Tag Archives: Polishing meerschaum with micromesh

A 3 Pipe Reclamation Project – The next is a D.P. Ehrlich & Co. Meerschaum Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

With the completion of a beautiful Octagonal, horn stemmed billiard as another  break from the routine of these meerschaums (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/28/reviving-an-unsmoked-nos-octagonal-billiard-with-a-horn-stem/) it was time to go back to the D.P. Ehrlich Meerschaum reclamation work. I will quote the next paragraphs to give context to the pipes that I am working on in this project.

Not long ago I received a Facebook Message from a friend asking if I would consider restoring three Ehrlich meerschaums that he had. He spoke about first, then sent photos as he knew I was not presently taking on any new work due to my heavy schedule. He described the first cased set – which contained a Bulldog and a Billiard with great patina and cloudy acrylic stems. It sounded amazing. He described the second cased single – a Poker with the same kind of stem. At least one of the stems had a bite through on it. All were heavily smoked and dirty. From his reckoning the pipes came from at least two different time periods in D. P. Ehrlich of Boston’s long life. I thanked him for thinking of me and gently said I would not be able to do the work.

He understood but wanted me to have a look at them anyway. He sent these photos of the pipes in their cases on Messenger. They were indeed beautiful pipes. They were also very tempting. I really like these cased older style, smooth, classic shaped meerschaums. I did not reply to him for a bit and thought it over. I looked over my schedule and calendar for the next two months and it was very heavy. But… I was hooked. I finally answered him and basically said if he was not in a hurry I would be willing to take them on. He replied that he was in no hurry. You have to understand when I have pipes to work on here I squeeze them in somehow but I wanted freedom.Once I gave my answer he sent a few more photos of each of the pipes so that I could have a look at what was coming my way. He sent the tracking number of the pipes as well. They arrived safely and I went over them and called him to talk about what I saw. I restored the Poker first and then the Billiard. I have written about the restoration of both on rebornpipes. Here is the link to those blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/26/reclamation-project-an-older-d-p-ehrlich-co-cased-meerschaum-poker/ and https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/27/a-3-pipe-reclamation-project-next-a-d-p-ehrlich-co-meerschaum-billiard/).

Now to have a look at the Bulldog (the second pipe in the cased 2 pipe set). He took some photos of the bowl, rim top and stem so I could assess the condition they were in. I have included them below. The lava on the rim top and cake in the bowl are very thick and I am hoping they have protected the inner edge and top from damage. The 14K gold ring on the shank looked very good. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside near the button. It is by far the best looking stem of the threesome. The fit at the shank is very good. The cloudy gold stem material looks good. This stem material can be problematic in that the yellow colour often is on the top surface and once there are repairs done or sanding they are visible and significantly different in colour from the rest of the stem. Once I had it in hand and checked it out I would know more.While I have worked on a significant number of Ehrlich briar pipes over the years I have not tackled a meerschaum let alone three older ones. I have worked on a lot of meers but not Ehrlich meers (with this one I have worked on three). I actually knew very little about them. They looked like European made meers that come out of Austria but I was unclear of where Ehrlich got these pipes. I was time to due some work on this. I checked first on Pipephil and found only information on the briar pipes. Then I turned to Pipedia and was more successful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ehrlich%27s). I quote a portion of that article below that gives a bit of history and more importantly cleared up where the pipes came from for me.

The David P. Ehrlich story – Pipemakers and Tobacconists for a Hundred Years, 1868-1968.

The David P. Ehrlich Company has remained solely in the hands of one family during its century of business, yet it has had several firm names and locations. David P. Ehrlich went to work in 1881 at the age of twenty for Ferdinand Abraham, who dealt in cigars and tobacco and who had begun business in 1868 at 1188 Washington Street in the South End, but in 1880 moved to the center of the city, where the firm has been ever since. David Ehrlich married the boss’s daughter. In 1916 the name became the David P. Ehrlich Company and Mr. Ehrlich devoted the rest of his life to this business. Since David’s death in 1912 it has been owned by – his nieces and nephews including Richard A. and William Ehrlich.

Ehrlich shop has since 1880 had a predilection for historic sites. 25 Court Street was close to the spot where from 1721-1726 James Franklin had, with the assistance of his brother Benjamin, published The New-England Courant. In 1908 the firm moved a few doors up Court Street to number 37, on the opposite corner of the alley that is grandiloquently named Franklin Avenue. This new location was on the site of the one-time printing office of Edes and Gill, publishers of the Boston Gazette, in whose back room some of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party assumed their disguises. Soon after the end of World War II at which time the store was located at 33 Court Street a move around the corner to 207 Washington Street brought the shop diagonally across from the Old State House and onto the site occupied from 1610-1808 by the First Church of Boston. The demolition of 207 Washington Street in 1967 caused still another move to 32 Tremont Street, adjoining King’s Chapel burying Ground, which is the oldest cemetery in Boston.

The David P. Ehrlich Co. has not just occupied sites intimately associated with Boston history and institutions; it has in the past century become a Boston institution in its own right. It has specialized in fine cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. In addition to the retail business, the firm has long specialized in the manufacture of pipes, both from Algerian briar root and from meerschaum, a beautiful white fossilized substance, mined from the earth in Turkish Asia Minor. Meerschaum lends itself to carving, and in the nineteenth century there developed in Austria a fashion for carving pipes from it with formidably intricate decoration.

