Tag Archives: sanding a stem

Restoring an Alpha Hand Made Pipe from Israel


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to a couple of pipes that Jeff and I purchased recently. We had picked up some pipes from a guy in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I pulled one of those pipes out of my “to be restored” bin and brought it to my worktable. This one is a large freehand with beautiful grain and a plateau rim top. It has some smooth beveled areas on the inner edge of the rim and a flush mount acrylic stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Alpha over Hand Made and there is an A logo stamped in the left side of the tapered, acrylic stem. We seem to pick up some really dirty pipes and this pipe was no exception. It was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy layer of lava overflowing on to the rim top filling in the crevice of the plateau. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. From the photos it appeared that the inner edge was in good condition. Other than being dirty the finish also appeared to look very good. The gold variegated acrylic saddle stem was in excellent condition with some light tooth chatter on both sides at the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. I am including those now. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is a thick band around the bowl. The bowl is a real mess. This must have been a great smoking pipe.The next photo shows the right side of the bowl and shank to give a clear picture of the beauty of the straight and flame grain around the bowl of the pipe. It is a beauty.Jeff took a photo of the stamping and logo on the stem to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The acrylic stem looked very good and though the photos are a little out of focus the stem appeared to be in good condition. There looked like there were some light tooth marks and chatter on the stem was light that should not take too much work to remedy.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to refresh my memory of the Alpha brand I remembered that somewhere along the line it was sold to Grabow in the US. Since Alpha was the first good pipe I owned I was interested in revisiting the history a bit. I turned first to Pipephil’s site and the information was brief so I went to Pipedia hoping to find more. I looked up the brand there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Alpha). I was reminded that the brand was made by the Shalom Pipe Factory. I quote in full:

Alpha was originally a brand of the Shalom Pipe Factory in Israel, owned by Bernard Hochstein, former CEO of Mastercraft. The Alpha line was made exclusively for export to the United States. They were made in Israel from the 1970s into the 1980s, at which point the name was sold to Mastercraft, and later to Lane, Ltd., who produced very few Lane Alpha pipes at the end of the 1990’s. Lane Alphas were sold in five finishes, each denoted with a Greek letter. After Lane, Mastercraft again marketed the Alpha, under the name Alpha USA, with finishes named Sierra, Delta, Mark V, Blue Ridge, Sabre, and Big Boy, some of which were not stamped with the Alpha name. Among others, the Israeli made Alpha pipes were available in a line marketed as “Citation”.

So I now had a date for the pipe – 1970s and into the 80s at which point the brand was sold to Mastercraft (not Grabow as I remembered). I also knew that it was made in Israel for the US market.

Armed with that information I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff had already cleaned up the pipe before sending it to me. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl in the earlier photos. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The rim top looked really good. The inner edge of the bowl was in good condition and there was a smooth bevel on the surface of the rim edge.I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. It read as noted above – Alpha Hand Made. You can also see the A stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. The second photo below shows the ISRAEL stamping at the stem/shank junction.The bowl was in excellent condition. I touched up the edges of the plateau briar with a black Sharpie pen. It blended those areas into the rest of the plateau finish. After it was finished I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. I worked it into the plateau surface with my finger tips and buffed it in with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the  process. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone.I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The stamped A on the left side of the stem was originally white in colour but the colour had been faded or wiped away. I used a white correction pen and pipe cleaner to work the white into the stamp. Once it had dried I scraped it off with my nail and buffed the area with an 8000 and 12000 grit micromesh sanding pad.I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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 pipe polished up really well and the beveled rim top looked good. I was happy with the look of the finished pipe. The photos below show what the pipe looks like after the restoration. The freehand shape reminds me of some of the American made freehand pipes that I have restored. It was a bit of a blast from the past for me to pick up and Alpha again and work on it – taking me back to one of my first pipes a little Alpha author. The polished variegated, gold Lucite stem looks really good with the browns of the briar and the darker plateau on the rim top. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. The thick shank and tall bowl look and feel great in the hand. This one should be a great smoker. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Advertisements

