Uncovering the Origins of an Early 1900s French Aspir Fabrication L.M.B. Petite Billiard

It doesn’t surprise me that this unique, petite French Billiard came to me in a lot of pipes I purchased from a seller in Paris.  The French Lot of 50 was on the French eBay auction block in August of 2018 when my wife and I were still living in Sofia, Bulgaria.  A pipe man friend of mine living in Romania emailed me about this lot as well as about 4 others that the same Parisian seller had on the block.  He chose one and I chose another to bid on.  If I would have known how many treasures I would have found then, I would have bid on other lots as well.  One of the things that got my attention were all the horn stems I could see in the seller’s pictures.  There were other unique shapes that I could see as well. The picture below shows the Lot that I ended up bidding on and acquiring.When the French Lot of 50 arrived and I started unpacking pipe after pipe, for me it was like Christmas in August.  I took my time unwrapping, holding each pipe in my hand looking at the nomenclature and not recognizing many of the names I saw.  As the pipes were processed, I grouped them and took pictures of each.  Many of these pipes have already been commissioned from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection and restored and now with new stewards benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The ‘Aspir’ now on the worktable is in the top right group, second pipe down.  Pipe man Mike heard the whisper of the Aspir when he commissioned it along with a few other pipes.  Over the years, one of the surprising benefits of restoring pipes and interacting with the broader pipe community is that one meets a lot of really great people.  Mike stands out in my experience.  He is the founder and an administrator of a FB pipe group that has been a blessing to me, Brothers by Briar.  When I asked Mike about this he wrote:

I created the group alone in 2018 with the intent of providing myself an outlet and space to share ideas, stories, and opinions with generally likeminded people.  It has definitely been something to occupy my time and a great place to make friends like yourself.

Getting to know Mike has also been great for me.  Not only is he a pipe man but also, I’ve enjoyed looking at his posts of pictures of the flies he crafts – which is truly an amazing skill.  I can understand how this diminutive Billiard would be perfect for hands free smoking while working meticulously on a fly.  The standing invitation to visit Mike in Tennessee so that he can teach me the finer aspects of fly fishing is an invitation that I sincerely hope to fulfill some day!  Yet, what has struck me most about Mike is his commitment to family and that he has served his country with distinction as a veteran.  His last Veteran’s Day post was a powerful message which one can only take to heart and be proud of and thankful for those who have given so much so that our freedoms are safeguarded – a privilege that perhaps is not appreciated as much as it should.

Mike was glad that the pipes he’s commissioned benefit a cause dear to my heart – the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The L.M.B. Aspir is on the diminutive side – Length: 4 7/8 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/16 inches, Chamber width: 5/8 inches, Chamber depth: 1 3/8 inches.  Here are pictures of the first pipe Mike has commissioned: The nomenclature is stamped on the left flank of the shank: ASPIR is placed inside a diamond shaped boarder.  The right side of the shank has the following stamped: FABRICATION L.M.B.  The stem is also stamped with ‘A’ inside a similar diamond shaped boarder. The stampings are experiencing some ghosting as they have thinned over the years. The research trail trying to figure out the provenance of this Aspir has been interesting.  I could find no reference for ‘Aspir’ in either Pipedia or in Pipephil.eu.  The only reference I have found is in Wilczak and Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’.  Aspir is listed with Pipes L.M.B. with a COM of France.The pipe name, L.M.B. found some examples of marked pipes listed in Pipephil (See: LINK) but with no other information and a ‘?’ for the COM.I had better results searching L.M.B. in Pipedia.  Pipedia’s L.M.B. article is helpful in identifying L.M.B. as an early 1900s French entity apparently based in Paris.  The article provides pictures and articles taken from L.M.B. catalogs that are also linked on the page.  The very short text in the article was translated from the French book, ‘Les Pipiers Francais — Histoire et Tradition’ by Gilbert Guyot:

L.M.B. in 1911, rue du Mont-Thabor, assures that “his systeme is recommend by the Medical profession, the efficient only one positively imbouchable, condensing 38 % of nicotine, getting clean avtomatiquement, and approve by the Societe d’ Hygiene of France”. He adapts the conduit in plexiglass transparent has the modern pipe by 1960.

I tried to find the source book in English, which would be a very interesting book to have, but the book is only published in French.  The very last sentence in the text above, I have to admit, makes no sense to me at all.  The reference to ‘plexiglass’ and ‘has the modern pipe by 1960’ may be Google Translate’s best attempt to render the original French, but from what I read in the information from the original Pipedia ads indicates that L.M.B. was a French pipe ‘manufacturing’ company that had two retail stores in Paris and one in Angers, but also had other stores or L.M.B. pipes distributors in Brussels and London.

