New (to me) abstract Bekler meerschaum

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jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
458
6
Seattle
I've been into Bekler's abstract pipes since 2001, when I purchased one on eBay. I have sex already, and have now purchased a 7th. First, a brief recap on the others; I eventually gave them 1970s-sounding titles, as I felt it was appropriate. Some of them (noted) have holes or openings in the carving, a hallmark of Bekler's style.
In 2001, I bought "Picasso '74." So-named because it's dated '74, and because the first Bekler abstracts I ever saw were the "Homage to Picasso" series in a 1980 catalog. "Picasso '74" is signed 'ismet Bekler,' and although Bekler was carving for Golden Horn in 1974, it came in a CAO box case. It has three holes, almost like buttresses or framework, and is a sitter. It came with two shank extensions; one, obviously original, is gorgeous, while the other (now removed) is heavy, chalky-white and has poorer carving (maybe added by CAO? I think they got it as old Golden Horn stock and put it in a CAO case. I have heard a rumor that Golden Horn closed abruptly).


Second, around 2012, came "Les Fleur," named for obvious reasons. "Les Fleur" is signed 'ismet Bekler," and has the brass Golden Horn logo dot in the stem. Two wide holes and it 'sits' nicely. It is missing its case.


Then came "Blue." It had been the seller's grandfather's, and he and his father referred to grandpa's two Bekler abstracts by the colors of their velvet-lined cases, Red Box and Blue Box. "Blue" is signed 'ismet Bekler,' and has the brass Golden Horn stem dot, inserted (I think charmingly) off-center. It has two open holes.


After that was "Smooth Sailing," as I thought it had the appearance of a swaying sail. I believe this to be part of his 1981 and 1982 series (100 pipes per) titled "a la Rodan," but it is unsigned. It is, though, unmistakably his work. No holes, but sits. CAO stem dot and shaped case.


Then, "Coral," no holes and no stem (it's displayed here using another pipe's stem). No holes, crazy shapes, kind of sits. The earliest Bekler signature was 'BEKLER,' then 'iSMET' (like this one), then 'ismet Bekler,' and for CAO, 'i. Bekler." So this is a very early signed work. It's also signed in a weird spot: on the rim of the bowl. No case, either. This and several others came from an estate auction of a collector, and while some had their cases, nearly all were missing their stems!


Next was "Pisces," a flowing piece with no straight lines. I think this must be just barely before he began signing, 1973 or very early 1974. It has three holes, does not sit, and has a shaped case with the gold sticker reading "Exclusively by Golden Horn Genuine Bekler." All Golden Horns had titles on stickers, and they called Bekler's abstracts "Beyond Imagination."


Which brings me to the new pipe. Here was its eBay auction's main photo. Curiously, none of the photos showed the side opposite this, which has the craziest stuff.


Here's my set of glamour shots. My Spanish friend suggested "Voluta," meaning smoke spiral, and it was both appropriate and had a 1970s sound to it. It sits well on two C-shaped feet, has three holes, and is all-around incredible. I suspect that, at this time in his career, Bekler made the shank sections, did allk the polishing and finishing, and may have made the stem as well. It came in a Royal box. I believe Irving Korn's Royal, founded in 1970, had Bekler until '73-'74, when Golden Horn got him; he may have also carved for Ben-Sim. CAO got him in '77. I don't think he signed any of his Royal pipes.


If you look at the above photo-group and you're still confused, that's understandable. This one, more than the others I have, really must be examined in-hand for at least a minute before you know where everything is! I think Bekler's pipes were truly Beyond Imagination.
The pipe, sitting atop its box, showing its wilder face.


Came with the Royal-style "This pipe was carved by Ismet Bekler, Turkey's foremost sculpter(sic) and carver of meerschaum" hang tag, and one of the little "A first quality genuine block meerschaum handcarved in Turkey" oval tags found inside the bowls of countless 1970s Turkish meers.


It came with a few items in an envelope with "MERSHAM" written by hand on the back. One was this letter. I'm sure any who know meerschaum pipe history will get a laugh out of this.