Rejuvenating a Norwegian Made Lillehammer 204 Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to a couple of pipes that Jeff and I purchased recently. We bought some pipes from a guy in Pennsylvania. The next pipe on my worktable comes from that collection. This one is a panel shape horn with a square shank and a saddle stem. The rim topped is crowned and the shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Lillehammer arched over GL and on the right side it has the shape number 204 stamped just ahead of the stem/shank union. The stem has a GL stamped on the left side of the saddle. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. From the photos there seemed to be some damage to the inner edge at the back of the bowl but I could not be sure. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. I have included two photos that the seller sent to me to give an idea of what Jeff and I saw when we were deciding to purchase the pipe. We had the pipe lot shipped to Jeff in the US so he could do the cleanup on them for me. He took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. I am including those now. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is a thick band around the bowl. The bowl is a real mess. This must have been a great smoking pipe.The next photos show the side and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the birdseye, cross and flame grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through.Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The brand and the shape number are very readable. The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem was light and should not take too much work to remedy. The oxidation was another issue that would need to be addressed.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to learn more about the Lillehammer brand so I turned to the first two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. The first site I turned to this time was the Pipedia site (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Lillehammer). There I was able to learn the backstory and history of the brand. I quote in full from that article and include pictures of the two principals.

In the 1830’s a young Norwegian wood-carver named Gudbrand Larsen saw some pipes made from meershcaum. He though they were beautiful and wanted to make pipes like that, but he could not obtain the material. So he decided to go where it was to be found.

Gudbrand Larsen (1815-1902)

Larsen went to Eskisehir, Turkey, to learn all about meerschaum. But the most beautiful pipes in those days were not made there but in France, so he continued his journey to Marseielle, where he found work in one of the most famous factories at the time. In 1844 he returned to Norway and started a small factory for meerschaum pipes in the town of Lillehammer. The pipes garnered a good reputation from the first.

Gudbrand’s son, August, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined him in the business. However, father and son did not get along very well, so Junior–as August usually was called–did like his father once had, he traveled to learn more about pipe-making.

Martin August “Junior” Larsen (1855-1915)

Junior understood that briar, not meerschaum, was the material of the future, so during his journey he studied the subject carefully, first in England and then in France.

In Paris Junior earned a position with a pipemaker of good repute and became highly respected in his work. However, Gudbrand was getting old and considering retirement, so he asked his son to come home and take over the family business, an offer Junior willingly accepted. As a businessman Junior was even more successful than his father, and during his period of leadership the business prospered.

In 1902 Gudbrand Larsen died at almost 90 years of age. Then Junior passed away a dozen years later, in 1914. His death was followed by some unstable years for the factory because it lacked competent management. And World War I had just started on the continent, which made it difficult to obtain raw material.

In 1916 the factory was bought be a company that appointed new management, and a long, stable period of successful expansion had begun. That period was to last for almost half a century. The main part of the production was briar pipes, but they also continued to make some meerschaums.

Problems at the factory began again at the end of the 1960s, when sales slowed dramatically. The main reason was the “fancy pipes” had become very popular, and Larsen’s of Lillehammer had nothing to offer there. Something had to be done and two steps were taken. In the middle of the 1970s the Danish company Kriswill was bought, and in that way they obtained access to that company’s more modern shapes. A new designer was also employed, but these efforts were not sufficient, and in the 1979 the factory closed.

I turned to the my usual second information site – Pipephil’s (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html) and most of the information was confirmed. There was one startling difference that I have highlighted above in the Pipedia information and below in the Pipephil information with bold, italic and underlined text with the main point in red text.

While Lillehammer’s sales went from bad to worse in the 1960’s, Kriswill purchased the brand and used to manage the Norwegian plant a short period.

Now there was a mystery that needed checking. On the Pipedia site it said that in the mid 70’s the Lillehammer Company bought out Kriswill to access the modern shapes. Pipephil reverses that and says that the purchase went the other way around – Kriswill bought out Lillehammer and managed the shop for a short period which putting the two articles together was from the mid 1970s until the plant closed in 1979.

