Restoring an old Harlequin Pipe and Trying to Unravel the Mystery of its Origin

When I saw this old pipe on eBay something about it caught my eye. I could see that it was structurally sound. There were no cracks or significant problems with the bowl or shank. The rim was dirty and the bowl very caked but there did not appear to be any damage to the surface of the rim. The outer edge had been tapped out a few times and showed some minor denting around the bowl. There were some gouges/scratches on the left side of the bowl. It looked as if a sharp instrument had scored the briar. There were some dark stains on the briar that easily could have been burn marks but did not appear to be so from the photos. These stains were on the underside of the shank near the junction of the shank and stem on the left side, on the lower right side of the right side and on the lower left side of the front of the bowl. It looked like stains in the grain rather than burns in the photos so I took a chance on it. The stem looked like it was grey/silver Lucite in the photos and that also intrigued me. The tobacco juices had stained the airway dark. Other than that the stem appeared to be undamaged and would be a pretty easy clean up.


The stamping on the shank was the mystery to me. I had never heard of Harlequin pipes and this one was clearly stamped Harlequin in block letters over Made in England. I wanted to see what I could find out about the brand so I went to my usual sources of information. I checked in “Who made that Pipe” by Wilczak and Colwell and “Pipes Artisans and Trademarks by Lopes to see if either of them identified the maker. Both books had nothing listed for the brand. I went on the British Trademark site and read through many of the listings for Harlequin and found that the name was used by many companies for things from wallpaper to graphics design. There were lines of greeting cards, children’s toys and clothing all bearing that name. I found nothing listed that hinted that the pipes were a registered name. I posted on several online forums that I frequent to see if anyone had any ideas. Several folks on the forums recalled that Gallaher’s Tobacco Limited in Ireland had made a tobacco for years called Harlequin. I did some research to see if they had made pipes.
As I dug through various sites on the hunt for information I received some responses on the forums. One person responded that several English tobacco brands also sold pipes – St. Bruno for one did that. Another respondent on Smokers Forums, flatticus posted a couple of links to Gallaher’s that confirmed that they had not only made tobacco products but had made pipes or had them made. He included this information:

Ok, so Gallaher’s made at least some pipes into the early 70′s. And according to this link:…20pipe&f=false

They made a Balkan Sobranie pipe. Or at least intended to enough to register the trademark, and along with the trademark for the tobacco itself. Certainly adds a bit of credence to the idea of a tobacco and pipe sharing the same brand name and stamp.

I have included the information cited above from the link to Google books – the Kenya Gazette and have posted it below. In correspondence from E.G. Bunyassi, Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks he clearly states under the heading of Balkan Sobranie that Gallaher’s Limited, a company organized under the laws of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had made cigarettes, pipe tobacco and pipes.
Gallaher pipes
I asked on the forum whether anyone knew whether the company made pipes. I received the flatticus responded again with the following information:

Interesting question, I don’t honestly know, but Gallaher’s used that trademark for like 70 years, and they were a big, big company. Actually from Northern Ireland, and had the biggest tobacco factory in the world in 1896 in Belfast, didn’t completely disappear until they were bought out by Japan Tobacco in 2007, but before that had a distribution conglomerate with RJ Reynolds for their cigarettes and were pretty gigantic. But they didn’t let the Harlequin mark until at least after 1963, when they last registered it. If I had to guess, they probably let it die after 1969 when American Brands, who I think owns Lucky Strike and similar brands, bought them out. They let the mark expire in 1980, but I see no record of anyone else buying it, and apparently it’s still available.

So, blindly guessing, I’d be surprised if anyone had the guts to use the same mark in a same or similar industry other than Gallaher’s. At least not in Ireland or the Commonwealth. But, that said, I can’t find a record or advertisement suggesting they ever made a pipe. However, I did find this thread, containing a quote from Gallaher himself talking about making pipes as a possible future avenue to address the “aging” nature of pipe smokers.…wtopic&t=24081

Perhaps this was part of the “pipe renaissance” project he was talking about, made to get new pipe smokers interested. I checked harlequin ads, there a few vintage ones out there in images, but none of them referenced a pipe, just the tobacco. But the idea of a free pipe with tobacco, or at least a cheap or, as he put it, “disposable” pipe does seem to fit nicely with his intention there. Any way you slice it, though, it’s a nice bit of mystery to ponder. One of my favorite things about estate pipes, hands down.

In another link there was information on the Gallaher Company. I copied that information and have posted it below. It makes an interesting read in terms of history of this old brand. I have one chunk of Gallaher’s Irish Roll Cake here that is a good strong smoke. I also have some of their other tobaccos in my cellar but sadly it is no more. I think the likelihood is that the Harlequin pipe was made by them and matched the Harlequin Tobacco blend they sold.



Once the pipe arrived I unpacked it and took it to the work table to begin the clean up. I was surprised that the stem was not grey but in real life almost a light green with heavy black tars in the airway. There were also some tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem that would need to be repaired. The fit of the stem to the shank was snug and smooth. The bowl was badly caked and the rim covered with thick tar. The bowl had some deep gouges that had appeared in the photos on eBay but they were not as deep as I expected. The grain was far better than I expected. Underneath the dark marks, which appear to be ink stains rather than burn marks was some beautiful cross grain and birdseye as well as mixed grain. It would look beautiful when it was cleaned up and refinished. There were several spots on the briar that had large sticky spots of a glue-like substance.



I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake. It was surprisingly soft and crumbly. I took it back to a very thin cake to form the base for a new cake.
I set up a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the build up on the rim. It was hard and no matter how hard I scrubbed it, it would not come off. The outer edges of the rim were also damaged from knocking out the bowl after smoking. The light topping would smooth out the edge damage and minimize the effect without changing the look of the bowl.

I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the ink and sticky build up on the finish. I also decided to remove the finish so I scrubbed it until the majority of the finish was gone.



I cleaned the stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I was able to scrub out the airway and the slot in the button removing the stains. I also scrubbed the end of the tenon to clean out the staining there. I scrubbed the mortise with alcohol and cotton swabs as well until they came out clean. The internals were cleaned and smelled fresh rather than smelling like old aromatic tobacco.

Once it was clean, I tried to steam out the gouges in the bowl but they would not lift. I could have sanded them out but that would have changed the profile of the bowl so I opted on repairing them with super glue and briar dust.
I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and then followed that by sanding with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to blend the surface of the fill with the rest of the surrounding bowl. After sanding the fills I sanded the entire bowl with the medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the rest of the finish on the bowl. I carefully worked around the stamping so as not to damage it.


I used clear superglue to repair the deep tooth marks on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button. The bottom repair can be seen in the photo below. I later sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges to blend it into the stem surface.
I decided to use the contrast stain process I have been working on to highlight the grain on this beautiful pipe. I gave it an under coat of black aniline stain. I used a Delrin tenon for a handle in the shank to be able to turn the bowl while I was staining. I applied the stain, flamed it, applied it and flamed it again until the coverage was even.



