Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on my worktable brings back a lot of fond memories for me. The first is walking through the restoration of Paresh’s Grandfather’s A Metz Origine. Paresh and I had chatted on Facetime many times during this particular restoration (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/17/a-challenging-restoration-of-vintage-era-first-choquin-a-metz/). Paresh had determined that this pipe was very old. I quote:
From all the input that I have gathered, the flat bottom bowl, the stamping, the sterling silver adornments, the bone shank extension and horn stem, I can safely place this piece as being one of the first A Metz pipes from the 1858 era! (Photo from Paresh)That was the first memory of the Origine. The second one is also is one I cherish. On my trip to India last year to visit Paresh and Abha and their daughters Mudra and Pavni I had the privilege of not only seeing this pipe up close but of also being the first one to smoke it since the restoration. What a privilege to be able to smoke Paresh’s Granfather’s pipe. It was so light weight and an amazing smoke. It was cool and dry to the end of the bowl. I cannot thank Paresh enough for letting me fire up this old timer. Dal wrote about this in a great blog about the trip called West meets East in India (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/30/west-meets-east-in-india-to-restore-a-grandsons-treasure-an-1846-bbb/). I quote Dal as he so ably described this experience:
As we had planned, in celebration of the completion of the restoration together we smoked 3 unbelievable vintage pipes with albatross shank extensions and horn stems – all from the 1800s. Oh my…. We each thoughtfully packed our bowls with our choice of blends and lit up and, well…. What a treat for Paresh to share the treasure trove of pipes left to him by his grandfather. Jeff did the honor of commemorating this event with pictures. (Photo from Dal)For me smoking that older BC A Metz Origine was a delight. I was able to enjoy a great English tobacco in this historic pipe. So when this pipe showed up in one of Jeff’s auctions we went for it and picked it up. While the 1858 Origine had an albatross wing bone for the shank extension the new one had a shorter acrylic look alike. The shape of the bowl is the same but the 1858 version’s horn stem was replaced by an acrylic stem that was nowhere near as elegant as the first.The pipe was in overall good condition. The silver (polished nickel) that caps the shank and the faux “bone” extension was tarnished but in good condition. The stem was amazingly clean with just some tooth chatter on both sides near the stem. The finish was dull and lifeless and a little dirty from sitting around. There is a cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top toward the back. There also appears to be some burn/charring damage on the inner edge in the same area. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin over A Metz over Origine. On the right side of the shank it is stamped St. Claude France over the number 2. Jeff took the previous and the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe.Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the darkening around the inner edge of the rim and the damage at the back of the bowl. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow onto the back of the rim top. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the birdseye grain on sides of the bowl. And the cross grain on the heel, front and back of the bowl. The stamping is very clear on both sides of the pipe. The next two photos confirm what I wrote about the stamping above.The next photo of the stem to shows the general condition of the stem. The flow of the shank extension with a silver cap each side is well done. The angle of the stem is very similar to the shape of the original 1858 horn stem. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I turned to Pipephil (www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html) to get a bit of background on the second or the modern version of the Origine pipe. I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section below.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had great job in cleaning up this Origine. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage and also see the extent of the burn damage on the back of the inner edge of the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better when you compare it with where it started. The damaged area is very clear now and the extent of the damage was clear. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the damage to the back inner edge of the bowl is clear. The pinkish/bone coloured acrylic stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge look really good. There are no issues that are there to address. The tarnished silver ends on the shank ends have a rich shine to it now as well.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The shank extension came apart at the shank end but not at the stem. It was glued to the stem and unmovable. The pipe looks pretty amazing – kind of a shorter version of the 1858 Origine.I decided to address the burned area on the inner edge and top of the rim first. I started by lightly topping the bowl to clean up the top edge. Once it was smooth I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a bevel to minimize the damage at the back of the bowl. I decided to polish the rim top and the bowl next. I polished them with the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the sanding scratches on the rim top and blend it into the bowl. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. When I finished the bowl and rim top looked significantly better. I touched up the stain on the rim top Oak stain pen. The match to the rest of the bowl was very good. Once I buffed it the colour would be a perfect match. The repaired rim top looked very good and the burn damage was gone.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes to let it do its magic. I buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. Since it was quite clean I decided to polish the stem and shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the extension and stem but work the bowl over with a regular touch to the wheel. I buffed the pipe with carnauba wax and a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain patterns came alive with the buffing and wax and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand and if it is at like the first generation 1858 Origine should smoke very well. The finished Butz-Choquin Origine 2 pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 8 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. This modern replica of the original A Metz turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It is one that I am not sure what to do with at the moment. It brings back the memories spoken of at the beginning of the blog and I need to sort that out a bit before making a decision. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.