Meerschaum as material

Meerschaum is a very suitable material for making pipes. The raw material is found in underground shafts in Turkey and comes as white blocks. It is a kind of stone, but very lightweight and extremely porous. This makes a meerschaum pipe comfortable light to hold and very pleasant to smoke since it absorbs all the humidity in the smoke.

Only at the end of the eighteenth century the production of meerschaum pipes emerges, initially with large pipes in Hungarian style and bulbous shapes. Later on, the variety of shapes increased and the style of carving got more delicate. A typical nineteenth century article is the cigar holder or cheroot holder made in meerschaum in huge quantities in the decades from 1870 to 1920. Sometimes the traditional shape of a tobacco pipe is still visible, but more often highly decorated pipes were designed.

In the twentieth century most smokers preferred an undecorated pipe and from 1900 onwards most meerschaum pipes were copies of the plain briar pipe. In order to look like a vintage pipe, some producers boiled the meerschaum in hot oil, or colored the material or treated it with tanned wax or otherwise.

Because the fragile nature of the material, meerschaum pipes were always sold in a fitted box or case. Some cases were even designed to smoke the pipe within the closed case. Smokers tried their best to create a fine orange-brown color by not touching the waxed surface.

The type of this meerschaum pipe bowl is called Hungarian characterized by its high narrow bowl and round base. Hungary, 1850-1880. Pipe bowl with six sides and widening bowl opening, a rim along the base, silver mountings. Germany,1870-1900.
Hungarian bowl shape made from pressed meerschaum produced in a mould. Germany, region of Ruhla, 1880-1910.
Meerschaum pipe bowl with trumpet shaped bowl opening and on the base a shell motive. Germany?, 1870-1900.
Curious horn shaped cheroot holder in meerschaum, the tip in amber, together with its cover. Austria, Vienna, 1890-1900.
Interesting cheroot holder with on the bowl a porcelain plaquette with a monogram. Hungary, 1880-1900.
Elegant meerschaum cheroot holder in horn shape, two decorated bands round the pipe with carvings. Austria, 1880-1900.
Two almost identical cheroot holders indicate the production in series. Austria/Hungary, 1890-1920.
A meerschaum cheroot holder with family arms carved on special request. Hungary, 1880-1900.
Cheroot holder in mid-European style, at the base of the bowl a shell motive, to be smoked in its cover. Hongary, 1870-1900.
Quite crudely carved meerschaum  based on a Turkish shape with separate stem, origin unknown, 1900-1920.
Cheroot holder in meerschaum and amber, a hand holding a wine glass, in the cover the address of an Amsterdam dealer. Germany, 1900-1920.
Detail of the silver band with inscription round the pipe bowl. Germany, the band from Holland, Germany, 1900-1910.
Cheroot holder in meerschaum with bulldog shape based on the briar pipe, amber mouthpiece. Vienna?, 1890-1920.
Table pipe with flexible stem and amber tip, the bowl in meerschaum. Germany?, 1900-1920.
Characteristic meerschaum bowl shape with silver band with inscription of a pipe club in Stampersgat. Germany, 1900-1910.
Beautiful egg shaped pipe bowl fitted with silver and on the bowl also in silver the arms of the Netherlands. Vienna, 1890-1910.
Cover with billiard shaped meerschaum pipe in goudron finish, gilt band, the mouth piece in amber. Germany, 1900-1910.
Two so-called goudron-meerschaum pjpes, boiled in hot oil that gave them the deep red tan, tips in amber. Germany, 1900-1920.

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