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Restemming & Restoring a “Malaga” Canadian from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. This morning I was looking through the bag of pipes that I have left from George Koch’s estate. There are only three of them and all were in pretty rough shape. The rims were well knocked about and the stems were either chewed off or through and really would need to be carefully worked over and have new stems fit to them. The first of these three Malaga pipes that need a lot of attention was the one I picked up this morning. It is a Canadian with a broken or chewed off stem. The rim top was used as a hammer or at least spent a lot of time being knocked against hard surface. But sides of the bowl had a mix of grain styles that was fascinating. It is one of the last three Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. Alex had gone through the bag in essence had passed on these three. Jeff unwrapped the pipes when they came to him and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga is actually shown in the photo of the box of pipes below. I have drawn a red box around it so you can see it clearly.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The “Malaga” Canadian on the table is in rough condition. But even under the damage and dirt I can see that the carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The large bowl, oval shank and short broken stem give a clear picture of what the pipe must have looked like when George bought it at the shop. I did not bother Jeff for the pre-cleanup photos because really it was obvious what the pipe must have looked like. From the condition of the bowl and rim post cleanup I could see that it originally had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that there was damage on the inner edges. The rim top had been knocked hard against rough surfaces to knock out the dottle and left damage. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA”. On the right side it read Imported Briar. There was a burn mark on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank junction that looked like the pipe had been set down in an ashtray. The acrylic stem had been broken or gnawed off leaving a useless stem that would need to be replaced. Since Paresh is not here in Canada it will be replaced rather than rebuilt! 😉 I took photos of the pipe before I started my work. Somehow the rest of the before photos of the pipe as a whole were out of focus. The condition of the pipe will be shown in the remaining photos however.I took a photo of the  rim top and bowl to show the condition of the pipe. You can see why I said it was used as a hammer. The surface of the rim is very rough. The outer and inner edges fo the rim are  also in very bad condition. There is some darkening on the back edge and surface of the rim top. I think that this pipe must have been kind of shop pipe or knock about pipe for George as it was very well smoked! I took photos of the stem to show the broken and chewed condition it was in. Remember this is hard acrylic so it took some real gnawing to do this to it!I took a photo of the burn mark on the underside of the shank. It was not a deep mark and the wood was still solid so it was not badly damaged.I took a photo to capture the stamping on each side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar on the right side. The stamping is faint but still readable. I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff had gone to the trouble to ream 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. All of his work gave me a clean pipe to work on to say the least. I decided to start with the new stem. I went through my collection of stems to find one that was the same dimensions as the broken stem. I found one in my can that would fit the bill. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool in the chuck and started turning the tenon on the new stem back to match the broken one. I usually do the turning in several passes, adjusting the depth of the blade between each cut. In this case I did it in three passes. I got it close and finished the fit with my Dremel and sanding drum.I sanded off the castings on the sides and slot end of the stem with the Dremel and sanding drum and did a few turns on the tenon with the sanding drum. You can see from the first photo below that it was very close. I took it back to the Dremel and did a few more passes on the tenon and cleaned it up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. You can see the fit in the second photo. There was some gap where it did not sit flush against the shank. The issue was not the fit of the tenon but rather the shank end. I could see that it was uneven and rough so I would need to make a few decisions on how to address that issue.I decided that the best way to address the fit and give the pipe a little pizzazz would be to use a nickel band. They come from the maker quite thick – ½ of an inch and I wanted something about ¼ of an inch thick. I used the topping board and the Dremel to thin down the height of the band. It took a bit of time but I like the way it looks once it is finished. Once I had the band done I set it aside and cleaned the briar. The third photo shows the finished band glued in place on the shank using Weldbond all-purpose glue. The ¼ of an inch thick band works for me!I topped the bowl on a new piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. Once I had the top smooth I filled in the deeper nicks and chips in the outer edge of the rim with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and retopped the bowl to remove the excess glue. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to sand out some of the burn damage on the underside of the shank. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the rim top repairs and the nicks in the bowl sides. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I used an Oak Stain Pen to blend in a few of the spots on the rim top and edges that were lighter than the bowl. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. You can see from the photo below that I was able to blend it into the rest of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results. I turned to the stem and started by sanding the surface. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the vulcanite to remove the castings and the sanding marks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad Obsidian Oil. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine and then wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a restemmed and restored “Malaga” Canadian with a vulcanite tapered stem. The nickel band adds a touch of class that truly makes the pipe stand out from the other Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It has a great look and feel. The shape of the bowl, the reshaped and repaired rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have completed. I am looking forward to a new pipeman picking up this pipe and will carry on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

