Tag Archives: Repairing damaged briar with super glue and briar dust

Restoring a Cased 1906 JW Straight Shank, Amber Stemmed Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

It seemed to have been a time for taking a look at unique pipes. Before I left for my work trip to Nepal and India I received another email from a reader of the blog in Australia regarding an old 1906 pipe that had purchased. I am including a series of emails here at the beginning of this blog for the information that he included.

Steve, I saw (only photos) of an antique pipe – briar bulldog from 1906, with sterling silver mount and amber stem. It looked in good condition – bowl needed reaming and cleaning. I have asked for more photos of the amber stem. Would you be able to restore the pipe for me if I do go ahead with the purchase.

Best Regards, Ray

I wrote him back and in the course of our conversation via email I decided to take on this unique restoration if indeed he purchased it. He immediately sent several more emails about the pipe giving me more information and convincing me even more of the need to take on this project.

Hi Steve, Thanks for offering to make an exception and to help out with the restoration. I will send photos of the pipe if I decide to go ahead with the purchase. I have really enjoyed reading your (and the other guests’) articles on pipe restoration.

There is a sense of wonderment seeing these black/darkened objects with caked bowls reveal their lovely grain and colour – like old paintings restored to their original colours… 

If we do go ahead, please understand I am in NO HURRY for this job to get done – you will be doing me a HUGE favour. I’ll keep you posted.

Best Regards, Ray

After that email a few weeks went by and I received another email from Ray letting me know that he purchased the pipe and had received it. He included some photos of the pipe.

Hi Steve, I received the pipe today – Here are some photos. It seems in pretty decent shape – bowl needs reaming and rim needs cleaning. There are a few minor issues with the bowl and shank. The amber stem has some chatter and a rather small area next to the silver mount needing a “fill”. The case is in better shape than I thought from the photos I saw, and my contacts should be able to advise me on how to restore it.

I don’t want a “new” look – it is over 100 years old, and I’m happy for it to reflect its age. I will be posting the pipe to you in the next few days. Please ask if you have any queries or need more photos… My thanks, in advance,


The pipe arrived in Vancouver just a few days before I left for my trip. I looked it over and wrote to Ray about what I thought I needed to do. He responded that he was looking forward to seeing what I could do with it.

I have included the pictures Ray sent me below. For me they only added to the temptation to do the restoration on this old timer. Even though I have a huge backlog of pipes this one was very intriguing to me. There was something interesting and even compelling about this old pipe. The age and condition interested me as did the brand. I am unfamiliar with the maker of the pipe but it spoke to me. The case was leather and though in somewhat rough condition it had protected the pipe well. The inside lining on the top of the case read “Sterling Silver” over “Vienna Make”. There was no other makers name or markings on the case to help with the identification. Ray included close up photos of the bowl and rim top. It showed clearly that the bowl had a thick cake with a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The amber stem was in decent condition though there were some deep tooth marks in the surface ahead of the button on both the top and underside.Ray also included the following photos of the bowl from various angles. The first shows the front of the bowl with a deep nick in briar. The second photo shows a small nick in the briar just ahead of the silver shank cap. The third photo shows a deep nick on the left side of the heel of the bowl. The fourth photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank and band. The week I returned from Nepal and India I decided to start working on this old pipe. I figure it is a good week to start on this 1906 and also the 1919 AGE pipe. The bowl had some deep nicks and dings in the finish that Roy had photographed clearly. The exterior of the pipe was dirty with grime and grit rubbed into the surface of the finish as well as in the twin rings around the bowl cap. The silver band was tarnished and dirty but the stamping and hallmarks were quite readable. The rim top was thickly lava coated. The inner edge of the bowl looked very good. The stamping on the left side of the shank was readable. It read J.W. in a Diamond. The silver band was also stamped and read AJC. There were also hallmarks under the AJC stamp as shown in the photo above. The stem sat well in the shank. The stem had some tooth marks in front of the button on both sides as Roy had shown in the photos. The silver cap on the end of the stem was tarnished by otherwise clean. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim as well as the stem to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the lava on top and inner edge. The oxidation on the silver band and the tooth damage to the stem and button edges on both sides of the stem. I also took a photo of the shank and the band to show the stampings in the silver. I took a photo of the stem removed from the shank to show the condition of the metal tenon. The pipe has a very unique metal mortise lining and tenon that are part of the silver shank and stem cap. The mortise and tenon were both very dirty but the alignment was fine.I received another email from Ray in Australia – seems that we were both doing research on the brand to try and figure out the purveyance. Here is his email and the information that he included regarding the brand.

