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Rescuing a Forsaken ‘No Name’ Smooth Meerschaum Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

This No Name Smooth Meerschaum Billiard was obviously much loved and used by its former steward, but he is a mess!  I’m glad Daniel chose this needy Meerschaum as one of the 7 pipes he commissioned from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection.  The ‘Dreamers’ collection is available for pipe men and women to peruse and choose vintage pipes of varying conditions to be resurrected and adopted.  Some pipes are more needy than others and this No Name Meerschaum qualifies as among the needier!  Yet herein is the challenge for those of us who seek to restore pipes to their former glory and sometimes even better than new: so that they will have another life in service of a new steward.

I acquired this No Name Smooth Meerschaum in 2018 when my son, who was then studying in St. Louis for his master’s degree, came upon a lot of 26 pipes in an antique shop.  Josiah proposed that he contribute to part of the purchase price with the condition that I would choose one pipe among the 26 as a Christmas gift from him – an offer I could not refuse!  I chose the huge French made Champion Churchwarden in the center.  It was a good Christmas for me! The No Name Meer is on the bottom of the picture below – a pipe that pipe man Daniel chose, a Green Bay, Wisconsin, resident, that required a lot of dreaming on his part!Taking a closer look now at the No Name Meer, I take more pictures to show its condition. Now, looking even more closely at the chamber shows a thick cake which Meerschaum pipes do not need!  In fact, no carbon cake buildup is better.  In briar pipes the rule of thumb is a cake the width of a US dime is good to maintain to help protect the briar from premature burn deterioration.  Meerschaum is a mined material that does not deteriorate from the heating of the chamber.  A thick cake could result in cracking the Meerschaum as the carbon expands with its heating.  A quick review of the qualities of Meerschaum come from the Altinok Pipes’ website:

The noble Meerschaum is unique among pipes. Its mysterious properties make it a perfect smoke and, at the same time, a work of art; a pipe highly prized by the Connoisseur and beginning smoker alike. Meerschaum is a German word meaning sea foam. The geologist knows the light, porous Meerschaum as hydrous magnesium silicate. The pipe smoker knows it as the perfect material for providing a cool, dry, flavorful smoke. The mineral itself is the fossilized shells of tiny sea creatures that fell to the ocean floor over 50 million years ago, there to be covered and compressed over the ages by layer upon layer of silt. Profound movements in the earth’s crust raised the creamy white stone of Meerschaum above sea level. Their men eventually discovered it and created an incomparable pipe from it. The first record of Meerschaum as a pipe dates from around 1723.