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Sometimes You Find a Pipe You Know is Old – a No Name Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

On our recent trip to Alberta we picked up quite a few pipes that were really nice. Some of them were brands we were familiar with and some were pipes that were unknown and unidentifiable. But if you are a pipe hunter you know the feeling when you are holding a particular pipe, no matter what the brand and it just speaks to you. That is what happened with this pipe. It was in a display case at an antique mall in Edmonton. The shape of the pipe, the forward canted bowl, the small short stem, the shape of the button and the single, orific opening on the end of the stem just looked old and I was going to add it to the finds.The grain under the dirty finish was quite nice with straight, flame and birdseye popping through around the bowl and shank. The bowl has a slight forward cant. The rim top had a thick layer of tars and there was sustained damage on the inner and the outer edge. There was a thick cake in the bowl that made it hard to see the extent of the damage to the inner edge. The stem was short vulcanite that had a threaded bone tenon that did not fit tightly against the shank. The stem was also heavily oxidized and had some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The airway on the end of the stem was a round orific opening. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. The damage to inner edge of the bowl and the nicks on the outer edge are evident in the photo. I took photos of the stem showing the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The third photo of the stem shown below gives a clear view of the orific opening in the stem end.I unscrewed the stem from the shank to show the threaded tenon on the end of the short stem. It has a bone tenon and has a long tube on the end of the threaded that works to funnel the smoke up the stem to the opening at the stem end. Since I had taken the pipe apart I decided to clean the parts. I started by reaming the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer. I used the first two cutting heads to take the cake back to bare briar. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remnants of the cake on the bowl walls. I finished the bowl by sanding it with a length of dowel wrapped with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I scrubbed out the mortise, shank and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked them over until it was clean. I scrubbed the threads on the tenon with a brass bristle wire brush.To clean up the rim top I topped it lightly with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a flat board. I took off the damaged rim top to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the rim. I finished the clean up by reworking the edges of the bowl with folded 220 and 400 grit sandpaper.I used some small drops of clear super glue to fill in the deeper nicks and marks on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded them smooth and then polished the repaired areas on the bottom of the bowl, the outer edge of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the scratches and nicks in the bowl sides. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for a short time to absorb the grime. I rinsed it down under warm water to remove the grime debris that was collected in the cleaner. I dried the bowl off with a soft cotton cloth and lightly polished it. I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I rubbed it into the briar to restore, preserve and polish the briar. I let it sit on the bowl for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with cotton cloth. I set the polished bowl aside to work on the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter. I started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches.I polished out the remaining scratches in the stem material with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. Once I used the last pad – 12000 grit – I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, both Fine and Extra Fine. I used a new product I am trying for Briarville called No Oxy Oil to give the stem a final wipe down and polish. I put the stem back on the pipe and polished both pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the pipe several coats of Carnauba Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautifully grained piece of briar with straight grain around the walls of the bowl and sides of the shank. The undersides of the bowl and shank show a mix of birdseye and swirled, mixed grain. The rich brown finish highlights the grain and contrasts well with the short black vulcanite stem. The shape and style of the button and stem point to an early date for this pipe. I only wish that it had some identifying stamping on the shank to help identify the maker. The threaded bone tenon is in excellent condition and to further protect it, I coated it with some Vaseline. The pipe is a beauty. There are some flaws in the pipe that I wish could help tell the story of this old pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is an old timer that I will add to my own collection. I am looking forward to loading a bowl in it and enjoying the taste of this old timer. I will carry on the legacy! Thanks for reading the blog.