Steve, I’ve been trying to research the origin of the pipe. The case has “Vienna Made”  – does this refer to the case or the pipe? There are 2 marks on the shank. “AJC” on the silver mount very likely is the mark of Alfred Walter Cheshire of Birmingham. He registered his mark in 1893/4, so the date ties in. “JW” on the shank – I can’t find a pipemaker with those initials either in Vienna, Austria, Birmingham or the UK.

However, there is a pipe mounter JF Walter of Birmingham working from 1890’s – could “JW” refer to him, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

I marvel (all the time) at the historical information you manage to uncover on the pipes/pipemakers/pipe merchants you restore. Perhaps you may have access to further archival information on the possible maker of this pipe.

Cheers, Ray

With Ray’s work behind me, I checked my usual sources on I found absolutely no information on the AGE brand. There was no info on the Pipedia website or on the Pipephil site on the brand. I also checked on Who Made That Pipe by Wilczak and Colwell. There was no information there on the brand either. So my usual sources came up with nothing. Now I needed to confirm the information that Ray had found.

I turned first to a website on English silver marks. I was specifically looking for information on the A.J.C. stamp on the silver to help identify the silversmith. I did a screen capture of the section on the A.J.C. stamp matching the one on the silver band on the pipe in question. Here is the link to the website: http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXA2.html. It identifies the AJC as Alfred James Chesire rather than Alfred Walter Chesire as noted by Ray. There is also an address for the silversmith in Birmingham, England.As Ray noted above, there was no pipe maker in Birmingham with the JW in a diamond as a mark. The shank mark did not tell me much. However, his find on JF Walter a Birmingham pipemounter is certainly a good possibility.

Now it was time to try to figure out the date of the pipe from the hallmarks on the band. I examined them with a lens and found the following information. The first hallmark was an Anchor in a shield signifying that the silversmithing was in Birmingham, England. The second hallmark was a lion passant in a shield. The emblem connects the pipe to London as well as other British assay offices. It also identifies the band as being silver. The third hallmark was the leter”g” in a shield that would give the date of the pipe.

I knew now that the pipe was London Made with a silver hallmark identifying a London silversmith identified by the A.J.C. stamp noted above as Alfred James Cheshire. The only thing left to fully learn about the pipe from the stamp was the date to be determined from the “g” stamp.

I turned to a website that I regularly use to identify the dates on English made hallmarks. The link is: http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarksBIR.html.The screen capture of the chart below shows the dates and letter marks from 1900-1917.

Ray had correctly identified the date of the pipe as being made in 1906 confirmed by the chart on the left. I always love when the pieces all come together and I can arrive at both a manufacturer and a date for the pipe.

