Tag Archives: SMS Turkish Meerschaum pipes

A Change of Pace Restoration – an SMS Meerschaum Bent Ball

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working through Bob Kerr’s estate for several weeks trying to finish up the remaining 12 pipes. I decided this morning that I needed a bit of a change of pace. I have been working on a lot of fine old briar pipes and thought a good meerschaum would be a change. I looked through the various cased figurals that I have to work and on and rejected each on as just not what I was looking for at this moment. I went back to some older pipes I have boxed here in the queue and found a black cased meer. From the case it looked like at least a ball/apple shaped pipe. I opened the case and immediately the pipe had my attention. It was exactly what I was looking for to work on next. It is an SMS Meerschaum ball with an amber coloured acrylic stem. Overall the pipe looked to be in decent condition. I wrote Jeff for the pre-cleanup photos and some history where it came from. Seems that pipe came to us from an auction in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a dirty pipe but not too badly scratched. There was a thick cake in the bowl for a meerschaum with some lava overflow on the inwardly beveled rim top. There was some good patina developing around the shank and bowl. The stem was pretty but had some tooth marks and chatter all around the button. The stem came off the tenon end leaving the tenon in the shank of the pipe. Not sure what was happening there. Jeff sent me the photos of the pipe in the case and out of the case before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see the depth of the bowl but there as a cake lining the walls. The inwardly beveled rim top shows a thick lava coat and also some nicks and damage to the outer edge of the rim.He took some photos of the heel and sides of the bowl to show the developing patina as well as the dirty and grime on the bowl sides.   The next two photos show the brand stamping on the inside cover of the case and in the round inlaid stem logo. It is made by SMS and is a Handcarved Meerschaum from Turkey.The next photos show the condition of the stem. You can see the tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. It was rough to the touch. Jeff took a great photo of the tenon and stem connection. It appears that the tenon has come unglued from the stem end. I am not sure whether the tenon is a classic threaded tenon screwing into the shank or whether it is a push tenon. Once I work on it I will know.I had some faint recall of the make but could not remember his name so I turned to pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s9.html) for some help. I found a quick note on the founding of the SMS brand which was the USA import brand for pipes made by Samil Sermet and his wife Beth. There was also a link there to the company website.I clicked on the site link (http://www.smspipes.com/) to get a bigger picture of the brand and the makers. I quote the section of the site marked “About Us” and quote the following:

Welcome to SMS Pipes!!

We are proud to present a wide selection of premium smoking pipes. SMS Pipes features Turkish Block Meerschaum, supplied exclusively by SMS Meerschaums, and Italian Briar, supplied by Lorenzo of Italy. All the pipes offered by SMS Pipes meet or surpass our exacting “Standard of Excellence.”

Samil & Beth Sermet – SMS Pipes is family owned and operated extension of SMS Meerschaums, founded in 1980 by Samil Sermet and his wife, Beth. SMS Meerschaums is recognized nationwide as a trusted supplier by nearly 500 retail tobacconists. SMS Pipes promises to continue the philosophy embraced by SMS Meerschaums and provide premium smoking pipes that are:

    Distinctive… each pipe is carefully selected for its uniqueness, quality and reliability.

    Affordable… a wide range of prices makes owning a fine pipe possible for everyone.

    Collectable… the timeless beauty of each pipe will be treasured for generations.

Key to the success of SMS Pipes is our dedicated staff. Based in the USA and Turkey, they maintain contact with our exceptionally talented pipe carvers and case makers and perform all the daily business activities described below:

 Samil Sermet, a native of Turkey, is the buyer for SMS Meerschaums. His hometown is Eskisehir, Turkey, where a majority of the meerschaum pipe carvers live and have their shops. Samil makes a buying trip to Turkey each year and has a close working relationship with all the carvers. He is responsible for sales analysis and placing the orders necessary to maintain adequate stock in the warehouse. (samil@smspipes.com)

