Tag Archives: P. Viou pipes

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!

Discovering the Vintage of a Paul Viou ‘Feather’ with the Help of Sebastien Beaud of Genod Pipes of St. Claude

Blog by Dal Stanton

When I first laid eyes on this unique ‘Feather’ or ‘Plume’ shaped pipe, I debated adding it to my own personal collection and not posting it in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, making it available for pipe men and women to commission.  Well, the Feather did find a place in the ‘Dreamers’ collection and Daniel eventually added the P. Viou Feather to his trove of commissioned pipes totaling 7(!) benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I acquired the P. Viou Feather from the French eBay auction block in 2018.  This ‘French Lot of 50’, which is what I have affectionately called it, has offered up several treasures – one restoration that became my first publication adding to Pipedia’s wealth of information (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard and for Pipedia contribution see: A. Pandevant & Roy Co.).  The picture of the Lot provided by the Parisian seller only created the urge to know what was hidden within the tangle of stems and stummels.  That I could see so many interesting shapes and horn stems supplied the impetus to acquire the Lot.  The P. Viou Feather is mostly hidden in the picture (arrow below left) and it wasn’t until later after the package arrived in Sofia and I gleefully sorted and grouped the pipes that I came to realize the treasure trove of pipes in this Lot.  The Feather grouping is pictured below.Looking more closely at the P. Viou Feather, I take some additional pictures. The nomenclature is worn and thin at points but generally recognizable.  On the left flank is stamped in fancy cursive ‘P’ [underscored] followed by ‘Viou’ which is punctuated with a flared underline.  The COM stamped on the right flank of the Feather stummel reads: St CLAUDE [over] FRANCE.  St. Claude is the pipe center of France and the birthplace of the production of briar pipes.  The horn stem is also stamped, P. VIOU.  This stamp is also thin, but I’m hopeful to refresh it later.     I had the opportunity of restoring another Paul Viou from the French Lot of 50 – a Churchwarden (See: Recommissioning a Vintage French Paul Viou Churchwarden of St. Claude).   There is scant information about the Paul Viou name on the internet that I could find.  Pipedia’s article of Paul Viou is brief:

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’

Paul Viou was the brand and 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.

This information is confirmed by Pipephil.eu with the addition of the date of 2006 when the Paul Viou name transferred to Sebastien Beaud of Genod.As I broaden my online research, I discover that Sebastien Beaud is an interesting story.  He currently is the owner of the Genod house of pipes in St. Claude and is a younger entrepreneur.  In trying to find out further information about Paul Viou, Genod information is prevalent in the research.  The Pipedia article dedicated to Genod of St. Claude is also interesting (See: Genod).  The Genod story began in 1865 when Comoy founded pipe production in St. Claude.  In 1923 the production is taken over by Georges Vincent and in 1939, son in law John Craen joined Vincent.  John Craen’s son, Jacques, joined the business in 1959 and took over the business in 1977 where he expanded the Genod name and opened the shop in St. Claude to visitors to observe the pipe production.

From the same Pipedia article: In 2006 the young pipemaker Sebastien Beaud started his work in Jacky’s factory. As Craen himself he took over the brand Viou to start with. In future he will take over the business in its entire and continue this sympathetic workshop in its traditional way.

In the excerpt above, the Paul Viou line is mentioned as continuing under Genod during the Craen period, then Sebastien Beaud took over the Viou line.  Unfortunately, this article nor the article in Pipedia dedicated to Paul Viou, provide much in the way of specific dating of the Paul Viou branding.

I’ve searched several forums for answers to questions regarding when the historical Paul Viou began production using this name?  The Paul Viou Feather, or Plume (French translation) appears to have some age.  The horn stem would suggest a dating in the 1940s during the rubber shortages of WW2.  Horn became a ‘go to’ material in place of rubber compound stems.  Yet, a question arises regarding this older dating when I discovered in Genod’s current offerings of pipes on its website an almost identical ‘Plume’ yet, not with a horn stem but an ebonite or vulcanite stem (See: Link). Also missing is the P. Viou nomenclature. Furthermore, more than many pipe manufacturers today, Genod’s quality offerings include many horn stemmed options.  I like this(!) but it brings into question the necessity of an older dating for the P. Viou on my worktable.With the foundational question being, when did the P. Viou name begin?  Was it before or during the Craen era of Genod?  Was the P. Viou stamp on this Feather an indicator of a pre-Genod production?  My experience with tracking down and nailing down French pipe production details has never been easy but always interesting!

Potentially to find answers about the dating of the Paul Viou name, I sent an email via the ‘Contact’ form provided on the Genod website.  I have been surprised in the past to receive responses from ‘Hail Mary’ requests to pipe houses in Europe and America.  We’ll see what happens.

