Daily Archives: February 14, 2019

A Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Hand Made Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is a beautiful hand made Butz Choquin Calabash with both a rusticated and smooth finish. The cap and a patch on the left side of the bowl are rusticated while the rest is smooth. There is a horn shank extension that sets off the bowl from the black vulcanite stem. It came to my brother and me in the lot that included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes. The finish is a rich brown with black undertones and the rustication shows black in the grooves and valley while the high spots are brown. The left side of the shank is stamped Butz Choquin ovwe Maitre Pipier and the right side is stamped Fait Main over St Claude France. It is a unique piece like many of those in this lot. It is on set out in front of the cabinet’s first shelf, the first pipe from the left in the photo below. I have circled it in red to make it easier to identify.The finish on the pipe is dirty but looks good under the grime. I look forward to seeing it cleaned. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a lava overflow onto the rustication on the rim top. Both the inner and outer edges of the rim appear to be in good condition but because of the cake and tars it is hard to know what the inner edge looks like. Jeff took photos of the pipe before cleaning it. The photos give a pretty clear picture of the shape of the pipe and its general condition when we received it.Jeff took some photos of the bowl/rim top and the sides and bottom of the bowl to give and idea of the condition and the shape. The rustication pattern on the rim top is filled in with lava on the back and left side with dust and grime the rest of the way around the bowl. The cake is very thick. The rest of the photos show the condition of the rest of the bowl. It is a beautifully finished pipe with contrast stains of blacks and medium brown. They work well with the horn shank extension and the pattern of the rustication on the rim and left side of the bowl. He also took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The left side was clear and readable. It read Butz Choquin over Maitre Pipier. On the right side of the shank it was stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France, though Jeff did not include that photo. There was a clear circle on the left side of the stem that generally held a BC inside the epoxy but this one is empty.The stem had some deep scratching in the surface ahead of the button and some small tooth marks next to the button. There was also wear on the sharp edge of the button.Butz Choquin was a brand that I was familiar with having worked on quite a few of them over the years. I decided to check on a few sites to refresh the memory of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil and as usual the site gives a great summary. (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). I quote:

The origin of the 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 Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

I also found the line of Fait Main Maitre Pipier pipes listed. The pipe I am working on is stamped the same way as the one in the screen capture below. The shape is different but the rest is the same. The capture has a small paragraph on the line that reads as follows: Pipes of the “Maitre Pipier” séries were crafted by Paul Lanier until he retired and after him by Alain Albuisson. I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin). I quote the article in its entirety as it gives a clear history.

The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of . In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked really good with no damage to the edges of the bowl or the top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how clean the top came out after Jeff worked it over. The outer edge and inner edges are clean and undamaged. The stem photos show some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.I took photos of the stamping to document what it looked like at this point in our cleanup process. You can also see some of the fills in the bowl and shank.With the rim top and bowl looking so good after Jeff’s cleanup work this pipe did not need any work on the briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth and rusticated briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rusticated patch on the left side of the bowl and the rim top look really good. The smooth finish has a great contrasting stain and looks very good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and marks on the stem with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I took a photo of the left side of the stem to show the missing BC inside the clear insert.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad.  I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This beautiful calabash with the rusticated cap and the patch on the left of the bowl was truly stunning. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the smooth parts of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rusticated patch and cap with Conservator’s wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting black and brown stain made the grain come alive with the buffing. It looked very good with the horn shank extension and the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2  inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this beautiful briar calabash on the rebornpipes online store soon. It may well the kind of unique pipe you have been looking for so have a look. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me.

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A Breath of Life for a Variegated Finish S&R Sitter Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Years ago now I met Steve and Roswitha at the Chicago Pipe Show. I cannot even remember the year but I remember having a good conversation with them. I was not able to pick up one of their pipes at that time but I was amazed at the beauty and style of pipes that the two of them were creating in their shop, Pipes & Pleasures in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years I have watched for them and even bid on a few on eBay. Sadly, I never won any of the pipes that I bid on. They all escaped my grasp. Given that you may have a sense of the surprise I had when my brother and I picked up a pipe rack and 21 pipes from a fellow in Michigan and it had an S&R billiard. I clipped a photo of the collection and circled the S&R in the photo. It is the second pipe from the right on the second shelf of the rack. It is a nice looking two toned sitter billiard – sporting both smooth panels on the sides of the bowl and an interesting sandblast finish.Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition. I have included the photos of the S&R pipe. It was dirty and worn looking. There was a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The smooth panels on both sides of the bowl and the ring around the shank end have great grain that follows the grain of the sandblast next to them. The stamping is very clear and shows the interlocked SR with a pipe. The sandblast is well done and really shows the grain. It is not to deep or rugged but it is very nicely done. The stem is vulcanite and slightly oxidized. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some scratching on the stem surface. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the saddle billiard shape. Here is a close up of the bowl and rim top. You can see the thick lava coat. It is hard to see if there is any damage on the inner or outer edge of the rim. There is a thick cake in the bowl that is hard and rough. The second photo is a close up of the right side and the flat underside of the bowl. You can see the interesting grain in the sandblast.The next photo shows the interlocked S&R stamp with the pipe. It is clear and legible.The next two photos show the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks in the stem at the button. The first photo shows the top side of the stem and the second the underside.I decided to take some time to review my knowledge of the brand. I turned to Pipedia and read the article that was included there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/S%26R_Pipes). I quote in full below:

Stephen and Roswitha Anderson of S&R Pipes, also known as S&R Woodcrafters, have become pipe makers renowned throughout the world as talented carvers of high-grade briar pipes. They have been featured in several trade publications and magazines such as Pipes and Tobaccos and PipeSmoker, and have several pieces on display in museums in Europe and the United States.

They are the first American pipe carvers honored with induction into the Conferee of Pipe Makers of St. Claude, France; the very place where the carving of briar pipes became a world-wide industry. Sadly, Steve passed away in March of 2009. Roswitha is still carving S&R pipes and carrying on with the shop with help from her “guys” David, Marty, and Tony.

Steve and Roswitha began carving pipes in the 1960’s. They travelled to pipe shows and arts and crafts shows throughout the country and Europe selling their pipes and built up quite an extensive loyal customer base. Eventually, it became time to offer their pipes to the retail fraternity of pipe smokers.

Pipes & Pleasures had its grand opening in a distinct red brick house on Main Street in Columbus, Ohio in 1977. The front section of the house was converted into a traditional tobacco shop selling pipe tobacco, cigars, and pipes manufactured by well known companies such as Dunhill, Charatan, and Savinelli as well as the high-grade S&R pipes that Steve and Roswitha carved. A workshop was set up in the back section of the house.

When the cigar boom hit in the ’90’s, the shop was expanded by building a large computer controlled walk-in humidor. It’s no secret throughout the country that Pipes & Pleasures has the best maintained cigars in the Columbus area as well as the best selection of premium cigars available in the area including the much sought-after Davidoff line.

Soon after the boom began, Steve and Roswitha moved their pipe making workshop to their farm and converted that space into a large smoking lounge for their many customers. The lounge features comfortable easy chairs, a television set, a stereo, a library of books and magazines about every aspect of tobacciana, a chess table, and a couple of card tables. The lounge is populated daily with long-time loyal customers and newcomers to the enjoyment and relaxation of cigar and pipe smoking. It’s also the room where several cigar tastings and samplings are held every year by representatives from cigar companies such as Davidoff and La Flor Dominicana.

I captured a photof the shop from the Pipedia article to include below. It is a great looking shop.

The Pipes & Pleasures shop, home of S&R Woodcrafters

I also turned to the Pipes & Pleasures website and copied the “About Us” section. Here is the link to the site (https://www.pipesandpleasures.biz/maintenance). I quote in part.

Pipes & Pleasures proprietors Stephen and Roswitha Anderson have become pipe makers renowned throughout the world as talented carvers of high-grade briar pipes. They have been featured in several trade publications and magazines such as Pipes and Tobaccos and PipeSmoker, and have several pieces on display in museums in Europe and the United States. They are the first American pipe carvers honored with induction into the Conferee of Pipe Makers of St. Claude, France; the very place where the carving of briar pipes became a world-wide industry.

Steve and Roswitha began carving pipes in the 1960’s. They travelled to pipe shows and arts and crafts shows throughout the country and Europe selling their pipes and built up quite an extensive loyal customer base. Eventually, it became time to offer their pipes to the retail fraternity of pipe smokers…

…Sadly, Steve passed away in March of 2009. Roswitha is still carving S&R pipes and carrying on with the shop with help from her “guys” David, Marty, and Tony, who welcome you to this website.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe leaving a clean rim with some debris in the sandblast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the light debris in the sandblast finish of the rim. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looks really good. The stem photos show the scratching I noted above that extends from the button forward about an inch. They also show the tooth marks and the wear on the button surface on both sides.I started my restoration with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean out the remaining debris in the grooves of the sandblast. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I used a Walnut Brown and a Black stain pen to blend the colour on the rim top match the rest of the sandblast portion of the bowl.With the rim top cleaned and restained, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast and smooth surfaces of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the scratches and the tooth marks on the stem and then filled it in with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure for overnight. In the morning I smoothed out the fills with a needle file to dress up the sharp edge of the button. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with some Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra to deepen the shine. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This interestingly finished S&R billiard was a surprise to me. I had pretty much forgotten about ever restoring one of Steve and Roswitha’s pipes when this one came to me in a lot my brother and I bought from Michigan. It is a stunning example of their craft – the mixed smooth panels, band and sandblast finish and the contrasting stain is very well done. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting finishes came alive with the buffing. The rich, contrasting brown and black colours work well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this beautiful billiard on the rebornpipes online store soon. It may well the kind of unique pipe you have been looking for so have a look. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this pipe with me. It was a fun one to work on.