Blue Hill”. Even rebornpipes had nothing. Alas, we do not know who made this pipe, but whoever it was – they did a good job. If you have any information about Blue Hill, please do let me know.Thanks to Jeff’s stellar clean-up work, there were not too many issues that needed to be addressed. The stem had a few nicks and dents, but nothing catastrophic. Similarly, the stummel had a bump or two, here and there, but the only major problem was the two-tone colour pattern. I think two-tones can and do work well on some pipes, but I felt that this pipe needed a deep, rich brown to make it look its best. The photos of the original colour do not show the reddish tinge very well. Trust me, the pipe looked much more red than it does here. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. I did not need to clean the insides of the stem (thanks again, Jeff), so the stem went straight for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. On to the stummel, and I figured that it would be fairly straightforward to remove the old, ugly stain. Boy, was I mistaken! My first plan was to dunk the stummel in an alcohol bath overnight. This will often loosen, thin, or remove stains from pipes. Twenty-four hours later, nothing happened! The stain looked just as it did when it went into the bath. That was not in the plans. So, time to escalate the situation: I used acetone and rubbed it vigorously into the stain. After many minutes of scrubbing, nothing happened (again)! I then realized that I was going to have to use the nuclear option: soaking overnight in acetone. The next day dawned and there was, at long last, some evidence of progress on the stain. Not a lot had been shed, but enough to show me that I was on the right track. I then went to the sink with the stummel, some acetone, a wire brush, and some gloves. I set about scrubbing the dickens out of that pipe and finally succeeded in getting that silly stain off. Most of the black remained in the lower recesses of the rustication, but I actually liked that – it added some character. Having completed that, I was able to address a couple of small nicks on the side of the stummel, just below the rim. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divots with cyanoacrylate adhesive.

Now, with the nicks filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth – although, as the photos show, I masked the rusticated parts so as not to disturb them. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. Whoops! I then noticed that the opening of tobacco chamber was not in perfect shape. It required some “rounding”. I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and gently sanded the opening of the tobacco chamber. This both corrected the problem and added a beautiful beveled edge to the pipe. I went back over it with the Micromesh pads and made everything lovely again. Naturally, one of the main purposes of this pipe restoration was to correct the colour problem. In order to create some external beauty to this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye and then applied flame in order to set the colour. In fact, I added a second helping of the dye, just to make sure the colour was nice and rich. Worked like a charm! This lovely, warm brown is just what I was hoping for. Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood look quite spiffy. This is a wonderfully crafted pipe and somehow has a very masculine feel to it. Although I never did find out who made it, clearly the pipe was superbly completed. The draught hole has been bored perfectly; the heel of the bowl is exacting; the wood is thick and solid (but not heavy). In short, this is a pipe worth owning, so I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the American (US) pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 142 mm/5 1/2 inches; height 52 mm/2 inches; bowl diameter 35 mm/ 1 1/3 inches; chamber diameter 21 mm/3/4 of an inch. The mass/weight of the pipe is 53 grams/1.86 ounces. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

The Prince of Pipes


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

One of my dearest friends contacted me recently to inquire if I could repair and restore a pipe that belongs to his father. His father told me that the pipe had been given to him by his wife (my friend’s mother) as a graduation gift in 1967. I was only too happy to oblige – not just to help my friend, but to raise this beautiful pipe back to life. The pipe is from The House of Bewlay and is a Prince shape. Just as an aside, the shape was named after Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII (1841–1910). What a gorgeous pipe! I must admit that the prince is one of my favourite pipe shapes (and possibly my outright favourite). This one is the epitome of elegance in pipe smoking. The pipe’s markings read Bewlay [over] Deluxe [over] London Made. The other side of the pipe read Made in [over] England and the shape number, 258. This corresponds nicely with a Bewlay catalogue from the late 60s, as you can see in the photo below. One additional piece of information that was useful was the date of the gift: 1967. This certainly gives us a good idea of the time period from which this pipe dates. Let us read a bit more about Bewlay from the Pipedia article:

