Daily Archives: August 13, 2020

Life for another American Made Pipe – A Bertram Washington DC 25 Cutty


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Cutty Grade 25 Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the underside side near the bowl with the Grade 25 number. Above that on the left side it is stamped Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was moderately caked with lightly overflowing lava on the top of the rim toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the very light, spotty lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 25.    As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. 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. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. 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 learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Cutty with stunning grain has a few fills around the bowl that have been blended in quite well. This pipe has a 25 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. But like many of these Bertrams the Grading system is a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner and outer edge of the rim looked good.  The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  There was also some residual oxidation to be addressed.   I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the left side mid shank shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the Grade 25 number.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in very good condition so I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Bertram Washington DC 25 Cutty with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bertram 25 Cutty fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a North Dane Pipes 72 Special Stack


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us in one of Jeff’s pickups. It is a tall well grained Stack shaped pipe with a taper stem. The finish is a nice medium brown with darker stain highlighting the grain. The pipe has a mix of cross grain and birdseye grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads North Dane Pipes [over] Made in Denmark. On the right side of the stem it is stamped 72 Special. On the underside at the shank/stem junction it is stamped 112. The taper stem is stamped on the left side with what looks like GJ in a circular stylized logo with the J being turned into an anchor. The smooth finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had a lava overflow and darkening on the top of the rim and beveled inner edge. Overall it appeared that the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked to be in good shape but we would know more once it was cleaned up. The vulcanite taper stem was calcified, oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the beveled rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, chatter and tooth marks on the surface. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime.       He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and stem. It read as noted above. I have not worked on a North Dane Pipe before so I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if I could find any information on the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-n2.html). He had a brief entry which I have included below as a screen capture.I turned to Pipedia and the brand was listed as Maker Unknown. I find that Pipephil’s connection of the brand to Georg Jensen, Danish Pipemaker to be very believable. The logo shown in the above photo can be read as a stylized GJ. I wonder about the concept of it being a second as the quality of the one I am working on is very good and makes me wonder if it should not be read as “another” line of Georg Jensen pipes. I guess I will never know for sure so it is time to work on the pipe.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The lava coat was removed and there was some darkening and burn damage left behind on the back side of the rim top. Other than that the edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the top side of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the well shaped Stack. To remove the darkening on the back bevel of the inner edge of the rim I used a folded piece of 340 sandpaper to the bevel to remove the damage. I polished the rim with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the sides of the shank so as not to damage the stamping. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sidesand shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The tooth dents in the stem were deep enough that just heating them did not raise them. I filled in the deeper marks with back CA glue and set the stem aside for the repairs to cure. Once they were cured I flattened them with a needle file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     I touched up the faint GJ stamp on the stem side with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on pressing it into the grooves with a tooth pick and buff it off with a cotton pad.  This well made, classic shaped North Dane Pipes Made in Denmark Stack really is a beautiful pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish highlights the grain in such a way that it came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished North Dane Pipes Stack is a beauty with combination of great grain and rich stain. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Refurbishing a Piece of Adirondack History – a With Pipe & Book Lake Placid Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us in one of Jeff’s pickups. It is one that is stamped for a Book and Tobacco Shop in Lake Placid, New York. It was one of those places that I always wanted to visit but never had the opportunity. The shop closed in 2006 so I did a bit of digging to get some background information on the shop. It is not often that I find a shop that combines two of my passions – pipes and books so this is one that I want to hang on to when I work it over.

The first link is from an NPR (National Public Radio) article and contains an announcement of the shop’s closure after 29 years. I have included the link if you wish to read more of the story (https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/7665/20060710/with-pipe-and-book-closes-in-lake-placid).

July 10, 2006 — One of the North Country’s cultural landmarks is closing. With Pipe & Book, a popular used bookstore and tobacco shop in Lake Placid, will close its doors after 29 years. The business has also been an important market for books about the Adirondacks.

The second link is from the Adirondack Almanac and has a great quote regarding the store and its owners  (https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2006/08/with-pipe-and-book-will-lake-placid-lose-the-adirondacks-best-book-store.html). I quote:

With Pipe and Book, a landmark Lake Placid book store is closing next year after 29 years. We quoth:

While looking around I overheard a conversation between another customer and the cashier, and when my son had finally succeeded in herding me to the register I asked the cashier if what I thought I had overheard was true. Yes, she said. Breck and Julia Turner, proprietors, were retiring and the store will be closing next summer. It was sad news, but I was heartened to hear that, if the store must close, it is the choice of the owners and not due to lack of business or escalating rents. I will miss it terribly, and after it is gone my family will find me far less interested in driving the 35 miles from our quiet lakeside camp to the touristy streets of Lake Placid…

For those who love books and/or tobacco and have reason to be in the region, I strongly recommend you drop by With Pipe and Book in its last year of existence, and enjoy a very special store. It is located at 91 Main Street, Lake Placid, New York, and can be called at 518-523-9096.

I have also included two photos of the shop. They make me wish even more that I had had the opportunity to spend some quality time in the shop enjoying a browse through the books and choosing some of the great tobaccos that were available on the shelves…. at least I will have a pipe that bears their stamp. The pipe is beautifully grained Canadian that is really quite nice. There are a few small fills in the briar but they blend in very well. The finish is a nice medium brown with darker stain highlighting the grain. The maker of the pipe is listed in Who Made That Pipe as Breck and Julia Turner of With Pipe and Book of Lake Placid, NY.  The pipe has a mix of flame, straight and birdseye grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the top side of the shank and reads With Pipe [arched over] Lake Placid [arched under] And Book. There are no other stampings on the shank or stem. The smooth finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and had a lava overflow and darkening on the top of the rim and beveled inner edge. Overall it appeared that the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked to be in good shape but we would know more once it was cleaned up. The vulcanite taper stem was lightly oxidized and had light tooth chatter on the top and underside. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the light overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and light chatter and tooth marks on the surface.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime.   He took a photo of the stamping on the top side of the shank. It read as noted above.   Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. 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 the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer. The stem was clean but lightly oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The lava coat was removed and there was some darkening and burn damage left behind on the back side of the rim top. Other than that the edges were in good condition. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the top side of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the well shaped Canadian. To remove the darkening on the back bevel of the inner edge of the rim I used a folded piece of 340 sandpaper to the bevel to remove the damage. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping. I paused after the 2400 grit sanding pad and used an Oak Stain Pen to touch up the rim top to match the rest of the bowl. I finished sanding with the rest of the pads -3200-12000 grit pads.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sidesand shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was in very good condition so I did not have to do any repairs or preliminary sanding. I began by working with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This well made, classic Canadian shaped pipe stamped With Pipe and Book Lake Placid is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish that was used came alive with the polishing and waxing. The small sandpit/fills are virtually invisible. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Pipe Shop Canadian is a beauty with combination of great grain and rich stain. It fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!