Blog by Steve Laug
One of the pipes that my brother sent me was a Butz-Choquin that was in a large presentation box. It was stamped Butz-Choquin on the bottom of the shank and had a silver disk on the left side of the shank with 1986 engraved on it. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MILLESIME with C in a circle and 215 underneath. The box was satin lined and the pipe was held in place by an elasticized band. The stem bore the acrylic inset BC logo. In the lid of the box was a Butz-Choquin pipe sock and a certificate stating that this pipe was a limited edition and bore the number 215 of 1200 pipes made.On the satin lining of the box it was stamped BC and the Butz-Choquin logo. Underneath was Millesime. Underneath that to the left it read Limited Edition, central it read Maitre Pipier a Saint Claude – France, and to the right it read edition numerotee. A little research on Google told me that Millesime translated Year and the Millesimei line was composed of the BC pipes of the year. Thus I had in my hands a 1986 Pipe of the Year.I took the pipe out of the box and laid it on the pipe sock and took a photo of it. It is a beautifully grained piece of briar with a shiny Lucite stem.The certificate has the BC Butz-Choquin logo and Millesime. Then it reads:
This year we have carefully selected this model B.C. Millesime 1986. This year is engraved on a silver plate inlaid in the briar and the edition is limited to 1200 pieces.
We have created the B.C. Millesime for the special and individual taste of pipe lovers. Those who appreciate their pipe will be able to savour this new B.C. shape and start a new collection.
The distribution has been intentionally limited and great attention has been given to it production.
This has made this B.C. Millesime 1986, with the No. 215, a pipe that caters to the pipe smoker’s enjoyment.
This certificate which accompanies this pipe guarantees its authentic and unique character and justifies its prestige.
Jacques et Jean-Paul Berrod, Maitres Pipiers a Saint-Claude. The certificate bears his signature below the name and title.I took the pipe to the work table and took some photos of it before I started to clean it up. The first four photos show the various views of the pipe. The grain on the pipe is quite a stunning mixture of flame, cross grain and birdseye. The pipe had obviously been lightly smoked as the tobacco chamber still the bowl coating on the bottom two-thirds of the bowl. I think that the most disturbing feature of this pipe to me was that the sanding marks were still visible on the rim and bowl. I am not sure if those were original or if the entire pipe had been brushed with a coat of varnish. In the close up photos you can see the marks that I am talking about. Each of the photos shows a different portion of the pipe from the rim to the stamping on the sides and bottom of the shank. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were clean.The Lucite stem had scratches and small nicks in the surface so wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad between each set of three grits. I sanded the briar with the same sequence of micromesh pads to remove the scratches. The more I worked with them the more convinced I became that the surface had a brushed on coat of varnish or shellac. I don’t think it came that way originally but had probably been done by the eBay seller to make the pipe look shiny.When I finished sanding it with the micromesh sanding pads I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. The sanding pads and the buffing wheel took out the scratches and polished the finish. The grain really stands out after the buffing. I gave the pipe and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The Lucite stem looks great with the newly polished bowl and shank. The silver inlaid disk engraved 1986 also shined up nicely with some silver polish.