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Refreshing script on briar and stems?

(34 posts)
  1. draco

    draco

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    First off is it ethical to touch up the script on a pipe? I have some old pipes that are in pretty good shape that I plan to clean and gently refurbish but some have already been over polished or have shallow markings here and there. If it is ethical to try and deepen these original marks how can it be done on briar and stems, vulcanite and acrylic? In the past I have deepened a few scripts on metal work on guns by making small punches with the right nose profile and gently peened the shallow areas with modest to excellent results.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. mothernaturewilleatusallforbreakfast

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    I would not mess with it. I would rather score a pipe with hard to read script than script that's been 'touched up' by some random person. Leave it be.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. blackbeard

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    Unless you're really handy...and can do this with the right depth, precision, and style...I would leave it. There are some pipes I own that do not have the stamps/markings but they are easily identified. Wouldn't stress it too much. If it's a cheap drug store pipe...you're not really losing anything by attempting it though I suppose. However trying to fix stamping from a Dunhill would likely be a bad idea

    Who is John Galt?
    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. dmcmtk

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    If you ever plan on selling what you have, NO, not a good idea.

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. blackbeard

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    ^ +1

    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. newbroom

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    Go ahead and do it. You may have found another area of expertise in the refurbishing business.
    Original condition has its place, of course, but that doesn't mean it's mandatory.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. stvalentine

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    Those scripts are pressed into the wood by rolling a metal stamp over the wood. A very talented engraver might do the trick. Apart from that I have no clue how to do it without having it look like a five year has done it.

    "Ride it like you stole it!"

    The Old Swede
    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. bentbob

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    If you are brave enough to attempt it, would you do a before and after pic and post it here? I would love to see the result. I have a Charatan 1/4 bent apple that has:

    Made by hand (in script)
    IN (block caps)
    CITY OF LONDON (block caps)

    Pipes with this script were made for a very limited time apparently, but the stamping was either too light or th epipe has been overly polished as the lettering is so feint to be illegible without a magnifying used in the right light. I had been toying with the idea of deepening the stamping too. I am a photo-lithographer by trade so the delicacy of the work doesn't worry me, it was more of a case of how to do it so that it looked right. In the end, I decided against it as I would need a good deal of practice before I attempted to attack the Charatan.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Well, it depends. If the pipe is a collectible high grade, then by the standards of the collectors' market what you're doing amounts to fraud. The premium is on original condition. Of course, a lot of fraud gets committed in the area of collectible pipes but a practiced eye can spot most of it. It's pretty difficult to hide a restrike, even with a factory original stamp. Fortunately for the crooks, most collectors really do not have a practiced eye, preferring to accept what they see.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. mso489

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    Leave it alone. The shallow stamping, if that is what it is, or the wear that has faded the stamping, is part of the story of the pipe. Don't tart it up trying to make it look more bold or whatever. An aside, I do wish pipe makers felt obligated to stamp slightly more information. The city and year of manufacture would not be so much and would enhance the narrative that comes with a pipe. But once the stamp is on there, let it stand.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. bentbob

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    Interesting point of view which I hadn't thought of sablebrush52. My thoughts are that a fraud could only be such if 1) it was showing the pipe to be something it was not; 2) if the intention was to sell, trade or otherwise pass it onto someone, intentionally or otherwise (i.e. in death), as something it wasn't and 3) to imply to others, even if not for financial gain, something it wasn't and therefore elevating ones standing - entry into an exclusive club for instance. If any improvement or enhancement to the aesthetics of the stamping is declared at the time of the sale/trade/swap would this also count?

    If the premium is on original condition, does then removing stem oxidation, tooth marks, bowl polishing and/or re-staining to improve the appearance of the pipe also count as fraudulent? What about stem repairs or replacement?

    I fully appreciate the collectors market having a view on this as there could be large sums of money involved and thus any change may affect value. But to the pipe smoker (the emphasis here being on smoking rather than collecting) surely anything that enhances his or her enjoyment in the pipe can only be a good thing?

    I have bought several high quality (if not necessarily high grade) pipes that have been restored in one way or another and never felt that there could be anything fraudulent in improving a pipe's appearance, so I'm very interested in your thoughts. Just for clarification, I am not a collector as such. My primary interest is in smoking the pipes I own. I do however, have a interest in pipes made by craftsmen and women, that are no longer in production: Barlings, Charatans, Loewes, Willmers etc.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. jpmcwjr

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    Along the lines of making the nomenclature more readable, are there any tips on offer here? (maybe removing wax somehow?)

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. woodsroad

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    I would just point out that that if you have a pipe with weak stampings, then either you bought it this way, or you did something to make it that way. Live with it and enjoy it as is.

