Tag Archives: polishing a horn stem

An Amazing Transformation Of a “Capitol” Hand Made # 81 Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This horn stemmed billiard had been around for so long a time that I do not even remember where it came from. It is really a beautifully shaped billiard with perfectly proportioned size and shape. I would call the bowl an average sized one. There are a few fills in the briar and remnants of what appear to a lacquer coat on the surface which has been worn out over time or could be that attempts were made to get rid of it. There is a brass band at the shank end and covers the shank end face. The stem is a tapered bone with some damage to the bite zone on either surface. The pipe as it sits on my work table is shown below: The pipe is stamped on the left shank as “CAPITOL” in capital letters in gold while the right side is stamped as “HAND MADE” also in capital gold letters followed by shape code “81” which I initial had thought to be 1 (indicated with red arrow) but during the course of my initial inspection the brass band came off revealing “8” (indicated with yellow arrow). It also provided me an opportunity to inspect the shank end face to check for any cracks or damage and was happy to note that there was none. Also, the letter “C” (again indicated with red arrow) in gold was embossed on the left side of the horn stem and revealed when I polished the stem with micromesh pads. When I had read about Savinelli pipes while working on the Savinelli Dry System pipe, I recollected having read that CAPITOL was a Savinelli second/ Sub brand. However, the lack of COM stamp and the trade mark Savinelli shield raised doubts in my mind and I decided to research further. I visited pipephil.eu site and searched the index for stem logo with one letter. I found both the letter C as well as brand CAPITOL both of which matched the stampings on the pipe in front of me (Pipes : 1 letter on the stem (pipephil.eu). Further exploration took me to the page that had the information about the pipe I desired (Can-Car — Pipes : Logos & Markings (pipephil.eu)). I have reproduced a screenshot of the page below.The stampings shown above perfectly match those of the pipe currently on my work table. Thus far, the only thing I have learned is that this pipe could be either from R M Littaur & Co, Great Britain, or KB & B.

Thus the provenance of this pipe is ambiguous and through informed guess work, I would place this pipe as being sold by R M Littaur & Co of Great Britain.

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thin layer of carbon cake and appears to have been reamed recently. There are a couple of scratches and dings over the smooth rim top surface (encircled in red). The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the bowl and this geometry should make it a good smoker. The chamber walls are solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the walls of the chamber. The stummel displays some beautiful cross grain on the front and aft of the bowl and also over the upper and lower shank surfaces. However, the beauty of the stummel is marred by a few fills (indicated with yellow arrows). There are scrub marks all over the stummel, noticeably more over the shank surfaces and at the foot of the stummel (encircled in green). The dark shiny clear coat of lacquer is blotchy over the stummel surface but completely removed from the shank surfaces and the foot of the stummel. Playing Sherlock Holmes, it is most likely that a start for restoring this pipe was undertaken, but for reasons best known to the person it was shelved. The mortise has a layer of something akin to a parchment paper that is beginning to turn in to white powder like substance. This was placed to ensure a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. Since this packing was crumbling, I would be removing it completely. The tapered horn stem is in a relatively good shape. There are a few bite marks at the base of the button edge in the bite zone on both upper and lower surfaces. This has exposed the tissue fibers and it has been my experiences that filling it with clear superglue always leaves behind a patchy white clump of tissue fiber peeking out from under the fill after the stem has been polished. The aluminum tenon is threaded and has a screw-in flat stinger. The horizontal slot is clean but has the airway opening skewed to the extreme right of the stem slot (indicated by a green arrow). Though this did not affect the usability of the pipe itself, but the draw was laborious and not smooth. This would need to be addressed. The stem airway is clean and so are the aluminum stinger and tenon. The contrasting dark and light tissue strands will be a visual treat once the stem has been polished. The Process
I first decided to tackle the stummel as the repairs to the fills would require additional time for filling, curing and shaping. As I had noted earlier, the chamber appeared to have been reamed and a thin layer of cake was left behind. With my fabricated knife, I removed all the cake and took it down to the bare briar. I further sand the chamber walls with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls and remove the last bit of stubborn carbon stuck to the walls. To finish the reaming process, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the last traces of residual carbon dust. I was happy to note a clean solid chamber with no signs of any heat lines or fissures. Next I cleaned out the shank internals. I scraped out all the dried and crumbly parchment paper like packing with my fabricated tool. I cleaned out the mortise and shank walls with q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank and mortise while going through the other processes.Staying with the internal cleaning of the stummel, I subjected the chamber and shank internals to a cotton and alcohol bath and left it overnight to allow the alcohol to draw out the old oils and tars and the cotton to trap them. By next day evening, the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I ran a couple of hard bristled pipe cleaners to remove the moist and loosened out gunk and now the chamber and shank smells fresh and clean and looks it too. While the stummel was soaking in the cotton and alcohol bath, I used the time to address the stem issues. I separated the threaded stinger from the tenon and ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the stem airway. The pipe cleaners came out quite clean. With a sharp dental tool, I scraped out the little dried oils and gunk from the slot end.Next I addressed the tooth chatter and the issue of exposed tissue fiber in the bite zone. As brought out earlier, repairs using CA superglue leaves behind clumps of dirty grey fibers visible through the shine and thus I decided to sand the tooth indentations down till I reached the intact surface below. That the stem was adequately thick in the bite zone also helped in making this decision. With a flat head needle file, I went to town sanding the exposed fibers on either surface till they were eliminated. I followed it up by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to evenly match the bite zone surface with the rest of the stem surface. I finished the stem refurbishing by wet sanding the entire stem surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. It helps to keep wiping the surface intermittently with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust and gauge the progress being made. I applied a little EVO to the surface and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed. The finished stem is amazingly beautiful as can be seen in the pictures below.With the stem refurbishing completed and the stummel internals all cleaned up, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I cleaned the external surface with a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil soap and rinsed it under running warm water. Using a shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap, I cleaned the mortise and shank internals till all I had was white foam. I used a Scotch Brite pad with dish washing soap and diligently scrubbed the stummel surface. This helped in removing the residual lacquer coat from over the stummel surface to a great extent. I dried the stummel internals and externals with paper towels and soft absorbent cotton cloth and set it aside overnight to completely dry out before I worked on it any further. By next afternoon, the stummel had dried out and I decided to address the issue of fills over the surface. With a sharp dental tool, I extracted the old and loosened fills and cleaned the area with a cotton swab and alcohol. I masked the stampings on either side of the shank surface with a tape as one of the fills was frighteningly close to the stamping and it was best to take precautions now rather than repent later. Using a mix of CA superglue and briar dust, I filled up the pits over the stummel surface and set it aside to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to harden, there was one issue that needed attention. The brass band at the shank end (for adornment purpose only) was masking the model/ shape code. I addressed this issue by sanding the band over a piece of 180 grit sandpaper to a width which did not cover the shape code. I checked and confirmed that the shape code is visible and set the band aside for fixing it subsequently.Once the fill had hardened, I first sand the fills with a needle file to roughly match the fill with the rest of the surface. I further sand the entire stummel surface with a 220 grit sandpaper and achieved three aims in the process; firstly, blend the fills with the rest of the surface, secondly, completely remove the lacquer coat and lastly, eliminate the minor scratches and dings from the surface. I was careful to remove the scratches and minor dings from the rim top surface. A couple of slightly deep scratches are still visible, but I shall let them be as is.I followed the sanding by the 220 grit sandpaper with further dry sanding using 400, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers. I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dark brown hues of the stummel with its nearly black grains across the stummel look striking and blend the fresh fills nicely. In fact, to the naked eye, the fills are not made out easily. Now it was time to fix the brass band and refresh the gold lettered stampings as seen before the start of the project. I applied Favicol wood adhesive along the shank end and press fitted the band in to place and held it for a few minutes till the adhesive had cured a bit. Using a metallic gold acrylic paint marker, I coated the stampings on either sides of the shank and after a few minutes, I removed the excess paint with a toothpick. I applied the same process to refresh the stem logo C. With this I come to the final polishing of the entire pipe that removes the very fine scratches that remain and enhance the shine and gloss to the stummel and stem. I first mount cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for Blue Diamond, on to my hand held rotary tool and polish the entire pipe. This compound is abrasive enough to remove the very fine minor scratches that remain over the stummel and stem surface while imparting a deep shine to the surface. Next, I mount the cotton buffing wheel that has been earmarked for Carnauba Wax and apply a coat over the stem and stummel surface and buff it till the entire wax has been used up to polish the surfaces. I give a once over buff to the entire pipe with a fresh plain cotton buffing wheel to remove any residual wax while imparting a fine glaze to the stem and stummel surface. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazing with a nice deep dark brown color to the stummel with the contrasting shining bone stem with its dark tissue fiber providing a contrast within the stem surface. This pipe is all set and ready for a long second inning and if the beauty of this pipe tugs at your heart, you may like to let me know in the comments section along with your email address. Here are a few pictures of the completed pipe. P.S.- This is one handsome pipe for sure. In the above pictures, the fills are visible, but in person, these fills are well blended in with the rest of the stummel surface. I did have, and still do, the option to stain the stummel with a dark brown stain but that would be over kill and so I have decided to leave it be. However, if you are interested to make it your own and want it stained, I shall be glad to accommodate your request.

