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 Large old Bertram

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KevH



Registration date : 2013-01-02

PostSubject: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:54 pm

I picked up a very large old Bertram billiard off ebay a couple weeks ago. It cost $15 shipped. It was dirty with a brown stem, but something about the shape and the grain spoke to me.

I'm somewhat new to pipes (a little over a year since my first smoke) and I know I smoke too fast and haven't quite got it down yet. I've spent some money on new pipes, but I've learned that the older the pipe the more appeal it has to me.

So here are the obligatory before pics (from ebay):







So I did two rounds of the cotton balls with Everclear thing in the bowl. I soaked the stem in Oxyclean. I bought some Micromesh strips from a local woodworking store and a cotton polishing bit from Harbor Freight.

I polished the stem up with from 2000 to 12000 Micromesh. Then I put some fine Quick-Glo on it and took to it with the polishing bit and a cordless drill. It isn't perfect, but it is certainly black and certainly nicer than how I received it.

The Everclear seamed to soften all the black crud inside the bowl. I took to it with paper towels. No reaming seamed to be needed. I used the micromesh on the rim of the bowl and it removed all the crud up top. It left rim appearing bare. I used Denicare briar polish on the rim and it brought the color right back. I then polished a slight amount into the rest of the briar and then took it to the drill polisher. Good grief it turned out beautiful!

Here are some after pictures:







So now that it looked good and felt good in the hand the one thing left to do was seen how it smoked. Well, I had a beautiful old American pipe so only an appropriate American blend would do.

I loaded it up with some Prince Albert and sat out in the morning breeze coming off the bay (yes, I know not ideal for smoking). Mind you this is a very large bowl and I finished it in thirty minutes. I'm not sure if it was the breeze or my fast smoking, but even so the pipe smoked cool and dry, no gurgling. If pipes teach me nothing they will teach me to be patient and to slow down and enjoy something for simply what it is. Sitting on the porch, for just a brief moment, between the feel of the briar, the view of the water past an oak tree and the smell of the tobacco, I felt transported in time, just for a moment.

I'm incredibly happy to have this pipe in my collection. I'm going to have to find some more.
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herbinedave

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Age : 51
Location : Anthracite Coal Fields of PA
Registration date : 2012-03-14

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:20 pm

Great restoration and a wonderful Billiard. BTW what number is stamped on it. That will tell you their grading and how much the pipe cost.
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KevH



Registration date : 2013-01-02

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:26 pm

It has "80" stamped on the bottom as well as "S."

I believe 80 means high grain and S signifies Senator which means 100 to 150 year old Algerian briar.
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herbinedave

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Age : 51
Location : Anthracite Coal Fields of PA
Registration date : 2012-03-14

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:38 pm

80 mean it is a mid to lower high grade Bertram and sold for $8.00 back in the day.  I am not sure of the S.


Last edited by herbinedave on Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:41 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed info)
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rothnh



Location : Midcoast Maine
Registration date : 2012-08-26

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:32 pm

KevH wrote:


So now that it looked good and felt good in the hand the one thing left to do was seen how it smoked. Well, I had a beautiful old American pipe so only an appropriate American blend would do.

I loaded it up with some Prince Albert and sat out in the morning breeze coming off the bay (yes, I know not ideal for smoking). Mind you this is a very large bowl and I finished it in thirty minutes. I'm not sure if it was the breeze or my fast smoking, but even so the pipe smoked cool and dry, no gurgling. If pipes teach me nothing they will teach me to be patient and to slow down and enjoy something for simply what it is. Sitting on the porch, for just a brief moment, between the feel of the briar, the view of the water past an oak tree and the smell of the tobacco, I felt transported in time, just for a moment.

I'm incredibly happy to have this pipe in my collection. I'm going to have to find some more.

Hi KevH!  Thanks for posting!  I was gifted a Bertram billiard almost identical to yours which I enjoy very much.  It's a large pipe and yes, it appears to perform best smoking good ol' American OTCs.  I love that pipe.

