Daily Archives: January 2, 2022

Another Beautification – This time a Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another on that 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 beautiful mix of straight and flame grain on a Bertram Pot Grade 60 with a vulcanite taper stem. The pipe is stamped on the mid-left side of the shank Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. Lower on the shank it is stamped with the shape number 60. The finish is dull and has 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 outer edge on the backside of the bowl. 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 edges of the bowl looked to bin good condition. The lava was thicker toward rear of the rim top 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 lower on the left side near the bowl and reads 60.    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 Pot has great flame and straight grain on the bowl sides and shank sides. The top and bottom of the bowl has birdseye grain. This pipe has a 60 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. Bertram’s Grading system remains a mystery to me.

Jeff had 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 got around to working on it.      The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge. The stem surface had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The brand stamp Bertram Washington DC is mid-shank on the left side. The Grade Stamp 60 is lower on the left side toward the bottom. I removed the stem and took a photo to give a sense of the grain and a look of the whole. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top. I wrapped a wooden ball from Kenneth with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the top. I was able to minimize the rim damage and darkening. I worked some more on it with 220 grit sandpaper and then restained it with an oak stain pen. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a light to lift the marks. I sanded the ones that remained with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.      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. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.    This Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 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 60 Pot is another one that is comfortable 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 33 grams/1.16 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the American Pipemakers section. 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!

New Beginnings for another Piccadilly – Made in London England Chunky Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from the large estate purchase of Bertrams and assorted other pipes that included several Piccadilly pipes. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in March 2019. It is the second one that I have worked on. The previous one was a Liverpool that cleaned up really well with great grain (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/08/12/new-beginnings-for-a-piccadilly-liverpool/). This one is Large Chunky Billiard that has some amazing grain around the bowl. The pipe has straight and flame grain on the sides and shank and birdseye grain on the top and heel of the bowl. The stamping is the readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads the PICCADILLY.  There was also a P in a circle logo on the left side of the taper stem. On the right side it reads Made in London England. 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 thick overflow of lava on the top of the rim. Overall it appeared that the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked to be in good shape under the grime. 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 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 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. There were also some large fills in the heel of the bowl.   He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. They read as noted above. When I had worked on the first Piccadilly I had done a lot of reading and digging to learn about the brand. I decided to quote from the previous blog in stead of reworking the material

To learn about the brand I turned to Pipephil’s website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p3.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site and it appears that the pipe was made either in the US by Weber or in England by Baron & Co. This is going to take some more work.I turned to Pipedia and there were no listings on the brand name. I also checked under Baron and Company and found nothing listed there either. This is a bit of a mystery brand.

Some of the pipes that we picked up bore the Piccadilly stamp as well as the Peretti stamp from the historic Boston Tobacconist. I wonder if there is a link between the Pipe Shop and the brand. Furthermore the Circle P stamp on the stem is the same stamp on Peretti pipes! To me this adds to the connection.

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. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. 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 and shank end cleaned up really well. The lava coat was removed and some darkening left behind on the back side of the rim top. 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 photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable. The left side of the taper stem had a Circle P  logo with gold stamping. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the beautiful grain on this well shaped Billiard. I decided to start my work on the pipe by address the pitted fills on the underside of the bowl. I filled them in with a mix of briar dust and CA glue. I layered in the glue first then put the briar dust on top and followed that with another layer of glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the surrounding briar.   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 rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides, plateau top and shank end with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really stood out clearly.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the top and underside near the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I worked over 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.   This well made, classic Piccadilly Made in London Chunky Billiard with a taper vulcanite stem 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. 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 Piccadilly Billiard 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 66 grams/ 2.33 ounces. 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!