Thank you for sparing your valuable time in reading through the write up thus far and being an integral companion through my journeys through the pipe world.

Praying for you and your loved ones always…

Restoring a Diamond Black Extra Squat Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration of four of the older horn stem pipes that I have posted the blogs about on rebornpipes, the first was a beautiful early 1900s KB&B Horn Stemmed Italian Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/29/reviving-another-older-horn-stemmed-pipe-my-next-choice/) then an early French made JSN Racine Bruyere Dublin with a horn stem (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/29/reviving-another-older-horn-stemmed-pipe-from-the-bag-of-old-timers/), then a lightly smoked GVG Liverpool made by the founder of Genod (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/31/reviving-a-lightly-smoked-horn-stem-gvg-extra-9745-liverpool/) and fourth a Belle D’ Or Vielle Bruyere “Double Or” French Made Bent Dublin (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/09/01/restoring-a-la-belle-dor-vielle-bruyere-double-or-horn-stem-bent-dublin/). I decided to keep working on the bag of older NOS/unsmoked and lightly smoked pipes. I chose another horn stemmed pipe from the lot and this time picked a bit of a mystery pipe. It is buried in the pile in the photo below but it is clear in the second photo.In the photo of the poured out bag on my desk top I have circled the pipe that is next on the table. This was a lightly smoked pipe with a cut glass rustication stained black. The rim top is smooth as is the panel where it is stamped. This squat Bulldog really intrigued me so it was next. I sat at my desk went over the pipe I had chosen. It is lightly smoked squat Bulldog with a diamond shank and a taper stem. It is stamped on the left underside of the shank on a smooth panel and reads Diamond [over] Black. Just above that toward the shank/stem junction it is also stamped Extra. The pipe is a bit of a mystery as there is no country of origin. The finish is rusticated with a cut glass style rugged rustication that is stained black. The rim top is smooth and stained with a medium brown. There was some thin lava on the back top and edge of the rim. The stem is horn and has tooth chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button. There were worm holes on the point of the diamond on the underside and on the top right side at the joint of the stem and shank. The tenon is metal/aluminum with twisted stinger in place. It is a push stem. The button end is slotted. Typically these metal tenon pipes came out during the war or directly after when horn was brought back into use when rubber was short. It really is a beautiful pipe. Here are a few photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup and restoration. I took photos of the bowl and stem. You can see the condition of the bowl and the rim top and edges. The drilling is centered in the bottom of the bowl. It is a good sized bowl. The interior walls of the pipe are smooth and do not have drilling marks or checks or chips. There was some lava on the rim top at the back of the inner edge of the bowl along with darkening and burn damage. The horn stem is in excellent condition other than a worm hole on the top and underside near the shank. The button has a slotted opening and is quite clean. I took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank. It reads as noted above.I took some photos of the worm holes in the stem surface. I have circled them in red in the photos below. I removed the stem from the shank. You can see the metal tenon and the turned stinger in the photo below. The proportions of this pipe are well done. The rustication around the bowl is very nice. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and then polished the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500 -12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. It began to really come alive. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect briar finished. I let it sit for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The rustication on the bowl sides and the smooth rim top really came alive with the buffing. It is really a beautiful pipe.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the worm holes in the stem surface with clear CA glue. I layered it in until the surface was smooth. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I also sanded the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. I cleaned up the twisted stinger apparatus with alcohol and cotton swabs until it was clean. It is removable which mean it can be smoked with it in place or removed.I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the horn. It came out looking very good. This another interesting pipe – a ruggedly rusticated Diamond Black Extra Horn Stem Squat Bulldog. It turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The rusticated finish on the briar and the sheen on the horn stem really popped when the pipe was lightly buffed with blue diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The Diamond Black Extra Squat Bulldog is tactile and comfortable to hold and is quite distinguished looking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29 grams/1.02 ounces. This is a beautiful pipe that I will soon be putting on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipemakers Section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out on the blog as I have several other older horn stemmed pipes that will be coming up soon.

Restoring a La Belle D’Or Vielle Bruyere “Double Or” Horn Stem Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration of the first three of the older horn stem pipes that I have spoken about and posted the blogs on them on rebornpipes, the first was an early 1900s KB&B Horn Stemmed Italian Billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/29/reviving-another-older-horn-stemmed-pipe-my-next-choice/) an early French made JSN Racine Bruyere Dublin with a horn stem (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/29/reviving-another-older-horn-stemmed-pipe-from-the-bag-of-old-timers/) and a lightly smoked GVG Liverpool made by the founder of Genod (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/31/reviving-a-lightly-smoked-horn-stem-gvg-extra-9745-liverpool/). I decided to keep working on the bag of older NOS/unsmoked and lightly smoked pipes. I chose another horn stemmed pipe from the lot and this time picked another one from a French Maker. It is buried in the pile in the photo below but it is clear in the second photo.In the photo of the poured out bag on my desk top I have circled the pipe that is next on the table. This was a lightly smoked pipe with a natural finish that really intrigued me so it was next.I sat at my desk went over the pipe I had chosen. It is lightly smoked bent Dublin with a round shank, brass shank band and a taper stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads La Belle D’Or [over] Vielle Bruyere stamped in gold. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Vielle Bruyere [over] “Double Or”. The pipe is French made and the stamping on the left translates The Belle D’ Or Old Briar. The stamping on the right translate Old Briar Double Gold. This one looks purposefully and well stamped. There was wide brass coloured band on the shank end that was for decoration as the shank did not have cracks. The finish is natural with a thin coat of varnish. The grain showed through the dust of time and it was quite stunning. There was some thin lava on the back top and edge of the rim. The stem is horn and the tenon is anchored in the shank and the stem is threaded and twists onto it. The stem was overturned on the shank and was very crooked. The button end is orific and has been widened to an oval. It really is a beautiful pipe. Here are a few photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup and restoration. I took photos of the bowl and stem. You can see the condition of the bowl and the rim top and edges. The drilling is centered in the bottom of the bowl. It is a good sized bowl. The interior walls of the pipe are smooth and do not have drilling marks or checks or chips. The bowl was out of round slightly on the back right inner edge. there was some lava on the rim top at the back of the inner edge of the bowl along with darkening and burn damage. There is also a brass band on the shank. The horn stem is in excellent condition and has an orific button that has been widened into an oval slot. I took a photo of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. It reads as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank. You can see the bone tenon in the shank the photo below. The proportions of this pipe are well done. The grain around the bowl is very nice.I wiped the bowl down carefully with alcohol, avoiding the gold stamping on the left side. Removing the shiny finish made the grain stand out even better.I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the burn damage and bring the bowl back to round.I polished the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500 -12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. It began to really come alive.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect briar finished. I let it sit for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The grain on the bowl really came alive with the buffing. It is really a beautiful pipe. I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the horn. It came out looking very good.This another interesting pipe – a beautiful La Belle D’ Or Vielle Bruyere “Double Or” Horn Stem Bent Dublin It turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The grain on the briar, the polished brass band and the sheen on the horn stem really popped when the pipe was buffed with blue diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The La Belle D’ Or Vielle Bruyere “Double Or” Bent Dublin is comfortable to hold and is quite distinguished looking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 32 grams/1.13 ounces. This is a beautiful pipe and I am still thinking through what I am going to do with it. Should I sell it or add it to the collection? Not sure yet. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out on the blog as I have several other older horn stemmed pipes that will be coming up soon.