When the stain had dried I sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the surface stain while leaving the grain highlighted with the black. I wiped it down repeatedly with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to check and see what the grain was looking like after sanding. This process took far longer than the staining and initial preparation. I sanded and washed, sanded and washed the bowl and shank until the grain stood out against the briar.



I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit to further remove the black stain that was stubbornly sticking in the angles of the bowl and shank. I then gave the bowl a top coat of oxblood stain. My thinking was that the contrast between the black in the grain and the red in the other portions of the briar would make the grain stand out.



When the oxblood stain dried I dry sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove some more of the dark stain and make the grain stand out even more. I rubbed the bowl down with olive oil and used it as a medium for the sanding. It worked well to remove the darker areas of the bowl near the shank and along the top edge and rim.


After sanding I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond to polish the briar and the Lucite stem. I had previously sanded the stem repairs with the sanding sponges to remove the bump of the glue and blend it into the surface. I followed that with sanding the stem with all grits of micromesh from 1500-12000. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and polish it. I finished by buffing the pipe with a clean soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, stained and ready to smoke. I am really pleased with the finished look of the pipe. The yellow mother of pearl looking stem works well with the contrast stain on the bowl.





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A Journey from a Sad Apple to a Handsome Prince

In my antique mall grab bag there was an antique apple shaped pipe with an ornate end cap. It was a mix of brass and silver and had a fascinating look – at least to me. I liked it from the get go. The problem was the damage to the bowl was extensive. It truly was a mess with chunks of briar missing and cracks and crevices on the rim as well as in the upper portion of the bowl. So I looked through some of the bowls I have here to see if I had one that the end cap would fit but none were to be found. Lots of reshaping and changes would have had to be done to make any of the bowls I had work so I revisited the damaged bowl and did a few measurements on it to if I could remove the damage and still have anything left that was worth the work.




After measuring the bowl I figured that I could convert it from an apple/brandy shape to a prince shape. If you look at most prince shapes you can easily imagine how it would have looked as an apple or a ball shaped pipe. It is not hard to see the prince as a cut down apple. I also looked through my stems and found an older military push stem that would give it a princely look. The end of the stem would need to be turned down slightly to fit in the metal end cap of the shank.
I decided to start with a conservative approach to the reduction of the height of the bowl and the removal of the damaged briar first. I have learned that it is easy to remove briar but next to impossible to put it back once it has been removed. I set up the topping board and began to turn the bowl into the 220 grit sandpaper to work back the rim. After about ten minutes of work I could see that it would take me all night to hand sand it back to the height I wanted to work with. There had to be a better way to get it close and then finish the topping with the sandpaper and board.
I decided to use a Dremel to remove most of the damaged briar, carefully working to keep it as close to flat as possible – a trick with a Dremel and a sanding drum but it worked fairly well. I took back all of the damage on ¾ of the bowl rim and left a slight amount on the front ¼. The rim would be thick and I would be able to rework the inner edge to bring it back to round with folded sandpaper.


I took the bowl back to my worktable and used the topping board to flatten out the rim. The flattened rim is pictured in the photos below. I also used a rasp to trim down the taper of the bit so that it would fit in the metal end cap. The rest of the fine tuning of the stem would be done by hand with sandpaper and small files.


I sanded the stem taper so that the fit was snug in the shank of the metal end cap and shank. The build on this old pipe was interesting. When I first got it I was able to remove the end cap. The shank had been cut quite short and then flattened so that a stem would sit in the end cap and be pressed against the end of the shank. I worked on the stem to achieve that result so that the stem sat flush against the end of the shank. With the stem fit correctly it was time to do some work on the bowl.
I decided to use some briar dust and super glue to repair some of the deep cuts in the briar. I cleaned out the cuts in the surface of the rim as well as the surface cracks that remained with a dental pick. I wiped down the surface with isopropyl alcohol and scored the areas that would be repaired so that the fill would bond well with the briar. I packed in briar dust with the dental pick and then dripped the super glue into place. I always overfill my patches so that when dry they are not sunken.

When the patches dried I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to bring the surface of the patch to the same height and shape as the surrounding briar. This process is kind of like sculpting and once it was done I reshaped the outer edge of the bowl and did some work on the inner edge as well. The photos below show the look of the pipe at this point in the process. The handsome prince is beginning to emerge from the ashes of the old bowl.


I decided to use a two step staining process to better blend in the fills and repairs to the bowl. They would still be visible but not stand out as the first thing that was noticed when looking at the bowl. I used a black under stain first. I heated the briar with a heat gun to warm it and open out the “pores” in the wood to take the stain well. I applied it heavily, flamed and repeated the process until I had good coverage on the bowl. Once it was dry I sanded the bowl to remove the majority of black stain. It remained in the grain and I left it a bit heavy around the top edge of the bowl and rim. I wanted it to have a shadow like look in those areas.



I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the final bit of black and the sanding dust that was left behind from my work. I gave it several coats of oxblood stain as a topcoat. My thinking was that the deep red of the oxblood stain would set off the black under stain and provide an interesting contrast look to the finish.



I buffed the bowl and stem with Red Tripoli and White Diamond to see where things stood in terms of the colour and coverage on the bowl. I took it back to the worktable and sanded it with micromesh pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl. I still needed to do some more work on the rim and the stem at this point but the finish on the bowl was getting to the place where it was looking good.



I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches and smooth out the transition from the part of the stem that sat in the end cap and the remainder of the stem. I followed that by sanding with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil once I had finished the sanding.


The polish on the stem needed a bit more work to remove some of the scratches that still remained but I left that for the moment and decided to give the stem a slight bend. I set up a heat gun and heated the vulcanite until it was pliable. I bent it over a rolling pin that I use for doing this. I find that I get a more even bend when I use the pin as the base for bending.


I took it back to the worktable to examine the repair on the front of the bowl more closely and to also do more work on the interior edge of the rim. It was significantly out of round, particularly around the area of the patch I had applied.

I used a half round wood rasp and folded 220 grit sandpaper to rework the inner edge of the rim. While doing so I also decided to top the bowl some more. I worked on the edge until it was getting more round, restained it to see what it looked like and decided I needed to top the bowl even more to remove more of the damage to the surface of the rim.
After topping it even more, I sanded it with a fine grit sanding block and then restained the rim yet again. At this point the bowl was looking far better. There was still a slight divot out of the edge of the rim on the front of the bowl. I wanted to rework that area some more before I was finished with the pipe.
I sanded and shaped the inner edge of the rim some more with folded sandpaper, repaired the fill with a bit of superglue and briar dust, sanded some more to get it to the place shown below. All that remained was to sand the top of the rim and inner edge with micromesh pads to clean up the overall appearance and the bowl was ready to go.
I sanded the inner edge of the rim with some 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and then carefully dry sanded the top of the rim with micromesh sanding pads 1500-2400 grit. I gave the inside of the bowl a light coat of pipe mud to protect the bowl. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to give it a shine and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to finish. The completed pipe is shown below in the last series of photos.