I did some searching on the web to see if I could clarify the above anomaly. The first link I found was to the Pipe Club of Sweden site. There was a great article on the pipe maker Bård Hansen who followed the tradition of the Lillehammer Factory and was trained by a retired engineer from the Lillehammer Factory thus tying him to the brand. In that article there is confirmation for the Pipedia information above (http://www.svenskapipklubben.se/en/pipemakers/bard-hansen/). I quote in part the article there by Jan Andersson. (Once again I have highlighted the pertinent information in the text below using bold, italic and underlined text and marking the main point highlighted in red.

In a Swedish tobacco shop, even in small places in the province, there were usually a fair number of pipes in the 50s and 60s with stems from aluminum. But even for the more traditional pipesmoker, who wanted a pipe from wood and ebonite, there was a lot to choose from. Ratos was the dominant brand, but for those who were willing to spend a little extra, there were usually at least a few more exclusive pipes – pipes in green or blue-checked boxes. Those pipes came from Norway, from G.L. Larsens pipe factory in Lillehammer.

Photo is from the Pipephil Website.

Lillehammer pipes were found in two qualities, Bastia was a little cheaper and Lillehammer GL was for the truly discerning pipesmoker. Later I have learned that there were also more expensive and finer qualities, even one called Best Make, but those luxury pipes were never found in the shops in the small town where I lived. Lillehammer pipes were easily recognizable, they usually were rather slim and with a long stem, which was the fashion at the time. So while a true English gentleman smoked a Dunhill with the white dot on the stem, Norwegian or Swedish pipesmokers preferred an elegant Lillehammer.

We will not go into detail about the interesting story of Lillehammer, but unfortunately we can see that from the beginning of the 70s, it rapidly went downhill for the factory. They bought the Danish company Kriswill but that was not a success, nor was the new series of shapes created by the pipemaker Thorbjørn Rygh. So G.L. Larsen’s pipe factory in Lillehammer had to close, deeply missed by many of us. This feeling persists to this day, which is particularly evident in the great interest in the Lillehammer pipes at auctions and collector’s markets.

The article goes on to make the tie with Bard Hansen. I quote in part to show the ongoing life of a brand and its machinery and to help establish a date for the pipe that I am working on.

Until last spring, I thought that Norwegian manufacture of smoking pipes was just a memory, but fortunately I was wrong. In Bergen there is a man called Bård Hansen, who carries the tradition on.

It all began six years ago when Bård met Hans Tandberg, a retired engineer who had been working as a pipemaker in Larsen’s pipe factory. He had built a workshop with machines from his old workplace and as he had no heirs, he wanted to sell it all to someone who could carry on the traditions. Bård was interested to learn, so he bought the machines and a large stock of briar from the old Lillehammer factory and, not least, he was trained in the art of making pipes by Hans Tandberg.

Bård keeps the old traditions from the Lillehammer factory alive. He prefers the classical, clean lines and two things are important to him: balance and rhythm.

Mainly Bård makes small and medium-sized pipes. The pipes are stamped Tabago. The stems are from ebonite, except on some pipes, where the shaft is from briar.  Those who wish can get their name or any other engraving on a silver ring.

Gathering the data together from my research I have learned that the pipe I have on my worktable is from the period between the mid 70’s to the closing of the factory in 1979. I am also quite certain that came from the time when Kriswill was purchased with the hope of breathing new life into the old Lillehammer Factory. The purchase was made with the thought that through their innovative and modern shapes the Kriswill company would offer new markets for the Lillehammer brand. The GL stamping on this one makes it one of the higher end pipes from the factory.

