Tag Archives: SMS Meerschaum Pipes

Restoring an interesting SMS Meerschaum Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

On a recent trip to Idaho to visit my parents, brothers and families I had the opportunity to go with my brother Jeff on a pipe hunt. We visited some of the shops where he has developed a relationship with the owners and had good luck on pipe purchases in the past. We visited a shop that belongs to the daughter of an old pipe man who I have known through business for quite a few years. I have purchased pipes and tobacco from him in years past and Jeff and I have bought a few estate pipes from him in recent years. On this trip we stopped and visited with his daughter a bit and had a look through her shop. Her dad had a few pipes there and a few sealed tins of Velvet Pipe Tobacco. These sealed tins still had the tax stamp on them and someone had the foresight to wrap a piece of duct tape carefully around the seal to keep the air out of the tin. I had to have one of those. There was one pipe that caught my attention – an oval shanked Meerschaum Canadian with an amber coloured acrylic stem made by SMS in a black vinyl covered case with a tan velour lining. I brought both the tin and the pipe to the counter and the daughter called her dad to let me dicker with him on the price.

We had a great conversation and caught up a bit regarding the past year for both of us. He is in his 80s and I always enjoy the conversation we have on all things pipe. I don’t think I have ever seen him without a pipe in his mouth and a wreath of smoke around his head. I expect that is what he looked like on the other end of the phone. We came to an agreed price for the pipe and tin. He always starts high in terms of price and I low ball him. We go back and forth and both end up feeling like we made a good deal. We said our good byes and I handed the phone back to his daughter. I paid the bill, said our good byes to his daughter and headed out to the next antique shop on the docket for the day.

I took some pictures of the pipe case to show its condition before I started my restoration work on the pipe. The faux leather case is in pretty good condition – just a few scuff marks but the edges are smooth and there is no peeling happening with the covering. The golden/tan velour interior is also in good condition – a little dusty and a few flakes of tobacco left behind in the fabric. It should clean up nicely as well. The pipe inside was in pretty decent condition. There was a cake in the bowl and some rim darkening and lava overflowing over the back of the rim. The bowl and shank had a lot of scratches and nicks in the finish with a bit of “road rash” on the bottom edge of the left side of the bowl. There were also some colour developing on the long shank of the pipe and some odd spotting around the top of the bowl. It was patina developing but it was spotty and strange – I have never seen that kind of colouring on a meer before. The stem was in good condition but had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem had a threaded tenon that screwed into and inset in the shank. It aligned perfectly. The SMS brass logo was set in the top of the stem and had been covered with a spot of clear acrylic to make it smooth and even with the surface of the stem. It should clean up well with a few character marks from its journey through the hands of different pipe men. I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and sides of the bowl to show the scratching and general condition of the pipe. The nicks and scratches on the left side of the bowl are visible in the second photo. The colouration process on the pipe is also visible through the scratches. The tooth marks and chatter are visible in the photos of the stem. They are predominantly around the button area on both sides. There are also some scratches and nicks on the sides and close to the shank/stem junction.I have to say how spoiled I have become when it comes to cleaning up pipes before I can do the restoration work. Thank you Jeff for the great work that you have been doing behind the scenes at rebornpipes. It is times like this when I have to clean up a pipe before I begin working on it that I am reminded of how much you do before I ever get the pipes. On this one I began with the cleanup work. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took out all of the cake on the walls.I unscrewed the stem from the shank and wiped down the tenon with a damp cotton pad to remove the tars and oils in the threads on the outer edge of the airway. Afterwards I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until it was clean.I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also sanded out the nicks and marks further up the stem sides and near the shank/stem union.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the amber acrylic – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with damp cotton pad after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I wiped it down a final time and dried it off. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the meerschaum bowl. I polished the meerschaum bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the damage of the scratches and nicks in the bowl. I was able to remove almost all of the surface scratches (leaving behind only those that add character) and most of the heavy damage to the marks on the lower left side of the bowl. I dry sanded the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully worked the pipe on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to further polish the bowl and the shank. It really brought life to the meerschaum. I also buffed the acrylic stem at the same time and worked it to a shine. I gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine in the meerschaum. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It is an unusual shape in my opinion and it will make a fine meerschaum addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.


