Breathing Life into a Canadian Made Paradis Porte St. Louis Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Romney, West Virginia, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown bent billiard with a variegated orange/brown acrylic stem. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. The pipe was filthy and there was significant rim top and edge damage. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like under the lava coat. The outer edge of the rim had some chips around the edges. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Paradis [over] Porte St. Louis on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the number 76 which is either the shape number of the year the pipe was made. The name Porte St. Louis refers to a historic gate in Old Quebec that is part of the city’s extensive fortification system.  The stem was dirty and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was Paradis cursive P logo on the left side of the acrylic taper stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it.Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge looked like but the outer edge was a mess. Looking at the outside of the bowl from the top down it is not round and is thinner toward the back. The inside of the bowl is still quite round. The stem is lightly oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.   Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain on the piece of briar. The stamping on the sides of the shank read as noted above. The photos show that they are very readable. The P logo on the left side of the stem is in good condition.    I turned first to Pipephil’s site for a quick summary (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p1.html). I have included a screen capture of the information on the site.The Paradis brand was made by the Paradis brothers in Quebec but did not remember much more than that so I turned to Pipedia for more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes) and learned the following:

Paradis Pipes is the Canadian brand of the brothers Gilles and Fernand Paradis. In 1922 the Paradis family moved to the USA, when Lucien Paradis (1906-1979) was 16 years old. It was at this age that he started as an apprentice at his uncle’s pipe factory, Joseph B. Desjardins, maker of (JD) pipes, in Fall River, MA. Joseph Desjardins was issued two patents during this period, one for a new machine for making pipe stems and another for a new design of pipe reamer. The company employed 60 workers at one stage.

In 1930, due to the Great Depressions, Lucien lost his job and returned to Quebec to work in the agricultural machine industry. In his spare time, he made pipes, selling them door to door. Three years later the rest of the family joined him and Lucien founded a pipe factory with two of his brothers. The company eventually employed 18 workers and in the 60s produced over 50 thousand pipes a year, under brands like JBL, Dr. Thomas, Fernand Gignac, S.C. Pipes, New London Golfer, and Jo Thomassin.

Paradis was founded in 1978, at the Salon of Quebec Artisans’ and is available in tobacconists all over the country today. The brand produces 8000 pipes a year (400 “handmade”), with Greek briar (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Paradis_Pipes).

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the acrylic stem Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. There was about a ¼ inch of the stem and the entire button was in the bottom of the bag that the pipe was packed in. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl show damage from being knocked against a hard surface. There is some darkening on the beveled inner edge of the bowl and bowl is slightly out of round.  The stem surface looked very good with tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button.The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it cleaned up the rim top damage was minimized. I sanded the outer edge of the bowl with the sandpaper to smooth out the damage.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Paradis Porte St Louis Bent Billiard is a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great and the brown stains work well to give some contrast to the polished variegated orange/brown acrylic taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Paradis Bent Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 38g/1.34oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Canadian Made Bent Billiard will be added to the Canadian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

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