Armed with that information I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. There was some general rim darkening and a burned and damaged area on the backside of the bowl that made the bowl out of round. The inner edge of the bowl was rough to the touch and a bit jagged because of the burn. The rest of the rim top and edges looked very good. The variation in the size of the shank and stem are also visible in the photos below. You can see the step down transition. However what you cannot see in the photos is the “lip” at that transition on the briar portion. The stem was much cleaner and there was light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. It read as noted above – Lillehammer GL. You can also see that a portion of the white paint in the GL stamp on the left side of the saddle stem is missing.I decided to address the bowl first. I worked on both the rim damage and on the flow of the shank to the stem. There was a lip on the briar at the shank/stem transition that needed to be dealt with to make it smooth to touch. I worked on the inner edge of the rim first using a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper smooth out the damage, bevel the inner edge and bring the bowl back as close as possible to round.I then turned to the shank to smooth out the transition to the stem. I sanded the shank with 220 grit sandpaper to match the stem. I carefully avoided sanding the stamping so as not to damage it but to still minimize the lip on the briar at the joint. I  sanded the top and underside with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth that out as well. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I used a Maple and a Cherry Stain pen to blend the sanded areas with the rest of the bowl and shank. The combination of the two stain pens were a good match. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. It also helps to blend the newly stained areas in to the surrounding briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the  process. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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 pipe polished up really well and even the newly beveled rim top looked good. I was happy with the results of the reworking of the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The unique horn shape definitely reminds me of the Kriswill pipes that I have restored though none of them were paneled horns. It is my first Lillehammer pipe and I have to say it is quite stunning. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. The “detective” work on the brand was an added bonus for me as I worked on this beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Breathing Life into a Paneled Royal Esquire 730 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my worktable is yet another pipe from a local pipe shop. It is another of the pipes that came from the estate of an older gentleman whose wife returned his pipes to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is a smooth finished Paneled Dublin. It is stamped on a left side of the shank Royal Esquire over Made in France with the shape number 730 next to the shank/stem junction on the underside of the shank. On the left side of the saddle stem is the is a stamped top hat logo. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. There were some nicks on the left side of the bowl and the cap that would need to be dealt with. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. I included this pipe in the batch that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. I know I have said this before but I will have to say it again. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It allows me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition.He took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top.He took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain on this smooth finished old pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The brand and the shape number are very readable. He also included a photo of the Top Hat logo on the stem. The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The edges of the button had bite marks and there was some tooth damage to the surface of the stem next to the button on both sides.I have worked on one other Royal Esquire pipe previously from this same collection. It was a poker with a lot of fills in the shank and bowl. It was a mess and once finished turned out very well. Here is the link to that blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/03/25/breathing-new-life-into-a-royal-esquire-french-made-poker/. On the previous pipe I had done a lot of searching and hunting to find out about the maker and found nothing on Pipedia or on PipePhil’s site. It remains a mystery to me. Are any of you familiar with the brand? Let us know.

Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime in the sandblast finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the smooth rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it a cleaner and better looking pipe. I took photos of it before I started the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the grime and darkening on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl had some damage on the front left and right. There was some general rim darkening and the rim top was damaged from tapping it out on hard surfaces. The stem had light tooth chatter and some deeper tooth marks on both sides near the button.I was able to get a very clear picture of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank and the Top Hat logo on the saddle stem.I decided to address the issues with the bowl and rim top first. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the shiny spots of the lacquer coat that remained on the shank. The acetone also cleaned off any remaining debris on the briar. You can see the deep nicks and gouges on the left side of the bowl in the photos below. I  topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the rim top damage and to minimize the burn damage on the edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and give it a slight bevel to remove more of the burn marks and damage. I repaired the gouges and nicks in the left side of the bowl and cap with clear super glue and briar dust. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the rim top and the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos tell the story. I used a Maple coloured stain pen to blend the newly sanded areas on the side of the bowl and the rim top into the rest of the bowl.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the finish. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to even out the look of the stain on the bowl sides and rim top. The pipe is looking really good at this point. It is even better in person than the photos show. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I repaired the tooth marks with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned up the edge of the button and flattened out the repaired areas with a needle file. I sanded the repaired areas with folded pieces of 220 to remove the scratches and file marks on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into surface of the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and worked it the pipe over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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 pipe polished up really well with the repairs disappearing into the new finish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. There is something about the pipe that reminds me of some of the Edwards pipes that I have repaired and restored over the years. The paneled Dublin and cap polished really well. The polished black vulcanite looks really good with the browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting smooth finished paneled Dublin with a square shank. It was a fun one to work on.

