Tag Archives: Preben Holm Pipes

Refurbishing a Tired Preben Holm #1 from the Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I am a big fan of Free Hand pipes!!! I love the way these pipes fit in to the hand and the creativity of the carver can be really appreciated in these pipes. And a freehand pipe made by the renowned Danish pipe carver, Preben Holm, is my dream come true. To be very honest to you all, the PH estate pipes that are available nowadays on eBay are very expensive and well nigh out of my reach. So when Abha, my wife, sent me pictures of the Mumbai Bonanza lot, I was immediately attracted to one free hand pipe that screamed PREBEN HOLM and when she confirmed that it was indeed one, I knew I was lucky. I say lucky because of the circumstances in which I made a purchase of this lot of 30 pipes and thereafter, the pipes that I received in this lot. I have given a gist of this purchase in the paragraph below. Well, the PREBEN HOLM is finally on my work table now!

I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

This 14th pipe that I decided to work on from this find, is a smallish Free Hand pipe with a bone shank extension and is indicated in yellow colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the bottom of the shank towards the shank end as “PREBEN HOLM” in block capital letters over “HAND CUT” in a fancy script over “COPENHAGEN” over “DENMARK” again in block capital letters. The left side of the shank is stamped with an encircled numeral “1”. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. The stem is devoid of any logo.To research this brand and line/ model in specific, I referred to pipedia.org in an attempt to date this pipe and understand the significance of the numeral # 1, if it was a shape code or grading code. However, there is nothing on this numbering system, except on Preben Holm “Private Collection” where the grading system starts with 101, 202 up to 808 in ascending order. And this is definitely not from “Private Collection” line!! I even visited rebornpipes.com in the hope that I would be able to unravel the mystery shrouding this pipe, but to no avail.

But nonetheless this is a PREBEN HOLM and is staying with me. Any reader who has any information or knowledge about this pipe is earnestly requested to share it with us on rebornpipes!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The smooth stummel has some beautiful straight grains on the front, back and sides of the stummel. On either side of the stummel, is an elegantly contoured elevation which makes for a nice and comfortable hold with the thumb and the middle finger while smoking. The front of the stummel rises above the back making for a downward sloping rim top surface. The upper portion of the rim top flares out in a typical PH design and adds a distinct feature to the appearance of the pipe. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and lackluster appearance. There are a one/ two likely fills, noticeably on either side near the shank and stummel junction and another couple near the foot. These will be clear when the stummel is cleaned of all the grime. A thick layer of cake can be seen in the chamber. The backwards sloping plateau rim top surface has nice knobby raised portions and the portion of crevices formed, is covered in thick overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The inner rim condition appears to be in good condition with no burn/ charred surfaces. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. In spite of the thick cake, the chamber odor is, surprisingly, not strong and should be addressed once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The draught hole is dead center at the bottom of the chamber and should be a great smoker. The shank end is adorned with a horn shank end extension which is pinched in the middle and then flares outwards matching in profile with the rim top. The shank extension is dry and has darkened nicely due to absorption of all the oils over the years of smoking. This will add a nice classy touch to the overall appearance of the pipe once cleaned and hydrated. The shank extension end and mortise are blocked with accumulated dried gunk, adversely affecting the airflow. The fancy vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and has calcification deposits towards the button end. There are deep tooth marks on the lower and upper stem surface in the bite zone and appears that the previous owner has literally chomped on the bite zone of the stem. The lower stem surface is cracked near the button edge and is circled in red. The button edges also have bite marks, in fact, they are badly worn out. The tenon and horizontal slot shows accumulated oils and tars. The oxidation in the space between the three squares, in descending size from the tenon end to slot end, is going to be a bear to get rid of but once nice and shiny will elevate the appearance of the overall pipe manifold times. Along with the stems of other pipes in line for restoration, I immersed the stem of this Preben Holm in a mix of one part Hydrogen Peroxide 20% with one part hot water after I ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the stem air way. A couple of hours later, the stem oxidation on all these stems were raised to the surface. The pictures below show the stem after it was removed from this bath. The appearance is definitely not for the fainthearted, to say the least!!After I had fished out the stem from the Hydrogen Peroxide bath, I scrubbed it with Magiclean sponge and followed it up with a wipe of cotton swab and alcohol. I further scrubbed the stem surface with 0000 grade steel wool. The loosened and superficial layer of oxidation was easily removed and revealed the condition of the stem.. There are deep bite marks in both the upper and lower bite zone. The bite marks are deep enough to cause significant thinning of the surface and complete disfigurement of the button edges. The deeper oxidation that was pulled to the surface would require more abrasive techniques.