I Guess I did not have enough to restore – breaking a tenon on a Ben Wade Spiral


Blog by Steve Laug

The photo below shows a group of five pipes that Jeff and I picked up at an antique mall near Calgary. There were five different pipes and all were nice, but the best of the lot was a nice looking Ben Wade Spiral Freehand. It had a spiral shank and the fancy turned stem also had a spiral saddle. When we took it out of the display case we already knew it was a Preben Holm made pipe. We had no doubt, as Preben Holm’s pipes are always very recognizable. This one had a great sandblast around the bowl and shank with a smooth portion on the front, right and rear about 1/3 of the way down the bowl from the rim edge. It had a plateau rim and shank end. We examined it and sure enough it was a Ben Wade pipe by Holm. It is stamped on a smooth twist on the underside of the shank and reads Ben Wade over Spiral Sandblast over Hand Made in Denmark. There was a crown with BW inside on the topside of the stem. It was in decent condition and the price was right. The finish on the bowl was dirty and dull. The plateau rim top and shank end were dirty. The plateau rim top had some lava overflow and darkening and there was a thick cake in the bowl. It was a dirty pipe but should clean up well. The stem was acrylic and dirty and had light tooth chatter on both sides. When got back to where we were staying I took photos of the group of pipes to highlight the find. They were some nice looking pipes.We were very excited about the finds from the trip and the last day Jeff and Sherry were with me we divided them up. Jeff would take the ones that needed to have his magic worked on them before I restored them and I would take the ones that were in decent condition. This was probably the first mistake we made. But the gravity of not sending them in Jeff’s car would become evident once I returned home.

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

I wrapped all the pipes in packing tissue and rolled them in some of my clothes before packing them in my hard shell carry-on bag. I carefully put it in the overhead bin in the plane and then rolled it out once I was back in Vancouver. I put the bag aside and in the morning opened the suitcase and unpacked the pipes. Each pipe I took out and unwrapped was in excellent condition. No damage at all. I had purposely saved the Ben Wade for last and when I unwrapped it I almost cried. The tenon had snapped and the stem and pipe were apart. I have no idea how it happened but now I had a damaged pipe from the trip and it was truly one of the nicer finds! Here is a photo of what I found.I put the pipe in a baggie and set it aside until I had dealt with the feelings of stupidity for not having sent it with Jeff or at least packing it better. I cleaned up several other pipes before I even looked at this one. Then last evening I finally felt like dealing with it. I took it out of the bag and took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. (You have to agree it truly has a great sandblast!) I decided the first order of business was to pull the broken tenon. I used a pair of needle nose pliers and clamped down on the broken end of the tenon and wiggled it free. Fortunately the snapped tenon was not stuck in the shank and it came out quite easily as you can see from the photo below. Now I needed to drill out the stem and fit it with a replacement tenon.The first step in the process of fitting a replacement tenon is cleaning up the damage on the stem. I smoothed out the broken tenon with my Dremel and a sanding drum. I knocked off the sharp remnants of the broken edges and smooth it out. If you are paying attention you can see that the airway in the stem is not centered. This would make opening the airway and centering a new tenon a challenge to say the least. It could be done but I would need to pay attention and there would be some extra steps that would have to be done to fit it properly.I used a pen knife to chamfer the airway and bring it to a centered position so that when I drilled it I could follow it in and keep it centered. I started with a drill bit that was slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I drilled it as deep as the length of the threaded portion of the replacement tenon. I worked my way up to a drill bit as large in diameter as the tenon end.I used a tap to thread the inside of the stem to receive the new tenon. I twisted it into the stem until it was the depth of the threaded tenon end. I also used the Dremel to take the hip off the replacement stem so that it would fit flush against the stem. Once the stem was threaded I gave the threads on the tenon a light coat of epoxy and twisted it into the opening in the stem with a pair of pliers. I took photos of the stem with the tenon in place and set it aside for the glue to cure. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem surface. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. There was some lava overflow on the rim top on the left and rear of the bowl. There was also some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and some on the rim top. The cake in the bowl was quite thick. The stem showed some tooth chatter on both sides near and on the button surface.I remembered a bit of history on the brand that thought that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armed with that information I followed the regular regimen that Jeff and I use for cleaning estates. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the largest cutting head as this pipe has a particularly large bowl. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remaining cake and smooth out the walls. I finished the bowl cleanup by sanding the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl. I also scrubbed the rim top plateau with a wire brush to knock of the lava that was built up there. I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I worked to remove the remaining lava and minimize the darkening. I rinsed it under warm running water. The photos show the rim top after scrubbing. It looked much better at this point. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With the outside cleaned and shining I moved on to clean up the inside airways and mortise in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.  I set the cleaned bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with 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. When I finished I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a beautiful Preben Holm made Ben Wade Spiral Freehand with a fancy, twisted, black acrylic/Lucite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape fits well in the hand with the sandblast giving a nice tactile sense when held. I polished stem and the bowl 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 rich combination of sandblast and smooth finishes took on life with the buffing. The rich colour of the briar works well with the polished stem. I like the grain and finished look of this Preben Holm Ben Wade Spiral pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This Danish Freehand is a real beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe.

