Tag Archives: BC Millesime Pipes

Breathing Life into a Weary But Graceful Butz-Choquin Maitre Pipier De Luxe

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is a gracefully shaped pipe made by Butz-Choquin. It is a vulcanite tapered stem with a BC logo on the left side of the taper. The finish is smooth with some nice grain around the bowl. The bowl has straight and flame grain on the sides with mixed grain on the rim top and heel of the bowl. The curves of the shank and bowl give the bowl a sense of grace. The stem carries out the theme. The pipe is stained with black and various hues of brown. It truly is a beautiful finish. The pipe is stamped Butz-Choquin over Maitre Pipier over De Luxe on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped Fait Main (Hand Made) over St. Claude France. The finish was very dirty and tired looking with a lot of grime and oils ground into the sides of the bowl. The finish is peeling and bubbling on the rim top and on the back of the bowl. It appears that the pipe had a varnish or shellac coat that is damaged. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some darkening on the inner edge of the rim top. The tapered vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and had calcification over much carries on the twist of the shank. The stem looked good. It is dirty with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the bubbling and peeling finish on the rim top. There is cake in the bowl and some darkening around the rim edges and some tars on the rim edge as well. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the smooth finish and the grain shining through the grime. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is cleaned and polished.He took several photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. It reads as noted above. He also included a photo of the acrylic encased BC inlay on the left side of the stem.The vulcanite stem is a bit of a mess! It is oxidized and there is calcification and a rust coloured build up all over the stem from the button forward. There are also light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. The button appears to be in good condition. The photos below show the condition of the stem. Before I started working on my part of the restoration I decided to do some research on the Maitre Pipier line to see what I could learn. I turned first to PipePhil’s site to get a quick overview of the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). There found the following information. I am also including a screen capture of the pertinent section from the site.

Pipes of the “Maitre Pipier” series were crafted by Paul Lanier until he retired and after him by Alain Albuisson. The model illustrated is remarkable for its “swan neck” shank.

The one pictured in the screen capture is an Extra but the shape is very similar to the one I have that is stamped De Luxe. The same swan neck shank is a part of its beauty.I turned then to Pipedia and did not find anything pertinent to this series of pipes. If you would like to learn more about the brand here is the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin).

Now I had a pretty good idea the carvers of the Maitre Pipier Series. I am not sure of the date this pipe was made but I did know who made it. With that information I moved forward to do my part of the restoration work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. The bowl looked unbelievably good in light of where it started. All of the flaking and peeling finish was gone. What remained was some very nicely grained briar. The stem looked much better with just a few tooth marks on each side of the stem just ahead of the button. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. The shape and finish on this pipe is very unique. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. He was able to clean up the on the top and back side as well as the cake in the bowl. The bowl, rim top and inner edges of the bowl look very good at this point. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean.I took pictures of the stamping on the shank. It is very clear and readable. Jeff’s clean up work left it unfazed and if anything more readable now that the peeling varnish coat was gone.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the condition, size and shape of the pipe. It is interesting to note the black metal tube in the end of the tenon. When the stem is in place it extends to the bend in the shank. It is removable but I will leave it in place.I started my restoration work on the pipe by addressing two sand pits or nicks in the finish that were like white spots on the briar. One was on the left side mid bowl and the other was on the right side lower near the shank/bowl junction. I filled them in with a spot of clear CA glue. Once the glue cured I sanded them smooth with a corner of 220 grit sandpaper and 1500 grit micromesh. I did not want to damage the finish but just smooth out the glue. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story!I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem and started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with some Denicare Mouthpiece polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like the texture of red Tripoli. It works well to polish out some of the scratches. I find that it does a great job preparing the stem for polishing with micromesh sanding pads.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I wiped the stem down with a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to protect the rubber and slow down oxidation.

Putting this pipe back together was very rewarding. The change in condition and appearance was remarkable. The removal of the shiny, peeling coat brought the briar back to life. I love seeing the grain just pop at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank during the process. 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 on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is quite beautiful and is a graceful, swan-necked French pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. It is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Butz-Choquin seems to have a lot of creatively shaped designs that leave me respecting the creativity. This interesting pipe is no exception and it is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.


A Butz-Choquin Millesime Limited Edition 1986 Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

One of the pipes that my brother sent me was a Butz-Choquin that was in a large presentation box. It was stamped Butz-Choquin on the bottom of the shank and had a silver disk on the left side of the shank with 1986 engraved on it. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MILLESIME with C in a circle and 215 underneath. The box was satin lined and the pipe was held in place by an elasticized band. The stem bore the acrylic inset BC logo. In the lid of the box was a Butz-Choquin pipe sock and a certificate stating that this pipe was a limited edition and bore the number 215 of 1200 pipes made.BC1On the satin lining of the box it was stamped BC and the Butz-Choquin logo. Underneath was Millesime. Underneath that to the left it read Limited Edition, central it read Maitre Pipier a Saint Claude – France, and to the right it read edition numerotee. A little research on Google told me that Millesime translated Year and the Millesimei line was composed of the BC pipes of the year. Thus I had in my hands a 1986 Pipe of the Year.BC2I took the pipe out of the box and laid it on the pipe sock and took a photo of it. It is a beautifully grained piece of briar with a shiny Lucite stem.BC3The certificate has the BC Butz-Choquin logo and Millesime. Then it reads:

This year we have carefully selected this model B.C. Millesime 1986. This year is engraved on a silver plate inlaid in the briar and the edition is limited to 1200 pieces.

We have created the B.C. Millesime for the special and individual taste of pipe lovers. Those who appreciate their pipe will be able to savour this new B.C. shape and start a new collection.

The distribution has been intentionally limited and great attention has been given to it production.

This has made this B.C. Millesime 1986, with the No. 215, a pipe that caters to the pipe smoker’s enjoyment.

This certificate which accompanies this pipe guarantees its authentic and unique character and justifies its prestige.

Jacques et Jean-Paul Berrod, Maitres Pipiers a Saint-Claude. The certificate bears his signature below the name and title.BC4I took the pipe to the work table and took some photos of it before I started to clean it up. The first four photos show the various views of the pipe. The grain on the pipe is quite a stunning mixture of flame, cross grain and birdseye.BC5 BC6The pipe had obviously been lightly smoked as the tobacco chamber still the bowl coating on the bottom two-thirds of the bowl. I think that the most disturbing feature of this pipe to me was that the sanding marks were still visible on the rim and bowl. I am not sure if those were original or if the entire pipe had been brushed with a coat of varnish. In the close up photos you can see the marks that I am talking about. Each of the photos shows a different portion of the pipe from the rim to the stamping on the sides and bottom of the shank.BC7 BC8I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were clean.BC9The Lucite stem had scratches and small nicks in the surface so wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad between each set of three grits.BC10 BC11I sanded the briar with the same sequence of micromesh pads to remove the scratches. The more I worked with them the more convinced I became that the surface had a brushed on coat of varnish or shellac. I don’t think it came that way originally but had probably been done by the eBay seller to make the pipe look shiny.BC12When I finished sanding it with the micromesh sanding pads I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. The sanding pads and the buffing wheel took out the scratches and polished the finish. The grain really stands out after the buffing. I gave the pipe and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The Lucite stem looks great with the newly polished bowl and shank. The silver inlaid disk engraved 1986 also shined up nicely with some silver polish.BC13 BC14 BC15 BC16 BC17 BC18 BC19