Having smoked various briars (and a single corncob) since I first picked up a pipe in 2007, I finally decided to get myself a proper meerschaum to complement my pipe warderobe. Extensive web searches repeatedly turned up material from this site's forums, and the information provided by the members here greatly contributed to my purchasing process. As a way to show my appreciation for the knowledge contained in these forums, I hope to give something back with this thread.
Having steered clear of some disreputable suppliers warned of by memebers of this community, my attention was increasingly focused on smokingpipes.com due to the massive positive feedback I found on this vendor and the near absence of complaints I could find. Having done my research, I gave them a call today and must say I received a most excellent level of service. The person assisting me by phone supplied information that allowed me to decide against the first pipe I found interest in, as it turned out to have a screw-in stem. In the end I had to take a leap of faith and trust the shop's reputation, as I ordered an AKB Meerschaum - a manufacturer I could find no information about on the internet.
When I saved images of the website for future reference, I noticed marks on the stem - further inspection of the zoomed-in image showed it to be the word 'Yunus.' A web search turned up information on SMS pipes master carver Yunus Ege, and SMS has gotten a lot of positive feedback here. Assuming this is a genuine Yunus, I feel hopeful that I will be receiving a quality meerschaum. If the quality of the pipe is anywhere close to the level of service I got from smokingpipes.com, it should be a splendid pipe indeed!
When the pipe has arrived - this might take a while, as I live in Europe - I'll make sure to update this thread with images and a review of the received product. Meanwhile, here is the image from the vendor website for reference:
If anyone would care to help me with information that I've made a good (or bad) call, that will be appreciated - any smoker out there with PAD will likely identify with the mix of anxiety and anticipation I am currently experiencing!