Tag Archives: polishing a Lucite stem

This Castello Sea Rock Briar KKKK 65 Ticks All of My Boxes


Blog by Steve Laug

It is another hot day in Vancouver with just some afternoon meetings. After a long week I decided to take bit of time this morning for myself. It is hot enough that I went to the cool of the basement to work on pipes. The next pipe on the table is another one that came to us from the auction in Gonzales, Louisiana, USA. The first one, a Castello Sea Rock Briar KKK16 Billiard, I cleaned up and wrote a blog about yesterday (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/06/24/i-really-love-these-castello-sea-rock-briar-pipes-a-sea-rock-briar-kkk16/). This next one is a Castello Sea Rock Briar and it is what Castello calls a Bent Billiard shape though to me it is like a bent egg. It is a pipe that I like so well that I am cleaning it up for myself. It is stamped on the smooth shank bottom and reads Castello [over] Sea Rock Briar followed by KKKK65. That is followed by Made in Cantu [over] Italy followed by an oval containing the name Carlo Scotti next to the stem shank union. The Castello “diamond” inset is on the left side of the saddle stem letting me know this was a pipe made for US import. On the underside of the stem it is stamped Hand Made [over] Castello with no number. The bowl had a heavy cake and there was thick lava overflow on back top side and inner edge. It was hard to know if there was burn damage on the smooth rim top because of the lava but after cleaning it we would know for sure. The rusticated finish was pretty dirty with dust and grime when we got it but still showed promise. The acrylic stem had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The edges of the button were also marked. Jeff took the following photos of the pipe before he worked his magic on them. The pipe must have been a terrific smoker because the bowl was so heavily caked with the thick lava flowing over the rim top. In its condition it was going to take some work to clean out that bowl and be able to see what the rim looked like underneath the layer of lava. The acrylic/Lucite stem was in good condition other than the deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The rest of the bowl looked dirty but the photos give an idea of what Jeff saw before his cleanup revealed the condition of the pipe. The next photos try to capture the stamping on the flat panel on the underside of the shank. It read as I have noted above. The stem also bears a Hand Made Castello stamp on the underside. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual regime that many who read this probably have memorized. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the rusticated Sea Rock finish. The smooth rim top looked very good under the thick lava coat. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub cleanser to remove the grime and grit. The stem was in great shape other than the tooth marks on both sides. It really is a beautiful looking rusticated pipe. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived here. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. It is a startling difference. The rim top looks very good. The stem also looks very good.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the stem. It is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportions of the bowl/shank and the stem length. I cannot seem to retain the details on Castello pipes in my head for long for some reason. The stamping on them – Castello and the Carlo Scotti stamp were things that I wanted to makes sure I understand before I began to work on the pipe. I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a quick summary (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html). I quote:

Castello PIPA CASTELLO di Carlo Scotti & C. was founded in 1947 by Carlo Scotti (†1988). Franco Coppo (AKA “Kino”) who married Carlo Scotti’s daughter Savina, manages (2012) the corporate since 1985.

The site also gave a good summary of the grading and sizes of the pipes. I quote that in full.

Sizes (ascending):

1K to 4K, G (Giant) and GG (Extra large)

Rusticated grading: SEA ROCK, OLD SEA ROCK, NATURAL VIRGIN,

Sandblasted grading: ANTIQUARI, OLD ANTIQUARI

Smooth grading (ascending): TRADEMARK, CASTELLO, COLLECTION

Other stampings: Great Line (Non-standard or freestyle) Fiammata (Straight grain)

Production (2012): ~4000 pipes / year

I also found a note on the page that the Rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. It is occasionally used now.

I turned then to Pipedia for more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Castello). The majority of the information was what was already quoted above in abbreviated form. However there was a link to an article by Bob Hamlin that gave some interesting bits of information that I found helpful (http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html). I quote in part from that article.

SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]:  This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA.  Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”.

All carved Castello pipes are graded by the number of K’s that are stamped on each piece and are K-graded by SIZE.  1K is the smallest and fairly rare, 2K is small to medium, with 3K or 4K being the most common and ranges from medium to medium large. Large pieces are stamped “G” for giant and extra large pieces are stamped “GG” for double giant.  In addition to the number of K’s on a carved Sea Rock piece the shape number is almost always added.  As a rule a Sea Rock Castello is stained Black, although recently there have been quite a few coming in stained deep brown and still stamped “Sea Rock”.  American Logo’d Sea Rocks are all priced the same to the consumer, although most are 2 or 3 K’ed models.  G/GG models are charged at a higher price on American pieces and are basically the same as their European counterparts.

