Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I chose to work on is another UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK pipe. This one was a leather clad Bent Billiard. It had a perfectly clean and debris free bowl and rim top that showed that it had never been smoked. The leather was light grey and was dirty from time and had water stains near the shank/stem union. It was stamped a signature Jean Lacroix stamp on the left side of the shank. At the best of times I don’t like leather clad pipe but this was a clearly awful looking addition. If it had been smoked I would have abandoned it to the grab bags but the unsmoked and quite flawless looking Briar on the rim and in the bowl made me pause. The stitching on the leather was also clean and the edges on the bowl and the shank end were clean. If the stains were not present on the shank I would have just listed it as it is but I will need to do some work on it. I am kicking myself at this point as I forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started my work on it. Jeff found two photos of a lot of pipes we purchased that included the Jean Lacroix pipe. I have circled it in blue in the first photo and in red in the second one. The stem has the Lacroix signature on the left side of the saddle and it is also on the left side of the shank. I blew up the photo of the pipe from the photos above to try to capture the look and staining to the leather on the shank. The photos are a little blurry but you can see the stains on the shank. The went all the way around and extended inward toward the stamping for about ½ inch.
Once again I am kicking myself as I forgot to take photos of my work to try and remove the stains. I scrubbed the shank with a gentle dish soap and was able to lighten them slightly but they did not come all the way out. I set the pipe aside overnight to think about my next steps. I went through some possible cleaning options and came to the conclusion that all would still leave behind the stain marks. That left only one option – to stain the leather a darker colour and see what that would do.
In the afternoon yesterday I made a decision to restain the leather. I figured I had nothing to lose. If it worked it would be great and I would finish restoring the pipe. If it did not work it could be scrapped for parts. I went through my stains to see what colour to use. I knew that the stains darkened considerably on leather so I chose a light brown Feibing’s stain. I applied it with the dauber all around the bowl to make sure the coverage was even. I carefully avoided staining the rim top and edges as I wanted them to remain a contrast to the leather. I set the bowl aside to let the stain cure on the leather. This morning I waxed and buffed the leather on the buffing wheel and the shine came alive. The newly stained leather came out looking quite amazing. The bowl has a rich brown finish that is warm and clean. The stain marks on the shank end have disappeared under the new colour. I think that it is a vast improvement. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank to show how the stamping had effected that part of the shank. Remember the stains on the shank end extended almost ½ inch up the shank all the way around. The stamp is clear and readable – Jean Lacroix.I turned to Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l2.html) to confirm the brand stamping. You can see how the stamp on the leather matches the stamp on the briar in the screen capture below.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was lightly oxidized from sitting around in the store who had stocked it. The logo was faded and once I had removed it from the shank you can see the finned stinger apparatus in the tenon. It is friction fit and easily removable. I took photos of the stem before I started my work.I touched up the stamping on the stem with some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I let it sit a few minutes then buffed it off with a soft cloth to remove the excess. It looks better in person than it does in the photo but you can get the idea.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I generally do not like leather clad pipe no matter who the maker is. I always wonder about what is under the leather. This UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK Jean Lacroix Leather Clad Bent Billiard actually came out looking really good. The light brown stain on the leather brought the leather alive and the polished rim top and clean bowl look good. I put the stem on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping on the stem so as not to damage that). I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. It is a great looking pipe and one that will be going on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section. If you want to add it to your collection let me know via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by message. Thanks for walking through the cleanup with me.