Blog by Steve Laug
Over the years I have restored many folding pocket pipes where the stem folded over the top of the bowl. These have typically been Italian made and stamped with various names such as Imported Briar or even Rolex. They all looked the same and all were relatively flat, oval bowled pipes and bowls. They were thinned walled and most of the time they were unsmoked. I have given away quite a few of them over time though I think I may have one or two unused ones in my cabinet today. This one is very different. It is oddly shaped – almost perfectly round with an almost ninety degree bent shank. The sides of the bowl are actually thicker than any of the others that I have seen. The bowl oval and it appears to be unsmoked. The briar is quite nice with a combination of birdseye and cross grain around the sides and the shank. There is a brass band with a scalloped edge around the top of the rim. It is more or less a cap on the end of the shank. The shank is stamped La Merdienne (Deposee) on the left side of the shank. It is a French made pipe. The name means The Meridian (Registered). The Meridian is defined as (1): a great circle on the surface of the earth passing through the poles (2): the half of such a circle included between the poles. It is also defined as a representation of such a circle or half circle numbered for longitude on a map or globe. In this case the poles are represented by the bowl running north and south on the circle of the bowl. The next two photos are ones that my brother took when it arrived in Idaho Falls.The next photo my brother sent me shows the pipe from the top. You can see that it is very clean. The bowl is clean and in person looks unsmoked. With the stem removed it is also clean. There is no staining from smoke or tobacco in the pipe. The stem is clean as well with no tooth marks or tooth chatter.The grain on the bowl is really quite stunning on the round sides and the edges of the bowl. The curved shank is perfectly set off by the gold band and the scalloped edge that sits against the stem at the shank stem junction. The first set of four photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Vancouver. I folded the stem over the bowl and took some photos of the pipe ready for the pocket.I took a close up photo of the bowl top and interior to show what the pipe looked like when I got it. The rim and bowl were in excellent shape.I took a close up photo of the stamping on the shank. It is filled with gold leaf. There is a stock of a flower with the flower and two leaves that weaves between the curves of La Meridienne and separates it from (Deposee).I sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish out some of the scratches and marks on the sides of the bowl. With the bowl polish and smooth I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After sanding the 12000 grit pad I set the stem aside to dry. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready for many more years of service.