Tag Archives: Meerschaum pipes

Redeeming an English Made Flumed Meerschaum Author

Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past two weeks I was traveling in Alberta with my brother Jeff and his wife, Sherry. In between work appointments and presentations we took some time to visit local antique shops and malls. We found quite a few pipes. In a small Antique Shop in Lethbridge we found a few interesting pipes. The first of the ones that I am working from that find is an oval shank meerschaum Author. It has a flumed top and some colouring happening around the bowl and the shank. The saddle stem has a ribbon shaped/bookmark stamped logo on the top of the saddle. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a little lava and some small scratches in the edges of the bowl. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the underside of the shank below the shank/stem junction was faint but readable and read Genuine Block Meerschaum with an arched Gt. Britain at the stem shank joint. The vulcanite stem was had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. There were tooth marks on both sides and on the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The rim top had some lava and a few nicks on the inner edge. Other than being so dirty it appeared to be in great condition. The stem was dirty and there was tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the button surface itself. The stem was lightly oxidized.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank joint. The photo shows the stamping Genuine Block over Meerschaum. Next to that there was an arched stamp that read GT BRITAIN. There was a small nick in the underside of the meerschaum next to the vulcanite stem.While we were traveling I decided to do a bit of work on some of the pipes that we had found. I scraped the inside of the bowl with a sharp knife. I scraped the tars and lava off the top of the rim with the same knife. I took the stem off and you can see the metal tenon set in the shank of the pipe. It is anchored firmly and the stem pressure fit over the top of the tenon.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with warm water and some Dawn Dish Soap to remove the buildup of grime around the bowl and on the rim top. I rinsed it well and wiped the bowl down with a clean paper towel to polish the finish on the bowl. I decided to follow up on my initial cleaning of the bowl and shank. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl.I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank, the metal mortise and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the bowl walls and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to wipe of the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the meerschaum 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. 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 sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This is a beautiful Flumed top Block Meerschaum Oval Shank Author with a black saddle vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and is a beauty. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum had already begun to take on a patina and it came alive with the buffing. The rich mottled browns of the meerschaum colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this block meerschaum, English made Author to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the first of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt.

…And Steve and Jeff Laug bid adios with this restoration: a Block Meerschaum # 22!!!

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

From the heading of this post, it is but natural to infer that this would be the last pipe that Abha, Steve, Jeff and I selected to work on before we bid our farewells, but the on-ground fact is this was selected and work commenced on this pipe after we had completed the restoration of an 1846 made BBB with Amber stem from my inheritance. Here is the link to the write up which was penned by Dal Stanton –


When your life partner supports you in your hobby of restoring pipes and even helps you by doing the dirty work of initial cleaning of an estate pipe, you should be thankful to her and God for the match. And if you don’t want to rock this boat, always acquiesce with their likes and suggestion…I am a wise man too!!

Well, the above musings is the rationale for our owning this pipe in the first place. Abha, my wife, saw this pipe on eBay as I was surfing and she made a passing comment of liking the shape and look of this pipe. Her passing comment was akin to a decision and lucky for me, my bid won. I paid single digit USD for the pipe and a whopping cost of shipping when the pipe reached me about 6 months ago. When Steve and Jeff reached us on a visit, along with other gifts and pipes, Jeff had brought along “Before and After Stem deoxidizer” which I had Mark Hoover ship to Jeff in Idaho, USA to save on the costs of shipping. During one of our discussions, the efficacy of this solution in removing very heavy oxidation from the stem without resorting to any further invasive procedure cropped up. It was then decided to select one of the most heavily oxidized stem from my collection and subject the deoxidizing solution to stringent test. This is, thus, how the Meer came to the fore for restoration and the fact that it was Abha’s choice of pipe, made her happy.