THE PROCESS
I started the restoration with the stem repairs as this would take the maximum of my time to clean, repair and spruce up the stem. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The heap of pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the slot. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 150 and followed by 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with a cotton swab and alcohol and rubbed a little Extra Virigin Olive oil to hydrate the stem. I flamed the damaged button edge and the nicks and dents with the flame of a lighter. This helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface as it has an inherent property to regain its original shape when heated. At this stage, I could clearly make out the extent of damage to the lower surface and the extent of the crack in the bite zone. This was further accentuated due to heating with the flame of a lighter. The upper surface too has a couple of deep tooth marks. Just for the information of statistically oriented reader, to get the stem to this stage it took better part of the afternoon and well past mid night!! Continuing with the stem repair, with a dental spatula, I probed the area around crack from inside the slot end with the aim of dislodging only the thin and loosened stem surface. Once the thin and loose stem surface was removed, I was certain that the rest of the stem surface around the crack was solid. I inserted a triangulated index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone on either side, including over the button and set it aside to cure.While the stem fill was set aside to cure, I started with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With size 1 head followed by head size 2 of a PipNet pipe reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was pleased to note a pristine chamber with no signs of heat fissures/lines/pits. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the shank airway and mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used leaves no surprise why air flow through it was restricted. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also wiped the shank with cotton buds and alcohol. With this cleaning, all old smells in the pipe are history. The pipe now smells clean and fresh.With the internals of the stummel now clean, I cleaned the external surface using a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I diligently scrubbed the rim top surface to remove the entire dust, dirt and lava overflow that was embedded in the crevices of the plateau rim top surface. With a soft bristled brass wired brush, I removed the overflowing lava from the rim top surface and cleaned the internals of the shank with a shank brush and dish washing soap to remove what little crud remained in the shank. I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped the stummel dry with an absorbent soft cotton cloth. Once I had wiped the stummel dry with paper towels and soft cotton cloth, I saw a couple of small and superficial fills on the left side of the bowl, near the bowl and shank joint and one at the foot of the stummel. These fills are marked in yellow circle. Very carefully and painstakingly, I completely removed the old fill with a pointed dental pick. I cleaned the fill of all the debris of old fill material, wiped it with alcohol and refreshed the fill with a drop of clear CA superglue in each fill and set it aside to cure overnight. By next day, the fill was nice, hard and well set. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I worked the fill till I had achieved a nice blend with the rest of the stummel surface. It turned out much better than I had anticipated. I further sand the entire stummel surface with the same grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and further smooth the stummel surface in preparation for a polish by micromesh pads. The plateau rim top surface still did show areas where the overflow of lava was still embedded in the crevices. With a dental pick, I diligently scraped each and every spot to remove the deposit of lava. I am now pleased with the cleaning of the rim top surface.I subjected the stummel, including the bone shank extension, to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and ensures early corrective action. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar, the bone shank extension and the plateau rim top surface with my finger tips and work it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful straight grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. I was slightly perturbed by the dark coloration taken on by the bone shank extension and shared pictures of the same with my mentor, Steve, who reassured me that this phenomenon is normal and should be good when the balm has been completely absorbed and polished subsequently. With this assurance, I move ahead with the stem repairs.

Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I sanded the fills with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper and followed it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to achieve a perfect blending of the fills with the stem surface and a crisp button edge on either side of the stem. In my exuberance to cross the finish line, I completely missed out on taking pictures of this stage in restoration. My sincere apologies for this miss….

Using the micromesh pads, I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 3200 girt pads. I had read that White diamond polish is between 3600 and 4000 grit of micromesh pads and best used between these two. I decided to give this a try to see if there is any difference in the final stem finish. I mount a fresh cotton buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply white diamond polish and buffed the stem. I wiped the stem with microfiber cloth and go through the remaining pads, dry sanding with 4000 to 12000 grit pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the plateaus of the rim top surface. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend!! P.S. I earnestly would like to request all the readers to help me with the grading and dating this pipe. The only thing that is confirmed is that this is definitely not one of the high grade pipes from Preben Holm what with the fills that were seen on the stummel, but nevertheless, it’s a PH!!!!

There is only one more pending write ups which I shall be tackling before I undertake to restore a pipe which my dear friend and mentor, Steve, had sent me about a year back with the intention of providing me an opportunity to test my own skills. I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and sharing this journey with me.

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What Is It About A Preben?


