18th Century Meerschaum???

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gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
I recently acquired this pipe and though the stem appears to have been replaced sometime in the mid 1800s, I think that the meerschaum bowl may predate that by as much as 50 to 100 years... please, see what you think and if you can enlighten us on a mystery pipe, please do,

Close up:

The other side:

Close up:


 

greeneyes

Member
Jun 5, 2018
101
8
Seems to me that your pipe isn't meerschuam, but bone. I'd tender a further guess that it's the head of a femur. The relief art carved into it passes beyond the compact bone to the trabecular (holey) bone. I might even guess that it's the humerus of a dolphin or other cetacean.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,353
36
Doesn't look, from the photo, to be meerschaum. Unknown bone would be my best guess. I've not dissected any dolphins so I can't comment there. :worship:

 

greeneyes

Member
Jun 5, 2018
101
8
Only DNA tests will tell. Just kidding. I suppose if it were a sailor that had made it, the bones of sea mammals like seals, dolphins and whales would be easy to come by.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
The mouthpiece is well fitted to the pipestem and works very well, but there is threading on the inside that leads me to think that it was originally manufactured for some entirely different purpose. As I understand vulcanite, it dates from sometime in the 1850s and this might be a relatively early piece ingeniously adapted to serve as a mouthpiece, so that is why I think the stem of the pipe dates from the mid 1800s.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
I cleaned up the pipe and found it to have no draw. The stem and the shank are a poor fit, so that means to me that it is a replacement for the original, which implies that the pipe is older, maybe much older, than the stem and its’ vulcanite mouthpiece.

Using a metal pick to probe the blocked shank, I dislodged a piece of paper that had been indistinguishable from the surrounding material. Some former owner had used a heavy paper to improve the fit of the stem, but eventually clogged the shank.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
Since then, I’ve cleaned out the shank and found a successful adaptation for the fit of the stem to the shank by coiling a pipecleaner around the tapered end of the stem.
So,I’ve cleared the shank and cleaned the pipe. Since then, I’ve smoked three bowls of tobacco in it and it is performing quite satisfactorily.

BTW, the overall length of the pipe is approximately fifteen and a half inches.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
As to the material of the pipe, it might not be meerschaum or it might be meerschaum from a source other than the Turkish meerschaum that we are accustomed to. Anyway, despite it’s age and evident usage, it doesn’t show any of the coloring that a meerschaum might. Perhaps a different mineral?

I doubt that it would be bone, because I think bone would burn and stink up your tobacco and that is definitely not the case, because I have had three good smokes from it since I cleaned it.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
3,971
86
A very unique pipe!
If the age on the pipe is over 200 years old, I'm sure the bone has been thoroughly dried as to not let off a stink when used. Where did you get it?

 

husky

Member
Jul 1, 2019
140
0
Try cutting a dry piece of bone or antler with a power tool.

The smell is not pleasant.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
Greneyes,, I understand why you say that part of it looks like the porous part of a bone. You’re looking at the foliage over the horse, right? But the trunk of the tree passes right through the middle of it and is as solid as the rest of the pipe. What you see as looking like the marrow part of a bone appears to be deliberately cut in order to simulate foliage. Some of the cuts appear to be round as if made by a drill bit the majority of them are neither round nor evenly shaped.

 

hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
305
2
I think you'll find that's a massa meerschaum pipe that was sold in their thousands by retailers such as Sears Roebuck back around the turn of the last century.
Sometimes they have a faux date carved on them.
Or it's a dolphin leg bone. Your choice. Its Liberty Hall.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
401
23
South Florida
Hugo, your pessimism is delightful!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t shed much light on the question at hand.

However, it also has given me an idea to follow up on.

Back in colonial times, trade goods were brought to America for trading with the native Americans. That included beads, arrowheads, tomahawks and I believe pipes as well.

 

hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
305
2
Gatorlope:
Thanks for the sense of humour, but it's honestly not pessimism. Chances of that being an eighteenth century meerschaum are very, very low. It's an interesting pipe and I honestly mean that.
I truly believe it's an imitation meerschaum out of a mass retailer back in the day--the slight coloring on the second pick makes me believe that the wax has worn off and it's very dirty.
Also, that stem was made for decades and decades after one would think they'd stopped being produced and there was a great market for "old timey" things even 120 years ago.
If I'm wrong, I'm happy to be wrong. But what I've said doesn't take away from the fact that its interesting and there aren't many left.
There are a lot of things I'll fight over, but not pipes. When you get a positive answer, please share it.

 

canucklehead

Member
Aug 1, 2018
104
14
I think you'll find that's a massa meerschaum pipe that was sold in their thousands by retailers such as Sears Roebuck back around the turn of the last century.
I think you are correct, it looks like a German-made massa (pressed) meerschaum with the aft part of the stummel cut off, and missing its metalwork. The stem is probably original, as those pipes were mostly made between 1840-1880.