Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I brought to the work table was a Butz-Choquin (BC) Rhodesian. The Rhodesian shape is one of my favourites and one that continually look for in my pipe hunting. My brother, Jeff found this one either on his eBay hunts or his antique mall hunting trips. The pipe is similar in shape to the GBD 9438 and also the Peterson 999 but there is a slight difference. The BC is squatter to my eye – less height from the bottom of the stummel to the top of the cap and a bit wider at the same time. It is still one of those shapes that sits well in the hand and just feels like it was made to clutch as you smoke it. This one is stamped Butz-Choquin in script over the word Bourbon on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped St. Claude over France over the shape number 1025.
The origin of the Butz-Choquin brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France). Jean Paul Berrod managed the company from 1969 to 2002 when he retired and sold the corporation to Mr. Fabien Gichon. Denis Blanc, already owner of EWA, took over the Berrod-Regad group in 2006.
The finish on the bowl was in great condition, just dirty. There was some great grain on the bowl sides, top and bottom. The twin grooves around the rim were dirty and filled in with debris. The rim top had some dents and dings in the surface of the rim. The fit of the stem against the shank was excellent with no gaps or separation. The stem was lightly oxidized and dull but should clean up very well. The next photo is a close up of the bowl and rim. You can the thick cake in the bowl but it had not overflowed on to the rim top. You can also see the small nicks and dents in the surface of the curved rim top. The mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem were dirty and black with grime.The stamping on the left side of the shank appeared to be double stamped. The Butz-Choquin part of the stamp was clear. The Bourbon stamping was double and the letters appeared to be blurry when looked at without a light. The next photos show the stamping on both sides of the shank.The grain on the bottom of the bowl was quite beautiful cross grain that ran from the bottom of the bowl the length of the shank.The surfaces of both the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button had a lot of tooth chatter and a few tooth marks. None of them were too deep so they should clean up easily.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and tidied it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar. He scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime. He scrubbed the stem in the same way. He rinsed the pipe off with running water to rinse off the soap. When I received the pipe in the mail it looked really good. It did not appear to need too much work. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl. I apologize that it is out of focus but you can see that the bowl and rim are clean. As the work progresses I will take further photos of the rim and bowl to show its condition.The stem looked really good – Jeff was able to remove the grime and clean up the oxidation on the surface. The tooth chatter really was quite light. There was one small tooth mark on the left side of the top near the button that would need some work. I sanded the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the tooth mark to reduce it. 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 rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each of the pads. After the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. The pipe had a heavy cased tobacco smell that lingered in the shank and bowl even after cleaning it with alcohol. I decided to give it a cotton ball and alcohol soak. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls until it was full. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol. I stuck a cottons swab and then a thick pipe cleaner in the shank to absorb the tars and oils that were in the shank and it would also wick the alcohol up the shank to help clean it. I set the bowl aside to let the alcohol and cotton do their work over night. In the morning when I checked the pipe the cotton pad was brown with the oils it had drawn out of the bowl. I removed the cotton pads and ran pipe cleaners through the shank to pick up any leftover oils. The pipe cleaners were surprisingly clean. I polished the briar and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen it. It is a beautiful pipe whose dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. I am going to put this one on the rebornpipes store soon, even though everything in me wants to hang on to it. If you are interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.