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Cultured Amber?

(22 posts)
  • Started 1 week ago by The Pipe Monk
  • Latest reply from husky
  1. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    What exactly is it? I know its "lab-grown" but how exactly is it "grown" and can it be labelled as authentic amber?

    Would like to hear your views and information about the process. would really appreciate if our veteran pipe collectors and restorers throw some light on the subject matter.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 1 week ago #
  2. jonasclark

    jonasclark

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    All I know about is the old "amberoid" which was powdered amber mixed with binding agents. I've read that Andreas Bauer used "cultured amber" but I've never seen it described.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  3. shayde

    shayde

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    Anyone care to explain what it even is

    "I have some friends, some honest friends, and honest friends are few; My pipe of briar, my open fire, A book that's not too new." -Robert W. Service
    Posted 1 week ago #
  4. mikethompson

    mikethompson

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    I've never heard of cultured amber before, but I guess if you can grow a hamburger in a Petri dish, you can grow anything.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  5. aquadoc

    aquadoc

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    "cultured amber" is a polymer plastic, as far as I remember from one applied organic chemistry lecture. Not amber.

    "If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and sex, you don't actually live longer; it just seems that way."
    Posted 1 week ago #
  6. npod

    npod

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    Lots to discuss here and cultured or what the Danes call cultural Amber is used for stems. The classic carver to employ the material is Manduela. Also, Poul Ilsted was a master at using it. High end Danish collectors go nuts for pipes with Cultural Amber. This year in Chicago Manduela offered one of Ilsted’s unsmoked pipes for the auction. It was a beauty.

    http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/pipe-reviews-pipe-makers/talking-pipes-with-artisans-from-neatpipes-the-party-20/

    Also, google Manduela and amber stems for a start. That is The Best starting point. I’ll try and post more later when I have time.

    Neal
    Posted 1 week ago #
  7. npod

    npod

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    Here is a good example. One of my favorite pipes by Henri.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  8. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    Thanks Neal for the link and the beautiful Henri pipe shot. The question still remains, what is Cultured or Cultural Amber? Is the the real deal or is it just a fancy polymer?

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Posted 1 week ago #
  9. seldom

    seldom

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    Andreas Bauer Meerschaum pipe cases are labeled "cultured amber" on the outside. As far as I can tell from the one I have this indicates plastic of some sort.

    Seldom Seen
    Posted 1 week ago #
  10. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    My example, a W.O. Larsen Pearl grade.


    My best information is that this pipe was made by Jess Chonowitsch.

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 1 week ago #
  11. ron123

    ron123

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    "Artificial Amber – This is a man-made plastic polymer which is crafted to look like amber." from https://www.corazonlatino.com/blogs/news/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-real-and-fake-amber

    Posted 1 week ago #
  12. georged

    georged

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    "Cultured Amber" is just some marketer's term for acrylic plastic that's tinted an amber color.

    Steve Norse stocks and sells tons of it:

    https://vermontfreehand.com/stems/acrylic-stems/

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 week ago #
  13. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    Thanks @seldom @dmc Ron and George, so basically marketing BS instead of the real thing.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Posted 1 week ago #
  14. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    From the inter webs:

    A fossil tree resin.

    In order to qualify as "amber", it is NOT sufficient for a tree resin merely to harden by losing its volatiles, the molecules have to polymerize, which can take millions of years (or at least 100,000 years). After polymerization, amber becomes significantly less soluble in common organic solvents, and so will not become sticky if wetted with alcohol, acetone or gasoline. Much of the material marketed as "amber" (especially that from Colombia and Madagascar) is far too young to be considered amber and is in reality just dried tree resin.

    Maybe the plastic stuff is better than the almost amber from S. America.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 week ago #
  15. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    I really had to go looking! An email reply (Jan '17) from Teddy Knudsen when I inquired about the pipe shown above, Q: "My other questions are about this stem material. I've heard it called "cultured amber" Is it acrylic, or a natural resin? Was it expensive, or in short supply? Difficult to work with...?"

    A: "The cultured amber is a kind of acrylic, there was two different color. At this time is was a little more expensive than ebonit for handmade stems. It was a nice material to work with, but you could only bent the stem a little."

