Tag Archives: Savinelli Autograph 4

Restoring a Savinelli Autograph 4 Freehand Style Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

As you might have figured out from the title I am working on another pipe from Italy. This one is a Savinelli Autograph 4. It reads Savinelli over Autograph on the underside of the bowl on a smooth panel. It is also stamped with the Grade number 4 and Italy. The pipe has a beautiful sandblast on the bowl, rim top and shank with plateau on the shank end. There is a smooth portion on the front of the bowl wrapping around the right side of the bowl. The vulcanite stem also is stamped with the autograph just behind the saddle. The pipe came to me in a bag of pipes I brought home with me from Idaho Falls on a recent visit. I decided to work on the Autograph next as it was not a shape I had seen before in my restoration work. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the pipe at this point. The bowl has a light cake and some debris in the bottom of the bowl. The rim top is dirty but undamaged. The stem looks pretty good with the autograph stamp readable. There is tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside just ahead of the button on both sides.  I took a photo of the underside of the bowl/heel that is flattened to make the pipe a sitter. You can see the stamping – Savinelli Autograph 4 over Italy. It is stamped on a smooth portion of the heel while leaving the other portion sandblasted. The second photo below shows the plateau on the shank end. It is a really a great looking pipe.I wanted to remind myself a bit about the Autograph line from Savinelli so I reread the last blog I did on the Autograph line (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/05/restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-3-rhodesian-dublin-long-shank/). I quote that portion of the blog now:

I turned first to the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli1.html) to get a brief overview of the Autograph line. There I found out that the Autographs were hand made and unique. The Autograph Grading system is ascending: 3, 4, … 8, 0, 00, 000.

I turned then to Pipedia to get a more background on the Autograph line. I had the outline I needed from pipephil for the pipe but wanted more (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). I quote in part from the article on that site.

While Savinelli’s serially produced pipes account for around 98% of annual production, the marque also creates a number of artisanal, handmade pieces as well. The Autographs, the Creativity line, and the Mr. A. line are all the result of Savinelli’s unique handmade process, with the Autographs reflecting the larger Freehand aesthetic, the Creativity line delving into more complex hand carving, and the Mr. A. line sidestepping the standard shape chart for remarkable and unusual pipes.

All of the briar for Savinelli’s Autographs and other freehand pipes is sourced specifically for those pieces. While the majority of the marque’s serial production is made from extra grade ebauchon blocks, Savinelli keeps a separate supply of Extra Extra plateau blocks for Freehands. This variety of briar is much larger, and of a higher quality, which explains why so many Autographs and Savinelli handmades are naturally larger designs.

These handmade pieces are shaped much like traditional Danish Freehands: they are shaped first and drilled second. Using this method, Savinelli’s team of artisans is able to showcase their own creativity, as it maximizes flexibility and facilitates a more grain-centric approach to shaping. The resulting Freehand designs are at once both a departure from the marque’s classical standard shapes, yet very much still “Savinelli” in their nature—i.e. proportioned so that the bowl is the visual focus when viewed from the profile, juxtaposed by the comparatively trim lines of the shank and stem. To provide a little more insight into the differences between Savinelli’s standard production and freehand lines, Luisa Bozzetti comments:

“When we choose to make Freehand pipes we must stop production on the standard shapes. The process for Freehands is much more involved and takes much more time. Finding the best people from the production line and pulling them to make Freehands is challenging since it’s not an assembly line, but rather a one or two man operation.

After the rough shaping of the stummel, we must get together and brainstorm which style of stem will be paired before the pipe can be finished since we do not use pre-shaped stems. All accents and stems for the Freehands are cut from rod here in the factory. A lot of care goes into the few pieces lucky enough to make the cut; to end up with a certain number of Autographs, for instance, means that many, many more will be made, and only the few will be selected.”

The quality control process for Savinelli handmades is even more rigorous than that employed in the standard lineup. Many blocks are started and later discarded because of pits or defects. While Savinelli’s briar sourcing is a constant process, working with some of Italy’s top cutters to ensure only the finest and most suitable blocks make their way to the factory, it’s impossible to source plateau briar that’s completely free from flaws. That’s just nature. Savinelli creates the standard for quality by working through the rough (a very high-quality rough, mind you) to find that shining diamond with the potential to become a Savinelli handmade.

