Tag Archives: Butz Choquin Fait Main Pipes

Breathing Life into a Weary, Stubby Butz-Choquin Maitre Pipier De Luxe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is a stubby, canted Butz-Choquin Volcano. It has 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 a mix of various grains on the sides and on the rim top and heel of the bowl. This pipe not only looks comfortable but it amazingly comfortable in hand. 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. It appears that the pipe had a varnish or shellac coat that is damaged. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing onto the rim top. There is also some darkening on the inner edge of the rim. The tapered vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and it appears that the last pipe man used a Softee Bit. 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. It is hard to see the condition of the bubbling and peeling finish on the rim top because of the lava and grime but it is present. There is cake in the bowl and some darkening around the rim edges and some lava on the top of the rim. 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 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 quickly turned to the previous blog I had done on the Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/09/breathing-life-into-a-weary-but-graceful-butz-choquin-maitre-pipier-de-luxe/). I had done some research on the Maitre Pipier line to see what I could learn. I quote from that blog below:

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 – either Paul Lanier or Alain Albuisson. 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. The rim top was the roughest looking portion but it was just odd and flaky not damaged. 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 squat shape and finish on this pipe looks great. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top shows the damage I spoke of above. The bubbling and peeling was gone but there was a very mottled looking surface on the rim top. The bowl looked very good. The inner edge shows some damage on the back right side and a bit on the left side. 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 started my restoration work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the inner edges of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round. It did not take too much work. The issues with the rim top itself would be taken care of when I polished the bowl with micromesh pads.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. Putting this pipe back together was very rewarding. The change in condition and appearance of the rim top alone was remarkable. The removal of the damaged 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 stubby volcano/sitter 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: 5 inches, Height: 1 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.

Underneath the grime was a Beautiful Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Flamme


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from a group of pipes Jeff and I purchased from a fellow in Florida who was selling out his collection as he no longer smoked a pipe. The pipe is a beautiful Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Flamme pipe. It is a flat bottom sitter with a square shank and a very uniquely shaped bowl. The entire pipe had some beautiful flame grain around the bowl and birdseye grain on bottom and top of the shank. The rim top was covered with a thick tar and lava coat that even went down the sides of the bowl. The pipe was filthy. But underneath I could see that the carver had done an amazing job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz Choquin over Maitre Pipier over Flame. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France. The stem is vulcanite and has the inset BC circle on the left side of the saddle. It is a uniquely fit saddle stem.

Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The pipes from this collection were all very dirty and well used. The finish was covered with a thick coat of grime and tars. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lots of lava overflowing onto the rim top. It was hard to know if the edges of the bowl were damaged or not because of the cake and lava. The stem is dirty but it was in remarkably good condition under the grime. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. There was a thick coat of lava on the rim and the cake in the bowl. It shows the mess this pipe was in when we received it. The thick lava overflow on the rim top made it hard to know what the inner edges of the bowl looked like. It looked like there maybe some damage on the back inner edge toward the left side making the bowl out of round. The outer edges actually appeared to be in excellent condition.He also took a series of photos of the sides of the bowl and shank to show the straight grain around the bowl. The finish has a lot of grime and thick layers of tars on the surface. It is very dirty but the grain is visible in the photo. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and right sides of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and legible. The left side of the saddle stem has the typical inlaid BC in acrylic. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The stem is dirty and is lightly oxidized. I have worked on another Maitre Pipier not too long ago and wrote up a blog on it. It was a nice looking Calabash (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/14/a-butz-choquin-maitre-pipier-hand-made-calabash/). On that blog I included some overall information on the brand and I will repeat it here to set the stage.

Butz Choquin was a brand that I was familiar with having worked on quite a few of them over the years. I decided to check on a few sites to refresh the memory of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil and as usual the site gives a great summary (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). I quote:

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

I also found the line of Fait Main Maitre Pipier pipes listed. The pipe I am working on is stamped the same way as the one in the screen capture below. The shape is different but the rest is the same. The capture has a small paragraph on the line that reads as follows: Pipes of the “Maitre Pipier” séries were crafted by Paul Lanier until he retired and after him by Alain Albuisson. I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin). I quote the article in its entirety as it gives a clear history.