Blog by Norman Skiba

For 50 years now I have been enjoying and observing that there is something special and magical about Preben Holm pipes. I have always loved his pipes.  Looking back, I can say that I have owned more Preben Holm pipes than any other pipe maker – period.  Overall, they are unique; some wild and some are quite tame and reserved, by his standards.

To me – there is something that I have struggled, and still fail, to describe regarding the overall smoking experience of a Preben Holm pipe.  I have mostly had fine to superb smoking Preben’s, and I have had a few that were ok, and also a few rare ones that just had issues: predominantly a bad gurgling.  Yet even the few bad or not-so-good ones all had this Quality and taste and smoking experience across the board with the best of them.  There is a consistency there that I struggle to explain.  This character/taste/sensory experience that makes it a Preben.  After a week of straight meerschaum smoking I had a bowl this morning in a Preben and it was marvelous.  I look forward to another bowl out of the Preben tomorrow before I head out to the top vineyard to get my nets on.  (I did the side vineyard after the bowl this morning.)  So, again, these experiences make me wonder and question just what it is that makes the Preben’s so unique?  What is it about the nature of the briar he uses that are so different and special unlike any other pipe maker.   And no, I am not just talking about Danish pipe makers.  I mean all others that I have ever smoked or owned.  There is something about his pipes that make me still love the pipe and pipe smoking (with my favorite tobacco as a partner in all of this), and briar.  After all of these years I still cannot put my finger on that special dynamic.  Yet I am in awe when I light up one of his pipes.  They are not only beautiful in so many ways; but they smoke so sweetly and with a subtlety to them.  So, what is it about a Preben?

Restoring a Preben Holm Hand Cut Sandblast Freehand in Pune, India


Blog by Steve Laug, Jeff Laug, Dal Stanton, Paresh, Abha and Pavni Deshpande

The restoration on this beautiful Preben Holm freehand may appear to be just another pipe restoration but it was not. Let me assure you that it was definitely far more than that. It was really an East and West adventure in pipe restoration. My brother Jeff and I traveled to Pune, India where we met Dal Stanton of Pipe Steward and had an incredible visit with Paresh Deshpande, his wife Abha and his daughters Mudra and Pavni. With that cast of players – from the US, Canada, Bulgaria and India it was going to be a unique and memorable week of fellowship and pipe restoration. Each of us played a role in this restoration. I will try to include the contribution of each in the story as it unfolds. Paresh and I had spoken of the pipes that he wanted us to work on together while staying with him. This pipe was one of them. We had talked about the Preben Holm via Whatsapp in the past months and he wanted me to replace the broken tenon on the pipe so that he could learn the process.

Lest you might think that all we did was work on pipes, I can assure you that while staying in Pune we enjoyed the sights of the city, fellowship and great food along with working on pipes together. Paresh and his family did a magnificent job of hosting the event and making us all feel like we were part of his family. The hospitality, the amazing food provided by Abha and the joy and laughter of Mudra and Pavni were all part of making this an unforgettable visit. In the next weeks there will be several blogs written about the pipes that we worked on. Dal is working on a blog about the restoration of a BBB bent billiard that had belonged to Paresh’s grandfather that was a real group effort. Both Paresh and I will also be posting blogs on some of the other pipes that we worked on together including meerschaums and briars. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together while smoking our pipes and sharing beer and scotch to celebrate each restoration and to close each day. We exchanged tips and processes that we used. It was a time of sharing and learning for all of us.

