Blog by Steve Laug
So when this Butz-Choquin Cherrywood with a mixed finish carved and smooth showed up in an online auction Jeff was watching we went for it and picked it up. This pipe was purchased from in 2018 from a seller in Barbourville, Kentucky, USA. The shape of the bowl is a cherrywood sitter with a vulcanite shank extension. The bowl has carved spots that almost look like leaves around the bowl and shank. The pipe was in overall good condition. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin at an angle [over] Roquebrune. On the right side of the shank it is stamped St. Claude France [over] the number 1710. The mixed finish was dull and lifeless and a little dirty from sitting around. There was dust and debris in the carvings. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top toward the back. The vulcanite shank extension was lightly oxidized along with the stem. The stem had a scratch on the top side mid stem and some tooth chatter on both sides near the stem. 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 cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner of the rim and the top at the back of the bowl. The photos of the stem show the general condition of the stem and the vulcanite shank extension. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the swirls of grain in the smooth bowl side and the carvings on the front, sides and shank. The stamping is very clear on both sides of the pipe. Interestingly the stamping on the left side of the shank is over the carving there so it is blurred in spots. The third photo shows the stamping on the side of the shank extension. I turned to Pipedia to see if I could learn anything about the Roquebrune line of carved finishes but there was nothing listed. I also turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) and found a great read of the history of the brand. There was nothing there on the line either. I did find a shape chart however, that had the 1710 shape. I have included that 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 condition 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. The bowl and shank extension looked very good. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior. He soaked it in Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the product. He 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 the inner and outer edges were clean with just some light scratching. The vulcanite shank extension looks very good. The surface and the button edge of the stem look really good. There are no issues that are there to address other than the scratch on the stem top.I took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I remove the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe from the left side to give a clear picture of the beauty of this particular pipe. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. The began to take on a deep shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar of the bowl with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the grooves of the carving. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I touched up the BC stamp on the vulcanite extension with some white acrylic nail polish. I rubbed into the stamp with a tooth pick to get it into the grooves. I polished off the excess with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. I took a photo of the reworked stamp below. It is a beauty. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it 1500-12000 pads. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil each pad to remove the dust and polishing debris. I 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. I am really happy with the way that this Butz-Choquin Roquebrune 1710 Cherrywood turned out. It really is a great looking pipe with character. The vulcanite shank extension is a unique feature of this pipe gives the stem the look of a military bit. The finish and carvings really came alive with the buffing. The rich brown stains and black carvings 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. 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 Butz-Choquin Roquebrune Cherrywood really 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 40 grams/1.41 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!