The old sad apple had disappeared and was replaced with a handsome prince that still had some life in it. The little prince will now grace my pipe rack and will one day be given in trust to the next pipeman who will carry on enjoying this piece of history.

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A Profitable Day – at least for a Pipe Refurbisher who is a Scavenger

Friday I was traveling with my daughter and I talked her into stopping at an Antique Mall that has been a good source of estate pipes for me in the past. We pulled in and it was cold and windy when we got out of the car. We hurried into the shop to get warm again. I was so intent on the hunt that I did not even bother to stop at the lunch counter in the corner of the mall to grab a coffee. I was a man on a mission. I quickly went down the first rows of stalls and found absolutely nothing other than the overpriced tobacco tin from yesteryear. On about the third row of stalls one of the staff asked if she could help me at about the same time I came upon one of the displays where I had found pipes in the past. I looked inside the case as she spoke and then asked her to open the case for me. Inside was a rack of pipes – the usual fare and nothing initially that caught my interest. Then the last pipe in the rack called out to me.

It was an old tan rusticated opera pipe. I took it from the rack and looked it over, turning it over in my hands I saw that the stamping was faint and hard to read. In the light of the shop all I could see was Made in London England and the faint stamping toward the front of the bowl that read “____________ Imperial” in script. I had no idea of the maker but decided this one was going home with me. The price was about $20 but it would clean up nicely. The staff asked if I collected old pipes and what I did with them. I explained to her that it was a hobby – I both smoked them and repaired them. I asked if she had any others that might interest me.

She nodded and said she thought she had something toward the back of the shop. I always take those words with a grain of salt until I actually see what she has. I have gotten excited only to have the hopes dashed when I find a chewed up bunch of old basket pipes. But in this case she came back with a Ziplock bag stapled shut but full of pipe parts – bowls, stems, bands, cigar holders. A cursory look told me that there were at least 12-15 pipe bowls in the bag. The stems, bands and all were a bonus. It also looked like none of the stems fit the bowls in the bag so it was truly a grab bag. The price tag was a healthy $45 which is more than I usually like to pay for pipe parts but I decided to add that to the lot.

The staff took the bag and the opera pipe to the front of the store and I continued on the hunt through the rest of the shop. I purposefully wandered down several other aisles and found Chinese made knock off pipes covered in a thick lacquer, chewed up Dr. Grabows and other pipe racks and interesting pieces of tobacciana but nothing caught my eye until the end of one aisle about mid store. There was a glass display case with a batch of pipes that looked interesting. There on top of the display case, outside of the locked case was a little bulldog. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. It was a GBD bulldog. The stem was in good shape. The bowl was okay with a slight blackening on one side. Upon examination it appeared to be a stain rather than a burn mark or an impending burnout. The stamping said that it was a New Standard. The price tag said the seller wanted $18 for it so I held on to it and went to get the staff person to open the case. Nothing else in the case caught my attention so I thanked her, she took the pipe and I moved on through the shop.

I finished my examination of the bottom floor and went upstairs to see if anything else could be found there. Sadly my luck had ended and there was nothing else that warranted more than a cursory look through the glass of the locked case. I came down the back stairway and looked a couple of other pipes in a case near the front of the shop. I had the clerk at the register open one of the cases for me and had a look at a couple of the pipes there and an old tin of Edgeworth that looked promising. It turned out to be empty so I went and found my daughter and we cashed out with our purchases.

When I got to our room at the place we were staying I took the bag out, opened it and emptied it on the table. I like to examine each piece I find and write down a quick inventory of what was there. In this case I looked over each pipe under the light of the overhead lamp. I wish I had brought along my jewelers loop to be able to look at the stampings with a magnifier but I had not. So as I picked through the parts I wrote down what was in the $45 grab bag. The list below gives my field inventory of the pipes.
Pipe finds2
1. CPF calabash that needs a stem and meer cup. The silver band was loose but bore the CPF stamp in the silver. The threaded tenon was bone and it was loose enough to unscrew. This one would clean up nicely once I ordered a meerschaum cup from Tim West.

2. Medico sand blast apple with a chewed stem. This stem was nylon and had a metal tenon. There were bite throughs on both the top and the bottom of the stem.

3. Older silver shank apple that really interested me. The shank end cap was ornate and a combination of silver and brass coloured bands. It was ornate and led me to believe that it had some age on it. There was no stem in the bag that fit. The end cap was loose. The bowl was in rough shape with major chunks of briar missing on the rim and some cracks in the top part of the bowl.

4. Old Pal French made Canadian that had the wrong stem jammed in the shank. The stem was as long as the whole pipe. The shank had been cracked by the wrong stem so it would need to be banded and a Canadian stem fit on the shank.

5. Planter opera with a silver band. It had hallmarks that I would have to look at when I got home. The band was loose and there was no stem on the pipe but it had some good-looking grain on the bowl and would clean up nicely.

6. Bent billiard with faint stamping in two lines. The initial letters of the first line were BAR over a second line that was stamped Imported Briar. I would need a loop to read the rest of the first line of stamping. This old bowl also needed a new stem and would take time to bring back to life. It had an aluminum insert in the shank and took a threaded tenon.

7. Imported briar bulldog with a metal tenon inserted into the shank. It came with a very thin and misfit stem so it would need a new stem. There was nothing remarkable about this pipe but it would clean up nicely.

8. Acorn shaped bowl that needed a stem. Again there was nothing remarkable about the pipe.

9. Medico prince/Rhodesian that was a good-looking piece of briar. It needed a stem and I was pretty sure that I had one that would fit the bill at home. It even had the M in the circle Medico logo stamped on the stem.

10. Royalton Smoke Control apple shaped pipe that had a patent number and some interesting grain. It had an aluminum apparatus in the shank that was patented. There was no stem on this one and it would be interesting to research what the original stem would have looked like. This one would be a good pipe mystery to search out.

11. Bentley Dublin that needed a stem. It had an aluminum insert and would take a metal threaded tenon on the stem. The finish was gone and the briar was clean. It looked like it potentially had some interesting grain on the bowl.

12. Willard Dublin with a metal band that was original. It needed a stem but would take a push stem as opposed to a threaded tenon. The finish on this one was not too bad and it would clean up nicely.

13. Weber _________ Junior in a bull moose shape that was intriguing. It was a chubby shanked bowl that had some amazing mixed grain. It would need a stem but would clean up nicely. There were some surface cracks in the flat surface of the rim that did not go to deep.

14. Maple bowl with a peg at the bottom that would sit into the shank of the original pipe. I had a walnut barrel pipe that my daughter had found at an antique shop in Vancouver and gifted me. It did not have a bowl but this one might just work on that piece. I would have to check it out when I got home.

15. MacArthur corn cob that needs a stem and shank to make it complete. I believe these are available to order from Missouri Meerschaum and it can be repaired to new condition. It was unsmoked and very clean.

16. Handful of stems with a variety of stampings – none of which matched the bowls in the lot. There was a silver band with hallmarks that did not come off of the bowls either. It was in good shape and would join my other bands. There was a tiny bowl made of maple with a shank and stem sitting loose in the bag. Finally there were two cigar holders – one looked old and appeared to be made of Bakelite while the other was newer and clearly plastic.