The Ehrlichs have long had meerschaum carvers, who ply their craft in the shop window to the delight of passersby. For years the bearded Gustave Fischer was a familiar figure in the window at 33 Court Street. A succession of craftsmen have continued the tradition. and still make and repair pipes in the window of the new Tremont Street shop. They still turn their meerschaum pipes by hand on a foot operated wooden lathe made in Austria about 1871. Although briars are today turned on power lathes, meerschaum can only be turned on a foot-operated lathe.

I did a search on Google to see if I could find further documentation on the Ehrlich Meerschaum pipes. I came across a PDF of a 1960s Ehrlich Catalogue that had some helpful sections on the pipes(https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0xEzQgGtOv8LXNhLUNJQUJrU1U/edit?resourcekey=0-I8eh7aQxyrEcmVW7-SKjFw). I did a screen capture of two of those sections. The first is a great descriptive paragraph on the pipe regarding both the meerschaum and what they call a handmade cloudy yellow stem. The prices are astonishingly low even for those days. The second screen capture is about how the pipes were made on a wooden lathe made in Austria and operated by Ehrlich craftsmen in the window of the Boston shop. It is also a great read.I took the pipe out of the case and took some photos of it to chronicle the condition it was in when I received it. It is another large pipe. I would say it is another large pipe – at least a Dunhill Group 4 or larger. I spent some time going over it carefully. The bowl indeed had a thick cake and the lava coat on the edge and rim was thick as well. It was in worse condition than either the Poker or Billiard had been. There were light surface scratches in the meerschaum all around the bowl and shank sides. The meerschaum was dirty with smudges and dust but underneath it had a nicely developing patina on the shank and heel of the bowl and was beginning to get some colour on the bowl. The stem was the best of the lot. It had tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. I removed the stem from the shank and had a look at the parts. The threaded metal tenon was inset permanently in the shank of the pipe. It was dirty and the pipe had a musty/old tobacco smell. There was a 14K gold wedding ring style band on the shank for decoration. The shank was filthy as was the airway in the stem. The good news for me was that the stem material was solid yellow all the way through so repairing the tooth marks and chatter would be easier. The slot in the stem was filled in partially with debris. Overall it was a great looking pipe that would clean up well. Here is what I saw. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to capture the condition of both. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner edge and thick on the top and inner edge of the rim. It is by far the most caked and lava covered of all of them. I took photos of the shank and stem as well. You can also see the tooth damage on both sides ahead of the button. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the proportions of the pipe. You can see that it is a large bowl but well proportioned with the stem. I like the looks of it.I started my clean up work on the pipe by reaming the bowl. I wanted to remove the cake completely from the walls of the bowl and clean it thoroughly. I began the reaming with a PipNet pipe reaming set. The bowl is quite large so I used the second and third cutting head. I took it back to the walls. I cleaned it up further with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by sanding the interior of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I used the Fitsall knife to carefully scrape off some of the lava on the rim top. It is very thick. I used micromesh sanding pads to remove the remaining lava coat on the rim top and to polish the light scratching around the bowl. I polished the meerschaum with 1500-12000 grit pads wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris and dust. The bowl and shank began to really take on a shine as I worked on it. (As I mentioned in the previous blogs, my friend and I spoke on the phone and the decision was made to leave the light scratching as part of the story of the pipe.) With the exterior clean I worked on the inside of the shank and stem. The airway on the bottom of the bowl was plugged so I needed to get the airflow open again. I used a curved dental pick to open the airway in bowl bottom. I used isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to open the airway in the shank and into the bowl and to remove the debris and oils. I cleaned out the end of the stem where the tenon screwed in with cotton swabs and alcohol. Once finished the pipe smelled clean. I filled in the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button with clear CA glue. Was aiming for smoothing out the tooth marks and making them invisible.Once the repair cured I smoothed out the repair and worked to blend it into the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I smoothed it out with a 1500 grit pad first the polished it with the remaining pads 1800-12000 grit. I wiped it down with a bit of Obsidian Oil to remove the debris after each pad. I was quite pleased with the look of the repaired stem. With the stem finished and the bowl completed to this point it was time recoat the bowl with beeswax. I melted a chunk of beeswax in the microwave and brushed the melted wax onto the bowl and shank. I took photos of the thick wax coat around the bowl sides and top. I look forward to seeing what happens when I melt it off! I used my heat gun on the low setting to melt the excess wax and heat the meerschaum to absorb the wax. I put a thick layer of paper towels below the heat gun to catch the dripping of the wax. I used a cork in the bowl as a handle to turn the pipe over the heat. As the heat and wax did the work the bowl began darken. I took some photos of the bowl when I had finished. It is a beauty. This D.P. Ehrlich Co, Boston Made Meerschaum Straight Bulldog turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The deepening patina around the bowl and shank has been highlighted by the wax and will only deepen with use. The smoky yellow coloured acrylic stem looks good with the darkening bowl and shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully 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 Ehrlich Meerschaum Bulldog 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 50 grams/1.76 ounces. This is the third D.P. Ehrlich Co. Meerschaum I have finished. Now that the last one is finished I will be packing them carefully and sadly saying farewell to some beautiful pieces. I think the pipeman who is carrying on the trust of these beauties will thoroughly enjoy them. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

A 3 Pipe Reclamation Project – Next a D.P. Ehrlich & Co. Meerschaum Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With the completion of the latest Frankenpipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/27/it-is-about-time-to-breath-life-into-a-new-frankenpipe/), a break from the routine, it was time to go back to the D.P. Ehrlich Meerschaum reclamation work. I will quote the next paragraphs to give context to the pipes that I am working on in this project.