 

 

Renewing a Canadian Made S.C. Pipes Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Another of the pipes that Jeff and I found on our recent Alberta trips was this nice looking freehand. I saw it on a table at an antique sale in a Hotel in Edmonton and almost choked on the seller’s price. He had it stamped at $100. I asked to see it and examined it carefully. It is stamped S.C. Pipes over Fait Au Canada on the left side of the shank and an SC logo stamped on the left side of the fancy turned stem. It was in decent condition but the price seemed high for a little known brand. I was about to walk away but decided to be gutsy so I asked what his lowest price was. He looked at me for a bit and then asked if I was a pipe smoker. We I answered in the affirmative he then asked what I would offer him for it. I made my offer very low expecting a response other than the one he gave. He took the offer and said he would rather have the pipe go to a pipe smoker than to a kid wanting it to smoke dope. I was surprised and the deal was struck. I paid him and walked away with an S.C. Pipe. The bowl had plateau on the top and on the shank end. The finish appeared to be natural and had a nice patina to it. The plateau on the rim was dirty, had some lava overflow and darkening. It was a dirty pipe but should clean up nice. The bottom of the bowl was flat and made it a sitter. The stem was dirty with a little calcification on the end ahead of the button and light tooth chatter on both sides. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition. 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. There was some lava on the rim top and some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and some on the rim top. It was thick enough that it was hard to tell if there was any damage to the rim. The stem had tooth chatter on both sides near and on the button surface on both sides.I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank to show how good the condition is. It reads SC Pipes and underneath that it reads Fait Au Canada and it is very readable. I remembered that the S.C. Pipe brand was made by the Paradis brothers in Quebec but did not remember much more than that so I turned to Pipedia to retrieve some more information. I looked first for S.C. Pipes and did not find a listing so I turned to this listing for Paradis Pipes and learned the following:

Paradis Pipes is the Canadian brand of the brothers Gilles and Fernand Paradis. In 1922 the Paradis family moved to the USA, when Lucien Paradis (1906-1979) was 16 years old. It was at this age that he started as an apprentice at his uncle’s pipe factory, Joseph B. Desjardins, maker of (JD) pipes, in Fall River, MA. Joseph Desjardins was issued two patents during this period, one for a new machine for making pipe stems and another for a new design of pipe reamer. The company employed 60 workers at one stage.

In 1930, due to the Great Depressions, Luvien lost his job and returned to Quebec to work in the agricultural machine industry. In his spare time, he made pipes, selling them door to door. Three years later the rest of the family joined him and Lucien founded a pipe factory with two of his brothers. The company eventually employed 18 workers and in the 60s produced over 50 thousand pipes a year, under brands like JBL, Dr. Thomas, Fernand Gignac, S.C. Pipes, New London Golfer, and Jo Thomassin.

Paradis was founded in 1978, at the Salon of Quebec Artisans’ and is available in tobacconists all over the country today. The brand produces 8000 pipes a year (400 “handmade”), with Greek briar (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes).

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This S.C. Pipe is not only Canadian made (Fait Au Canada) but it is a pipe made by the Paradis brothers and comes from Saintes-Foy, Quebec. The freehand rage occurred in the late 60s and 70s so my guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Armed with that information I followed the regular regimen that Jeff and I use for cleaning estates. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the largest cutting head as this pipe has a particularly large bowl. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remaining cake and smooth out the walls. I finished the bowl cleanup by sanding the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl. I also scrubbed the rim top plateau with a wire brush to knock of the lava that was built up there. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and worked it into the plateau on the rim and shank end with a shoe brush. I let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim still looked too black to my liking, so I further scrubbed the plateau top with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I worked to remove some more of the lava and darkening. I rinsed it under warm running water. The photos show the rim top after scrubbing. It looked much better at this point. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I probably should have cleaned the inside first but honestly I was interested in seeing the grain and the plateau after it was cleaned up so I did the exterior first. With the outside cleaned and shining I moved on to clean up the inside airways and mortise in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.  I was surprised at how clean it actually was.I set the cleaned bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with 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. When I finished I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a beautiful S.C. Pipes Freehand with a fancy, turned, black vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape fits well in the hand with the flared rim top and waist around the mid bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich oil cured briar took on life with the buffing. The rich colour of the briar works well with the polished vulcanite stem. I like the grain and finished look of the pipe as it has a very Danish look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Canadian Made Freehand, made by the Paradis Brother is a real beauty. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe.

