Tag Archives: Bertram Pipes Washington DC

Beautification of an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 50 Bent 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 Bent Apple Grade 50 Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the lower left side side near the bowl with the Grade 50 number. Higher up on the left side 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 and some darkening around the sides 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 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 nice 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 50.       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 Apple has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 50 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 darkening on the back of the bowl. 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. Lower on the left side of the shank is stamped the Grade 50 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 cleaning up the darkening on the rim top of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  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 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 “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks on the surface. I was able to lift the tooth marks. What was left I sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    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 50 Bent 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 50 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. 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!  

Yes indeed another Bertram Washington DC Pipe – a Grade 20 Lovat


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. The post card below was sent to me by one of the readers of the blog. It is a nice memento of the old shop. I thank him for thinking of us.This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained large bowl Lovat Grade 20 Bertram with a vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe is stamped on the top side and reads Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. On the underside of the shank is the Grade 20 number. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides 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 rim top had a slight crown that gave it a unique look. 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 left and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is 20.  You can also see the scratch on the side of the shank.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 large bowl Lovat has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 20 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. There are fills in the shank and at the bowl/shank junction. 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. The crowned rim top cleaned up very well. The fills in the briar are visible but are solid and well blended. 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 crowned rim top looked very good. The inner edge of the rim also looked surprisingly good. There was no damage to the edges. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the  left side mid shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the Grade 20 number.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a saddle style with a flared button.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. 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 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 sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    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 20 Large Bowl Lovat with a vulcanite saddle 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 20 Lovat 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 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. 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!

Refurbishing a Second Bertram From the Lot Of 13 – a Bent Egg # 25


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Last year while on a Face Time chat with my Guru, Mentor and friend, Steve Laug, we got talking about the Bertram lot that he had been working on at that point in time. He spoke about how overwhelming it was just to look at the large lot of about 200 plus pipes that he and Jeff had acquired. Never to miss an opportunity to add to my meager pipe lot that was available for me to work on, I suggested that if it was okay with him I would be more than willing to take a few of them off his hands. We worked out the details and soon a job lot of 12 pipes traveled all the way from US to Canada and then on to India!! That was one long journey undertaken by this lot of Bertram pipes. Here is the lot of Bertram pipes that I received. This lot contained a variety of nicely shaped and grained pipes which I had been looking forward to work on.The second pipe that I decided to work on from this lot is a Full Bent Egg shaped pipe, marked in green arrow, with swirls to the front and cross grains to the sides and over the shank surfaces. This pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “Bertram” in running hand over “WASHINGTON D C” in block letters in a straight line. The grade code “25” is stamped on the bottom surface at the shank end. The stampings are slightly worn out but still readable by naked eye. The bent vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stamping. The size and feel of the pipe is solid in hand. This pipe has been well researched and chronicled by Steve when he worked on many of the Bertram pipes in his possession and thus, shall not waste time in proverbial “reinventing the wheel”. Interested readers may like to follow the link given below to get to know the brand better. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/10/the-4th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-dublin-70s/