Not long ago I received a Facebook Message from a friend asking if I would consider restoring three Ehrlich meerschaums that he had. He spoke about first, then sent photos as he knew I was not presently taking on any new work due to my heavy schedule. He described the first cased set – which contained a Bulldog and a Billiard with great patina and cloudy acrylic stems. It sounded amazing. He described the second cased single – a Poker with the same kind of stem. At least one of the stems had a bite through on it. All were heavily smoked and dirty. From his reckoning the pipes came from at least two different time periods in D. P. Ehrlich of Boston’s long life. I thanked him for thinking of me and gently said I would not be able to do the work.

He understood but wanted me to have a look at them anyway. He sent these photos of the pipes in their cases on Messenger. They were indeed beautiful pipes. They were also very tempting. I really like these cased older style, smooth, classic shaped meerschaums. I did not reply to him for a bit and thought it over. I looked over my schedule and calendar for the next two months and it was very heavy. But… I was hooked. I finally answered him and basically said if he was not in a hurry I would be willing to take them on. He replied that he was in no hurry. You have to understand when I have pipes to work on here I squeeze them in somehow but I wanted freedom.Once I gave my answer he sent a few more photos of each of the pipes so that I could have a look at what was coming my way. He sent the tracking number of the pipes as well. They arrived safely and I went over them and called him to talk about what I saw. I restored the Poker first and have written about the restoration of it on rebornpipes. Here is the link to that blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/26/reclamation-project-an-older-d-p-ehrlich-co-cased-meerschaum-poker/).

Now to have a look at the Billiard (the pipe of the threesome in the worst condition). He took some photos of the bowl, rim top and stem so I could assess the condition they were in. I have included them below. The lava on the rim top and cake in the bowl are quite thick and I am hoping they have protected the inner edge and top from damage. The 14K gold ring on the shank looked very good. The stem had deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button. There was also a bite through on the top side of the stem. The profile definitely shows the condition of the stem. I am quite certain from looking at the photos of the pipe that this is a replacement stem. The fit at the shank is not as good as expected and the material does not appear to be the same as the other two Ehrlich meerschaums. The stem material can be problematic in that the yellow colour often is on the top surface and once there are repairs done or sanding they are visible and significantly different in colour from the rest of the stem. Once I had it in hand and checked it out I would know more. While I have worked on a significant number of Ehrlich briar pipes over the years I have not tackled a meerschaum let alone three older ones. I have worked on a lot of meers but not Ehrlich meers. I actually knew very little about them. They looked like European made meers that come out of Austria but I was unclear of where Ehrlich got these pipes. I was time to due some work on this. I checked first on Pipephil and found only information on the briar pipes. Then I turned to Pipedia and was more successful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ehrlich%27s). I quote a portion of that article below that gives a bit of history and more importantly cleared up where the pipes came from for me.

The David P. Ehrlich story – Pipemakers and Tobacconists for a Hundred Years, 1868-1968.

The David P. Ehrlich Company has remained solely in the hands of one family during its century of business, yet it has had several firm names and locations. David P. Ehrlich went to work in 1881 at the age of twenty for Ferdinand Abraham, who dealt in cigars and tobacco and who had begun business in 1868 at 1188 Washington Street in the South End, but in 1880 moved to the center of the city, where the firm has been ever since. David Ehrlich married the boss’s daughter. In 1916 the name became the David P. Ehrlich Company and Mr. Ehrlich devoted the rest of his life to this business. Since David’s death in 1912 it has been owned by – his nieces and nephews including Richard A. and William Ehrlich.

Ehrlich shop has since 1880 had a predilection for historic sites. 25 Court Street was close to the spot where from 1721-1726 James Franklin had, with the assistance of his brother Benjamin, published The New-England Courant. In 1908 the firm moved a few doors up Court Street to number 37, on the opposite corner of the alley that is grandiloquently named Franklin Avenue. This new location was on the site of the one-time printing office of Edes and Gill, publishers of the Boston Gazette, in whose back room some of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party assumed their disguises. Soon after the end of World War II at which time the store was located at 33 Court Street a move around the corner to 207 Washington Street brought the shop diagonally across from the Old State House and onto the site occupied from 1610-1808 by the First Church of Boston. The demolition of 207 Washington Street in 1967 caused still another move to 32 Tremont Street, adjoining King’s Chapel burying Ground, which is the oldest cemetery in Boston.

The David P. Ehrlich Co. has not just occupied sites intimately associated with Boston history and institutions; it has in the past century become a Boston institution in its own right. It has specialized in fine cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. In addition to the retail business, the firm has long specialized in the manufacture of pipes, both from Algerian briar root and from meerschaum, a beautiful white fossilized substance, mined from the earth in Turkish Asia Minor. Meerschaum lends itself to carving, and in the nineteenth century there developed in Austria a fashion for carving pipes from it with formidably intricate decoration.