Also inside is a photo of Mr. Bekler carving. I suspect it's a staged photo, as there's no mess of meerschaum bits.


What's interesting is that the photo didn't come with the pipe! The reverse has a CAO stamp, a Turkish name I can't read, Bekler's signature, and a flashy, unreadable signature (could this be Cano Ozgener's?) I don't know whether the three names are written or stamped, but they're smudged.


Opinions and questions very much welcomed!

 

ericthered

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2014
512
0
Suffolk, VA
:laughat:
I have sex already
That's an unfortunate and amusing typo!
Very cool collection! Do you intend to smoke the un-smoked ones? This looks like a collection that would be a great display at a pipe show. Thank-you for sharing it with us!

 

jvnshr

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2015
3,976
15
Baku, Azerbaijan
I do speak Turkish so hope that helps

The letter says:
Warm Regards/Best Regards/Sincerely Yours,
I. Bekler
Signature (Probably belongs to I. Bekler)
I can understand your confusion. In western culture the signatures are easy to read such as:

However in eastern countries they are somewhat unreadable like the one you have.

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
458
6
Seattle
Ouch, ericthered! TERRIBLE typo! LOL.
Jvnshr, you're amazing, you know that? So I should have reason to believe that this was signed by him, and that only the CAO stamp is, well, a stamp?
I know the "i. Bekler" there is exactly how he carved his CAO signature (some earlier pipes have his full first name, but always having a dotted 'i' with that hook off the top left).

 

jvnshr

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2015
3,976
15
Baku, Azerbaijan
Well, probably it was his style of writing his name, as a signature. The thing is, the signature (the one I stated in the photo) should at least resemble some characters from his name and surname, however I cannot seem to find any similarities.
And thanks to you, I have just learned that CAO pipe company is the same company selling CAO cigars today and I would have never guessed that the CAO was the initials of Cano A. Ozgener, a Turkish guy. Amazing.

 

jvnshr

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2015
3,976
15
Baku, Azerbaijan
Voila, I found it. The signature says "Ismet". It was hard to read but I think I am right. His signature was his first name only, Yep, I checked it again, I am sure. I cannot read the stamp though. I can see the CAO logo but can't read anything else.

 

darwin

Preferred Member
Apr 9, 2014
821
0
Some freaky stuff. Most of it will doubtless inhabit a mantlepiece or a display case. That first one is disturbing. The finish looks diseased.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,841
12
You realize of course that autocorrect is based on words your usually type. This means you must type the word sex more than you do the word six.
As for the pipes, they are truly works of art. Do you smoke them or just display them?

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
458
6
Seattle
I don't use autocorrect, pappymac.
Darwin, Bekler had a stranger one, which I think looks almost diseased. It was an all-over pattern of small, slightly-curved gouges, with a random dot pattern over that. Shown here:


Yes, in the late 1960s Cano Ozgener, as a student in the USA, bought some Turkish meerschaums, and felt that the drilling and draw were terrible, so he improved them and resold them. He soon started a company and having the improvements done in Turkey. CAO got hold of Bekler in 1977 when Goldenh Horn shut down, and had him focus on the face pipes which sold well in the USA, though he still did some abstracts (including series editions "Homage to Picasso" in '80 and "a la Rodin" in '81 and '82). I've seen Bekler abstracts as late as 1989. Late in his career, he focused on variants of classic shapes, with very detailed low-relief patterned surfaces, and some incredibly perfect smooths. If anyone wants to buy these later Beklers, go to Rich's Cigars in Portland, OR or Iwan Ries in Chicago, IL, who bought CAO's remaining stock in the late '00s, when Cano sold the company and it began focusing entirely on cigars.

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
458
6
Seattle
Oh, and pappymac, I smoke Les Fleur and Smooth Sailing fairly often. They have a nice open draw. Haven't lit up Pisces or Coral yet. These were all well-smoked when I got them. Blue, Picasso '74 and the new pipe are unsmoked, and I don't have the heart to light them up.