Well, I am continually amazed at ‘names’ in the pipe world being accessible to folks like me!  The next day I received a reply from Sebastien Beaud, currently at the helm of Genod.  I include my original message with the replies that followed:

DAL:   Greetings,  Thank you in advance for your time! I restore vintage pipes and publish the restoration process and research online at www.ThePipeSteward.com. I have restored some Paul Viou pipes and have researched a lot and enjoy the connection of Paul Viou and Genod. However, there is very little information that I can find on the internet regarding Paul Viou, historically. Can you please provide any information about Paul Viou’s origins, when he lived, when the P. Viou name started being placed on pipes? My current restoration is a P. Viou Plume with a horn stem. I see that you still produce these shapes on your website but with Ebionite stems. I’m trying to determine the potential dating of this pipe but cannot find much information about when Paul Viou came onto the pipe scene. Thanks so much for your help in advance if you are able!


Dear Dal,

Congratulations for your work and your website! All I know about Paul Viou is that as a former officer in the French army, he used to advertise his pipes in the army magazines.  So he used to sell a lot to the soldiers during the Algerian war, back in the 50’s / 60’s. He ran the business together with his wife Odette.  Their workshop was located right next to ours, and when they got old, Jacques Craen, started making pipes for them.  At the same time, Jacques Craen created the “Genod” brand to start selling directly to the smokers instead of selling to whole sellers. Genod is a tribute to his grandfather Georges Vincent-Genod (on his mother’s side) with whom he had learned and from whom he inherited the workshop. In the early 90’s, Jacques bought the Paul Viou brand and customers’ addresses file. I myself took over when Jacques retired, and kept Paul Viou’s name for a while, but it is the exact same product as a Genod pipe, so now I stamp all the pipes “Genod”.  I hope this helps.

Best regards,
Sebastien BEAUD
13 Faubourg Marcel – BP 145
Tél. (+33) (0)3 84 45 00 47


DAL: Sebastien,  Thank you so much for responding to my inquiries! This information needs to be added to Pipedia. If I could ask one follow up question regarding the pipe on my worktable. The nomenclature is the cursive ‘P. Viou’ and COM: St. Claude, France. The horn stem is stamped, ‘P. Viou’. Can you venture a guess as to what period this ‘Plume’ was manufactured with this nomenclature and horn stem?   Before the Jacques Craen period (50/60s?) or when Jacques Craen was making them for Paul Viou (60/70s) or during the Genod period starting in the 70s but still using the ‘P. Viou’ stamp? I hope you can understand this! I’m simply trying to place this pipe in a time period. I’ve attached a few pictures if this is a help.  Again, much thanks.


Dear Dal,

I think this pipe has been made by Jacques Craen back in the 80’s (even though it could also be the 90’s or late 70’s).

Best regards,

Sebastien BEAUD

With deep appreciation to Sebastien Beaud for his time and for the information he supplied, I have a much better understanding of the Paul Viou name and a small piece of the man himself.  Valuable information added was regarding Paul Viou, the man.  He was formerly an officer in the French army – a military man but also a pipe man/entrepreneur.  Apparently after his time with the military and residing in St. Claude, he was undoubtedly very much a part of the ‘pipe world’ milieu and at one point added his hand to the pipe making industry.  With his connections in the military, he advertised his pipes in the military magazines of the time and in military institutions.

It is noteworthy that Sebastien pinpoints this activity during the Algerian War.  A quick search on the internet renders a Wikipedia article describing the war that was from 1954 to 1962 that found France engaged in a ‘decolonization’ war with the Algerian National Liberation Front and facing turbulent times at home with a war that garnered international attention.  The war gradually resulted in an independent Algeria – much resembling the turmoil of the Viet Nam conflict of the United States.  Paul Viou had developed his business selling pipes and during this difficult time, with French servicemen abroad, Paul Viou, along with the support of his wife, Odette, provided pipes for the troops via army magazine adds.  The personal relationship between Jacques Craen and Viou family is interesting – their shops were next door to each other and the aging of the senior Viou created a transition from Paul Viou’s actively working in the shop to his work being done by Jacques.  During this transition period, undoubtedly steps were taken to sign over the Viou name to Craen and the Vincent-Genod legacy.  Another transition alluded to by Sebastien’s words – the brand created by Jacques, “Genod”, was a tribute to his grandfather.  The Viou brand joined the Genod brand and again, this legacy was passed on to Sebastien Beaud.  The Viou name is no longer used to mark pipes, but the quality of the Viou pipe was brought under Genod craftsmanship.

One last question I brought to Sebastien was the dating of the P. Viou Feather on my worktable.  His qualified answer is somehow in sync with French pipe dating in general!  Most likely the P. Viou Feather is from the hands of Jacques in the 80s, but the late 70s or the 90s could be possibilities as well!  Much thanks to Sebastien Beaud for his help in this project!