The L.M.B. ads tout that they have a patented system that reduces the nicotine from the tobacco by 38%.  A great deal is made of this patented system.  In the April 1920 L.M.B. letter below, which seems to be a basic work order communication, some interesting information is gleaned about L.M.B.Complements of Google Translate, I translated the typed text into English so we would have an idea what is going on:

Sir:

We have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your esteemed letter of March 30 as well as the pipe head, we will have it adjusted free of charge and will be shipped to you on the 8th current. Always devoted to your orders that our best attention will have, we ask you to agree, Less, the assurance of our distinguished consideration.

From this communication and from the other ads and catalogs in the Pipedia L.M.B. article, the sense I get is that L.M.B. was more of a pipe retailer and also would service the pipes they sold.  The letterhead on the top right again describes the ‘L.M.B. Patent’ and this is followed by, ‘Patented and Registered All Over the World’.  At this point in my research, one very frustrating part is that I cannot find any clue what ‘L.M.B.’ references?  I’ve combed the ads and catalogs and I can find no reference to the origins of L.M.B. or what it stands for – a moniker, initials of a name, a place? In the 1923 L.M.B. catalog linked in the Pipedia article (See: LINK), clues start coming together until an unexpected break though.  This catalog references where L.M.B. pipes are manufactured – in Saint Claude, the pipe manufacturing capital of the world.  When I first saw this reference, my first inclination was that the Paris based L.M.B. had their pipes manufactured in Saint Claude by another established pipe manufacturer and simply put their L.M.B. stamp on them and shipped them off to Paris and the other retail stores.  This is a common practice even today – pipe retailers and tobacconist putting their names on pipes manufactured elsewhere.  These often are called, ‘Shop Pipes’.  The caption below the picture says: View of Saint Claude we can see on the right the factory where are manufactured the pipes L.M.B.A breakthrough came in an unexpected way.  As often is the case, my wife will come into my workroom (aka: Man Cave) and peak over the computer display to check out progress on my various restoration projects.  When she saw the ‘new’ little pipe on the worktable she asked what it was.  I said I was doing research on a pipe company called, L.M.B., but couldn’t find any information on what L.M.B. stood for or concrete information of its origins as a company, which I was assuming was Paris.  A few minutes later I heard her reading information about L.M.B. from our adjacent family room.  Of course, my response was, ‘Where did you find that!?’  She sent me a link she had found of an L.M.B. reference from the Pipe Smokers Den (See: LINK) from a contributor, Benjamin Meyer,  whom I recognized from another search of L.M.B. pipes that I had done earlier where he was reviewing his favorite tobaccos and referred to his primary pipe, an L.M.B.  He pops up again with my wife’s link where he described critical information about L.M.B. which I had not seen before:

L.M.B. is a great little French brand. I didn’t know they made meerschaum pipes though! Capitalizing on their wood working skills, they later diversified in children’s wooden toys, then abandoned pipe making and started making plastic toys. They’re now known as SMOBY and are still quite popular in France.

Benjamin, I found out from the previous search, lives in Paris.  This is why, I assume, he was more knowledgeable of the happenings of L.M.B. pipes.  It’s apparent as with many pipe manufacturers, L.M.B. evolved through the years. As the economics changed the company was renamed and retooled and is now a well-known toy manufacturer SMOBY.  After a quick search of SMOBY I found the company site and a brief ‘About’ section (SMOBY LINK) that gave a couple bullets of information (my bold for emphasis):

  • 1924: The company is founded in Lavans-les-Saint-Claude, France, under the name Moquin-Breuil, originally specialising in the manufacture of wooden pipes.
  • 1947: After the Second World War the company changes over to the production of plastic household goods.

From this information I think I’ve solved the question of ‘L.M.B.’.  Jumping out is the region of Saint Claude – Levans and the two families of Moquin and Breuil – aka, L.M.B.  Yes!  This information says the company was founded in 1924, but there are catalogs and the letter posted above predating 1924.  The two L.M.B. catalogs linked in Pipedia are from 1920 and 1923.  This is an interesting question.

I found another link when I searched for SMOBY and this was the proverbial gold mine.  This second site is: Company-Histories.com, with the subline: ‘learn how over 7,000 companies got started!’  The story of SNOBY (aka: L.M.B.) and the French families, Moquin and Breui is unearthed (See: LINK).  The excerpt of this history is a bit lengthy but interesting to me and it needs to be recorded for future research!