The rim is also severely caked with lava.  The smooth Billiard stummel surface shows many scratches and cuts amid the dirt also caked over much of the surface.  These closer pictures survey the stummel’s condition. During the stummel survey, I see a small crack in the Meerschaum’s right side of the shank.  Looking at the shank facing, the crack line continues to the acrylic push tenon insert.  It doesn’t appear that this crack is creeping and might pose a problem of integrity to the shank.  This observation is based upon the push tenon insert prohibiting any expansion of the mortise.  The crack most likely happened with a hit on the stem or a drop – only guesses.  One thing is for certain, this crack certainly has not kept the pipe from rugged use!  After cleaning the area, it may be helpful to place a small line of CA glue to seal the hair line crack and to reinforce to be on the safe side of things.The acrylic stem has seen better days too!  It needs a thorough cleaning inside and out.  The acrylic stem is rough and faded.  The bit has been chewed up. To begin the restoration of the No Name Meer Billiard, I begin with clearing the cake in the chamber.  I do not use the Pipnet Reaming Kit blade heads as is the norm with briar pipes.  This could create more surface torque than is good and crack the Meerschaum.  Instead, a slower and less invasive approach is to begin with carefully scraping the chamber with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and Winchester pocketknife.  With these tools in hand, the caked rim is also carefully scraped.  I repeatedly use ‘carefully’ describing the approach to cleaning the Meerschaum.  As a stone-like substance it can crack and gouge if I’m too aggressive.  Patience is good.  From the scraping, I transition to sanding the chamber using a Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper.  I like the progress. Continuing the cleaning process now on the external Meer surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad and scrub the stummel and rim.  I take a couple ‘starting’ pictures to mark the progress.  I’m looking forward to what the Murphy’s Soap can do for this ‘No Name’! After scrubbing with the cotton pad and Murphy’s, instead of rinsing the soap off in the sink, I use a wet cotton cloth to wipe the stummel and remove the soap.  I don’t want to saturate the Meer with water in the sink.  The pictures may not show it as clearly as I can see it, but the difference after the cleaning is remarkable.  Not only is the dirt and soil removed, but now the residual hue is identifiable as patina.  There is a gentle darkening of the Meerschaum and some identifiable ‘hot spots’ of the coveted patina.  As the Meerschaum pipe is smoked, the Meer absorbs the oils of the tobacco and smoke and this gradually darkens the stummel with a honey-like hue.  The value of Meerschaum pipes increases with this patina.  Before moving to cleaning the internals of the stummel, I address the darkened scorching of the rim.  The scraping improved the rim’s appearance appreciable, yet it still needs to be cleaned up further.  To do this I use medium and light sanding sponges to top the stummel.  Using sanding sponges gently is not as intrusive as sanding paper. A closeup of the rim not only show the staining but also small chipping on the rim’s edge. After inverting the stummel on the sponges, starting with the medium grade sponge, the stummel is rotated over the sponges.  The results are good.  The rim still shows some patina but is cleaned up considerably.     The pictures above and below show two distinctive and distracting (to me!) residual dark spots in the chamber just below the rim.  I use the Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper carefully to sand the spots to remove them.  The potential problem with this pinpointed sanding is to create in the rim a wobble in the circle of the inner rim lip.  This I want to avoid as well.The result is good!Next, I use the light grade sanding sponge and lightly sand the stummel to clean and smooth it somewhat.  Again, the sanding sponge is gentle on the surface. To polish and smooth the surface, next I apply to the stummel surface the last 4 micromesh pads, 4000 to 12000.  It is not my purpose to sand out all the nicks and marks that have left imperfections in the Meerschaum.  I want to guard the aged patina that this No Name Meer has earned.  I’ve read on groups and forums that often restoration of Meerschaum pipes is too aggressive, and the goal is somewhat different than briar pipes.  With briars, a restoration seeks to return the pipe to its original pristine unsmoked state.  However, with Meerschaums that have aged, the value is to preserve the current good state of that aging process – preserving the hues and patina.  Aggressive sanding would remove all imperfections but also return the Meerschaum to a pure white state – the color that Meerschaums generally have in the store (there are exceptions to this!).  Before moving on to the stem, I clean the internals of the stummel using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%.  A small dental spoon is used to reach into the mortise, beyond the push tenon insert, to scrape the walls.  Shank brushes also were used to complete the task.Now to the stem.  Using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99% I go do work on the internals of the stem.  The tenon is also cleaned up using cotton pads and alcohol.  I use a long dental probe to scrape and clean around the internals of the tenon as well.  My assumption is that the stem is acrylic, but it feels almost like plastic in some ways.  It doesn’t appear to be a high-grade acrylic, but it does clean up in time and I move on!   I mentioned earlier that this pipe was well loved by his former steward.  Well loved. but poorly maintained!  With the stem clean, I take another look at the condition of the bit. The bit has been chewed excessively with tooth compressions littering the landscape on the upper and lower bit.  The former steward obviously used this pipe to contemplate much or comfortably clinching while his hands were free actively engaged in other activities on the workbench or table.     An attempt to only sand out this damage would leave the acrylic dangerously thin so I decide to build up the bit area using clear CA glue which will be transparent and able to allow the stem color to come through.  The bit is thoroughly cleaned using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%.  I want the bit as clean as possible because I don’t want to encase a dirty stem!  Discoloration will show through the patch.  To build up the compressed and chewed bit I apply a few layers of CA glue.  I use an accelerator after the application of each layer to build up the patch material.  The accelerator causes the glue to cure very quickly keeping it in place.  I also apply a few layers of CA to the button lip – upper and lower, which have also sustained some chewing damage.  After applying the CA glue, with the hour late, the lights are switched off and the stem will await tomorrow’s efforts!   The next morning, I have a few hours in the earlier morning to work on the No Name Meerschaum and to do some activities on the ‘to do’ list with my wife!  Still getting settled here in Golden, Colorado, had me hanging pictures in the foyer as one of the items on the list!  Also, grandchildren will be coming over this morning while their super mom goes to the local Costco to stock up on the necessities.  The CA patch has cured through the night.  With the bit CA patch ready for filing, I begin the shaping using a flat needle file. I initially file along the button to reestablish and refresh the lip.  I’ll leave the button lips for sanding later.  After the lip has been scored and defined, filing continues to bring the patch down to the acrylic stem’s surface.  The process is the same for the upper and lower bit.And lower:Next, I use the flat needle file to flatten and define the slot facing.  Then, using a sharp, rounded needle file, the slot itself is cleaned up and sharpened.  I like how it’s looking!With the main filing completed, the process transitions to 240 sanding paper.  The focus is on continuing to smooth and shape the bit and button patch area, but the sanding is expanded to the entire stem to clean the roughness and cuts.  I utilize a plastic disc on the tenon side to guard the crisp edge from shouldering.   Transitioning next to 600 grade sanding paper, the entire stem is again sanded followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool. The transformation of the stem has been remarkable.     On a roll, the stem is next the recipient of the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the stem is wet sanded.  Then, with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, the stem is dry sanded.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to help rejuvenate the acrylic stem. As I was sanding, I asked my wife what kind of material she thought this stem was?  Her response was that it was acrylic, but that it had a different feel to it than other acrylic materials.  I had asked her because I noticed as I was moving through the micromesh pads, normally I would expect the acrylic to shine more during the micromesh progression.  This stem did, but only little. Instead of glossing up, it deepened it color and remains a more of a matte finish. I asked her next what color she would say it was?  Her response after rattling off a few colors and then shaking them off – ‘no’, she settled on a dark mottled ivory.  That sounds good to me!    After completing the micromesh cycles, the stem and stummel were reunited to get a look at the progress to this point.  I’m liking very much what I’m seeing.     Before moving forward, the question of the small crack on the right side of the shank is in view.  Because the crack is not a new one and it doesn’t appear to have any pressure on it so that it would progress, it wouldn’t appear to be an impediment to the integrity of the shank. Yet, I decide to be on the safe side to apply a small amount of clear, thin, CA glue to the crack line.  In the picture below, the scratch to the left of the crack is not a crack, but a deeper scratch.  At first glance one is left with the impression that it is a triangular fissure that would inevitably break.  I’ve inserted arrows to identify the crack. To shore up the crack, the thin CA glue applied fills the fissure and when cured, should provide additional reinforcement.  I put the stummel aside to allow the CA glue to cure.After the CA glue cures, using a 240 grade piece of sanding paper tightly rolled, I surgically sanded the thin mound of patch material running down the crack line.  I want to keep the abrasion of sanding off the Meerschaum surface surrounding the patch.  When the mound is removed, I follow by wet sanding with grade 600 paper to further smooth and blend.Call me a perfectionist and it would not be false.  After finishing sanding the shank crack patch, I did a quick survey of the surface of the Meerschaum Billiard stummel and I wasn’t satisfied that the surface was as clean as it should be.  I decide to run the stummel through the full micromesh regimen by dry sanding with pads 1500 to 12000.  I’m satisfied now. Next, I apply beeswax to the Meerschaum stummel.  Beeswax has been used to polish and protect Meerschaum for a millennium.  The beeswax on my table came with me from Bulgaria and it is a darker hue.  The Meer seems to respond well to it.  I keep the wax in a mason jar that is impervious to heat.  I use a hot air gun to heat and melt the beeswax in the jar.  I then use a real, horsehair paint brush to apply the melted wax to the stummel surface after the stummel is also warmed with the hot air gun.  I’ve learned the hard way not to use a synthetic brush because it will melt.  When the wax has melted, I paint the stummel.  I direct the hot air gun on the stummel while I’m doing this to help keep the wax thin during application.The beeswax congeals quickly and I allow it to cool.After cooled, the edge of a former clothespin is used to scrape the excess wax off the stummel surface.  This helps to remove the hardened wax before using a cloth rag.Next, using a microfiber cloth I continue to wipe and rub the stummel to remove the excess congealed wax.  This takes some time because the beeswax is firm and isn’t easily wiped off.  When the excess is finally removed gradually in the progression, it’s nice to see the beeswax shine on the clean Meerschaum emerge!   The beeswax is absorbed into the microscopic, porous surface of the Meerschaum.Next, with the stummel now waiting for the stem, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the rotary tool and set it at about 40% full power and I begin to apply Blue Diamond to the stem alone.  The effort did not last long. As I started applying the Blue Diamond compound with the rotary tool, I notice almost immediately that the surface of the stem rippled from the heat generated by both the high spin of the buffing wheel and the compound.  I stop immediately.  I discovered that the material composition of the stem does not tolerate the speed and the friction. I decide to forgo application of Blue Diamond and try my hand at applying carnauba wax to the stem.  I set the speed slightly slower and move the wheel more rapidly over the surface of the stem as I apply the carnauba wax.  It works well and I had no further difficulties.After some thought, I decide on one additional project for the No Name Meerschaum Billiard.  Earlier I started thinking about adding a band to the pipe to not only give added support for the shank crack repair, but in addition, give this No Name a bit of classy bling.  I went through my assortment of brass bands and ferrules and found a perfect candidate.  I found a perfect brass ring that wraps the facing edge and fit just over the end of the shank.  To complete the mounting of the ring fully over the shank facing, I heat it with a hair dryer which softens the metal allowing it to expand.    After the ring is heated enough, I firmly direct the shank downward pressing the ring more firmly in place over the end of the shank facing.  It works perfectly.I like the look of the brass ring – it adds a bit of class to a very deserving No Name that has come a long way, endured a lot and ready to serve again! The stem and stummel are reunited and the restoration is finished with a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  I’ve enjoyed seeing this battered pipe come back to life.  As I said at the beginning – the fact that it had been used into almost oblivion proves that he’s a good smoker as a classic Meerschaum.  Now he’s ready for a second life.  This No Name Meerschaum Billiard is Daniel’s third pipe of seven that he has commissioned and he will have the first opportunity to claim the Meerschaum in The Pipe Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Discovering the Vintage of a Paul Viou ‘Feather’ with the Help of Sebastien Beaud of Genod Pipes of St. Claude


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I first laid eyes on this unique ‘Feather’ or ‘Plume’ shaped pipe, I debated adding it to my own personal collection and not posting it in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, making it available for pipe men and women to commission.  Well, the Feather did find a place in the ‘Dreamers’ collection and Daniel eventually added the P. Viou Feather to his trove of commissioned pipes totaling 7(!) benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I acquired the P. Viou Feather from the French eBay auction block in 2018.  This ‘French Lot of 50’, which is what I have affectionately called it, has offered up several treasures – one restoration that became my first publication adding to Pipedia’s wealth of information (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard and for Pipedia contribution see: A. Pandevant & Roy Co.).  The picture of the Lot provided by the Parisian seller only created the urge to know what was hidden within the tangle of stems and stummels.  That I could see so many interesting shapes and horn stems supplied the impetus to acquire the Lot.  The P. Viou Feather is mostly hidden in the picture (arrow below left) and it wasn’t until later after the package arrived in Sofia and I gleefully sorted and grouped the pipes that I came to realize the treasure trove of pipes in this Lot.  The Feather grouping is pictured below.Looking more closely at the P. Viou Feather, I take some additional pictures. The nomenclature is worn and thin at points but generally recognizable.  On the left flank is stamped in fancy cursive ‘P’ [underscored] followed by ‘Viou’ which is punctuated with a flared underline.  The COM stamped on the right flank of the Feather stummel reads: St CLAUDE [over] FRANCE.  St. Claude is the pipe center of France and the birthplace of the production of briar pipes.  The horn stem is also stamped, P. VIOU.  This stamp is also thin, but I’m hopeful to refresh it later.     I had the opportunity of restoring another Paul Viou from the French Lot of 50 – a Churchwarden (See: Recommissioning a Vintage French Paul Viou Churchwarden of St. Claude).   There is scant information about the Paul Viou name on the internet that I could find.  Pipedia’s article of Paul Viou is brief:

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’

Paul Viou was the brand and name of a French artisan who sold his pipes by correspondence and then he was a pipe supplier for military institutions. He also made sculpted pipes and sometime used horn stems.