One very interesting piece of information related to horn stems I discovered on the Genod site written by Sebastien Beaud in March of 2020 regarding Genod’s current use of horn stems (See tab: All About Pipes).  More than most pipe houses, Genod continues to fit their pipes with horn stems which I find interesting.  His article was excellent and apropos since a horn stem from the Genod house is now on the worktable!  I include his article which taught me a good bit!

Close up on the horn!

March 16, 2020in All about the pipe by Sébastien Beaud

Most of the pipes fitted to briar pipes are made of ebonite because this material combines flexibility and resistance to wear by the teeth. But other materials are interesting for the production of pipes. There is one that is dear to us, because it is comfortable, beautiful, and presents various shades of colors, it is the horn.

 Which horn for pipe stems?

The horn is made of hairs bonded with keratin, the material from which our nails are made. This hair-armed keratin protects and strengthens the bone that grows on each side of the head of cattle. The horn we use to make the pipe stems is that of the zebu. It can reach 1 meter in length. As we have seen, a horn is hollow because it contains a bone. Therefore, only the end (the tip) is suitable for turning work. A cow’s horn is therefore not long enough to be used in turning.

Zebus also have a brown, white or marbled coat, their horn presents a magnificent variety of shades, ranging from sometimes very dark brown to blond, the association of the two colors being called “marbled”.

 Filming on horn.

The zebu is bred for its meat in Brazil, Argentina and Madagascar. The horns, instead of being lost like the other inedible parts, are exported for use in the manufacture of combs, knife handles, beads, and of course, for turning pipe stems.

Once arrived in the workshops of the Jura, the horns are possibly softened by heating in a bath or steam, in order to straighten them by pressing.  Then comes cutting, turning, shaping, then drilling. Now here is a straight pipe stem.
If necessary, it can be bent in a “form” press dipped in a hot oil bath, and there it is, ready to be adjusted to the heather.

 How to maintain the horn?

An organic material, the horn offers a soft contact, and quickly takes the mark of the teeth. And what a pleasure to combine plants and animals in a beautiful object!  The maintenance of horn pipes is very simple: just avoid exposure to heat sources, and if you want to prevent the shine of the pipe fading over time, you can rub it regularly with a simple cloth, as a polish.  Choose now the pipe with horn stem that suits you, fill it with your favorite mixture, natural or aromatic, and… good tasting!

With a better understanding of the Paul Viou name and man who originally have his name to the pipes, I take a critical look at the Feather or Plume shape now on the worktable.  The grain on the stocky Feather stummel is attractive.  The briar block was cut allowing very intricate Bird’s Eye grain to emerge on both sides.  Looking at the stummel straight on – at the nose of the ‘torpedo’, the cross grain is visible connecting the sides creating the cross grain perspective.The finish on the briar is dark and in need of cleaning.  The surface shows dents and scrapes on the heel of the stummel as well as on the upper side.  The diminutive size of the Feather allows it to be the perfect ‘pocket pipe’ but in the pocket are keys and change to compete with!  The chamber has light cake buildup and will be removed to allow a fresh start for the briar.  The rim also shows caking which needs removing so that the condition of the rim can be seen more clearly and to rediscover the rim’s grain.  There are nicks and dents around the rise to the rim.  The horn stem is predominantly a dark hue except for near the bit area where it lightens.  The horn is rough but should clean up very nicely.I start the restoration of the P. Viou Feather by addressing the cake in the chamber. Only the smallest blade head is accommodated by the 3/4-inch diameter chamber.  The process of clearing the carbon cake transitions quickly to employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls.  The rim is carefully scraped as well with my Winchester pocketknife then the chamber is sanded with 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The progress looks good.  With the chamber cleared of the cake buildup, After taking a starting picture, I clean the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  The stummel is scrubbed with a cotton pad as well as utilizing a brass bristled brush to work on the darkened rim. The brass brush will not negatively impact the briar as it scrubs the rim.To further the cleaning the stummel is transitioned to the sink.  Using warm water, shank brushes are employed with anti-oil liquid dish washing soap to clean the internal mortise chamber.  The brass bristled brush is used a bit more on the rim.  Back at the worktable I take another picture to show the cleaning progress.  The cleaning did a great job revealing very nice looking briar. The rim is much improved as well.  With a clean stummel before me, I take a closer look at the dents and pits primarily on the underside of the stummel I observed earlier.  The rough surface is from normal wear placing the Feather stummel down on the table or other harder surfaces.  The pictures show the comparison of ‘before and after’ to see how much progress is made with the repair.The approach I take capitalizes on the fact that wood is a very porous substance – spongelike in its composition.  Using a hot iron (with my wife’s permission!), I place a wetted cloth between a hot iron and the dents and press.  The heat generated by the iron heats the water in the cloth turning it into steam which permeates the briar surface with water.  The hot steamed water is absorbed and softens the wood allowing it to regain all or some of its pre-damaged condition. A comparison after several steaming sessions shows that the main heel damaged has lessened in its severity as the briar has expanded.  The side dent is now almost invisible.  To repair the residual pitting, using a toothpick as a guide, clear CA glue is spot dropped to fill the pits.  I put the stummel aside to allow the CA to cure.Turning now to the horn stem, pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to clean the airway.  Along with smooth and bristled pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%, shank brushes are used to clean the airway.  A dental probe is used to scrape inside the slot as well as inside the nickel tenon.  Eventually, the pipe cleaners begin to emerge lighter and I move on.Before continuing working on restoring the horn stem surface, I place a piece of painter’s tape over the thin P. Viou stem stamping to protect it. In no way do I desire to contribute to its demise!I approach working on horn stem much like on vulcanite stems.  I take a few more pictures looking at the current condition of the horn material – upper and lower.  I like the solid blackish hue of the horn’s midsection contrasting with the gradual lightening of the bit.The condition of the stem is good except for one small tooth compression on the lower bit.  I fill it with a drop of CA glue and allow it to cure before sanding. The CA patches on the stummel heel have cured.  A flat needle file is used to file the glue mounds down to the briar surface. Transitioning to 240 grade paper, the patches are sanded further followed by 600 grade paper. I’m pleased with the results.  There is almost no visible reminder remaining of the rough area.  The repair blends nicely. The rim continues with darkened, scorched areas.  There are nicks as well on the right side of the rim (top of the picture below).  Using a hard backing behind a piece of 240 sanding paper, the slightly canted bevel is sanded and refreshed.  Following the 240 paper, the same is done with 600 grade paper.  I’m pleased with the refreshed rim.   Next, utilizing the full regimen of micromesh pads, the stummel is sanded.  Before sanding, painters’ tape is used to cover the P. Viou and COM on the sides of the stummel.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 the stummel is wet sanded.  Following this, the stummel is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The protective tape was removed for the last 3 pads to even out the briar tone.  The beauty of the briar grain emerges through the micromesh process – I’m liking what I see!   Before returning to the stem, I’m looking forward to applying Mark Hoover’s ‘Before and After Restoration Balm’ to the stummel.  I apply some of the Balm to my fingers and rub it into the briar surface.  At first it has a cream-like consistency but as it works into the briar it transforms into a waxy consistency.  After applying the Balm, the stummel is set aside for 20 minutes or so for the Balm to enrich the briar.  After 20 minutes I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off excess Balm and then hand buff the stummel to raise the shine.  I like the way the Restoration Balm enhances the natural hues of the briar.Returning now to the horn stem, the sanding process is much like that of vulcanite stems.  After the CA patch has cured filling a tooth compression, using the flat needle file, the lower bit patch is filed until level with the stem surface.  The file also helps to refresh the lower button lip. Next, I transition to 240 sanding paper and smooth further the lower bit blending the patch more.  Flipping the stem over, the upper bit is sanded to smooth and tighten the horn surface from normal wear.   Next, the entire stem is wet sanded using 600 grade paper.As with vulcanite stems, next I apply 0000 steel wool to the entire stem to smooth and shine further. While using steel wool, I also apply it to the nickel tenon which shines it up very nicely.  Next, with the P. Viou stem stamping still covered with painters’ tape, the stem is the recipient of the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the horn is wet sanded.  Following the wet sanding, I dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I remove the tape for the last two pads to sand more closely to blend the area.  Obsidian Oil is applied and worked into the horn between each set of 3 pads.  The horn almost ‘drinks up’ the oil. To get a look at the progress, the stummel and horn stem are reunited.  Two issues surface after I do this. The seating of the stem into the mortise is off.  The next picture shows this with a gap of sunlight on the upper side of the connection point.  To remedy this, I fold a piece of 240 sanding paper and insert it between the lower halves of the stem and stummel and sand in a sawing motion.  This hopefully will even out the high point to bring the two faces back together flush – or as close as possible.   The result is good. There is still some daylight, but I’m satisfied at this point.  Sanding to remedy an unseated stem can be a bit finicky and sometimes ‘less’ is ‘more’ – I don’t want to complicate things!The other issue that emerged was that through the cleaning process the internal mortise cavity expanded somewhat so that the nickel tenon is not as snug as it should be.  The ways to fix this are limited.  If this were a vulcanite stem and tenon, the approach would be to expand the width of the tenon by heating it and forcing expansion by wedging the end of a drill bit in the softened tenon airway.  A nickel tenon, however, does not expand.  The remedy is to paint the external surface of the metal tenon with an acrylic nail polish or with CA glue.  The results are the same.  The hardening of the acrylic creates a hardened layer around the metal tenon, thus expanding its diameter and creating a snugger fit seated into the mortise.  I use a small bottle of acrylic nail polish and apply the acrylic polish with the small brush that comes along with the bottle. After each coating, I wait until the acrylic is cured before applying another layer.  After each cycle, the tenon is carefully fitted into the mortise to determine if another layer is needed.  To help it to dry evenly after each application, I ‘post’ the stem vertically on the end of a chop stick.  After several coats of clear acrylic nail polish, the fit of the stem was much snugger.  Mission accomplished.   Next, I attempt to refresh the P. Viou stem stamping, but am not successful.  The vestiges of the stamping were not deep enough to allow the white acrylic paint to grab the stamp channels.  After several attempts, I settle for what is. Now on the homestretch.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, speed set at about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to horn stem and stummel.  After completing this, a felt cloth is used to buff the pipe to clear the compound dust before applying the wax.To apply carnauba wax, the cotton cloth wheel is changed to a wheel dedicated to carnauba.  With the speed on the Dremel maintaining 40% power, wax is applied to the entire pipe.  The first coat applies the wax thoroughly over the surfaces.  Following this, the pipe is buffed up using the Dremel to make sure all the wax is dispersed and absorbed.  Finally, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.I’m pleased with how this product of Jacques Craen in St. Claude has turned out.  With Sebastien Beaud’s generous assistance, we can date this pipe after Jacques received the P. Viou name from the aging Paul Viou and his wife, Odette, who provided pipes to French military servicemen.  This ‘Plume’ is a beautiful example of French pipe making with its subtle intricacies, flow, and lines.  The grain, especially the exceptionally tight Bird’s Eye, is pleasing to behold! The horn stem with its gentle natural bend, has unique coloring.  The glassy shine of finely polished horn is pleasing to the eye and its rustic character will make it a pleasure to enjoy tobacco fellowship.  Last but not least, the unique Plume or Feather diminutive shape allows it to cradle very nicely in the palm.  This is the second of Daniel’s commissioned pipes and he will have the first opportunity to claim the P. Viou Feather from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Recommissioning a Vintage French Paul Viou Churchwarden of St. Claude

Blog by Dal Stanton

There’s nothing like a Lot picture on the eBay auction block that makes a pipe man salivate with the question, “Are there any treasures in the beautiful, intertwined, chaotic mass of briar, rubber, horn, and acrylic?”  I received a message from my good pipe man friend to the north of Bulgaria in Romania, Codruț (aka: Piper O’Beard on FB), a happy steward of a Peretti Oom Paul Sitter I restored (Recommissioning Another L. J. Peretti of Boston: An Oom Paul Sitter).  Codruț  sent me some links of Lots on the French eBay auction block.  With piqued curiosity I looked.  Codruț was considering getting into the hunt – he had never purchased a Lot before and he wanted to try his had and restoring.  When I saw the French Lot below, I started salivating a bit(!), and asked Codruț if he minded if I went after it.  With his blessing, I placed a bid and was fortunate to land the French Lot of 50 and bring it to Bulgaria.  What drew my attention to this Lot of 50 initially were all the horn stems that caught my eye.  The second was the classy Pencil Stem Cutty Tavern Pipe laying across the top (unbelievably, still available as I write in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection!!) and the modernistic, deep blue/white Billiard with a fiery blue acrylic stem lying next to the Pencil Stem Cutty Tavern Pipe (available in The Pipe Steward Store as I write!).  Then I saw the Churchwarden.  All pipe picking scavenging requires one to see through the mass to put together the clues of what is hidden.  The P. Viou Warden’s upside-down bowl starts on the left side (just above a horn stem) and you can trace the long stem underneath the mass where it emerges on the far right, upturned – somewhat masked by the star on the print below.  Aw!  My excitement when the bell rang, and the winning bid was mine!When the French Lot of 50 finally made it to Bulgaria, I opened the box like a young boy opening a treasure!  With all my acquisitions, so that I can keep track of everything, I picture and record every pipe and eventually upload them to the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for pipe men and women to see and commission if a pipe happens to choose them.  Here are some of the cataloging pictures I took of the French Lot of 50 with a better look at the 3 pipes that hooked me as well as the plethora of horn! It didn’t take long for the Churchwarden to find a suitor after he was put online in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection.  A new acquaintance, Josh, who visited Bulgaria last summer, saw the Churchwarden and commissioned him and has been waiting so patiently!  The Paul Viou Churchwarden finally made it to my worktable, and I take more pictures to get a closer look. The reach of the P. Viou’s Churchwarden is 10 1/2 inches (even with an inappropriately tucked stem!) and the height of the bowl is 1 7/8 inches.  The nomenclature is a cursive, P. Viou with a flared underline on the left flank of the shank.  On the right, is the well-known stamping of ‘ST.CLAUDE’, the French birthplace of the production of briar pipes and historically, the mega-center of French pipe manufacturing with a plethora of names calling it home.  There is scant information about the Paul Viou name on the internet that I could find.  Pipedia’s article of Paul Viou is brief:

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’

Paul Viou was the brand and 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.

This information is confirmed by Pipephil.eu with the addition of the date of the current holder of the Paul Viou name, Beaud, happening in 2006: Whether the Churchwarden before me was made under the original artisan or under one of the other eventual holding companies (Guilland, Vuillard, or Genod), I’m not sure how to say with certainty.  I have a few other P. Viou pipes in the French Lot of 50, so perhaps I’ll discover more information as I go!

The condition of the overall pipe is good. The bowl is darkened from time and the normal buildup of oils and grime.  The chamber has some cake buildup but not much.  The Warden stem has some oxidation and the bit is in good condition.  I notice also (picture above) that there’s a gap between the stem and shank.  Often, a simple cleaning will restore a flush seating of the stem, but I’ll keep my eye on this.  The main thing that grabbed my attention when I first held the pipe in my hand was the orientation of the stem.  To me, it is over-bent and almost you could say, tucked.  Wardens, I’ve found, have different kinds of bends.  Most often I’ve observed a sweeping bend where almost the entire stem is engaged in the bend.  This P. Viou has a straight extension until it reaches the very end of the stem and then is bent.  I like it, but the final orientation of the bend should more closely reflect a parallel orientation with the plane of the rim.  For a didactic moment, I trace this concept on a piece of paper to illustrate.Before beginning the cleaning process with the stem, I make this adjustment to the stem.  First, just to be on the cautious side, I insert a pipe cleaner into the bit side of the stem to guard the integrity of the airway, which usually isn’t an issue if the bend is being opened instead of tightened. I also trace the original stem orientation on the paper I used above so that when I bend the stem, I can lay it on the flat surface for a straighter result.  I then heat the end of the stem with a hot air gun.  As it heats, the vulcanite becomes supple and the bend gradually starts straightening on its own.  When it expands enough as I eyeball it, holding the stem in place, I take it to the sink and run cold tap water on it to set the bend.  After the first attempt, the bend is still too tight, so I repeat the process again and the second time is enough.  The pictures show the progression.  I like this orientation much better. Before cleaning the stem, I remove the stinger to aid in the cleaning. I heat the stinger with a Bic lighter and after it heats, the vulcanite holding it loosens its grip.  I gently extract it with the help of pliers.  I personally don’t have a lot of affection for stingers and their role in the smoking experience.  I’ll clean the stinger and include it with the finished pipe and allow the future steward to make the call!  I don’t have long pipe cleaners, but I do have a selection of shank brushes that easily reach through the stem.  I use these dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the internals of the stem. I also use regular pipe cleaners inserting them from both sides.  Well, it didn’t take long after starting to know that this Warden stem had not been cleaned in some time – if ever!  The reality of the less than optimal situation was confirmed when my wife came in and said that something was stinking…. I should have had gloves and my apron on, but hindsight!  After some cleaning, things are looking better but still not pristine! This nastiness helps me decide the next course of action.  I use an OxiClean bath to work on the oxidation in the vulcanite, but it also serves to further sanitize the internals, yes!  I pour the OxiClean into a larger plastic container that will accommodate the stem.  Before putting the stem in the OxiClean bath, I put a little petroleum jelly over the ‘P.Viou’ stamping to protect it and then let the OxiClean to its thing with both internal and external. With the stem in the bath, I turn now to the Paul Viou bowl by reaming the chamber with the Pipnet Reaming kit using two smaller blades.  I then fine tune by scraping the chamber with the Savinelli Fitsall tool and follow by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad and alcohol, I look at the cleaned chamber and it looks good – no signs of heating damage. Next, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on the external briar surface to work on the bowl and lava flow on the rim. I also use a bristled tooth brush and a brass wire brush on the rim that will not damage the briar.  The cleaning reveals two thing.  First, by looking at the cotton pad in the picture, the old dye came off during the cleaning.  The rim cleaned up well but revealed burn damage from pulling the flame over the rim instead of being over the tobacco!  Lighting a Churchwarden can be a bit more difficult, especially the way the stem was originally bent on this Paul Viou – I doubt if the steward could see the top of the bowl with the way it was tucked under.  Here are the pictures. To complete the general cleaning regimen, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to do the job.  With the grungy condition of the stem, it shouldn’t have surprised me to find the mortise and airway internals sharing the same grungy condition.  Oh my, with the help dental probes and spatulas to scrape the mortise and shank brushes coming in to reinforce the cotton buds and rank and file pipe cleaners, some victory was achieved in this skirmish.  With confidence of having total victory, I will later continue the struggle by giving the internals a kosher salt and alcohol bath to further draw the oils and tars out of the internal briar and to remove any lingering odor.  The picture shows the carnage and the arsenal of this war. Next, I take a closer look at the rim damage.  The lighting practice has scorched the forward left side of the bowl resulting in the thinning of the rim at that point.  I’ve had a lot of experience with this when I restored several L.J. Peretti Oom Pauls from the former steward who was a serial burner and discarder (See for an example: Another LJ Peretti Oom Paul Sitter Recommissioned).  My approach is two-fold with the driving value of always trying to save as much briar as possible!  First, I will minimally top the stummel to remove as much damage as possible.  Then, to blend the internal rim lip damage, I introduce an internal bevel, which in my view, looks good anyway.  With the chopping board on my table, I cover it with a sheet of 240 paper.  The following pictures show the graduated progress.  First, the starting point.Interestingly, the topping process reveals a slight inward dropping pitch of the rim.  This is shown by the outer portion only making contact with the flat topping board. When I decide the 240 grit paper has removed enough of the top, I switch the paper to 600 grit and give the topping a few more rotations to smooth out the rim.Now, step two is introducing a bevel to the internal lip to remove more damaged briar and to blend.  I start with a tightly rolled piece of coarser 120 grit paper to cut the initial bevel.  I follow in succession with 240 and 600 grit papers tightly rolled. To soften the sharp outer edge of the rim and to soften the entire rim presentation, I create an external bevel, but a very small bevel using the same progression of sanding papers.  I think it looks good.  The darkened part of the damage is still visible, but it will be mitigated when the rim is dyed and darkened.The condition of the stummel is good.  I don’t see any problem fills or pitting.  I go with the original finish and aim to match the rim to the bowl. What seems to be a good match is the Mahogany dye stick.  After applying it over the rim, I then blend the dye stick coating by wiping it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I think it looks good at this stage. The Warden stem has been in the OxiClean bath for several hours.  I take a few close-up pictures to show the oxidation which had surfaced.  I wet sand using 600 grade paper to remove the oxidation.  I’m careful to stay clear of the ‘P.Viou’ stamp.  I follow this with Magic Eraser over the entire stem, including the stamping.  The low abrasion of the sponge works well with cleaning up this area.In order to hydrate the vulcanite, I then apply a coat of paraffin oil (a mineral oil) over the stem and set it aside.Next, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel to clean it and begin the fine polishing sanding. 

Following the first set of 3 pads, I begin dry sanding with the next set of 3 pads and after finishing with the first of these, I don’t like the way the stummel looks.  After the wet sanding cycles, the stummel has a pink or mauve hue to it – mauve to me, is sick pink.  Just in case you’re wondering what mauve is, from a quick Google search followed by my mauve toned stummel.  This doesn’t work for me! I placed too much trust in the old stain which is not holding up and leaving behind a less than attractive briar presentation – at least as I look at it.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and alcohol and my thoughts are confirmed.  Even after wiping with isopropyl 95%, the stummel has the mauve residue in the grain.  The reality is, I’m not losing too much traction in the process of this restoration except I will take a detour and put the stummel in an acetone soak to make sure I’m proceeding with the natural briar.  This soak in acetone will also preempt the need to do a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I put the stummel in the acetone soak and turn out the lights.  Another day is done.The next morning, I fish the stummel out of the acetone soak and it is evident that all the remnant finish is gone. I return to the micromesh sanding process and start again by wet sanding with the initial set of 3, 1500 to 2400.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand the stummel, throughout avoiding the stamped areas on the left and right flanks of the shank.  Wow, without the distraction of the finish, the grain I see emerge is nice.  I see an eclectic blend of large bird’s eye on the sides of the bowl and the horizontal ‘connector’ grains of the bird’s eye displayed on the foreside of the bowl. I still have the Warden stem waiting in the wings for fine tuning, but I want to move forward with the stummel so that it can be ‘resting’ during the stem work.  The grain that has emerged is beautiful and to create a little more ‘pop’ to the grain with more contrast between the darker and lighter grain – harder and softer wood, after debating between Dark Brown and Light Brown, I decide to use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to provide the base hue in the grain and then through the use of Tripoli compound applied with a felt buffing wheel, the grain is teased out leaving greater contrast.  I can lighten as well by wiping the bowl with a cotton pad and alcohol since I’m using an aniline dye.