    If you are a looking to sell the pipe, and worry that the weak stamping will effect the value, then sable's take on it is spot on.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. skraps

    skrapsoftobacco

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    Yep, going to have to agree with Jesse and Dan on this.

    Altering the nomenclature, even if only to make it more readable is akin to putting a new stem on a pipe and trying to pass it off as original. It implies the pipe is in a condition that it is not.

    If it's for your own benefit and you have no intention of selling it, then do what you want. Decoupage, precious stones, bedazzling. Whatever floats your boat.

    "People are not made better by a briar. An idiot before smoking a pipe is still an idiot after smoking a pipe, they're just more likely to speak less drivel with something in their mouth. For that, all society should be grateful."

    - Bob Runowski
    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. bentbob

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    It is interesting how pipe restoration is viewed with much more scrutiny than say restoring a classic motorcycle. I had not been aware of this in the pipe world and I may bear it in mind for the future. So thanks for the heads=up there chaps.

    If I were to restore a motorcycle, I would want to bring it back to as close as possible to showroom condition (including nomenclature/graphics/paintwork etc) and this would be acceptable to both myself and anyone I was intending to sell it to. If the motorcycle was fully functional and safe to ride in original condition of course, then I would have to decide whether I was going to restore it or not - depending on what I wanted to achieve with it. I would naturally have thought that in pipe restoration, the legibility of names/stamping etc to be the same as if I were restoring a motorcycle. Although I have been smoking a pipe for a few decades, I am quite new to pipe collecting, so thanks again for bringing this up.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. northernneil

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    If I were to restore a motorcycle, I would want to bring it back to as close as possible to showroom condition (including nomenclature/graphics/paintwork etc) and this would be acceptable to both myself and anyone I was intending to sell it to.

    I used to work with a guy who was personally restoring a 67 Corvette for 25 years. He hunted for original parts and over time had everything referbished and installed himself. One thing he did not mess with were the car / engine serial numbers, as this was the proof his car was legitimate. In fact, he had gone so far as to store the original engine, with original serial number, outside of the car as to maintain it resale value.

    I would compare playing with a pipes nomenclature to messing with a vehicles serial numbers. In a way, that is the only thing separating one pipe from another, especially among machine made pipes.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. ssjones

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    I've never seen this done to any degree of success.

    Al

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. okiescout

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    As above, no. Chances are it will look contrived, which in turn looks suspicious to others. In the end it just muddies the water.

    "Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."
    Benjamin Franklin
    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. gloucesterman

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    As has been pointed out, it is very difficult to accomplish with any degree of professionalism. In the end the pipe will likely look far worse than with weak nomenclature. Not a good idea.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. blackbeard

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    An aside, I do wish pipe makers felt obligated to stamp slightly more information. The city and year of manufacture would not be so much and would enhance the narrative that comes with a pipe.

    Savinelli Saint Nicholas does. However, I feel this could take out some of the fun in research and the discovery of such information with older pipes.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    An aside, I do wish pipe makers felt obligated to stamp slightly more information. The city and year of manufacture would not be so much and would enhance the narrative that comes with a pipe.

    I agree MSO,
    a good point there.

    Nomenclature plays a very large role with the unending appeal of Dunhill,
    collectors love such stuff, myself included,
    and I'd like to see more of that sort of thing.

    As a collector, I really like the extra effort of a maker like Michael Lindner who came up with some wicked cool nomenclature,
    the frogs, bats, and spiders etc...

    http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html

    I once requested a special stamp after I learned that Ryan Alden used to use a Texas state shape and he put it on there for me...
    I love such things!

    :

    Alberto Bonfiglioli also has a crazycool array of neat stamps!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Interesting point of view which I hadn't thought of sablebrush52. My thoughts are that a fraud could only be such if 1) it was showing the pipe to be something it was not; 2) if the intention was to sell, trade or otherwise pass it onto someone, intentionally or otherwise (i.e. in death), as something it wasn't and 3) to imply to others, even if not for financial gain, something it wasn't and therefore elevating ones standing - entry into an exclusive club for instance. If any improvement or enhancement to the aesthetics of the stamping is declared at the time of the sale/trade/swap would this also count?

    If the premium is on original condition, does then removing stem oxidation, tooth marks, bowl polishing and/or re-staining to improve the appearance of the pipe also count as fraudulent? What about stem repairs or replacement?

    I fully appreciate the collectors market having a view on this as there could be large sums of money involved and thus any change may affect value. But to the pipe smoker (the emphasis here being on smoking rather than collecting) surely anything that enhances his or her enjoyment in the pipe can only be a good thing?