The Ehrlichs have long had meerschaum carvers, who ply their craft in the shop window to the delight of passersby. For years the bearded Gustave Fischer was a familiar figure in the window at 33 Court Street. A succession of craftsmen have continued the tradition. and still make and repair pipes in the window of the new Tremont Street shop. They still turn their meerschaum pipes by hand on a foot operated wooden lathe made in Austria about 1871. Although briars are today turned on power lathes, meerschaum can only be turned on a foot-operated lathe.

I did a search on Google to see if I could find further documentation on the Ehrlich Meerschaum pipes. I came across a PDF of a 1960s Ehrlich Catalogue that had some helpful sections on the pipes(https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0xEzQgGtOv8LXNhLUNJQUJrU1U/edit?resourcekey=0-I8eh7aQxyrEcmVW7-SKjFw). I did a screen capture of two of those sections. The first is a great descriptive paragraph on the pipe regarding both the meerschaum and what they call a handmade cloudy yellow stem. The prices are astonishingly low even for those days.The second screen capture is about how the pipes were made on a wooden lathe made in Austria and operated by Ehrlich craftsmen in the window of the Boston shop. It is also a great read.I took the pipe out of the case and took some photos of it to chronicle the condition it was in when I received it. It is another large pipe. I would say it is at least a Dunhill Group 4 or larger pipe. I spent some time going over it carefully. The bowl indeed had a thick cake and the lava coat on the edge and rim was thick as well. It was in worse condition than the Poker had been. There were light surface scratches in the meerschaum all around the bowl and shank sides. The meerschaum had a nicely developing patina on the shank and heel of the bowl and was beginning to get some colour on the bowl. The stem was the worst of the lot. I had tooth marks on the top and underside and a bite through on the top of the stem ahead of the button. I removed the stem from the shank and had a look at the parts. The threaded metal tenon was inset permanently in the shank of the pipe. It was dirty and the pipe had a musty/old tobacco smell. There was a 14K gold wedding ring style band on the shank for decoration. The shank was filthy as was the airway in the stem. The good news for me was that the stem material was solid yellow all the way through. Repairing it would be easier, though the stem had its own darkening patina at the button end. The slot in the stem was filled in partially with debris. Overall it was a great looking pipe that would clean up well. Here is what I saw. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to capture the condition of both. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner edge and thick on the top and inner edge of the rim. I took photos of the shank and stem as well. You can also see the tooth damage on both sides ahead of the button. The bite-through is clearly visible on the top of the stem at the button.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the proportions of the pipe. You can see that it is a large bowl with a relatively shorter stem. I like the looks of it however.I started my clean up work on the pipe by reaming the bowl. I wanted to remove the cake completely from the walls of the bowl and clean it thoroughly. I began the reaming with a PipNet pipe reaming set. The bowl is quite large so I used the second and third cutting head. I took it back to the walls. I cleaned it up further with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by sanding the interior of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I used the Fitsall knife to carefully scrape off some of the lava on the rim top. It is very thick. I used micromesh sanding pads to work on the light scratching around the bowl and to remove the thick lava coat on the rim top. I removed the sharpness of the nicks on the front of the bowl at the same time. I polished the meerschaum with 1500-12000 grit pads wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris and dust. The bowl and shank began to really take on a shine as I worked on it. (As I mentioned in the previous blog, my friend and I spoke on the phone and the decision was made to leave the light scratching as part of the story of the pipe.) With the exterior clean I worked on the inside of the shank and stem. The airway on the bottom of the bowl was plugged so I needed to get the airflow open again. I used isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to open the airway into the bowl and to remove the debris and oils. I cleaned out the end of the stem where the tenon screwed in with cotton swabs and alcohol. Once finished the pipe smelled clean.I still need to wax the bowl but I set it aside for now and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned off the surface of the acrylic with alcohol to remove and debris from the tooth dents. I took some photos of the stem as it was after cleaning. The dents and hole are very clear in the photos.I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem below the hole to protect the airway from the glue hardening and closing it off. Now I was ready to do the patch. I decided to try a bit of a new method (at least for me) on this repair. I have ground up dust from donor stem and mixed that with the CA glue to do the repair. The issue has always been that when you sand the yellow acrylic stem the dust is always white. That just does not work. So today I decided to cut a chunk of the acrylic stem off the donor stem and fill in the hole with that and CA glue around it to hold it in place. We shall see if it works. I also filled in the tooth marks on the underside and the chips on the edges and end of the button with the CA glue at the same time. I used just glue there and no chips.The repair cured and it filled in the hole very well. As it dried the piece of yellow stem turned dark (brownish yellow) and it did not match. The repair on the underside worked very well and the rebuild on the button did as well using just the clear CA glue. I used a small file to flatten out the repaired hole and recut the button. As I smoothed out the repaired hole with 220 grit sandpaper, the yellow of the original stem lightened. On the end of the button it turned almost white. It is definitely not the same material as the original stems of the other Ehrlich pipes I am working on.I worked on it to blend it into the stem with micromesh sanding pads. It worked well on the underside but the top still is a bit of an eyesore. I worked it smooth with a 1500 grit pad first the polished it with the remaining pads 1800-12000 grit. I wiped it down with a bit of Obsidian Oil to remove the debris after each pad. I was quite pleased with the look of the repaired stem. With the stem finished and the bowl completed to this point it was time recoat the bowl with beeswax. I melted a chunk of beeswax in the microwave and brushed the melted wax onto the bowl and shank. I took photos of the thick wax coat around the bowl sides and top. I look forward to seeing what happens when I melt it off!I used my heat gun on the low setting to melt the excess wax and heat the meerschaum to absorb the wax. I put a thick layer of paper towels below the heat gun to catch the dripping of the wax. I used a cork in the bowl as a handle to turn the pipe over the heat. As the heat and wax did the work the bowl began darken. I took some photos of the bowl when I had finished. It is a beauty.This D.P. Ehrlich Co, Boston Made Meerschaum Billiard turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The deepening patina around the bowl and shank has been highlighted by the wax and will only deepen with use. The smoky yellow coloured acrylic stem looks good with the darkening bowl and shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully 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 Ehrlich Meerschaum Billiard is both 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 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 50 grams/1.76 ounces. This is the second D.P. Ehrlich Co. Meerschaum I have finished. Once finish the last one I will be packing them carefully and sadly saying farewell to some beautiful pieces. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out for the final one.