The blog I am writing now was on the restoration of a really well made Preben Holm freehand. Paresh had picked this pipe up off eBay for a good price because of the condition. I am sure that if the pipe had been complete it would have sold for a much higher price than it did. The sandblast finish was dirty but very well done – showing bother the underlying grain and the cross grain in the blast. The stain colour was a contrast of browns and blacks. The rim top and the shank end were both plateau. They were dirty but still quite stunning. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in great condition. The exterior of the bowl was also in good condition under the grime of the years. The tenon had been broken off cleanly at the stem and whoever had pulled it had drilled through the broken tenon in the process of pulling it out of the shank. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside and some wear on the button edge but otherwise it was in very good condition. There was some oxidation on the surface and in the grooves of the fancy stem that would need to be addressed. We took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show the parts and the condition. I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was clear but showed some wear. It read Preben Holm over Hand Cut over Made in Denmark. There is also a circle with a number in it; sadly I failed to write down the number. I believe it is either a 1 or a 7. Perhaps Paresh can confirm this.Now it was time to start on the stem repair on this pipe. I want to document the process on this restoration so that both Dal and Paresh have the information for their future tenon replacements. The first step is preparing the end of the stem for drilling out the airway. The remnants of the broken tenon need to be removed in order to have a smooth surface for drilling out the airway to receive the end of the new tenon. I did this be using a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I worked on the stem until the surface of the end was smooth.Once the end of the stem was smooth I used a sharp knife to give the airway a slight inward bevel to guide the drill bit when I started the drilling. I find that doing this helps facilitate a straight drill in the airway. The key for me in tenon replacement is to let the airway be the guide for the drilling. Doing this keeps things aligned and the airway straight. I started the drilling with a bit that was slightly larger than the existing airway. I proceed through a series of bits until I have drilled the airway with the final bit the same size as the end of the replacement tenon that I will use. I generally use a cordless drill to do this work but in this case I used a Hand Drill that Paresh had available. I tightened the bit in the chuck and carefully turned the stem onto the bit. I proceed with caution as I want to make sure that I keep the airway straight for a good fit of the new tenon. I use the length of the end of the tenon to determine the depth of the drilling. I generally mark the bit with a line of a piece of tape to ensure that I do not drill too deep.I worked my way up through a successive series of drill bits, to slowly open the airway to receive the tenon. I find that this process keeps the stem from chipping as I drill and creating more problems for me to repair in the process. As I finshed using the first three bits I decided to use the power drill. Paresh gladly became the human vise to hold the drill. I aligned the bit and stem and pressed the trigger to drill the airway further. It was great to have extra hands in this process. Dal took photos as we worked on the stem.I used the 4.8 and 5 mm drill bits to finish drilling out the airway.The airway was open to the right dimension to receive the new tenon. At home I have a tap set and would have threaded the airway to receive the tenon. In this case I did not have a tap so I used a file to knock off the threads on the tenon end enough to pressure fit it in place in the stem. Once they were knocked off enough I put some super glue on the tenon end and pressed it into the airway. I carefully checked the alignment to make sure the tenon was straight on the stem before setting it aside to cure. Once the glue had cured on the tenon repair we put the stem in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer to let it do its work on the oxidation. I also wanted to experiment with how the deoxidizer affected the glue in the tenon repair. We set it aside for several hours while we worked on the bowl.I turned the bowl over to Jeff to do the cleanup work and show us his process. Abha, Paresh’s wife joined in the cleanup process on this pipe as well as the others on the work table the week that we were all together. In watching him do the work we all learned some new tools and techniques to add to our arsenals of restoration. He reamed it with the Castleford Reamer that I brought as a gift for Abha. He took the cake back to bare briar so that we could check out the condition of the chamber walls. It looked very good. He cleaned the rim top and shank end with a brass bristle wire brush to clean the grime out of the plateau. He scrubbed out the interior of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. (Forgot to take pictures of this point of the process.) Jeff scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and debris from the plateau and the sandblast finish. Somehow we forgot a picture of this point of the process. He took it to the sink and rinsed it off and scrubbed the interior and exterior of the briar with dish soap. He scrubbed it further with the dish soap and tooth brush. He rinsed the pipe off with warm water in the sink.He dried the bowl off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give some shine to the briar. We rubbed the surface down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven, enrich and protect the briar. We buffed it once more with the microfiber cloth. The photos show the look of the cleaned briar. With the bowl done we set it aside and turned our attentions to the stem. Jeff took it out of the bath and squeezed the excess deoxidizer off the stem into the bath. He rinsed it under warm water and ran water through the airway. He blew on the stem to clear out any deoxidizer in the airway. He ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the stem to remove any remaining dexodizer. He buffed it rigorously with a microfiber cloth to remove the remaining oxidation and polish the vulcanite. The tenon glue held up well in the bath and the tenon was tight in the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth chatter and dents in the surface. Paresh sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth dents on the button and the surface of the stem. He wiped it down with alcohol and filled in the dents with clear super glue. When the glue had cured we smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth and blend them into the surface of the stem. We polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with all grits – 1500-12000 grit and rubbing the stem down with a microfiber cloth to give it a shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush that Paresh had in his kit. I rubbed the bowl and stem down with another coat of Balm and buffed it further with the brush. Dal, helped me install a new photo app on my phone to take the photos. (I have lots to learn about how to use the enhancements of the app but I took the photos and the lack of precision reflects my aptitude not Dal’s instruction.) The pictures below show the finished pipe. It is a beautiful Preben Holm Hand Cut Danish freehand that has a full life ahead of it in Paresh’s rotation. The process I use in putting a new tenon on the stem and revitalizing the finished pipe has been recorded. Jeff’s process on cleaning up the stem and briar has also been documented in the process. Paresh’s daughter Pavni polished the inside of the bowl with sandpaper bringing it to a shine that is unparalleled. This is a feature of all of Paresh’s restorations that none of us knew before. Thanks Pavni for your patient labour in bringing beauty to the inside of the bowl. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I look forward to hearing from Paresh how the pipe smokes as we did not get around to this one while we were in Pune. Thanks for looking and reading the blog. We all hope the documentation has been helpful.