Enjoy  Smile
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Cartaphilus

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Age : 63
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:08 pm

Kev, That certainly came out looking practically new sir, well done! cheers 
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
Registration date : 2011-05-24

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:40 pm

Neat, I think the scale went to 100? So, that 80 looks pretty good!

This tells you a little about the Senator grade:
http://pipepages.com/bertram10.htm

So is that $5 on top of the $8 for the 80 grade?
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Brewdude

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Age : 64
Location : Near the Emerald city
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:57 pm

Your first restoration and it came out great. Well done!!

 Cool 


Cheers,

RR
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
Registration date : 2011-05-24

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:06 pm

Brewdude wrote:
Your first restoration and it came out great. Well done!!

 Cool 


Cheers,

RR

Yessir, I forgot to compliment the restoration! I have a 20 Bertrams, it is full of fills, but smokes like a champ.
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herbinedave

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Age : 51
Location : Anthracite Coal Fields of PA
Registration date : 2012-03-14

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:14 pm

riff raff wrote:
Neat, I think the scale went to 100?  So, that 80 looks pretty good!

This tells you a little about the Senator grade:
http://pipepages.com/bertram10.htm

So is that $5 on top of the $8 for the 80 grade?
A friend has a 150 and I have heard they went over 200.
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AJ

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Age : 68
Location : East of the Rocky Mountains
Registration date : 2012-03-18

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:39 pm

I'd say your money was well spent. Fantastic restoration. Congrats!  Smile 

AJ
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Hiram-2011

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Age : 39
Location : Illinois
Registration date : 2012-03-23

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:14 am

Nice work on the resto job. She looks like she"ll be a fine smoker for years to come.
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SpeedyPete



Age : 73
Location : Cape Town
Registration date : 2011-01-28

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:53 am

Well done, young man and congrats on an exceptional find. You've got yourself a champ there.  cheers 

I could tell from the "before" pictures that this pipe wasn't smoked a lot and would restore nicely. It looks like new to me after a great restoration job.
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
Registration date : 2011-05-24

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:01 am

herbinedave wrote:
riff raff wrote:
Neat, I think the scale went to 100?  So, that 80 looks pretty good!

This tells you a little about the Senator grade:
http://pipepages.com/bertram10.htm

So is that $5 on top of the $8 for the 80 grade?
A friend has a 150 and I have heard they went over 200.

Wow, I'd love to see what a 150-200 looks like!
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Dramatwist

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Location : California
Registration date : 2013-12-05

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:40 am

KevH wrote:
I picked up a very large old Bertram billiard...

I'm incredibly happy to have this pipe in my collection. I'm going to have to find some more.

Nice work! Enjoy!

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Briar Spirit

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Age : 49
Location : England UK
Registration date : 2012-08-30

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:10 am

Great looking pipe and it cleaned up just lovely, reckon you've got a long term Buddy right there, enjoy it in rude good health.  cheers sunny 
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Idlefellow

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Location : The Kansas Prairie
Registration date : 2009-02-24

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:51 pm

It's just awfully hard to be a good old classic Billiard. Nicely done!
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huffelpuff

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Age : 47
Location : Laramie, WY
Registration date : 2011-12-10

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:06 pm

Great job brother. She looks nearly new. Of course now you've started down the slippery slope of restoration, good luck!

Jim
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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:18 am

Just discovered this thread.  I am curious about why Bertram's brag about the briar on their high-grades coming from the heart of the burl.  I always thought that that was really crap wood, the best wood coming from the outside, so-called plateau briar, with varying grades in-between.

http://pipepages.com/bertram11.htm

Anyone know?--or am I delusional?  Or is Bertram's delusional?  Needless to say, I am not a pipe maker.
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
Registration date : 2011-05-24

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:39 pm

That is probably a bit of creative marketing, like Dunills "Dead Root Briar". (isn't it all dead?)

