Tag Archives: Bertram Handmade pipes

Restemming & Restoring a Bertram 60 Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Sunday afternoon I went through the box and picked out two bowls and found workable stems for them both. They were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The pipe I chose to work on next is a nicely grained Bulldog stummel. The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. There was one small fill on the right side of the shank but it was in good condition. The rim top was in excellent condition with a bit of darkening toward the rear of the bowl. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. The finish was dull and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read Bertram in script [over] Washington DC in a ribbon. The grade 60 stamp was on the same side near the bowl/shank junction. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it.   I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this diamond saddle style stem that was close to the right diameter and had a tenon that would work as well. It has some file damage on the surface near the button but it would clean up well. I also took a photo of the stem and bowl together to give a sense of the look.The pipe is a Bertram from the Bertram Pipe Shop in Washington DC. I have posted a lot of different blogs on the brand so the information available is quite accessible. I am including pic of a post card that a reader of the blog sent me. It is a great memento that I love to spend time looking at. I started my work on the pipe by fitting the new stem to the shank. I trimmed down the tenon diameter slightly with a file so that the fit in the shank was snug. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked it with a file to match it to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I removed the stem and polished the briar (bowl and sanded shank end) with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I restained the shank end where I had sanded it to make the transition to the new stem smooth with an Oak stain pen. The colour was a perfect match. Once the bowl was buffed the newly stained section will blend in even better. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I flattened out the file marks as much as possible with a flat file. I knew I would not remove them this way but I wanted make them flatter. I filled in the deeper cut marks with clear CA glue and once it was hard smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I used my heat gun to bend the vulcanite stem to match the angles of the bowl and give it a proper Bent Bulldog look. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Bent Bulldog is a real beauty and I think the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Bertram Bent Bulldog feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.31 ounces/37 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Beautification of an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 30 Bent Pot


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 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!

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!