The brand is currently sold by Jacques Craen and made by Genod in Saint-Claude, after having also belonged to Paul Guilland and Vuillard. They are stamped P. Viou and made primarily for export.

This information is confirmed by Pipephil.eu with the addition of the date of 2006 when the Paul Viou name transferred to Sebastien Beaud of Genod.As I broaden my online research, I discover that Sebastien Beaud is an interesting story.  He currently is the owner of the Genod house of pipes in St. Claude and is a younger entrepreneur.  In trying to find out further information about Paul Viou, Genod information is prevalent in the research.  The Pipedia article dedicated to Genod of St. Claude is also interesting (See: Genod).  The Genod story began in 1865 when Comoy founded pipe production in St. Claude.  In 1923 the production is taken over by Georges Vincent and in 1939, son in law John Craen joined Vincent.  John Craen’s son, Jacques, joined the business in 1959 and took over the business in 1977 where he expanded the Genod name and opened the shop in St. Claude to visitors to observe the pipe production.

From the same Pipedia article: In 2006 the young pipemaker Sebastien Beaud started his work in Jacky’s factory. As Craen himself he took over the brand Viou to start with. In future he will take over the business in its entire and continue this sympathetic workshop in its traditional way.

In the excerpt above, the Paul Viou line is mentioned as continuing under Genod during the Craen period, then Sebastien Beaud took over the Viou line.  Unfortunately, this article nor the article in Pipedia dedicated to Paul Viou, provide much in the way of specific dating of the Paul Viou branding.

I’ve searched several forums for answers to questions regarding when the historical Paul Viou began production using this name?  The Paul Viou Feather, or Plume (French translation) appears to have some age.  The horn stem would suggest a dating in the 1940s during the rubber shortages of WW2.  Horn became a ‘go to’ material in place of rubber compound stems.  Yet, a question arises regarding this older dating when I discovered in Genod’s current offerings of pipes on its website an almost identical ‘Plume’ yet, not with a horn stem but an ebonite or vulcanite stem (See: Link). Also missing is the P. Viou nomenclature. Furthermore, more than many pipe manufacturers today, Genod’s quality offerings include many horn stemmed options.  I like this(!) but it brings into question the necessity of an older dating for the P. Viou on my worktable.With the foundational question being, when did the P. Viou name begin?  Was it before or during the Craen era of Genod?  Was the P. Viou stamp on this Feather an indicator of a pre-Genod production?  My experience with tracking down and nailing down French pipe production details has never been easy but always interesting!

Potentially to find answers about the dating of the Paul Viou name, I sent an email via the ‘Contact’ form provided on the Genod website.  I have been surprised in the past to receive responses from ‘Hail Mary’ requests to pipe houses in Europe and America.  We’ll see what happens.

Well, I am continually amazed at ‘names’ in the pipe world being accessible to folks like me!  The next day I received a reply from Sebastien Beaud, currently at the helm of Genod.  I include my original message with the replies that followed:

DAL:   Greetings,  Thank you in advance for your time! I restore vintage pipes and publish the restoration process and research online at www.ThePipeSteward.com. I have restored some Paul Viou pipes and have researched a lot and enjoy the connection of Paul Viou and Genod. However, there is very little information that I can find on the internet regarding Paul Viou, historically. Can you please provide any information about Paul Viou’s origins, when he lived, when the P. Viou name started being placed on pipes? My current restoration is a P. Viou Plume with a horn stem. I see that you still produce these shapes on your website but with Ebionite stems. I’m trying to determine the potential dating of this pipe but cannot find much information about when Paul Viou came onto the pipe scene. Thanks so much for your help in advance if you are able!

———–

Dear Dal,

Congratulations for your work and your website! All I know about Paul Viou is that as a former officer in the French army, he used to advertise his pipes in the army magazines.  So he used to sell a lot to the soldiers during the Algerian war, back in the 50’s / 60’s. He ran the business together with his wife Odette.  Their workshop was located right next to ours, and when they got old, Jacques Craen, started making pipes for them.  At the same time, Jacques Craen created the “Genod” brand to start selling directly to the smokers instead of selling to whole sellers. Genod is a tribute to his grandfather Georges Vincent-Genod (on his mother’s side) with whom he had learned and from whom he inherited the workshop. In the early 90’s, Jacques bought the Paul Viou brand and customers’ addresses file. I myself took over when Jacques retired, and kept Paul Viou’s name for a while, but it is the exact same product as a Genod pipe, so now I stamp all the pipes “Genod”.  I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Sebastien BEAUD
www.maitrepipier.fr
SARL GENOD VIOU
13 Faubourg Marcel – BP 145
39205 SAINT CLAUDE Cedex FRANCE
Tél. (+33) (0)3 84 45 00 47

———

DAL: Sebastien,  Thank you so much for responding to my inquiries! This information needs to be added to Pipedia. If I could ask one follow up question regarding the pipe on my worktable. The nomenclature is the cursive ‘P. Viou’ and COM: St. Claude, France. The horn stem is stamped, ‘P. Viou’. Can you venture a guess as to what period this ‘Plume’ was manufactured with this nomenclature and horn stem?   Before the Jacques Craen period (50/60s?) or when Jacques Craen was making them for Paul Viou (60/70s) or during the Genod period starting in the 70s but still using the ‘P. Viou’ stamp? I hope you can understand this! I’m simply trying to place this pipe in a time period. I’ve attached a few pictures if this is a help.  Again, much thanks.

———

Dear Dal,

I think this pipe has been made by Jacques Craen back in the 80’s (even though it could also be the 90’s or late 70’s).

Best regards,

Sebastien BEAUD

With deep appreciation to Sebastien Beaud for his time and for the information he supplied, I have a much better understanding of the Paul Viou name and a small piece of the man himself.  Valuable information added was regarding Paul Viou, the man.  He was formerly an officer in the French army – a military man but also a pipe man/entrepreneur.  Apparently after his time with the military and residing in St. Claude, he was undoubtedly very much a part of the ‘pipe world’ milieu and at one point added his hand to the pipe making industry.  With his connections in the military, he advertised his pipes in the military magazines of the time and in military institutions.