From Pipes to Plastic: 1920s-1970s

For many French, the country’s Jura region had long been synonymous for its two most important products: wood and toys. One of the most vibrant offshoots of the region’s wood industry at the beginning of the 20th century was the production of tobacco pipes. The area surrounding Saint Claude was particularly active in this industry, with pipe-making workshops dating back to the 18th century. Early pipe production remained the province of artisans, but by the mid-1800s pipe-making had increasingly become industrialized. By the end of the century, more than a third of the total population was employed in the pipe-making industry, and by the outbreak of World War I the area contained some 50 factories.

Among these were companies operated by the Moquin and Breuil families. Both companies remained modest operations, however, until 1937, when Jean Breuil, born in 1908, whose family had founded its factory in 1924, married Georgette Moquin, whose brother led that family’s pipe business. Breuil and Moquin went into business together, creating the new company SARL Moquin Breuil in 1939. In the meantime, cigarette smoking had already begun rising in popularity, steadily reducing demand for pipes. The company diversified its product lines, adding pens and mechanical pencils to its production, as well as wooden housekeeping products.

Moquin Breuil continued to grow during World War II and by the end of the war had three workshops in operation. The arrival of the Allied forces in France further stimulated the demand for cigarettes, and by the end of the 1940s the demand for pipes was shrinking dramatically. The company, by then led by Jean Breuil, decided to invest in a new material, plastic, and in 1947 the company acquired its first injection-molding machine.

The company now converted much of its production of household and housekeeping items to plastics. At the same time, it developed an important offshoot of this activity when it began producing a small line of plastic toys, another prominent industry in the Jura region. Through the 1960s, however, toys remained only a small part of the company’s operations, accounting for just 25 percent of its sales. In 1967, however, the company joined with a number of other, dedicated toy makers, including Lardy, Clairbois, and Berchet, to form an export cooperative, Superjouet.

This information is helpful to see a fuller picture of the history of L.M.B., but the apparent contradiction in the dating of the formation of the company continues.  There is sufficient evidence indicating that L.M.B. produced pipes much earlier than 1924 – the catalogs, and the L.M.B. letter posted above are dated earlier.  At this point in the research, I will let the divergent information wait for more information to be found that can clarify things.  My guess is that the 1924 date might represent a ‘new’ legal charter or registration as a company that was already in operation for quite some time…, but only my postulation.

An interesting question remains regarding the L.M.B. on the worktable.  Every example of L.M.B. pipes that I have seen in the catalogs, examples in Pipedia, all have L.M.B. stamped on the shank.  Our pipe has an odd nomenclature of ‘Aspir’ and on the right side of the shank, the words: FABRICATION L.M.B.  As I said earlier, I can find only one reference for ‘Aspir’ in ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ but no example of an ‘Aspir’ online, but only on my worktable.  ‘Fabrication L.M.B.’ I believe simply mean, ‘manufactured by L.M.B.’.  This diminutive Billiard is obviously a ‘real’ smokable pipe that may have been produced as a sales promotion or to be given to potential retailers?  This is as far as I can guess.  There is no doubt that this pipe has been well smoked and loved.  My guess is that this pipe’s dating, as odd as it seems, may be nearer to the point that production of pipes was slowing down – the 30’s or 40’s because the plethora of pipes displayed in the earlier catalogs all had the official L.M.B. stampings?  Yet, it could very well be from the 1920s when L.M.B. had a robust production of pipes and produced the ASPIR as a special promotional line?  Perhaps we will find out conclusively in the future.