After looking over the inventory of the bag of pipe parts I was pretty happy with the $45 cost of the grab bag. There were a lot of bowls that would clean up nicely and the stems, bands and sundry parts would certainly go into my parts bins and be incorporated in future pipe repairs. I separated the gourd calabash from the lot and bagged it separately as well as the stems and other parts. I put the bowls back in the bag and then put the bags of stems and parts in as well. I could not wait to get home and begin to work on them. These would be fun to restore and held a lot of lessons that could be learned from their restoration.

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Truth and Conjecture about a Vintage Kaywoodie Meerschaum – Robert M. Boughton

Truth and Conjecture about a Vintage Kaywoodie Meerschaum
Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Photos © the Author

“Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
—From “The Tiger,” by William Blake, 18th and 19th century English poet


As soon as I saw the beautiful little meerschaum pot (1-1/2” x 4-7/8”) in a locked glass case at the local antique store that has now become a prime source of excellent pipes for restoration, I knew I wanted it, whatever the brand or lack thereof. But when I held it in my hands and noticed the familiar logo, I could not mentally place the mark with the maker but knew it meant I was about to score a steal for $17.50.

Robert1First thing when I returned to my humble abode, I browsed on my laptop to and spotted the logo on the opening page, which of course jogged my aging memory (I’ll be 52 on the 20th) of the famous Kaywoodie clover, spade or heart symbol. Needless to say, I was very satisfied indeed with my fine new acquisition, which in fact appeared to be quite old.

I then attempted to put a date to this petite, elegant meerschaum and was surprised to find several methods available at the same site: the apparent Synchro-Stem stinger, minus the screw-in bulb at the end, which was patented in 1932, and the black-in-white clover that was first used in 1937 and continued into the late 1940s on top-end pipes made by the U.S. crafter. And so I settled on the general era of World War II.

But maybe the most interesting tidbit of intelligence I gathered in that initial search into the identity of my new meerschaum was from “The Collector’s Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes 3.3,” ( which showed the retail price for the 1947 line of block meerschaums set between $17.50 and $60, based on size. This would mean that whatever the precise year of manufacture of my new addition, I paid the exact appropriate price for what I got at a 67-year rollback. The coincidence suggested to me something along the lines of kismet.


This is the pipe as I discovered it, from the regular angles:

As these pictures hopefully show, considerable dirt, oil, stains and other crud had accreted on the bowl and stem; the rim was seriously scorched and dinged;the stem had teeth and other marks but only mild discoloration, and based on the grime I saw on the stinger and even hanging out of it, my guess was that the pipe’s original owner had loved but never cleaned the gem.

And so, although the task would require careful, patient attention to detail, cleaning methods I had not yet tried and a minimum of sanding and micro-meshing, I was heartened by the dream of returning the diminutive old pipe to its once perfect form and symmetry. But I have to admit I was concerned that with all of my good intentions, I might still somehow screw the pooch with slight overuse of the micromesh that would forever destroy the delicate, graceful and even yellow to gold patina. Restoring that aspect of this meerschaum’s glorious potential was my true goal.

I began my quest with a gentle hand washing of the outer bowl and shank with several applications of dabs of purified water on small pieces of soft gun cleaning cloth. This worked well and made the numerous scratches (some very small), gouges and stains all the more glaring. But since the badly blackened and pocked rim, which was unchanged by the initial cleaning, presented the most conspicuous next step, I chose 400-grit paper to remove the majority of the charring and all of the roughness caused by the apparent bad habit of tamping out the bowl on an ashtray. When I could see a dark golden color emerge beneath the soot, I switched to 1000-grit micromesh and easily finished the rim to a wonderful golden evenness, which I was able to make shine with a quick rub of 3200-grit paper.
Eventually, of course, I had to deal with the small and large cuts, the few stains and the several gouges on the bowl and shank. For these I tore off a tiny piece of 400-grit paper and only used it with the greatest respect for its potential to undo my plans, but as it turned out the work of removing all of the blemishes completely in this fashion went fast and smoothly. Once more I turned to micromesh, this time 1000-grit again, and returned a surprisingly effective sheen to the random spots that were left somewhat duller by the sanding.

Adjusting the Dollar Store magnifier eyeglasses I used for the above detail work squarely on the bridge of my nose, I conducted a minute inspection of my results, expecting to find a need for more finishing touches. After all, I thought, aren’t meerschaums from time to time supposed to need special buffing with some sort of wax I knew I did not possess? However, no matter how closely I looked, I could find no part of the bowl and shank that did not positively shine! I have a firm belief in leaving that which is not broken alone and concluded the main work was complete.

This fine meerschaum, as I indicated in the Introduction, appeared never to have been cleaned. Therefore, that was in fact the most difficult part of the restoration process. I spent considerable time and about 10 bristly cleaners (alternating one soaked in alcohol with one dry) ridding the stem alone of what I suspect was built up grunge from about a quarter of a century ago. When I was finished with the stem, it was clean and sanitized.

Knowing that Castleford Pipe Freshener is best for cleaning Acrylic and Lucite stems, which was not an issue with this pipe, and is generally only recommended overfull alcohol with serious warnings to take care when cleaning the insides of meerschaum pipe bowls, I nevertheless saw no choice for sanitizing the shank and bowl and shank. In the end, the slight remaining chemical taste evaporated before the third bowl of tobacco I later enjoyed.

The stem with its bite marks and discoloration was easy to fix with a few minutes of soft use of 400-grit paper followed by buffing with white Tripoli and then red.

At last, the finished job:


If pipes could talk, they would all have amazing stories to tell. I love and take proper care of every one in my ever-increasing, P.A.D.-fueled collection. Whether it is mere fancy or insight, I find it impossible to believe that the person who saw this delicate and alluring beauty when it was new in a case in New York, say, not only chose it from among the entire selection but paid good money for it. Understand, even if the person, likely a young man, bought this Kaywoodie meerschaum in 1940 for $10, that is about $166 in today’s money at 3.87% annual inflation or 1564.64% total inflation. Then I try to picture the young man voluntarily letting the little pipe go after smoking it avidly for a relatively short time, given the level of coloration. Instead, I imagine something separating the happy owner from the no-doubt prized acquisition; something along the lines of a war – a World War – that the young man felt compelled to enter. With the passions of war overwhelming him, maybe he forgot to take the pipe with him, or did not want to risk harm coming to it, or simply had no time to go home and get his constant companion.

And maybe the young man’s fate prevented him from returning to his home and pipe and enjoying both for many more years.

1 See

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Weber Scoop Junior Restemmed and Renewed

The next pipe on the work table is pictured below. The stamping is faint on the left side of the shank but it reads Weber in and oval over Scoop Junior. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar. I decided to do a bit of reading on Weber pipes. I looked on Pipedia and found the following information.