This well made pipe has a beautiful Oom Paul shape with shallow non geometrical concave panels all around. The rim top shows large and evenly serrated surface. The rim top surface appears to have been painted black which has worn out over time.  The bottom of the shank is stamped as “GENUINE BLOCK” over “MEERSCHAUM” with #22 on the left, probably the shape code. The underside of the screw-in vulcanite stem surface bears a very faint stamp of “MADE IN TAN…….IA”, could be and logically most likely is, Tanzania!!The lack of any distinguishing maker’s stamps on the bowl makes it impossible to date and comment upon this pipe. The stamping on the stem points to this pipe as being made in Tanzania, probably by Amboseli? All that I can say is that this a beautiful, well made pipe that feels nice in the hand.

This is virtually an un-smoked pipe with no cake in the chamber. However there are a few scratches on the walls of the chamber. The serrated rim top surface and the rim edges are in pristine condition. The darkened rim top surface points it to have been painted black to provide a contrast with the white of the meerschaum and which over a period of time has been rubbed off. The draught hole is perfectly at the bottom center and should be a great smoker.The stummel surface is covered with minor scratches and one odd very minor chip commensurate with uncared storage and age (??). The stummel has yellowed at some places and appears lifeless being covered in dust and dirt. These issues should not pose any trouble while being addressed. The shank end is clean and air flow is full and smooth. Running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol should freshen up the shank internals. The main protagonist of the entire exercise is this heavily oxidized stem!! To be very honest, I have not seen a more heavily oxidized stem since the time I was introduced to the art of pipe restoration. Even the gentleman who coaxed/ cajoled me in to this wonderful world, Mr. Steve, was unanimous in his comment of this being one of the many most heavily oxidized stems that he has come across….. And he has seen many!!! The threaded metal tenon is clean and shining almost like new. The air flow through the stem is open and full. Again, one odd pipe cleaner through the stem air way should clean out any traces of dust and dirt that could have lodged itself in the stem.THE PROCESS
Since the aim of selecting this pipe for restoration was to check the efficacy of the “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution, this was also the start point. Jeff ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the stem just to make sure that the air way is clean and open. Thereafter, he immersed this stem in to the deoxidizer solution and let it sit for 6 hours.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, Pavni, my younger daughter who loves and specializes in working the chamber walls to a smooth surface, worked on the chamber walls with a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper to a smooth and an even surface.Once Pavni was through with her work, Jeff took over further cleaning of the stummel. He began by cleaning the stummel and rim top surface with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab to remove the dust and remnants of the black coloration from the serrated rim top. He followed it up by further cleaning the stummel with a dish washer paste on his finger tip till all the accumulated dirt and dust was removed and thoroughly rinsed it under running tap water. Jeff also cleaned the internals of the shank with q tips and pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I took over from where Jeff had left and began polishing the stummel with micromesh pads, dry sanding the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. The stummel now has a nice smooth and shiny surface. I wiped the stummel and each pad with a soft slightly moist cloth to remove the meerschaum dust from the surface. Once I was done with the micromesh pads, Steve decided to blacken the rim top surface using a permanent black marker. Since the burning tobacco would not be in contact with the rim surface, this should have no harmful effect while the pipe is being smoked. This darkening of the rim top surface transformed the complete appearance of this Oom Paul as can be seen in the last picture.  All the while, the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution. At the end of this stage, we got the stem out of the solution only to find that there was not much effect on the oxidation (as can be seen from the picture below) and it was then unanimously decided to let the stem soak overnight. That decided we sat down peacefully for our Single Malt Scotch, pipe smoking and discussing pipes, tobaccos and other things in general. The best part of such times was that Dal, Steve and Jeff ensured that everyone was part of the conversation by discussing and talking on topics wherein my daughters could also participate. My daughters adore these gentlemen!!The next dawn came with the excitement of seeing the result of the fight between the deoxidizer and the stubborn stem oxidation. After a hearty breakfast, we flocked around Jeff, our undisputed expert on cleaning and in use of this solution. Jeff removed the stem from the solution, washed it under running water, blew through the stem to remove any solution that had entered in the stem air way and rigorously cleaned it with a microfiber cloth. We all closely observed the result. Though at this stage, the stem did appear black, but the oxidation was still very much visible.Dal suggested cleaning the stem surface with Murphy’s Oil soap to see if that made any difference. We tried it without much success, though there was some improvement. Next Steve suggested to rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration” balm in to the stem surface. Although the stem was now completely black in appearance, we knew that underneath the blackness still lurks the ugly oxidation. We tried cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol and Fine and Extra fine stem polish (both products developed by Mark Hoover). All that has happened is that this residual oxidation was just masked. We kept wondering what is it that Mark does to the stem that they come out shining like they do just after a soak in this solution.When all other ideas and permutations/ combinations failed, I suggested the good old method of using sand paper to remove the oxidation, which incidentally was also the last resort!! This task fell on to the participant who had suggested it in the first place. So there I was, again in my familiar territory of sanding the stem with a 220 grit sand paper and following it up with 400, 600 and 800 grit papers. I followed it up with polishing the stem, going through the micromesh cycle of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem and set it aside for it to be absorbed by the vulcanite. To finish the pipe, Steve generously rubbed some natural Bee’s Wax in to the stummel surface and set it aside to coat the stummel surface. The prevalent heat here ensured that the wax remained melted and absorbed in the meerschaum! I mounted a clean cotton buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and gave it a nice buffing. I polished the stem, applying carnauba wax with the rotary tool. The pipe, after marrying the stem and stummel looks amazing, to say the least. Have a look at it in the pictures below. The smile on Abha’s face and in her eyes made it well worth the effort and beyond. I wish to make it amply clear here that these conclusions are not laboratory results or a result of sterile and accurate experimentation processes under ideal conditions. This was just a fun filled attempt at attaining the level of finish which our friend Mr. Mark Hoover achieves by just a soak in to this solution. To summarize the findings, we all narrowed down to these followings facts: –