With a better understanding and appreciation of the L.M.B. company, now looking at the issues of the L.M.B. on the worktable, the chamber has thick carbon buildup and the lava flow over the rim is significant.  The rim also has some nicks and dents that need addressing, but the shaping of the rim has a touch of class – a gentle internal rolled bevel. The bowl is cratered with several old fills that have worn away or totally vacated.  This will take some work, but the briar has some potential if it can be cleaned and repaired. The saddle stem has oxidation that needs to be removed and some tooth chatter.To begin the restoration of this L.M.B. Aspir, the first step would be to clean the stem’s airway in preparation for putting it in a soak to remove the oxidation.  However, when the pipe cleaner was inserted into the airway, it would not move through.  It felt like the stem was almost compressing the airway or an obstruction was blocking the way.  To remedy this, a hot air gun was used to heat the vulcanite to soften it.As the rubber compound warmed and became more supple, a pipe cleaner was used to push through to expand the airway.Well, it isn’t pretty, but the heating helped to expand the airway, but it also helped to loosen the constipation of gunk that had collected in the airway ☹.To help with the cleaning, a bristled pipe cleaner, moistened with isopropyl 99%, is clamped in the table vice and while holding the loose end of the pipe cleaner, the stem is moved back and forth and rotated to create more cleaning muscle.  Eventually, the major gunk was excavated.The cleaning was then continued in the normal way using pipe cleaners and isopropyl 99%.To get a head start breaking up the oxidation and calcification on the stem surface, 000 grade steel wool was used to scrub the stem surface careful to avoid the ‘A’ stem logo.The stem is next placed in a soak of Briarville’s Oxidation Remover.  The stem soaks for several hours.When the stem is removed, a cotton cloth is used to briskly rub off the raised oxidation.  A few pipe cleaners wet with isopropyl 99% are used to clear away the residual fluid of the Oxidation Remover.To help the conditioning of the vulcanite stem, Paraffin oil is applied, and the stem is put aside to allow the oil to absorb.Turning now to the cleaning of the bowl, reaming the thick cake in the chamber is the starting point.With the smaller chamber, the smallest blade of the Pipnet Reaming Kit is alone used and only partially.  The chamber tapers toward the floor and narrows.  I do not want to create a wedge digging into the briar midway.  Next, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool continues the scraping of the chamber wall.  Lastly, 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen sands the chamber removing the final vestiges of carbon cake.After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad, an inspection of the chamber reveals healthy briar.Moving next to cleaning the external surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad. A brass brush is also used to work on the thick lava crusted on the rim. Brass bristles add to the cleaning muscle but do not harm the briar.The stummel is next taken to the sink where the cleaning continues using hottish water and working on the internals with shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  The internal mortise and airway are scrubbed and after rinsing thoroughly, the stummel returns to the worktable.Next, the cleaning focusses on the internals using cotton buds and pipe cleaners moistened with isopropyl 99%.  Remembering the condition of the stem’s clogged airway, I’m expecting a lot of gunk.  After a couple cotton buds were expended, scraping with a small dental spoon assists in excavating the gunk on the internal walls.  I take a picture of one shovel full 😊. It takes some time, but the buds and cleaners start emerging lighter and the cleaning is called to halt to be continued later with a cotton ball and alcohol soak to draw more of the tars and oils out of the internal briar.With the cleaning halted, I take a closer look at the stummel.  The rim is in rough shape, as expected.  There is residual staining from the lava crust that had encased the rim. Wherever I look on the rim, there are scratches and dents as the following pictures show.  This guy has been through it!A survey of the briar surface reveals what can be described as a moonscape.  This was a forgone reality from the beginning.  I haven’t counted how many old fills there are, but it will keep me busy for a while.  The fills are predominantly on the stummel’s left side. There are a few fills on the right side close to the nomenclature stamping which will need some care so as to not impact the stampings.Work starts on the rim, and I work my way down.  The rim has an inwardly tapered rounded bevel.  To clean the rim 240 paper is used.  The approach simply is to pinch the paper against the internal bevel with the thumb and briskly rotating around the rim. While sanding, I discover that the rim plateau is not even – the level of the rim is not true.  To address this the topping board is used with 240 paper on it.  The picture below shows only a few rotations which reveals the uneven contours I noticed.  The sanding contact points reveal unevenness and gaps where the sandpaper is not contacting the rim.  This reveals the dips in the rim surface.The stummel is rotated a few more times only to the point where there is a level surface going around the entire rim.  This provides the base line for the sanding to continue evenly cleaning up the bevel.The 240 sanding continues as described before with the goal to even out the bevel so that it is uniform around the rim.  I like the results.Next, the rim is sanded further with 600 grade paper and the grain starts to emerge.  This L.M.B. Petite Billiard and some nice-looking briar.With the rim sanding completed to this point, attention is now turned to the moonscape of fills.  