Reclamation Project – an older D.P. Ehrlich & Co. Cased Meerschaum Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

It was not too long ago that I received a Message on Facebook from a friend asking me if I would consider restoring three Ehrlich cased meerschaums that he had. He spoke about them before he sent photos as he knew I was not presently taking on any new work due to my heavy schedule. He described the first cased set – which contained a Bulldog and a Billiard with great patina and cloudy acrylic stems. It sounded amazing. He then described the second cased single – a Poker with the same kind of stem. At least one of the stem had a bite through on it. All were heavily smoked and dirty. All were purchases that he had made. From his reckoning the pipes came from at least two different time periods in D. P. Ehrlich of Boston’s long life. I thanked him for thinking of me and gently said I would not be able to do the work.

He understood but wanted me to have a look at them anyway. He sent these photos of the pipes in their cases on Messenger. They were indeed beautiful pipes. They were also very tempting. I really like these cased older style, smooth, classic shaped meerschaums. I did not reply to him for a bit and thought it over. I looked over my schedule and calendar for the next two months and it was very heavy. But… I was hooked. I finally answered him and basically said if he was not in a hurry I would be willing to take them on. He replied that he was in no hurry. You have to understand when I have pipes to work on here I squeeze them in somehow but I wanted freedom.Once I gave my answer he sent along a few photos of each of the pipes so that I could have a look at what was coming my way. Then he sent the tracking number of the pipes as well. I decided that would tackle the Poker first. I believe it is a bit newer than the others and the stem material is slightly different. Here are some photos of the pipe that he sent me. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. The finish is quite scratched but nothing deep so those present were part of the story of the pipe. The exterior and the interior of the pipe was really dirty with use and also from sitting and not being used.He took some photos of the bowl, rim top and stem so I could assess the condition they were in. I have included them below. You can see that the outer edge of the bowl has some nicks in the meerschaum on the front side. The lava and cake are quite thick and I am hoping they have protected the inner edge and top from damage. The stem had deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button but the profile looked promising. This stem material can be problematic in that the yellow colour often is on the top surface and once there are repairs done or sanding they are visible and significantly different in colour from the rest of the stem. Once I had it in hand and checked it out I would know more.While I have worked on a significant number of Ehrlich briar pipes over the years I have not tackled a meerschaum let alone three older ones. I have worked on a lot of meers but not Ehrlich meers. I actually knew very little about them. They looked like European made meers that come out of Austria but I was unclear of where Ehrlich got these pipes. I was time to due some work on this. I checked first on Pipephil and found only information on the briar pipes. Then I turned to Pipedia and was more successful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ehrlich%27s). I quote a portion of that article below that gives a bit of history and more importantly cleared up where the pipes came from for me.

The David P. Ehrlich story – Pipemakers and Tobacconists for a Hundred Years, 1868-1968.

The David P. Ehrlich Company has remained solely in the hands of one family during its century of business, yet it has had several firm names and locations. David P. Ehrlich went to work in 1881 at the age of twenty for Ferdinand Abraham, who dealt in cigars and tobacco and who had begun business in 1868 at 1188 Washington Street in the South End, but in 1880 moved to the center of the city, where the firm has been ever since. David Ehrlich married the boss’s daughter. In 1916 the name became the David P. Ehrlich Company and Mr. Ehrlich devoted the rest of his life to this business. Since David’s death in 1912 it has been owned by – his nieces and nephews including Richard A. and William Ehrlich.

Ehrlich shop has since 1880 had a predilection for historic sites. 25 Court Street was close to the spot where from 1721-1726 James Franklin had, with the assistance of his brother Benjamin, published The New-England Courant. In 1908 the firm moved a few doors up Court Street to number 37, on the opposite corner of the alley that is grandiloquently named Franklin Avenue. This new location was on the site of the one-time printing office of Edes and Gill, publishers of the Boston Gazette, in whose back room some of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party assumed their disguises. Soon after the end of World War II at which time the store was located at 33 Court Street a move around the corner to 207 Washington Street brought the shop diagonally across from the Old State House and onto the site occupied from 1610-1808 by the First Church of Boston. The demolition of 207 Washington Street in 1967 caused still another move to 32 Tremont Street, adjoining King’s Chapel burying Ground, which is the oldest cemetery in Boston.