(a) Slight to slightly heavy stem oxidation is very effectively addressed by soaking in the solution of “Before and After Deoxidizing” solution followed by rigorous wipe with a microfiber cloth.

(b) Very heavy/ severely oxidized stem, similar to the one on this pipe, we could not completely remove the oxidation from the stem surface without resorting to invasive processes like sanding with grit papers etc. The oxidation was only masked, but not removed. However, the oxidation had loosened greatly and made further progress easy and rapid. This does save considerable time. It can be inferred that the heavily oxidized stem may be soaked twice for better results.

The outcome of all this is that this is an amazing product and will ease your work on stem. This could form a part of your “MUST HAVE” list while embarking on the journey in to world of pipe restoration.


Reflections on Turkish Block Acquisition

Blog by Fred Bass

The following was an article that Fred Bass sent me to hold in my files for him. The idea was that he was going to use it some time in the near future for a book he was working on Meerschaum pipes. Sadly that book was not completed to my understanding. It is an interesting short article that also became the base of a discussion on Smoker’s Forum All thing meerschaum group. RIP Fred, you are missed. Give the article a read!

February 1, 2009

This is about general considerations that have served me in decisions about purchases. It’s not an exhaustive guide, but more a line of thought brought by Buyer’s experience in the Meerschaum trades. I buy Pipes to smoke, so I don’t buy antiques.

I’ll start with new Turkish Block Pipes. Going from the starting point of looking at the works of favored Carvers, I’ll look at Pipes until one calls me. The best Carvers use the best block, which is the most important point of judging a Pipe’s quality. High grade Turkish Meerschaum is light in weight, is very porous, has no inclusions or deficits and has a pearl like translucent quality. It does not look like chalk. High grade Block will provide a cool and dry smoke, in addition to coloring well. Lesser grades will produce smoking experiences of less quality…, which is not to say that this is bad since a cheapie Meer will provide a better smoke than many other materials.

You are more likely to encounter Pressed Meerschaum (a composite of Meerschaum chips & epoxy) with No Name Meers and products of disreputable Carvers & Name Brands. High Grade Carver specific Pipes cost more, but you will have a Pipe that the Carver will take care of, should anything go wrong. This is an important consideration since Meerschaum is a product of nature and can possess flaws that become noticed only after the Pipe is smoked. These are Pipes that mean less to the Carver than the importance of his reputation, so you get a Pipe that is the best the Carver can produce. Bad news travels fast and reputation is everything in this cottage industry.