It looks like the Autograph 4 I am working is pretty high in the hierarchy of the line. Like other autographs I have worked on in the past this one has a unique twist to the vulcanite stem. The pipe was pretty clean externally so I decided to deal with the internals first. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape out the thin cake on the walls and the base of the bowl. I sanded the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. They were surprisingly clean and the grime came out quickly on the pipe cleaners and the cotton swabs.I used a small brass bristle wire brush to knock of the grime in finish on the rim top. I wiped it down with a damp pad to remove the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a shoe brush and then polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos show the stem at this point.  I wet sanded the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with 1500 -12000 grit micromesh pads to polish it. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil afterwards and buffed it on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond and the finished it with a soft microfiber cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the smooth part of the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the smooth part of the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I gave the sandblasted portions several coats of Conservator’s 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 contrast of the beautiful dark and medium brown stains and the smooth and sandblast finish worked amazingly well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The mix of straight grain sandblast on the rest of the bowl and shank is quite remarkable. This is truly a beautiful Freehand pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I have restored quite a few Autographs over the years and this estate is another rare beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.

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Cleaning up a Unique Savinelli Autograph Grade 4


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother found this Savinelli Autograph on a trip through Nebraska. He picked it up in an antique shop. It was in very good shape with a light cake in the bowl. It is a large pipe that is sandblasted on three sides of the bowl and the shank. The sandblast finish was very clean and the smooth portion was also smooth and undamaged. The Pipes and Cigars website http://www.pipesandcigars.com/pipes/73592/savinelli-autograph-pipes/ says that:

“Savinelli Autographs are as individual as your fingerprints. Each is the dream of an expert pipe maker realized in briar and personally selected by Giancarlo Savinelli. Every Autograph is 100% ‘Hand made’ using only the highest grade of Sardinian and Corsican Briar Plateau blocks. Well grained briar, worthy of becoming an Autograph is rare and therefore, these beautiful masterpieces are very limited and coveted by pipe smokers worldwide. Truly an achievement to be treasured, Autographs are available in smooth, paneled, sandblasted brown or black.” The Autograph my brother found is a paneled version.

On the Savinelli website it says this about the Autographs:

This rare, unique and irreplaceable pipe is shaped from the raw material following the grain and the “fiammatura” (“flame”), which Mother Nature has put at our disposal, according to the artistic mood of our master craftsmen. The wood is natural and the shape is unique for each piece. The name “Autograph” was created from the handwritten signature of Achille Savinelli Senior printed on the mouthpiece.” 

“These pipes are graded according to very strict parameters: the 0 (zero) category goes from 000, an outstanding masterpiece, to 00 and then 0. The grading then goes down to 8, 6, 5, 4 and 3.” The one my brother found is stamped with a 4 thus it is a 4 Grade pipe.

The Savinelli website went on to confirm that the Autograph are available as ‘Panel’ pipes which have both a smooth and a sandblasted part or are completely sandblasted. http://www.savinelli.it/en/autograph-lisciaAuto1The rim was dirty but undamaged. The inner and out edge was in perfect shape. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button.Auto2There was a smooth spot on the underside of the bowl and shank that is stamped Savinelli Autograph over the number 4 over Italy. The finish was a little dirty on the bottom of the shank and would need to be scrubbed off. The first photo below shows the underside of the bowl and the shank. The second photo shows the stamping on the pipe. The third photo shows the state of the stem.Auto3 Auto4My brother is doing all of the initial cleanup work for me. He reamed the bowl and cleaned up the rim and the shank. He scrubbed out the internals in the shank and the stem. He scrubbed the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the stickiness and some of the surface grime on the stem. When I received the pipe it was in very good shape. The finish was very clean. The bowl and the rim were cleaned. The stem had some oxidation and there were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem.Auto5 Auto6I took a close up photo of the rim to give a clear view of the cleanup Jeff had done for me. He is doing some excellent work preparing the pipes before I get them. I can’t thank him enough as it saves me a lot of time and work.Auto7I quickly swabbed out the mortise and airways in the shank and in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take too much work to clear out the sanding dust and debris from my work on the pipe.Auto8The stem had the autograph of Achille Savinelli Senior printed on the mouthpiece. It was faded and worn and the gold colour in the stamp had disappeared. I cleaned off the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper being careful around the autograph. I rubbed it down with some Obsidian Oil and used Rub n’ Buff Antique Gold to fill in stamped area on the stem. I rubbed it in place with a soft cloth.Auto9 Auto10I was able to sand out the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem with the 220 grit sandpaper. There were several deeper tooth marks on the top side. I patched them with a drop of black super glue. I let it harden over night and sanded it smooth to blend into the surface of the stem.Auto10aWith the stem cleaned and repaired I just needed to polish it. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin to polish it and remove the remaining oxidation. I worked carefully around the signature so as not to damage it. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads using the Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I gave it a final rubdown and let it day.Auto11 Auto12 Auto13I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Autograph is shown in the photos below. It is a unique and stunning pipe made in a shape that is unique to this particular pipe. The combination of smooth and sandblast finish works well on this panel version of the Autograph. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If any of you are interested in adding this one to your rack let me know. I am sure we can make a deal. Thanks for looking.Auto14 Auto15 Auto16 Auto17 Auto18 Auto19 Auto20 Auto21