Tag Archives: restaining a bowl and rim

New Life for an Early John Bessai Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA.  The pipe is an interesting looking piece – a smooth oil finished Poker shaped pipe with some nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and has a Bullseye target [over] JB in a circle and on the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a light lava coat on the top of the rim. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. There were some nicks in the briar on the top of the rim and the outer edges were beat up from being tapped against hard surfaces. The stem had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the damage on the rim top and outer edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain around the sides. You can also see the damage to the rim edges and the heel of the bowl in the photos below.  The stamping on the left and right sides of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. I have worked on quite a few Bessai pipes over the years and back in 2014 I restemmed a bowl. I wrote a blog on the pipe and did quite an extensive amount of research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2014/07/14/restemming-and-restoring-a-john-bessai-special-diamond-shank-bent-brandy/). I am including that information here for ease of reference. If you have read it before feel free to skip ahead to the work on the pipe.

HISTORY & BACKGROUND

I started out with what I had found previously and written about on the blog. I quote the following paragraph from Pipedia http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Bessai

John Bessai was a long time pipemaker, repairman and tobacco shop owner who operated his pipe shop at the “Old Arcade” in Cleveland, Ohio. The shop was opened in approximately 1898. It was a small 2-room shop where he hand-crafted his own pipes in the back room and could work when customers were not there. Like so many other shop made brand, John Bessai’s limited production was quickly acquired by regular customers and thus his craftsmanship remained little known outside of Ohio and the Midwest. While his name is known by pipe collectors in the Midwest, his work is seldom seen elsewhere! He died before 1969. Nevertheless, John Bessai left behind a small number of classic shaped pipes; all were made on-site. They are praised worthy of collecting and reflecting skills well beyond most American pipe makers. John Bessai’s logo “JB” appeared as one letter as the “back” of the “J” and the “back” of the “B” share a single line. The logo was stamped on the stem and on the left side of the shank. His son Herb Bessai took over the business and also continued making pipes. He closed the shop in about 1978.

I suspected that there would be more information three years later. I did some further research and came across the information found in the paragraph below on one of the pipe forums.

John Bessai was located in the Colonial Arcade at least into the late 1980s. After his death, his son Herb ran the shop. It was taken over after Herb’s retirement by a male and then name was changed to “Old Erie Pipes”. This was then located in the Erieview Plaza and when that mall closed, taken over by Cousin’s Cigars which has a store on Euclid Avenue near CSU, and a store on Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere Village.

That small quotation gave me a bit more information of the state of the store after John’s death and Herb’s retirement. But I still wanted more information. I wanted to know about the history of the brand and if there was any information on the various grades in the brand and the stamping on the pipes. I wanted to know a bit of a timeline for the brands. Finally my digging paid off. ON one of the pipe forums I came across a link that led me to a gold mine of information gathered by a man after my own heart, Andrew Hross. He has a blog called Classic Pipe Shop on Blogspot. I have included the link below for those who want more information. Andrew has done an amazing job of gathering information on the Bessai Brand so rather than rewrite the history I am quoting portions of Andrew’s work on The John Bessai Pipe Clinic. (http://classicpipeshop.blogspot.ca/2014/04/the-john-bessai-pipe-clinic-information.html)

The John Bessai Pipe Clinic, 35 Colonial Arcade, Cleveland, OH 44115 – by Andrew HrossOwner(s): **John Bessai 1920s until his passing in 1969, **Herb Bessai ~1962-1983, **Daniel Gottschall 1984-~1993, **Purchased by Dad’s Smoke Shop / Cousin’s Smoke Shop and rolled into the Old Erie Smoke Shop about 1993. Cousin’s Cigars purchased the remaining stock of Bessai pipes near after Herb Bessai passed away in 2002.

Years of Operation: 1920s (unkown specific date at this time) – 1983. After 1983 the business was sold to Daniel Gottschall who later sold it to Cousin’s Cigar (Euclid Ave) around 1993. The name was changed to “Old Erie Tobacco Company”. They were forced to move to the Galleria when all the tenants of the Old Arcade were cleared out to make room for renovations. Their new address was The Galleria at Erieview, 1301 East 9th Street in Cleveland.

After this move the location wasn’t as busy as they had hoped and Cousin’s moved all the Old Erie Tobacco assets to their Euclid Avenue Store. The store has since moved to a St. Clair location after Cleveland State forced them out due to anti-smoking regulations on campus. Their St. Clair location offers many of John Bessai Pipe Clinic’s old tobacco blends.

Their new store opened in the Merriman Valley area in Akron, Ohio where the store manager John Coleman oversees the day to day operations. John was instrumental in helping me piece together a lot of loose ends during Bessai Pipe Clinic’s transition years.

My father visited their shop several times in the early 60s as he attended Fenn College (now Cleveland State University) as an undergrad before moving on to Ohio State University for his Masters. He’s way smarter than I am so I just go with the flow…

He mentioned meeting John at that time who quickly gave my father some pointers on smoking a pipe and how to take samples from the shop’s expansive sample jar collection. His pipes were on display in the shop although I don’t believe he had a lot of pipes on display at any given time due to production in-shop.