Other considerations, such as size, artistic merit and how well the Pipe fits into your world are worth consideration. The established Carvers will want premium price for their work, but there is never a question of quality. It’s a good idea to confirm that the picture you see is that of the Pipe that you want and whether a Case exists or is yet to be made. If the Pipe & Case are yet to be made, then determine how long it will take to be shipped to you. These same issues are best understood by both Buyer & Seller on commissioned Pipes as well. You can establish the quality of the Block and the color & material of the bit prior to payment.

When I’m evaluating a Pipe from an upcoming Carver, an estate Pipe or from a Retailer that I’ve not dealt with before, I first try to establish dialogue. No dialogue, no deal. If the estate Pipe Seller has little knowledge about his/her Pipe, I’ll still try and get information on the Pipe’s condition, type of connector joint and dimensions. The estate Seller should discuss the Pipe in the pre-sale encounter or I don’t bid. Sometimes, I discover that the Seller doesn’t know that the Pipe is a fraud, which is frequently the case with ‘Andreas Bauer’ and ‘Paul Fischer’ Pipes, in my experience. If you watch the Meerschaum markets, you will find promising Carvers who have yet to become well known. These Carvers will discuss their art with you and the prices can be very reasonable, as many will have just severed ties with Retailers and have started selling direct to Buyers. If there is something that you don’t see, then ask questions. Since I buy Meerschaums from the internet,

I ask a lot of questions. If the photos are poor quality and/or the Seller’s not answering your questions, then don’t put the coin down. I’ve touched on some of the major considerations involved in my own experiences, which are not offered as expert information. Instead, I’ve started this dialogue for all to share and participate in. I know little about the Antique market and just a bit about the African Block Pipes.

Another aspect of purchasing new Meerschaum Pipes, where some real bargains can be found, is the upcoming source of new Carvers. These are artisans that have been selling to Retailers and have established a degree of excellence, that promises to continue improving with time. At some point, they decide to break out on their own and start selling direct. They are trying to create a name for themselves and will use top quality Block as they attempt to establish a reputation with their art. The Pipes that are posted for sale will be the best effort that the Carver can produce and the prices will be lower, as there is no middleman to pay. Customer satisfaction will be the primary concern for these Carvers as they attempt to increase their market. This is a good time to get in on the action, since in time, as their work becomes more widely acknowledged for it’s superior quality, the prices will increase. This market is apparent to those who follow the Meerschaum trades. For the inexperienced, it is best to seek direction from more seasoned Pipesters and those that have access to the current markets. If you know what to look for, you can find some outstanding quality Pipes that appeal to your individual tastes, at very reasonable prices.

The Estate Meerschaum market is related to this in many ways, but there are differences. The first consideration that should be taken into account is the Pipe’s condition, and how much $$ it will cost to bring it into a smokable condition. This is not about Antiques, as they are more for Collectors than they are for those who buy Pipes to smoke. You should consider the cost of repair as the hidden total cost of the Pipe. If repairs have already been done on the Pipe, are they professional quality (?) and are they effective (?) are questions you should find out prior to purchase. Does the Seller know the Pipe’s legacy. Is the Pipe indeed what the brand designation on the case claims it to be, or is it a mediocre Pipe that has been put in a case of known reputation, in order to sell it for a higher price? If your plan is to continue to develop the Pipe’s Patina, does it look like the Pipe has been taken care of or did Uncle Charley use a blow torch to light it? Abused Meerschaums can be brought back to part of their former glory, but this takes time and the Patina is the most difficult to preserve and/or restore.

These are the basics, but by no means are they the whole story of either the Estate market or the newly initiated Carver direct seller. It is a good start on these issues and leaves room for the contributions of others, which is welcome.

