Tag Archives: Bertram pipes

Yet another from the Bertrams Collection – a Flat Bottomed Bertram 30 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Rather than repeat myself and give the blog readers grief with the repetition please refer to the previous blogs posts on the Bertrams to learn about how we got this collection. Just know that we purchased a collection of Bertrams and a smattering of other brands, that when they were unwrapped, filled three boxes. The photo below is included 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. The pipe I am working on now is one from that collection. I am gradually finishing most of these pipes.I cannot tell you how glad I am that Jeff worked through the clean up of all of these pipes as they many and they were filthy! It would have been a more daunting task than it was if I had to clean and restore all of them. I am leaving it to him to choose which pipes to work on. He has chosen some interesting shaped ones to restore. Here is how we are working out the transfer from him to me. As he finishes a batch of them he boxes them up and sends them to me. I believe I have all of the pipes here and the numbers are thinning down a lot. I am working through the pipes I have boxed to work on here and this Bertram caught my eye as the next pipe that I would work on. This pipe was another very dirty one! The smooth finish was grimy and dusty but some interesting grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It was a short, thick shank Billiard shaped pipe with a flat bottom and a tapered stem. There was a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the edges due to the cake and lava. The stem showed some light oxidation and some chatter on the top and some deep tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and the crowned rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The bowl had a thick cake. The flat rim top had a thick coat of lava that was heavier on the back side thick around the edges. The photos of the stem show the tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the marvelous grain on the bowl. It really is quite stunning underneath the thick and ugly grime!   Jeff took 2 photos to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the left side which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the grade number stamping lower on the left side near the bowl/shank junction. It read number 30 which shows the quality of the pipe. If you have read the previous blogs I have posted on the Bertram pipes that I have cleaned up 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 only seen one 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. This Bertram Flat Bottomed Billiard is a bit of a unique shape among the Bertram pipes I have worked on. With a grade 30 stamp it is just below 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 undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the lava, 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 and the rim top looked really good. The stem photos show that the light oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter and marks are hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side and the underside of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportions and the look of the grain on the bowl. It is a beauty! I sanded the top of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and the darkening. I would polish it later and think it would look very good. The photo shows how the rim looked at this point.     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 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 used a lighter to “paint” the deep marks on both sides of the stem near the button. I was able to lift them all. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the remaining chatter into the surface of the stem. I started polishing 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 – dry sanding 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 put the stem back on the Bertram Flat Bottomed Billiard and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram classic Apple shape and oil cured finish 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 – straight, flame and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. 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 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. This beauty will be going on the rebornpipes online store in the American Pipemakers Section. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Yet another from the Bertrams Collection – a Straight Bertram 60 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Rather than repeat myself and give the blog readers grief with the repetition please refer to the previous blogs posts on the Bertrams to learn about how we got this collection. Just know that we purchased a collection of Bertrams and a smattering of other brands, that when they were unwrapped, filled three boxes. The photo below is included 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. The pipe I am working on now is one from that collection. I am gradually finishing most of these pipes.I cannot tell you how glad I am that Jeff worked through the clean up of all of these pipes as they many and they were filthy! It would have been a more daunting task than it was if I had to clean and restore all of them. I am leaving it to him to choose which pipes to work on. He has chosen some interesting shaped ones to restore. Here is how we are working out the transfer from him to me. As he finishes a batch of them he boxes them up and sends them to me. I believe I have all of the pipes here and the numbers are thinning down a lot. I am working through the pipes I have boxed to work on here and this Bertram caught my eye as the next pipe that I would work on. This pipe was another very dirty one! The smooth finish was grimy and dusty but some interesting grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. It was a short, thick shank Apple shaped pipe with a tapered stem. There was a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the edges due to the cake and lava. The stem showed some light oxidation and some chatter on the top and some deep tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It almost looked like someone had converted it to a bit of a dental bit. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and the crowned rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The bowl had a thick cake. The crowned rim top had a thick coat of lava that was heavier on the back side thick around the edges. The photos of the stem show the deep gouge along the edge of the button on both sides. Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the marvelous grain on the bowl. It really is quite stunning underneath the thick and ugly grime!   Jeff took 2 photos to capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. The first photo shows stamping on the left side which read Bertram over Washington, D.C. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable. The second photo shows the grade number stamping lower on the left side near the bowl/shank junction. It read number 60 which shows the quality of the pipe. If you have read the previous blogs I have posted on the Bertram pipes that I have cleaned up 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 only seen one 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. This Bertram Apple one of the unique shapes among the Bertram pipes I have worked on. With a grade 60 stamp 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 undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the lava, 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 crowned rim top had some darkening on the whole rim top though darker on the backside of the rim. Otherwise the crowned rim look 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 deep tooth marks on both sides near the button will take a little more work to remove. I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side and the underside of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportions and the look of the grain on the bowl. It is a beauty!I sanded the top of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and the darkening. I would polish it later and think it would look very good. The photo shows how the rim looked at this point.     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 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 used a lighter to “paint” the deep marks on both sides of the stem near the button. I was able to lift them a bit but not significantly, I filled in what remained with black super glue and flattened the repair with a dental spatula. Once it cured I used a small file to redefine the button edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing 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 – dry sanding 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 put the stem back on the Bertram Apple and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram classic Apple shape and oil cured finish 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 – straight, flame and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. 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 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.20 ounces/34 grams. This beauty will be going on the rebornpipes online store in the American Pipemakers Section. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