Reviving an Unsmoked NOS Octagonal Billiard with a Horn Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I took a short break from the D.P. Ehrlich Co. Meerschaum pipes after completing the second one – an older Billiard with a replacement stem (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/27/a-3-pipe-reclamation-project-next-a-d-p-ehrlich-co-meerschaum-billiard/). I turned to work on some interesting older pipes that I have had around here for a long time. The first of them is an unsmoked, new old stock (NOS) Octagonal Billiard that is stamped on the right side of the shank with the following numbers: 112D/707C/75. There is no other stamping on the shank of the pipe. There is an Electroplated silver band that has the EP stamp in a diamond over a series of faux hallmarks. This leads me to believe that the pipe is American Made – but that is just a guess. The finish is faded and tired from sitting in storage for many years but it is quite stunning. I has an eight sided paneled bowl with some interesting rusticated patches around the top of the bowl and down into four of the panels. The rim top is inwardly beveled and quite delicate looking. The stem is horn and the tenon is threaded bone. It is anchored in the shank and the stem screws onto it. There is a red sticker on the underside of the stem but anything that was written on it is faded and gone with time. It is a beauty that I want to refresh and add to my own collection. Here are a few photos of the pipe before I did anything to it. I took photos of the bowl and stem. You can see the inwardly beveled rim top and the octagonal outer edge. The drilling is bang on and centered in the bottom of the bowl right at the bottom of the bowl. It is a good sized bowl. The interior walls of the pipe are smooth and do not have customary drilling marks or checks or chips. It has been sanded. The horn stem is in excellent condition and has a slotted button. There is an orange tag on the underside of the stem.I took photos of the sides of the shank. I took a photo of the left side of the shank and the carving on the bowl sides. There is no stamping on the left side. You can see the faux hallmarks on the band. The stamping on the right side of the shank are clear and readable.I removed the stem from the shank. You can see the brand new threaded bone tenon in the photo below. The proportions of this pipe are well done. The grain around the bowl is very nice. The carving is quite unique. There are many things about the pipe that remind of older C.P.F. pipes. While the stem was removed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect briar finished. I let it dry for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The grain on the bowl really came alive with the buffing. It is really a beautiful pipe. I did a quick polish on the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the horn. It came out looking very good. This interesting octagonal horn stem billiard that is stamped 112D/707C/75 turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The fact that it is New Old Stock (NOS) is an additional bonus. The grain on the briar and the sheen on the horn stem really popped when the pipe was buffed with blue diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Octagonal Billiard and horn stem is comfortable to hold and is quite distinguished looking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31 grams/1.09 ounces. This is a beautiful pipe that will fit nicely into my older American pipe collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out on the blog as I have several other older horn stemmed pipes that will be coming up soon. When I put the stem back on the tenon. the tenon turned in the shank and I was able to turn it to the right and remove the stem from the shank with the tenon in place. I took photos of the stem with the tenon in place.

A Challenging Old BBK Marte-Rosa Reporter with a Cherrywood Shank and Horn Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

We picked up the next pipe from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. This BBK pipe is a lot like a pipe I have worked on before called a Ropp  La Montagnarde Deposee Reporter (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/08/a-ropp-la-montagnarde-deposee-298-horn-cherrywood-briar/). The bowl is an interesting piece of briar with a mix of grain around the bowl and shank. The end of the briar shank has a brass shank cap/ferrule that is dented and dirty. The shank extension is cherry wood and is pressure fit into the mortise with a cherry wood tenon. The top of the cherry wood extension has another brass ring on the end of the extension and a threaded cherry wood tenon that the stem screws onto. The stem is horn and is rough condition. There is a large area on the left side of the stem and half of the underside that has been decimated by worms. The top side has a lot of chewing damage. The pipe is stamped on the left side with the words Marte–Rosa (it is hard to read as there is a flaw through the first word). Underneath that is an oval with the letter B.B.K. stamped in it. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Racine de Bruyere at an angle. The pipe is a real mess. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appears to have some damage but we won’t know for sure until it is cleaned. Jeff took photos of the pipe at this point to capture the condition of the briar and parts. Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. This pipe was obviously a great smoking pipe and a favourite. I am hoping that the thick lava coat protected things underneath it from damage to the edges and top. Cleaning it would make that clear! The cherry wood insert was damaged as well with scratches in the bark. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the damage and worm holes in the horn stem material on the left side of the button. The horn stem was a mess. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. The brass bands on the shank end and the cherry extension end. At this point in the process it certainly looks its age.   Jeff took photos of the bands and the damaged cherry wood extension. It is a bark covered piece of cherry. The end that fits in the shank of the briar is made of cherry just like the extension. The tenon end that the stem fits on is threaded to receive the threaded stem. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Marte-Rosa and underneath that it is stamped with an oval with the letters B.B. [over] K. On the right side it was stamped The stamping is hard to read on the left side as it has a fill in the middle of the brand name and is faint underneath. The right side is stamped Racine de Bruyere diagonally on the shank which translates as Root Briar or Briar Root.Through the years I have cleaned up several BBK pipes. One of them was a reporter/hunter pipe like this one (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/26/an-old-timer-horn-stem-cherrywood-shank-and-briar-bowl-bbk-bosshardt-luzern/). It had a windcap that is a difference from the current pipe I am working on. I quote from that blog below:

When I worked on the BBK Hunter I researched the brand. The BBK was a Swiss made brand as the shanks of all the pipes I had cleaned up and restored were stamped that way. Pipedia was my primary reference in that blog. Here is the link: http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Bru-Bu. I have included the material from the previous blog below.

“Josef Brunner, oldest son of the farmer Konstantin Brunner from the hamlet Nieder-Huggerwald, belonging to the community of Kleinlützel (Canton Solothurn), was sent in 1871 to a pipe turner in Winkel/Alsace for his apprenticeship. As was usual at that time, Brunner wandered as a journeyman after ending the apprenticeship. Eventually, he went to Saint-Claude, France which was then the world’s stronghold of briar pipe manufacturing. There, Brunner was able to increase and deepen his knowledge in the field of industrial pipe making. When he returned home in 1878, he installed a small turner’s workshop in the house of his father. With the energetic support of his two younger brothers, he began to produce tobacco pipes of his own calculation, taking them to the markets in the surrounding area. In 1893, Bernhard Brunner’s wife inherited the mill in Kleinlützel. At this point, the pipe fabrication was transferred to an annex belonging to the mill. Now it was possible to drive the machines by water power – an important relief to the workers and a considerable innovation compared to the previous pedal-driven system.”

“The business developed so well after the turn of the century even when a lack of workers in Kleinlützel occurred. The problem was solved by founding a subsidiary company in the small nearby town Laufen an der Birs in the Canton of Bern. This plant didn’t exist too long. The disastrous economic crisis in the 1920’s and early 1930’s forced the Brunner family to restrict the fabrication of pipes dramatically. In addition the big French pipe factories in Saint-Claude – although suffering from the same circumstances – flooded the Swiss market with pipes at prices that couldn’t be matched by Swiss producers. By 1931 approximately 150 of 180 Brunner employees had been sacked – the rest remained in Kleinlützel, where the cheap electric energy ensured a meager survival.”

“In 1932, Mr. Buhofer joined the Brunner family. The company was named Brunner-Buhofer-Kompagnie, and, shortly thereafter, Bru-Bu. Buhofer had made his fortune in the United States but, homesick, returned to Switzerland to search for a new challenge. Bru-Bu’s fabrication program was expanded with many handcrafted wooden art articles: carved family coats of arms, bread plates, fruit scarves, and – more and more – souvenir articles for the expanding Swiss tourism industry. Pipes remained in the program continuously, but the offerings changed from traditional Swiss pipes to the more standard European shaped pipes. Bru Bu is widely known as BBK.”

The last paragraph of the Pipedia article linked BBK pipes to Former Nielsen. I have two of Former’s pipes so this stood out to me. “At some point in the late 1970’s, Bru-Bu went out of business. Some of the Brunners, as far as known, continued as timber traders. But in 1986 new life filled the old Bru-Bu pipe workshop, when Dr. Horst Wiethüchter and “Former” Nielsen started to produce the high-grade Bentley pipes there.”