The David P. Ehrlich Co. has not just occupied sites intimately associated with Boston history and institutions; it has in the past century become a Boston institution in its own right. It has specialized in fine cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. In addition to the retail business, the firm has long specialized in the manufacture of pipes, both from Algerian briar root and from meerschaum, a beautiful white fossilized substance, mined from the earth in Turkish Asia Minor. Meerschaum lends itself to carving, and in the nineteenth century there developed in Austria a fashion for carving pipes from it with formidably intricate decoration.

The Ehrlichs have long had meerschaum carvers, who ply their craft in the shop window to the delight of passersby. For years the bearded Gustave Fischer was a familiar figure in the window at 33 Court Street. A succession of craftsmen have continued the tradition. and still make and repair pipes in the window of the new Tremont Street shop. They still turn their meerschaum pipes by hand on a foot operated wooden lathe made in Austria about 1871. Although briars are today turned on power lathes, meerschaum can only be turned on a foot-operated lathe.

I did a search on Google to see if I could find further documentation on the Ehrlich Meerschaum pipes. I came across a PDF of a 1960s Ehrlich Catalogue that had some helpful sections on the pipes(https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0xEzQgGtOv8LXNhLUNJQUJrU1U/edit?resourcekey=0-I8eh7aQxyrEcmVW7-SKjFw). I did a screen capture of two of those sections. The first is a great descriptive paragraph on the pipe regarding both the meerschaum and what they call a handmade cloudy yellow stem. The prices are astonishingly low even for those days.The second screen capture is about how the pipes were made on a wooden lathe made in Austria and operated by Ehrlich craftsmen in the window of the Boston shop. It is also a great read.Now it was time to bring out the pipes that arrived today. I took out the cased Poker from the well packed box it came in and had a look. I took a photo of the pipe in the case to show the setting of the pipe. You can see the D.P. Ehrlich Co. Boston label in the cover of the hand made case. The lining is soft and made to fit the pipe perfectly. The pipe shows some developing patina.I took the pipe out of the case and took some photos of it to chronicle the condition it was in when I received it. It is a large Dunhill Group4 or more sized pipe. I spent some time going over it carefully. The bowl indeed had a thick cake and the lava coat on the edge and rim was thick as well. There were nicks around the front outer edge of the bowl. There were light surface scratches in the meerschaum all around the bowl sides. The shank had the deepest scars that seemed to run horizontally along all sides of the shank. The meerschaum ha a nicely developing patina on the shank and heel of the bowl. The stem had tooth marks on the top and underside that were not as deep as I had originally thought from the photos. I removed the stem from the shank and had a look at the parts. The threaded metal tenon was inset permanently in the shank of the pipe. It was dirty and the pipe had a musty/old tobacco smell. The shank was filthy as was the airway in the stem. The good news for me was that the stem material was solid yellow all the way through. Repairing it would be easier though the stem had its own darkening patina at the button end. The slot in the stem was filled in partially with debris. Overall it was a great looking pipe that would clean up well. Here is what I saw. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to capture the condition of both. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner edge and thick on the back side of the rim. You can also see the nicks on the outer edge of the bowl at the front. I took photos of the shank and stem as well. You can see the scratches in the shank that run horizontally along it. You can also see the tooth damage on both sides ahead of the button.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the proportions of the pipe. You can see that it is a large bowl with a relatively shorter stem. I like the looks of it however.I started my clean up work on the pipe by reaming the bowl. I wanted to remove the cake completely from the walls of the bowl and clean it thoroughly. I began the reaming with a PipNet pipe reaming set. The bowl is quite large so I used the second and third cutting head. I took it back to the walls. I cleaned it up further with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by sanding the interior of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I used micromesh sanding pads to work on the light scratching around the bowl and to remove the thick lava coat on the rim top. I removed the sharpness of the nicks on the front of the bowl at the same time. I polished the meerschaum with 1500-12000 grit pads wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris and dust. The bowl and shank began to really take on a shine as I worked on it. (The owner and I spoke on the phone and the decision was made to leave the light scratching as part of the story of the pipe.) With the exterior clean I worked on the inside of the shank and stem. I used isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the debris and oils. I cleaned out the end of the stem where the tenon screwed in with cotton swabs and alcohol. Once finished the pipe smelled clean.I still need to wax the bowl but I set it aside for now and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned off the surface of the acrylic with alcohol to remove and debris from the tooth dents. Once it was clean I carefully filled in the indentations with a drop of clear CA glue. Once the repair had cured I blended it in with micromesh sanding pads. I worked it smooth with a 1500 grit pad first the polished it with the remaining pads 1800-12000 grit. I wiped it down with a bit of Obsidian Oil to remove the debris after each pad. I was quite pleased with the look of the repaired stem. With the stem finished and the bowl completed to this point it was time recoat the bowl with beeswax. I melted a chunk of beeswax in the microwave and brushed the melted wax onto the bowl and shank. I took photos of the thick wax coat around the bowl sides and top. I look forward to seeing what happens when I melt it off! I used my heat gun on the low setting to melt the excess wax and heat the meerschaum to absorb the wax. I put a thick layer of paper towels below the heat gun to catch the dripping of the wax. I used a cork in the bowl as a handle to turn the pipe over the heat. As the heat and wax did the work the bowl began darken. I took some photos of the bowl when I had finished. It is a beauty. This D.P. Ehrlich Co, Boston Made Meerschaum Poker turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. The deepening patina around the bowl and shank has been highlighted by the wax and will only deepen with use. The smoky yellow coloured acrylic stem looks very good with the darkening bowl and shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully 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 Ehrlich Meerschaum Poker 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/2.01 ounces. Once finish his other two D.P. Ehrlich Co Meerschaums I will be packing them carefully and sadly saying farewell to some beautiful pieces. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out for the next two.

