Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is another relatively new acquisition from a collection Jeff and I purchased from Michigan. It included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes that is pictured below. There were some nice pipes in that collection and some that I have never seen before.In looking over the pipes in the collection I pulled out several that intrigued me. The next pipe I chose to work on an interesting freehand pipe. It was a sitter with a scooped bowl leaning forward. The finish was two coloured – a dark flume around the rim top and about a ½ inch down the bowl sides and a medium brown the rest of the way around the bowl. The stem was a swirled Lucite in tans, browns and blacks that was cut for the freehand bowl. It had a crown on the top of the saddle with an MV below. The rustication on the bowl is very rough and then has what appears to be a wire rustication over the top of the original one. The grain shows through the rustication and it looks like the wire rustication follows the flow of the grain. It is shown in the photo of the rack above – it is identified at the left side of the second shelf of the rack by the red oval around it.
There was something about the pipe that made me think of Preben Holm carved freehands. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside. It reads Monte Verde over Made in Denmark by Hand. Underneath that there is a script stamp that reads Twin Finish. It was quite dirty, like the rest of the pipes in this collection. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some tooth damage to the sharp edge and top of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup process. The next photo is a close up of the bowl. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the side and bottom of the bowl to highlight the condition of the pipe and the beauty of the rustication and finishing. It was a dirty pipe and obviously it was another favourite pipe because it is so dirty and caked. The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is quite clear and legible. The top of the stylized saddle stem has a Crown MV stamped into the surface. It appears to have originally been gold.The close up photos of the stem show the tooth marks in the surface near the button and the damage to the button itself on both sides. The tooth mark on the underside looked like a bite through but I was glad to see it was not.Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top and you could see a little remaining in the depths of the rustication. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove almost all of the tar and oils but there was some deep lava in the rustication at the back of the rim. The Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface. The tooth marks on the underside appeared to go through the stem but I was glad to see that it was just a deep mark. The swirled browns, tans, blacks and greys of the Lucite looked good with the variegated browns of the briar.I also took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping is very clear and readable. You can also see the rustication style on the shank in the photo. It is an interesting looking piece of carving.Somewhere in the back of my mind rattled a memory that the brand was associated with Preben Holm of Ben Wade fame. It seemed like I had seen it listed on Pipephil’s site when I was working on Ben Wade and Preben Holm pipes. Now it was time to check that out. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m6.html) to check out my memory. Sure enough it was indeed a Preben Holm pipe. I have included a screen capture of the listing on the site.I also Googled the brand and found a thread on Pipes Magazine about the brand that gave me some more information (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/monte-verde-pipes). I include that below.
The Monte Verdi line was indeed a pipe style offered by Holm. It usually features heavily blasted and rusticated briar and smaller group sizes than some of his other lines. Some refer to this line as a “second”, but it provided an outlet for briar that had flaws and therefore unsuitable his other lines. Holm marketed many different lines featuring a variety of finishes in both stains and carvings and this is merely one of those. The ones I own are good pipes and smoke well. The blast finish is very interesting to look at and the tactile sensations make it fun to hold.
Now I knew the connection. I was working on a Preben Holm made pipe and it was an interesting one to work on. I started by working on the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the remaining lava debris on the rim top. I was able to remove all of the remaining debris and the rim top looked really good. The deep rustication and the second wire rustication gave the pipe a very unique look.With the rim top cleaned I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rustication but I was able to work it in. I used a shoe brush to make sure it was deep in the grooves. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening and lava are gone. The striations and rustication look really nice with the new finish. I am very happy with the results. I set aside the bowl at this point and turned my attention to the stem. I repaired the damaged areas on the edge of the button and filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I polished the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos tell the story. I touched up the stamping on the saddle portion of the stem with some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I let it dry in the stamping for a bit then buffed it off with a cotton pad. It looked much better. The MV was legible and the crown looked good. The side of the M was a little faint as the stamping was worn.I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped it down a last time with the damp cloth. This beautiful, double rusticated freehand is a special looking pipe and it feels amazing in the hand. I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 multi-coloured grain shining through the rustication came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished swirling brown, tan, black and white Lucite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this Monte Verde by Preben Holm on the rebornpipes online store soon. It is such an interesting tactile pipe and if you have been looking for a freehand then this might be the one for you. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this interestingly shaped Preben Holm Hand made pipe.