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe has a compact bowl size that narrows slightly towards the rim with a sharply raked round shank and a bent saddle stem that lends itself nicely to clenching. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the sides and all around the shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and dust. The entire stummel is peppered with a number of fills, both large and small. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is likely to the back of the rim top surface. The stem is lightly oxidized with tooth chatter in the bite zone. The pipe, as it sits on my work table, presents an encouraging picture. DETAILED INSPECTION OF THE PIPE AND OBSERVATIONS
The chamber has a slight taper towards the rim top and a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The outer edge of the rim towards the shank is slightly flattened while the rest of it is perfectly rounded. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with remnants of un-burnt tobacco seen at the heel of the chamber. The rim surface has light traces of lava overflow over the rim surface. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The outer rim edge is sans any damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains over the sides of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is shows a couple of large and small fills. These fills stand out like flesh wounds against the briar surface. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water should loosen old fills while also serving to highlight the grain patterns. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these fills will be more apparent and I intend to refresh only those fills which have loosened out with a fresh fill of briar dust and superglue. Micromesh polishing will help in blending these fills while imparting a nice shine to the briar. The mortise has a reservoir at the bottom that has accumulated oils, tars and gunk. The walls of the shank are filthy and covered in grime and dust. The mortise appears to be clogged as a pipe cleaner did not easily pass through it. I have worked on many Pete System pipes and cleaning the sump had always been a chore. Fervently hoping that is not the case this time around! The fit of the stem in to the mortise is slightly tight. However, once the shank walls are cleaned, this issue should be resolved.The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit is seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The tooth chatter and the calcified deposits will be removed by sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 Castleford reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. And it was at this stage that I got the first (and hopefully the last) inkling of the likely damage to the heel of the chamber. The mortise and draught hole had been over zealously cleaned with pipe cleaners/ shank brush by the previous piper and which had resulted in a deep trough from the draught hole to the center of the heel with raised edges on the sides. This trough is indicated with red arrows. If or not the damage has extended to the foot of the stummel will be confirmed once the stummel surface has been cleaned. The chamber walls, inner and outer rim edges are pristine and without any damage. I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells have been eliminated and the chamber smells clean.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The fills, even the smallest ones, are now clearly discernible. I probed each fill with a sharp dental tool to check for solidity and thankfully, each fill was nice and solid without any give, save for the fills at the foot of the stummel. I took a closer look at the foot of the stummel and the worst of my fears was staring right back at me with a smile!!! There is a small smiley crack right in the centre of the foot. Truth be told, looking at the heel, I had inkling that the foot may have some such damage, but now to be sure that the damage does exist, is painful. Desperately seeking some positives, I was relieved to note that the damage has not progressed to an extent that would be termed as a burnout. I did the tap test over and around the damaged foot (with the back of a spoon or any hard instrument gently tap the damaged area) and was relieved to hear a crisp sharp note signifying that nothing is lost. The briar around still feels solid over and around the damaged foot. The pipe still has many years of life left in it and with the repairs that I plan, this will last even longer. I plan to drill a counter hole at either ends of the crack and seal it with briar dust and super glue. This will prevent further spread of the crack in either direction. The trough formed at the heel of the chamber will be spot filled with J B Weld which will prevent the burning tobacco from coming in to direct contact with the now weak spot in the heal.While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a scotch brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. There is a need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.My significant half, Abha, used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. She wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. As is the norm, whenever she works on a pipe, taking pictures NEVER EVER crosses her otherwise sharp mind!!! No exceptions here…

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, she polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I checked the fit of the stem in to the mortise of the stummel and realized that the fit is very loose. This may happen when the mortise has been cleaned of the entire accumulated gunk and the briar has dried out completely. I shall address this issue by moistening the mortise with water and if that does not work, I shall use more invasive methods. RESTORATION ON THIS PIPE WAS PUT ON HOLD AS ALL THE NECESSARY TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR FURTHER REPAIRS ARE AT MY PLACE OF WORK AND I WAS ON LEAVE INITIALLY AND THEREAFTER IN A NATION WIDE LOCKDOWN TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF THE DEADLY CORONA VIRUS!!!

PART II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations. The first in line was this Bertram Bent Egg # 25.

I decided to address the crack to the foot of the stummel. I marked the end points of the crack on either ends with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify these end points later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a hole each on either ends of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole.Simultaneously, I gouged out a few old fills that had loosened out from the foot of the stummel. I cleaned the stummel with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swab as I prepared the surface for the fill.I filled the gouges and the drilled holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fill to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I shall decide to stain the stummel or otherwise after I have finished with the polishing with micromesh pads.I evened out the dents and dings from the rim top surface by sanding it with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. It was a tricky job since the rim top surface is not flat but slopes outwards from the inner to the outer edge. This peculiar shape ruled out topping the rim top. Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the trough that was formed at the heel of the chamber. To protect the heel from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the foot of the stummel causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to coat only the heel of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the intended areas. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even coating of the trough in the heel and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I tried to sand the weld coating to a smooth surface. However, I could not sand the Weld as there was no space for maneuvering my finger with the sand paper. I decided to use a conical grinding stone which I had received along with my DIY hand held rotary tool kit and accessories. I mounted the conical grinding stone on to the rotary tool, set the speed at its lowest RPM and sanded the J B Weld coat till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the heel from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. I did not apply any downward pressure while sanding and let the rotary tool use the motor rpm to sand the weld to desired thickness.I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar are worthy of appreciation. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the bird’s eye and cross grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. I moistened the shank with a q-tip dipped in water. I checked the seating of the tenon in to the mortise after an hour. It was still very loose. This called for stretching the tenon to improve the seating of the stem in to the shank. I selected a drill bit that was slightly larger in diameter than the tenon air hole. I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and inserted the back of the drill bit in to the opening to enlarge it. I cooled the tenon under cold running water to set the increased diameter of the tenon. I checked the fit and it was much better, though not very snug. I remedied this issue by applying a coat of clear nail polish and set it aside for the nail polish to dry out. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated surface needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The grains on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. If you are interested to enjoy this pipe for years to come, please let Steve know and we shall make arrangements for it to reach you. P.S. In one of my previous write up, a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I had given my second reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with the readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The third reason is that every pipe has a HISTORY attached to it. That history, in part, is about the maker/ carver of the pipe and the other part is the person who had posed faith in this piece of briar during his life time. Take the case of a Dunhill pipe that I had restored that once belonged to Late Mr. John Barber, an explorer who had been to Arctic and the Antarctic in the 1950s- 60s and an avid pipe smoker! His favored pipes were DUNHILL. His daughter, Farida had passed on his pipes to Steve to restore and trade these pipes for the family. Well, one of the Dunhill pipes was sent to me by Steve to let me test my skills in pipe restoration with the rider that “if I could restore it, I get to keep it!” This pipe had all the challenges that a pipe restorer usually faces while restoring a pipe and then some more. However, it was successfully repaired and restored and now is a part of my daily rotation (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/06/a-project-close-to-my-heart-restoring-a-dunhill-from-faridas-dads-collection/)