 

Restoring a Sandblast Danish Shaped Loewe’s Cutlass 21 Bent Acorn


Blog by Steve Laug

This Loewe’s Bent Acorn is yet another pipe from a local pipe shop. It came from the estate of an older gentleman whose wife returned his pipes to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is a sandblast finished Loewe Danish Shaped Cutlass. The rim top is smooth briar and the bowl and shank are all sandblast. It is stamped on a smooth band on the underside of the shank Loewe Cutlass with the shape number next to the shank/stem junction it has the shape number 21. On the left side of the saddle stem is the Loewe’s brass box L logo. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. This was included in the pipes that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It allows me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top.He took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the sandblast finish on this old pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through.Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. He also included a photo of the L square logo on the stem and the FRANCE stamping on the underside. The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The edges of the button had bite marks and there was some tooth damage to the surface of the stem next to the button on both sides.I have worked on quite a few Loewe pipes over the years but have never worked on one with this shape. Most of the others have been classic English shaped pipes. I have always enjoyed the shapes and the craftsmanship on each of them. It is well made and well-shaped. I turned to my usual sources to check out the particular “Cutlass” line pipe. First I turned to the pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l5.html). I have included a screen capture from that site that highlights the line I am working on. In fact the pipe given as an example is similar to the one I am working on. I have enclosed the pipe in the photo below in a red box.I turned next to Pipedia to read some more detail of the history and see if there was more detailed information on the Cutlass line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Loewe_%26_Co). There was no more detail or help in dating the pipe I was working on.

Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime in the sandblast finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the smooth rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it a cleaner and better looking pipe. I took photos of it before I started the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the grime and darkening on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl looked pretty good. The stem had light tooth chatter and some deeper tooth marks on both sides near the button. I was able to get a very clear picture of the stamping on the shank and the L square logo on the saddle stem.I polished the rim top and the smooth portions of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the sandblast finish on the bowl and shank and the smooth portion on the rim and underside of the shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the sandblast finish. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I repaired the tooth marks with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned up the edge of the button and the repaired areas with folded pieces of 220 and 400 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I lightly buffed the sandblast bowl. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. There is something about the pipe that reminds me of a Stanwell shape and finish. The shape is very Danish and the restoration has brought it back to life. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting and unique sandblast Loewe Cutlass 21.

Restoring a Danish Handmade Kriswill Chief 50 Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

This Kriswill is yet another one from a local pipe shop. It came from the estate of an older gentleman whose wife returned his pipes to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is a smooth finished Kriswill Full Bent/Oom Paul. The briar is a combination of mixed grain around the bowl. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Kriswill over Chief over Handmade in Denmark. On the underside near the shank stem junction it has the shape number 50. On the left side of the saddle stem is the Kriswill Snowflake logo. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button.This was included in the pipes that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. This is probably the 24/25 pipe that I have brought to the work table from the lot of about 50 to rework. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It allows me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top.He took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain on this old pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime.The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The edges of the button had bite marks and there was some tooth damage to the surface of the stem next to the button on both sides.I have worked on quite a few Kriswill pipes over the years and have always enjoyed the shapes and the craftsmanship on each of them. This one is no different. It is well made and well-shaped. I reviewed the information I had on Kriswill and have included some of that here.Kriswill was one of the large pipe manufacturers in Denmark during the 1960s and 1970s, and closed around 20 years ago. Their catalog cover read “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court, KRISWILL, Kriswork Briar Trading, Briar Pipes Hand Made in Denmark.” After the Danish Kriswill enterprise ended, pipes were made in Norway and in France under the Kriswill label. In the 1970s Kriswill was bought by Lillehammer, and in the 1980s the pipes were made for a while at the Catalan factory, Iberica de Pipas  (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Kriswill_Factory.jpg).

Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime in the rustication and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it a cleaner and better looking pipe. I took photos of it before I started the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the grime and darkening on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl looked pretty good. The stem had light tooth chatter and some deeper tooth marks on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank and the Kriswill Snowflake Logo on the left side of the saddle stem.I worked over the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the inside edge of the rim. It did not take a lot of sanding to smooth out the damaged areas.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar on the bowl and rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and worked it into the briar. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I repaired the tooth marks with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned up the edge of the button and the repaired areas with folded pieces of 220 and 400 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. The pipe has been sitting in the queue since late in 2017 so the stem was loose in the shank. I know from experience that once the pipe is smoked it will be good and snug. To take care of the interim period I gave the tenon a light coat of clear nail polish. Once it dries the stem will fit snugly in the mortise.I put the stem back on the pipe and worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Though the briar has some fills on the left side of the bowl it is nonetheless a beautiful piece of briar. The shape is a Danish version of a classic Oom Paul pipe and with the restoration has been brought back to life. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting Kriswill Chief 50 Oom Paul.

Restoring an Interesting Piece of American Pipe History – Pat Vottis’ Contribution to the Ongoing Quest for a Cool Smoke


Blog Steve Laug

Every so often my brother and I come across very unique pipes that are worth restoring just for the thing that makes them particularly notable. Each pipe that falls into this category has its own uniqueness that sets them apart as different. These unique pipes come to us from a large variety of different sources and the one I am working on now came to me from a reader of rebornpipes.  Christine contacted me to see if I would be interested in purchasing her Grandfather’s pipes and restoring them. She was particularly interested in seeing what I could do with a Vottis pipe that he had. She sent me photos of the lot and we struck a deal. Over the years I have worked on several Vottis pipes coming from different sources. But this Vottis pipe from Albany, New York is not like anything I have ever seen before. I am including some photos to show the system. There is an air hole (not big) on each side of the shank near the bowl (Photos 1 and 2). These run parallel to the airway and come out on either side of the mortise (Photo 3). The stem is drilled with the same two small channels that run the length and out the button on either side of the slot (Photos 4 and 5). The red arrows in each photo point to the airways that I am referring to throughout the blog. The basic airflow diagram is illustrated by the red lines on the photo below. The thinner lines on either side reflect the airflow running parallel to the airway in the shank and mortise. The shank airway is shown by the thicker red line and runs to the bottom of the bowl from the slot in the button. I am convinced that the mechanics were designed to pull cool air into the tubes alongside the shank to cool the smoke in the chamber and cool it all the way to the end of the button. If I plug the slot in the button I can pull air out of the twin tubes and it is a steady stream. Once the pipe is restored I will load a bowl and try it out to test my hypothesis. I will soon know how it works. It is definitely a unique design and one that is in the camp of the proverbial eternal hunt for a cooler smoke. With that information have a look at the restoration of this Vottis design pipe.With the mechanics clearly spelled out in the above diagrams and explanations it is time to do a bit of research on the brand and see if there is any mention of this cooling system design. I looked at the various sites that I usually go to (pipedia and pipephil) and there was nothing about this kind of pipe on either site. So I dug a bit more deeply. I read the obituaries of Pat (Pasquale) Vottis and S. Vottis in the Albany newspapers and the online Funeral Home sites. Lots of references were made to their shop in Albany and Schenectady, New York but nothing on the unique designs they may have done with pipes. It did add colour to my understanding of the carvers of the pipes – both were local philanthropists and involved in their local Catholic parishes. Both were well loved by the community.

I went on to look further and found more info on the brand on the brothers of the briar site (http://www.brothersofbriar.com/t5244-information-on-s-m-vottis-pipes). The site gave two links that sadly are no longer active. I am including them in case they ever come back on line. I quote as follows:

I think that the information you are looking for is in the following link: http://www.jbriarpipes.com/blog/2014/12/10/the-rise-and-fall-of-a-historic-local-landmark-paying-homage-to-the-vottis-pipe-shop found on the J Briar Pipes site.  Pat (Pasquale) Vottis and his brother S. (Salvatore) Vottis had a pipe shop in Schenectady NY.  The article referenced contains information about the Vottis Pipe Shop.  A second link found on the page directs you to an Albany Times-Union article (archived) (http://alb.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=5580379) that contains more info.  Happy reading!  I enjoyed finding these articles and reading them.  I have lived within 50 miles of Albany NY most of my life and never knew about Vottis pipes.