The English brand of Bewlay & Co. Ltd. (formerly Salmon & Gluckstein Ltd.), was in business from the early 20th century until the 1950s. The brand ended up being sold and taken over by Imperial Tobacco Co. The shop chain closed in the 1980s but there seems to be one shop still in business on Carr Lane in the city of Hull. Bewlay pipes were made by prestigious firms. Notably Barling, Charatan, Loewe & Co., Sasieni, Huybrecht, and Orlik. So understandably, the English considered a Bewlay pipe a quality pipe.Anyway, on to the pipe – and what a beauty it was. However, it was not without its issues. The stummel had the following problems: lava on the rim, a notable burn to the rim, plenty of cake in the bowl, strange stain patterns, and – most serious of all – a nasty crack to the shank. Meanwhile, the stem had its own set of problems: the ‘B’ logo was nearly obliterated, some oxidation and calcification, and minor tooth marks and dents. This pipe was not going to be too tough, but I needed to be especially careful to ensure the crack would be repaired perfectly – so it could be used for many years to come. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. It was dirty, but not too bad and I went through a decent number of pipe cleaners in order to clean it up. I also soaked the stinger in lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. This loosened everything up and I was able to clean it up very nicely. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.I then took the opportunity to repair the “B” logo on the stem. It had faded – both by loss of paint over time and also by fingers inadvertently smoothing out the “B” over time. So, I added some acrylic paint with a paint brush, let it dry, and buffed it to make it look good. The “B” is back, but, as later photos reveal, a little bit has disappeared into history.

On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was some nastiness inside this stummel, but fortunately not too much – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed any latent dirt. By the way, I deliberately did not de-ghost this pipe – I wanted to leave as much of the original tobacco essence as I could for the owner.As I mentioned earlier, there was some lava and a substantial burn on the rim of the stummel that also needed to be addressed. In order to minimize the impact of both, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the lava and most the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. However, I had to stop short of removing it all, otherwise the look of the pipe would have been altered. For the remaining bits of burn, I took some oxalic acid on a Q-tip and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed! The burn site did improve but never fully disappeared. It would be a permanent feature of the pipe going forward. I took solace from the fact that the burn did not affect the integrity of the wood. I then took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and gently sanded the opening of the tobacco chamber. This was to achieve on the inner part of the rim the same thing that I achieved by “topping” on sandpaper. On to the major issue with this pipe: the crack in the shank. Naturally, Steve had the answers to all of this pipe’s problems. He explained that my first step was to ensure that the crack would not continue to creep after I had repaired it. To that end, I took a micro-drill bit, inserted it in my Dremel, and very carefully drilled a hole right through the wall of the shank. This was quite nerve-wracking, but it worked perfectly. I then needed to apply cyanoacrylate adhesive to the crack in order to seal and repair it. First, however, I used a Q-tip and a folded pipe cleaner to coat the inside of the shank with petroleum jelly. This would prevent the adhesive from dripping inside the shank and creating further problems. That done, I carefully applied a bead of adhesive to the tiny hole and the length of the crack. Finally, I clamped it shut and let it sit overnight to cure. This was a great success – obviously, the crack would always be visible, but I was really pleased with how the repair looked.Before moving on to sanding, there were a couple of small nicks on the underside of the stummel that I needed to sort out. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divots with cyanoacrylate adhesive. Now, with the crack repaired and the nicks filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. All of the work I had done to this point had taken its toll on the colour of the wood. Originally, there was a lovely sort of brownish-Burgundy colour on this pipe, and I wanted to restore this as best I could – and I also wanted to ensure that we got rid of that weird mottling. In order to bring back some life to this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I dragged out some of Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye, but it looked too reddish to me. Instead, I experimented with mixing to see what I could come up with. I made my own concoction of Oxblood and Medium Brown dyes, painted the stummel, and then applied flame in order to set the colour. Furthermore, since it is an alcohol-based dye, I was able to adjust the colour to my liking by applying my own isopropyl alcohol to the colour. Let it sit overnight and it worked like a charm!Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. Now that the wood was looking all spiffy, I had to circle back and complete the repair on the crack in the shank. It needed a tight-fighting band to ensure that the crack would never open up again. I went to my jar of bands and picked one that looked good. I heated it up and then messed it up! See the photos. I did not apply even pressure as I was attaching the band, so it went mush. Fortunately, I had more bands and I did a much better job of getting the next one on. I glued it in place and let that set. It looked very dapper. I polished up the band with a 12,000-grit MicroMesh pad. I also went back to the buffer with both the stem and stummel, gave them a final application of White Diamond and carnauba wax, and brought out that lovely shine.In the end, what a beauty this pipe is! It is an elegant pipe, from a very fine maker. It obviously meant a great deal to its owner, and I was delighted to bring it back to life. Once the pipe was returned to its owner, he told me that it looked better than when it was new! Although I am not sure I agree with that, I am very pleased that he is very pleased. As I mentioned before, the prince is one of my favourite shapes and it was great fun to work on this one. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.