Armed with this information I turned to work on the pipe. I started by cleaning up the silver with silver polish to remove the tarnish from the shank end. I rubbed the material on the shank ferrule/band and polished it with a cotton pad to remove both the tarnish and polish the silver. I reamed out the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads to remove the cake. I wanted to see the inside of the bowl to check on damage to the internals of the chamber. I cleaned up the remnants of cake and scraped the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall knife and then sanded the bowl insides with sandpaper on a dowel. Afterwards I examined the bowl and could see that the walls were solid and that inner edge of the bowl was in excellent condition. I cleaned the internals of the pipe and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the debris inside the metal mortise insert. I scraped the mortise walls with a dental spatula to remove the tars that had hardened on the walls. To deal with the darkened and damaged rim top I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit pads as suggested by Paresh on my recent trip to Pune, India. I have to say that is working very well. I wanted to polish out the scratches so that I could work on matching the stain on the rest of the pipe and finish that portion of the restoration. I cleaned out the damaged areas on the front of the bowl cap and on the left underside of the shank. I filled in the areas with a drop of clear superglue. When the repairs had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repaired areas. I worked on them until they were smoothed out and close to the surface of the surrounding briar. I followed that by sanding the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the briar. I used a reddish, brown (Cherry) and black stain pen to blend a stain to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. I rubbed it into the surface of the repaired areas on the front of the bowl cap and on the left underside of the shank. I blended the stains with an alcohol dampened cotton pad. I was able to get a perfect match to the bowl colour.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm, working it into the grain of the briar. The balm enlivens, refreshes and protects the briar. In this case it brought life back into the old piece of briar. While some of the dents and scratches were gone others remained. I left the remaining dents in the briar as ongoing testimony to the journey of this pipe. I only wish that it could tell its story. I let the balm sit on the briar and then buffed it out with a soft cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I started the clean up work on the stem by polishing the silver end cap on the amber stem with a silver polish and tarnish remover. It did not take too much scrubbing to remove the tarnish and give the cap a shine. The stem had deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I filled them in with clear superglue and set the stem aside to cure. Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to redefine the button edge and also smooth out the repairs to the dent. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sand paper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the sanding marks in the amber. I polished the amber stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I have been trying wet sanding with all of the pads after discussions with Paresh while we were in Pune, India. It does seem to give the stem a good shine and reduce the scratching. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine polishes. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine. I polished the band with a jeweler’s cloth once more, then hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This 113 year old JW Amber Stemmed Bulldog is a beautiful pipe. The grain really stands out with a combination of birdseye, cross grain and swirls surrounding the bowl give it a rich look. The rich contrasting brown stains makes the grain stand out while hiding the repaired areas-+. It is a proportionally well carved pipe. The polished black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight Bulldog that feels good in the hand and the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pipe will be going back to Ray in Australia next week. I am excited to hear what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Working on Paresh’s Grandfather’s Linkman’s Zulu

Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The second pipe was a Linkman Zulu with a vulcanite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe was in very rough condition. The sides of the bowl, the rim top had been beaten up heavily. There were gouges all over the sides and rim top of the bowl. It was a mess and it was very dirty. The stamping on the shank read Linkman’s over Dr Grabow with a silver shield next to the stem/shank junction. On the underside of the shank it was stamped De Luxe over Bruyere with a shape number 9700. On the left side of the shank it was stamped PAT. No. 1896800. The stem was oxidized but in decent condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived. The tenon is the patented threaded Linkman shovel stinger apparatus. It is a single unit rather than an inserted stinger as in later models. The top of the stem has a Linkman propeller logo.I took some close up photos of the damage on the bowl to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was a real mess with nicks, chips and damage under a coat of tars. Paresh and Abha had left the cake in the bowl to me to work on because of the other damage to the pipe. The stem was in pretty decent shape with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and some oxidation. The bowl was a real mess and it would be a challenge. I took photos of the stamping on the top, bottom and left side of the shank.I checked some of my usual sources to get some information on the brand and how it fit into the Linkman/Grabow hierarchy. The first link I checked was the Pipephil logos and stampings site. I include the link as follows http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html. I quote as follows.

The M. Linkman and Co. was established by Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher in 1898. The company closed down in the 1950s and the Dr Grabow branch was sold to Henry Leonard and Thomas Inc.

I then went to the Pipedia website to get some more details and information. There was also a photo of Linkman that I thought added a nice touch to the work I was going to do on this pipe. Here is the link from the site if you want to check it out in full. https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co.

The name is often said to stand for Mary Linkman & Company. Mary Linkman was the mother of Louis B. Linkman, originator of the Dr. Grabow pipe. This Chicago company produced meerschaums and briars both.

BACK IN 1898, two ambitious young men reached the momentous decision to go into business for themselves. They were Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher. From the time they were in knee pants they had worked for a pipe jobber in the mid-west.

Diligently saving a portion of their earnings, they accumulated a few hundred dollars, and in 1898 formed a partnership under the name of M. Linkman & Company. They opened a small shop on Lake Street, Chicago, employed two additional people, and started to manufacture pipes. {The article never mentions what the “M” stood for, or the reason for the name chosen.}

In 1890 {? — 1899, perhaps?} another young man, Anton Burger, who had also been employed by a pipe jobber in the mid-west, approached them and was taken in as a partner. M. Linkman & Company proceeded as a partnership; the business developed rapidly through the untiring efforts of these men in producing quality pipes and rendering good service to their customers.

The business continued to grow, and in 1907 M. Linkman & Company was incorporated with Louis B. Linkman as president, August Fisher, vice-president, and Anton Burger, secretary and treasurer. In 1914, Richard J. Dean, who had joined the firm in 1911 was appointed general sales manager.