RESTORING A BEN WADE “SPIRAL”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The third of the four freehand pipes purchased on eBay and currently on my work table is the BEN WADE “SPIRAL”. This is a huge sized pipe and fills the hand nicely with its size, weight and heft. I was attracted to this pipe because of its size and the unique spiraled shank. Another factor was the fact that my inherited collection had quite a few numbers of Danish pipes like the Stanwells, Amphoras, Kriswells and SONs. Thus, when I first saw the pipe on eBay, the name Ben Wade sounded so British and when I read the description and the stampings of Made In Denmark, I was immediately interested and intrigued at the same time!!! I got this pipe fairly cheap and the excellent condition it was in when it arrived, further sweetened the deal. This appears to be a simple and straight forward cleaning job from the looks of it.

The stummel shows a combination of sandblasted and smooth surfaces. It shows smooth surface on the left side extending 2/3 way down from rim top towards the heel of the bowl and on the right side it extends from the base of the bowl to 1/3 way upwards towards the rim top.The shank has beautiful and evenly spaced 5 spirals, first half from the bowl end is sandblasted while the remaining half towards the shank end is smooth and bears the stampings “Ben Wade” over “SPIRAL” over “SANDBLAST” over “HAND MADE” over “IN” over “DENMARK”. These stampings are seen in the first and third spiral of the shank. The stem bears the Ben Wade logo of the initials in capital letters ensconced within a crown on the top surface of the stem near the tenon end. All the stampings are clear and crisp. There is some very interesting history on Ben Wade pipes which I got from pipedia.org. Some interesting snippets of information are reproduced below:-

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but  in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Ben Wade turns Danish

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 desparate 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 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 spend 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.