Beth Sermet, office manager of SMS Meerschaums, processes all orders. Even though Beth was born in Iowa, she is fluent in Turkish after living in Turkey for several years and knows all the carvers. The owners of Lorenzo Briars work closely with Beth to assure ample supply of their premium pipes. Beth also personally selects and photographs all the pipes shown on SMS Pipes. (beth@smspipes.com)

Mert Sermet, son of Samil and Beth, manages the daily operations of SMS Pipes. He is in charge of processing and shipping all orders. Mert has in-depth knowledge of every aspect of pipe manufacturing both in Turkey and Italy. He will personally respond to any comments, questions or concerns you may have about SMS Pipes by e-mail. (mert@smspipes.com)

Emel Sagtekin, Samil’s sister, is responsible for quality control and shipments of pipes to SMS Meerschaums from Turkey. Since 1988, Emel has personally checked thousands of pipes. She evaluates each pipe based on strict criteria set by SMS Meerschaums and selects only the pipes that meet or surpass our high standards.

SMS Pipes provides a wide variety of services for our customers. Although the inventory on SMS Pipes is reserved for Internet sale only, it is possible to have a selection of similar pipes sent “On Approval” to any tobacconist listed on the site. Membership in the SMS Collectors Society provides additional amenities for those interested in collecting our pipes. Our Master Carvers can be commissioned to carve custom pipe designs by special arrangement. We also offer repair and re-waxing services for all SMS Pipes.”

We are happy to have the opportunity to serve you. We hope your time spent with SMS Pipes is enjoyable and worthwhile.

Now I had a clearer picture of the brand and the makers. I knew that pipe was made after 1980 when the company began. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Jeff cleaned the meerschaum with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped it back to me with many of the other pipes that we have purchased or are working on for various estates. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime on the exterior. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition they were in when they arrived here. There was some slight darkening on the back edge as well as some scratching and nicks around the outer edges.     I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of the pipe. It is really a nice looking pipe. I will need to work on the tenon and see what is going on with it as a part of the restoration.I decided to work on the tenon first. I examined it with a bright light and a lens and could see that it had originally been glued in place in the stem. What I was not sure of at this point was whether it was a push tenon or a threaded one. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to check the connection. It did not wiggle like a push tenon and it turned so I had my answer – a threaded tenon. I unscrewed it from the shank and took a photo.I roughened the smooth surface of the part of the tenon that would be glued in the stem with a needle file. Once it was sufficiently rough enough to provide some bite when glued into the stem I painted the end of the tenon with all-purpose white glue and inserted it in the stem. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway to make sure it was clear and wiped off the excess glue around the threaded end of the tenon. I took a photo of the pipe with the proper tenon connection! Now it only needed to cure before I put it back together again. I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl and rim top while the glue cured in the tenon repair. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the outer edge of the rear part of the rim top and to minimize the darkening. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each grit of sanding pad. It is starting to really have a shine by the last sanding pads.   With the bowl polished it was time to wax the meerschaum. I heated it over a candle flame and rubbed it down with Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and let the wax sit and absorb into the meerschaum. Once it had cured I buffed it with a cotton towel and raised a rich shine in the surface of the meerschaum. The wax brought more of the patina to surface and the buffing highlighted. I filled in the deeper dents in the acrylic with clear super glue and set the stem aside to let it dry after a few moments I sprayed it with an accelerator to harden it. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface and then started polishing the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching in the acrylic stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and then gave it a buff with Before & After Pipe Stem polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed that off with a cotton pad. After each sanding pad and each polish I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the stem.    I put the pipe back together and gave it a buff on the wheel with Blue Diamond polish. I use a light touch on the acrylic as too heavy a touch can cause the heat to damage to acrylic. I gave 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 soft cloth to deepen the shine. I put it back in the case and took a photo of the pipe in case.I took photos of the finished pipe to show the shine and the patina around the bowl. The reddish amber acrylic stem looks very good with the deepening colour on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. With time the contrast will grow richer and deeper to a thing of beauty. The finished SMS Bent Ball fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on the legacy of this pipe it will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. You can send me a message or an email to let know you are interested. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

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