When I first pulled this pipe from my refurb box, I thought I was looking at another Danish design. It was only after taking a closer look that I realized it was, in fact, an Italian pipe, a Savinelli Nonpareil 9904, which Savinelli describes as a Bent Dublin.
The pipe is stamped “Savinelli” over “Nonpareil” onflickr the left shank, and “9904” over “Italy”, along with the Savinelli shield logo, on the right shank. The stem is marked with the two brass dots of the Nonpareil series.
The pipe hit the worktable in very good estate condition, with only a small bit of rim darkening, a few small handling marks and a thin layer of greasy dirt on the stummel. The stain was a bit patchy in places, showing where the original reddish topcoat had worn off over years of handling. The stem had one fairly deep tooth dent in the underside of the bit, and a layer of what proved to be rather stubborn oxidation. The pipe is non-filtered and features a genuine horn shank extension and military style mount.
A quick twist of sandpaper cleared out the light layer of carbon lining the conical chamber.
I cleaned the internals of both stem and stummel with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. There was a fair amount of crud in the shank, which took a bit of work to clear out.
The stummel smelled only faintly of old tobacco. I might have passed on the salt and alcohol treatment for this pipe if the shank hadn’t been so gunked up. As the pic below shows, it was just as well that I didn’t skip this step – after 24 hours in the stummel, both the salt and the cotton in the shank were very dark with old tars.
With the briar now clean inside and out, I turned my attention to the stem. I began working on the oxidation with some Meguiar’s Scratch-X polish. I got a bit of the surface oxidation off this way, but as the pics show, there was quite a bit of work left to be done, especially in the fancy carved areas.
I dropped the stem into an Oxyclean bath overnight to raise the oxidation. The majority of the crud came off with Magic Eraser and a fair bit of elbow grease. The remaining oxidation would be dealt with while I fixed the tooth dent, which I filled with a mixture of CA glue and charcoal powder. When the patch dried, I used needle files and sandpaper to level the fill. A full course of micromesh sanding pads removed the scratches and brought up the shine. I gave the stem a final wipe with mineral oil.
A scrub with Murphy’s Oil Soap cleaned up the exterior of the briar and stripped off the old wax finish. When the briar was clean I noticed two small reddish fills. One was in fine shape, but the other needed a bit of attention. A drop of clear CA glue topped up the shrunken putty. When it had cured, I sanded the fill smooth and buffed the entire stummel lightly with micromesh pads. This removed most of the lighter handling marks; those that remained I left alone as testament to the pipe’s age.
The reddish fills would continue to stand out unless I could reproduce the original finish. To this end, I applied a base coat of Fiebing’s Dark Brown. I let the stain dry, then scrubbed most of it off, leaving the colour only in the grain. A top coat of Fiebing’s Saddle Tan leather dye provided the red/brown finish I was looking for. When the stain was dry, I hand buffed the briar with a bit of towel to remove the excess and wiped on a coat of mineral oil to add depth and pop.
A run of White Diamond compound on the wheel and a few coats of Carnauba wax finished off this restoration. The new finish has pushed the fills well into the background where they no longer detract from the beauty of the briar. The stem is once again a deep glossy black, and the natural striations of the horn shank extension lead the eye gracefully from stummel to stem.
This beautiful Savinelli Nonpareil is ready for decades of companionship with a new piper who is sure to appreciate the lovely straight grain on the bowl and birds-eye on the gently crowned rim. Here’s the finished pipe.
Thanks for looking, and until next time, Happy Piping!