From the above information, I can say with some certainty that this line of pipes was made between the years 1971 to 1986.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This Ben Wade has a huge size and fills the hand nicely and has a combination of smooth and sandblasted surfaces. The sandblasted areas are filled with dust and grime which can be easily seen in the crevices of the blast. The smooth surface is also covered in the tobacco oils and oils secreted by sweating palms giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. There are no blemishes in the briar of the stummel or the shank that can be seen. I surmise that a nice scrub with Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush should suffice to clean the stummel and the shank. The rim top is sandblasted and is covered in overflow of lava, tars and grime. There is no apparent damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim that can be seen, like a charred rim or an out of round bowl or chips and dents. However, the condition will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the overflow of lava is removed from the rim surface. The chamber shows uneven cake build up with a thicker build up at the bottom and progressively reducing towards the rim top. The condition of the walls will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the stummel feels solid to the touch with no soft briar anywhere which is indicative of the likelihood of a burnout or major heat fissures.The beautiful and unique spiral shank has crisp edges to the spirals and just needs to be cleaned for the straight grains to pop out in their complete splendor. The plateau shank end is filled with dirt, grime and will need to be cleaned. The airway in the shank shows a blockage during the blow test and should be an easy clean up.The high quality vulcanite fancy stem is oxidized and the “BW WITH CROWN” logo appears faded as it is covered in oxidation. This needs to be addressed and the preservation of the stem logo attempted.Deeper tooth chatter peppers both the upper and lower surfaces of the stem. However, the bite marks are more pronounced and numerous on the lower surface. I shall try to raise these to the surface by flaming with Bic lighter and the deeper ones will be filled with CA superglue. Buttons show light deformation due to bite marks and will need to be sharpened. It is interesting to observe that these tooth indentations are slightly more forward towards the tenon end rather than the button end!!! Probably, the huge size and the front heavy bowl necessitate clenching it forward for better balance.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration process by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer followed by scrapping the remaining cake from the chamber with my fabricated knife. The cake was hard and dry. I further removed the cake using a 220 grit sand paper and sanded the walls till the solid bare briar was reached. I wiped down the interiors of the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the chamber of all the carbon dust and inspect the inner wall condition. And there it was, a sight which every restorer, experienced or a novice silently prays is not seen…… the beginnings of a crack/ heat fissures!!!!! The following pictures show the extent of these fissures. I shall address this issue later after I have cleaned the stummel and the stem, both internally and externally. This was followed by cleaning the internals of the shank and the airway. I attempted to insert a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the airway in the shank and realized that there was no give for the pipe cleaner half way through the mortise. The blockage called for a more aggressive method of cleaning!!! Using a fabricated (again…. I have modified and fabricated a number of tools which I find useful in my restoration processes as the sophisticated and designated tools are not easily available to me and those available are too expensive!!!) Dental spatula, I scraped all the grunge, oils and tars from the mortise. However, a pipe cleaner would still not pass through!! I shone a torch light in to the chamber and looking through the shank, I realized that the blockage was nearer to the draught hole as the light did not pass through. I addressed this issue by inserting a rounded needle file and dislodging the blockage. I further scrubbed the walls of the draught hole and the mortise with the rounded needle file. Once I was satisfied with the filing, I thoroughly cleaned the mortise and the airway using a shank brush, q-tips and pipe cleaners, all dipped in isopropyl alcohol, till the pipe cleaners and q-tips came out clean. I checked the draw and it was nice, smooth and full. With the insides of the stummel and shank cleaned and freshened up, I turned my attention to the exterior of the bowl. Using Murphy’s oil soap and a toothbrush, I cleaned the exterior of the bowl. I gave a very deliberate scrub to the bowl and into the rustications to remove all the dust, dirt and grime that had accumulated over the years. I purposefully avoided brass brush/ steel wool while cleaning so as not to damage the sandblast. Once the cleaning with the oil soap was done, I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped it dry with a soft cotton cloth. I took care that the water does not enter into the chamber and the shank. I wiped and dried the stummel with a paper napkin and a soft cotton cloth. The bowl now has a nice, beautiful, clean and robust look to it. I kept the bowl aside to dry out and turned my attention to the stem. Turning my attention to the stem, I cleaned the stem surface with Magic Clean sponge and followed it up by flaming the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the minor tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. This was followed by the sanding with a 220 grit sand paper. This serves two purposes; firstly, it reduces the size of the fills as well as evens out the surface of the stem for the fill and secondly, it has been my experience that if the stem oxidation is removed before the fill, the end result is a nice black and shining finish and not the dirty brown spots wherever the stem has been filled. I followed it up with sanding the stem surface with a 600 grit sand paper. I spot filled the deeper bite marks with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure overnight. I had covered the stem logo with a whitener in order to highlight the stem logo. The extent of highlight will depend on the depth remaining in the stamping. While the fills in the stem were curing, I decided to address the beginnings of the very minor issues of heat fissures in the chamber. I mixed an adequate quantity of pipe ash, activated charcoal with yogurt to form a thick slurry and applied it as evenly as possible all along the inner walls of the chamber. This too, was set aside to cure/ dry along with the stem.  The next day, once I was satisfied with the cure, using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to match it with the stem surface and also to sharpen the edges of the buttons on either surface. I further matched the fills and sharpened the buttons by sanding with 220, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. The stem was polished with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil with my fingers in to the stem. After I was through with the last grit pad, I gave a final rub of extra virgin olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. It had taken a couple of days for the coating of pipe mud to completely cure and dry out. I very lightly sanded the chamber coating with a 600 grit sand paper to even and smooth out the surface of the chamber.Once I was done with the chamber, I gave the external surface of the stummel a good clean up with a dry soft cloth to remove any dust/dirt that might have settled on the bowl overnight. Thereafter, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the bowl ensuring that it reaches the rustication also. I am truly amazed at the spread of this balm!  Just a small quantity quickly spreads and is sufficient to coat the entire bowl when rubbed with the fingers. The product was further rubbed into the rustication when buffed, using a horsehair shoe brush. I let it rest for a few minutes to let the balm work its magic on the briar. The transformation is amazing!! Once this was done, it was back to using muscle power to enhance the shine and beauty of the sandblast and the smooth surfaces by prolonged rubbing with a soft cloth followed by a microfiber cloth. I finished the pipe restoration by attaching the stem with the stummel and giving it a nice rub with a microfiber cloth. The pipe now has a nice and deep shine to it. The finished pipe is shown below. Thank you for sparing your valuable time in going through this write up.

My Preben Holm Story


Blog by Joe Gibson

August has been a good month for rescuing pipes from various antique shops in Mississippi. Earlier this month, I bought a Peterson Kapp-Royal and a Søren Refburg Rasmussen freehand from an antique mall in Picayune, Mississippi.