A sharp dental probe is used to excavate each to clean it of old fill material.  A few examples below show the drilling in progress.All finished with a tally of 14 holes that have been excavated of old fill material and need to be re-patched.  There are more holes on the other side that I haven’t pictured ☹.Recently on another project, I experimented with using a different fill material than I normally would use.  The norm is to fill a hole with either straight clear CA glue and sprinkle the area with briar dust to help with blending, or a mixture of CA glue and briar dust would be used – briar dust putty.  What I have seen using CA glue to fill holes is that the CA patch doesn’t take a dye to color it.  It cures a dark brown.  The other thing with CA patches is that if they are large, they often are shinier than the surrounding briar and thus can stand out.  I tried using a regular wood filler, in my case, Elmer’s WoodFiller.  This filler is actually the same as what was used with older pipes – the fills that I just removed were regular wood filler which is water soluble.  For this reason, the regular filler is not as strong and long-lasting, generally speaking, as a CA glue patch.  Also, when sanding, I discovered the hard way, not to wet sand.  If the patches get wet, they can retract when dried and leave a ridge around the patch – which is not a problem CA patches normally have.  I have not switched to the regular filler cart blanch, but when applying it to a moonscape like this stummel, where I know dye will be used to mask the patchwork, I want the patches to absorb the dye and to blend.  So, for this reason, Elmer’s is on deck for another go around and we’ll see how it goes.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol to clean, wood filler is packed into each hole.A flat dental spatula is used to apply the filler to each hole and then packed down.  The patches are left intentionally high to allow for sanding to bring the patches flush with the briar surface.  The Elmer’s directions say that small patching may be sanded in 15 minutes.  I will give it more time to make sure it is well cured.With the stummel patches curing, the L.M.B. saddle stem comes to the worktable.  The oxidation it had was well addressed by Briarville’s Oxidation Remover.  The upper- and lower-bit areas have almost identical bite compressions.  I imagine the former steward was gently smoking this petite hands-free but left some compression, but not too much.  To see if the compressions can be raised, the heating method is initially used.  Using a Bic lighter, the upper and lower sides are painted with the flame.  As the vulcanite heats, it expands, and this helps the rubber compound to reclaim the compression.  The before and after pictures show the results – not bad.  The compressions were all but erased. Upper:And lower before and after:The remainder of the compression damage is sanded out using 240 grade paper.To remove residual oxidation and remove small scratches and roughness, the sanding is expanded to the entire stem with 240 paper.  Throughout the sanding process care is given to avoid sanding the already ghosting, ‘A’ stem logo.Next, the stem is wet sanded with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied. Continuing next the full set of 9 micromesh pads is applied by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads Obsidian Oil is applied to further condition the stem and to guard against oxidation.  Nice pop! With the stem on the side, the patches on the stummel have cured and using a flat needle file, the patch mounds are filed down to flush with the briar surface.Next, the patches are smoothed with 240 grade sanding paper.The smoothing continues by dry sanding with 600 grade paper.Before continuing with the sanding of the stummel with sanding sponges, the nomenclature stampings on both sides of the shank are covered with painters’ tape.  I don’t want to contribute to the erosion of these stampings that are already thinning.Sanding sponges are next applied starting with a coarser grade followed by medium grade, and then fine. The sanding/polishing continues next with applying the full set of 9 micromesh pads in sets of 3 – 1500 to 2400, 3200 to 4000 and finishing with pads 6000 to 12000.  I love the way the briar darkens, and the grain emerges during this process.  The presence of the patches reminds me of a beautiful person with acne – the beauty is there but you just can’t stop seeing the blemishes! To hide and blend the blemishes, Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye will be applied to the stummel.  To prepare the briar to receive the dye, the stummel is heated with the hot air gun.  This heating of the briar expands the grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye pigment.When the stummel is heated, a folded pipe cleaner is used to paint the dye on the stummel in swatches.  The wet aniline dye is then lit with a candle and the alcohol in the dye immediately combusts leaving behind the dye pigment in the grain.  This process continues until the entire stummel has received the dye and flamed.  I apply the dye a second time with flaming to make sure the coverage is complete.The stummel is then put aside to ‘rest’ through the night to allow the new dye to settle in. After the dyed stummel has ‘rested’ a time, I want to multitask through the night hours.  To continue the internal cleaning the stummel will receive a cotton ball and alcohol soak to further draw tars and the oils from the internal mortise and airway.  Using 2 cotton balls, one is stuffed in the chamber and the other is pulled and stretched to function as a ‘wick’ inserted in the shank and guided through the mortise and airway with the help of a stiff wire.After the stummel is situated in an egg crate for stability, the stummel is adjusted so that the rim and end of the shank are roughly even.  