John’s son Herb took over the shop in the early 60s after he graduated from Cleveland State University / Fenn College (unclear) as he is listed as having played Basketball for CSU. Herb was also a helpful, informative and friendly individual. Articles exist from the Herald in 1962 where they interviewed Herb (with photograph) about the state of smoking in the new age of the early 60s. I visited the shop in the late 70s / early 80s with my father during a trip to Cleveland and couldn’t tell you much about the shop other than the guy working was very friendly. Back then it wasn’t unusual to be a kid and walk into a smoke shop with your father. Clearly I didn’t purchase anything but my father probably picked up some tobacco but I remember him looking at pipes displayed on a back wall. The shop was small but impressive.

If anyone has any pictures of the shop or old catalogs, I would love any additional information as it’s tough to come by 30+ years later!

Pipes offered by John Bessai Pipe Clinic: Most of the pipes that were offered by the John Bessai Pipe Clinic were fairly standard in shape… I would say most of the pipes Bessai offered were smooth pipes. My assessment would be 90% smooth and 10% rusticated / sandblasted…

…The story is that John crafted pipes in the back room or off site and finished them in house while the store wasn’t busy. Very little information is available on the accuracy of this statement. Some of his pipes from the late 1960s through the 1970s (John passed away in 1969) I feel were left over stock from previous turnings and sometimes showed fills or sand pits. Some of these pipes even carry Herb’s markings (see below). These pipes still smoke very well but are not as eye-appealing as other earlier pipes from the store’s career.

Stampings and rough dating of John Bessai Pipe Clinic Pipes: Which pipes did John make and which ones did Herb make/finish? All Bessai pipes carry his standard large JB stamp either on the stem or shank or both. Typically the JB on the stem is within a circle.

All pipes created by John Bessai’s hands reportedly contain the miniscule ‘jb’ stamp on the shank or body of the pipe. I have older pipes in my possession that do not contain this stamp (condenser, old stamps, etc) that were clearly shop made pipes. I feel he started using the tiny ‘jb’ stamp in the 50s to early 60s.

An interesting note about John Bessai’s stems – they always clean very nicely and aren’t prone to as much oxidation (that brownish / green color) as most dunhill and Charatan pipes tend to oxidize. His cuts to his stems were very impressive and often transitioned from diamond-shaped shanks almost architecturally. Very comfortable to smoke.

John Bessai Special Pipes:

… I have a couple Bessai Special pipes. These stand out either by large size, graining or possibly shape. Most Specials are unique pipes and are rare to find in comparison to his regular issue pipes.

John Bessai Special X pipes:

I only have one of these and it’s a beauty. This one is a larger bowl (around a group 4 dunhill) with deep colored grain and a hefty substantial shank. Special X pipes are probably the rarest of John Bessai pipes and should be sought out if possible. I’ve smoke mine roughly 4 or 5 times and it performs with the best of my pipes…

Herb Bessai Pipes:

Unfortunately none of these pipes that I’ve seen have astounded me with grain or general appearance. Having said this, these pipes smoke nicely and are a great value if you can find them. I have one that my father found at an Antique Show in the South. There’s another author shape on reborn pipe’s blog that someone refinished because of the amount of fills in the pipe. He also states it’s a wonderful smoker (Editor’s note: This is my pipe and the write up I did on the blog). These pipes are likely from the late 60s through the early 70s. I believe many pipes after this period were created en masse at a factory in the US. It is unclear what stamp was used on these later pipes…

Dating / Circa era Bessai Pipes: If the pipe carries a stamp stating Cleveland, O U.S.A. it’s considered an older production pipe (pre1960s). I’ve not seen any newer pipes with that stamp.

Bullseye stamping usually indicates an earlier pipe as that stamp seems to have been abandoned pre1960 as well.

Most of the earlier Bessai pipes have an unusual ‘stinger’ or condenser at the end of the tenon which is unique to Bessai pipes. They are either a hard plastic or created out of wood. They are typically easy to remove and could have been easily lost if misplaced. These pipes I would consider pre-1960 and possibly 1940s-early 1950s production based on their stamps and patina of the pipes.

1970s 1980s and beyond: My feeling on these pipes after John’s passing is that they purchased finished pipes from a large manufacturer and stamped them with the John Bessai or Bessai stamp (on shank and/or stem). Most of these shapes are standard among many stores from that period and offer less than spectacular grain (and sometimes fills). Stamps on these pipes are probably fairly plain and don’t have the tiny ‘jb’ stamp on the shank indicating it was produced by John Bessai.

I know that is a lot of information and if you want to you can skip ahead to read about the restoration. I started my restoration with cleaning the internals and the externals of the pipe. I cleaned out the inside of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was a filthy pipe on the inside.