It is noteworthy that Sebastien pinpoints this activity during the Algerian War.  A quick search on the internet renders a Wikipedia article describing the war that was from 1954 to 1962 that found France engaged in a ‘decolonization’ war with the Algerian National Liberation Front and facing turbulent times at home with a war that garnered international attention.  The war gradually resulted in an independent Algeria – much resembling the turmoil of the Viet Nam conflict of the United States.  Paul Viou had developed his business selling pipes and during this difficult time, with French servicemen abroad, Paul Viou, along with the support of his wife, Odette, provided pipes for the troops via army magazine adds.  The personal relationship between Jacques Craen and Viou family is interesting – their shops were next door to each other and the aging of the senior Viou created a transition from Paul Viou’s actively working in the shop to his work being done by Jacques.  During this transition period, undoubtedly steps were taken to sign over the Viou name to Craen and the Vincent-Genod legacy.  Another transition alluded to by Sebastien’s words – the brand created by Jacques, “Genod”, was a tribute to his grandfather.  The Viou brand joined the Genod brand and again, this legacy was passed on to Sebastien Beaud.  The Viou name is no longer used to mark pipes, but the quality of the Viou pipe was brought under Genod craftsmanship.

One last question I brought to Sebastien was the dating of the P. Viou Feather on my worktable.  His qualified answer is somehow in sync with French pipe dating in general!  Most likely the P. Viou Feather is from the hands of Jacques in the 80s, but the late 70s or the 90s could be possibilities as well!  Much thanks to Sebastien Beaud for his help in this project!

One very interesting piece of information related to horn stems I discovered on the Genod site written by Sebastien Beaud in March of 2020 regarding Genod’s current use of horn stems (See tab: All About Pipes).  More than most pipe houses, Genod continues to fit their pipes with horn stems which I find interesting.  His article was excellent and apropos since a horn stem from the Genod house is now on the worktable!  I include his article which taught me a good bit!

Close up on the horn!

March 16, 2020in All about the pipe by Sébastien Beaud

Most of the pipes fitted to briar pipes are made of ebonite because this material combines flexibility and resistance to wear by the teeth. But other materials are interesting for the production of pipes. There is one that is dear to us, because it is comfortable, beautiful, and presents various shades of colors, it is the horn.

 Which horn for pipe stems?

The horn is made of hairs bonded with keratin, the material from which our nails are made. This hair-armed keratin protects and strengthens the bone that grows on each side of the head of cattle. The horn we use to make the pipe stems is that of the zebu. It can reach 1 meter in length. As we have seen, a horn is hollow because it contains a bone. Therefore, only the end (the tip) is suitable for turning work. A cow’s horn is therefore not long enough to be used in turning.

Zebus also have a brown, white or marbled coat, their horn presents a magnificent variety of shades, ranging from sometimes very dark brown to blond, the association of the two colors being called “marbled”.

 Filming on horn.

The zebu is bred for its meat in Brazil, Argentina and Madagascar. The horns, instead of being lost like the other inedible parts, are exported for use in the manufacture of combs, knife handles, beads, and of course, for turning pipe stems.

Once arrived in the workshops of the Jura, the horns are possibly softened by heating in a bath or steam, in order to straighten them by pressing.  Then comes cutting, turning, shaping, then drilling. Now here is a straight pipe stem.
If necessary, it can be bent in a “form” press dipped in a hot oil bath, and there it is, ready to be adjusted to the heather.

 How to maintain the horn?

An organic material, the horn offers a soft contact, and quickly takes the mark of the teeth. And what a pleasure to combine plants and animals in a beautiful object!  The maintenance of horn pipes is very simple: just avoid exposure to heat sources, and if you want to prevent the shine of the pipe fading over time, you can rub it regularly with a simple cloth, as a polish.  Choose now the pipe with horn stem that suits you, fill it with your favorite mixture, natural or aromatic, and… good tasting!