Time for a Meerschaum – A Fancy Gold Push Stem on a Meer Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is from a guy in New York that hunts for pipes for Jeff and me. This is a no name meerschaum billiard with a push tenon and mortise. The stem is acrylic and is a swirled golden Lucite. The pipe was one of the cleaner ones that have come our way. There was very little cake in the bowl and just some slight darkening on the rim top and on the inner edge on the left side. The bowl is almost unsmoked it is so clean with a little darkening from one or two bowls being drawn through it. The inner and outer edges of the bowl are flawless without any damage areas as is the top of the rim. The acrylic stem was in excellent condition with light tooth chatter around the button. It is a fancy turned stem the kind that I have seen on freehand pipes before but it actually looks very good with the meer. It hearkens back to the days of amber stems. It is well made and has a very comfortable button and slot. The stem is thin enough that it is comfortable in the mouth as well. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started working on it. He took photos of the rim top to show how clean the bowl was. You can see the fresh meerschaum on the walls of the bowl near the top. There is no cake in the bowl and there is no lava on the rim top.He took a photo of the right side and heel of the bowl to show how clean the externals of the meerschaum are. It is really quite pristine.When Jeff took the stem off the bowl the mortise unscrewed from the shank. He took some photos of the stem with the threaded mortise in tow. The first photo shows the inside of the shank and how clean it is. The third photo shows the threaded mortise with the push tenon inside of it. It will need to be pulled off the push tenon and threaded back into the shank. The golden acrylic stem was in excellent condition other than light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The button was in excellent condition.Jeff had already cleaned up the pipe before sending it to me. He had wiped out the bowl to remove the debris and dust in it. There was no need to ream it as there was no cake. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and to see if he could remove some of the darkening on the left side of the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove any remnants of the few smokes that had been run through the pipe. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a very clean pipe and really left little to do but work on the stem. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show how clean and almost pristine they were when they arrived. The bowl was spotless and ready to smoke. The stem had some tooth chatter and light marks on the top and underside near the button.I sanded the button and the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and tooth marks.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth after each pad. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax when I was finish and once it dried buffed it off with a soft cloth. I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I carefully worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish meerschaum and the acrylic stem. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I love the way that the buffer brings a shine to the pipe. I was happy with the look of the finished pipe. The photos below show what the pipe looks like after the restoration. This is a beautiful meerschaum that has not really been broken in. It should colour nicely as it block meerschaum.  The shape of the white bowl and the golden fancy stem are very elegant. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This pipe will soon be added to the rebornpipes online store. If you are interested in adding a virtually new meerschaum pipe to your collection let me know. This one should be a great smoker. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another beauty!