The business was growing and expanding rapidly, and the executives soon realized the quarters in the Wells Street Bridge Building were inadequate, so in 1922 Linkman built a modern three-story reinforced concrete building at the corner of Fullerton Avenue and Racine, housing one of the most complete and modern pipe plants in America.

I finished by doing a Google search to find the US Patent Search site so that I could see if there was a patent document on file there for this patent number. http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm. I entered the patent number and found a patent filed by L.B. Linkman for the pipe on April 11, 1932 and granted on February 7, 1933. I include that below. I decided to clean up the bowl interior before I addressed the damage on the outside of the bowl. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the second head which was the same size as the bowl. I reamed the cake back to bare briar to see if there was any internal damage to the bowl. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the bowl walls and the inner edge of the rim. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and reshape the inward bevel on the rim. I wiped down the surface of the briar with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the grime. I filled in the damaged areas around the bowl and on the rim with briar dust and clear super glue. I sprayed it with an accelerator (that is why it appears white in the following photos). The extent of the damage is very clear in the photos below. I started to sand the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to begin to smooth out the repairs. It would take a lot of sanding to smooth out the filled areas. The patches were rock hard. The photos that follow show the progress of the sanding. I polished the sanded briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The briar took on a shine and the filled spots though dark were better than all of the damage present before. To help hide the repairs on the bowl I decided to stain it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain with a folded thick pipe cleaner, flamed it and repeated the process until I was pleased with the coverage on the bowl. The photos below tell the story. Once the stain had dried, I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to make it a bit more transparent without making the repairs stand out. It is a tricky balance to work out as too much transparency reveals all of the blemishes while not enough makes it opaque and lacklustre. Once I polish the pipe I will know if I did enough or too much… time will tell. I forgot to take a photo of the stem before I put it in the Before & After Deoxidizer overnight and forgot about it. Today after lunch I remembered it and took it out of the mix. I wiped off the excess and ran it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I was unable to run water through the stem so I dried it off to have a look. It looked better but it was absolutely plugged tight. That generally means there is something like a pipe cleaner broken in the stem but I would need to take it apart to tell for sure.I tried several different ways of opening the airway. I tried to push stiff pipe cleaners through the stem from the button. By measuring the length of the pipe cleaner with the stem I could see that the blockage was in the stinger itself. I tried pushing a straightened paper clip through the blockage from both ends – the button and the airway in the stinger. Nothing worked. I heated the stinger and tried again with the paper clip and again no luck. It was time to move forward. I heated the stinger with a lighter to loosen the tars holding it in place. Since it was a 1930 era pipe I figured it would be a threaded end the stem. Sure enough, once it was heated I unscrewed from the stem.

The photo below shows the culprit – a really stinky broken off pipe cleaner jammed in the stinger. The pipe cleaner was almost the length of the stem as well so it was clear that I was merely sliding by the jam with the stinger in place. With a pipe cleaner that old and worn I was worried I would just break off more in the stinger. I heated the stinger with the lighter and then carefully wiggled the pipe cleaner free of the stinger. The second photo shows the culprit freed from the stinger. You can also see that some of the fluff on the cleaner had come off inside the stinger and left it plugged. I could still not blow air through the stinger. (I have circled the ‘fluffless’ pipe cleaner end in the second photo below.)I tried to push through the clog with the paper clip pictured above, twisting it into the threaded end but was not able to break through. That left only one option for me. I chucked a 1/16 inch drill bit in my Dremel, set the speed to 5 and slowly worked my way through the rock hard plug. It took some doing to work it through the plug but I worked it back and forth until the airway was clean and I could blow air through it. I ran pipe cleaners soaked in alcohol back and forth through the stinger and removed all of the grit and tar that had built up around the plug. It was pretty nasty stuff. But after it was said and done I had a clear and clean stinger. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. Once the stem was clean I checked it with a light for more potential problems inside. It was clear and spotless.I lightly greased the threads on the stinger and turned it back into the cleaned stem. I aligned it with the mortise in the shank. The stem was getting there. I still needed to work on some oxidation but it looked a lot better and I could blow through it easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. (I polished the metal stinger as well at the same time.) I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. After staining the briar and wiping it down with alcohol, I touched up the repaired areas with a Black Sharpie Pen and blended in by rubbing it. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm after staining to further blend and clean the briar. 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 carefully polished bowl with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent dark brownish red stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the second of the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty.