Tag Archives: Butz Choquin St. Claude Made pipes

Fresh Life for a Beautiful Butz-Choquin Maitre Pipier Flamme Extra Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from a group of pipes a friend here in Vancouver passed on to me to restore and sell for him. The pipe is a beautiful Butz Choquin Maitre Pipier Flamme Extra pipe. It is almost a Danish shaped horn/scoop with a triangular shank and a 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 clean other than some burn or darkening damage on the back inner edge of the bowl. 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 [over] Extra. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France. On the underside of the shank it is stamped J Berrod. The stem is vulcanite and has the inset BC circle on the left side of the uniquely fit triangular taper stem. I took photos of the rim top and edges and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked very good with some great birdseye. The inner edge had some burn damage and some darkening on the back inner edge. The stem had some oxidation, calcification and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It read as noted above and is very clear. I removed the stem from the bowl and took a picture of the pipe to show the general look and proportion of the pipe. It is quite pretty in terms of grain and shape. The stem is definitely a fitted blank rather than a hand cut one. 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.

I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape out the thin cake in the bowl. There was not much there but enough that it had to go. I also sanded the bowl walls with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The bowl walls were smooth when I finished the work.  I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the shiny varnish coat as it was spotty on the sides and rim top. With it removed the grain really stood out clearly. It is a great looking piece of briar. I cleaned out the shank and the airway in the mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. It was quite a bit dirtier than I expected from just the appearance. With the cleaning the pipe smelled cleaner. I worked over the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and to give the edge a slight bevel to remove the burn damage. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – polishing it with 1500-12000 grit pads. By the time I was finished the briar had a great shine. The grain on the pipe is quite beautiful.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the finish with my fingers. After it sat for 15 minutes I wiped it off with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks and chatter. It worked very well and I sanded out the remnants and oxidation on the top and underside with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it 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 a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.   As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl 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 really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the bowl and thick shank. This Butz-Choquin Maitrie Pipier Flamme Extra Scoop was another fun pipe to work on. It is a nice piece of briar whose shape follows the flow of the briar. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.45 ounces/41 grams. I will be putting this pipe on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

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.

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.