The Castello Sea Rock briar I was working on had the 4Ks of a Medium Large sized pipe. It definitely was made for the American Market with the Rhinestone in the stem. It had the black/dark brown finish. The 4K stamp told me that it came out in the late 1960s onward and was a mid-large sized pipe from that time period. The number 65 makes it a Bent Billiard.

I decided to work on the stem first and try to remove and repair the tooth marks on both sides of the acrylic stem. Since acrylic does not have “memory” like vulcanite I did not try painting the stem surface. I sanded down the chatter in preparation for repairing the tooth marks. I filled in the tooth marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I used a small file to flatten them out and recut the sharp edge of the button. To blend in the repairs I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with 1500-12000 grit pads. I dry sanded it with the pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad afterwards and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I polished the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads -1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad. The rim top began to really shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated Sea Rock finish on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and the shoe brush. I polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I put the bowl and stem back together on this beautiful Castello Sea Rock Briar KKKK 65 Bent Billiard. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the Lucite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of the blacks and dark browns of the briar with the polished black acrylic/Lucite is quite stunning. The dark, coral like rustication around the bowl and shank is quite remarkable and gives the pipe an incredible tactile presence that only improves as it heated from a smoke. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe weighs 67grams/2.36oz. This is a beauty that will be staying with me as it ticks off all the boxes of a Castello that I have been watching out for. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. I always enjoy working on Castello pipes. Cheers.

Chasing the Grain – a Beautiful Ben Wade Martinique Freehand by Preben Holm


Blog by Steve Laug

This particular smooth finished Freehand pipe was purchased from an auction in 2020 in Cedar Springs, Michigan, USA. It really is a nice looking pipe that is shaped chasing the grain around the bowl and shank. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Ben Wade [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] Denmark. It is a smooth finished pipe with a plateau finish on the shank end. The pipe had a moderate cake in the bowl and there was a lava overflow on the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. There was grime ground into the finish and dust and debris in the plateau valleys on the shank end. The original stem had the original Ben Wade Crown logo faintly stamped on the top of the blade of the fancy turned acrylic fancy saddle. It had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The pipe was dirty but still a beauty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his work on it. Jeff took photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition of the pipe when we received it. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. It is hard to know what it looks like underneath the build up of lava but there may be a bit of rim damage. We will know after cleaning. The turned acrylic stem and has chatter and a few deep tooth marks on both sides near the button. The airway in the stem is stained with tobacco stains and there is a build up of debris there as well. He took photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel to give an idea of the shape and the condition of the briar around the bowl. It really is a nicely shaped pipe that has the classic look of a Freehand carved by Preben Holm. The next photos Jeff took show the stamping on the underside of the  shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.In a previous blog I had researched the brand quite a bit. I have included it below for information on this pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/12/04/restoring-a-gorgeous-ben-wade-martinique-freehand-sitter/). I quote:

I remembered that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement. I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe following his normal cleaning process. In short form he reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the lava on the rim top and the debris in the plateau shank end and was able to remove it. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  It really looked good. I took close up photos of the stem and the rim top to show both how clean they were and what needed to be addresses with both. The rim top and bowl look good. There was some darkening and damage on the back and right inner edge of the rim that would need attention. The stem looked better and the faint Ben Wade Crown logo was visible on the topside. The tooth marks and chatter were still present. I would need to remove those to bring the stem back.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see from the photo that it is readable. It is clearer on the top half of the stamp than the lower but it is still readable. I removed the stem from the bowl and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the beauty of the pipe.I began my work on the damage on the inner edge of the bowl at the back. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape and bevel the damaged area to match the rest of the bevel around the inner edge. I used a Maple Stain Pen to touch up the inner edge and blend it to the rim top.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads -1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The briar began to take on a deep shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush to get into the crevices of the plateau. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it 1500-12000 pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the dust and polishing debris. I polished it with Before After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I touched up the stamp on the top of the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it into the stamp with a tooth pick and buffed it off with a cloth. It looked much better.I am really happy with the way that this Preben Holm made Ben Wade Martinique Danish Made Freehand turned out. It really is a beautiful looking pipe with a great shape and smooth finished bowl and rim and the remnant of plateau on the shank end. The fancy original acrylic saddle stem is really nice. The smokey Topaz colour of the stem works well with the briar. The briar really came alive with the buffing. The rich brown stains of the finish gave the pipe a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Ben Wade Martinique really is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches long x 2 ¼ inches wide, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 52 grams/1.83 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on Danish Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!

