Tag Archives: repairing a cracked amber stem

Another interesting old timer – a L.G.B. Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I decided to work on another of the older cased pipes that I have here. This one is a cased Bent Bulldog. It has the brass (rolled gold?) filigreed rim cap and ferrule from the late 1800s and early 1900s of many of the other ones I have worked on previously. We bought this pipe from an online auction on July 30, 2019 from Oceanside, New York, USA. The pipe had no stamping on the shank or bowl but the case had a gold L.G.B. oval logo stamped inside the cover. The leather cover on the case was in was worn and in rough condition but still solid. There was heavy wear on the edges of the case but the hinges and lock still worked very well. Don’t you want to know what is inside of this case? It really is another beauty though it has the marks of a hard journey. Well… I will get there. Jeff opened the case to show us what the pipe looked like inside. The lining of the case was far more worn and had a orange colour to it. It had L.G.B. stamped on the inside of the cover. The rolled gold (brass) cap and ferrule were ornate and filigreed. The finish on the bowl was quite dark and opaque but I am pretty certain that the bowl is made of meerschaum. The amber stem was cracked on three sides with a deep crack but it had been repaired sometime in its life from the look of it. It was a pretty pipe.It was another beautiful looking older pipe. The meerschaum is dark – almost cherry coloured and goes very well with the amber stem. The gold coloured rim cap and shank ferrule were dirty but in good condition. The cap was smooth and not dented which was quite surprising to me for an older smoked pipe. The stem was amber had a large repaired crack on the top and underside of the diamond shape. It was chipped and dirty as well. It still looked all right but definitely had the tooth marks and chatter of its previous trustee! Once again this was an old timer – a pipe from the late 1890 or early 1900s. The case has a gold stamped L.G.B. in an oval logo on the inside of the green fabric lid. The shank of the pipe bears no stamping on either side. Have a look at the photos of the case lid below.Jeff took the pipe out of the case and took photos of the pipe to show the look and the condition it was in when we received it. The bowl and the “gold” was in excellent condition. There was a cake in the bowl and the rim top had some spots of lava on it. The stem is beautiful but under the bright light of the flash appears to have a lot of crazing that is often in these old amber stems. He took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to show their condition. You can see the light cake in the meerschaum bowl and tars/oils on the rim top that tell the story of how the pipe was used by its previous caretaker. The bright flash of the camera shows the crazing in the amber on both sides of the stem. You can also see the tooth marks in the stem surface. He took photos of the metal tenon in the shank to show the tars and debris that had collected on the screws of the tenon. It was well used and filthy. It was anchored in the shank and the stem was threaded and screwed on to it. The end of the shank confirms that the pipe is meerschaum to me. You can also see the chips/cracks in the stem.He also captured the look of the bowl. When I first took it out of the case I thought it was briar but I don’t think it is. I am pretty sure that it is meerschaum. It actually looks quite amazing. The twin rings below the rim cap have dirt and grime in them but otherwise the bowl is in good condition.He also took some photos of the crack in the stem. The first photo shows the stem from the top left side of the diamond stem. The second one shows the left underside of the stem. You can see that it is actually missing some chips in the second photo. Someone did a repair on the stem as you can see the glue marks on the first photo. It was a solid repair but would need to be revamped and cleaned up.I turned to the internet to see if I could find information on the L.G.B. brand and was not able to find anything about it. The only thing that came up was a link on Worthpoint  for a carved figural meerschaum (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/large-meerschaum-smoking-pipe-bent-1799326507). I have included a screen capture of the pipe below.The seller described the pipe with the words below. It was the most information that I could find on the brand. I am not sure how applicable the information is but it is a possible link.

Beautifully hand carved! Length is about 7 inches. Real amber stem. Gold center ring. I have not cleaned this meerschaum. Leaving that to the new owner to do as he/she wishes. The original case has inscribed ‘Made In Austria’ and ‘L.G.B. Real Meerschaum Amber’.

