Daily Archives: October 17, 2020

Beautification for an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 25 Apple


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 Bertram Apple Grade 25 with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the lower left side near the shank junction with the stem and reads 25. Higher up 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. There are also some nicks on the backside of the bowl toward the back top. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. 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 lava on the rim top. The lava was thicker toward the back of the rim and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. 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 shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 25.     As I have worked on Bertram pipes 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 Straight Apple has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. 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 had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl but otherwise looked very good. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with no damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is toward the top of the left side mid shank. On the underside of the shank is stamped 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. I started my work on the pipe by polishing 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 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 Grade 25 Apple 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 Apple 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 35g/1.23oz. 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!

Breathing Life into a Super Grain Kaywoodie 80B Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table has been here a long time. It was found in a pipe hunt that Jeff and I did in 2017 at long since closed Antique Mall in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It was a tired and worn Kaywoodie Super Grain straight apple with a threaded tenon. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. The pipe was filthy and there was significant rim top damage. The bowl had a thick cake that made me wonder how it could still be smoked. There was tobacco debris in the bottom of the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like under the lava coat. The outer edge of the rim had some darkening and chips around the edges. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Super Grain [over] Kaywoodie on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the shape number 80B. The stamping is faint but readable on the pipe. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides and some on the surface of the button as well. There was the Kaywoodie White Club/Clover logo on the left side of the taper stem. The stinger apparatus is a four-hole one that is threaded into the threaded tenon. It is a different kind of set up than previous Super Grain pipes that I have worked on it. The stamping and the stinger date it as an older one. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had an incredibly thick cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge looked like but the outer edge was a mess. The stem is lightly oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.   Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain on the piece of briar. The stamping on the sides of the shank read as noted above. The photos show that they are very faint but readable. The Clover/Club on the left side of the stem is in good condition. Jeff took a photo of the interesting stinger and threaded tenon set up. The stinger was absolutely covered with grime and tars.  The two digit shape number and the threaded 4 hole stinger told me a lot about the age of the pipe but I wanted to know a bit more. I turned first to Pipephil’s site as it is always a quick sources of information (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kaywoodie-2.html). I have included a screen capture of the section on the Super Grain Below.Up until the late 1940’s/early 50’s, the logo was on top of the stem. After that the logo was moved to the side of the stem (exceptions exist). The one I am working on has the white cloverleaf logo on the left side making the pipe an early 1950’s. The 4-hole stinger also fits this time period.

From that section I learned that indeed the pipe was older because of the stamping, Super Grain over Kaywoodie. I could narrow it down because it did not inlcude the Imported Briar stamp which was added in 1935 though that is not always the case. The cloverleaf logo on the left side of the stem also moved the date forward to the early 1950’s. I also knew that 4 hole stingers occurred on pipes in the 60’s. So it appears that the pipe came out between the early 50s to the 1960s.

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. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. There was about a ¼ inch of the stem and the entire button was in the bottom of the bag that the pipe was packed in. 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 show damage from being knocked against a hard surface. There is damage to the inner edge of the bowl and bowl is slightly out of round.  The stem surface looked very good with tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button.     The stamping on the sides of the shank is faint but readable. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  The four hole stinger is in excellent condition.   I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I topped the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage to the rim top. It also helped to minimize some of the damage to the inner edge. Once I had it cleaned up the rim top damage was minimized. I sanded the outer edge of the bowl with the sandpaper to smooth out the damage there. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was in good condition and I would be able to polish out the tooth chatter. I polished the 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 Super Grain Kaywoodie 80B Straight Apple is a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. Even the burn mark on the right side of the shank while present does not detract from the beauty of the pipe. The finish on the pipe looks great and the brown stains work well to give some contrast to the polished black vulcanite taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. There were two burn marks – one on the lower left side of the bowl and the other on the back toward the topside. The finished Straight Apple Super Grain is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 32g/1.13oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Super Grain Kaywoodie will be added to the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Rebirthing a Frank Medico Patent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, USA. It is classic Bulldog with a mixed finish (rusticated and smooth) around the bowl. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Frank is script [over] Medico [over] Real Briar. On the right side of the shank it read PAT. 1967585. One of my first pipes was a Medico so there is always something that draws me to the brand. The finish on the bowl was very dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides and obscuring the grain. The rusticated panels were also very dirty. The twin rings around the bowl cap had a lot of debris ground into them. There was a very thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. The tenon was metal and perforated and dirty. I cannot remember whether it had a filter in the tenon or not when we got it. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.  As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. I have to say that this was obviously someone’s favourite pipe judging from the buildup in the bowl. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.  The stem was dirty and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. The pink fills are visible all around the bowl sides.  The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is very readable. It reads as noted above.      Before doing my part of the work on the pipe I decided to do some research. I have worked on and smoked Medico pipes in the past but I have never worked on a Patent Frank Medico like this one with the mix of rusticated and smooth finishes. I decided to look on the normal sites to see what I could find out about this line. I to Pipephil’s website and found some information on the Frank Pipe Company with a white F logo (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-f4.html). The FRANK stamp is identical to the one that I am working on.I turned then to the second on the Medico Pipe line to see if there was any information on a pipe that was stamped like the one I was working on and sure enough found one. It is stamped the same as the one am working on (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-medico.html). I did a screen capture of the Patent section. The Patent Number is the same on the second line. The logo on the stem is the same as the pipe I am working on.I turned to Pipedia to see what further information was available on that site and if there was anything specifically on this line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Medico). I quote from the history of the brand:

Medico was created in 1933, and is still produced by S.M. Frank. The brand is famous for its pipe filters, which were launched in the same year. Since 1966, some models have been made in Brylon, a synthetic material, and others in briar. The brand was also sold by the English

Symbol: M inside a shield, although early pipes, like the example bellow, had a + sign, like a Medic would have on their sleeve.

The pipe I am working on is stamped with the letter F on the left topside of the saddle stem. It is like the one in the second screen capture above.

I did a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the Patent Number 1,967,585. I was able to find the patent information for the absorbent filter cartridge that was granted on July 24, 1934. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. The pipe was a real mess when he got it and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. The putty fills had all fallen out on the sides and front of the bowl and left pits. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows some darkening and some nicks. The edges look quite clean. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface. There is also some light oxidation remaining.    I took photos of the stamping on the side of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.    I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. It is a classically shaped Bulldog with a metal tenon made to hold the Medico Filters!Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Frank Medico Pat Bulldog. I decided to clean up the remaining varnish/lacquer finish on the bowl and shank. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad until I had removed all of the shiny spots on the smooth portion of the finish and the spots in the rustication as well. The bowl and rim top were in very good condition once I had cleaned them off. I polished the top of the bowl, the repaired areas and the entirety of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the mouthpiece with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to remove the majority of them this way. I filled in the tooth marks that remained with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair had cured I used a needle file to clean up the button edge and flatten out the repairs. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend the repairs into the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub all-purpose cleanser to remove the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. Once it was scrubbed clean it was ready to polish.     I polished the vulcanite 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.  I have a few packages of Medico Filters that were made for the Medico system of this pipe. I took one out of the package and put it in the tenon. The photos show the fit of the filter.  This Frank Medico Patent Mixed Finish Bulldog turned out to be a great looking pipe. The brown finish on the smooth portions of the pipe is a great contrast with the dark brown/black rustication in the panels around the bowl sides. The pipe is in great condition 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. I gave the bowl and 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 Frank Medico Filter Bulldog 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: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29g/1.02oz. If you are interested in carrying on the pipe man’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.