The next pipe I chose to work on was a bowl sans stem that is interestingly rusticated and reads Stone Age K11 [over] shape number 609 followed by Italy on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. The shape number reminded me of a Savinelli number but I was not certain. It was purchased in November, 2018 from a fellow in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. It has been sitting in my box of bowls since that time. Jeff cleaned it up and mailed it to me. It is another pipe that I have been postponing restemming for a while. This morning while going through my collection of stem I found one that fit the pipe. At least it works for me! When I found the stem I pulled the bowl out of the box and set aside to be the next pipe to work on. It has a very unique rustication that is quite different – both rugged and spun that reminds me of a honey swizzle stick. The flared shank and rim top both look like rusticated plateau – faux or real, I am unsure. Overall it is a pretty pipe. The bowl had thick cake in the bowl and the rim top had a coat of lava on the inner edge of the bowl and in the grooves of the rim top. The finish had a lot of dust and debris in the valleys of the rustication. I have no idea who made it but it is definitely interesting. Jeff took some photos of the bowl before he cleaned it up.The next two close up photos show the condition of the bowl and rim top. You can see the thick lava coat on the inner edge of the bowl and in the rustication of the rim top. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read as noted above and is clear and readable.I decided to see if could confirm my thinking that the pipe was connected with Savinelli. I turned to Pipephil’s site and found nothing connecting the Stone Age K11 609 to the brand. However I was not convinced as I am sure the shape number 609 is a Savinelli number.
With those photos and the shape numbers that at least appear to be made by Savinelli it leaves me wondering. The shapes really do not match the shape chart above but the numbers are present. Ah well another mystery!
I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. I went through my can of stems and found turned freehand style vulcanite stem that I thought would work well with the bowl and shank. I took a photo of the combination below. The stem fit the mortise perfectly though the bend to much to work well with the pipe. There were tooth marks in surface of the top and underside of the stem at the button that would need to be dealt with in the restoration. I put the stem in the shank and took some photos of the pipe.The rim top and shank end cleaned up really well as can be seen in the close up photos below. There appeared to be some debris in the grooves of the plateau top of the rim that would need to be dealt with but without the lava coat it was impressively cleaned. The stem looked like it belonged. I already noted the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It really is clear and readable. I decided to start my work on restoring the pipe by addressing the debris and darkening on the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush and scrubbed the surface of the rim top and shank end working on removing debris and darkening from the grooves of the plateau and rustication. It looked much better than when I started.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar and the the grooves around the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. Now it was time to straighten the bend I the stem to match the flow of the pipe. Instead of using my heat gun I painted the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter until the vulcanite became flexible. I straightened it out to the angles I wanted for the pipe. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process.I removed the stem from the bowl and set the bowl aside. I turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift them as much as possible. They all lifted but one on the topside. I filled in the remaining tooth mark with clear super glue and set it aside to cure. Once cured, I blended the repairs into the surface of the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The stem was looking much better.I polished the vulcanite 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 restemmed, rusticated Stone Age K11 609 Italian Freehand is a beautiful looking pipe that combines a rusticated finish with a unique shaped. I may never know for sure if Savinelli made it but I think so! The brown stains on the bowl work well to highlight the finish. The polished turned fancy black vulcanite stem adds to the mix. I put the finished stem on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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. The finished pipe 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 54grams/1.90oz. It will soon be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section on the rebornpipes store. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.
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 large Bertram Bent Pot Grade 30 with a taper vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side near the bowl and reads 30. Following that it is stamped Bertrams [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl around the sides of the bowl. There was some darkening on the backside of the rim top on the back side. 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. There were also nicks on the inner edge of the bowl toward the front. 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 a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is on the left side near the bowl and reads 30.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 Bent Bulldog has a nice mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 30 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. He scrubbed the remaining oxidation with Soft Scrub and cotton pads and removed it. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. It looked very good. The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge on the front. The inner edge of the rim is out of round from the damage. You can also see the fill on rim top on the right side. The stem surface had some pitting on the surface and some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The shape number 30 is followed by the brand stamp Bertram Washington DC is on the left side mid shank.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and you can see the pitting in the surface of the stem in the photo below.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize 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 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. I sanded the pitted surface smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dray sand paper. The quality of the vulcanite is quite high as the sanding dust was not the characteristic brown but was black. 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 30 Large Bent Pot 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 30 Pot 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 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of this pipe is 73g/2.57oz. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. It will be in the American Pipe Makers section. 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!