This past weekend, we visited the antique shops/flea markets in the Meridian, Mississippi area and after not seeing any pipe or tobacco related items (except for 4 brass spittoons), we walked into the last shop on our list. To be honest, we almost didn’t go into Penny’s Little Flea Market. None of the previous shops had air conditioning and were hot. What convinced us to go into Penny’s was the big sign, “Air Conditioned.”

Talk about a lucky sign! The first thing my wife saw was a display case on the counter containing pipes. I could tell before the case was open that these were not the usual suspects – Kaywoodie, Dr. Grabow, Medico pipes. The first three I picked up were a Preben Holm and two Ben Wade freehands. The case also held three pre-1965 Charatan’s Make and four Savinelli’s.

The Preben Holm caught my heart though.

Preben Holm carved and sold his first pipe before he turned 16. By the time he was 22 years old, he had his own shop and employed 45 employees. He is widely considered one of the godfathers of the Danish freehand design. For those wanting more information check out the about Holm on https://pipedia.org/wiki/Holm,_Preben.

Interestingly, Holm also produced the Danish Era Ben Wade pipes. Holm signed on with Herman Lane of Lane, Ltd. in 1971 after his previous distributor could not pay him. That dates the Preben Holm Delight as either pre-1971 or after 1980 according to my research. Since his prior distributor still had a stock of “Preben Holm” pipes, Lane decided to market the pipes under the Ben Wade name. My understanding is that once the old distributor depleted his stock, Holm and Lane reinstated the Preben Holm name on the pipes.

Despite the outside of the bowl being dark and grimy, there was relatively little cake in the pipe when I bought it. The stem was moderately oxidized but hadn’t turned dark orange yet. When I sniffed the bowl, it smelled like old tobacco but didn’t have that funky smell I normally find in pipes at flea markets.

The Cleaning Process

My first cleaning step on this pipe was to scrub it down with a Magic Eraser and undiluted Murphy’s Oil to remove as much of the dirt and grim as I could. I followed that with scrubbing the bowl with isopropyl alcohol and a Scotch Brite pad. It was then packed with cotton balls and saturated with isopropyl alcohol for an overnight soak.

The next morning, I put the stem to soak in an Oxyclean solution to soften the oxidation. After dumping the cotton ball and alcohol, I went to work on the outside of the pipe again. I really wanted to lighten up the smooth portions of the bowl to increase the contrast between smooth and rustication. I started wet sanding with 320 or 400 grit sand paper dipped in the alcohol. After rinsing, I wet sanded with 600 grit until I was happy with the results.

After cleaning the outside of the pipe with isopropyl alcohol and Murphy’s Oil, I sanded the smooth portions with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper.Following the 400 & 600 grit sandings, I used alcohol wipes to remove the dust residue.Next, I move to finishing sandpaper starting with 1000 grit. It removes any residue the alcohol wipe left and starts polishing the pipe. I use 2K, 4K, 8K grits next.I finish this process with 12K grit sandpaper. It requires time and patience, but the result is a nice, glossy shine before applying wax.The same technique is used on the rim. The top of the bowl looks out of round but it was apparently carved like that.I’m a big fan of using finishing sand paper and micro-mesh sanding pads to bring out the grain and shine on pipes. I have been told that I overdo it, but I like my results. I start with 1,000 grit sand paper and move up the scale – 2,000 grit, 4,000 grit, 8,000 grit and finally 12,000. Between each step, I use an alcohol wipe to remove and residue. The end result is always a very smooth feel to the pipe and a glossy shine.  The pipe gets a second overnight alcohol soak after that.

For some reason, the stem was almost more challenging to clean than the pipe. Using micro-mesh pads and a lot of elbow grease usually give me a nice black, semi-glossy stem. This stem didn’t want to cooperate. The micro-mesh removed all of the surface oxidation and looking at it under room lighting, it looked good. When I looked at the stem under sunlight though I could still see discoloration, especially around the curved parts of the stem.

Red Tripoli applied with my buffer reduced the discoloration, but it took over an hour of buffing to remove the last vestiges of the oxidation. A light application of carnauba to the stem and bowl had both gleaming and ready to smoke. 

Next in line – A Ben Wade Golden Walnut Hand Made


Blog by Steve Laug

As I have mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed them and brought them to Canada with me. There was a Soren Hand Carved, a Granhill Signature, a Ben Wade Golden Walnut, a Veeja 900 C6 and a Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. All were hand crafted and had interesting shapes and finishes. Some had full plateau rim tops, some partial plateau rim. Tonight I started working on them. The next pipe I chose was a Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem. That left me the finishing work on it. The bowl has a smooth finish with some plateau on the rim top and shank end. The pipe is a sitter. The shank flares toward the stem that is not the original but similar. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter on the top and bottom at the button. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Ben Wade over Golden Walnut. Under that was stamped Hand Made in Denmark. I refreshed my memory of the history of Ben Wade pipes. I remembered some, but had forgotten much. I looked on Pipedia to refresh myself. Here is the link, https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade. I summarize in part below.