I also followed a link to a thread on pipes.org that was very interesting. It is written by Pat Vottis’ grandson and is interesting to read. Here is the link to the quote. (http://pipes.org/forums/messages/23/46034.html?1171913269) It is also tied back to a thread on pipes.org that I cannot access. I include that link as well should some of you be able to access the information. This post references Harold Vance Post #4 username hbvance and Jose Manuel Lopes Post #91 in the Archive of 2005 Sept 20 with a Subject Title of Vottis Pipes (http://pipes.org/forums/discus~discus/discus~discus/discus/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=23&post=45187#POST451 87).

Jose, I am not quite sure where you obtained your information regarding Pat Vottis but it is incorrect and I would like to share a bit of good information for the audience.

Pasquale (Pat) Vottis is my grandfather. He did not die as you have posted on the web in 2005. He actually died this morning at 99 yrs 9 months of age on Feb 18, 2007. He had a passion for the customers and the business.

My grandfather opened his first pipe shop in Albany, NY on South Pearl St. It was in the Bank Building (which took up a whole city block) at the corner of State Street and South Pearl. We also opened a second shop in Albany which was in the Empire State Plaza on the Concourse level. This was to serve all of the State Workers so they could do business at lunch time and not be strapped for time while trying to get down to the South Pearl shop. We still have the Vottis Pipe Shop Sign and the Vottis Pipe Shop Clock that was a landmark for the customers.

Harold Vance’s pipes may very well came from a pipeshop in Santa Monica. We mailed pipes all over the world. My grandfather’s sister actually lived in Santa Monica for many years. We also had a very large tobacco mail order business in which I mixed 1000s of pounds of tobacco and mailed them all around the world as well. We closed the pipe shops in the early 90s due to the numerous break-ins late at night. The locals would throw rocks through the store front windows to steal the hand carved pipes and the meerschaums.

My grandfather hand carved many, many pipes himself. He usually carved the big blocks. My grandfather, my uncle, and my father repaired pipes for everyone even if they had not bought a pipe at our shops. We had a metal lathe in the basement as well as a stove. They machined the tenon portion of the stem with a carbide cutter to match the stem of the bowl for a perfect fit every time. To match the stem or the fit of the customer, we custom bent the stems of the pipes to their satisfaction.

I recall boxes of briar blocks that were rough turned and my uncle, my father, and my grandfather would also hand finish these too. We had a lot of fun in the stores too. Mixing different formulas of tobaccos to see how the public would respond. We had numerous successful formulas. Our approach was to make all natural formulas with no sugars added, no sugar sprays, or flavorings added.

The most popular formula was created by grandfather and was called Black Watch. Some of the other blends were North Woods, Vottis’s Own, Vottis Club, Boulevard 76, No#9. These blends were comprised of barley, yellow Cavendish, black Cavendish, Turkish, Latakia, and others of which I do not recall. Ironically, for the namesake, my grandfather has died at a Nursing Home named North Woods just like one of his tobacco blends called North Woods.

Finally, I also found a PDF of a brochure that Pat Vottis put together for his Albany Pipe Shop. I am including it as it is an interesting read.

When the pipe arrived at Jeff’s in Idaho he took photos of it before he started his clean up. It is one of my favourite shapes – a squat Rhodesian with a thick shank and saddle stem. The briar was dirty but had some amazing grain on the bowl. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable – Vottis in script. The rim top had some lava overflowing the bowl particularly on the back side. The edges looked very good – both inner and outer. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and hard. The double rings around the bowl below the rim cap were in good condition other than the usual collection of debris and dust. The stem was clean but had some light oxidation and tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. The button surface also had some tooth damage. Jeff’s photos are below (The above photos of the airways also are from Jeff). Jeff took some photos of the rim top to show the lava overflow and the cake in the bowl. The two photos are from slightly different angles and have different exposures but clearly show the condition. The inner edge of the bowl looks good but I will know more once it is cleaned and reamed. There appears to be some damage on the rear right of the bowl but again it is not clear until the bowl has been reamed and cleaned.Jeff also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to give an idea of the beautiful grain on this pipe. The photos of the stem show the deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button as well as the damage to the button edge and surface. You can also see the scratching and oxidation in the photos.When Christine wrote me about the pipes and the deal was struck I asked her if she would like to put together a brief tribute to her Grandfather to include in these blogs. She was happy to write it and send it to me. I include her tribute now go give a glimpse in to the life of the pipeman who held this pipe in trust before it came to me.