Richard Burley wrote:
Just discovered this thread.  I am curious about why Bertram's brag about the briar on their high-grades coming from the heart of the burl.  I always thought that that was really crap wood, the best wood coming from the outside, so-called plateau briar, with varying grades in-between.

http://pipepages.com/bertram11.htm

Anyone know?--or am I delusional?  Or is Bertram's delusional?  Needless to say, I am not a pipe maker.
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docrof62



Registration date : 2014-02-24

PostSubject: old bertrams and great old pipe shops   Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:47 pm

I found this site and immediately signed on. I am an old pipe smoker who gave it up in the 80s and just in the last year have happily come back to smoking my old pipes. Immensely enjoyable. I have recently started acquiring old pipes from places, people and makers that are fondly memorable in my life. Bertram pipes is one of them. JHW, Wilke, Ehrlich, Burak, and Edwards are others. I have done some minor reconditioning, but am afraid to do the major and beautiful reconditioning that has been done on this Bertram. So I stay away from pipes that look less well kept.
I will remember the Bertram shop and the long gone Benaderets store as 2 of my favorite places to hang out when I was in those cities.
Bertram pipes are hard to find, especially the more unique shapes and I suspect younger briar lovers no very little about them. They are one of the few American makers who treated their pipes, much like the Brits did and do at Ferndown, Ashton, Northern Briars and of course the Grand Daddy; Dunhill.
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bent bulldog



Registration date : 2014-02-26

PostSubject: bertrams   Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:23 pm

What a spectacular transformation, great rejuvenation job! I don't know how much you know about Bertram's but it was a very highly respected shop on Pennsylvania avenue back in the day. Does anyone know if it still exists? When I was studying in the D.C area in 1968 I, of course being a college student had to outfit myself with a pipe if for no other reason than to automatically add 50 points to my I.Q., you know , the image is everything. Anyway I wandered into Bertrams on a Saturday afternoon and purchased a pipe much like the one you bought, also picked up a pouch of Sail tobacco in the yellow pouch mainly because one of my favorite college professors smoked that stuff. Anyway I believe I paid about eight dollars for the pipe which was a pretty good chunk of change for a pipe in 1968 and enjoyed it for years, fortunately I graduated from Sail to nice Virginias and Latakia mixtures bucause that Sail yellow turned my tongue into a raw piece of meat. Some of you guys correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that most of Bertam's house brand pipes were made by Weber, a fine old pipe company which provided high quality pipes to the trade back in the day. Again, a beautiful rejuv. I have a buffing wheel, jewelers rouge and wax in my shop but do not think I could have done any better. Just a quick aside: I got together with that professor the following year for a drink. He was a solitary type and lived alone and when I called on him for a drink to celebrate the end of the semester he only had one cup to pour the Johnny Walker into so he gave me that cup and drank his scotch out of a Sail yellow tobacco tin. I never thought to ask if the scotch improved the tobacco or vice versa.
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docrof62



Registration date : 2014-02-24

PostSubject: large old bertram   Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:51 pm

Bertram pipe shop is long gone. After the third Mr. Bertram passed away in the sixties, his wife ran it for several years and then sold it' After the MLK riots in DC, the neighborhood got tawdry and the new owner gave up. In the heyday(before and after WW2) they made pipes upstairs and had many famous customers in DC as well as internationally, (Even Joe Stalin).
Until the sixties , they made many of their own pipes in a factory upstairs. There is a article in a 1950 Popular Mechanics, as well as many other historical references on line. Later they had some well known pipe manufacturers make pipes for them and yes one of them was Weber. As the business changed, most of the well known pipe shops in the big cities started doing this. What we are all looking for is (as shown) real Bertram manufactured pipes. They had thier own system of grading briar from 20 to 80 (occasionally higher; I have seen 120, very rare). The most expensive were $10-20 in the early sixties.
Somewhere on line is a copy of a 1960-61 Bertram Catalog you would enjoy.
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bent bulldog



Registration date : 2014-02-26

PostSubject: Bertrams   Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:14 pm

docroft62, thanks for the great info on Bertrams. The one I bought in 1968 was probably a Weber. I had no idea that Bertrams at one time made their own pipes. I also remember Benedarets in the Bay area back when they along with Grants and Telfords were the premier shops in San Francisco.
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monbla256

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Age : 71
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

PostSubject: Re: Large old Bertram   Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:17 pm

Here's a link to a copy of a Bertram's catalog from 1950 for ya.

http://pipepages.com/bertram1
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