Jeff cleaned up the pipe and reamed the bowl with a Pipnet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned out the shank and the airways in the stem, shank extension and the mortise with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and the build up on the rim top. He carefully scrubbed the cherry wood the same way. He cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the grime and tars. The horn stem was clean but had on the topside and had a huge worm hole on the left side and left underside of the stem. The brass bands on the shank and the cherry wood were dented and worn but still looked very good. The glue that held them in place on the shank and cherry had given way and they were loose. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver to show its condition after Jeff had cleaned it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the rim top. It had a few nicks in it and the inner edge of the rim had damage and darkening. I took photos of the stem to show the damage to surface on both sides.I took the pipe apart to show the various components of the pipe. The cherry wood extension in the centre of the photo has a tapered end that fits into the shank and a threaded end that the stem screws onto. The cherry extension has some damage on the sides. There is also a fill that is shrunken on the left side of the shank and in the middle of the stamping. I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. You can see it is readable but damaged.  I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I brought the bowl back to round. I did not take a photo of the rim top but it is visible in the polishing  photos that follow.I glued the band on the shank but the glue did not hold so I removed it. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad to remove the dust. I spread white all-purpose glue on the shank end and pressed the band on the shank. This time I used more than the first time and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I took photos of the pipe with the band on the shank. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the cherry wood shank extension. I filled in the splits in the bark with clear CA glue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.I used a dental spatula to spread the white all-purpose glue on the end of the extension and pressed the brass band onto the extension. I set it aside to allow the glue to cure. I took a photo of the band on the shank end and on the cherry wood shank extension. The bands look very good. I rubbed the cherry wood down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to protect, clean and enliven the wood. It worked very well. I let it sit for 15 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cloth. I greased the end of the wooden tenon on the cherry wood shank extension with Vaseline. It made the fit in the shank smooth and snug.I put the extension back in the shank and rubbed the bowl down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to protect, clean and enliven the wood. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. I set the bowl aside and let it sit for 15 minutes. After it had been sitting I buffed it off with a soft cloth. I set the bowl and shank extension aside and turned my attention to the stem. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the shank. I wanted to protect the airway when I filled in the damaged area with super glue. I filled in the worm damage with clear super glue. I layered it in with several fills. While it was curing I read Dal Stanton’s blog on mixing in a sprinkling of charcoal powder with the glue to help blend the repair into the horn. I mixed some in and layered more and more glue on top of it. The black of the charcoal did not really blend in well. It migrated together and left a black spot on the top of the stem and a black ring on the underside. In the past I did not use the charcoal and certainly will not do so again. I sprayed the repairs with accelerator to speed the hardening process of the repair. I used a pair of files to flatten out the repairs and to reshape the button on both sides of the stem. Once I had reshaped the button I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I polished it with Before & After Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it  a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil to protect it. I gave the threads on the shank end tenon a coat of Vaseline to make it easier to turn the threaded stem onto the end of the shank.With everything finished I put the BBK Marte–Rosa Racine de Bruyere Reporter Pipe back together and buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth and polished the metal with a jeweler’s cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I love the way the grain just pops on this old pipe. The cherry wood shank extension adds not only length but also a touch of rustic to the pipe, though this particular piece of cherry wood has bark that is quite smooth. The dark striations of the horn stem also go well with the wood. The brass bands at the stem and the shank give this old timer a real look of class. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The repair to the button while not invisible is smooth and solid and should last a long time. It is a beautiful pipe to my eyes. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼  inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 70grams/2.47oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Changing things up – a Ropp Grand Luxe 55 Horn Stem Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one that Jeff picked up from a friend in St. Leonard, Maryland, USA back in April of 2018 so it has been sitting here for a long time. It is a nice looking apple shaped pipe with a horn stem. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Ropp in an oval with Grand Luxe underneath. On the right side of the shank the shape number 55 is stamped next to the bowl/shank junction. It was a great looking piece of briar with a mix of grain around the bowl and shank. There was a small nick on the left middle of the bowl and grime and grit ground into the finish of the bowl. There was a heavy cake in the bowl  and a heavy overflow of lava on the inwardly beveled rim top. The fit of the stem in the shank was smooth and flawless. There was the silver ROPP metal oval logo inlaid on the left side of the taper. The stem was horn and it had some wear on both sides near the button and on the button surface.  Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl. The smooth rim top showed thick coat of lava that filled in the rim top and hopefully protected the edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the well done shape and he amazing grain around the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good.The stamping is clear and readable as noted above. The honey coloured finish even looks good under the grime and the pipe really is a Grand Luxe! I turned first to Pipephil to get a quick review of the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-ropp.html). I always remember Ropp as the maker of the Cherrywood pipes that they are famous for but I forget all of the other beautiful pipes that they made. I quote:

Brand created by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) and continued throughout 3 generations. “GBA Synergie” run by Bernard Amiel (†2008) bought back Ropp in 1988 and owned it until 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

I then turned to Pipedia as I remembered that they had some more information on the brand and some interesting old advertising (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp). I quote the information below and include a few flyers advertising the Grand Luxe line of pipes.

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).

The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.

Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.

Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

With the information I learned in the above articles I had the background on the pipe. My guess is that it is was made either just before or after WWII because of the horn stem instead of rubber. The metal tenon system makes me also think that this is the case as other pipes from the war itself went back to horn tenons. It is a neat old pipe. Now it was time to work on it.

I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes that we pick up along the way. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and the rim top was actually very visible and it looked good. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove the majority of the grime. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver it looked very good. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The rim top looked very good but there some darkening on the rim top surface toward the back of the bowl. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I was really glad to see that the spots on the button surface and the stem ahead of the button was worn but did not have tooth marks or chatter. I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank and the right side near the bowl. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable.  I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain on the bowl and shank. Note the stepped down aluminum tenon.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by polishing the top and sides of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.     With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I looked at the worn areas on the stem and decided to sand them out with 220 grit sandpaper and start polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.   It is fun to come to end of the restoration of the Ropp Grand Luxe 55 Straight Apple. It turned out to be a nice looking straight Apple. The finish came alive with the work I had done on it. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through and the polished horn taper stem. It really was beautiful. This older French made Ropp Straight Apple is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 34grams/1.20ounces. It is a beautiful pipe that I will soon put on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Refurbishing an Intricately Carved Old Meerschaum Eagle Claw Holding an Egg