With a better understanding of the Paul Viou name and man who originally have his name to the pipes, I take a critical look at the Feather or Plume shape now on the worktable.  The grain on the stocky Feather stummel is attractive.  The briar block was cut allowing very intricate Bird’s Eye grain to emerge on both sides.  Looking at the stummel straight on – at the nose of the ‘torpedo’, the cross grain is visible connecting the sides creating the cross grain perspective.The finish on the briar is dark and in need of cleaning.  The surface shows dents and scrapes on the heel of the stummel as well as on the upper side.  The diminutive size of the Feather allows it to be the perfect ‘pocket pipe’ but in the pocket are keys and change to compete with!  The chamber has light cake buildup and will be removed to allow a fresh start for the briar.  The rim also shows caking which needs removing so that the condition of the rim can be seen more clearly and to rediscover the rim’s grain.  There are nicks and dents around the rise to the rim.  The horn stem is predominantly a dark hue except for near the bit area where it lightens.  The horn is rough but should clean up very nicely.I start the restoration of the P. Viou Feather by addressing the cake in the chamber. Only the smallest blade head is accommodated by the 3/4-inch diameter chamber.  The process of clearing the carbon cake transitions quickly to employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls.  The rim is carefully scraped as well with my Winchester pocketknife then the chamber is sanded with 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The progress looks good.  With the chamber cleared of the cake buildup, After taking a starting picture, I clean the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  The stummel is scrubbed with a cotton pad as well as utilizing a brass bristled brush to work on the darkened rim. The brass brush will not negatively impact the briar as it scrubs the rim.To further the cleaning the stummel is transitioned to the sink.  Using warm water, shank brushes are employed with anti-oil liquid dish washing soap to clean the internal mortise chamber.  The brass bristled brush is used a bit more on the rim.  Back at the worktable I take another picture to show the cleaning progress.  The cleaning did a great job revealing very nice looking briar. The rim is much improved as well.  With a clean stummel before me, I take a closer look at the dents and pits primarily on the underside of the stummel I observed earlier.  The rough surface is from normal wear placing the Feather stummel down on the table or other harder surfaces.  The pictures show the comparison of ‘before and after’ to see how much progress is made with the repair.The approach I take capitalizes on the fact that wood is a very porous substance – spongelike in its composition.  Using a hot iron (with my wife’s permission!), I place a wetted cloth between a hot iron and the dents and press.  The heat generated by the iron heats the water in the cloth turning it into steam which permeates the briar surface with water.  The hot steamed water is absorbed and softens the wood allowing it to regain all or some of its pre-damaged condition. A comparison after several steaming sessions shows that the main heel damaged has lessened in its severity as the briar has expanded.  The side dent is now almost invisible.  To repair the residual pitting, using a toothpick as a guide, clear CA glue is spot dropped to fill the pits.  I put the stummel aside to allow the CA to cure.Turning now to the horn stem, pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to clean the airway.  Along with smooth and bristled pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%, shank brushes are used to clean the airway.  A dental probe is used to scrape inside the slot as well as inside the nickel tenon.  Eventually, the pipe cleaners begin to emerge lighter and I move on.Before continuing working on restoring the horn stem surface, I place a piece of painter’s tape over the thin P. Viou stem stamping to protect it. In no way do I desire to contribute to its demise!I approach working on horn stem much like on vulcanite stems.  I take a few more pictures looking at the current condition of the horn material – upper and lower.  I like the solid blackish hue of the horn’s midsection contrasting with the gradual lightening of the bit.The condition of the stem is good except for one small tooth compression on the lower bit.  I fill it with a drop of CA glue and allow it to cure before sanding. The CA patches on the stummel heel have cured.  A flat needle file is used to file the glue mounds down to the briar surface. Transitioning to 240 grade paper, the patches are sanded further followed by 600 grade paper. I’m pleased with the results.  There is almost no visible reminder remaining of the rough area.  The repair blends nicely. The rim continues with darkened, scorched areas.  There are nicks as well on the right side of the rim (top of the picture below).  Using a hard backing behind a piece of 240 sanding paper, the slightly canted bevel is sanded and refreshed.  Following the 240 paper, the same is done with 600 grade paper.  I’m pleased with the refreshed rim.   Next, utilizing the full regimen of micromesh pads, the stummel is sanded.  Before sanding, painters’ tape is used to cover the P. Viou and COM on the sides of the stummel.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 the stummel is wet sanded.  Following this, the stummel is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The protective tape was removed for the last 3 pads to even out the briar tone.  The beauty of the briar grain emerges through the micromesh process – I’m liking what I see!   Before returning to the stem, I’m looking forward to applying Mark Hoover’s ‘Before and After Restoration Balm’ to the stummel.  I apply some of the Balm to my fingers and rub it into the briar surface.  At first it has a cream-like consistency but as it works into the briar it transforms into a waxy consistency.  After applying the Balm, the stummel is set aside for 20 minutes or so for the Balm to enrich the briar.  After 20 minutes I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off excess Balm and then hand buff the stummel to raise the shine.  I like the way the Restoration Balm enhances the natural hues of the briar.Returning now to the horn stem, the sanding process is much like that of vulcanite stems.  After the CA patch has cured filling a tooth compression, using the flat needle file, the lower bit patch is filed until level with the stem surface.  The file also helps to refresh the lower button lip. Next, I transition to 240 sanding paper and smooth further the lower bit blending the patch more.  Flipping the stem over, the upper bit is sanded to smooth and tighten the horn surface from normal wear.   Next, the entire stem is wet sanded using 600 grade paper.As with vulcanite stems, next I apply 0000 steel wool to the entire stem to smooth and shine further. While using steel wool, I also apply it to the nickel tenon which shines it up very nicely.  Next, with the P. Viou stem stamping still covered with painters’ tape, the stem is the recipient of the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the horn is wet sanded.  Following the wet sanding, I dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I remove the tape for the last two pads to sand more closely to blend the area.  Obsidian Oil is applied and worked into the horn between each set of 3 pads.  The horn almost ‘drinks up’ the oil. To get a look at the progress, the stummel and horn stem are reunited.  Two issues surface after I do this. The seating of the stem into the mortise is off.  The next picture shows this with a gap of sunlight on the upper side of the connection point.  To remedy this, I fold a piece of 240 sanding paper and insert it between the lower halves of the stem and stummel and sand in a sawing motion.  This hopefully will even out the high point to bring the two faces back together flush – or as close as possible.   The result is good. There is still some daylight, but I’m satisfied at this point.  Sanding to remedy an unseated stem can be a bit finicky and sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ – I don’t want to complicate things!The other issue that emerged was that through the cleaning process the internal mortise cavity expanded somewhat so that the nickel tenon is not as snug as it should be.  The ways to fix this are limited.  If this were a vulcanite stem and tenon, the approach would be to expand the width of the tenon by heating it and forcing expansion by wedging the end of a drill bit in the softened tenon airway.  A nickel tenon, however, does not expand.  The remedy is to paint the external surface of the metal tenon with an acrylic nail polish or with CA glue.  The results are the same.  The hardening of the acrylic creates a hardened layer around the metal tenon, thus expanding its diameter and creating a snugger fit seated into the mortise.  I use a small bottle of acrylic nail polish and apply the acrylic polish with the small brush that comes along with the bottle. After each coating, I wait until the acrylic is cured before applying another layer.  After each cycle, the tenon is carefully fitted into the mortise to determine if another layer is needed.  To help it to dry evenly after each application, I ‘post’ the stem vertically on the end of a chop stick.  After several coats of clear acrylic nail polish, the fit of the stem was much snugger.  Mission accomplished.   Next, I attempt to refresh the P. Viou stem stamping, but am not successful.  The vestiges of the stamping were not deep enough to allow the white acrylic paint to grab the stamp channels.  After several attempts, I settle for what is. Now on the homestretch.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, speed set at about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to horn stem and stummel.  After completing this, a felt cloth is used to buff the pipe to clear the compound dust before applying the wax.To apply carnauba wax, the cotton cloth wheel is changed to a wheel dedicated to carnauba.  With the speed on the Dremel maintaining 40% power, wax is applied to the entire pipe.  The first coat applies the wax thoroughly over the surfaces.  Following this, the pipe is buffed up using the Dremel to make sure all the wax is dispersed and absorbed.  Finally, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.I’m pleased with how this product of Jacques Craen in St. Claude has turned out.  With Sebastien Beaud’s generous assistance, we can date this pipe after Jacques received the P. Viou name from the aging Paul Viou and his wife, Odette, who provided pipes to French military servicemen.  This ‘Plume’ is a beautiful example of French pipe making with its subtle intricacies, flow, and lines.  The grain, especially the exceptionally tight Bird’s Eye, is pleasing to behold! The horn stem with its gentle natural bend, has unique coloring.  The glassy shine of finely polished horn is pleasing to the eye and its rustic character will make it a pleasure to enjoy tobacco fellowship.  Last but not least, the unique Plume or Feather diminutive shape allows it to cradle very nicely in the palm.  This is the second of Daniel’s commissioned pipes and he will have the first opportunity to claim the P. Viou Feather from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Restoring a Chunky, Rusticated Tom Howard Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us in a group of pipes that we purchased from online auction on in 2018 from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, USA. It is a rusticated Panel Billiard that is in good condition. It is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left side it is stamped Tom Howard. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. The stamping is clear and readable. I have worked on at least one Tom Howard pipe in the past and later in the blog will give a bit of the history. At this point I have to say that the pipe is well made but it is clunky looking and feeling. It does not have the rugged beauty or finesse of a Tracy Mincer Custom-Bilt in my opinion. It has its own charm, to be sure but it is not the same. The age of the pipe and the oils in the finish has given the pipe a rich reddish brown finish. There is also some nice grain that the shape follows well. The finish was dirty with dust around the nooks and crannies of the worm trail rustication. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top showed darkening and some lava. The inner edge showed some potential damage that would only become clear once the pipe was cleaned. The vulcanite taper stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the darkening and lava overflow on the rim top. The photos of the stem show the oxidation, calcification and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.  The photo of the side and heel of the bowl shows the carved worm trail rustication and the grain on the pipe. It looks quite nice under the grime and dust.    The stamping on the sides of the shank is shown in the photos below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above. Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to refresh my memory of the brand. I remembered that Tom Howard was a notable figure beyond pipe making. I also remembered that Dal Stanton had worked on one and done a great job ferreting out the history of the brand and the maker. I turned to his blog on the brand and read what he had written during his restoration of one of the Howard pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/09/16/the-vintage-notoriety-of-tom-howard-and-his-jumbo-squat-rustified-tomato/). I have included the portion of the blog on the history below for ease of reference. (Thanks Dal!)

I had never heard of a Tom Howard stamp on a pipe and after I put the name in search tool on Pipedia I was surprised to find what I found.  Tom Howard was a vintage celebrity in America during the 1940s and 50s.  Here’s what Pipedia said about Tom Howard the man:

Tom Howard was a popular comedian and personality in the 1940s/50s, known for vaudeville stage and radio work. But he also was a skilled pipe maker. In a Popular Mechanic article from 1947 he is written up as the “Hobbyist of the Month, Tom Howard.” He made pipes in his workshop outside his home in Red Bank, NJ. Starting about 1939 and looks like into the late 1940’s or later. He purchased briar blocks by the bag as well as stem blanks, and in his well-equipped shop he handcrafted his pipes, in about three hours on average. He was a true craftsman, also specializing is intricate model boats, trains and brass canons, all built to scale.

I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a zany Q&A game show that was spoofing the ‘serious’ Q&A game shows.  It was called “It Pays to Be Ignorant”.   Here is what the Wikipedia article said:

It Pays to Be Ignorant was a radio comedy show which maintained its popularity during a nine-year run on three networks for such sponsors as Philip Morris, Chrysler, and  DeSoto. The series was a spoof on the authoritative, academic discourse evident on such authoritative panel series as Quiz Kids and Information Please, while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951. The series typically aired as a summer replacement.

Snooping a bit more, I found an online site that had the July 5, 1951 episode of ‘It pays to Be Ignorant’ available for viewing.  I watched it and it was like I was in a time machine!  The video also included period advertising for cars and tobacco and Tom Howard in form, dawning a professorial gown and a gravelly 1950s vaudeville tin can voice.  It’s great! I clipped a picture of the episode.  If you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:  The Internet Archive.