Carl B. Weber was a German from Bavaria. Aged 21 he immigrated to the USA in 1911. In 1938 he established Weber Briars Inc. in Jersey City, New Jersey – later renamed the Weber Pipe Co. The firm grew to be one of the giants of American pipe industry focusing itself in the middle price and quality zone. Trademark: “Weber” in an oval. Beside that Weber – especially in the years after 1950 – was a most important supplier for private label pipes that went to an immense number of pipe shops. In New York alone for example, exactly the same pipes were found at Wilke’s, Barclay Rex, Trinity East, Joe Strano’s Northampton Tobacconist in Ridgewood, Queens, Don-Lou in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Nearly all pipes for Wilke were unstained and many models, for example the “Wilke Danish Bent”, could hardly deny originating of Weber. Among others well reputed pipemaker Anthony Passante worked for Weber.

Weber Pipe Co. owned and manufactured Jobey pipes – when mainly sold in the USA by The Tinderbox from 1970′s – 80′s. In addition Jobey / Weber bought Danish freehands from Karl Erik (Ottendahl). These pipes were offered as Jobey Dansk. Ottendahl discontinued exports to the United States in 1987 and in the very same year – obviously only as a ghost brand – Jobey was transferred to Saint-Claude, France to be manufactured by Butz-Choquin. Carl B. Weber is the author of the famous book “Weber’s Guide to Pipes and Pipe Smoking”.

This particular Weber was a shape that he made famous. I have had several different version of this pipe – mostly straight or ¼ bent and all were rusticated with Weber’s recognizable rustication. This one was different – it was smooth, with no fills and very interesting grain. The bottom of the bowl and shank was beautiful cross grain; the sides were a mix of grain and some stunning birdseye. The finish was shot and the briar was weathered and dry. There were two fine cracks on the rim at 7 and 11 but they did not extend into the bowl – more like hairline cracks. The flat rim and the crowned portion above the parallel lines encircling the bowl was almost tiger striped. The parallel lines were filled with dust and grime. It had a broken cake in the bowl and had been repaired at some point in its history with pipe mud to build up the bottom of the bowl at the airway. The end of the shank had some small nicks on both sides and the bottom edge that would make lining up a stem for a tight fit difficult but not impossible. The bowl did not come with a stem so a stem would have to be fit and shaped.



The only stem I had in my box of stems was a chunky saddle bit that would work but would need to have major adjustments in terms of diameter. I turned the tenon on a PIMO tenon turning tool until the stem fit snuggly in the shank of the pipe.
You can see from the next series of photos that the stem was far too wide in diameter and would need to be trimmed to size for a good fit against the shank.



Before I worked on the stem I decided to do a bit of clean up on the bowl. I quickly reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer. I used the largest cutting head to ream the bowl.
I lightly topped the bowl on a piece of sandpaper to remove the damage and the hard buildup on the surface of the rim.
I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the rough spots on the bowl and to further remove the finish.




I trimmed the diameter of the stem with a sanding drum on a Dremel. A steady hand is essential in doing this to get close to the shank of the pipe but not nick it with the fast moving drum. I generally do this in several stages to get it even and the alignment with the sides and top of the shank correct. I also take as much off as possible with the Dremel so that the hand sanding is really fine tuning the shape of the stem.



When the majority of the excess material has been removed with the Dremel I continue shaping the stem with 220 grit sandpaper squares. I sand until the marks from the Dremel are gone and the sides of the stem align with the line of the shank on each side. I want a good flow between the shank and the stem. I also sand the junction of the shank and stem until the flow is also correct. It takes a lot of sanding to get it to the place where the transitions are smooth and the old round chunky stem is a thing of the past.

Once I had the stem fitted there was still fine tuning to do to it. There were still scratches and marks on the saddle and the sides of the stem. The sides of the stem were too thick and needed to be thinned and shaped. However, I decided to change my pace a little and stain the bowl with a black aniline stain undercoat. I applied it and flamed it several times until the coverage was even.



When the stain was dry I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove some of the top black stain, while leaving it deep in the softer parts of the briar – the grain. I repeated the process until much of the black top coat was gone and the grain began to stand out on the bowl. It still would require some sanding and buffing to remove all that I wanted to remove before I applied a second coat of stain – an oxblood colour that would really set off the grain in this pipe.



Before calling it a night I decided to bend the stem so I set up a heat gun and heated the stem until the vulcanite was pliable. Once it was soft I bent it over a wooden rolling pin that I use to keep the bend even. In this particular case because the stem was quite thick it took several reheatings until I got the bend the way I wanted it.


In the morning when I got up I went down to the work table and gave the bowl its top coat of stain. I used an oxblood stain for the top coat as I thought the contrast between the black undercoat and the red would look good with this particular pipe.



I set the bowl aside and went to work, letting it dry for 8 or more hours. When I returned home in the evening I worked on the shaping of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to thin it down and shape the edges on the blade. I also worked on the fit of the saddle to the shank to make sure the transition was smooth and as seamless as possible. Once I had the fit correct I sanded it with medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then my usual array of micromesh pads. I wet sanded with 1500-3200 grit pads and dry sanded with 3600-12000 grit pads.


Once the stem was polished with the pads I buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel to further polish it and then gave it a final sanding with the last three grits of micromesh pads – 6000-12000 grit pads. I was not happy with the finish on the stem as it still showed scratches in the first batch of finished photos so I resanded it with the medium and fine grit pads to remove the scratches and then went through the micromesh pads again. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when dry buffed the pipe with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. The finished pipe is picture below. The finish came out quite nice. The contrast stain highlights the great grain on the pipe and makes the finish interesting to look at while smoking it.




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Restoring a Princely Rhodesian Medico – New Stem and New Life

The second pipe I took out of the box of finds from the weekend antique mall score was a little Medico Prince. It is stamped Medico over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank. It had an aluminum band that was coated with a plastic coat that made it appear to be gold. This coating was peeling leaving the band looking unusable. The bowl also did not have a stem. The bowl itself had several fills on the sides and bottom, nicks around the double scored lines on the bowl and the lines themselves were filled in with hard white putty like substance. I am not sure what the purpose of the filling of the lines was but it gave the old pipe a despairing look. The rim was rough and slightly out of round. The cake was built up in the bowl and overflowing onto the rim. I looked through my stem can and found a Medico stem that had originally been on a pipe I made into a Churchwarden. It was from one of my first pipes when I came back to pipes in 1982. The stem was nylon and covered with tooth chatter and deep tooth marks. The metal tenon and the diameter of the stem were a perfect fit. I would only have to make a slight adjustment on the bottom side of the stem and the right side to make the transition smooth.




The next series of four photos show the stem in place. The tooth marks are visible on the top and bottom sides of the stem and the shank union on the bottom and right side show the need of adjustment.



I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake so that I could work on the out of round inner edge of the rim.
I sanded the tooth chatter on the nylon stem to remove as much of the surface chatter as possible and wiped it down with a wet cotton pad to wipe off the dust. Don’t use acetone or alcohol on nylon stems as they potentially can make a mess of the stem material. I used clear superglue to repair the deep tooth marks because heating the nylon does not raise the dents. It is yet another problem to be avoided as heating only makes the material quite soft and it easily collapses. I repaired the topside first and when it dried I repaired the underside of the stem with the super glue.
When the glue dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the stem and blend in the repairs. I sanded until the surface was smooth and the patch was flush with the stem material. I followed that by sanding with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.