The point I want to convey is that whenever I smoke this pipe, it reminds me of Late Mr. John Barber and images of him smoking this pipe in the cold snow desert and the warmth, peace and comfort it must have provided him in that desolate environment…AND NOW I GET TO BE A PART OF THAT HISTORY/ LEGACY OF THE PIPE and this is what I just love!

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

A Zulu Shaped Bertram 30 from the Bertram Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again rather than repeat myself and give readers grief with the repetition please refer to the previous blog posts on the collection of Bertrams and a smattering of other brands that Jeff and I purchased. I can’t adequately describe the sense of being overwhelmed that I have when I look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I am glad Jeff is helping with the clean up on the lot as that would be more than I could handle by myself in moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I chose an interesting Zulu with cross grain on the sides of the bowl and some birdseye around the front and back to be the next pipe that I would work on. It was a1/8 bent Zulu with a tapered stem. The bowl had cake in the chamber that was no problem. The rim top had some darkening and lava overflow on the back side. The inner and outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in good condition but we would know more once the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The exterior of the briar looked lifeless and was dusty with the grime of years of storage. I am still trying to figure out Bertrams numbering system as some of the higher number pipes seems to have more fills than the 30s. This is one of those pipes that look really good. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. I have included them below and they tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake.Jeff took pictures of he bowl sides and the heel to show the great looking grain around the sides of the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!Jeff took 2 photos to capture the stamping on the top and left side of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the topside which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the grade number stamping on the left side toward the shank/bowl junction. It read number 30 which shows the quality of the pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. The tooth marks are visible on the underside next to the button. There is also some wear on the underside button edge. If you have read the previous Bertram blogs I have posted about the pipes that I have cleaned up so far you can skip the next bit. But if you have not, then I include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. 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. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. 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 have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Zulu with a darker finish is one of the more usual shapes in terms of the Bertram pipes I have worked on. With a grade 30 stamp it is a lower mid-range pipe.

By now if you have been a reader for long you have Jeff’s cleaning regimen pretty well memorized. If you know it you can skip right to the pictures. If not I will include them once more. 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 lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava but the rim top had some light damage, some pits and darkening on the backside of the inner edge of the rim. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. Every one of the pipes that I have worked on from this Bertram Collection has had tooth marks on the underside of the stem and some on the topside as well. The tooth marks on the underside will take a little more work to remove.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to cleanup the light damage to the inner edge of the rim. I would address the darkening when I polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I know I have mentioned it before but I really like the balm that Mark Hoover created. It really does wonders on a dry piece of briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I am having fun doing these pipes from the Bertram Collection. Each one presents different challenges but all are well laid out classic shapes. This is no exception. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram is a classic Zulu or Yachtsman shape with a darker finish that really highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – cross grain and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Zulu. Like the other Bertrams I have worked on this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will soon be on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