The Pipedia article I included above, referenced one more source to learn a bit more about Tom Howard.  In a 1947 Popular Mechanics edition he was named ‘Hobbyist of the Month’ – but it didn’t say which month!  With a little bit of help from Google, I found Archive.org that housed old editions of many periodicals including Popular Mechanics.  I started in January and started searching – thankfully they had a search tool I utilized for each month.  Finally, I found the article in the Popular Mechanic 1947 June’s edition.   For the absolute nostalgia of it, and for the interesting information it adds about Tom Howard and especially his pipe production, I’m including the pages here for you to read – including the cover page!  I couldn’t pass it up!  Armed with the great information Dal had provided I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked much better when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the darkening and the damage to the inner edge of the rim on the back right. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The taper stem came out looking quite good. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some damage to the button surface itself.     I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. It is clear and readable as noted above.  I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage and darkening on the right rear of the rim top. I sanded the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and gave the inner edge of the bowl a slight bevel to remove the damage and blend it into the rest of the rim edge. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.  I touched up the sanded rim top and edge with a Maple stain pen to blend it into the surrounding briar. The match is perfect and once the bowl is buffed it will disappear.With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the bite marks on both sides of the stem and button with clear super glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. I reshaped the button with a file and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I started the polishing with a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Tom Howard Panel Billiard turned out to be a nice looking pipe. The rusticated finish looks quite good while not obscuring the grain around the bowl. The stain used on the bowl served to highlight the grain on the bowl. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Tom Howard Panel Billiard is a large pipe and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 71grams/2.50oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Renewed Life for a Comoy’s Blazon 332 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA.  The pipe is interesting looking rusticated billiard that is not my favourite but from the looks of it was someone else’s.  The rim top is actually quite clean but has a lot of scratches in the surface. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped Comoy’s [over] Blazon. That is followed by Made in London England and the shape number 332. The pipe has a slashes carved all over the surface and I am wondering if the Blazon name is a clue to what it supposed to be – perhaps flames? The stain is a mix of browns and blacks that also add to the idea of flames. The finish was very dirty with dust in all of the rustication, making it hard to see beyond that to the grain that pokes through underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inner rim edge. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem did not have the characteristic C logo or stamp. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. There are a lot of nicks and scratches in the surface of the rim top. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.   Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The rustication is unique and dirty but it is interesting. This is another tactile finish that will be interesting as it heats up during a smoke. Jeff took two photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture all of it. It is very clear and readable other than the faint Made in London England stamp mid shank.    This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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 on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than some light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.  I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to both the inner edge and top. The crevices and valleys of the rustication are clean and look great. The bowl is spotless. The stem is lightly oxidized and has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the heel and the shank. It is far more clear and readable in person than in this photo.I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the rim top and inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once finished it looked far better.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem.    The shank end was coned and did not fit well against the stem. I have included the photo of the fit before I went ahead and worked on it. I have drawn a box around the area in red in the photos below. I decided to press a brass decorative band on the end of the shank to clean up the fit. I heated it and pressed it on the shank. It took care of the damage and the stem fit well against it.I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the combination of rustication and smooth finishes. The black vulcanite stem stands out as a shiny black contrast to the colours of the bowl. This dark stained Comoy’s Blazon 332 Billiard must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 45grams/1.59oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Breathing Life into a Custom-Bilt Imported Briar Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an antique store in Murray, Utah, USA. The pipe is a classic Custom-Bilt piece – a rusticated Panel Billiard shaped pipe with some nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Custom-Bilt and below that on another smooth band it reads Imported Briar. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth and rusticated portions of the finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with an overflow of lava on the rusticated top and inner edge of the rim. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. It had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. There were not markings or a logo on the saddle stem. There was also a removable stinger in the tenon end. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top rustication. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.  He took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the stinger in the tenon end. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. The rustication pattern around the bowl is instantly recognizable as done by Custom-Bilt. It is hard to see that the right and left side are flat which is what I call a panel.  The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c8.html) to get a quick view of the brand once again. I knew that I was working with one of the older pipes and probably made by Tracy Mincer himself. He stopped making the Custom-Bilt pipes in the early 1950s. The screen capture I included below shows a brief history of the brand. I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:CustomBilt_Stamp1.jpg) for a quick read. The majority of the information there was two book reviews of the Custom-Bilt Story by Bill Unger.

The one line I culled was the following: “Tracy Mincer started the original Custom-Bilt pipes it appears in 1934”.

I did a screen capture of the stamping that matched the stamping on the pipe that I am working on.What I learned from that is that the stamp was used by Tracy Mincer in Indianapolis in the US from 1938-1946 and possibly in Chicago before 1938 as well. There were also some metal bits in the vulcanite and the Imported Briar stamp which made think WW2 or shortly after. So now I had a possible date for this pipe. It was an old timer and it was well worth working on.

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself.  Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl look very good. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There was a deep tooth mark on the topside of the button.    The stamping on underside of the shank is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The tapered stem is nice and the photo shows the removable stinger.I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage. Once I had smoothed out the edge the bowl was ready.   The bowl was in excellent condition so started by rubbing the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive.  I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I removed the pressure fit stinger before working on the rest of the stem. I will include it with the pipe to the next owner but will not reinstall it. I also filled in the deep tooth mark on the topside of the button with clear superglue. Once the repair cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Custom-Bilt Imported Briar Panel Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The style of rustication that is used around the bowl is quite beautiful and works well with both the shape and the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Custom-Bilt is another pipe that fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 53g/1.87oz  I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Savinelli Nonpareil 9412 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA. The pipe is an interesting almost Danish looking Savinelli pipe with a faux horn shank extension that has a metal cup in the shank to stabilize the extension. The pipe is well shaped and has nice sandblasted grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads Savinelli [over] Nonpariel [over] 9412 (shape number) [over] Savinelli S shield followed by Italy. There was a grime and dust in the nooks and crannies of the sandblast on the briar. The bowl was moderately caked while the top and inner edge of the rim were dusty but otherwise quite clean. The inside edge looks like it may have burn damage on the front right. The outer edge has a lot of nicks and chips. The faux horn shank extension looked very good and the metal insert was snugly in the shank end. The fancy vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. The pipe showed a lot of promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the relatively clean inner edge of the rim. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem as well as the horn shank extension. The photos show the overall condition of the stem. The stem had two brass dots on the left side of the taper just past the saddle portion of the stem.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. It truly has some nice sandblasted grain – birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and shank. The faux horn shank extension is quite nice looking. The stamping on the underside of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html) to get a quick view of the Nonpareil Line. I did a screen capture of the site’s information and have included that below. I am also including a screen capture of the Shape and code chart introduction that is link in the above capture.It appears that the Nonpareil 9412 that I am working on is made before 1970 so it is at least 50+ years old. It is in great shape. I am not sure what the exception noted above is about.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli) for a quick read. The site is worth reading the history of the Savinelli brand and it philosophy of pipemaking. There was nothing specific on the Nonpareil line however so it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in a Before & After Deoxidizer bath and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top, inner and outer edge of the bowl is in excellent condition. The stem surface looked very good with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The fancy saddle stem is nice and the photo gives a sense of what the pipe looks like. The bowl was in such great condition after Jeff’s cleanup that I did not have a lot to do with it. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began.     I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a lighter and was able to lift out all but one deep tooth mark on the top surface ahead of the button. Once the repair cured I used a file to flatten it out and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub All Purpose cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation. I have found that a good scrub with this product removes the oxidation left behind by the other methods. You can see it on the cotton pads underneath the stem.I still found that the stem had some oxidation that was quite deep in the vulcanite. I put it in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover and let it soak for 2 ½ hours. When I took it out of the bath I rubbed it down with a paper towel remove the oxidation and the product. It came out significantly darker.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Savinelli Nonpareil 9412 Freehand is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The sandblasted finish gives the shape an elegant look. The flow of the bowl and stem are well done make for a great hand feel. The faux horn shank extension has a metal insert in the shank end to keep it from splitting. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Nonpareil 9412 fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 50grams/1.8oz. It is a great looking and light weight pipe. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Breathing New Life into a Stanwell Golden S Dublin 64