I lightly topped the rim to remove the surface damage and to remove some of the damage on the inner edge. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges and give it a more rounded appearance. I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone on a cotton pad and then isopropyl on a cotton pad to remove the finish. I used a dental pick to remove the white putty like substance that filled the two parallel bands around the bowl and then wiped it down a final time with alcohol. I also removed the stem and wiped down the aluminum band to remove the plastic coating that was on it.




I decided to give the bowl a contrast stain. The first coat of stain was a black aniline stain. I heated the bowl and then applied the stain, flamed it, applied it and flamed it again until the stain coat was even across the bowl. My photos of the black stained bowl did not turn out do to camera failure. For some reason the flash did not work and the four photos of the black stained bowl were not visible. I applied the stain with a wool dauber and made sure that the black stain went into the parallel rings around the bowl.


I wiped down the bowl with cotton pads and alcohol to remove the majority of the black stain and to leave it in the deep grain. I buffed the pipe with Tripoli and White Diamond and then wiped it a final time with alcohol. The finish at that point had black deep in the grain of the bowl highlighting the grain variations on the briar. It also served to provide some blending for the fills that were obvious on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge and 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further remove the top finish. Once it was done I gave the bowl a coat of oxblood stain as a topcoat. I wanted the red stain to highlight the red of the briar and to be a contrast to the black grain on the bowl.

After the stain was applied I wiped it off with a rag and hand polished the bowl. The contrasting stains went a long way toward giving the pipe a great look and blending the fills into the background of the bowl.



I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then followed up that with my usual stack of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The progressive rich blackness of the nylon is revealed with each successive set of sanding pads.



When I finished sanding I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave it multiple coats of Paragon Wax and hand buffed it. I reinserted it in the shank and gave the entire pipe a light buff with White Diamond and then gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I am very careful with nylon stems on the buffer after having several of them damaged by the heat of the wheel and having to start over. I have learned to hand buff the stems and if I am using the wheel at all with them to do it lightly and quickly. The finished pipe is pictured below. It is as good as new and ready to provide a good smoke to the next pipeman who carries on the trust.




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A “King’s Imperial” Opera Pipe Reborn

Looking over my latest box of pipes that I picked up at an antique mall in Edmonton, I chose to work on one that did not need to be restemmed and had a bit of a mystery attached to it. In the photo below it on the right side just above the batch of stems that were included in the purchase. It was hard to read the stamping while I was in the shop as I had forgotten to bring along a loop to examine it but I could read Made in London England stamped on the underside of the shank near the stem. It was priced at $20 which I figured it was worth in this condition so I added it to the lot.
Pipe finds2
When I got home I looked at it more closely under a magnifier and saw that the stamping read “King’s Imperial” Made in London England. The pipe was rusticated in an identifiable manner that I had seen on several pipes before so it looked promising. The finish was actually far rougher than it appears in the photos below. The stain was gone in many of the high spots and the low spots in the rustication were also pretty raw briar. There were two burn marks on the top back side and front side of the bowl that had darkened, though they were not scorched and rough. There was also a rough place on the left side bottom front of the bowl where it looked as if it had been knocked about. These marks would make it unlikely that I would be able to stain the bowl a natural tan colour. The bowl was oval both inside and outside. The rim had some scorching and darkening. It had been reamed in the centre of the oval but both ends were still caked and needed to be cleaned. The stem was oxidized and had a shallow tooth mark on the topside near the button.



I have a sharp bladed Japanese letter opener that was a gift from my grandfather that worked very well to ream the oval ends of the bowl. I proceeded to slowly scrape away the buildup of carbon and took the cake back to the bare briar.

After reaming the bowl I dropped the bowl into an alcohol bath to soak for an hour and then scrubbed it with a brass bristle tire brush to clean up the surface of the bowl and to scrub the burned areas on the bowl. I also put the stem into an Oxyclean bath to soften the oxidation on the vulcanite so that it would clean up more easily when removed.
After an hour of soaking the alcohol bath I took the bowl out and dried it off with cotton cloths. I scrubbed it with a soft bristle tooth brush to remove any remaining grit in the grooves of the finish and then dried it off again. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove stubborn areas of the old finish. I wanted the bowl clean and free of any remnant of the old finish before I was ready to restain the briar. I sanded the rim with a fine grit sanding sponge to clean off the softened tar buildup and wiped it down with the acetone as well. I used a dental pick to pick out grime that was stubbornly remaining in the grooves of the rustication. I finished by cleaning out the inside of the bowl and shank with clean isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs until they came out clean.


I decided to try and stain the pipe with a light brown stain – almost tan coloured to mimic the original appearance of the bowl. I mixed one part dark brown stain with 3 parts isopropyl alcohol to make a light brown wash. I applied it to the rusticated surface with cotton swabs and flamed it once it was done. I restained it and reflamed it a second and third time to give it an even coverage.



Once it was dry I buffed it lightly with White Diamond to see where things stood. When I brought it back to the work table I took the following photos to give me a clearer picture of the look of the pipe. The burn marks were not covered and in fact seem to be highlighted by the light stain. I set the bowl aside for a while to think about what I would do with it.



With the bowl set aside I turned my attention to the stem. I took it out of the Oxyclean bath and dried it off. The next two photos show the top and bottom of the stem. The oxidation is even and soft over the surface of the stem. The Oxy does not remove oxidation on stems but merely serves to soften it. When I dried it off with the cloth that it is pictured on it took a lot of oxidation off the surface.

I decided to use Bar Keepers Friend on this stem. I wet the stem with a wet cotton pad and then sprinkled the surface with the powder. I scrubbed it with the wet pad and a dry pad to scour off the oxidation. The next three photos show how well the Bar Keepers Friend work to remove most of the oxidation. There were some stubborn spots around the shank and the button that would take more work, but it was definitely cleaning up well.


My tendency in cleaning up a pipe is to work on the bowl for a bit, set it aside and work on the stem and cogitate about what I plan to do to address issues on the bowl. In this case while I worked on the stem I was thinking about how to address the darkened marks on the bowl. The light stain was not working and a darker brown would not work either. I set aside the stem and wrote a quick post on two of the forums I am part of and asked about the brand. I had not heard of the “King’s Imperial” brand before and decided to ask about it. A friend on one of them did not have information on the brand but posted a couple of photos of a Hardcastle Sandhewn pipe that he had refurbished to show similarities in the finish of my pipe. When I looked at his pipe I saw the solution to taking care of the burn marks and darkening. Here are a couple of photos of the Sandhewn pipe.

Hardcastle had used a contrast stain on this pipe that made the grooves of the rustication black and the high spots on the briar were brown. There was my solution staring me in the face. I set up my staining cloth and put the bowl on the cloth. I applied the black aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grooves. Once it was dry I buffed it with Red Tripoli to highlight the high points on the rustication and remove the black stain from those areas. The photos below show the pipe after the staining and the buffing. The contrast stain worked well on the burned and darkened areas of the bowl.