Refreshing a Cadogan Era Comoy’s Warwick Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

I am enjoying day with some time free to work on a few pipes. The next pipe on the table was purchased on 03/17/21 from a fellow in Brazil, Indiana, USA. It is a Brandy shaped Comoy’s  pipe that that has some nice grain on the bowl sides. On the topside of the shank it was stamped Comoy’s [over] Warwick. On the underside it is stamped Made in London in a circle [over] England [over] shape number 16. There is also an M stamped on the end of the shank at the junction of the stem and shank. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the briar of the bowl and shank sides. The bowl was moderately caked and there was some darkening and light lava on the top and edges of the rim. The shank was oval and the Lucite saddle stem followed that shape. There was a Comoy’s C on the left side of the saddle that was one piece rather than the older three piece C. The stem was dirty and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of and on the surface of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is an interesting grain patterns under the grime and thick debris.     Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It clearly reads as noted above. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick summary of the background of this particular line of Comoy’s pipes. It is stamped Warwick and there was nothing listed on the site for that line. I also turned to Pipedia to see what else I could learn about the brand and again did not find the brand listed there.

I knew that I was working on a Cadogan era Comoy’s pipe because of the style of the C on the stem side and the fact of an acrylic stem. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the debris on the rim top and was able to remove it. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove remaining oxidation on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. Other than the burned area on the rim top and edge it really looked good and the bowl itself was in excellent condition. The rim top and the inner edge look very good. The stem had a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It was clear and read as noted. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. I decided to start my work on this pipe by polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the scratching and polishing the fills on the bowl sides and rim top.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This beautiful Comoy’s Warwick 16 Brandy with a Lucite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Warwick Brandy fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 75grams/2.65oz. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly in the British Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Gorgeous Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us in a group of pipes that we picked up from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. Even though the finish was a bit dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. The bowl had a moderate cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in some of the grooves and valleys of the finish. The same was true of the plateau on the shank end. It had a lot of dust and debris in the grooves. The acrylic stem was dirty but the Ben Wade Crown logo was in good condition. The pipe had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.     Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There are a lot of angles on this pipe and there is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I remembered that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the debris in the plateau on the rim top and shank end and was able to remove it. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  It really looked good. The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with slight darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I polished the bowl and the smooth portions on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works 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.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks from the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This beautiful Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Martinique Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 71grams/2.50oz.If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Bringing a Savinelli Estella Non Pareil  9128 Billiard Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a Savinelli made Estella that my brother purchased 2 years ago at an antique shop in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl on a smooth patch – Estella over Non Pareil over 9128 with the Savinelli S shield next to that and Italy to the left of that very faintly stamped. There was also an upper case E on the top of the stem. The rugged rustication on the bowl and shank looked to be dirty or at least had darkening where the hand of the previous owner had wrapped around the bowl. The thick cake in the bowl had overflowed on to the rim top and left behind a thick black mess. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl looked like because of the thickness of the cake and lava. The outer edge of the bowl looked very good. The Lucite shank extension and the matching Lucite stem in grey, brown and ivory tones looked really good – from the side view. The stem had light tooth chatter on both the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The close up photos of the rim top and bowl show the condition of the pipe. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides and the button surface. The next photo shows the stamping on the bottom of the bowl and the shank extension. Other than the S shield logo pointing to a link between Estella and Savinelli the stamping on the Lucite shank extension certified the connection.  There was also an uppercase E on the top of the stem. My brother did his usual thorough clean up on the pipe. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush. He was able to remove all of the buildup on the rim top. It looked better but there was some burn damage on the inner edge of the rim all the way around the bowl as well as some darkening on the top of the rim. He cleaned the internals of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. He wiped down the stem so that when the pipe came to me it was ready to restore. The next four photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage on the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top. I took close up photos of the stem. It was in decent condition with light marks on both sides.   I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the underside of the shank extension. They were readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the overall look of the pipe before I started my work on it.I started my work on the bowl by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I reshaped the inner edge and cleaned up the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage to the edge by giving it a slight bevel and the top by smoothing it out and removing the burn marks.   