Sprucing Up an Attractive Butz Choquin Supermate 1596 Panel


Blog by Dal Stanton

Without doubt, one of my favorite pastimes is go pipe picking!  My wife and I were on the Black Sea coast in the Bulgarian city of Burgas returning to an antique shop I had visited before on the main walking street very near the Black Sea coast.  I was not disappointed when I spied the copper pot full of pipes waiting for someone like me to come along.  The Butz Choquin Supermate now on my worktable was in the bunch that I pulled out to get a closer look.  To the left of the BC (pictured below) were a Oldo Billiard and Lincoln London Made with the Lindburgh Select Poker to the right.  Not pictured below that also came home with me is a Harvey Meer Lined Rusticated Dublin Rustified LONDON PARIS NEW YORK.  A very nice haul!

Jim saw the BC Supermate in the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection along with a ‘Nightmare’ Canadian that was not needing a restoration but a resurrection!  In my communications with Jim, I discovered that he was from Pennsylvania and an engineer who has several hobbies that where he works with his hands and expressed appreciation for the restorations that he had seen posted from my worktable.  It was for that reason he looked at ThePipeSteward website and found two pipes that called his name and he commissioned them.  He also expressed appreciation for our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  All the pipes commissioned by potential stewards benefit this cause. Here are pictures of this nice Paneled Butz Choquin 1596 now on my worktable.  The nomenclature on the left side of the shank is the BC fancy script ‘Butz-Choquin’ [over] ‘SUPERMATE’.  To the right, the stem is stamped with the traditional ‘BC’.  On the right shank side is the COM and shape number: ‘STCLAUDE – FRANCE’ [over] 1596.   I have heard on FB group postings that the long-time French pipe manufacturer is closing its doors.  I went to the main website of Butz Choquin and it was active, and I saw no notifications.  I’ll continue to investigate.  One of my first research projects with a French pipe, Jeantet, connected me with the history of St. Claude, France, the place that most say represent the birthplace of modern pipe manufacturing.  The BC name is among the earliest residents of St. Claude.  Pipedia provides this information about the origins of Butz Choquin:

Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.  In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.  In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of [Butz-Chochin]. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called ‘the world capital of the briar pipe,’ under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

I found this great picture of the Butz Choquin Supermate Panel in an ad on TobaccoPipe.com.  The box is classic, and I wish I had the pipe sock to go along!  I found the text along with the picture to be interesting as well in its description of the finish and the collectibility of this 1596 shape.The condition of the pipe on my table is a far cry from the other pipe that Jim commissioned, the Comoy’s The Lumberman!  While the chamber has moderately thick cake and the rim shows lava flow, the pipe generally is in very good shape. Cleaning and working on the stem’s tooth chatter and oxidation do not appear to offer any surprises.  To begin the sprucing of this BC Supermate, the stem is removed and cleaned with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and added to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with other stems in the queue.After several hours of being in the soak, I take out the BC stem and clean the airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% to remove the Deoxidizer.  I also wipe off the raised oxidation using cotton pads also wetted with alcohol.To revitalize the stem, paraffin oil is applied with a cotton pad.Next, I tackle the stummel cleaning.  The cake in the chamber is moderately thick.To remove the cake, I use 2 of the 4 blade heads that come in the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Following this, using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls, helps to fine tune the removal of carbon cake. Finally, sanding the chamber walls with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen provides further cleaning of the chamber and I then wipe the carbon dust remaining with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.Inspection of the chamber afterwards reveals healthy briar.  I move on.The picture above shows the lava buildup on the rim.  I turn now to cleaning the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad. I also utilize my Winchester pocketknife carefully to scrape the rim. I take the stummel to the sink and continue the cleaning the internals with bristled shank brushes and anti-oil dish liquid soap.  After a thorough rinsing, back to the worktable to continue.  The rim cleaned off well and the stummel surface looks good. Next, targeting the internal cleaning further, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% are used.  Tar and oils are excavated from the mortise walls by scraping with a small dental spoon.  After much effort, the pipe cleaners and buds start lightening and I decide to save the rest of the cleaning for later by employing a kosher salt and alcohol soak.After inspecting the briar surface, I find one old fill that I dig out with a dental probe and refill using clear CA glue.  I spot drop the glue on the small pit and use an accelerator to quicken the curing time. With 240 then 600 grade papers, I sand off the excess glue.The rim is still discolored with a dark ring around the inner rim edge.  I use a piece of 240 grade paper very lightly to sand the rim as well as the dark ring.After lightly sanding, it is apparent that there was a bevel on the inside edge of the rim which I decide to fresh. Using 240 grade paper with a hard surface pressing behind helps to form the bevel. The bevel looks classy!  I like it.There are minor nicks and cuts on the stummel surface which I use sanding sponges to address.  Beginning with the coarse sponge and following with the medium and light grade sponges the nicks and cuts are cleaned up.  I like sanding sponges as they are not as invasive as sanding papers but clean up minor problems on the surface.Next, I use micromesh pads to clean and smooth the stummel.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I stay clear of the shank panels holding the nomenclatures.  Using Before & After Restoration Balm brings out the natural hues of the briar with a subtlety that I find attractive.  To apply it to the surface, I put some of the Balm on my fingers and work the Balm into the briar.  The consistency of the Balm starts with a cream-like texture and then thickens into a waxy substance.  After the Balm is fully worked in, I put the stummel aside to allow the Balm to do its things.  I take a picture during this stage.After 20 to 30 minutes, I remove the excess Balm with a cloth and then buff it up some with a microfiber cloth dedicated to the post-Balm buffing.  As hoped and expected, the deepening of the natural hues is very attractive – it looks great.  Moving on.The stem repairs are waiting, and I take a closer look at the tooth chatter and compressions on the upper and lower bit.The first step is to use the heating method by painting the damaged areas with the flame of a Bic lighter.  As the vulcanite heats, physics take over and the rubber expands.  The chatter and indentations hopefully will also expand to regain the original condition, or closer to it.  After using the flame, the upper bit’s tooth chatter all but disappeared.  The lower bit compressions lessened but are still evident.Addressing the remaining compressions on the lower bit, I use Starbond Black Medium-Thick CA glue to fill the indentations.  I first wipe the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the area.  Carefully, I spot drop glue on each compression.  I set the stem aside for the CA glue to cure.After the Black CA glue cures, I go to work removing the excess patch material using a flat needle file.  I also work on the button to refresh the lines.Following the filing, 240 grade sanding paper is employed to erase the file marks and to smooth the lower bit. Also using the file to freshen the button lip and 240 grade paper on the upper bit, tooth chatter sands out with no problems.Next, wet sanding with 600 grade paper followed by 000 grade steel wool smooths further – the upper then the lower bit pictured. I’m careful to avoid sanding the BC stem stamping on the left stem panel.  In the second picture, a close look at the shiny reflection reveals the subtle lines of the patch.  It looks great!Even though the ‘BC’ stem stamp is healthy, which is nice for a change(!), I avoid direct sanding over it.  To clean around the stamping and to remove residual oxidation, I use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge which is less abrasive than sanding paper.  It helps to darken and clean the vulcanite around the stamping.On a roll, I move forward with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is employed.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is used to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  The pads and Oil do the job – nice! After attempting to rejoin the stem and the stummel to apply compound, as is the case sometimes, the tenon fit is too tight.  With the cleaning process, the briar expands, and this sometimes results in the fit being too tight.  It is best not to force the fit and risk cracking the shank.  I use a half round needle file to lightly file the mortise surface – very lightly.  After another try and discovering that it is still too tight, I use 470 grade paper wrapped around the tenon and rotate the stem while the paper hugs the tenon.  After a few attempts to fit, the tenon finally seats well.With the stem and stummel rejoined, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the Dremel with the speed set at 40% full power.  Blue Diamond is then applied methodically to both stem and stummel.  After finishing with applying the compound, a felt cloth buffing helps to remove the residual compound dust in preparation for applying wax.Before applying the wax, one project awaits: the ‘BC’ stem stamp.  To refresh the ‘BC’ stamping on the stem I dab white acrylic paint on the lettering.  Then the excess paint is absorbed using a cotton pad.  It doesn’t take long for the paint to fully dry.  After it dries, I carefully remove the excess paint using the point of a toothpick.  I also use the flat edge of the toothpick to scrape over the top of the stamp to sharpen the lines.  It looks great! After changing the cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire stem.  After applying a few rounds of wax to the pipe, I follow by giving the pipe a serious buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.Earlier, the ad described this pipe shape as ‘esteemed’. This description fits well.  I have a square shank Peretti Billiard that I like a lot.  This Butz Choquin Supermate 1596’s square shank transitioning to a tapered square stem is very attractive – the lines draw the eye in for a closer look.  Added to this, the Panel shape alignment compliments the flow of the shank and stem to give an overall solid or full look.  The light hues of the briar grain also add to this ensemble.  Jim commissioned this BC Supermate and will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Redeeming a Malaga Short Cherrywood – a 2nd of 2 pipes going home


Blog by Steve Laug

Yesterday afternoon I received and email from a reader of the rebornpipes blog who was on the hunt for a Malaga pipe or two for a colleague of hers. What made it interesting was that the colleague’s grandfather and family were the original owners of Malaga Pipes. Here is her message to me:

Hi There

I work with Lisa Holloway formerly Saraynian and her grandfather and consecutive family were the original owner of Malaga Pipes

I’d love to be able to purchase one for her for Christmas this year but since they went out of business in 1999 I have no idea where to get one or how much they are

Would you be able to help me find one and purchase it for her?

Please let me know thanks so much

Diane

I read her email at work and when I got home I went through the Malaga pipes from George Koch’s estate. I picked two of them that I thought might interest her and sent her the pictures of the pipes that I had available. The two I chose needed to be restored before I could send them to her but they showed some promise. The first of them was a long shank Canadian that had some mixed grain and vulcanite stem that I restored yesterday and wrote a blog about the process (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/10/26/redeeming-a-malaga-canadian-the-first-of-two-that-are-going-home/). The second one is a short Cherrywood that has a great mix of grain styles around the bowl and shank combined with a saddle stem that makes it an interesting pipe. It is another one of the many Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The “Malaga” Short Cherrywood is next pipe on the table. The carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The bowl, round shank and straight saddle stem look very good. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that it was impossible to see if there was damage on the inner edges. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the right side of the shank read “MALAGA”. On the left side it is stamped IMPORTED BRIAR. The stem had tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. There was some thick calcification and also some oxidation deep in the vulcanite of the stem surface. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and darkening on the back of the bowl. There appeared to be some damage to the inner edge of the grimy pipe. The outer edge looked to be in decent condition with perhaps some burn marks on the front.He also took photos of the side and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the beautiful grain around the bowl. The photos show the general condition of the bowl and dirt and wear on the rich oil finish. It is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the top side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and IMPORTED BRIAR on the right side. The stamping is very readable.The next photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and wear on the button surface and edges. You can also see the calcification and the oxidation on the stem.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

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 the lava build up on the rim top and the flat surface of the rim top and the inner edge has some serious burn damage on the front and back side. The outer edge looked very good. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. The stem also looked better. 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 all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damage on the top and inside rim edge. The edge is out of round. There is a burn mark that extends across back and right front edge of the rim top at that point. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near and on the button surface on both sides.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank to show how good the condition is. It shows the “MALAGA” and the IMPORTED BRIAR stamp and they are very legible.I decided to address the rim top first. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to minimize the damage on the top, remove the darkening and clean up the damage on the inner edges of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the damage on the right rear inner edge of the bowl. I gave the inner edge a slight bevel to repair the damage. I polished the edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The rim top and edges really looked better (I forgot to take photos of the rim top at this point but did so with the micromesh).I polished the rim top and the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results. I turned to the stem to address the issues on the surface of both sides at the button. I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter into the surface of the stem. As I sanded and reshaped the button and stem surface the tooth chatter disappeared.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad Obsidian Oil. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both fine and extra Fine and then wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a “Malaga” Imported Briar small Cherrywood with a ¼ bent vulcanite saddle stem has a great look and feel. The shape of the bowl, the cut of the rim top and briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Now that the second Malaga is finished it is ready to mail off to Diane with the Canadian. I can’t wait to hear what her colleague thinks when she opens her Christmas present! I am glad that she is carrying on both the trust for George Koch and her family. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

Redemption for an Old Pipe – a Briar Basket Holding a Meerschaum Egg Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