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 it’s 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 spend 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.

From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from the period between 1971 and Preben Holm’s death in 1989. It bears the Ben Wade stamp which also says that it was made for the American pipe market under the direction of Herman Lane of Lane Ltd. Armed with that information I turned my attention to restoring the pipe. I started with the clean bowl, I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the oxidation.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and polish the stem. When I finished with the last pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and shank end and the smooth black and brown contrast finish work very well with the black vulcante stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have worked on quite a few Ben Wade pipes over the years and several of them have been Golden Walnut pipes. Preben Holm was an amazing innovator in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide and 2 1/4 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This one is already sold to a fellow in Kentucky who collects Ben Wade pipes. I am looking forward to hearing from him once he receives it. It is a beauty! Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Ben Wade Golden Danish Freehand. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs.  

Restoring a Pair of Preben Holm Deluxe Walnut Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this pair in a trade for a pipe I was selling plus some restoration work credit. They are really an interesting pair of Preben Holm pipes. I have no idea of the age or where they fall in the line of Preben’s pipes but I liked the look of the two of them. Both of them are stamped Preben Holm over Deluxe Walnut over Hand Made in Denmark on the underside of the shank. Both had a matte finish dark reddish-brown stain with identical stems. Both pipes were sitters.

The first of them was a square long shanked Dublin freehand with rounded outer edges to the bowl. The grain looked quite good on the briar but it was dirty. The rim had some heavy cake buildup on it and the bowl was thickly caked. The stamping on the underside of the shank was very sharp and clear. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was lots of tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button. The crown logo with the PH below it on the stem was faint but legible. Here are some pictures of the first pipe when it arrived.Deluxe1 Deluxe2I took a close up photo of the bowl rim to give you a clear picture of what the rim and the cake looked like. It would take some careful scrubbing to remove the build up without damaging the finish.Deluxe3The second of the pair had a more rounded edge semi-square shank and was also a more squat Dublin freehand with rounded outer edges to the bowl. The grain on the briar looked just as good as that on the first and was just as dirty. The rim on this one also had some heavy cake buildup on it and the bowl was thickly caked. The stamping on the underside of the shank was very sharp and clear. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was lots of tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button. The crown logo on the stem was faint but legible. Here are some pictures of the second pipe when it arrived.Deluxe4 Deluxe5I took a close up photo of the bowl rim to give you a clear picture of what the rim and the cake looked like. It would take some careful scrubbing to remove the build up without damaging the finish.Deluxe6I reamed both pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the third head. I cleaned up the transitions with a Savinelli Pipe Knife.Deluxe7I scraped the tarry build up on the rims of the pipes with a pen knife I used for that. It is sharp and thin so with it I can carefully scrape the cake off the rim. I wiped the rims down with alcohol on cotton pads.Deluxe8I sanded the inside of the bowls with a rolled piece of sandpaper around my index finger. I was able to smooth out the inside of both of the bowls.Deluxe9I scrubbed out the mortises and airways in the bowls and stems with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Deluxe10 Deluxe11I sanded the tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of both stems. All the marks were identical on both pipe stems so I am guessing that they belonged to the same smoker. The first two photos are of the first pipe’s stem and the next two are from the second pipe.Deluxe12 Deluxe13I used a small brush and some white acrylic paint to touch up the crowns on the top of each stem.Deluxe14I waxed both bowls and buffed them on the buffing wheel. The photos below show the bowls after the cleanup and buffing.Deluxe15 Deluxe16 Deluxe17I polished the stem on the first pipe with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. When I got through with the 12000 grit pads I gave it another coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Deluxe18 Deluxe19 Deluxe20I repeated the polishing practice spelled out above on the second stem. The photos below show the progress of the work.Deluxe21 Deluxe22 Deluxe23I buffed the pipes with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipes are shown in the photos below. These two came out looking really nice. The shape and the finish of both are eye catching. Thanks for looking.Deluxe24 Deluxe25 Deluxe26 Deluxe27 Deluxe28 Deluxe29 Deluxe30 Deluxe31 Deluxe32 Deluxe33 Deluxe34 Deluxe35 Deluxe36 Deluxe37 Deluxe38 Deluxe39