The pipe in hand was a John Bessai Circle JB Imported Briar. As noted above the pipe is stamped with a Bullseye Stamp that seems to have been abandoned pre-1960. So I am dealing with an earlier Bessai pipe. Now on to working on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl show some damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on both sides of the shank is clear and readable. The left side is stamped with a Bullseye [over] JB in a Circle. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I repaired the damaged areas on the heel of the bowl and the sandpit on the right side of the bowl with clear super glue. I sanded the repaired areas smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding briar. Once I had smoothed out the repairs I used a Maple stain pen to touch up the sanded area on the bottom of the bowl and the rim top. I knew that once I polished it with micromesh, it would blend in very well. I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.       This JB (John Bessai) Bullseye stamped Poker is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored.The smooth oil cured finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. The repaired gouges on the heel look much better and are now smooth to touch. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished John Bessai Poker fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

New Life for a Velani Classica Brut 202 Rusticated Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction out of Romney, West Virginia, USA. It is an interestingly rusticated Pot shaped pipe with a taper vulcanite stem with a briar and brass ring on the stem. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights deep rustication. This pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank and reads Velani [over] Classica [over] Brut. Next to that is the shape number 202. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top and the inner and the outer edges of the bowl are pretty beat up. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. I have worked on quite a few Aldo Velani pipes over the years but this is the first small classic shape that has come across my work table. It is an interesting piece. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup.He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the heavy lava coat. The outer edges of rim are in rough condition but it hard to know what the inner edge looks like at this point. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. He also captured the shape of the stem and the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.  Jeff took a photo of the pair of rings around the stem – a briar and brass ring. Once they are polished they should look very good. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustication around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime in the rustication and ground into the surface of the briar. You can also see the wear on the top edge of the bowl. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank and stem. It is clear and readable as noted above.  The stem has the typical AV stamp.    I turned to Pipephil to refresh my memory of the brand. I knew that it was a Barontini made pipe but was not sure of the details (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-a3.html#aldovelani). I am including a screen capture below.From the side bar on Pipephil I was reminded that Aldo Velani is the fictional name for a sub-brand of Barontini that was mainly intended for export.

I turned to Pipedia to see if I could learn a bit more about the brand and the link took me to Cesare Barontini’s page (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Velani). It also confirmed the information from the side bar above. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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 cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good.   I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. It is clean but it is very damaged. It looked like the pipe had been hammered against a hard surface. The inner edge of the bowl showed chipping and burn damage all around. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.    The stamping on the left side of the shank reads as noted above. It is clear and readable. The stamp on the left side of the stem is readable but shows some damage.I removed the stem and the extension from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a Pot shaped that should be interesting once it is all cleaned up.   Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by topping the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage on the rim top and minimize the damage on the inner and outer edges. I worked over the inner rim edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and smooth it out.    I polished the briar and acrylic shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I recut the button and flattened the repairs with a needle file. I followed that by sanding out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This rusticated Velani Classica Brut 202 Pot with a fancy taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and the rustication really came alive. The rich brown stains of the rustication took on a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I 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 finished Velani Rusticated Pot is a beauty and feels in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

New Life for a Barontini d’Oro 104 Oval Shank Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction out of Ottawa, Illinois, USA. It is a nicely shaped ½ bent Dublin with an oval shank. It has a saddle vulcanite stem and beautiful grain showing through the grime around the bowl. It has a rich brown colour combination that highlights the grain. I have worked on a few Barontini pipes throughout the years but this one looks more English than Italian made. This pipe is stamped on the topside of the shank and reads Barontini [over] D’ Oro. On the underside it is stamped 104 and Italy next to the stem/shank junction. There is also a “B” logo stamped on the top of the stem. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the back rim top. It appears that there is some damage to the inner edge of the rim in that area as well. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. The saddle vulcanite stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in decent condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the cake and the light lava coat. It is another dirty pipe. He also captured the shape of the stem and the deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the amount of grime ground into the surface of the briar.  He took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank and it is clear and readable as noted above.  The B on the stem top is also readable. I turned to Pipephil to get a quick overview of the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b2.html). I remembered the connection to the Cesare brand pipe that I had worked on recently. The Barontini’s are carved by Cesare.I then turned to Pipedia for a bit more history (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barontini,_Cesare. I quote below:

In 1890 Turildo Barontini opened a factory for the production of briar. In 1925 his son Bruno began to produce the first pipes. Cesare Barontini, son of Bruno, started direction of the factory in 1955, and still runs it together with his daughters Barbara and Silvia.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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 cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. The pipe looked very good.   I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. They cleaned up really well and the top of the rim looked very good. The inner edge of the bowl showed chipping and burn damage all around. The vulcanite saddle stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.      I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It read as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped Author that looks great. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by working over the damage on the inside rim. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the rim surface. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a bevel to take care of the burn and clean up the edges of bowl.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.    I stained the rim with a combination of Cherry and Walnut stain pens to get a match with the colour of the stain on the bowl. Once it was buffed it would blend in very well.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem.  I touched up the “B” stamp with Paper Mate Liquid Paper. I pressed it into the stamped letter with a tooth pick. Once it cured I scraped off the excess with the tooth pick.  This nicely grained Barontini D’ Oro 104 Dubin with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There are fills around the bowl that blend in nicely with the finish on the bowl. The rich brown stains of the finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I 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 finished Barontini Bent Dublin is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