    I have bought several high quality (if not necessarily high grade) pipes that have been restored in one way or another and never felt that there could be anything fraudulent in improving a pipe's appearance, so I'm very interested in your thoughts. Just for clarification, I am not a collector as such. My primary interest is in smoking the pipes I own. I do however, have a interest in pipes made by craftsmen and women, that are no longer in production: Barlings, Charatans, Loewes, Willmers etc.

    Good questions! It's fraud when you don't reveal alterations at the time of sale. Collectors pay for original condition whether it's good, bad, or indifferent.

    When a match was put to a pipe it's condition changed from unsmoked to smoked. Collectors pay a premium for an unsmoked pipe.they pay more for a pipe that appears to be in excellent original condition.

    Cleaning the pipe or the stem isn't fraud, it's maintenance.

    Collectors pay for clean nomenclature, but they want it to have survived in good condition as a testimony to the good care that the pipe received in its lifetime, not as a recreation.

    But topping a pipe, resanding and reshaping it to remove "beauty marks" then restaining it and giving it a cheap stem and declaring that the pipe had somehow survived in such "lightly used" condition is fraud.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. blackbeard

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    Dr. Grabow GRAND DUKE

    That's how it would likely look if I tried to "improve" the stamping.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. okiescout

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    "Dr. Grabow GRAND DUKE"

    Tyler, does that look "original" to you? No, leave it alone.

    Mrlowercase, that pipe of Mr. Lindner looks to be a honkin pipe! Beautiful, and yes, that spiders cool.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. bentbob

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    Thanks Sablebrush52 for the info. I'm not a pipe collector as such so this is useful insight. The pipes I find, I buy for myself so again, I wasn't really thinking about re-sale value or what anyone else thought of them as I rarely sell pipes (although I have sold a couple recently).

    I totally agree about trying to pass something off that it isn't, goes for everything really.

    Having said that, I will still try to improve the look of the Charatan with the feint stamp although I don't know how yet. I did note that the text was much less visible after I had waxed it (Paragon Wax) so it might just be a case of letting the existing was wear off over time and using something else to bring a bit of shine to it.

    Thanks again

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. sablebrush52

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    Having said that, I will still try to improve the look of the Charatan with the feint stamp although I don't know how yet. I did note that the text was much less visible after I had waxed it (Paragon Wax) so it might just be a case of letting the existing was wear off over time and using something else to bring a bit of shine to it.

    Hi Bent

    A couple of thoughts. Have you tested the stampings to see if there's an issue with wax build up? I bought a Barling quaint that looked like the carving had been pretty well buffed down. What I discovered was that the carving was buried in old wax, and when I removed that wax the carvings were pretty deep and well defined.

    When using either Paragon or Halcyon wax products, I get the best result by spreading a tiny amount over the pipe with my fingertips, letting a little bit of the wax get onto the palms of my hands, then, after a minute or so to let it set up, rubbing the pipe in my hands, not a polishing cloth. I get a MUCH brighter shine than a cloth will offer.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. bentbob

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    Hi Sablebrush52

    I haven't worked out how to use the "quote" function yet - might even have to resort to reading the instructions.

    "A couple of thoughts. Have you tested the stampings to see if there's an issue with wax build up? I bought a Barling quaint that looked like the carving had been pretty well buffed down. What I discovered was that the carving was buried in old wax, and when I removed that wax the carvings were pretty deep and well defined."

    No I haven't. What would be the best way to go about this - is there a preferred method?

    Thanks for the tip on waxing. I will give this a try next time I wax a pipe.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  28. brudnod

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    Since Al has chimed in on this one, the analogy that Bob presents with motorcycles applies to old cars as well. Both Al and I own period MGBs which we take to shows and line up along with other old British cars. Great fun. Mine is a 1971 MGB-GT that looks nice enough but I have restored it with after market parts and old salvaged parts, some of which are from other year, other model MGs. If I were to try to sell the car as "original" I would be committing fraud; if someone comes by at a car gathering and asks me about the car, I am proud to say I picked it up for nearly nothing and have brought it back to glory. I would NEVER say that it was original.
    And so your pipe may be modified in any way you wish. If you plan on selling it you would do so with full disclosure.
    And, yes, trying to do script or block engraving with a Dremel is not likely to produce an appealing result...

    Posted 3 years ago #
  29. bentbob

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    Hi Spencer, yes I completely agree.

    Love the MGB GT's. Good driving position and all the controls fall to hand just right. I think all those that went out to the US had the black front bumper didn't they? I was a TR6 man myself. Sold my last one some years ago though.

