Daily Archives: June 9, 2019

A 1/4 Bent Bertram 60 Paneled Pot from the Bertram Lot

Blog by Steve Laug

If you want the background on the lot of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased please refer to the previous blog posts. I can’t adequately describe how overwhelmed I am when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored. It is mind boggling but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose an unusual Bertram 60 that was a ¼ bent Paneled Pot. The grain was a mix of grains – swirls, flame, cross and birdseye. It was a pot shape with a tapered stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. There was a small nick in the front outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge look very good. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. The stem had some oxidation and tooth chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. There is also a small nick on the right front outer edge of the bowl that will need to be dealt with.Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite interesting and very dirty!Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. It shows the stamping which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is a faint on the right side of the impression. The second photo shows the number stamp 60 on the underside of the shank. The number designates the quality of the pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the calcification, oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the button edge.Once again, if you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Panelled Pot with a ¼ bent stem is different from the other Bertram shapes I have worked. With a grade 60 stamp it is a mid-range pipe.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorised. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. The lava left a little darkening on the rear rim top but otherwise the bowl looked very good. The cleanup had also minimized the nick on the front outer edge. The stem photos show that the light oxidation is gone. The tooth marks and chatter next to the button are visible and should sand out quite easily.I took photos of the stamping to show how it looked after the cleanup. It is still readable and clear.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. If you have not tried some why not give it a try. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and polished the sanding with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The marks and chatter are gone and the stem is smooth.The stem was in great condition at this point. I polished out the sanding scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is in interesting twist on a ¼ Bent Pot shape with tapered stem. The finish really highlights some interesting grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Paneled Pot. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Maybe this shape speaks to you and you want to add it to your collection. Rest easy, this one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Back to Bob Kerr’s Estate – a Dunhill Bruyere 48FT Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

With this Dunhill Bruyere I am turning again to work on Bob Kerr’s estate. This is the second of the smooth pipes in his Dunhill Collection. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.With the completion of the restoration on this one there are only 9 more Dunhills of the original 25 left to work on – all smooth finished pipes in a variety of shapes. I went through the box of the remaining smooth Dunhills shown above and chose a beautiful little straight Bulldog. It is stamped 48 over F/T followed by Dunhill over Bruyere on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped Made in England followed by 0 and a subscript1 Circle 4A – Group four size Bruyere made in 1960 and sold in 1961. The rich Bruyere finish is very dirty and there is a thick coat of lava on the out of round rim top. The inner edge of the rim is damaged on the front side of the pipe. The smooth Bruyere finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the birdseye and cross grain on the pipe. The bowl had a thick cake and as mentioned above, thick lava overflows from the bowl onto the rim top. After cleaning I will know more. The diamond shank flows into a Fish Tail (FT) saddle stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Bruyere Bulldog had some damage on the inner edge of the bowl toward the front as can be seen in the photo. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also thick. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping was very sharp and readable and confirms the information above. There is a little sloppiness to the second number stamp following the D in England. Under the lens it looks clearly like a 0 followed by a 1 that is dropped down below. In the photo there is some sloppiness to the stamp. The one has a slant and some nicks before and after so it looks almost like a 7 but I think it is a 1.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included a photo of one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.

Having already worked on other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. He really loved his billiards. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. I think this Bulldog also was one that went into the shop and I can almost imagine him reaming it out with a carving knife. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes.

With that in mind I turned to work on this pipe. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also gives a good start to the process of bringing the inner edges back to round. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat in the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a scrubbing pad to continue work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. The rim was quite damaged with the out of round section on the front of the inner edge and the burn mark that was there as well. It was going to take some careful work giving the edge a bit of a bevel to bring it back to round. The damage to the rim was very bothersome to me and in my opinion made an otherwise beautifully finished little Bulldog an eyesore. This is where I am sure some may differ with my decision but I decided to address the damage. I topped the rim on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage to the rim edge on the front. I topped it on a medium and a fine sanding sponge to remove the scratches and smooth out the rim top. Once I had flattened the rim top and removed some of the damage, I worked over the front inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed that by sanding the edge with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. Through the process I was able to remove much of the damage. The rim top definitely looks better.Now comes the hardest part of the process in my opinion. It will either make the pipe look refreshed and beautiful or it will make it look very tacky and poorly done. I mixed three different stain pens and a black Sharpie pen to match to colour of the Bruyere stain. I used a Cherry, Maple and Mahogany stain pen – blending them together rather than letting each one dry. The colour is very close. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry and put the stem in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer to soak. That done I turned off the lights and called it a night.In the morning I took the stem out of the bath and rinsed it with warm water to remove the solution. I blew through the stem to clean out the insides and rinsed them with water as well. I rubbed the stem dry with a microfiber cloth to remove the remnants of oxidation. I took the following photos to show the condition of the stem at this point.I then picked up the bowl to examine the stain and get a feel for what it looked like in the morning light. It would need some polishing and touch up but the colour was looking very good to my eye. The inner edge of the rim also looked a lot better than it did when I began. Now to polish and blend the colours a bit!I decided to let the polishing wait and turned my attention to the internals of the pipe. I cleaned out the shank and airway to the bowl and in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned both until the cleaners came out white. It was a dirty pipe.I polished the rim top with a microfiber cloth to work the stains together to blend it and touched up the light areas with a stain pen. I repeat the polishing with the cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I am happy with the blend of the stain on the rim top and the overall look of the bowl at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined do a great job removing the tooth chatter and remaining oxidation left behind after the stem soak. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The cross grain and birdseye grain that show up in the polished bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1960 Dunhill Bruyere 48 F/T Straight Bulldog presented some challenges in the restoration process but it was a fun pipe to work on. It really has that classic Dunhill Bulldog look in a Bruyere finish that catches the eye. The combination of red and black stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand and I think that as it heats with smoking that over time the finish will darken and look even better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. If you would like to carry on Bob’s legacy let me know by email or message on Facebook. I still have 9 more Dunhill pipes with smooth finishes – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.