Then, using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% is introduced into the chamber until it surfaces over the cotton. After a few minutes when the cotton has absorbed the alcohol, the alcohol is topped off and the lights go out.  Another day is complete.The next day the cotton is showing soiling indicating the process of drawing out more tars and oils through the night’s soak.To make sure all is clean, more buds and excavating were needed to take care of the residual grime in the mortise and airway.  After more effort, the buds emerge lighter, and I call the job completed.  Moving on!Next, to remove the ‘wrapping’ from the newly applied and flamed dye a felt buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed set a bit slower at about 30% full power. The speed is slowed with the felt wheel to reduce the friction and the heating with the coarser wheel and compound.   The crusted layer of dye is methodically removed using Tripoli compound revealing some nice-looking grain.Well, it was going well until it wasn’t. I was again testing a ‘regular’ wood filler that would accept the dye, but what I discover is that the filler could not withstand the force of the buffing wheel during the removal of the flamed dye layer.  A couple patches totally fail, and others have sunken so that there is an indentation in the surface.  This doesn’t mask the blemishes in the briar very well ☹.I decide to remove all the fills accept for a couple that were doing OK and were too close to the nomenclature to sand and refill without damaging the stampings.  No doubt a detour, but a needed one….After the holes are excavated and cleaned with alcohol, the holes are filled with briar putty – a mixture of regular CA glue and briar dust.  After placing some briar dust on the mixing palette, a small amount of CA glue is placed next to it.  A toothpick is then used gradually to pull briar dust into the glue and mixing. More briar dust is gradually pulled into the mixture and mixed gradually thickening the mixture until it is about the consistency of molasses.  When the mixture is thick enough, the toothpick helps to trowel the briar putty to fill each hole.  After all the holes are filled, the stummel is set aside while the patches cure.When the patches have thoroughly cured, a squared and a flat needle file are used to file down the patch mounds until they are close to flush with the briar surface. The filing is followed again by 240 grade sanding paper then 600 grade paper to further smooth the patch areas.The sanding is then followed by applying the full set of 9 micromesh pads in sets of 3 pads: 1500 to 2400, 3200 to 4000, and 6000 to 12000. In the interest of full disclosure, as can be seen in the picture below, the patches are not blending well and seem to have a small ridge.  Not shown is a return to 240 and 600 grade sanding and another round of micromesh pads.  I was satisfied the second time around 😊.Again, Fiebing’s Dark Leather Dye is applied only to the impacted patch areas.  First, the stummel is heated to help the briar to receive the dye.A folded pipe cleaner is used to apply the dye over the patch areas and then flamed with a lit candle. After the dye is applied, the stummel is set aside to allow the new dye to rest and settle in.After several hours the dye has settled in and with a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the rotary tool, the speed set a little faster than normal, about 50% full power, Tripoli compound is applied to the patch areas removing the flamed dye crust.  The faster speed with the cotton cloth wheel helps in removing the excess dye from the surface while using the less abrasive, gentler (than a felt wheel) cotton cloth buffing wheel.After application of the Tripoli compound, the stummel is wiped with a cotton pad which is moistened with alcohol.  This removes excess dye as well as blends the new dye over the briar surface.After reuniting the L.M.B. Aspir stem and stummel, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted with the speed set at the normal speed of about 40% full power.  The finer and less abrasive Blue Diamond compound is then applied to the pipe.  After completing the application of the compound, compound dust is removed by buffing the pipe with a felt cloth in preparation for applying the wax.After another cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed remaining the same, carnauba wax is applied to stem and stummel.  When this is completed, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.This French made L.M.B. Aspir has an interesting history and dates probably no later than the 1930s.  I enjoyed discovering more about the L.M.B. story from Saint Claude in the research. This pipe is unique not only because of its nomenclature but also for its diminutive size as a classic Saddle Stem Billiard.  The size makes for a perfect hands-free companion to enjoy a nice blend while doing something else on the worktable.   Like many of us in life, he bears some scars from his past, but I’m pleased with how far he has come.  As the commissioner of this L.M.B. Aspir, Mike will have the first opportunity to claim him from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  A before and after picture helps us to remember how far we’ve come.  Thanks for joining me!

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Uncovering the Origins of an Early 1900s French Aspir Fabrication L.M.B. Petite Billiard

  1. Mike Hulsey

    As expected, a great read and an amazing restoration my friend! Too bad you can’t fix some of us slightly damaged individuals along side of the briars, but I’m sure if you could not only would it be a remarkable transformation, you would also use those proceeds to benefit someone other than yourself as is seen through your donation to the Daughters or Bulgaria.
    More than happy to give this briar a new home and a place to begin a new life and shared experiences at my bench. Again, wonderfully done!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s