The 5th of a collection of Bertrams – a Bertram 60 Author


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned before, once in a while I get emails through the blog about pipes that someone wants to sell. These can be estates or they can be a collection that an older pipeman has decided to get rid of by passing it on to someone who can work on them and see that they get into the hands of another pipe smoker. In this case I received an email from a fellow who wanted to sell me a collection of Bertram pipes. We met over FaceTime and he showed the pipe collection to both Jeff and me. We discussed their condition and arrived at a price for the pipes. The majority of the pipes in the collection were Bertrams but there were also some other brands that were known to me. We struck a deal on the lot and he shipped them to Jeff. Jeff took some photos of the collection when it arrived in Idaho. He unwrapped each of the 200+ pipes and filled the three boxes that they were mailed in, and then took a photo to show the size of the collection we had purchased. To be honest it was a bit overwhelming to see all of the collection in boxes. We were looking at a lot of work to bring these back to life.Jeff chose a group of pipes from the collection and began his work on them He sent me a box with some of the pipes he had cleaned up. I chose another one of the Bertrams from the lot to be the fifth pipe that I would work on. The smooth finish was dirty but the grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It was an Author shaped pipe with a straight shank and a ¼ bent tapered stem. There was a cake in the bowl and light lava overflowing on to the rim top. The rim top also had dents and dings and a slight darkening on the rear inner edge. The stem showed some light oxidation and some chatter on the top and underside. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of this interesting pipe. Jeff took 2 close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some light lava and some darkening on the back rim top.He also took a photo of the right and left side of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain on the bowl and the heel. The finish is very dirty but this is another interesting pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. The photo shows stamping which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the stamping on the left side at the shank bowl junction. It read number 60 which shows the quality of the pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There are also tooth marks on the underside next to the button and wear on the button edge itself.I will continue to include the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them do some research on them. 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. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. 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#

I am also including this photo of the shop in Washington D.C. and a post card of the shop.

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. I also learned that this interesting little author is a grade 60 pipe so it is just above the mid-range mark.

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 great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim top after Jeff had cleaned up the darkening at the front and rear of the rim. It looked really good though there was still some darkening. Both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. The tooth marks on the underside next to the button are not too deep so they should be easy to smooth out.I also took a photo of the stamping on the top of the left side and the remainder of the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out.I started my part of the restoration by sanding out the dark spots on the front and back of the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and then polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It did not too much work to remove the damage to the rim top.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point and the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and took the following photos.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. I love the look of this pipe. Once buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – straight, flame and birdseye popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight grain Author that is my kind of pipe. It fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I think this one will stay with me at least for a while as it ticks all the boxes for me. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

The 4th of a collection of Bertrams – a Bertram Dublin 70S


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned before, once in a while I get emails through the blog about pipes that someone wants to sell. These can be estates or they can be a collection that an older pipeman has decided to get rid of by passing it on to someone who can work on them and see that they get into the hands of another pipe smoker. In this case I received an email from a fellow who wanted to sell me a collection of Bertram pipes. We met over FaceTime and he showed the pipe collection to both Jeff and me. We discussed their condition and arrived at a price for the pipes. The majority of the pipes in the collection were Bertrams but there were also some other brands that were known to me. We struck a deal on the lot and he shipped them to Jeff. Jeff took some photos of the collection when it arrived in Idaho. He unwrapped each of the 200+ pipes and filled the three boxes that they were mailed in, and then took a photo to show the size of the collection we had purchased. To be honest it was a bit overwhelming to see all of the collection in boxes. We were looking at a lot of work to bring these back to life.Jeff chose a group of pipes from the collection and began his work on them He sent me a box with some of the pipes he had cleaned up. I chose another one of the Bertrams from the lot to be the fourth pipe that I would work on. The smooth finish was dirty but the grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It was a Dublin shaped pipe with a straight shank and a tapered stem. There was a cake in the bowl and light lava overflowing on to the rim top. The rim top also had dents and dings and a slight darkening on the rear inner edge. The stem showed some light oxidation and some chatter on the top and underside. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of this interesting pipe. Jeff took 2 close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some light lava and some darkening on the back rim top.He also took a photo of the right and left side of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain on the bowl and the heel. The finish is very dirty but this is another interesting pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the topside of the shank. The photo shows stamping which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the stamping on the left side at the shank bowl junction. It read number 70S which not only shows the quality of the pipe but also refers to the fact that it is a straight grain pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button.If you don’t know much about them I recommend doing a little research on them. 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. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. 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#

I am also including this photo of the shop in Washington D.C. and a post card of the shop.

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. I also learned that the 70S was a higher grade than the grade 60 pipes that I have worked on. It was on the higher end of the spectrum above the 50 mid-grade. 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 great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim top after Jeff had cleaned up the darkening at the rear of the rim. It looked really good. Both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily.I also took a photo of the stamping on the top of the left side and the remainder of the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point and the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth and took the following photos.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. The polished briar came alive with buffing and the straight, flame and birdseye grain just popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight grain Dublin that really is a comfortable pipe in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store sometime in the days ahead. If you are looking for a beautifully grained Dublin with a straight tapered stem this one might be for you. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.