 

Breathing Life into a Birkdale Custom Sandblast Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to me from a reader of the blog in Eastern Canada. He contacted me about repairing his first pipe and in the meantime picked up a rack and the fellow he bought it from threw in this pipe as well. It is a very nice looking sandblast Billiard with great grain showing through the deep blast finish. The finish is quite nice with a classic English look to the pipe. The bowl had a light cake lining the walls though the rim top was clean and undamaged. The bottom of the bowl was still raw briar showing that it had not been smoked much. The exterior of the pipe was dusty but otherwise clean. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Birkdale [over] Custom. That was followed by rugby ball shape Made in England COM stamp that is normal on Comoy’s Made pipes. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem was dirty, calcified and lightly oxidized. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides and some on the surface of the button as well. There was a hole in the left side of the taper stem where a spot/dot had originally been found. I took photos of the pipe before I worked on it.  I took photos of the rim top to show the light cake in the bowl and the relatively clean rim top. There was some wear on the finish on the shank end that would need to be worked on. The stem was in relatively good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The oxidation was minimal as it is very high quality vulcanite.  The stamping on the underside of the shank read as noted above. The photo shows that they are quite readable.I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. It is a great looking pipe. You can also see the missing dot on the left side.I turned first to Pipephil’s site as it is always a quick source of information on any brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). I looked for the Birkdale brand and could not find anything. On a hunch about the COM stamp I turned to the section on Comoy’s as noted in the link above. In that section I found what I was looking for. I quote:

Made in London (in oval) England. Note the rugby ball shape of the “Made in London” stamping which is usually in a circle from 1950.

That helped me know that the maker of this pipe was probably Comoy’s and the Made in London Rugby shaped stamp made me assume that the pipe was made prior to 1950.

I turned to a previous blog that I wrote https://rebornpipes.com/2013/10/12/refurbed-birkdale-canadian-made-in-london-england-shape-296/

I have not heard of the Birkdale brand so I Googled it on the net to see what I could find out about it. There was not much there in terms of solid information. There were numerous posts on various forums requesting information. The information on the brand showed some confusion. From Pipedia Birkdale is a brand of the German pipe company named Wolsdorff. In turn Pipephil pegs Wolsdorff as a chain of tobacconists that had their pipes made by different German companies like Design Berlin and Oldenkott. However, the one I found has the made in London England stamping that removes the German connection. Something about the shape and shape number made me do a search in the Comoy’s shape and number charts available online. I found that the 296 shape for Comoy’s is an oval shanked Canadian, exactly like this one. Thus it appears that the pipe was made by Comoy’s. I am wondering if the Birkdale (which is a region in England) is not one of a line of English regionally named pipes made by Comoy’s.

Thus the Birkdale that I worked on and restored in 2013 also lead me to conclude that that earlier pipe was made by Comoy’s in much the same manner I have concluded with this one. The difference is that this one does not have a shape number. If you are reading this and can shed some light on the brand please leave a message in the comments.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I started my work on it by reaming the bowl. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I cleaned the shank out with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. There was some thick tars on the walls on the walls of the shank. I scraped it with a pen knife before cleaning it with alcohol. I touched up the stain on the pipe to match the previous colours – I used a Walnut and a Mahogany Stain Pen to blend the colours. The finished bowl looked very good. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The grain came alive with the balm.   I decided to address the missing dot on the left side of the stem first. I used a piece of acrylic knitting needle to make the  dot. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to strip down the excess material on the needle end. I used a file to take off the last bit of material so that the peg fit in the hole. I clipped off the piece from the needle with a pair of pliers.I put a drop of clear superglue in the hole and pressed the peg into the hole. Once the glue set I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the excess material to the approximate height of the stem. I sanded the rest of the excess off with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend dot into the stem surface and remove the tooth chatter and marks near the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Birkdale Custom Sandblast Billiard is a great looking pipe. The sandblast finish and contrasting black and oxblood stains around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the polished black vulcanite taper stem. The light blue/ivory coloured dot on left side of the stem worked very well and looked very good. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Birkdale Custom Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Birkdale is almost certainly made by Comoy’s and will be heading back to the fellow in Eastern Canada once I finish his other pipe. I am looking forward to what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for your time.