My grandfather, Paul Richter, first came to the United States from Germany in the mid 1920’s with his younger brother, Walter.  Paul was born in 1899 in Leipzig, Germany. He had a degree in engineering and was looking for a better life to start a family.  Paul and Walter were hired to work at a machine shop in Flushing, NY. They then heard about a town in upstate NY called Schenectady and decided it was worth a trip to check it out. They stayed at a boarding house next to the railroad station and were eaten up by bed bugs.  Despite this experience, my grandfather decided that Schenectady was a good place to live and start his career with the General Electric Company (GE).

In 1928 he returned to Germany and brought his new wife from Leipzig to Flushing via boat and shortly after they moved to Schenectady. Paul worked hard and earned his way up the ladder to a management position; eventually managing 400 people at the GE main plant in downtown Schenectady. With his wife, Ella, they raised 2 sons, Ralph and Peter who both ended up with lifelong careers at GE.  Schenectady was a thriving and exciting city during this time with much to keep a family happy. One of the things that Paul enjoyed was quality tobacco smoked in a finely crafted pipe.  He found one of his favorite pipes at the Vottis Pipe Shop on Erie Blvd in downtown Schenectady. After Paul passed away in 1979, his son Peter (my father) kept all of his Dad’s old pipes among other sentimental memorabilia.  The pipes were packed away in a box until 2018, when I opened the box and smelled that wonderful pipe aroma that I recall from many years ago. The aroma brings back fond memories of time spent with my family!

Thanks for giving Paul’s Vottis pipe another life! — Christine

Thanks for writing this Christine. It helps to set the stage for this restoration and give colour to the story. I was excited to work on this interesting old pipe. In fact so much so that I forgot to take pics of it before I started working on it. I filled in the tooth marks on both sides of the stem and rebuilt the edge of the button at the same time.At that point I remembered I had not taken photos so I put the stem back on the shank and took some photos of the bowl and stem to show the magnificent cleanup job Jeff had done with the pipe and to show the areas that I would need to work on. I took some photos of the rim top to show the area at the back that had been covered in lava. It was now clean but had some darkening and would need a bit of polishing to remove the darkening. I also took photos of the stem surfaces to show the repaired areas to highlight the tooth damage that had been present.I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides. The left side read Vottis in script looking like it was almost engraved. The right side read Genuine Algerian Briar.I cleaned up the darkening on the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I worked it over the surface and around the edge to smooth out the damages and also to remove the darkening. Over all the sandpaper did the trick. The edge and top still show some damage but polishing it should remove the remaining damages.I polished the bowl and rim cap with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and check my progress. The photos tell the story. Once I was finished polishing the bowl and rim, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show how good the pipe was beginning to look. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good and the birdseye grain on the bottom and the cap of the bowl and flame grain on the sides stand out in all their beauty. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The repairs to the button area had cured so I used a needle file to clean up the edge of the button and flatten the repairs on the surface of the stem. I also reshaped the button surface. I blended in the repairs and removed the scratching from the file with 220 and 440 grit sandpaper. The repairs and shape of the button looked really good at this point. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and brought it back to the work table and finished polishing it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by giving it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and setting it aside to dry. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them back together and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The birdseye grain on the rim cap and the beautiful straight/flame grain around the sides of the bowl and shank came alive on the buffing wheel. The rich brown stain works well with polished black saddle vulcanite stem. The finish looks amazing and it is smooth and light weight in the hand. Judging from the condition of the pipe when we got it, I am sure that it will be an amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. Thanks Christine for sending this pipe to me from your Grandfather Paul Ricther. It is a beauty and a pipe that I intend to hold onto (at least for now). I have never seen another like it and I am anxious to fire up a bowl and try it out.