Once the top and edge were clean I polished them with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad to remove the debris. By the last sanding pad the rim top looked very good.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the rusticated grooves and channels. The product works well 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.  I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. You will note some darkening on the tenon end that would not come off with scrubbing and sanding would reduce the diameter of the tenon and affect the fit in the shank. I touched up the stamp on the top of the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on the stem surface and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a cotton pad. It looked better when it was finished.    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I wiped the stem down with the damp cotton pad to check the progress. I had been able to blend in the tooth marks on both sides.  This Savinelli Estella Non Pareil Rusticated 9128 Billiard with a variegated brown, grey and ivory Lucite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There is some great grain on the rim top that really shines and the Caminetto Style rustication is exceptionally well done. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel to see if I could further smooth and blend the repairs. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad and then once again by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The bowl and rim look really good and the finish is clean and as good as new. The stem and shank extension have a rich glow and they look amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 51gr/1.80oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring an English Made Hadley Park 213 Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts a few years ago and to be honest we don’t remember where we got it. This morning as I was going through my box of what I have to work on this one caught my eye. It is a nicely grained small Lovat with an acrylic stem that is almost butterscotch coloured. The stem reminds me of butterscotch candies that I used to have as a kid. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Hadley Park. On the right side it is stamped Made in London England and to the left of that, near the stem is the shape number 213. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and there was a lava coat and darkening on the rim top and inner edge. The edges looked okay but we would know more after the cleanup. There were a few fills that had shrunken around the sides of the bowl. The stem was dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the saddle stem. The pipe showed promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the condition of the rim top and edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.    Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some great grain under the grime.     He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.   I could not find any information on the brand. I thought the shape number might point the way but it did not give the clues I was hoping. The Made in London England stamp is similar to those used by a variety of English pipemakers so that is not definitive either. So I am left not knowing who made the pipe. Now it was time to work on this pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top and inner edge of the rim showed some damage. The inner edge of the bowl was roughened and showed some darkening. The rim top also showed some damage. The stem surface looked good with some remaining oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a short acrylic saddle.   I decided to start my work on the pipe by cleaning up the damaged inner edge of the bowl. I reworked the edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once I finished the rim and edge looked much better.    I moved next to repairing the damaged fills on the front left of the bowl. I filled them in with clear super glue and briar dust. Once it cured I sanded them smooth and blended them into the surrounding briar.   With the repaired fills being lighter than the surrounding briar I decided to restain the bowl with a light brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. Once the stain had cured I removed it from the cork and took photos of the new look before I buffed or polished it at all.  I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli and then wiped it down with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to make the stain a bit more transparent and show the grain around the bowl sides. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.      I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Hadley Park 213 Lovat with an orange/butterscotch acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There is some great grain around the bowl and shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Hadley Park Lovat is petite but fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 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 34gr/1.23oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Mauro Series II Bent 517 System Style Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA. The pipe is an interesting pipe that looks like an Italian take on a Peterson’s System pipe. The pipe is well shaped and has nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Mauro [over] Series II. On the right side it reads Italy along the ferrule edge and the shape number 517. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth and finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a light overflow of lava on the top and inner edge of the rim. The inside edges looks like it may have burn damage on the front right. The variegated brown/gold/yellow acrylic stem had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. There was a circle on the topside of the saddle stem that had a brass outer ring and an inner white acrylic insert. The stem did not seat all the way in the shank and would need to be addressed. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the inner edge of the rim. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. It truly has some nice grain – birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and shank. The nickel ferrule is oxidized and dull.   The stamping on the shank sides is clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m4.html) to get a quick view of the brand once again. The site definitively links the brand to Mauro Armellini. The screen capture I included below shows a brief history of the brand. There was a link on the section to a page comparing the Peterson P-lip with its Armellini variant (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/p-lip-en.html). I included the section on the pipe stem below as a screen capture. It is fascinating to compare the stem to the many Peterson’s System pipes that I have worked on.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Armellini) for a quick read. The site referred me automatically from the Italian Makers list to Mauro Armellini. The write up is very well done and gives a great amount of history. It is worth a read.

