Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in 2020 from Meridian, Idaho, USA. It is a unique looking smooth Canadian unlike any pipe that I have seen or worked on in the past. The left side of the pipe was a dress black and the right side being medium brown stained briar. The stem is also tan on the left side and black on the right side. It had a mix of nice grain around the right side of the bowl and shank. The finish was a bit rough in that the bowl had nicks in the left side and there was a large crack on the top left of the shank that had spread open. There was grime on the surface of the briar. This pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Yves St. Claude [over] Domino in gold stamping. On the underside of shank it has the shape number 10 and just ahead of the stem/shank union it was stamped with a Made in France circular COM stamp. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick coat of lava had overflowed onto the rim top. It was a dirty pipe. There was a stylized YSC stamped on the top left side of the stem. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. There was a bite through next to the button on the underside of the stem. The button surface itself was misshapen. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the top and edges of the bowl. It is a beautiful lightly smoked pipe with a carbonized bowl coating. The stem had light 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 grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. It is a very unique looking pipe. 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 top side of the taper stem. The next photos show that large wide open crack in the shank on the top side (primarily in the black half of the shank). There was a lot of tar and oil seepage in that area as can be seen in the next two photos. 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/). I quote what I learned about the brand in that blog below.
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. I am pretty certain that this Yves St. Claude pipes was 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 was also able to get rid of the tarry build up on the outside and inside of the cracked shank. 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 small nicks and the cracked shank the pipe looked good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl were in good condition. The divided colour on it made it a difficult rim to top or change so I would have to look at other options. The stem could be acrylic but I am uncertain. The heavy tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges as well as the bite through will make the cleanup and repair of the stem problematic and complicated. The stamping on the left side and underside of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. The COM stamp is damaged from the poorly done repairs to the cracked shank. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a unique looking Canadian and I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.I started working on the pipe by addressing the cracked shank. Unfortunately the tars and oils had stained the natural briar shank with dark spots on the top and underside where the colours came together. I squeezed the crack together and heated a thin brass band with the flame of a lighter and pressed in place on the shank end. The fit was very tight and it pulled the crack together tightly. I filled in the crack with clear CA glue and briar dust to build it up and make it even with the rest of the shank. I put the stem on the shank to see what the pipe would look like with the addition of the band. I have to say that I really like the dressy look of the pipe with the band! I used a black stain pen to touch up the damaged areas on both top and underside of the shank to help blend in the repair. It looks much better in the photos below even though there is still along ways to go. To remove the shiny varnish coat on the smooth briar side of the bowl and shank I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads, dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. I decided to leave the dress black side alone preferring to leave the small nicks on the bowl surface rather than trying to match them to the black of the bowl finish. I touched up the gold stamping with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on to the stamp on the briar with my finger tip and worked it in to the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. The stamp is readable and clear. 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 on the natural finished part and the dress black portion look shiny and nice. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem below the bit through. Once I had it situated I had a decision to make. The bite through was centered on the underside of the stem surface evenly split between tan and black. I decided to do the repair with clear CA glue hoping that it would pick up the colour of the underlying material. In the best case scenarios it works very well. In this case it went a bit crazy. The repairs cured over both areas in a milky white colour! Fortunately I overfilled the repairs so I was hoping that once I filled them and sanded them the repair would at least be less noticeable. While the repair hardened I used a black Sharpie Pen to restain the YSC stamp on the top of the taper stem. It was in the tan area so I was hesitant but did it anyway. Once I had it in place I sanded the stem surface with 1500 grit micromesh to remove the excess stain and it cam out really well.I used a small file to reshape the button, cut the sharp edge and flatten out the repairs. It worked amazingly well. The topside was perfect and the bit through was far better than I expected. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper blend them into the surrounding surface of the stem 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. The photo below shows the polished stem. You can see that the top repair came out very well. The repair on the underside is better than it was when I started but you can clearly see the repair. This nice smooth finished Yves St. Claude Domino 10 Canadian with a black and tan taper stem even with the visible repairs and banded shank still is a great looking pipe. The rich medium brown finish on the right half of the pipe and the dress black finish on the left half works well with the split black and tan stem. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich natural finish gave the grain on the right side a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The painted dress black left side also looks good. The repairs on the stem are solid yet visible on the underside due to the dual colour of the stem (I have yet to figure out a tan colour fill). 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 Domino Canadian 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: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch.The weight of the pipe is 1.69 ounces/48 grams. This pipe will soon be on the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your rack. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!