Restoring an older BRC Meerschaum Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I picked up old cased Bulldog on a pipe hunt on the Oregon Coast. We asked at the counter if the clerk knew if they had any pipes in the store. She opened the counter display and took out this pipe case. The case looked old enough to get my heart going. Generally they have something interesting in them – though I have had the disappointment of opening an empty case. When she handed it to me I felt the weight and knew that there was a pipe inside. I took a deep breath and opened the case and let out a sigh of relief. The pipe looked good and it looked old. Jeff came to the counter then and I showed it to him. A deal was struck and the pipe left the store with us. I left it with Jeff so he would work his cleanup magic on it. Jeff took a photo of the case and with it opened to reveal the pipe and in doing so I was able to relive this find. I still remember the two older women who ran the store and the conversation that the pipe initiated. It was a good day! Jeff opened the case and took a photo to show the embossed label in the cover of the pipe case. It was an oval that with a circle holding BRC split into three quadrants in the centre. On either side it was flanked by Genuine Meerschaum. The case was lined with plush red material and the exterior was covered in a worn brown leather.He took a photo the pipe as he removed it from the case and after he laid it on the table before he did the clean up. The pipe is actually very dirty. There is a thick cake in the and an overflow of lava on the rim top. There appear to be scratches in the rim top surface as well. The bowl is dirty and heavily scratched. The twin rings around the bowl are damaged and filed in with grit and grime. The shank and the lower part of the bowl was starting to get a nice patina. The silver band was very dirty and oxidized. There is no stamping on the shank or the band. The stem is not amber nor is it newer acrylic. I believe it is Amberoid – a man made amber material that was a material consisting of small pieces of amber or sometimes other resins united by heat and pressure. It appears to be the original stem as the fit to the shank is perfect and it is threaded for the bone tenon. There are light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem ahead of the button. Otherwise it is a clean looking stem.Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. There was a very thick cake in the bowl and you can see the overflow of lava and scratches in the rim top and edges. You can also see the nicks and damage to the cap of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the meer. You can see the damage to the rings on the right side and the many scratches around the sides and heel of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the shank stem junction with the tarnished silver band. The shape of the stem is perfect for the shank and band. If it is a replacement stem it is very well done. The next photos of the stem to show the general condition of the amberoid stem shape. The flow of the stem is perfect for the diamond shank Bulldog. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.  He also shows the orific button on the end of the stem. I looked for the BRC brand on Pipedia and on Pipephil with no luck. I have no idea if the pipe is English, French, Austrian or otherwise. There was nothing to help me identify the maker. Ah well it is a well made mystery. If any of you can help out with information on the make I will greatly appreciate your help. Thank you.

Having seen the before pictures on this pipe I did not know what to expect when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box with other cased pipes so as I took each one out and opened it I waited to see if it was this one. When I finally opened a case and this pipe was there I did not know what to expect. I put the worn and tired case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The pipe appeared to be very clean. The scratches in the meerschaum looked to have lessened a bit but I was not sure. Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done another incredible job in cleaning up this meerschaum. He had carefully reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping away the thick cake on the walls of the bowl. He also scraped off the lava on the rim top. Though there were still scratches it was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better when you compare it with where it started. There is some still some darkening and scratching but the bowl was clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. There is still some scratching in the meerschaum on the rim top that I would like to remove but it is very clean. The rich golden amber coloured stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge look really good. There are no issues that are there to address. The tarnished silver band had a rich shine to it now as well.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. When I unscrewed it the stem came off the tenon. In this case it was made that way. It was older style bone tenon and it had been anchored in the shank of the pipe. The stem was threaded and screwed on and off the stationary tenon.I decided to address the darkening and scratching on the rim top and edges first. I also worked over the bowl and shank to polish out the scratching as much as I could. I polished it with  the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the darkening and the scratches on the rim top and bowl. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. When I finished the bowl and rim top looked significantly better. I have had a jar of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish here for quite a while. I have used it quite often on meerschaum pipes in the past and it works great. I just had forgotten about it until today. I applied several coats to the meerschaum and buffed it out by hand. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. Since it was quite clean I decided to polish it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Even though the stem is amberoid I decided to give it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the meerschaum and the acrylic stem. The hand buffing adds depth to the shine. I had already given the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish so I buffed the stem with some Carnauba on the buffing wheel. The Beeswax Polish is a soft wax that I can apply with a soft cotton pad and buff with a microfiber cloth. The colours of the pipe came alive and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand and the interesting patina should continue to develop as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown 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: 5/8 of an inch. This Meerschaum Bulldog has some age on it and it is a beauty whose scratches and dings tell a story of its journey. To me they make it interesting. It should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