Restoring an Interesting Israeli Made Balsa System Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a friend in Maryland, USA. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in December 2019. It is a Bent Apple with an acrylic shank extension and stem and some nice grain around the bowl. There are two rings on the shank before the extension – one is black acrylic and one is brass. It makes for a pretty pipe. The stamping is the clear and readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads the Balsa [over] System. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with Israel next to the shank extension. The varnished finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There was some damage on the outer edge of the rim at the front of the bowl caused by knocking out the bowl. The bowl was moderately caked and the varnish was peeling on the top of the rim. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked quite good under the grime. The fancy variegated gold and brown acrylic stem matched the shank extension. It had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the P-lip style stem. The top showed more damage ahead of the button than the underside. The stem had no identifying logo or markings. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.  He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the condition of the rim top and edges. You can see the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl and the peeling varnish on the top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. The variations in colour on the stem are visible.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime and smoky looking varnish. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It read as noted above.His final pre-cleanup photo shows the pipe taken apart. You can see from the drilling on the stem that it was made for a filter and in this case the Savinelli Balsa System Filter.I searched on Pipephil and Pipedia for information on the brand and did not find anything on either site. I Googled the Balsa System Israel brand and did not come up with anything either. I knew from previous work on Israeli made pipes that they came from the Shalom Pipe Company and were made for a variety of shops and makers around the world. Perhaps I was dealing with one of their pipes crafted to accept the Savinelli Balsa System.

I  did a search for the Balsa System and found a great review and explanation of the way that it works (https://www.tobaccopipes.com/blog/filtered-pipes-savinelli-balsa-system/). I quote from that article in part below.

Savinelli’s Convertible Balsa System

One of the many things that sets Savinelli apart from other pipe makers is the signature convertible balsa system. Most Savinelli pipes have this feature, although not all, so check your chosen pipe’s product description first.

Convertible refers to the ability to use the filter or remove it and use a spacer piece to smoke your pipe unfiltered.

Why balsa wood filters?When you hear the word “balsa”, your first thought is probably not about pipes. It’s the same material used to make small airplanes. Balsa is naturally porous, which allows it to absorb the majority of the moisture and smoke impurities from the tobacco, without the need to use chemical elements or paper. This unique wood can do this without altering the aroma or flavor of the tobacco, which sets balsa filters apart from other pipe filters like charcoal.

Popularly hailed as the most absorbent wood Mother Nature has to offer, Achille Savinelli and his team were clearly inspired in creating the convertible balsa system. The use of this unique material can’t be underestimated. No matter how hot you smoke, the tongue bite is eliminated (although we can’t help you with the hole you might burn in your beautiful Italian pipe). In addition, the gurgle caused by moisture build up many new smokers grapple with is no longer an issue. Another benefit of balsa wood is it’s apparent ability to help reduce toxins inherent in smoking tobacco. According to tests by the EURATOM Research Center of Ispra, Italy, the filter has the ability to absorb up to 77% of the nicotine and 91% of the tar contained in the pipe tobacco, without altering flavor. This makes Savinelli’s convertible balsa system ideal for smokers who want to cut down on nicotine and tar, without sacrificing the experience they love.

I knew that the pipe I was working came from an Israeli Pipemaker and was made to use the Savinelli Balsa 6mm Filter System. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 much of the varnish coat from the rim top and you could see the damages to the front edge of the rim. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The stem was clean and you could clearly see the damage on the top and underside. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top cleaned up really well with the peeling varnish coat removed. The rim top and outer edges of the rim showed some damage. The stem surface looked very good the tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button very visible.       I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It read as noted above.   I removed the stem and took photos of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped apple with great grain. I also captured the mortise and tenon ends to show the 6mm Balsa Filter drilling. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. To remove the damage to the rim top and the edges of the bowl I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the  damage on the rim top but the damage on the front outer edge would take more work.    I gave the outer edge of the rim a slight bevel with 220 grit sandpaper to get rid of the damage on the front of the bowl and blend it into the overall look of the outer edge. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the stamping. I stained the rim top with a Maple  Stain Pen and set it aside to let the stain cure for a while.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  It helped to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl.  The final buffing would bring the pipe alive and further blend the stain. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks on the topside and the damage to the button edge on the underside of the stem with clear super glue.  Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to flatten the repairs and recut the button. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs further and blend them into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I have some Savinelli Balsa System filters here in the work shop so I put one in the tenon of the stem. The fit was perfect.   This unique Balsa System Bent Apple with a fancy gold and brown variegated acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Balsa System is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

Breathing Life into a Mr. Mac Ultra Grain 140 Diplomat


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an auction in Cedar Springs, Michigan, USA. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in December 2018. It is a beautifully grained Mr. Mac Diplomat that is really quite nice. The stamping is the clear and readable. It is stamped on the topside of the shank and reads the Mr. Mac [over] Ultra Grain. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 140 [over] Made in London [over] England. The smooth finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There was a burn mark on the front left and left back rim edge. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of lava on the top of the rim. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The vulcanite saddle stem and was calcified, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside but the surface of the button was surprisingly free of damage. The stem had no identifying logo on the top of the saddle. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. You can see the damage on both the outer and the inner edge of the bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, light chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took a photo of the heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime.    Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and the top of the stem. It reads as noted above.  I turned to the listing on Pipephil and Pipedia to gather information on the brand and did not find anything. I did more research on the Pipedia site to identify the shape of the pipe. It fits the description of  a Diplomat shaped pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Diplomat.gif). From there I did some digging to find out who made the shape 140. I identified the shape as being made by both Hardcastle and Masta. I have included photos of both shapes for comparison sake.