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


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another on that came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120+ Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautiful mix of straight and flame grain on a Bertram Pot Grade 60 with a vulcanite taper stem. The pipe is stamped on the mid-left side of the shank Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. Lower on the shank it is stamped with the shape number 60. The finish is dull and has a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There are also some nicks on the outer edge on the backside of the bowl. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. The edges of the bowl looked to bin good condition. The lava was thicker toward rear of the rim top and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is lower on the left side near the bowl and reads 60.    As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/). I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Pot has great flame and straight grain on the bowl sides and shank sides. The top and bottom of the bowl has birdseye grain. This pipe has a 60 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar. Bertram’s Grading system remains a mystery to me.

Jeff had reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I got around to working on it.      The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge. The stem surface had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The brand stamp Bertram Washington DC is mid-shank on the left side. The Grade Stamp 60 is lower on the left side toward the bottom. I removed the stem and took a photo to give a sense of the grain and a look of the whole. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge and the rim top. I wrapped a wooden ball from Kenneth with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the top. I was able to minimize the rim damage and darkening. I worked some more on it with 220 grit sandpaper and then restained it with an oak stain pen. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a light to lift the marks. I sanded the ones that remained with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.      I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.    This Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Pot with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bertram 60 Pot is another one that is comfortable in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 33 grams/1.16 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the American Pipemakers section. Send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Beautification of a Bertram Washington DC Grade 30 Square Shank Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another on that came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120+ Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully horizontal (cross)grained  Bertram Square Shank Pot Grade 30 with a vulcanite taper stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads 30 (though it is unclear as the 3 is faint). Next to that it is stamped on the left side of the square shank Bertram [over] a faintly stamped Washington D.C. centered on the shank. The finish is dull and has a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There are also some nicks on the outer edge on the backside of the bowl. The bowl was caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim, heavier toward the back of the bowl. The edges looked okay other than some potential burn damage on the back inner edge. The stem was lightly oxidized, dirty and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. Like the rest of the Bertrams in this lot the pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. There was a nick on back outer edge of the bowl. The lava was thicker toward rear of the rim top and there were remnants of tobacco on the walls of the thickly caked bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The grade number is on the left side near the bowl and reads 30 (I think that is what it reads).   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 Square Shank Pot has horizontal (cross) grain on the bowl sides and shank sides. The front and back of the bowl has birdseye grain. 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 reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I got around to working on it.     The rim top had some slight darkening on the back of the bowl and some damage to the inner edge. There were also some sand pits on the rim top at the back of the bowl. The stem surface had some light oxidation and a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The Grade Stamp 30 is followed by the brand stamp Bertram Washington DC (faint but readable) is on the top of 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. 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 and darkening. I filled in the pits with clear CA glue and once it cured sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.    I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 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 “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a light to lift the marks. I was able to lift many of them. I sanded the ones that remained with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sand paper.     I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.  This square shank Bertram Washington DC Grade 30 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 is another one that is comfortable in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 34 grams/1.20 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the American Pipemakers section. Send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Yes indeed another Bertram Washington DC Pipe – a Grade 50 Liverpool


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 Liverpool Grade 50 Bertram with a vulcanite taper 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 50 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 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. The stem is also oxidized.       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 was a bit of double stamping on the Bertram stamp and on the 50 stamp that is very visible in the photos below but less so in the restored pipe. The grade number on the underside of the shank 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 large bowl Liverpool 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. I do not see any fills on the pipe so that is the good news. 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 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 50 number.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a taper style.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 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 Large Bowl Liverpool 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 Grade 50 Liverpool 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 41 grams/1.45 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection it will soon be on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section. Send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Let’s Try This Again – Re-cleaning the Bowl of a Bertram 55 Lovat and Giving it a Bowl Coating


Blog by Steve Laug

A while ago I sold this Bertram Grade 55 Lovat to a fellow who was excited to get it. When it arrived he examined it and sent me a message that it had a lot of carbon in the bowl and had a crack as well. I am pretty sure we left a thin coat of cake in the bowl but we generally clean the pipes we work on very well. I knew that I had gone over it with a fine tooth comb and was not sure what he meant about a crack. It did not matter though as he was not happy with the purchase. I refunded his payment and postage and had him send the pipe back to me. It took a while to arrive but I really wanted to see what was going on. Before I talk about what I found though, here is the link to the restoration of the pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/13/the-8th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-55-lovat/). It really was a beautiful piece of briar.