One of those once in a life time finds – a Long Shank Figural Meerschaum

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff always comes up with some amazing finds. I am not sure how he does it, but there is never a box of pipes that I get from him that does not have a surprising find in it. In this case we had talked about a meerschaum pipe that he was interested in picking up. I can’t remember where he had seen it but his sights were set on it. He had sent me some photos that he had received from the seller to give me an idea of what I would be dealing with when the pipe arrived. Here are the photos that he sent me. They are grainy and really don’t give an idea of the size and proportions of the pipe. They do however show the issues clearly. The shank was joined in two spots with nylon/Teflon threaded tenons and those had snapped off inside the shank. It also showed that the pipe had been smoked and the rim top was dark. There was some nice patina developing on the shank and bowl. I did not have a clue what the carving on the front of the pipe looked like.The next two photos show some close up views of the damaged areas. The first partially shows the damage of the first broken tenon on two parts of the shank. What it does not show is where the rest of the broken tenon is. I am pretty sure that it is in the other half of the shank. My guess is that somewhere along the way someone tried to take the pipe apart and snapped the tenon.The second photo shows the broken tenon at the bowl shank joint. This one is a bit more disconcerting because not only are parts of the tenon broken off in each side of the shank and bowl but it appears that someone tried to glue the two parts together. I would not know for sure until I had it in hand but that was my guess at this point. We talked about it and Jeff made the deal. Soon I would see the pipe in person.At this point your guess is as good as mine in terms of what the pipe looked like, what face was carved on the front and what the size and proportion were going to be. I had no idea what to expect but Jeff told me that he would send it home with my daughters when they returned from a visit for my Dad’s 90th birthday. Sure enough, he talked them into bringing a few pipes and a rack with them in their luggage. They got home around 11:30pm but that did not stop them from unpacking their bags to show me what they had brought home with them. In my second daughters luggage there was a long trombone shaped case – the case alone is 13 inches long and 4 inches wide at the widest point. It is three inches tall on the thickest portion of the case. It is covered with a black vinyl like many meerschaum cases are these days. I could see that the pipe inside must be a big one. I knew it was the one we had spoken of above but I had no idea what I was in for once I opened the case. Here are some photos of the case and what I saw when I opened it.I put the pipe away because I did not want to be tempted to work on it until I had finished some repairs that I was doing for a guy here in Vancouver. Yesterday I finished the last of his repairs and last evening I took the pipe out to have a look. The end of the shank at the bowl had a piece of the nylon tenon broken off inside of it. I used an easy out and turned it into the tenon until it grabbed then unthreaded the tenon from the shank. One done, and not too difficult.I used the easy out section that held the stem as well. It was also relatively painless. I turned it into the tenon until it grabbed then unthreaded the tenon from the shank piece. Two done, with no breakage and without making things worse!The third section was another story. It worried me because it was the piece that had been glued to the bowl end of the short shank. It had glue on the meerschaum surface that turned out to be rubber cement. I scraped it off and tried to turn that tenon out with an easy out. No success. It was glued in solid in the shank. I took out my cordless drill and fit it with a bit slightly larger than the airway in the tenon and carefully drilled it into the tenon. You have to be careful because one wrong move and the bit could damage the shank piece. Nerve wracking for sure! I was able to drill it carefully and when the bit grabbed I reversed the drill and unthreaded the glued piece from the shank. Success! All of the broken tenon pieces were removed. I could now see what else I had to do on this one.I started by checking out the connections between each section of the shank pieces. It did not take long to realize that the shank portions were made up of shorter spool like sections. I took the spools apart and took a photo of all the pieces. It was an interesting looking pipe. This is also the first look you are all getting of the figural. I think it is called a Courtier. It is a bearded gent with a cap and feather. It is well carved and very detailed.I decided before calling it a night to put the pipe back together again using the pieces of broken tenon that I had to reconnect the parts. I wanted to have some idea of the finished look of the pipe and what the length would be once it was all put back together. It is a long pipe. I measured it once I had it put together and from the tip of the beard to the end of the stem was 17 ½ inches. I truly had no idea this was what it would be when I first saw it in those first photos above. I took a couple of photos to show you what I saw. It is a gorgeous pipe with well done, intricate carvings. Now that all the parts were working I would need to clean them each. But that is it for the night. I packed the pipe back in the case and headed to bed. The first thing I did in the morning was to take some photos of the figural carving. I wanted to have a look before I started the cleanup and have found that taking photos gives me a good idea of what I need to work on with each pipe. Here is what I saw. It was a beautifully carved, ornate piece. There was some patina developing on the shank and the bowl, particularly around the bottom portion and the sharper edges of the carving. The rim top had a bit of lava buildup that would need to be removed along with the cake. Overall this portion of the pipe was in excellent condition. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and removed all of the cake. I wanted the walls clean and uncaked. I followed that by sanding the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped with sandpaper. I wiped down the inside of the bowl with a damp paper towel to remove the dust and sanding debris. I tried to blow air through the shank and bowl and was surprised that it was clogged and nothing flowed. I unscrewed the shank piece from the bowl and blew through that. It was clear so I knew that the clog was in the bowl portion for sure. I tried to push a pipe cleaner through the airway and met a hard clog. So to open the clog I pushed a piece of stiff wire through the airway and worked it around to clear out the clog. I checked to make sure there was airflow and then cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airway was clean and there was unrestricted airflow between the bowl and shank. Part one of the airway cleanup was finished and I was ready to work on the rim top.I sanded the lava on the top of the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad. It did not take too much work to get the rim top clean. I cleaned out the grooves in the cap with a damp cotton swab to leave the top surface clean.I polished the meerschaum top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the top of the rim with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The following photos show the progress. I cleaned up the shank section that was connected to the bowl. I scraped away the rubber cement on the surface of the shank end and cleaned out the interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I beveled both ends of the nylon connector to help with the airflow. Once it was clean I attached the first spool to the bowl portion.It was time to move on to the cleaning of each of the spools that made up the first section of the shank. I unscrewed the parts so that I could better work on them. It is easier to clean up the nylon connectors and the inside of the spool when they are apart. I used a pen knife to lightly bevel and open up the end of each of the connectors to improve the airflow. I cleaned out the airways in each section with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I checked the airflow on each section and then put it back together. Now the bowl and the first section of the shank were clean.  I put the spools back together and took a photo of the first section of the shank.I moved on to the cleaning of each of the spools that made up the second section of the shank. I unscrewed the parts so that I could better work on them. It is easier to clean up the nylon connectors and the inside of the spool when they are apart. I used a pen knife to lightly bevel and open up the end of each of the connectors to improve the airflow. I cleaned out the airways in each section with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I checked the airflow on each section and then put it back together. Now the bowl and the first and second section of the shank were clean. I cleaned airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I used a penknife to bevel the end of the push tenon. I sanded the exterior of the nylon push tenon to remove the buildup and stain that was on the white tenon end. The photo is a bit out of focus but you can see how dirty the airway was inside from the pipe cleaners under the stem.I wiped down the exterior of the stem and found another surprise. There was a hole in the top of the stem next to the button. In examining the hole I found that I was not dealing with a bite mark but with a misdrilled stem. The airway in the button was too high and that left the Lucite material too thin at that point. I took photos of the top and bottom of the stem and of the end view and include them now. The hole is the dark spot on the top side next to the button.I put some Vaseline on the end of a pipe cleaner and inserted it in the airway below the hole in the stem surface. I filled it in with clear super glue. I build up the top of the button and filled in the over-drilled airway in the button at the same time.Once the repaired area cured I shaped the button edge on both the top and the underside with a needle file. I blended the repair into the surface of the stem with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each grit. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a shoe brush and finished polishing it with a soft microfiber cloth. Finally the pipe is clean and finished. I polished all of the parts individually with the cloth and took photos of the pipe before I put it together. This is one that I think I will hang on to for my own collection. I have ordered some new nylon connectors to replace the broken ones that I am using to hold it together at the moment. I took photos of the pipe as a whole and then broke it down and put it in the case and took photos of that to close this chapter of the story. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration.

