Blog by Steve Laug
I reached into the last box my brother sent and pulled out a black sandblast bulldog with a saddle stem. I was in the mood for a simple cleanup today so this one would fit the bill. The blast and finish on it was very nice. The stain was clean though there was dust and debris in the crevices of the blast. The rim was very clean and the outer and inner edges of the bowl were undamaged. There were several spots that were light nicks in the sandblast and showed raw briar through the stain. These would be easy to deal with as the sandblast finish is very forgiving. The pipe was stamped on the left underside of the shank in a smooth portion. It read Tobacco Taverne (both T’s are in Germanic Script) under that it was stamped Made in London over England in an uppercase font. The next photos are ones that my brother took before he cleaned it.He took a close up photo of the rim to show what it looked like when he got it. The inner edge of the bowl had a few nicks back to bare briar but overall the edges were in great shape. There was a light cake in the bowl.He also took some close up photos of the great sandblast on the bowl sides. The blast is deep and rugged with deep crevices and grooves along with the ridges. It truly is a beautiful sandblast that really shows the ring grain on the piece of briar.He took a photo of the stamping on the shank and the crown logo on the left side of the saddle shank. The stamping is readable and sharp.Both sides of the stem are in great shape. There was some light oxidation and some pitting from the oxidation. There was tooth chatter but no tooth marks in the vulcanite on either side.My brother reamed and cleaned the pipe. He scrubbed the surface of the stem and briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed all of the dust and grime in the grooves and crevices. He cleaned the shank, mortise and internals of the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe when I received it in Vancouver. The first four photos of the pipe show why I thought it was going to be an easy cleanup. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of both. The bowl is very clean and looks to be unsmoked in the bottom half of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl shows a few nicks that will need to be touched up.The stem is oxidized but the surface is quite clean. It should be a pretty easy task to polish it clean.There was an odd stinger in the tenon that was easily removed. It was aluminum with four fins on the pointed end. There is a hole in the top side of the stinger that takes the air that whirls around the inside of the shank, flows up the fins and into the airway in the stem. The photo below shows the three parts of the pipe.I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation on the surface of the stem. I was careful sanding around the crown logo on the shank side.I ran a folded pipe cleaner and alcohol through the shank and another through the airway in the stem. Both were very clean and took very little cleaning. All that came out of the shank and stem was the dust from the sanding.I used a black Sharpie Pen to touch up the chipped spots on the inner edge of the rim and shank end. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush. The photos below show the finished bowl. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and after the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and set the stem aside to dry. I lightly buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to shine it. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a well-made bulldog and the Made in London England stamp points to a pipe made by GBD. The lack of a definitive shape number makes it impossible to be 100% certain as to the origin but I am pretty sure that it is a GBD made pipe. The Tobacco Taverne stamping is from a tobacco shop but I was unable to identify the shop. There are shops near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and one it Houston, Texas that have that name and there are several others in the US that are called Tobacco Tavern. Maybe some of you who are reading this may have some information on the shop or the brand. Let us know what you know. Thanks for looking.