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from either a trade I made (pipes for labour) or a find on one of my pipe hunts. I honestly don’t remember where it came from. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. It is a beautifully grained Stanwell Golden S Dublin that really looks quite nice. The stamping is clear and readable. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Stanwell [over] Regd. No. 969-48 [over] Golden S [over] Made in Denmark. To the right of that stamping is the shape number 64. The pipe had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of thick lava on the plateau rim top. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was calcified, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside and the top surface of the button had a tooth mark. There an inset golden Crowned S on the top of the saddle stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. I took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know for sure if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the thickness of the lava coat. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, light chatter and tooth marks.     I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. There is a gold Crown S logo on the top of the saddle stem.I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Stanwell Regd. No. 969-48 Golden S line and found the following information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-stanwell.html). I found one piece of information on the Regd. No. that was helpful to me. I quote:

The “Regd. No.” stamping discontinued in late 1960s to very early 1970s

I also went to Pipedia and read the article on the Stanwell brand. It is a great read and worth the time to read it (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell). There was a note toward the end of the article on the Golden S series. I quote that note below:

Golden S: This series was last produced in the mid to late 1970s. Its distinguishing mark was an 18 carat gold Stanwell logo, crown and “S”, on the mouthpiece.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I have to say it once again that I am really spoiled having Jeff clean up the pipes for me. Having to start with them in this condition adds time. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads. I followed up by scraping the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I finished cleaning up the cake in the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls of the bowl.  I used a dental pick to pick out the lava in the plateau finish on the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to remove the debris from the finish. The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim top with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the debris from the finish. I rinsed the bowl with warm water to remove the grime and soap and dried it off with a soft towel. While I was scrubbing the bowl I felt a rough spot on the front of the bowl. I examined it and found cracks on the front. There was a short one at the top from the rim down about ½ inch and below that were two further cracks extending down the height of the bowl. None of them go through to the inside of the bowl and are quite shallow. In the second photo below I showed the line of the crack with red ink. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel to drill pin holes at the ends of each crack. You will see 7 pin holes in the photo below. I filled in the drill holes and the cracks with briar dust and clear super glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.  I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a Bic lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage of the briar was even and the repaired areas were hidden.  I stained the plateau rim top with a black stain pen to highlight the grooves in the finish. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a paper towel to remove the excess stain and bring the grain to the surface. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads –sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   While I was working on the bowl the stem was soaking in Briarville Pipe Repair’s – Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The stem sat in the mixture for 2 ½ -3 hours. I removed the stem from the bath, scrubbed lightly with a tooth brush and dried if off with a paper towel. I was surprised that it was quite clean. Just some light tooth marks on the button and underside of the stem near the button.   I filled in the small tooth marks on the surface of the stem on both sides with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. At this point it dawned on me that I had not cleaned the inside of the shank or stem… boy I am rusty at this and have to tick off the steps! I cleaned the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until the pipe smelled and looked clean.  This beautiful Stanwell Golden S shape 64 Dublin with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains on the bowl and the plateau rim top came alive with the polishing and waxing. The repairs to the cosmetic cracks on the front of the bowl blended in very well. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Stanwell Golden S Dublin is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restemming and Rebirthing a L’Artigiana Italian Made Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came to us from a recent pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife did in Utah. It is an interesting Freehand bowl that has a heavy rustication around the bowl and shank and a plateau rim top and shank end. It has a smooth panel on the left side where it is stamped. It reads L’Artigiana [over] Italy. I think that this will be another nice looking piece once it is cleaned up and restemmed. The bowl is thickly caked with an overflow of lava filling in much of the plateau rim top. The rustication around the bowl and shank are very deep and craggy and filled in with a lot of dust and debris. The top and edges of the bowl look good but I would be more certain once I reamed and cleaned it. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. He took a photo of the plateau rim top to show the cake in the bowl, the lava on the rim top and the inner edge.  The lava coat on the rim top filled in the plateau top to the point of the valleys being filled in.The next photos show the rustication portions of the bowl. The dust and debris has filled in many of the deepest grooves in the rustication. It is a pretty nice looking pipe under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is faint on the left end but is otherwise readable in the photo below and is as noted above. I turned to Pipedia to read about L Artigiana Pipes. There was no specific listing for the brand but under the Makers list it was listed as a sub brand or second connected the brand to Cesare Barontini (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_K_-_L). Quote:

Cesare Barontini sub-brand / second.

From there I turned to the article that I have read previous on Pipedia about Ceare Barontini (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barontini,_Cesare).

In 1890 Turildo Barontini opened a factory for the production of briar. In 1925 his son Bruno began to produce the first pipes. Cesare Barontini, son of Bruno, started direction of the factory in 1955, and still runs it together with his daughters Barbara and Silvia.

Sub-brands & Seconds:

Aldo Velani

Cesare

L’artigiana

Stuart

Cortina

See also Barontini, Ilio, Cesare’s cousin.

I love the description as it truly captures the shape and beauty of this freehand pipe. The article above stated that the pipe is handcrafted by artists so that each one is a unique piece. It is cut from the plateau to leave that exposed on the top of the rim and down the shank to the end. It has a thumb hole cut for comfort in holding it while smoking. It is suggested that pipe sold for $60. Now to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. It looked very good but I forgot to take photos of the bowl when I brought it to the table – one of those days I guess. You will get a feel for it in the photos below.

I found a perfect fancy stem for the pipe in my stem can that was a potential candidate for the pipe. The issue with it was that the tenon had broken somewhere in its life. I tend to keep this kind of thing around as I have learned that I seem to always have a use for them. I drilled out the airway with a series of drill bits starting with one slightly larger than the airway in the stem and ending with one that would fit the threaded end of the new tenon. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway and painted the threaded tenon end with black super glue. I threaded the new tenon onto the pipe cleaner and pressed it into the hole in the stem. I set it aside to let the glue cure while I worked on the bowl. Now you will finally see the bowl! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush 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 set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Eventually I would need to soak it in Briarville’s Deoxidizer but I had some work to do first to clean the damages to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to raise all of them on the underside and all but one on the top side.  Before I put the stem in the soak I decided to put it in the shank and take pictures of the pipe at this point in the process. I am really pleased with the overall look. Once the vulcanite is polished the stem will look perfect with the pipe. I removed the stem from the pipe and put it in the bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover overnight to let it do its magic. When I took it out of the bath I dried it off with a paper towel and rubbed off the product it had softened the oxidation but did not remove it. Lot of sanding and polishing remained on this one.I sanded the top surface of the stem and filled in the tooth mark along the button with black super glue. Once the glue cured I used a small file to flatten out the repair. I followed that by sanding the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation remaining on the stem. I started to polish the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     With both parts of this unique L’Artigiana Freehand finished, I polished the bowl and the 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 mix of grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained L’Artigiana Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interestingly made Freehand will be going onto the rebornpipes store very soon. If you would like to purchase it and carry on the legacy of the previous pipe smoke send a message or an email to me. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Italian Made L’Artigiana pipe. 