Cleaning a Turkish SMS Meerschaum Churchwarden

Blog by Steve Laug

This long stemmed Meerschaum Churchwarden is another one of my brother’s finds at the estate sale in the Boise, Idaho area. He found the case sitting on the table of pipes and pipe racks and has been hunting long enough that I think he must have expected it to be empty when he picked it up to have a look.chu1Those of you who have gone pipe hunting enough know the rush that goes with opening an old leather covered pipe case like this and finding the Churchwarden that the case was made for still resident inside. There are a lot of empty pipe cases selling on eBay daily that give witness to the fact that the case and the pipe that should be inside often have parted company. In this case though when he opened the case I think he was surprised. I certainly was when he sent me a text with the photo. Inside was a smooth block meerschaum pipe with a long stem that was in relatively decent shape. The stem was intact and there were no large nicks or bumps on the bowl sides or shank. The stem aligned correctly with the shank and the whole thing appeared to be functional. These are the kinds of finds right up there with finding that illusive $10 Dunhill that keep me always looking inside cans, boxes and even pipe cases to see if something has been overlooked. You never know what kind of treasure might be hidden awaiting your discovery.

The next photos show what the pipe looked like when he found it and before he cleaned it up a bit to send my way. It is an elegant looking pipe in the photos and even more so in hand.chu2The leather (probably a leather like vinyl) covered case was in great shape. The exterior was not even worn. The polished brass hinges and clasps looked good with the shiny leather. The front of the case had two clasps and next to the left one is the tag reading Made in Turkey. On the back side there are two hinges that are hidden beneath the leather. Four small brass brads hold each hinge in place. The hinges are not sprung or damaged in any way.chu3My brother took a few photos of the pipe in the case to give an idea of what he saw when he opened the lid. The inside was lined with a rich golden coloured soft fabric that protected the meerschaum and held the pipe firmly in place. In the inside top cover there was the SMS logo that reads Handcarved Block Meerschaum Turkey around the stylised SMS. On the left side of the stem is the same logo inset in clear acrylic in the vulcanite.chu4 chu5He removed the pipe from the case and you can see the beauty and simplicity of the shape. The shank and the rim edge are starting show some colour with a faint brown hue.chu6He took some close up photos to show the condition of the rim. The bowl had a cake developing in it that went about half way down the bowl sides. The tars had darkened the rim on the back side and the outer edges of the rim had a few nicks and scratches. It would be interesting to see how much of this was surface damage once I had the pipe in hand in Vancouver.chu7He took photos of the underside of the bowl and the sides as well to show some of the spotty dirt and debris that were there. It was hard to tell from the photos if these were merely on the surface or had penetrated the surface and left scratches on the bowl sides and bottom. I would see once I had it in hand.chu8 chu9The stem appeared to be in pretty decent shape but the first inch on both sides of the stem at the button had some tooth marks, chatter and calcification. It appeared that the previous owner had smoked the pipe with a Softee Bit to protect the stem from his bite but even that had not kept all the tooth marks off the stem. Perhaps he or she had smoked it, seen the damage and put the rubber Softee on to protect it from further damage.chu10My brother did a great clean up on the stem and shank internals and cleaned out the cake in the bowl with his Savinelli Fitsall Knife. He had removed some of the tars and oils on the top of the bowl and scrubbed the exterior with a soft cloth and Murphy’s Oil Soap. When it arrived in Vancouver it looked far better than it had in the earlier photos. I took the next five photos to record my first look at the pipe as I opened the case and removed it from its nest.chu11 chu12 chu13I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem to show what it looked like after my brother’s work on it. He had been able to get a lot of the tars and oils off the rim top and had cleaned the sides of the bowl. The second photo shows the SMS logo in acrylic on the left side. The stem showed some oxidation spots and a spot where obviously a label had been glued. He had been able to get the calcification off the stem at the button and also had managed to lift out some of the tooth chatter. The top edge of the button on both sides showed some wear.chu14 chu15I started cleaning the exterior of bowl and stem with a green nylon scrubber. It is a great tool that I learned the use of through Troy (one of the contributors to the blog). I scrubbed the exterior of the stem and was able to remove much of the oxidation. I also used it to scrub the rim. I wet the scrubber with tap water to help with the scrubbing and it did a great job on the rim and stem.chu16I continued to scrub the rim with the pad and then shifted to polishing the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the entirety of the pipe with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The finished bowl and rim are shown in the next four photos. I was able to remove the tars and the scratches from the bowl and rim and leave behind a polished bowl that still maintained the patina that had begun to develop.chu17 chu18I ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the stem and the shank of the pipe and as usual my brother had done a thorough job removing the oils and tars from those places.chu19I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged areas. I was fortunate that none of the tooth marks were deep enough to warrant repairs. I removed all of them by sanding the stem.chu20I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final rub down I set the stem aside to dry.chu21 chu22 chu23I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a few coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish (a white beeswax polish) and buffed bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to put the final touches on it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a nicely made meerschaum and the fact that it is a Churchwarden is bonus. The weight of the pipe and the feel of it in the hand will make this pipe a winner. Thanks for looking.chu24 chu25 chu26 chu27 chu28 chu29 chu30 chu31 chu32