I assemble all the components of my desktop dying station. I first assure that the stummel is clean by wiping it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  After inserting a fashioned cork into the shank to act as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun to heat the briar and by this, expanding the briar to enable the dye to be absorbed more efficiently.  After heated, I apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye over the briar surface with a folded over pipe cleaner.  When fully covered, I fire the aniline dye with a lit candle which immediately combusts the alcohol and sets the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes I repeat the process and put the fired stummel aside to allow the dye to rest.  I discovered that this ‘resting’ process helps to aid the dye to set and not come off on the hands when the pipe initially goes into service and the bowl is heated.Now that I completed the staining, I turn my attention to the Warden stem.  Taking another close look at the bit area reveals that the sanding to remove the oxidation with 600 grit paper, all but erased any tooth chatter on the bit!  On the lower bit (second picture) I do see one very small dimple that I dispatch quickly with 470 then 600 grade papers.  I then follow by using 0000 steel wool on the entire stem.  I like the results – progress. Before moving on to the micromesh phase, I go the extra mile with the Paul Viou Warden stem.  Using Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish, in succession, I apply some of the polish on my fingers and then rub the polish into the vulcanite surface.  The Fine polish has more of a gritty feel to it.  With both polishes, they revitalize the vulcanite as well as continue to extract remnants of oxidation from the rubber compound.  I take a picture while the Extra Fine Polish was doing its thing.  After the application of each polish, I use a cotton pad to wipe off the excess polish.Just when everything was going so well….  After I wipe off the Before & After Extra Fine Polish and was admiring the results, I see a pit on the forward third of the stem…ugh.  Just to make sure I was seeing what my eyes were seeing and my brain was arguing that I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing – I took a sharp dental probe and tested. Well, sometimes you simply must punt the ball – American football slang for just doing what you need to do.  So, using Hyper Bond 12000cps Black CA glue, with a toothpick as my drop guidance system, I spot drop some glue on the pit and wait.After the patch cures, I gingerly use the flat needle file to file down the patch mound – trying not to slip off and produce more patch work!  After the filing, I further remove the excess with 240 grit paper followed by 600 and 0000 steel wool.  Finally, in the locale of the patch I again apply Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish.  Well, the pit is filled, but the coloring of the fill is not black-black so it doesn’t blend with 100% satisfaction.  Yet, if one doesn’t know the fill is there, he probably would not see it!  Restoration is not perfection, though we try!  The pictures show the detour. Undaunted, moving forward with the micromesh process, I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to continue the revitalization of the vulcanite Warden stem.  Admittedly, taking distance pictures of a Churchwarden stem is less than satisfying, but what I’m seeing close-up is looking good!With the stem on the side, I’m looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ the fired stummel.  Using a felt cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, I set the speed to the slowest setting, so it doesn’t get too hot with friction.  I then begin the process of removing the fired shell revealing the grain below. My wife helps record the process – my hands are full!  I must purge the felt wheel often as it collects the dye crust.  I do this quickly by running the wheel along the edge of the cutting board which is my lap desk as I work.  The process of using Tripoli compound, which is coarser, and with the felt wheel, which creates more friction than a cotton cloth wheel, is that it can buff off much of the dye that is excess and on softer wood – the lighter part of the grain.  The dye pigment tends to be held by the darker grain.  The effect is that the grain almost looks luminescent with the contrasting hues in the grains. After completing the application of Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and wipe down the stummel – not really to lighten the color, but to help blend the dye.I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond to stem and stummel.  As I attempt to reunite the stem and stummel, I discover that the fit of the tenon in the shank is too tight – cracking a shank isn’t anything I want to be contemplating now!  It’s not surprising that after soaking the stummel in acetone the wood absorbs and expand somewhat.  To remedy this, I wrap a piece of 240 grit paper around the tenon and rotate the paper, sanding down the tenon a bit.  I follow by doing the same with 600 grit paper.  After a few tries, the tenon finds a good, snug seating.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  After finishing with the Blue Diamond, I wipe the pipe down well with a felt cloth to clean the compound dust off the surface.Before applying carnauba wax, I will freshen the ‘P.Viou’ stem stamping.  The condition of the stamp imprint seems good so the paint should hold without problem.  Using white acrylic paint, I put some paint over the stamp and then lightly dab the paint with a cotton pad.  This absorbs the excess paint so that the thinned layer left on the stem dries quickly.  I then scrape the excess paint off by gently scraping with the side of a toothpick.  I finish by gently buffing the newly painted stamp with a cotton pad.  The pictures show the progression. As I said I would do earlier, I clean the stinger with a brass brush and alcohol and a dental probe and give it a quick buff with the Dremel using Blue Diamond compound.  I then reinsert it into the tenon.I mount another cotton cloth wheel onto the Dremel, set speed at 40%, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Warden stem and stummel.  After finishing, I hand buff the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

When one first sizes up a Churchwarden, one usually is drawn to the ‘olde world’ sweep of the long, flowing stem with images of Gandalf smoking and blowing magical smoke rings.  Secondarily, one is drawn to the bowl attached to the stem.  But with this Churchwarden, the bowl is drawing attention as well!  The beautiful, distinctive bird’s eye grain interacting with the other grain patterns is mesmerizing.  The correction to the stem’s bend was strategic and the rim repair is now invisible.  This Churchwarden would be a nice addition to anyone’s collection, and since  Josh commissioned the Paul Viou Churchwarden and has the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe, as well as all pipes commissioned from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!