Blog by Paresh

The next pipe on my work table is an old intricately carved meerschaum Eagle claw holding an egg in its talons. The stummel has an intricately carved shape of an eagle claw complete with perfectly carved scales and claw knuckles. The shank extension is a beautiful colored amber hexagonal block with copper end adornments. The delicate thin horn stem has a threaded bone tenon with orifice slot. There is no stamping whatsoever anywhere on this pipe. The lack of stamping makes it impossible to establish the origins of this pipe. However, the intricate carvings and eye for details on this pipe makes me believe this pipe to be Vienna made. Here is the pipe as it sits on my work table. Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe comes apart in three sections. The first is the meerschaum stummel carved to resemble an eagle’s claw that holds an egg; the second is a block of beautifully colored amber with six chiseled sides. The shank end and the stem end of this hexagonal amber block are adorned with decorated copper end adornments. The airway through the amber shank extension appears to be made of bone which extends out and seats into the mortise. Lastly is the delicate thin bent horn stem with matching threaded tenon end face and the orifice slot end face and appears akin to the triangular head of a grasshopper.There is a light build up of cake in the chamber that has dried and is crumbly due to prolonged storage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely. No apparent cracks or damage to the stummel surface is seen from the outside. The rim top has darkened due to overflow of lava and burn marks. There are a large number of dings and chips to the rim top which are visible through the lava overflow. The right side of the outer edge of the rim is severely damaged (enclosed in red), the result of striking the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle, presenting lop sided appearance to the rim on to the right. The inner edge of the rim on the left side appears thin in 8 o’clock direction (enclosed in blue) and combined with the damaged left outer edge gives the appearance of out of round chamber. The inner rim edge is dented and chipped in few places. Topping the rim surface and creating bevels should address these issues satisfactorily. The stummel is exquisitely carved with intricate details of the scales and knuckles replicated real like!! The four talons are all intact and perfectly shaped. The stummel had developed a nice patina from years of usage. Every nook and cranny of the carvings is filled with dirt and dust from years of uncared for storage giving a very dull and dirty appearance to the stummel. The short shank is a flared round and flumed and there are a few scratches on the surface. The mortise is lined with cork and is intact all around. The mortise has strong odors akin to some sort of soap smell (?), a smell that I have not come across as yet. Cleaning of the stummel to dislodge all the grime and dust from the carving will have to be a deliberate effort. Preserving the old cork lining at the shank end while cleaning the shank and mortise will be a challenge as the cork is susceptible to easy crumbling.   The hexagonal large block of Amber shank extension has developed a crack towards the tenon end (indicated with yellow arrow). This crack is deep but thankfully has not progressed all the way down to the airway. The amber is also chipped (indicated with green arrow) in one place just above the crack. The decorative copper end pieces are decoratively cast and serve the dual purpose of protecting the amber end face while adding a very classic bling to the appearance of the pipe. The copper adornments and the block amber piece are joined by a hollow bone that extends out as tenon. The amber is loose with gap in between the copper adornments and would need to be fixed. The threaded stem end copper adornment is full of old oils and tar accumulations. The tenon end of the copper adornment appears to have had some sort of packing/ separator between the metal and meerschaum shank end that has now worn out and disintegrated.  The horn stem is very delicate and thin that is full bent. The profile of the stem lends the entire pipe a tapered profile that is both delicate and attractive. The peculiarity of this stem is that the tenon end and the slot are identical in shape and size. The bite zone on either surface of the stem has been chewed up and with the horn fibers exposed. The thin delicate buttons on upper and lower stem surface have deep tooth indentations. The tenon end of the stem is heavily scratched. The threaded bone tenon is covered in oils and tars. One of the challenges in this project would be to match the tenon end and orifice slot end profile.The Process
I started this project by reaming the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the carbon from chamber. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of cracks. Using a sharp knife, I gently scraped out the overflow of lava from the rim top. The dents and chips on the rim surface are now clearly visible and so is the extent of damage to the outer edge of the rim. The inner rim edge too shows a few chipped spots along the edge. I followed up the reaming of the chamber with cleaning of the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. This was easier said than done. The pipe cleaners would not pass through the draught hole for the love of money!! A great deal of poking and prodding with a straightened paper clip got me there.Next I cleaned the internals of the stem and shank extension with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I followed up the internal cleaning of the stummel, shank extension and the stem with external cleaning. I cleaned the external surface of all the three parts with Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush/ shank brush. The stummel surface cleaned up nicely. The scratches and dents and dings over the stummel and shank extension surface are now clearly visible. The crack in the block amber in the shank extension is wider and deeper than I had anticipated since the dirt and grime which was embedded in the crack has now been cleaned. The external cleaning was followed by carefully removing old and now moistened wax and gunk that remained embedded in the many nooks and crannies of the intricate carvings over the stummel surface using sharp dental tools. The stummel is now truly cleaned and prepared for the next step in restoration.   I scraped off the old remnants of the packing from the tenon end of the shank extension. This would provide a fresh and clean surface for a new packing between the shank extension and the shank end to protect and provide an airtight seal between the shank end cork lining and the copper adornment at the shank extension end. I intend to use a leather gasket (if I can find one!) to seal the joint between the shank extension and the shank end. It was at this stage that while cleaning the tenon of the shank extension that realization dawned on me that the tenon is not bone as I had appreciated but WOOD!! The wood tenon even has part of the old bark covering the tenon (encircled in green). I decided to let the piece of bark remain on the tenon to preserve the originality of the pipe. Next, I decided to address the crack, chipped surface in the amber and also the gaps between the amber block and copper adornments. I filled the crack, chipped portion and the gaps with clear superglue and set the amber shank extension aside for the glue to cure.  With the amber shank extension set aside to cure, I addressed the bit marks on the horn stem. I start by sanding the bite zone with a piece of 180 grit sand paper. I filled the bite marks on both lower and upper surfaces of the horn stem with clear superglue. Once the glue had set, I layered superglue over the button in the bite zone as well as over the tenon end and set the stem aside for the glue to completely cure. Once the glue at the either ends of the stem has cured, I shall sand the fill to match the button in the bite zone and at the tenon end.   Now that the amber shank extension and horn stem had been set aside for the superglue fill to cure, I turned my attention to address the stummel issues. To address the darkened and out-of-round rim as well as the dings to the rim edges,, I first top the rim surface on a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. Once the darkened areas were addressed, with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sandpaper pinched between my forefinger and thumb, I create a slight bevel over the inner and outer rim edges till all the dings were removed and the out of round issue was reduced to a large extent.   I set the stummel aside and checked the stem fills. The glue had hardened completely. With a flat head needle file, I sand the fills on upper and lower surface and reconstruct the button edges at either ends of the horn stem. With a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper, I sand the entire stem surface, including the button edges, to blend and smooth out the repaired surfaces. I rubbed a generous amount of EVO in to the stem to rehydrate it and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed.    All the while that I was working on the stummel and the stem, the repairs to the amber shank extension were curing nicely. Once the glue had completely hardened, with a flat needle file, I sand off the excess fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding amber surface. I further blend in the repairs by sanding the entire amber block with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. Now moving on to the most tedious and time consuming process of polishing the three parts of the pipe with micromesh pads. I wet sand the entire stem and the block amber shank extension with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped these parts with a moist cloth to note the progress being made. Once I was done polishing with all the pads, I rubbed a small quantity of EVO in to the stem to rehydrate it. I am happy with the progress being made thus far.    I polished the top of the bowl and rim edges with micromesh pads to remove the dark surface that still remained on the surface. I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads. I diligently worked around the intricately carved scales and knuckles of the claw to polish these carvings. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I wanted to minimize the scratching but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it.   I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the meerschaum stummel. I rubbed this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the carvings with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. Though I use the balm on briars, I have seen Steve use it on meerschaums as well and it really helps to bring out the patina that has developed on the meerschaum!! I am very pleased with the way the meer bowl appears at this stage.   Next, I polish the copper adornments at either ends of the block amber shank extension with a multi-purpose polishing liquid. I wiped it clean with a soft cotton cloth and gave a final polish with a jeweler’s cloth. Wow!! These copper adornments are now looking fantabulous and add a very chic and classy look to the appearance of the pipe.The only aspect, and functional aspect at that, to remain unaddressed was the gasket at the tenon end of the shank extension. I had thought of using a soft leather gasket as it is easy to shape and would provide an air tight seal. However, I could not lay my hands on one and neither could fabricate one. I discussed this with Abha, my wife, about the non availability of leather gasket. Always the problem solver, she promptly suggested using cork!! This solution was both practical and most likely original to the pipe. I selected a piece of cork that comes from wine bottle/ whiskey cap. With a sharp paper cutter, I carefully cut a couple of very thin round rings. I cut a hole of the size of tenon in the middle and stuck it to the end of the tenon end face of the copper adornment with superglue. I tried the seating of the tenon in to the mortise. It was snug and a perfect fit.   To complete the restoration of this pipe, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied White Diamond compound to each of the three pipe parts. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust.   I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel, amber shank extension and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Admiring the pipe, it made me wonder, did he really have a spirit which kept him ticking after having suffered the kind of abuse which was evident from all the lacerations, dents and dings and chips. But he has survived his past nonetheless and will continue on his warpath with me…Cheers!! P.S. I wish to thank all the esteemed readers for being a part of my journey as I walked through this project.

Praying for you and your loved ones in these troubled pandemic spread. Stay Home and Stay Safe!!

Refurbishing an 1894 (?) Hallmarked “S & G” Square Shank Bent Billiard With a Horn Stem


Blog by Paresh

While surfing eBay for estate pipe lot, I came across a job lot that contained four estate pipes. The seller had not included any description for the item other than a simple statement that read “The lot is being sold as is. Pictures are part of description” or words to that effect. The worst part was that there were only two pictures that were posted by the seller!! Here are the pictures that were posted by the seller… I could make out one Orlik with dental stem, a Hardcastle “Drawel” Bulldog, one Comoy’s Lovat, and the last one was unidentifiable but appeared to be fitted with a horn stem. The pipes appeared to be in a decent condition and included some nice brand names. Soon the pipes reached Abha at my home town. When she opened the parcel, the stench that emanated from the box was just unbearable. The origin of the stench was the horn stem on the pipe that was in the lot. It is this pipe that Abha had worked on first (indicated with a red arrow) and thus finds itself on my work table now.The pipe is a classic Bent Billiard with a square shank and a saddle horn stem with a threaded tenon. It is a fairly large sized pipe with a nice hand feel and a surprisingly light weight that makes it comfortable for clenching. It has a hallmarked silver band at the shank end. The silver ferrule at the shank end is stamped as “S & G” in what appears to be a rectangle (?) that has been buffed out along with the other letters following “G” (faint outlining can be made out though!) over three sterling silver hallmarks. From right to left the first cartouche is with a LION PASSANT certifying silver quality followed by a cartouche with date code letter “U” and the last cartouche contains the “Anchor” of the Birmingham Assay Office. The shank and horn stem are devoid of any stampings.I had not come across this brand earlier and the only clue was in the stampings seen in the hallmarked silver band. I visited www.silvercollection.it and upon searching through the index, I came across a stamp that was the closest of all those that were described. The maker’s mark was described as S&G Ltd into an oval Salmon (Barnett) & Gluckstein of 41, Clerkenwell Road, London.