What I learned from the research is that the Mauro pipe was Mauro Armellini’s second line and in many ways was his take on a Peterson’s System pipe.

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself.  Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl show some damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.     The stamping on the shank sides is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The saddle stem is nice and the photo gives a sense of what the pipe looks like. The fit of the stem in the shank was impeded by the thickness of the tenon on the stem. I used a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I polished the tenon with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the fit in the shank. Now that the stem fit I turned my attention to the damage on the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a slight bevel to minimize the burn damage.  I polished the briar and the nickel ferrule with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Mauro Series II 517 Bent System Style Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The shape is a lot like a Peterson’s System pipe with the nickel ferrule and the P-lip style acrylic stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Mauro Series II pipe fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Large Preben Holm Regal Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a recent pipe hunt Jeff and his wife Sherry did in Utah. They picked this beauty up at an Antique Mall along the way of the hunt. Even though the finish was dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. There were flecks of white paint on the sides as well. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in the grooves and valleys of the finish. The acrylic stem was dirty and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I turned Pipephil’s section on Preben Holm pipes and found the brand listed there with and an example of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the stem. The stamping matches the one that I am working on (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p5.html). It is like the stamping and logo that is shown in the second pipe below.I turned to the article on Preben Holm pipes on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Holm,_Preben). The article is worth a read in the detailed history of the brand written by Preben Holm himself. Give it a read. I quote the introductory portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Preben Holm (1947 – 1989) has set some marks in pipe history. Just before his 16th birthday in 1963 he sold pipes to the legendary Pipe-Dan shop and at the age of only 22 he headed 45 employees. He was among the first Danish artisans who made “Danish pipe design” famous in the USA in the 1960’s. More than that he was one of the very first carvers who exceeded this moderate Danish design which based on the classical shapes. “Chasing the grain” they turned out wild and dramatic fancy pipes. Combining smooth with blasted surfaces, showing big areas of the original bark at the top of the bowl and at the end of the stem, these pipes were quite shocking to many elder and more conservative pipesmokers.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The beveled inner edge of the rim looked very good with some darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the inner bevel of the plateau rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded the repairs to blend them into the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Preben Holm Regal Hand Made Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Preben Holm Regal Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Large Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a recent pipe hunt Jeff and his wife Sherry did in Utah. They picked this beauty up at an Antique Mall along the way of the hunt. Even though the finish was dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. There were flecks of white paint on the sides as well. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in the grooves and valleys of the finish. The acrylic stem was dirty and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I remembered a bit of history on the brand that thought that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

Ben Wade Ad in a Tinder Box catalog, courtesy Doug Valitchka

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The beveled inner edge of the rim looked very good with some darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the inner bevel of the plateau rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  I touched up the black stain in the valleys of the plateau on the rim top and shank end with a Black stain pen. I would use the micromesh pads to knock off any of the black on the high spots when I polished it.    I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks from the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Martinique Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

New Life for a Carlo Scotti Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16  Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Summer is pretty much over in Vancouver and today was another rainy, cold fall day. It is a day off so I had time to work on a few pipes. My wife and kids are convinced it is an illness but at least it keeps me out of their way! This next pipe on the table is one that I may have a hard time letting go of when I am finished. It is a Castello Natural Vergin and it is a saddle stem billiard two pluses in my book. My brother Jeff picked this pipe up from an antique mall in Utah, USA. It is stamped on the smooth heel of the bowl and the shank bottom and reads Castello [over] Natural Vergin. Next to that is stamped KKK 16. That is followed by Made in Cantu [over] Italy followed by an oval containing the name Carlo Scotti next to the stem shank union. The Castello “diamond” inset is on the left side of the saddle stem. On the underside of the stem it is stamped Hand Made [over] Castello [over] 5 It was in pretty filthy looking condition with oils ground into the briar around the bowl side leaving dark patches when he got it but still showed promise. He took the following photos of the pipe before he worked his magic on them. The pipe must have been another terrific smoker because the bowl was heavily caked with lava flowing over the rim top. In its condition it was going to take some work to clean out that bowl and be able to see what the rim looked like underneath the layer of lava. The acrylic/Lucite stem was in good condition. It was dirty and had light tooth chatter a deep tooth marks in the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button.  The rest of the bowl looked dirty but the photos give an idea of what Jeff saw before his cleanup revealed the condition of the pipe. The next photos try to capture the stamping on the flat panel on the underside of the shank. It read as I have noted above. The stem also bears a Hand Made Castello 5 stamp on the underside. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the rusticated Natural Vergin finish. The rusticated rim top looked very good under the thick lava coat. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. The finish had darkened with the cleaning but the dark oily spots on the bowl sides were gone. The stem was in great shape other than the tooth marks on both sides. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived here. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. It is a startling difference. The rim top looks very good. The stem will take a bit of work to remove the deep tooth marks on both sides and give it a deep shine.    The stamping on the shank looked very good. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportions of the bowl/shank and the stem length.As usual I cannot seem to retain the details on Castello pipes in my head for long for some reason. The stamping on them – Castello and the Reg. No. and the Carlo Scotti stamp left me with some questions that I need to answer before I began to work on the pipe. I turned first to the Pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html) because of the general quick summary of information I get there. I quote:

Castello PIPA CASTELLO di Carlo Scotti & C. was founded in 1947 by Carlo Scotti († 1988). Franco Coppo (AKA “Kino”) who married Carlo Scotti’s daughter Savina, manages (2012) the corporate since 1985.

The site also gave a good summary of the grading and sizes of the pipes. I quote that in full.

Sizes (ascending):

1K to 4K, G (Giant) and GG (Extra large)

Rusticated grading: SEA ROCK, OLD SEA ROCK, NATURAL VERGIN,

Sandblasted grading: ANTIQUARI, OLD ANTIQUARI

Smooth grading (ascending): TRADEMARK, CASTELLO, COLLECTION

Other stampings: Great Line (Non-standard or freestyle) Fiammata (Straight grain)

Production (2012): ~4000 pipes / year

I also found a note on the page that the Rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. It is occasionally used now.

I turned then to Pipedia for more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Castello). The majority of the information was what was already quoted above in abbreviated form. However there was a link to an article by Bob Hamlin that gave some interesting bits of information that I found helpful (http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html). I quote in part from that article.

SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]:  This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA.  Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”.

All carved Castello pipes are graded by the number of K’s that are stamped on each piece and are K-graded by SIZE.  1K is the smallest and fairly rare, 2K is small to medium, with 3K or 4K being the most common and ranges from medium to medium large. Large pieces are stamped “G” for giant and extra-large pieces are stamped “GG” for double giant.  In addition to the number of K’s on a carved Sea Rock piece the shape number is almost always added.  As a rule a Sea Rock Castello is stained Black, although recently there have been quite a few coming in stained deep brown and still stamped “Sea Rock”.  American Logo’d Sea Rocks are all priced the same to the consumer, although most are 2 or 3 K’ed models.  G/GG models are charged at a higher price on American pieces and are basically the same as their European counterparts.

The Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16 I was working on was definitely made for the American Market with the Rhinestone in the stem. It had the natural finish that darkened with cleaning.

Pipedia also gave a link to Mike’s Briar Blues site for help in dating and determining shapes (http://www.briarblues.com/castello.htm).

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx. I’ve only seen this on Sea Rocks, but that doesn’t mean anything…

Now I had more information to work with. The Castello Natural Vergin in my hands was 3K graded. That told me that it is a mid-sized pipe. The number 16 makes it a straight billiard.

The bowl was in such good condition that I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated Sea Rock finish on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I used a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the crevices and keep from building up in the valleys and crevices of the finish. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and the shoe brush. I polished it with a microfiber cloth. It is definitely darker than the dirty raw briar look but it is pretty close to the oil finish that was sometimes used. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point.   I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I flattened the repairs with a file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I continued to polish the stem with 1500-12000 grit pads. I dry sanded it with the pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad afterwards and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together on this beautiful Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16 Saddle Billiard. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the Lucite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 contrast of the oil treated briar with the polished black acrylic/Lucite is quite stunning. The coral like rustication around the bowl and shank is quite remarkable and gives the pipe an incredible tactile presence that only improve as it heated from a smoke. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Natural Vergin Billiard will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. I always enjoy working on Castello pipes. Cheers.