    As to engine, frame and chassis numbers, as mentioned by Northernneil again I completely agree. I once had a frame powder coated which filled in the numbers. The powder coating then had to be stripped back so that the numbers could be read as they are a legal requirement (I presume this is the case in the US too?) but more often than not, engine numbers etc get dirty and can be difficult to read, but this doesn't affect the appearance of the car or bike in general. I appreciate that the pipe maker's name, the model and grade of the pipe all affect value (and therefore some unscrupulous sorts might want to amend what is stamped), but they are an aesthetic part of the pipe too (as amply demonstrated by Misterlowercase's pics above). If I had restored a TR or MG, I would want nice decals and badges on it. I think I feel the same way about pipes. I want the pipe to be pleasing to me, I'm not to worried about it's financial value - whether it goes up or down due to any work carried out as this is not where my interest lies.

    As it happens, I have seen pipes attacked with tools much more clumsy than Dremels!

    During my apprenticeship, we had to be able to engrave copper, stone and aluminium by hand (for correcting errors during plate etching and engravings in general) to far greater tolerances than used in stamping pipes, this work usually being done under a 10X or 15X magnifying glass using a needlepoint picker (or scriber). Although I would be rusty and out of practice, I don't see why cleaning out stamping couldn't be achieved as it is simply as case of following what is already there, albeit wood has a much coarser cross grain than stone litho or soft metal. The tricky bit would be in making the right tool to do the job. Prior to metal type being used in letterpress printing, it was all wood letter.

    Sorry to ramble on. Getting misty about the old days. It's all bloody digital now!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  30. ssjones

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    That sounds pretty darn interesting bentbob, what was your business? From what you describe, you sound far better equipped to refresh nomenclature than most.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  31. brudnod

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    Bob, even if you don't plan on selling the pipe you really should post pre- and post- restoration photos. Sounds like you might be able to pull it off!
    PS - black bumpers for MG started in 1974 1/2...

    Posted 3 years ago #
  32. draco

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    I want to say thank you for all the responses. I tend to agree that leaving the markings alone is the best practice besides a good cleaning. What is the preferred method of removing excess wax with minimal negative impact on our pipes?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  33. mawnansmiff

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    An old thread perhaps but here's my tuppence worth. My other hobby is mineral collecting, particularly micro minerals. For best viewing of these minerals I use a low power (10x - 70x mag) Leica/Wild microscope. If you were to look at your stampings under the 'scope you would be surprised at how much wax & dirt collects in the stampings.

    What I have done is (whilst under the 'scope) very carefully using a darning needle retrace the stampings with the point of the needle. You will be surprised as to how much muck comes out and your stampings are that much clearer.

    This method works just as well on briar as it does vulcanite, the important thing to remember is to go slowly and steadily.

    Another use for the microscope is in the cleaning out of the rings on a bulldog pipe though for this I will usually use a beechwood cocktail stick in place of the darning needle.

    Other uses include looking down shanks and bowls to check for damage or stubborn tar deposits and inspecting the internal splay of the bit end of a stem. A great hiding place for pipecleaner fluff & tar.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    ...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
    Posted 3 years ago #
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    FWIW, there are violins like the "Lady Blunt" Stradivari and the "Vieuxtemps" Guarneri del Gesu that are famous and especially highly valued because of their near-pristine state of preservation.

    But the great majority of rare and great old violins have undergone (sometimes extensive) restoration, necessary to keeping them usable. The concern there is that it has been expertly done, stable over time, and nearly undetectable. And the best of it is, requiring hi-tech lab equipment to discern. Things like re-arching, re-lining, half-edging and invisible (on the outside) crack repairs are taken for granted. This greatly raises their value from what it would otherwise be.

    So it's a two-edged sword.

    There is a rare, early smooth Caminetto here that the narrow, gold moustache has (like many of them) fallen out of, leaving the impression where it was. Unfortunately, nobody makes replacements, or I'd have it replaced. If I could, and ever sold it, I'd mention that, but I doubt if anyone would even care. People want to see the gold moustache on an early Caminetto, the white spot in a Dunhill stem, and so on. In fact, as Neil Archer Roan noted, a Comoy Blue Ribband with an expertly made replacement stem has (or would have) essentially the same market value as an original. Again, some would turn it down on that account, but there would be no shortage of buyers -- the reason being that any competent restoration of it to what it was would entail a 3-piece "C" (identical dimensions) stem as a matter of course. People want to see it.

    Unless it's essentially undetectable, sanding the original finish of a "collectable" pipe off and refinishing it (especially in a different color that it was to begin with) is not restoration, any more than re-varnishing a violin is. But with lifting and disguising tooth dents, like re-converting Kentucky Rifles to flintlock again, the issue is not whether it's been done, but how well, and a top shelf job brings it back up to snuff. And to top value in the opinion of enough smoker-collectors that, when the hammer falls, they prevail. And provided they aren't lied-to, no harm, no foul.

    IMO

    FWIW

    Posted 3 years ago #

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