This Opera pipe is a traveler – France to Utah, USA and now to Vancouver, Canada

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work top is an interesting piece that is well traveled. It was made in France and somehow ended up in Ogden, Utah, USA and now it is residing here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We picked up from a fellow who bought it at and estate sale in Utah back in early 2019. Jeff cleaned it up in 2020 and now I am working on it in 2021. It has been sitting for awhile in our backlog of pipes. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank in script and reads P. Viou underlined with a flourish. At an angle underneath that it is stamped in uppercase and reads SUPER. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Bruyere [over] Extra followed by the shape number 3030. It has some interesting grain around the bowl and shank that shines through the grime on the finish. The bowl had a moderate cake and some overflow of lava on the top inner edge. The original stem was lightly oxidized at the back end and had tooth marks on both side near the button. The shoulders of the shank or stem seem to be slightly rounded from the photos. Jeff captured the look of the pipe in the photos he took before his work. The moderate cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim edge and top is visible in the next photos. There also appears to be some darkening or perhaps burning on the inner edge. It will be clearer once the pipe is cleaned. The stem shows some oxidation and calcification on the button end with tooth marks and chatter visible on both sides. There was an oily corkscrew style stinger in the tenon when the stem was removed. The bowl had some nice cross grain and birdseye grain around the sides. The unique oval shape really followed the grain well. The next photos show the stamping around the sides of the shank. The first two photos show the left side of the shank. The third photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank.You can see the rounding on the edges of the briar in both photos below. The fit of the stem to the shank is off. Earlier this morning Kenneth stopped by for a visit and I was working on this P. Viou pipe. Kenneth has a developed a love for French pipes and a growing knowledge of the brands so I asked him some questions and we chatted about that. Later this after I wrote him and asked him for information on the brand. Here is his response with a few links as well.

Paul Viou was the brand and fictional name of a French artisan who sold his pipes by correspondence and then he was a pipe supplier for military institutions. He also made sculpted pipes and sometime used horn stems. The brand is currently sold by Jacques Craen and made by Genod in Saint-Claude, after having also belonged to Paul Guilland and Vuillard. They are stamped P. Viou, and made primarily for export.

He included the following links for me to read a bit of history. I ran the French articles through Google translate and got a good idea of the brand. The first article ties Genod under Jacky Craen to a younger carver he trained named Sebastien Beaud.

Jacques (Jacky) Craen was born in 1944, and learned the trade with his grandfather at the age of 15. Eleven years later, once his “classes” are over, he became the owner of the Genod house.

He produces around 8,000 pipes in the year, of which 500 are unique pieces. He works by smoking red Amphora and listening to classical music.

In the summer of 2001, he welcomed a young boy of 21 who enjoyed woodworking. His name was Sébastien Beaud. He returned the following summer, spent a few years with Ewa, until May 2005. At the beginning of 2006, he returned as a worker, finally succeeding Jacques Craen.

You can visit the workshop, and watch this young man work who “emphasizes the pleasure of smoking”. In 2011, Sébastien offered the brand “Sébastien Beo”, only in the USA, from heads that he reworked.

The second and third articles are the same and they tie Sebastien Beaud to Genod, Jacques Craen (Jacky) and to the Paul Viou mail order business. Once again I used Google translate to get a fair read on the article. I include it below.

Genod and Viou, the adventure continues –

Sébastien Beaud, a young Saint Claude pipe maker. After working in the Genod boutique during the summer of 2001, the idea of ​​becoming a master pipe maker slowly matured in Sébastien Beaud’s mind. With the help of many Saint Claude Pipe Masters, Jacques Craen, and mainly Denis Blanc, as well as Roger Vincent, he was able to learn the passes necessary for the complete making of a pipe.

Thus prepared, he decided to take over the Genod business in 2006. Today, he continues to develop the tourist activity initiated by Jacques Craen, opening his workshop to the public to show him the making of the noble bouffarde, as well as the mail order sale inherited from Paul Viou.

The pipe makers of Saint Claude tirelessly seek to make better pipes. Sébastien Beaud is refining his techniques to the delight of fellow pipe smokers.

Thanks Kenneth for the links and the information. It looks like I am working on one of those mail order pipes that was made primarily for export. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe very well as usual. He has detailed his process other places so I will summarize it here. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 stem with Soft Scrub to loosen the oxidation and remove the grime. Then he soaked it in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl. The cake has been cleaned out and the lava is gone. There is still some darkening and damage to the inner edge of the rim that I will need to deal with. The photos show that the stem looks really good. There is light chatter and some tooth marks on the underside but it is quite clean. The photos of the stem show the rounded shoulders on the briar at the stem/shank junction. I really dislike that look on a pipe. On the left side of the stem there is a faint P. Viou stamp. It is not deep enough to repaint but it is present.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. You can see the corkscrew stinger in the tenon. It is quite a contraption. It is also removable.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the damage on the inside edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and to remove the darkening. It looked better once it was finished.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris. The bowl really began to shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish 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 product brought the briar to life and gave some depth to the finish. Now it was time for me to deal with the rounded shoulders on the shank and clean up the stem/shank fit. The damage that had been done to the shank end made it impossible to change the diameter of the shank or the stem and maintain the integrity of the shank. I decided to band it with a thin brass band that I would reduce the depth on so as not to cover too much of the stamping on the shank. I would lose a little bit of the R on SUPER but to me the fit of the stem to the shank was worth the loss. I used a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the depth of the band. I was able to remove over half of the depth.  I placed the band on the end of the shank lightly and carefully heated it with a Bic lighter. Once it was hot the metal had a little play in it and I was able to press it onto the shank for a tight fit. You can see the depth of the band is greatly reduced and it did not cover any of the stamp on the right side of the shank and only the R on SUPER.I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the fit against the band. The fit was perfect and the gaps and rounded shoulders were a thing of the past. To me the band also added a touch of “Opera” bling to the pipe that made it look great.With the rounded shoulders of the shank taken care of it was time to deal with the tooth marks on the stem. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift all of them on the topside and all but one deeper one on the underside. I filled in the tooth mark on the underside with clear CA glue and let it harden. Once it had hardened I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I also smooth out the coarseness of the topside of the stem at the same time. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil as I find that it enlivens and preserves the vulcanite. In the polishing process it also give the micromesh pads some bite. I finished polishing it with Before & After Stem Polish – both fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.With the stem finished I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I noticed that some think I use White Diamond but I have not used it for quite awhile opting instead for a finer polish called Blue Diamond. It give the bowl and stem a rich polish. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Do not skip these steps as they add depth to the shine. The finished P. Viou Super Bruyere Extra Opera 3030 pipe is a lovely pipe with great cross grain and birdseye. The thin brass band took care of the poorly fit stem and rounded shoulders and the rich polish make it quite elegant. The dimensions of the finished pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outer bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches long X 1 inch wide, Chamber diameter (oval) 7/8 of an inch long X 5/8 of an inch wide. The weight of the pipe is 1.09 ounces/31 grams. It is a lightweight and great looking pipe that should be a pleasure to smoke. I will be putting on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration!

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