First is the Hardcastle pipe with the same shape number 140 found on SmokingPipes.com (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=182204)The second pipe is a Masta made pipe that also had the 140 shape number. This one came from a pipe that I had previously restored (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/masta-pipes/).So, now I knew that the pipe I was working came from the same company that made both the Masta and the Hardcastles pipe. I did not find any inforamtion on the brand itself but there was definitely a connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable.    The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The rim top, inner and out edges of the rim showed some damage. There were burn marks on the right front and left back of the bowl and rim top. I circled them in red in the photo below. The stem surface looked very good with heavy oxidation remaining and some light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the stamping on the sides if the shank. It reads as noted above.     I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped apple with great grain.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. To remove the damage to the rim top and the edges of the bowl I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the  damage on the rim top but the damage on the inner edge would take more work.I built up the damage to the inner bevel of the rim top with clear super glue and briar dust. It looks ugly but once it is cleaned up it will look much better. I topped it once again to smooth out the rim top. The second photos shows the rim top after that topping. I worked over the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out repairs. The beveled rim edge was better but until it was stained it is hard to tell from the photos. I restained the rim edges and top with a blend of Cherry and Walnut stain pens. It matched colourwise and once it was polished the blend would be perfect.I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the stamping. I restained the rim top and set it aside to let the stain cure before I did the final buffing on the pipe.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  It helped to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl.   While I was working on the bowl the stem was soaking in a new product I received from Briarville Pipe Repair – Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. It is a liquid of about the same consistency as apple juice. The stem sat in the mixture for 2 ½ -3 hours. I removed the stem from the bath, scrubbed lightly with a tooth brush and dried if off with a paper towel. I was surprised that it was quite clean. Just some light oxidation on the top of the stem remained. The bath was dark with the removed oxidation of the seven stems. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.  I filled in the tooth marks on the topside and the damage to the button edge on the underside of the stem with clear super glue.   Once the repair cured I used a needle file to flatten the repairs and recut the button. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs further and blend them into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This well made, classic Mr. Mac Ultra Grain 140 Diplomat with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Mr. Mac Diplomat is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Breathing Life into The Tinder Box Unique Saddle Stem English Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from the large estate purchase of pipes that Jeff and I bought in 2019.  It has been around for over a year waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in March 2019. It is a beautifully grained large saddle stem billiard that is really quite nice. The shape of the bowl and pipe reminds me of Charatan’s Make billiards that I have worked on in the past. The pipe has cross grain and birdseye grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads The Tinder Box arched over Unique [over] Made in England. The smooth finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had some darkening and damage to the inner edge of the bowl and the top of the rim. Overall it appeared that the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked to be in good shape other than a burned area on the back right edge of the rim. The vulcanite saddle stem was lightly oxidized and had light tooth chatter on the top and underside. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the light overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and light chatter and tooth marks on the surface. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime.      He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It read as noted above.   To learn about the brand I turned to Pipephil’s website ( http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t6.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site and it appears that The Tinder Box had pipes made in Italy and England. The one I am working on is a Unique and it is not listed. To me it looks like a Charatan made pipe. This is going to take some more work.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/The_Tinder_Box) for more information. I quote in full the brief article below:

The Tinder Box was the chain of tobacco stores started by Edward Kolpin, Sr., who carved Ed’s Hand Made pipes. The store, eventually sold to a Canadian conglomerate, eventually reached 200 retail outlets by 2007, and in the 40 years it operated on a large scale a great number of pipes were made for The Tinder Box by well respected makers. A few include the Tinder Box Unique, made by Charatan, Christmas Pipes by Ascorti, and the Tinder Box Noble and Exotica, made by Shalom Pipe Factory, Mauro Armellini did make the Verona and Napoli lines.

The article confirms a large number of different pipemakers who made pipes for the Tinder Box. The interesting thing is that Charatan did make the Unique for them. My eye was right – I was dealing with a Charatan Make Unique. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The lava coat was removed and there was some darkening and burn damage left behind on the back side of the rim top. Other than that the edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the well shaped saddle stem billiard. To remove the damage on the rim top and the inner edge of the rim I began by topping the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to give the inner edge of the bowl a slight bevel to remove the damaged area.     I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping. I paused after the 2400 grit sanding pad and used an Oak Stain Pen to touch up the rim top to match the rest of the bowl. I finished sanding with the rest of the pads -3200-12000 grit pads.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was in very good condition so I did not have to do any repairs or preliminary sanding. I began by working with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This well made, classic Chartan Made The Tinder Box Unique Saddle Stem Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish that was used came alive with the polishing and waxing. The small sandpit/fills are virtually invisible. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Unique Billiard is a beauty with combination of great grain and rich stain. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

A Piece of  Pipe Smoking History – a Comoy’s Virgin Briar 28 Billiard Stamped Sutliff San Francisco