It is a Bertram Grade 55 in a classic Lovat shape and some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once it was buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – cross, swirled and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Lovat shaped pipe. 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 1/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 33 grams/1.16 oz. I have included photos of the pipe after the first restoration to show the beauty of the pipe. When it arrived in its shipping box I actually let it sit here for a few days. I was quite discouraged that somehow I had missed a crack in the bowl. To my mind I expected to open the box and find some horizontal crack around the bowl somewhere. I just could not figure it out or even imagine how I had missed that.

When I finally opened the box and unpacked it I went over it even more thoroughly than before. I worked my way around the rim, bowl sides and bottom with a bright light and a lens. There were no cracks in the exterior of the briar that I could find. I breathed a sigh of relief about that. The bowl was not cracked externally! Whew. Then I went over the interior of the bowl using a light and a dental pick. The front, back and left side of the bowl were solid. There was however a large area on the right side of the bowl that had some significant checking. I picked it clean and it definitely had what looked like a crack. I have learned that sometimes these are surface fissures so I would need to reclean and ream the bowl again and then re-examine it. I set it aside for awhile and worked on some other pipes.

I finally got around to dealing with the issue this evening. I started by scraping all of the cake off the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I took it back to bare briar and remove all possible cake. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a dowel and smoothed out the bowl surface. I was able to remove almost all of the offending checking. There was a small spot of it left midbowl on the right side so I decided to mix up a bowl coating of activated charcoal and sour cream. I applied it to the inside of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner and painted the walls. I let the first coat dry for 30 minutes and then gave it a second coat. Once it was coated I set the bowl aside to let the coating cure over night. I set it aside for an overnight cure that eventually ended up being two days. The coating dried black and smooth on the bowl sides. There really is no smell in the bowl which always surprises most folks. I used a flashlight to illuminate the walls of the bowl and took some photos to show what it looks like now. You can see the small ridges in the bowl coating but it is smooth to touch. I put the stem and bowl of this lovely Bertram Lovat Grade 55 back together. It really is a beautiful little pipe. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Bertram has a classic Lovat shape and some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. The briar came alive and the mixture of grain – cross, swirled and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Lovat shaped pipe. The neutral bowl coating should take care of the checking issues on the bowl walls and give the pipe a long life. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 32 grams/1.13 ounces. This one will be going back on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section soon. I will be pricing it as a bargain for someone to add to their rack. If you are interested let me know.

Yes indeed another Bertram Washington DC Pipe – An Ungraded Canadian


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. I keep fitting some of them into the restoration queue to get these great older US Made pipes back in circulation. 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 smaller Bertram Canadian with a vulcanite taper stem. The pipe is stamped on the top side and reads Bertram [over] Washington D.C. centered on the shank. This is a bit of an odd one in that it does not have a grade stamp. 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 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. 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 topside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.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 Canadian has a stunning a mix straight and flame grain around the bowl. Why it is not stamped with a grade number is a mystery to me. To my thinking it is at least a Grade 60 or higher.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his 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 rim top cleaned up very well. The grain really had begun to stand out. 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 before I started my work on it. It really is a beautiful piece of briar. The 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 some light chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the  topside mid shank. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. 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 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 Canadian 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 Smaller Bertram Canadian fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 30 grams/1.06 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly in the American (US) Pipe Makers section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

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 for an American Made Bertram Washington DC Grade 40 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from one of our estate purchases in 2017. 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 Dublin Grade 40 Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads 40. 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 briar 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 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 Bertram pipes in this lot this one 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 40.      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 Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best pipes that 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 Dublin has a stunning a mix of grain around the bowl. This pipe has a 40 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the sandpits in the briar. But the Bertram Grading system remains a mystery to me.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe very well as usual. He has detailed his process other place so I will summarize it here. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 Briarville’s Pipe Stem 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 but otherwise looked very good. The inner edge of the rim had some burn damage on the front left and the back of the bowl. 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 is stamped the Grade 40 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 damage on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.   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. 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 Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  This Bertram Washington DC Grade 40 Dublin 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 40 Dublin 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: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 34g/1.20oz. I will be adding the pipe to the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store. 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.

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!