The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of . In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

Jeff did an amazing clean up job on the pipe. When it arrived here in Vancouver it did not look at all like the same pipe we purchased. It is a beauty. Jeff 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 of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. There was still some shiny varnish spots on the shank and bowl so he wiped it down with acetone to remove the remnants of the old finish. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked really good with no damage to the edges of the bowl or the top. The flame grain stood out on the clean pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove the oxidation. The pipe looked very good. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started my restoration of the pipe. The rim top was clean but had some darkening on the surface at the back of the bowl. There was also some burn damage to the inner edge of the rim confirming my suspicions about it being out of round. The stem was quite clean with some light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.I started the process of the restoration by working on the bowl. I polished the briar with 2400-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth after each pad. I found that with each successive grit of micromesh the grain on the bowl and shank sides stood out more and gave a shine to the pipe. I liked what I saw when I looked at it. I stained the top of the bowl to match the rest of the bowl. I used a Maple stain pen and set it aside to dry.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I worked on it to remove the burn damage and to try to bring the bowl back into round.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar and the plateau with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I buffed the rim top with a shoe brush to make sure that the nooks and crannies had the conditioner deep in them. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening is gone. The finish looks very good with the rich oil finish on the bowl and rim. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out tooth chatter and light tooth marks. I polished the surface of the whole stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I continued to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Now with both parts of the pipe finished, I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain came alive with the buffing. The rich medium brown finish on the briar works well with the polished, square, black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly and can be added to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Hand Made Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Flamme pipe.

A Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Hand Made Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is a beautiful hand made Butz Choquin Calabash with both a rusticated and smooth finish. The cap and a patch on the left side of the bowl are rusticated while the rest is smooth. There is a horn shank extension that sets off the bowl from the black vulcanite stem. It came to my brother and me in the lot that included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes. The finish is a rich brown with black undertones and the rustication shows black in the grooves and valley while the high spots are brown. The left side of the shank is stamped Butz Choquin ovwe Maitre Pipier and the right side is stamped Fait Main over St Claude France. It is a unique piece like many of those in this lot. It is on set out in front of the cabinet’s first shelf, the first pipe from the left in the photo below. I have circled it in red to make it easier to identify.The finish on the pipe is dirty but looks good under the grime. I look forward to seeing it cleaned. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a lava overflow onto the rustication on the rim top. Both the inner and outer edges of the rim appear to be in good condition but because of the cake and tars it is hard to know what the inner edge looks like. Jeff took photos of the pipe before cleaning it. The photos give a pretty clear picture of the shape of the pipe and its general condition when we received it.Jeff took some photos of the bowl/rim top and the sides and bottom of the bowl to give and idea of the condition and the shape. The rustication pattern on the rim top is filled in with lava on the back and left side with dust and grime the rest of the way around the bowl. The cake is very thick. The rest of the photos show the condition of the rest of the bowl. It is a beautifully finished pipe with contrast stains of blacks and medium brown. They work well with the horn shank extension and the pattern of the rustication on the rim and left side of the bowl. He also took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The left side was clear and readable. It read Butz Choquin over Maitre Pipier. On the right side of the shank it was stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France, though Jeff did not include that photo. There was a clear circle on the left side of the stem that generally held a BC inside the epoxy but this one is empty.The stem had some deep scratching in the surface ahead of the button and some small tooth marks next to the button. There was also wear on the sharp edge of the button.Butz Choquin was a brand that I was familiar with having worked on quite a few of them over the years. I decided to check on a few sites to refresh the memory of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil and as usual the site gives a great summary. (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). I quote:

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

I also found the line of Fait Main Maitre Pipier pipes listed. The pipe I am working on is stamped the same way as the one in the screen capture below. The shape is different but the rest is the same. The capture has a small paragraph on the line that reads as follows: Pipes of the “Maitre Pipier” séries were crafted by Paul Lanier until he retired and after him by Alain Albuisson. I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin). I quote the article in its entirety as it gives a clear history.

The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of . In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

Jeff 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 of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked really good with no damage to the edges of the bowl or the top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how clean the top came out after Jeff worked it over. The outer edge and inner edges are clean and undamaged. The stem photos show some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.I took photos of the stamping to document what it looked like at this point in our cleanup process. You can also see some of the fills in the bowl and shank.With the rim top and bowl looking so good after Jeff’s cleanup work this pipe did not need any work on the briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth and rusticated briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rusticated patch on the left side of the bowl and the rim top look really good. The smooth finish has a great contrasting stain and looks very good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and marks on the stem with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I took a photo of the left side of the stem to show the missing BC inside the clear insert.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad.  I further 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. This beautiful calabash with the rusticated cap and the patch on the left of the bowl was truly stunning. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the smooth parts of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rusticated patch and cap with Conservator’s wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting black and brown stain made the grain come alive with the buffing. It looked very good with the horn shank extension and the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2  inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this beautiful briar calabash on the rebornpipes online store soon. It may well the kind of unique pipe you have been looking for so have a look. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me.