Restoring a Bertoli Napoli Bent Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up on an online auction in Torrence, California, USA.  The pipe is an interesting looking piece. It has a classic Bulldog shape that looks very English – or maybe French. It is a smooth finished Bulldog shaped pipe with some nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the topside of the shank and reads Bertoli [over] Napoli. On the underside of the stem it is stamped France. It is a bit of a mystery a very Italian sounding name and a French stamp on the stem. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar as well as some peeling varnish and some flecks of paint. The bowl was heavily caked with a light lava coat flowing onto the top of the rim. The inside and outside edges looked to be in good condition but we would know more once Jeff had cleaned it. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a crescent moon logo stamped on the top left side of the Diamond saddle stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the light lava on the rim top and inner edge. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There looks like there may be some nice grain around the sides under the peeling varnish, paint and grime. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above.  The Crescent Moon logo is visible in the second photo below.   I looked on both Pipephil’s site and Pipedia to find out if there was any information on either the Bertoli or Napoli brand and neither site had any information. I did a broader search on Google and found a Bertoli Napoli Canadian for sale on Worthpoint. I quote the description in full because the seller found the same lack of information I ran into (

Bertoli NAPOLI, Smooth Mid-Sized Canadian, Swirly Cross-Grain & Birdseye Description: Bertoli NAPOLI, France Smooth Mid-Sized Canadian Swirly Cross-Grain & Birdseye Great Overall Condition. Offering a Bertoli NAPOLI pipe in a smooth finish mid-sized Canadian shape. Could not fine info on Bertoli as a brand and the NAPOLI both sound Italian, but bottom of stem has FRANCE stamped there. The pipe condition is very nice, no notable wear to the bowl, only one very tiny tooth mark only to the stem bottom. The bowl has good rich color to the grain and nice swirly grain patterns, some small fills, no issues. Stem is original made of vulcanite, has a small moon crescent logo on the top…

Given the dead end that I had run into on the brand it was now time work on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it 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. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. The inner edge also looked good. The stem surface looked good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  The stamping on the left side of the shank and the underside of the stem is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a saddle with a Crescent Moon the left side.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by wiping the bowl down with Acetone to remove the scattered piece of varnish still on the bowl finish. This can be seen in the photo of the underside of the shank show in photo above. There were two small chips on the front of the bowl. I filled them in with clear CA glue. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the bowl. The sanded area would blend in better once the polishing of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar 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. The grain came alive and the flaws while visible look better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to life most of them a few remained that could be sanded out. I sanded them out with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I used Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the stamps on the shank – the crescent moon and the France stamp. I applied it with a tooth pick and then rubbed it off with a cotton pad. The crescent moon stamp is a bit faint at the top but it looks better than it did. The France stamp looks very good.     I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it 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 Bertoli Napoli Bent Bulldog is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. 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 Bertoli Napoli sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. 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!

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