Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow in Brazil, Indiana, USA earlier this year. It is a small pocket pipe with flat sides and an oval shank. There is some nice grain on the bowl and there is carved pattern on the back side of the bowl. The rim top is pretty beat up and has some ground in grime and lava build up. The inner edge of the rim is in rough shape and there is damage and burn marks on the outer edge as well. The finish on the bowl is very worn and dirty but there is still something intriguing about the pipe even with the grime on the surface of the briar. There is a large shrunken fill on the left side of the heel of the bowl. This pipe is stamped on the topside of the shank and reads Yves St. Claude [over] Interlude. On the underside of shank it has the shape number 96 followed by the Made in France circular COM stamp. There was a stylized YSC stamped on the top of the oval saddle stem. The pipe is heavily smoked with a moderate cake in the bowl that has been poorly reamed. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. The pipe is in a condition that is a challenge to bring back to life. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the top and edges of the bowl. It is a heavily smoked and well worn older pipe that must have been someone’s favourite. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the interesting grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. He also captured the carving on the back of the bowl. It is a unique looking pipe. He took a photo of the shrunken fill on the left side of the heel of the bowl. It was a large fill that had chipped and left a pit.He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. He also took photos of the YSC stamp on the left side and Hand Cut on the right side of the taper stem. I turned first to a blog I had written on the restoration of previous YSC pipe that I received (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/23/next-on-the-table-an-yves-st-claude-marbre-75-bulldog/).
In the previous blog that I cited above I had found several references to Yves Grenard, trained in Comoy’s England factory, purchasing the Chacom plant in St. Claude. He managed the factory and it passed on to his son afterward. The shape of this Yves St. Claude pipe makes me believe that it may have been made by Chacom in France with the stamping bearing Yves name.
I turned back to Pipephil’s site to have a look at what was listed there and did a screen capture of the section (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-y.html).I turned to Pipedia and in the listing of French Brands and Maker I found a connection of the brand to Chapuis-Comoy and that the YSC brand was made primarily for Tinder Box (https://pipedia.org/wiki/French_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_U_-_Z). I followed that up by turning to the Chapuis-Comoy article from Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Chapuis-Comoy).
French factory, in St. Claude. It began with Francois Comoy who, in 1825, was making pipes in boxwood and other types, as well as in clay, for the armies of Napoleon. In 1856, the Comoy factory was the first to produce briar bowls at St. Claude. In 1870, Francois’s grandson, Henri Comoy (1850-1924) was taken prisoner in Switzerland whilst serving in the French army during the Franco-Prussian war, where he found his cousins, the Chapuis. This meeting produced the idea of an association, which only became a reality in 1922, with the creation of Chapuis-Comoy. After Henri’s death, his sons Paul and Adrien, took over the company with the support of their cousins, Emile and Louis Chapuis Sr., and in 1928 they created the Chacom brand.
In 1932, due to the economic crisis at Saint-Claude, the factory merged with La Bruyère, adopting that name, and becoming one of the biggest pipe companies in the world, with 450 workers. Louis Chapuis Jr., joined the company in 1938 and Pierre Comoy in 1947. The name Chapuis-Comoy returned in 1957 (125 workers), due to the success of the Chacom brand in France. In 1971, the London factory (see Comoy’s) became independent, and Yves Grenard, second cousin to Pierre, took over Saint-Claude, and is still running it. Between 1987 and 2001, the factory, which employed over 40 people, joined the Cuty-Fort Enterprises SA holding and, in 1994, included the Ropp brand it its catalog.
Reminded about the Chacom connection for the YSC brand it was now time to turn to the pipe itself and do my part of the work. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top and edges the pipe looked good. Strangely, I did not notice I had put the stem on upside down until I looked through these pictures. I have the YSC stamp on the underside of the stem rather than the top! Oops. I will fix that.I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition (though it is a little blurry it is clear enough to see the damage). The edges of the bowl are in rough condition. The oval vulcanite saddle stem had tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the edges. The stamping on the sides of the shank is faint but readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is unique looking pipe that is carved with a notch for the thumb of either hand when it is wrapped around the bowl. I started working on the pipe by topping the damaged rim top on a topping board with 180 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wanted to minimize the damage to the rim top and the inner and outer edges as much as possible. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge and give it a slight bevel. I repaired the flaw on the left side of the heel of the bowl with briar dust and super glue. Once it dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down with an alcohol dampened pad after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I touched up the YSC stamp on the top of the saddle stem with Antique Gold Rub’n Buff working it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. I polished the vulcanite 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. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nice smooth finished Yves St. Claude Interlude 96 Pocket Pipe with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe. The rich medium brown finish and the black stem work really well together. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich medium brown stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished YSC Interlude Pocket Pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches wide x 1 ½ inches long, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36 grams/1.27 ounces. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. I will be adding to the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.