Here is the link to the relevant page followed by a screenshot of the same page with the nearly matching maker’s mark as seen on the pipe and indicated by the blue arrow.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXS.htmlThe next step was to date this pipe with the help of the hallmarks as seen on the silver band at the shank end. The Anchor was easy to identify as Birmingham Assay office. The letter “U” closely matched up with the letter that identified it as being assayed by the Birmingham office in 1894!! Given below is the link that will take the readers to the relevant section of dating.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarksBIR.html

While researching my previous project, a 1907 “AGE” pipe, Who Made That Pipe by Wilczak and Colwell had indicated towards Salmon & Gluckstein brand as English makers of this pipe.  Further, I remembered that Salmon & Gluckstein brand was brought over by Imperial Tobacco Co. in 1902 and was thereafter continued under the brand name “Bewlay”. I visited pipedia.org to know more about Salmon & Gluckstein. Though there is not much information that is available on the brand; here is the link for those readers interested.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_%26_Gluckstein

To summarize, the pipe that is on my work table is by Salmon & Gluckstein, as inferred from the Anchor stamp of Birmingham Assay office and probably dates to 1894. The reason for the doubt is because the date letter is not a perfect match, but the closest that I could identify.

I would be really happy if any of our esteemed readers could either support or refute my appreciated dating of this pipe with necessary evidence.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic Bent Billiard shape with a diamond shank and a fairly large sized bowl. The stummel boasts of some beautiful and cross grains all over the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava and grime. There is not a single fill in the briar which speaks of high quality selection of the briar. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber. The horn stem, with a few bite marks, has a terrible stench emanating from it. The set of pictures below shows the condition of the pipe when it had reached us. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The chamber has an even layer of thick cake. The smooth rim top surface shows a number of dents/ dings and is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime from previous usage. Both the inner and the outer rim have suffered a few blows on a hard surface resulting in a few minor chipped edge surfaces and with the inner edge being out of round. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber exudes a very strong odor of old tobacco. The draught hole is dead center at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should great smoke and the thick cake in the chamber lends credence to this observation. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. To address the damage to the inner and outer rim edges, I shall create a slight bevel to both the rim edges. Topping the rim surface should address the dents and dings over the rim top surface. The reaming and subsequent cleaning of the chamber and mortise should reduce the ghost smells from the chamber.The smooth stummel surface is covered in lava overflow which in turn has attracted a lot of dust and dirt. The briar has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the tightly packed cross grains that adorns most of the stummel surface and Bird’s eye grain at the foot and bottom of the shank. There are a few dents and chipped areas over the stummel surface (encircled in yellow), probably due to likely falls and or rough, uncared for handling of the pipe. However, there is not a single fill in the entire stummel, signifying very high quality of briar used in carving this pipe. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on dull dark hues. Thorough cleaning of the stummel surface and rinsing it under warm water should highlight the grain patterns. This cleaning will also further reveal any other damage to the surface. In all probability, I shall let these minor dents and dings to the stummel surface remain and avoid the process of filling these up with briar dust and superglue mix while the large one on the right side of the stummel will need a fill. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these scratches to some extent. The mortise shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and due to which the air flow is not full and smooth. The horn stem is in decent condition with no chipped surfaces and sans any worm holes which is common on such old horn stems. The stem surface is covered in dirt/ dust and looks dull and lifeless. The bite zone has deep tooth indentations on either surface. The button edges on both surfaces have minor bite marks. The threaded bone tenon is smeared in oils and tars and grime and so is the orifice slot. The entire stem had a horrendous stench and Abha, my wife, had half a mind to just throw the entire pipe away in some far away trash can. However, she did not and took upon herself the challenge to clean it up. Once the stem surface is cleaned and polished, the dark and light hues of the striations in the horn should stand out giving a new dimension to the appearance of the stem.   The sterling silver ferrule is heavily oxidized and developed a patina commensurate with the vintage. The stamping on the ferrule for most parts is crisp and clear. The stamping in the cartouche that houses the Maker’s mark is buffed out with only the faint outline of the letters still visible. I would need to be very diligent while polishing the silver ferrule, least I end up buffing away rest of the stampings on the ferrule. Once the ferrule has been cleaned up, the shining piece of silver will add an elegant touch to the pipe.The Process
Abha started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the external surface of the horn stem with warm water and dish washing soap. Next she cleaned the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. She further cleaned out the stem internals with a shank brush and dish washing liquid soap. She had to repeat the above process a number of times, including drying it out in open air. The stem is now clean with the stench being a distant memory and what a relief that was!! She was careful to rehydrate the stem with EVO every time she cleaned the stem and left it out to dry in open air. While the stem was being cleaned by Abha, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 and 3 Castleford reamer heads. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits and also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. Few very minor webbing of heat lines can be seen along the heel and walls of the chamber. I am not sure if these are heat lines or remnants of old cake over the wall surface. The outer and inner rim edge is chipped in a few places along the rim top and will be addressed by topping the rim top. The rim top surface itself is peppered with dents/ dings and scratches which too will be addressed during the sanding. The inner rim edge is charred and would need to be addressed. The ghost smells are still strong and may further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. While I was working on the stummel, the sterling silver band at the shank end came off easily since the glue that had held it in place had dried out completely. Closer examination of the shank end revealed a pristine shank end with no signs of cracks or chipped surface.This was followed by cleaning the mortise with q-tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was a bear to clean and the heap of pipe cleaners and q-tips that were used is an indication of the gunk and tars that were removed. The old smells of the tobacco are still strong and would need more invasive methods to get rid of these odors.  With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. This cleaning has also exposed the many dings and scratches over the surface that were hitherto fore were hidden under the dirt and grime. These will have to be addressed, either by steaming or sanding.  I shall subject the chamber to cotton and alcohol treatment to eliminate the ghost smells completely. I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.To begin repairs to the stem, I cleaned the areas in the bite zone with cotton swab and alcohol. Next, I filled the tooth indentations in the lower surface with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure. After the glue had partially hardened on the lower surface, likewise, I filled the upper surface tooth marks and set the stem aside for the superglue to harden completely. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to reconstruct the bite zone and the buttons on either surfaces and subsequently match it with the surface of the stem.The stummel had dried out and I decided to have a closer look at all the dents and dings and scratches on the stummel surface. I marked them out with a red felt pen. This step would help me in getting a clearer picture of the extent of damaged areas and identifying the major surface damage which would need to be addressed. I would need to sand the stummel surface to address all the minor scratches and dings while the larger ones will be filled with a mix of superglue and briar dust.   Next I closely examined the inner rim edge. It is charred on the left side in the 7 o’clock direction (encircled in red). Though not very deep, it is significant enough to render the rim out of round. I shall firstly minimize the charred surface by topping the rim surface and thereafter crate a slight bevel to the inner rim edge. To address the outer rim dents and ensure the symmetry of rim top, I shall create a similar bevel to the outer rim edge. With the above observations completed,  I turned my attention to address the damage to the stummel. I decided to address the rim top surface dents/ dings and the out of round inner edge first. I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to lose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The inner and outer edges are still uneven, though much better than before topping. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a slight bevel on the inner and outer edges of the rim top surface. This helps to mask and address the minor dents and dings that had remained on the rim edges after topping. I am careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevels. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the dents and dings to the stummel surface. Though 95% of the scratches and dings have been eliminated, there still remains few dings that will be  required to be filled with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. Using the layering method, I filled these dings and the chipped stummel surface with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure.  Once the fills had cured, with a flat head needle file, I sand the fills till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I again sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the dents and dings to the stummel surface and also to further match the fill with the rest of the stummel surface. A few minor dents and dings still remained and I accept these dings as part of this pipe’s journey to date. I cleaned the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end with “Pitambari”, a powder that is available all across India that is used to clean and shine brass and silverware. Even Abha uses it to polish her silver and gold jewelry and cutlery. This compound is a very fine powder and is least abrasive with fantastic results. The results were appreciated by Steve during his visit to India. The band is now a nice shining piece of sterling silver and will provide a nice contrast between the shining horn stem and the dark brown stummel.  Prior to proceeding with micromesh polishing cycle, I reattached the sterling silver band to the shank end using superglue.  I followed it by wet sanding the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable.      Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and far better seen in person. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. To bring a deep shine to the horn stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the horn. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the buttons have a nice delicate shape to them. The finished stem is shown below.      I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.     I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! Big thank you to all the readers who have joined me on this path by reading this write up as I restored and completed this project.