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Billiard that really is a pipe of Pipe Smoking History. The stamping is the significant marker that points this out for me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads COMOY’S arched [over] Virgin Briar. On the right side it has the shape number 28 next to the bowl/shank junction and that is followed by Sutliff [over] San Francisco. On the underside next to the stem/shank junction it is stamped with the football shaped Comoy’s COM stamp that reads Made in England. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of thick lava on the top of the rim. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth chatter and large deep tooth marks on the top and underside but the surface of the button was surprisingly free of damage. There was a three part inlaid C on the left of the taper stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, chatter and deep tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. You can also see some of the damage around the outer rim edge.   He took photos of the stamping on both sides and underside of the shank. They read as noted above. He also included a photo of the stamping on the left side of the taper stem.   I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Comoy’s Virgin Briar and found the following information I have included a screen capture below (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). It is interesting that the Virgin Briar originally came out in 1933 and by 1965 was no longer listed in the Comoy’s catalogues. The example on Pipephil was crafted fro the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. I also went to the the Comoy’s article on Pipedia and found nothing in the great historical article that was pertinent. I did find a shape chart that listed the 25 as a medium billiard. I have included a screen capture of the page that included that shape number. I have outlined it in red in the photo included below(https://pipedia.org/images/d/d7/Shape_Chart_1975_1.jpg). I turned to the article on Pipedia about dating Comoy’s pipes but the style of the stamping (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Comoy%27s_Dating_Guide#1917_to_the_end_of_the_1930.27s_.28at_least_1938.29). I have include the section in the screen capture below that date this pipe to the 1930s.

1917 to the end of the 1930’s (at least 1938)

The slightly fancy “COMOY’S” can be found stamped in a curve, in upper case script with serifs, apostrophe before the “S,” and the “C” larger than the other letters. The arched “COMOY’S” with serifs and apostrophe may have been continued for a short time after the WW I. Pipes can also be found with the name stamped across the top of the stem as apposed to along the side.

During the 1940s

Not many pipes were made. It seems that the “COMOY’S” was stamped as described above, with the grade of the pipe (quality) stamped in block letters below. Just after WW II, in 1945 or slightly later, the “COMOY’S” stamp was changed from the fancier curve to a straight line, sans serif, block lettered “COMOYS”, with no apostrophe, see No 3 below in “From the 1950s”.

That article gave me some helpful information. I knew that the pipe line originally came out in 1933 at the time of the Chicago World’s Fair. From the information I also knew that the stamping on the pipe I am working on also came from the 1930s – 1945 when the arched Comoy’s stamp was changed. The 28 shape number was tied to a Medium Billiard with a taper stem. I still needed to check for information on the Sutliff San Francisco stamp on the right side of the shank.

I found an article online about the Sutliff Tobacco Company in San Francisco that gave a bit of the history of the company (https://tobaccobusiness.com/sutliff-tobacco-company-editorial/). I have included a pertinent section of the article below.

When H.W. Sutliff established Sutliff Tobacco Company in San Francisco in 1849, California had yet to become a state. Sutliff established his company as a tobacco retailer, and, like so many tobacco retailers of his day, he created his own pipe tobacco blends for his clientele. As the city grew, so did Sutliff Tobacco Company, and, by the time of San Francisco’s great earthquake of 1906, the company had a well-established reputation for providing good-quality pipe tobaccos and other tobacciana. Remaining within the Sutliff family, Sutliff Tobacco Company’s pipe tobaccos also grew in popularity within the region, and by the 1930s, the company enjoyed national sales for its Mixture 79, a non-aromatic cube-cut burley-based blend, which it introduced in 1933.

It is interesting to note that by the 1930s the company had international sales for its Mixture 79 tobacco which was introduced in 1933. This links in nicely with the time period of the pipe. I wonder if the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago pushed them to have Comoy’s make a pipe for them with their name on it to go along with the tobaccos they shipped around the US.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim showed some damage and burning on the front and back edges. There was also some damage on the rim top at the front. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation remaining and some deep tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button.   I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides and underside. It reads as noted above.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped billiard. Once the stem was off I noted that the airway in the tenon was quite large. Given the information that some of the Virgin Briar had a Comoy’s Grand Slam metallic stinger I checked for threading and sure enough the tenon was threaded. I tried several Grand Slam stingers that I have here and all were too long and too big to fit in the shank. But at least I knew that it had one in the past.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by dealing with the rim top and edge damage. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rim top damage. I reworked the rim edges smoothing out the damaged areas. The rim top looks much better. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping. Between the 2400 and the 3200 grit pad I stained the top of the rim with a Maple Stain Pent to match the colour of the bowl. I polished it with the rest of the pads and the blend was good.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface to raise the tooth marks and the small ones lifted some. You can see what they looked like in the photos below. I filled in the dents and built up the edge of the button on both sides with black Loctite 380 CA. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.     Once the repairs cured I recut the button edge and flattened out the repaired areas with a needle file to begin to blend them into the surface. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them in and followed that by starting the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This gorgeous Comoy’s Virgin Briar 28 Billiard with the Sutliff San Francisco stamp and a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Medium Billiard is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