One of my favourite finds from Jeff and my recent trip to Alberta was this old timer. It is in its original case with a broken amber stem and a brass filigreed band. The thing that made me buy this pipe was not the age or even the case. What made it stand out to me was the uniquely carved entangled vines and stump forming a basket for the egg shaped meerschaum bowl that sat inside of it. We found it in a little shop in in Innisfail, Alberta that had some interesting antiques but only this one pipe. The case is in decent condition though the hinges and clasp are shaken and will need to be repaired. There is no stamping on the shank that is readily visible and there is no logo that I can see on the faded lining of the case. I will need to inspect it more closely to be sure. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a thick buildup of lava flowing over from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The grooves of the intertwining vines of the briar were filled with dust and were dull and lifeless.  The meerschaum bowl insert had some patina to it but was also scratched and nicked in the spots where it showed through the vine. The stem that was with the pipe was amber and broken. The shape of the stem made me wonder about it as it was oval rather than round like the shank. The band was conical and held the stem end against the shank end. There was no tenon in the shank or stem piece. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took some close up photos of the briar exterior bowl to show the details in the carving. It is wrapped by vines and leaves and on the front of the bowl is ram’s head with a cluster of grapes between the horns. The shank is the thick vine from which the vines around the bowl flow. The briar and the meerschaum are dirty and dust is deep in the grooves of the briar and in the spaces around the connection to the bowl.I carefully removed the band from the shank and could see that there was no tenon in the shank. The shank itself was clogged up with tars and oils. The stem was fit into the filigreed band with wraps of paper that had locked into the band. I carefully wiggled the broken amber stem out of the band and was surprised by the mess that came out with it. The wraps of paper lined the band and needed to be scraped out and the stem itself was oval! This was definitely not the correct stem for this pipe. The band and the shank were both round and a oval stem without a tenon did not work with the original design of the pipe. With the band removed from the shank and the bowl freed of the stem it was time to work on the cake in the bowl. Because of the delicate nature of this inserted bowl I decided to scrape out the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I took the cake back to bare walls on the meer bowl. I sanded out the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scraped the rim top with the knife and then sanded off the lava build up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the grime without removing the patina that was underneath. I scraped out the inside of the shank with a pen knife to clean out the build up of tars and oils on the inside. There was a lot of buildup in the shank that needed to be removed. Once it was scraped clean I cleaned it out with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the remainder of buildup and open the airway in the shank. Once I was finished, the pipe not only smelled clean but was very clean. The airflow in the shank was clear and draw was perfect.I went through my can of stems to see if I could find one that could possibly work. I knew that I did not have an amber one but I probably had an acrylic one that I could shape. It was not long before I found one that would work for this pipe. I would need to reduce the diameter of the tenon to get a good fit and to shape the diameter of the stem at the tenon make it fit with the filigreed shank band.Once I had the tenon reduced I put the band on the shank and inserted the stem to get an idea of what I needed to do to adjust and adapt the stem. I took photos of the pipe and stem from various angles to see what needed to be done. You can see the bulging around the band that I will need to take down. My brother Jeff called it a belly!I used a rasp to remove the excess material on the “hips” of the stem. I sanded it smooth and put it in the shank to see the progress. The photos below show the progress! I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take off more material and to smooth out the marks left behind by the rasp. I sanded the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out further and inserted the stem in the shank to check the progress. I further sanded the “hips” until I was happy with the overall look of the stem at this point. I polished the sanding marks on the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wanted to remove as much of the scratching as I could before using micromesh sanding pads.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it with a cotton pad. I heated water in a cup in the microwave to bend the stem. Once the water was boiling I put the Lucite stem in the water and let it sit until the stem was pliable. I carefully bent it to match angle of the case.I wet sanded the stem once again with the full range of micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. The stem was finished after this regimen.I set the stem aside and turned my attention to cleaning up the externals of the bowl. I scrubbed the briar and meerschaum with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get in to all the nooks and crannies of the twisted vine and ram’s heard. I rinsed it in warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. I made sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies of the briar. I buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to raise a shine. This newly restemmed old timer looks really good to me. The new Lucite stem approximates the look of amber without the fragility. It fits the pipe well and has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile with the vines and leaves wrapped around the meerschaum bole. It feels great in the hand and should be very nice as it warms up with a bowl of tobacco inside. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain on the vines and leaves entwining the bowl came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting browns and patina on the meerschaum works well with the polished acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the next of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt. It is an old timer that is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. The combination of briar and meerschaum is catching and unique. Give the blog a read and if any of you have seen one like this let me know in the comments below. Any help will be appreciated.