Restoring a Cased Camelia 515 Bent Billiard with Two Stems – Horn and Amber


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this clam shell cased pipe from an online auction out of Virginia and I brought it back to Vancouver to work on. It is an interesting pipe that came in a nice case with a pair of stems included. One of the stems is golden amber with some interesting swirls and patterns and the other one is a horn stem. Both stems appear to be in excellent condition with minimal tooth chatter. The bowl itself had a cake and some darkening and lava overflow on the rim top. The finish was in decent condition though there was one medium sized fill on the left side mid bowl. Otherwise it is a nice piece of briar with a mixture of grains around the bowl and shank. The stamping on the pipe reads Camelia on the left side of the shank and 515 on the right side of the shank. The brand is not one that I had heard of before but shape number reminded me of some of the GBD numbers. Regardless who made it, it is hard to pass up older pipes with either horn or amber stems and impossible to pass up one that came with both. Jeff took the following photos of the pipe in its case from closed to opened showing the pipe and stems. Jeff took a photo of the pipe with each of the stems in place in the shank. The top one is a very nice amber stem and the lower one is the pipe with a nice horn stem.He took the pipe and stems out of the case to show the look of the parts of this old timer. The pipe has some good grain on the sides.Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. The photo shows the tarry buildup on the top and the damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim. You can see the cut like marks on the front of the bowl. The thick cake is also visible on the inside of the bowl. The second and third photo shows the grain around the bowl sides. Even under the grime you can see the interesting grain on the bowl sides. There is also a fill very visible on the left side of the bowl toward the rear top. The next photo is a close up of the fill on the left side. It is a bit shrunken but still and ugly pink putty.Jeff also took photos of the stamping on the pipe. On the left side it was stamped with Camelia in an oval and on the right side it was stamped with the number 515. I assume the number is the shape number for a bent billiard. The third photo shows the stamping on the silver band. It has the letters SLV in a rectangle. Under that are three hallmarks – each one has a letter in in a cartouche. The first letter appears to be a J, the second letter looks like a Y and the third looks like an M. All three letters are in a square shaped cartouche with the corners cut off. Jeff also took photos of the tenon on each of the stems.  Both are bone push tenons rather than the older style threaded bone tenons. The tenon on the amber stem has more of a taper to the end before the nipple. The tenon on the horn stem is more even from the end of the stem to the end of the nipple.Jeff took photos of the two stems together. There seems to be a variation in length between the two stems. The horn stem has more of a bent and makes it appear to be slightly shorter than the amber one. In reality they are the same length. Jeff also took photos of both sides of each stem to show their condition. I searched online using Google. Several of the links I found took me to Smokingpipes.com where they had a Camelia pipe listed in their estate area. They listed the brand in the French Made Pipe section. Here is the link to the billiard that they were selling (it has since sold but the connection is interesting to me here it is https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=307863). I am not sure how they arrived at the brand being French as there are no clues on the pipe itself other than what they identify as a classic French billiard shape.

I also found a link to a blog on rebornpipes that Robert M. Boughton had done on a Camelia pipe that he restored also commenting that it was French made (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/camelia-pipes/). I had forgotten about this blog.  In it Robert pointed the way to the GBD connection for me in this quote: “this lovely example of the elegant Camelia straight smooth bulldog #699, originating in France of excellent lineage, being, according to Pipedia, an obsolete line of pipes once made by GBD.”

I did some digging on the Pipephil website (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html) and found a listing there that also associated the brand with a French pipe manufacturer. I have included a screen capture from the site on the brand showing the French connection. However I am not able to link the brand to a larger pipe manufacturer in France. This always makes me want to dig a bit deeper so the search continues.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/French_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_A_-_D) under the Pipe Brands and Makers section and clicked on French Made pipemakers in the A-D section and sure enough I found a note there that read as follows – Obsolete brand by GBD in Paris. With that I clicked on the link and was taken to a page where there was a very brief write up on the brand itself (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Camelia). Here is what it said:

Camelia is thought to be a GBD second, and was one of many brands owned by the Oppenheimer Pipe Group, as evidenced in the following catalog page from a Circa 1950s Oppenheimer Pipes Catalog.

The page makes the GBD connection very clear and says the pipe is LONDON Made. It also states that the pipes would not be released for sale until 1952. I am getting closer to what I am looking for – a post 1954 London Made pipe with a GBD connection.Now that the connection to GBD was established I decided to go back and read the connection between GBD and Oppenheimer. The pipe catalogue page for the 1950s Oppenheimer catalogue was good but I am not clear about the age of the pipe that I have in hand. So I went to the Pipedia section on GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I quote in part the section spelling out the details on Marechal and Ruchon’s sale of GBD to Oppenheimer.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more “British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London. Charles Oppenheimer had founded this successful trade business in 1860 as an import-/export house. His brothers David and Adolphe and brother-in-law Louis Adler soon joined him. Adolphe took over when Charles went to Germany as British ambassador. Briar pipes were among the first products traded. The business relation to GBD in Paris began as early as 1870. Being the most important customer in the English speaking world, Oppenheimer & Co. were designated as sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA and Canada in 1897. Especially Adolphe Oppenheimer had a burning interest in the pipe business, and Louis’ son James Adler shared that. He should play the most important role in the amicable merger of GBD. A. Marechal, Ruchon and Cie. in Paris was now Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. (see Marechal Ruchon & Cie. page) – a British firm with four directors: Adolphe Oppenheimer and James Adler had their seat in the head office in London while Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon went on leading the GBD factory in the Rue des Balkan in Paris, which was considerably extended and modernised. Ruchon acted as CEO.

Simultaneously Oppenheimer started to build a pipe factory in London. It was opened in 1903, but the forecasts had been over-optimistic for it’s capacity could not be utilized to the full until World War I. Things changed as the French pipe factories lacked more and more workers who were called to the front. In 1916 the ledgers registered that 18,000 of 27,000 dozens bowls manufactured in Saint-Claude were determined via GBD Paris for GBD London. Wherewith London had become the more important location.

After the war, GBD continued production both in London and in Paris. London GBDs mainly went into the national trade and as well into the British Empire and the USA. Paris on the other hand served the French and the other European markets. The location of the factories influenced the GBD history furthermore in the future although later on the products of both countries occasionally were marketed side to side to match special market requests.

I decided to follow the trail on the Marechal Ruchon and Cie  name and see if I could read a bit more about the sale to Oppenheimer (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Marechal_Ruchon_%26_Cie). I quote  piece of that article to cross reference the information on GBD.

Marechal Ruchon & Cie. was a company owned by Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon (“& Cie” is the French equivalent of “& Co”) which owned the GBD brand from the end of the 19th century until 1902 when they sold Marechal, Ruchon & Cie. to Oppenheimer Pipe, which in turn changed the name of the company to Marechal, Ruchon & Co., Ltd.. Upon the creation of Cadogan, however, the brand was no more, remembered only in the name of the GBD Marcee pipes made until just after the Second World War.

Now I knew the connection to Oppenheimer but I still wanted to understand the birth and life of the Camelia Brand. I went back to the Pipedia article on GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read further to see if there was any mention of the Camelia line of pipes. Low and behold there was a reference to the brand just below the 1950s Oppenheimer Catalogue pages and just above the photos of GBD pipes. I quote the pertinent part of the article below and have highlighted the section on the brand.

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

The French GBDs more or less followed the same developments, although Xtra and Speciale very longly used there. In the late 1920s a GBD with a metal filter system was introduced under the name Extra Dry. Also from Paris came another important new feature: the introduction of the inserted metal plate with the GBD initials on the stems. That insert added a further “touch of class” to the pipes and in London it was attached immediately.

The solid demand for GBD pipes also encouraged the management to introduce a number of sub brands designed to win new buyers. We can list such sub brands as follows:

  1. The City de Luxe (1921) had an inserted star on the stem as trademark and were marketed in England and in France. These pipes were the bestseller of the 5½ Shilling class in the 1930s in Great Britain.
  2. Reserved for the French market remained the even more favorable GBD brand Marcee, a derivative of Marechal Ruchon & Co. Ltd. that was offered until the 2nd World War and for another one or two years afterwards.
  3. The Camelia – made in London as a 2½ Shilling line – was only around for a few years.
  4. Important to mention is also the Riseagle—completely produced in Paris before the wartime for England’s smokers who wanted “a cheap but dependable British made pipe”… one of the most successful 1 Shilling pipes until 1939! The introduction of the luxury impact on the excise tax for pipes after the war put an end to this cheap brand.