Refreshing a Lattice Work Meerschaum Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I really am enjoying working on the last batch of pipes that my brother sent me. He does such a great job reaming and cleaning them that I have a fun job of bringing life back to a clean pipe. The next one up on my work table came in its own black vinyl (leather-covered??) case. From the outside the case looked like it contained a large apple shaped or round shaped pipe. The brass latch on the front edge and the hinges on the back were in great shape. There was a circle on the top outside of the case that looked like it had originally had a sticker logo on the outside of the case. It had long since disappeared and left its imprint on the surface of the case. The black case looked promising and made me wonder what was going to be inside. Jeff said he had picked this one up at an auction and it was in great shape.I opened the case and inside it was lined with golden yellow coloured velour. Nestled in the base of the case was a nice looking lattice meerschaum pipe that I think some would call and egg but to me was a bent billiard. The stem was a red acrylic with a Teflon/nylon push tenon and a nylon mortise insert. There was some light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button on both sides and a small chip mid button edge on the outside.I took the pipe out of the case and took pictures of it before I did my polishing and clean up on it. It really looks good. Other than the chatter on the stem and the chip in the top of the button the rim top had some darkening and light build up. Jeff had reamed the bowl and scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with a soft soap. He had also cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem. It was very clean. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem. You can see from the rim top that there was some darkening along the back edge of the bowl. There is some colouration happening on the top and underside of the shank and on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The rim is also taking on colour. It should not take too much work to clean off the darkening. The stem had some chatter than is visible around the button on both sides as well as a small chip that is visible in the photo of the top side of the stem.The thickness of the button lent itself to topping it slightly. I used the topping board and put the surface of the button face against the sanding board. I worked it against the sanding board and remove the chip that was on the face of the button. I filled in the remaining portion of the chip with clear super glue and set it aside to cure.I sanded nicks and the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button and blended the repair into the rest of the button surface with 220 grit sandpaper. With the sanding and reshaping there was sanding dust in the airway on the stem so I cleaned it with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned off the white nylon push tenon. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish using both the fine and extra fine versions. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I polished the sides of the bowl and shank at the same time with the pads. I the polished stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I buffed the bowl with a soft microfiber cloth. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Soft Beeswax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me a message or an email to slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over beautiful lattice meerschaum.

Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #4 – An Antique Kalmasch Meerschaum Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired three of the pipes from the seven of his Grandfather’s pipes that Paresh sent me. It is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad and was a pipeman. Paresh is also a pipeman and only recently learned that his Grandfather smoked a pipe. The fourth pipe is an antique Meerschaum pipe with a Cherrywood shank and vulcanite stem. It is what is known as a Kalmasch Meerschaum pipe. It is a large pipe – 12 inches long and 2 ½ inches tall. I took the following photos of the pipe before I stated to work on it. It was in excellent condition, very clean with just a thin bit of lava and tar on the top of the rim. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition. I took some photos below show the pipe as it arrived.

The photos of the pipe show the parts. Abha, Paresh’s wife had cleaned it up and sent the parts of the pipe individually packaged for safe shipping. The bowl was a heavy piece of meerschaum that had already begun to take on colour in the shank and up the sides of the bowl. The Cherrywood shank had one end threaded and the other end carved into a cone shape. The cone shaped end had the same angles as the mortise in the meerschaum bowl. The vulcanite stem was threaded and was made to be turned onto the threaded end of the cherry wood shank. You can see in the photos below how far down the threads the stem could be turned as they are darkened. There is about a ½ in gap between the stem and the shank when the stem is turned onto the shank. That will need to be addressed in the restoration. The rim top has some lava that had overflowed from the bowl and darkened the gouges in the surface and was built up around the back side of the bowl. It is not too thick and hard. It will need to be scraped off when I started the cleaning. The outer edge of the bowl looks pretty good with a little wear on the front edge and back right side. The bowl was very clean and smooth on the inside. I also took a close up photos of both sides of the stem. You can see that there is light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem just in front of the button. The surface of the stem is lightly oxidized and pitted.I took close up photos of both ends of the Cherrywood shank. The first photo shows the threaded end where the stem is screwed onto the shank. The first portion is threaded and the bottom half is partly threaded. It appears to me that there was originally a space between the stem and the rest of the shank end. The other end of the shank shows the conical shaping that matches the taper of the inside of the mortise in the bowl portion of the pipe.  I put the pieces back together and took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like. You can see the fit of the shank to the bowl. It is snug and it will not need to be changed. The stem is screwed in place on the shank and you can see the ½ inch gap between the stem and the shank. As I have mentioned in the previous three restorations, I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.

Respected Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned all of the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowls, cleaned the rims and scrubbed the exterior of the pipes and the stems with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stems. On this pipe she had removed the cake in the bowl and done a great job cleaning the exterior of the bowl. The cherrywood shank had also been cleaned. The stem was lightly oxidized on both sides and had light chatter and pitting.

I polished the top of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove all of the tar and lava that was on the surface. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. While I was working on the bowl top I also worked over the sides and bottom of the bowl to polish them as well. I went through my box of bands and ferrules and found a brass ferrule that would work well to fill the gap between the shank and the stem when it was put in place. I put it on the end of the shank and screwed the stem in place. I took photos of the shank with the stem in place. It still needed to be polished and the edge below the ferrule will need to be smoothed out and touched up with stain to blend in the edge. However, you can see what it will look like when it is finished. I polished the ferrule with micromesh sanding pads to polish off the tarnish. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I polished it with a jeweler’s cloth and the shine really stood out. I took photos of the band after polishing.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the Cherrywood shank to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the threaded and conical end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The bark on the shank really began to have a deep shine. I took a photo of the shank with the polish ferrule and polished Cherrywood at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The shank is really beginning to look good.I sanded out the tooth chatter and pitting on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sand paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the Cherrywood shank and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of beeswax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have three more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.