The contrast was still not quite what I wanted as it was too dark for my liking. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to remove more of the black from the high spots on the bowl and shank. I also wiped down the smooth rim area as I wanted it to match the high spots on the bowl.



I took the pipe to the buffer again and buffed the bowl and stem with Tripoli and then with White Diamond to give it a shine. The contrast now was exactly what I was aiming for with the staining so I was pleased with the results.



I set the bowl aside and worked some more on the stem. I sanded it with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the stubborn spots of oxidation at the button and the shank end. I then used my usual array of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each photo below shows the progressive deepening of the shine and the blackness of the vulcanite.


I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry buffed the pipe and the stem with White Diamond. I was careful in my buffing around the stamping on the bottom of the shank as I did not want to further damage the stamping. I applied multiple coats of carnauba wax to the bowl (lightly touching it against the buffing pad so that it would not cake up in the rustication) and the stem. The finished pipe is pictured below.



This morning while I worked on the pipe, I checked on the forums to see if there was anyone that had information on the brand. Bill, on Pipe Smokers Unleashed forum, had come across a photo online that had the same stamping but one additional line – Blakemar Briars. The stamping can be seen in the photo below. The “King’s Imperial” stamping was identical. My pipe was stamped Made in London England while this one said Made in England. The Blakemar Briars was the addition that gave the first clue.
After reading this I sent an email to Mike Billington at Blakemar Briars to ask about the brand. He replied with the following email.

Hi Steve
It is possible that the “King’s Imperial” pipe was made here, it depends on the age to some extent. My Uncle used to make pipes for John Redman Ltd during the 60′s and 70′s and early 80′s and I continued to do so until the early nineties. The King’s Imperial range was one of John Redmans pipe ranges during that time, but Redmans also had them made by other pipe makers; they also did some pipe making “in house”- so while it is possible that the pipe was made here, it is not definite. From around 1992 until 2005 (I think), Redman’s brands were taken over by Gerald Grudgings of Loughborough in Leicestershire and during that time any Kings Imperial produced were definitely made here.

My memories only go back to the early 70′s but if you send a photo, I can tell you if it seems familiar to me


I immediately sent him photos of the pipe as it was when I found it, showing the stamping on the bowl. I am waiting to hear back from him. But I found it interesting to learn that John Redman Ltd had Blakemar Briars make pipes for them during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and into the early 90’s. To find out that King’s Imperial was a range of Redman pipes during that time was also invaluable. Some of the other historically notes of interest in Mike’s email were that Redman’s had others making pipes for them and that they also did pipe making in house. I am hoping that Mike can remember and give a bit of certainty to the dating on this old opera pipe. I will update this post as I gather new information.

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Georg Jensen Pipe Brochure – Jacek A. Rochacki

It is great to have Jacek back and once more he provides us with great piece of tobacciana, pipe history with his scans of a Georg Jensen piece. In years past I have hunted for such information to help identify some of the Jensen pipes that I have come across. There was next to nothing available to help me in my quest. So, I for one say thank you to Jacek for providing this for us.

I did not find any booklets or pamphlets with pictures of Georg Jensen* pipes at Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages. All I found on the internet was this nice brochure from ca.1970:

So I thought that this modest pamphlet that I got in 1970 in Copenhagen might be useful for those of us who are interested in Georg Jensen pipes.
* “our” Georg Jensen – the pipe maker is not this famous Georg Jensen – Danish designer, silversmith and sculptor. More info is available here:
G Jensen pipes 1

G Jensen pipes 2

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Walt Disney pipe –AJ Verstraten (aka Bananabox-Ninja)

I am happy to see AJ back at his refurbishing work and writing about what he is working on. This pipe is particularly interesting in that it is a Disney Pipe. I have not seen much about these pipes and have enjoyed AJ’s work and write up. Thanks AJ for doing this and allowing us the pleasure of seeing the Disney pipe.

Greetings. When I first joined the PRF, a little over 18 months ago, there was a subject on the forum in which members could share with the other members what they thought was their dream pipe.

I was still rather green behind the ears when it came to brands, shapes and sizes so I didn’t reply in it at first. However, after a few months I found this article on It was an interview with Brian Levine who explained about the fact that the Walt Disney Company sold pipes and pipe tobacco in the parks up until 1991/93.
This tickled me; the fact that the ‘wholesome WD Company’ sold tobacco and especially pipes with their logo on it was too good to be true. It was then that I decided a Walt Disney pipe would be my dream pipe.

So I shared this with my fellow Dutch pipe smokers on the PRF and explained that since I live in the Netherlands it would be an interesting challenge to try to acquire on for a reasonable price.

Thus my quest started and ended a mere three weeks later when I was not out bid on this eBay lot:

A tobacco pot with two pipes, the one on the left being a Disney pipe. The closing bid was $19.53 for the whole lot though my mood was a bit adjusted when I found out the shipping cost would be $42,-. Still, corrected to Euros it was a nice price for something so rare for a European.

When the pipe came it was very well packed and had survived the transit wonderfully. The other pipe was a Kaywoodie which I will write about in the future.

The first thing that struck me was that the pipe seemed to be only smoked a few times. The mouthpiece was oxidized through time and air but on the whole it was in good condition.
The inside of the bowl was lined with meerschaum, wetting a finger with spit and pressing it against the meerschaum I concluded it to be pressed – meerschaum instead of block meerschaum.
A rule of thumb (no pun intended :-)) is that when your wet finger sticks to the meerschaum it has a higher absorption rate and is thus most likely to be block-meerschaum. The pipe also confirmed the story from Levine that most of these pipes were basket-pipes stamped with the WD logo, though this one was of better quality than I expected.
First I cleaned the inside with 96% alcohol and pipe cleaners. They came out rather clean on the first go.
The soot and coal on the rim were rubbed off easily with a little spit and an old sock. And with 1500 grit sandpaper I smoothed the bowl a little, I decided to leave the brown spots on the meerschaum as I didn’t want to ruin the look of the pipe should the spots run deeper than I anticipated.
Then using the motor and abrasive wheels I removed the oxidation on the mouthpiece.
And with a needle file the hard to get oxidation near the tip. The picture is made just after the abrasive wheels.

The pipe before buffing

The pipe before buffing

The buffing was done with brown paste, followed by white, carnauba wax and a buffing on the fluffy wheel.

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Bewlay Beauty and the Playboy Meer Beast – Robert M. Boughton

It is once again my pleasure to present an article by Robert Boughton. Robert has written several pieces on his work in refurbishing pipes. He always has a great way of not only describing the process he uses in the work but also does very thorough research into the background of the pipe brands he works on. This article covers his work on two pipes that recently joined his rack – a Bewlay and Playboy meerschaum. Thank you Robert for your willingness to share your work with us.