Jeff had cleaned it thoroughly. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned that up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior of the briar with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He cleaned out the interior of the shank and airway with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He carefully cleaned out the amber stem with clean water and pipe cleaners to remove the debris and oils in the airway and the threads of the tenon. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived here. The first two photos show the worn case. The third one shows the pipe in the fitted case and the L.G.B. logo stamped on the lid of the case. While worn it is clear and readable. The overall look of the pipe after cleaning shows the beauty of the meerschaum bowl. It looks amazing with the genuine amber stem. The crack in the stem is visible in the photos and it is solid and usable. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the cleaned bowl and rim cap. You can see the clean bowl and the smooth and undamaged rim cap. I also took some photos of the amber stem to show how it looked. The crazing in the surface of the stem is visible deep in the photos. The crack in the stem surface is not visible in the photos but it is very present.I took a photo of the left side of the shank. There was no stamping on either side of the shank to identify the brand. You can also see the rolled Gold Plated Ferrule on the shank end in the photo. The photo also shows a crack in the amber stem on the left side. Even in its worn condition it still is a beautiful looking piece of pipe history. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and amber stem with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar and amber. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It is definitely looking much better and more full of life. I put the bowl in the case for awhile and turned my attention to the stem. I started the process by filling in the cracks on the sides of the stem and tooth marks on the stem surface with clear CA glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that by polishing it with some 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It really began to take on a shine. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. When the bowl and the stem were finished this L.G.B. Bent Diamond Shank Meerschaum Bulldog looked much better. I carefully hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise and deepen the shine. It another beautiful pipe that is well over 100 years old. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is .95 ounces/28 grams. This L.G.B. Meerschaum Bent Bulldog was another great find that goes with other older pipes from various brands that I have restored in the past. This is a pipe that will hold another special place in my collection. It is also one that will likely be smoked sometime along the way. It is another pipe that has the capability of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through my restoration of this great find.

Breathing Life into a Cased Orlik Gourd Calabash with a damaged Amber Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished restoring all but this last pipe from the collection of pipes that we purchased from the older gentleman. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. You have seen many of the pipes that he had. These included Dunhill, BBB, Orlik, Barclay Rex, a cased Ben Wade, an H. Simmons all briar, Hardcastles and some Meerschaums. There were also some assorted others that I will get to in the days ahead. It was a great collection.

The last pipe I have chosen is a Gourd Calabash that is in a black case. It is stamped on the left side of the Gourd and reads Orlik. The silver band is also stamped Orlik Sterling. It has a meerschaum bowl in gourd that is dirty and has a thick cake in the bowl and a thick coat of lava on the rim top. It is pictured above in the photo I received from the old gentleman. It was filthy both inside and out. I think that the Orlik stamp on the calabash and the case made me want to try to redeem this old pipe. The stem is amber and was the problem with the pipe. It had been broken in half and repair. That repair held. There was also a repair to the amber about an inch from the button. The the ½ inch ahead of the button was also chipped and seemed to be cracked. This was another well loved pipe that obviously been a good smoker!

Jeff took some photos of the Orlik Gourd Calabash with a Meerschaum Bowl and amber stem before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years. The first five photos show the case, the Real Amber stamp on the case next to the clasp, the pipe in the case and the stamp/logo decal on the inside of the lid that read Orlik.    Jeff took the pipe out of the case and took photos of it to show what it looked like. If you look closely at the stem you can see the crack in the amber and the damage on the button end. You can also see the thick lava coat on the top of the meerschaum cup.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The rim top and inner edge are thickly covered with lava. The meerschaum has some patina developing. He took photos of the top and underside of the amber stem showing the cracks and chips on both sides. The stem is a mess that will take time to repair. Jeff also took some photos of the Sterling Silver band on the gourd and the inset tenon that is in the shank end. The tenon is dirty and the silver oxidized.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the gourd bowl the patina on the meerschaum cup. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some interesting patterns in the meerschaum even through the damage, dirt and debris of many years. This Cased Orlik Gourd Calabash is an interesting looking pipe. The meerschaum bowl has developed a patina and the damaged amber stem looks very good with. Because the old gentleman that we bought the pipes from intimated that he purchased his pipes at the Manhattan Barclay-Rex store I would imagine that he may have purchased this one from them as well. I was unable to pin down any information regarding the date this pipe so it was time to move on and work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe so as not to damage it further. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He carefully scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the exterior of the meerschaum cup and rim top and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the patina in the meerschaum and the gold of the gourd. The chipped and cracked end of the amber stem came off while Jeff cleaned it. He wrapped it in a paper towel and shipped it to me in the bowl. He cleaned the internals of the stem with alcohol and carefully scrubbed the amber with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the amber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. I took a photo of the parts of the bowl and stem. I took some photos of the bowl and meerschaum cup. The rim top looks very good after the clean up though it is spotty. I polished the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the gourd and meerschaum. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and slid it through the broken piece and into the larger part of the stem. I put some clear super glue (CA) on each portion of the broken stem. I pressed the portions together and let the glue cure. I slid the pipe cleaner out of the stem and filled in the cracks on the top and underside of the stem. I sanded the repairs on the top and underside of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs. I started to polish the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. It looks significantly better and is smooth but the repairs show! With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Orlik Gourd Calabash with Meerschaum cup and an amber stem back together and buffed it the bowl and cup lightly on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I hand buffed the amber stem by hand. I gave the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finish on the gourd and meer is a great looking. The repaired amber stem looked very good. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ¾ inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of this large pipe is 2.08 ounces /59 grams. This Orlik Gourd Calabash is another great find from this collection. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.