Breathing Life to a Tired and Worn Handmade in Denmark Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff and I picked up from a fellow in Hermann, Missouri, USA. The pipe is sandblast Dublin shaped pipe with a mix of brown stains. It is a medium sandblast with shallow valleys and ridges around the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads Handmade [over] Denmark that is followed by a second stamp that reads Imported [over] Briar near the stem end. The pipe was tired and worn looking with a lot of grime and dust in the crevices and valleys of the sandblast finish. The bowl was heavily caked with a heavy lava coat flowing onto the beveled sandblast rim top. It was hard to know what the rim and top looked like under all of the thick lava cake. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button surface. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the thick lava on the rim top and inner edge. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and deep tooth marks. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the sandblast and the worn finish on the bowl.   The stamping on the top and underside of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. This was a mystery pipe – the stamping read Handmade Denmark and Imported Briar and lead to no further information on the maker. I decided to leave the mystery and just work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. The stem surface looked good other than the deep tooth marks on the button surface and stem on both sides near the button.  The stamping on the underside of the shank is faint and readable and reads as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The bowl looked very good and once I cleaned up the stem the pipe would look very good.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. The bowl was in such good condition that I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    The tooth marks on the top and underside of the button and stem service were very deep and no amount of heating or sanding them would lessen them. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once they had hardened I used a needle file to flatten the repair to match the surrounding vulcanite. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the remaining chatter on the top of the stem and further blend in the repair on the underside. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This Danish Handmade Imported Briar Sandblast Dublin is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rugged sandblasted brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. The finish works well with the polished vulcanite oval taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Danish Handmade Sandblast sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Tale of the Rebirth of 3 Pipes – Pipe #1 – a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I received an email from a fellow named Stanley who had gotten my info from the local Pipe and Cigar shop. He wrote that he had a trio of Comoy’s pipes that needed to be worked on. Two of them were Grand Slam Pipes and one was a Tradition. We connected via email and he said he would drop them off this week for me to work on. I am including part of his email so you have a sense of what I would be working on. I am also including the two photos that he attached to the email for me to see.

Hey Steve,

I had recently the chance to talk to a very kind and excellent gentleman over at City Cigar, I unfortunately was never able to get his name. However I mentioned I was looking for some replacement stems and he gave me your info…

…The pipes in question are attached in photos, I’ve never done any sort of pipe restoration in my life but I have attempted to take the cake down with a pocket knife. If you’d do it, would you be able to do a ream/clean on the three, as well as deal with the stems?

If possible, I’d prefer to save the original stems by repairing them, but it seems to me that most people remedy this problem with a replacement stem. Whatever you think is best I will go with.

If you think that I’d be better off without the stinger insert in the shape 64, then would you be able to remove it? I’m afraid I’d break the stem if I tried haha.

The 484b also seems to have a crack starting near the “Comoy’s Grand Slam” part of the shank, where it meets the stem. Is it possible to deal with this?

That is all! Please let me know what you think!

Thanks!  Stanley Last night Stanley stopped by and dropped off the three pipes. I took photos of pipes as there were when I opened the bag they were in. All three pipes were very dirty but the reaming had been started as noted in his email. The stems all had bite throughs on the underside. The bottom pipe in the photo below is a Grand Slam Pipe shape 64 Billiard. The stem has a 3 part C on the left side. The middle pipe is a Tradition 3591 Prince with 8 flattened panels on the bowl near the top. The stem also has a bite through and a missing divot. It also has a 3 part C on the left side. The top pipe in the photo is also Grand Slam Pipe 484B with a replacement stem that also has a bite through. The shank is also cracked on the left side.I decided to work on the Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Billiard that really is a pipe of Pipe Smoking History. The stamping is the significant marker that points this out for me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads COMOY’S [over] Grand Slam [over] Pipe. On the right side it has the shape number 64 next to the bowl/shank junction and that is followed by a Comoy’s COM stamp that reads Made in London in a circle [over] England. On the underside there was a *6 stamped at the stem/shank junction. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl had been scraped but there was still a moderately heavy cake. There was an overflow of thick lava on the top of the rim and on the inner bevel of the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was a large bite through on the underside. There was a three part inlaid C on the left of the taper stem. When the pipe arrived it had a Softee Bit over the damaged stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. I took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the condition of the stem surface and the bite through on the underside.I took photos of the stamping on both sides and underside of the shank. They read as noted above. I also included a photo of the 3 part C logo on the left side of the taper stem.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped billiard. Once the stem was off I noted that tenon had a Comoy’s Grand Slam metallic stinger threaded in the stem. It was missing the cap on the end that held the leather washer in place the apparatus was damaged and I would not be able to fit a new cap on the end. I would remove it from the tenon so that I could clean the stem and do the repairs.I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe and found the following information I have included a screen capture (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). The one I am working on is like the second one in the screen capture below. It has the three part C which dated it to 1946 and following. The stamping is the same as the one I am working on. The *6 is the size of the washer on the end of the stinger.I turned to the article on Pipedia about dating Comoy’s pipes but the style of the stamping (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Comoy%27s_Dating_Guide#1917_to_the_end_of_the_1930.27s_.28at_least_1938.29). I have include the section in the screen capture below that date this pipe to the 1950s.

Now the Comoy’s stamp can be found in three variants in the 1950s

  1. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the C larger than the other letters and the apostrophe before the “S”.
  2. A return to the slightly more fancy block letters with serifs and the apostrophe. (It seems that some grades carried different stamps, or at least that the stamping changed in different years for some grades.)
  3. A simple block-letter style without serifs and without the apostrophe and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters. This stamp was probably not used very long.
  4. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the apostrophe before the “S” and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters.

Made in London England

Appears in two versions. This is again stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “LONDON” at the bottom, with “ENGLAND” in a straight line beneath. It can be assumed that this stamp was first used in the export drive in the early 1950s. On a Bulldog Sandblast from the early 50s the Comoy name no. 2 above was used together with “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND”. There are no known examples of pre-WW II Comoy’s stamped in this way. The second version is the same as above but in a “rugby ball ” shape. This shape is verified on Comoy´s “Extraordinaire” pipes.

Inlaid “C”

C” was first inlaid in the side of the mouthpiece around 1919. This was a complex inlay needing three drillings. First, a round white inlay was inserted, then the centre of the white was drilled out, and a smaller round black inlay was inserted. Finally, another drilling was made to remove the open part of the “C,” and an even smaller black inlay was inserted. This inlaid “C,” known as the “three-piece C,” was continued until the Cadogan era in the 1980s. However, the “C” in the 1920s and early 30s is much thinner and more delicate than the one post-WW II.

That article gave me some helpful information regarding the pipe that I was working on. I knew that the stamping and logos identified the pipe as having been made in following WW2 and from what I can see from the above information it is a 1950s era pipe.

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the 2nd and 3rd cutting head to remove the remaining cake back to briar. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of cake. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. I rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a soft cloth.    I was able to remove some of the lava build up on the rim top and finished by scraping it with the Fitsall knife and then a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. There were some deep cuts on the bottom right side of the bowl and on the top right side near the edge. I filled these in with a spot of clear super glue.   I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank so as not to damage the stamping.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I heated the stinger with a Bic lighter and unscrewed it with a pair of pliers.I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I cut a piece of cardboard for a pallet, put aside two charcoal capsules, and set out the spatula and the Loctite 380 black CA glue. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem. I filled in the hole in the stem with a mixture of charcoal powder and Loctite. I used the spatula to fill in the bite throughs on all of the stems. I sprayed the repair with an accelerator to set the glue and removed the pipe cleaners from the stems.  I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top side of the stem with black super glue and set the stems aside to let the repairs cure. I took a photo of the three pipes at this point to give a feel for where things stood.   I smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and started blending them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the remaining repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend it into the stem surface. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I took photos of both sides of the stem to show the repair work on both sides.     This 50s era Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I did a lot of work on the bowl and repaired the bite through on the stem. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Medium Billiard is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what Stanley thinks of his repaired pipe. He had said the threesome were his favourite pipes. This is the first of  the three. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!