 

Life for a large well-made Apple stamped Made in Denmark 59


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is a nicely grained tall apple shaped pipe with a vulcanite saddle stem. It has been here since the winter of 2017. The pipe is a bit of a mystery in terms of the maker as it only stamped on the left side and reads MADE IN DENMARK. On the underside it is stamped with the shape number 59. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There appeared to be a burn mark on the front left of the bowl. The bowl was caked a light overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. There were some scratches in the rim top but the edges appeared to be in good condition. The stem was dirty, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not any markings or a logo on the stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.     He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and band. They read as noted above and are clear and readable.      I looked on Pipedia and on Pipephil’s site for information on the brand and found nothing listed. I also checked out Who Made that Pipe found nothing that was stamped just Made In Denmark. I tried matching the shape numbers to Danish pipemakers and again came up empty handed. Perhaps one of you might know the maker of this pipe. Otherwise the maker shall remain a mystery to me. It is now time to get working on the pipe.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 light lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. You can also see the burn mark on the left front of the bowl. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top cleaned up really well with the light lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim showed some damage and burning. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation remaining and a few light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank – they show that the stamping is clear and readable as noted above.   The burn mark on the left front and another possible one on the right side of the bowl were problematic with the light finish.  The bowl was sound so they were not burn outs. Rather it looked like someone had set the bowl in an ashtray against a hot ash.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped tall apple shaped pipe.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I sanded the bowl exterior with 220 grit sandpaper and reworked the rim edge. I gave the rim a bit of a bevel to smooth out the damaged areas. I started the polishing on the bowl with 340 grit sandpaper to polishing out some of the scratches. The rest would be removed later between micromesh pads and buffing on the wheel.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it and flamed it to set it into the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl rim and sides. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry.After several hours of sitting I removed it from the stand and took some photos of the bowl and rim. I was looking forward to removing the top coat and seeing what was underneath. Once the stain cured I buffed it with Red Tripoli to polish off the thick crust on the stain. Afterwards I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the remaining oxidation and the light tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Made in Denmark 59 Apple with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The coat of dark brown stain gives life to the pipe and the burn mark is lessened from the sanding and stain. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Danish Apple fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Life for a Stunning Savinelli Punto Oro Super 602 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow in West Virginia. We pick up quite a few pipes for restoration from all over the world actually so it is nice to try to remember at least where we got them. You can tell if you have been reading lately I am not always good at that! Wherever we get them, I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is a beautifully grained bent billiard pipe with a tapered vulcanite stem with a gold dot on top. It has been here since the summer of 2018. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads Savinelli [over] Punto Oro [over] Super. On the right side it has a Savinelli S shield logo followed by the shape number 602 [over] Italy. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There were some scratches in the briar on the right side. The bowl was thickly caked with overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. There were some scratches in the rim top but the edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was dirty, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a brass dot on the top of taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. There was damage on the surface of the button on both sides.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and band. They read as noted above and are clear and readable. He also took a photo of the “punto oro” brass dot on the top of the stem.I have worked on quite a few Punto Oro pipes over the years but this is the first that was marked Punto Oro Super. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if he had any information that could help with the additional SUPER stamp (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html). The last entry under the Punto Oro line fit the bill. I have included a screen capture of the section below.The last note under the pipes read as follows: Savinelli’s Punto Oro pipes stamped “SUPER” were marketed in the early 1980’s and canceled some few years after. It seems that the Super pipes were short lived.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 light lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. The rim top and the edges of the bowl were in good condition other than some scratching and darkening. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I began my part of the work. The rim top cleaned up really well with the light lava coat removed. The inner and outer edge of the rim looked good. There is some darkening and scratching on the rim top and inner edge but nothing too problematic. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and damage to the button surface.  There was also a dark spot on the top of the shank at the junction of the stem and shank.  I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides. You can see that the stamping is clear and readable.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It really has some great birdseye on the left side of the bowl and shank.I worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and clean up the bevel. I sanded the rim top at the same time to remove the scratches, nicks and damage there.  The dark spot on the top of the shank at the end appears to be a stain rather than a burn mark.I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  As I polished it with the first three pads (1500-2400) I found a deep scratch on the right side of the bowl. I examined it with a light and lens and it is just a gouge in the briar. I had drawn an oval around it in red in the second photo below.   I tried to steam out the scratch with limited success. I filled it in with clear super glue. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I restained the area with a Maple Stain pen to begin to blend it into the surrounding briar. I continued the polishing with the next grades of micromesh – 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth between each pad.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them. The heat raised the dents in the vulcanite significantly. I filled in the remaining dents with black super glue. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to recut and reshape the button edge and flatten the repairs to begin blending them into the stem surface.  I sanded out the scratching and repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the vulcanite and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This Savinelli Punto Oro Super 602 Bent Billiard with a taper vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Punto Oro Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!