Other brands of this time were marketed with even larger independence. The Dr. Plumb’s had been developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925 when GBD France needed “a cheap line of pipes” especially for the Canadian market. In fact, the new brand was nicknamed for Mr. Rubinovich’s secretary Leslie W. Plumb, whose most important business was “to doctor figure” the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s made their way not only in Canada. – The Peter Piper, as well as the Dr. Plumb’s produced in Saint-Claude, is another great example that stampings like “London made” or “London England” are not always totally trustworthy also on older pipes! Not only today numberless brands are made in Saint Claude and stamped with whatever the buyer wants to be stamped.

Here is a link to the full GBD Oppenheimer catalogue from the 1950’s if you would like to check it out further (https://pipedia.org/images/2/2f/1950s%3FGBDcatalog.pdf).

Now I could honestly say that while many thought this was a French brand it is actually only French by association with GBD in its early days. However, the quote above unequivocally asserts that it is a London Made Pipe that was made as a 2 ½ Shilling Line of pipes for a short time. The catalogue from the 1950s Oppenheimer Group pushes the date to post WWII and potentially the early 1950s (there is a note on the catalogue page saying that the pipe was not available for Home Trade until 1952) for a very short time and then it was gone. The only thing that leaves me with a bit of a question is the twin stems – a horn one and an amber one. Were those made for pipes in the 1950s? 

Last night I took the pipe out of the box of pipes for restoration. I took a photo of the case it was in to show the condition it was in. The leather was in very good shape for a pipe of this age. The outside of the case is stamped in gold PWS in an oval followed by Echt Bruyere & Bernstain. That translates as follows. Echt = Genuine, Bruyere = Briar and Bernstain = Amber. The description fits the pipe that is in the case. It states that the pipe in the case is Genuine Briar and Amber. I am not sure of what the PWS means on the case or how it connects to GBD.On opening the case I was once more stunned by the beauty of the pipe. It really was a beautiful billiard. The only visible flaw was the fill on the left side of the bowl. The fill had shrunken and was rough to touch. You can see it in the photo below. Other than the damage to the rim top it is a stunning pipe. Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe and stems. He cleaned the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He scrubbed it and rinsed it off with warm water. He scrubbed out the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I took photos of the pipe bowl with each of the stems in place. The first set of photos show the bowl with the amber stem. The fill is very visible in the left side of the bowl and the damage to the rim top is also visible in the photos. The second set of photos show the bowl with the horn stem in place. The tenon on the horn stem had some shrinkage, I believe due to age and not being used. It was loose in the shank and would need to be taken care of in the restoration. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the cuts in the rim top on the front outer edge of the bowl. The scratches and cuts were deep. I also took close up photos of the stem surfaces to show their condition.I set the stems aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I used a dental pick to remove the large fill on the left side of the bowl. I cleaned it up with alcohol on a cotton swab to remove the dust and debris from the crevice. I used clear super glue and briar dust to fill in the cleaned out hole in the bowl side and clear super glue to fill in the cuts and nicks on the rim top. When repairs had cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded and resanded until the surface was smooth. I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad.Once the surface was smooth I used a cherry stain pen to touch up the repaired areas on the rim top and the left side of the bowl. The colour of the pen was a good match to the rest of the bowl. The repaired areas on the front of the bowl and the repaired fill look very good with the stain coat. To further blend the stain into the rest of the bowl colour I decided to continue experimenting with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. I could see remnants of gold leaf in the Camelia logo as well in the catalogue illustration above. I used some Antique Gold Rub’n Buff to give the stamping a new coat of gold leaf. The finished bowl looked really good at this point in the process.I touched up the repaired fill on the left side of the bowl with a black Sharpie Pen to assure that it blended into the finish. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I hand buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar and the silver. I took photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the restoration process. I really like the look of the bowl and after this I set it aside to work on the pair of stems. The bowl had the lion’s share of the restoration work needed on this pipe. So with that virtually completed other than the final polishing I set it aside and turned my attention to the stems. I painted the bone push tenon with clear fingernail polish to build it up and tighten the fit in the shank.I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with some Obsidian Oil after each pad. I repeated that with the amber stem as well. I polished it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine and rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. With the parts finished it was time to polish up this interesting piece of GBD post WWII pipe history. It is a great clam shell cased pipe with both a beautiful striated horn stem and a swirled genuine amber stem. It was time to finish this pipe. I put the horn stem and bowl back together first and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the horn stem until there was a rich shine. The horn stem looks really good with the rich red/browns of the bowl. The Gold Leaf in the logo stamp goes well with the older look of the horn stemmed pipe. The finish really highlights some amazing grain and hides the fill on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The horn stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Bent Billiard. It fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe with the horn stem are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The dimensions of the same pipe with the amber stem are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is an interesting piece of GBD history having been made only for a short time from 1952 onward. It is mentioned in the Oppenheimer 1950 Catalogue and it clearly states that it did not come out for sale until 1952. The horn and amber stems could well be a re-introduction of older stem materials when vulcanite was scarce in post war Europe. The push style bone tenon rather than a threaded older style bone tenon also makes this very feasible. However you view it I have to say that is a beautiful pipe with options for each smoke that will give a very unique experience each in their own right. Thanks for taking time to work through the whole blog. It was a  pleasure to work on. Sorry for the length!

Cleaning up a NOS Unsmoked C.P.F. French Briar Rhodesian with a horn stem


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the great packages I brought back from my trip to Idaho was a small bag of C.P.F. pipes smoked and unsmoked. Some have horn stems; some have gutta percha bases and stems. I went through the bag and chose the next pipe I wanted to work on. It was an unsmoked C.P.F. French Briar Straight Rhodesian with a decorative bead between the twin rings separating the bowl from the cap. The finish had a coat of varnish or possibly shellac over it so it had a spotty shiny look to it. The top of the shank is stamped with gold leaf and reads C.P.F. in the oval logo with French arched over the top of the logo and Briar arched underneath. The bowl was unsmoked but still had a lot of dust and debris inside. It had a brass/silver band that had the typical C.P.F. faux hallmarks as well as the oval logo. The glue that held it in place had long since dried out and the band was loose. The horn stem had a few nicks in the top side but was undamaged. The threaded bone tenon was flawless and clean. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the unsmoked briar. It was clean but dusty and grimy. The rim top showed some wear in the shellac coat that was on the rest of the bowl. The photos of the horn stem show its general condition. It was dull but unused so it should clean up well.The next photo shows the stamping on the shank and the band. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The hallmarks are the now familiar faux hallmarks that I have found on all banded C.P.F. pipes.I went back and read a previous blog that I had written on the brand to reacquaint myself. The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can definitely date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank. The horn stem, bone tenon and decorative bead on the bowl also push for that earlier date. At any rate it is an old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is one of those times that I wish an old pipe could speak and share the story of its journey. The most I can say is that it came from New York to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver Canada as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… What a well-traveled pipe and one that I will never really know the story about the nature of the journey. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the bowl. I took the stem off the bowl and the band on the shank came off very easily. I turned it to align it and then decided to take it off to clean up the shank end before I reglued it. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to break down the remaining shellac coat and remove the dried glue remnants left on the briar from the loose band.I am still experimenting with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the bowl and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. Once the shank and bowl were cleaned it was time to reglue the band. I coated the end of the shank with Weldbond white glue. I spread it on the shank with a tooth pick. I spread it around and make it even. I pressed the band into place on the shank and wiped away the excess glue that squeezed out from under the band. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to make sure it was clean. I set it aside to let the glue cure.One of the nice features of working on a NOS pipe is that the internals are very clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and shank just to remove dust. I did the same in the mortise with a cotton swab and the internals were finished. I directed my attention to polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar – using a pipe cleaner to work it into the twin rings and the bead work. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and started working on the stem. There was a small hole at the top of the stem on the face behind the bone tenon. I filled in the hole with clear super glue and set it aside. I sanded the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches in the surface of the horn. I polished out the scratches with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the C.P.F. Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little straight shank, horn stem Rhodesian is a real beauty. There may be one small fill on the bowl cap just above the decorative bead on the right side of the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished striated horn 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 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old Rhodesian from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.