    I was able to delete a few hundred old emails!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  16. npod

    npod

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    Chris, I asked Nikolaj from the Danish Pipe Shop to provide a better answer. Here is his reply. Great explanation!

    Hi

    It's a good question. When we mention rare cultural amber its from a Danish production. It was a lady called Henni Olrik that made it and it has resin in it. The recipe died with her and Manduela bought the whole stock.
    This material was very used by the Larsen makers, Manduela, Ilsted, Tao, Vigen etc.

    Amber is a big thing here and we have quite a lot natural amber. However stems made entirely of amber is mainly antique and honestly not very nice to hold in the mouth - its like glass:)

    Kind regards Nik

    Posted 1 week ago #
  17. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    The title of this thread reads like the title of a Porn film.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 1 week ago #
  18. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    Get your mind out of the gutter!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  19. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    @jpm @dmc Interesting information, real amber does need a lot of time to be called amber. When it comes to acrylic, there are lots of options now to choose from. I guess all plastic and rubber goes brittle with age. Some early and some quite late.

    @Npod Thanks Neal, that's an eye opening block of info. It's sad when people dont share their trade secrets and take it to the grave. Lol so Manduela is sitting on the entire pile of Henni Olrik stock. Reminded me of the Hobbit !!

    @Sable the older we get the thinner our public filter becomes, lmao, title really sounds like a decent 80s porno.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Posted 1 week ago #
  20. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    I had started typing and then reread everyone's comments. Georged hit the nail on the head. It is marketing... like lab-grown rubies, Chatham emeralds, etc... the name both separates them from the real thing, and somewhat deceives the market at the same time.

    Amber is like turquoise in that there are tons of different trade names like this that serve to "sell" the fake stuff. Real turquoise, like amber is very rare. Whenever I see old amber stemmed meers, I am always amazed that it seems nothing like real amber. Not, that they are all fake. I just haven't seen any that seem real to me. And, a bent amber stem... WTF?

    Michael
    Posted 1 week ago #
  21. jonasclark

    jonasclark

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    Cosmic, yes, it is often block amber, but in the old (pre-WWI) days there was also amber ground, mixed with a binding agent and reformed into blocks. I think that was termed "real amber" too, and essentially was amber. But most of it was real block amber. I've seen cloudy yellow and orange, and transparent ranging from the color of apple juice to the rarest color, cherry red (rare because the color is only at the surface). Amber bending was accomplished by dipping the otherwise-finished stems into hot oil of some sort, and the curve was 'fixed' by burying them in meerschaum dust to cool evenly; this was reportedly so difficult that, in the days when pipe manufacturers had workers trained just to work with amber, a professional would find that one out of every two stems would shatter in the process. You say "real amber is rare," and you're right, but in the late 1800s it wasn't anywhere near as rare.

    My guess is that others here are absolutely right. I know "ambrolith" was a term for a synthetic resin in amber color; I'd guess "cultured amber" is the same. Bauer used real amber well into the 1950s; I have a "Mastercraft" (definitely actually Bauer) from the 50s, in a spiffy red Morocco case with gold pinstripes, case stamped "Real Amber Austria," which has what's most definitely real block butterscotch Baltic amber.

    I've seen a few colors of acrylic which really do look like amber. None of the yellow marbled plastic stems used by Turkish meerschaum makers in the 60s, 70s and 80s can fool me even at a distance, nor do vintage Bakelite stems; I've NEVER seen clouded amber that color. Redmanol (another phenolic resin) looks exactly like cherry amber. I wish I could find some stems made from a color CAO used on Bekler's pipes in the 90s and 00s, not really a true amber imitation but extremely pretty: it was transparent golden yellow, with brown flecks which loosely imitate the 'spangles' that appear in heat-treated amber. Briarville has an acrylic stem material which looks uncannily like butterscotch amber in photos. I plan to have a stem made from it soon and see how well it does so in person.

    Posted 5 days ago #
  22. husky

    husky

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    Amber was probably not a good material for stems but very much a status marker?

    Posted 5 days ago #

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