Bewlay Beauty and the Playboy Meer Beast Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton Photos © the Author
“Destiny has two ways of crushing us – by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them.” – Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss philosopher, poet and critic

As I admitted in a thread on the Smoker’s Forums, I am the first person to acknowledge that I suffer from a severe case of Pipe Acquisition Disorder (P.A.D.), and so I take both of the above admonitory notes with all due respect, even though I made up one and have no intention of troubling myself with the other. With that in mind, during the past two months my pipe acquisitions have reached epic proportions, at least for me, at 16 additions and one more (a 1980s series Peterson Mark Twain) I am committed to buy on Friday. I really have no choice about that last one, you see, as my word is as good as the metal of the band in my Peterson Gold Spigot Bent System natural grain.And to further my own defense, I should add that I received a nice tax refund and pay raise.Besides, there are far worse things on which to spend ones money, and I have no other serious vices, even having given up alcohol 26 years ago for reasons obvious to everyone who knew me back in the day. Really, when you look at the situation from all sides, it’s more of a quirk than a disorder. Right? I say the habit should be called Pipe Acquisition Quirk, or P.A.Q., to downplay the association of the condition from that of a mental disease.At any rate, that is quite enough of that.

My goal here, as I have already tried to begin making clear, is to have some fun describing the excitement of the hunt for little gems of pipes that can be found in odd locations, such as second-hand stores and antique shops, and the special thrill when it is apparent that the rewards located need some attention and care to restore them to their rightful glory. The latter aspect of the overall adventure is the best part for me, anyway. That is why I was almost disappointed to find that the Knickerbocker and Winston pipes I picked up on Tuesday are in pristine condition and have never even been smoked. If you ask me, I have to say that response to buying pipes is more twisted than being in the habit of acquiring one at every turn.

But as I already suggested, there is nothing like the clandestine hunt for the prized pipe, not online or in the regular haunts but in the wild, so to speak – lurking out there in a dark corner of the jungle where everything from the lowest to the highest example of the art of pipe craft might be found by the crafty hunter, just waiting for the right person to place in his sights and liberate the artifact from its unwitting seller for restoration and lifelong appreciation.

Such was the case this Friday past, while I was driving to my weekly pipe meeting earlier than usual and the notion hit me to veer from my regular course for a stop at an unassuming and poorly situated antique arcade on the east side of town, whence I had heard from a fellow pipe club member of incredible deals on excellent pipes. However, by the time I arrived at the scene, my friend, who seems to have a touch of the old P.A.D. himself, had pretty well cleared out the available stock and was remembered with cloying fondness by all of the vendors. Still, there were five left – the two I bought last Friday, which are the subjects of this blog, the other pair I purchased on Tuesday and one I let someone else have. Note I do not call it the one that got away because had it been a fish I caught I would have thrown it back in the water.


I.The Bewlay London Made Hand Cut Spiral
Rob2 Bewlay & Co., Ltd. was an English chain of pipe shops for about the first half of the 20th century until it was sold. [See Steve’s excellent recap of everything I found in my own research and more at The general consensus is that Bewlay sold only Barlings, Charatans and Loewes with the Bewlay name and mark on the pipes. Another source included Orlik in the list. But regardless of the total roster of pipe crafters that supplied Bewlay, everything they offered was considered to be of high quality.

Such is the case with my little beauty of a Bewlay small billiard (1-½” x 5”). I have had a difficult time trying to match this pipe with its maker. Even after viewing many samples of all of the above pipe crafters’ works, it is with uncertainty but sufficient confidence that I attribute the pipe’s origin as Barling.rob3Most of my pipe friends to whom I have shown the Bewlay commented right away that it looks like a Barling. My only serious doubt arose from the little billiard’s bizarre, if I may be so bold as to describe it, tenon bit. Here indeed is a bit fashioned by an evil dentist tossed out of the profession and turned stem-maker. My friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, calls it a “funky screw,” but I prefer corkscrew or even drill bit. The thin half of the screwy bit, which bears the same Patent number found on the bottom of the shank – № 167103 – as shown above separate from the bit, fits snugly through a thin horizontal slot in the front of the tenon. The wider half slips into the mortise. Whatever this bit’s real name (and I would very much appreciate a message from anyone who knows the answer), it is removable for cleaning and perhaps replacement if necessary, which is not unimaginable given its frailty. To tell the truth, in fact, I bent mine with almost no force applied when I first discovered its presence and just had to probe to see what I could discover. Well, I soon found that the odd bit is at least like aluminum and can be removed intentionally or not, and bends with alarming ease, but then again bends right back just as handily.

The Bewlay/Barling Spiral billiard was in pretty good shape when I bought it, other than the scorched rim, cake build-up in the bowl, some scratches on the pipe, bite marks and discoloration of the originally brown stem and general dirtiness inside.

My first line of attack was to ream the bowl carefully, then sand it with 400-grit paper torn off into a piece that wrapped around my ring finger. Then I soaked it for some time in alcohol, removing most of the old coating which I finished off with some 1000-grit micro-mesh, careful to leave the areas around all of the nomenclature untouched.
Pleased with the results so far, I applied Lincoln light brown alcohol-based boot stain to the entire outside of the pipe bowl and shank, and flamed it all around just enough to see the whoosh of blue light as the alcohol burned off and left a light layer of black soot. The soot I easily removed with the finest micro-mesh



The only task remaining for the bowl and shank were to buff them with my cheap high-speed dual buffer: once all over with white Tripoli, then again with carnauba. At last I think I’m getting the hang of using a light touch on the single high-speed buffers so as to avoid flying objects that can break easily and to achieve the desired polished effect evenly and without streaks.

I micro-meshed the stem with #600 paper, getting rid of all the discoloration that was not inside the stem itself, and buffed it with white Tripoli. To finish it off, I used a white crayon marker to fill in the Bewlay “B.”



Bewlay Spiral

Bewlay Spiral

London Made S101

London Made S101

Patent № 167103

Patent № 167103

I already owned one Laxley African Meer…
…and as soon as I saw the Playboy, I knew it had to be a Laxley also.


With Chuck’s concurrence, I am satisfied it’s a Laxley Playboy club edition.
This rugged African pebbled Meer was easy to clean up and make it look almost new again, despite the heavy, crystallized burning all around the rim. I began by taking some small cotton gun cleaning cloths and applying a little purified water to each, then lightly cleaning off the outside of the bowl and shank.

I had to sand off the bright black crystallized burn around the rim with patient use of 400-grit paper until I began to see the light brown of the Meerschaum show through. Then I switched to micro-mesh and decided to go all the way past the black stain from the original. Not having any stain of that color, I bought some Lincoln for $6.95 and daubed it around the rim with care not to let it run down the top, which was fine the way it was. Next, of course, I flamed it and micro-meshed the ash away to a very smooth finish.

The screw on brown stem was a mess, so I fixed it up with micro-mesh #600 micro-mesh and buffed it evenly with white Tripoli only.


That, my friends, is how beauty met the beast. And as I intend to keep both of these for my ever growing, P.A.D.-fueled collection, I expect they shall live happily ever after.

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