A Beautiful Lattice Meerschaum Lay Underneath the Thick Cake and Lava


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this Calabash Lattice Meerschaum with an acrylic stem from somewhere on his travels. It came in a black vinyl covered case lined with Satin in the cover and white fur in the lower portion of the case. The case appeared to have had a sticker on the cover that was long gone. There were no identifying marks in the case or on the pipe itself. It has a brass clasp on the front and brass hinges on the back. It was obviously custom made for this pipe.Jeff opened the case and this was the meerschaum pipe that was inside. It was a nice looking lattice carved calabash bowl that had begun to take on some nice colour. The base and shank were almost amber coloured. The exterior of the bowl was very dirty and had tars and oils ground into the finish. Looking at the top of the bowl you can see how much lava had overflowed onto the rim top. It had filled in most of the fine carvings in the top of the rim around the inner edges of the bowl. I am sure once it was out of the case it would become clear how dirty it really was.Jeff took it out of the case to have a better look at the condition of the pipe. It was a beautifully shaped calabash with lots of promise. It looked like it would cleanup really well and look great when finished. The meerschaum was developing some really nice colour around the lower part of the bowl and shank. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim top. There was a very thick cake in the bowl that was hard and uneven.  There was thick overflowing lava coming up from the cake over the rim top and filling in the tiny spot and carving on the rim.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the carving and colour around the bowl. Jeff took the stem off the shank and took a photo. It appears to be a threaded tenon that screwed into the shank. The first sign of another possibility for me was the thin lip around the end of the tenon. I would know more about that once I had it in hand. The shank end and the tenon were filthy with oils and tars. The internals of the pipe were in as bad a condition as the inside of the bowl and airway.Jeff took photos of the stem to show the general condition of the stem shape. The curve is graceful and the curve great. The photo shows the profile of the stem. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the damage and bite marks on both sides near the button and on the surface of the button itself. It almost looked like it had been wrapped in tape. Having seen the before pictures on this pipe I did not know what to expect when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box and I took it out of the box with a bit of fear and trepidation at the amount of work that would await me when I removed it from the case. I put the case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The bowl nicely coloured – Jeff had lost none of the patina in clean-up process. Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal.Jeff had done an incredible job in cleaning up this meerschaum. He had carefully reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping away the thick cake on the walls of the bowl. He also scraped the thick lava on the rim top. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked incredible when you compare it with where it started. There is some slight darkening on the inside edge of the bowl and a dark spot on the back topside. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. The stem looks better with the tape removed. The stem looks very good. There are a few deep tooth marks in the surface and the button edge is thin and blackened.I unscrewed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The tenon appeared to be threaded but I was not sure of that. I would need to do a bit more work on it to be sure.I examined the tenon and decided to unscrew it from the stem. I locked a pair of pliers on the tenon and twisted it to unscrew it. As I did this the friction was not like threads, rather it was like a friction fit. Then it dawned on me what I was dealing with. The threaded portion was the female part of the push tenon that was normally anchored in the shank of the pipe. I pulled it free of the push tenon itself and took a photo of the parts. I breathed a sigh of relief as this was by far an easier repair to make. I would clean up the female portion and anchor it in the shank them clean up the push tenon and that part of the repair would be finished.I set the parts of the stem and push tenon assembly aside and turned my attention to the bowl itself. I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the blackened spots on the rim top and clean up the top. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The top looked considerably better. With the rim top cleaned up I turned my attention to the shank and the stem. Once I had removed threaded insert from the stem it opened up an area underneath that was filled with a lot of tars and oils. I cleaned out that area with pipe cleaners, swabs and alcohol. I cleaned up the inside of the shank and the mortise insert at the same time. I was able to get all of the grime removed. I then turned to the stem where there were also some tars and oils still in the airway and in the slot so I cleaned them as well.With everything cleaned it was time to reconstruct the push tenon system. I coated the threads on the mortise insert with all-purpose white glue and threaded the insert into the mortise. I wiped off the excess glue that came out as the insert seated in the shank. I set the bowl aside to let the glue cure and turned my attention to the stem. I started by using a topping board to remove the thin darkened edge of the button. It was quite thick to start with so I knew that to remove a little would not do damage but actually would make the stem stronger.I used a clear CA (Krazy) glue to fill in the deep tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem as well as to build up the surface of the button to thicken it and smooth out the tooth damage.I reshaped the button surface and smoothed out the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty, red paste with the consistency of red Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out scratches and light marks in the surface of the stem. I polished it off with a cotton pad to raise the shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the meerschaum and the acrylic stem. The buffing also removes minute scratches in the two materials and adds depth to the shine. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. The Beeswax Polish is a soft wax that I can apply with a soft cotton pad and buff with a microfiber cloth. The pipe was alive now and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and the patina should develop more deeply as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This Lattice Meerschaum Calabash is a beauty that has great patina already. It should only deepen with time. It should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.