 

Cleaning up a Beautiful Higher Grade Bertram Billiard 120


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is another one from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is a beautiful Bertram of Washington, D.C. billiard with beautiful grain around the bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and birdseye grain on the rim top and heel of the bowl. The pipe has not been stained but sports the usual oil cured look. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads Bertram over Washington, D.C. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with what appears to be the number 120 (the first number is very clear, the second less so and the last one very faint). The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is another nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. There was cake in the bowl and some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime on the shank and bowl. The stem was in excellent condition with light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. Other than the darkening at the front of the rim top the rim was in good condition. The was a light cake in the bowl. The inner and outer edges of the bowl appeared to be in excellent condition. The stem was in great condition. There was some oxidation on the top side of the stem and light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem but otherwise it looked great.I also took a photo of both the left and underside of the shank to show the stamping on them. The stamping is readable in the photos below.If you don’t know much about them I recommend doing a little research on them. 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. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. 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 have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 70s. I also learned that it was a grade 120 thus it was on the high end of the spectrum. (I am also including this photo of the shop in Washington D.C. and a post card of the shop.) This is the first higher grade Bertrams I have had the pleasure to work on. Typically the pipes I have worked on were no higher than 60 and possibly 80. This is definitely a beautiful pipe and I can see why it had the higher grade stamp. I started the restoration by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer followed by a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake on the walls in the heel. I sanded the inside of the walls with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on darkening on the front of the rim top by sanding it with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. I was able to remove the majority of the damage and was certain that it would blend in well when I polished the bowl.I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I was fortunate that the pipe was definitely cleaner than a lot of the ones I have worked on for Alex.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look very good with rich grain patterns. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and smooth out the tooth marks on the surface of the button. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The rich finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beautifully laid out billiard that is proportionally well made. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of American Made pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Collection – a rare Bertram 120.

The first from a collection of Bertrams – a Bertram ¾ Bent Billiard 60


Blog by Steve Laug

Once in a while I get emails through the blog about pipes that someone wants to sell. These can be estates or they can be a collection that an older pipeman has decided to get rid of by passing it on to someone who can work on them and see that they get into the hands of another pipe smoker. In this case I received an email from a fellow who wanted to sell me a collection of Bertram pipes. We met over FaceTime and he showed the pipe collection to both Jeff and me. We discussed their condition and arrived at a price for the pipes. The majority of the pipes in the collection were Bertrams but there were also some other brands that were known to me. We struck a deal on the lot and he shipped them to Jeff. Jeff took some photos of the collection when it arrived in Idaho. He unwrapped each pipe and filled the three boxes that they were mailed in, and then took a photo to show the size of the collection we had purchased. To be honest it was a bit overwhelming to see all of the collection in boxes. We were looking at a lot of work to bring these back to life.Jeff chose a group of pipes from the collection and began his work on them He sent me a box with some of the pipes he had cleaned up. I chose one of the Bertrams from the lot to be the first pipe I would work on. The smooth finish was dirty but the grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It had a thick shank and a bent tapered stem. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. The stem showed some wear on the button edge and tooth marks and chatter in the top and underside. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of this interesting pipe. Jeff took 2 close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some thick lava overflow and made it hard to know what the inner edge looked like under the grime and lava. He also took photos of the right and left side of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain on the bowl and the heel. The finish is very dirty but this is another interesting pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. The photo shows stamping which read Bertram over Washington, DC. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the double stamped number 60 showing the quality of the pipe. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There are also some nicks on the outer edge of the button. The stem is lightly oxidized and scratched.If you don’t know much about them I recommend doing a little research on them. 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. They graded their pipes by 10s, the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I’ve never heard of or seen a 100 grade. 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#

I am also including this photo of the shop in Washington D.C. and a post card of the shop.

From this information I have learned that the shape and grade Bertram I have in front of me now was made before the closure of the shop in the 70s. I also learned that it was a grade 60 thus it was on the higher end of the spectrum just above mid-grade. 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 great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show its condition. It was in great condition with a little burn damage to the front inner edge of the rim. Otherwise both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show the light tooth marks and the damage to the button surface on both sides.I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim to address the burn damage to the front inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and to bring the bowl back into round.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point and the grain stands out beautifully. I am very happy with the results. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. There was a deep nick on the top of the stem near the shank end. I filled it with clear super glue and set it aside to dry. Once it had cured I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the repair, the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth and took the following photos. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. The polished briar came alive with buffing and the straight, swirled and birdseye grain just popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a thick shank bent billiard that really is a comfortable handful of briar. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store sometime in the days ahead. If you are looking for a chunky billiard with a bent tapered stem this one might be for you. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.