Twain and His Creations Arrive in Corn Cob Fame

A. Miller
A few months ago a friend of mine took a look at my pipe collection and furled his brow slightly.
"You know," he said, "You wouldn’t burn the rim of your pipes so badly if you loaded them less full, smoked inside, and altogether avoided the wind."

True. And my nicer briars would prefer I stuck to those rules. However, I’m the kind of guy who hates to feel owned by the things I own. I almost exclusively smoke outdoors and I don’t ever want to say no to a bowl just because it’s windy. And while these reasons are certainly all good reasons to smoke primarily cobs, I smoke corn cob pipes because nothing, in my opinion, offers as consistently good of a smoke. My cobs never gargle, stay clean almost by themselves, and forgive me when I drop them on the road. Every time I see a friend take out a pipe cleaner and use it to clean out moisture mid-smoke, I remember why I love my cobs so much. You can therefore imagine my excitement when Missouri Meerschaum recently released new pipes.

These three new pipes are named after Mark Twain, who has been slowly becoming something of a hero to me, and two of his creations—Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

For reference, my two favorite pipes by Missouri Meerschaum are the Pony Express and the Eaton. The Eaton is basically the Pony Express with a bare cob bowl (no plaster applied). I tend to smoke while clenching, and due to it’s extreme light weight the Eaton is particularly easy to clench while lunting through a mega city or chasing my children around in the grass. The Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are slight variations on these themes.

The Tom Sawyer on top and the Huck Finn on bottom

The Huck Finn is slightly longer than the Eaton with a longer amber bit and the the Tom Sawyer is shorter, enough so it could be considered a nose warmer. Both have a straight shank and the same bowl size as the Eaton and Pony Express, but they’re something in-between a bare bowl and the fully plastered bowl; Missouri Meerschaum has referred to this finish as "varnished". While the Eaton is just a plain (often white) cob, the Finn and Sawyer are a deep golden yellow color, but the various indentations of the cob are all still visible and tangible rather than being smooth like a plastered pipe. The varnish feels to me like it adds some durability to the bowl, though I have never had an Eaton burn out.

The Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer pipes are perfectly named after the type of people who would be running around outdoors while smoking their pipes. This summer I’ve enjoyed the Huck Finn stuffed with some Briar Fox while sitting beside a small lake in Wisconsin, and while riding a bike around my brother-in-law’s neighborhood in St. Louis. I’ve been smoking Missouri Meerschaum’s new Great Dane tobacco in the Tom Sawyer while grilling on a back porch with a friend of mine in Illinois, and then again while rocking in a hammock on Alabama’s Lake Martin. These pipes are as good as it gets for the pipe smoker who likes to clench and lives the opposite of a sedentary lifestyle. And though I took them with me on a 4000 mile road-trip across the United States, I probably won’t take them all the way to a raft down the Mississippi. Then again, that’s just because I have a sort of life-rule against using rafts as a means of transportation.

While I don’t think the new cobs will make me any less fond of the Eaton, the new varnished look is something I now prefer over the bare cobs for which I previously so zealously evangelized. They smoke as cool and weigh as little as the bare cobs, which in my (obviously infallible) opinion offer the best smoke money can buy at any price point.

But not every moment is one of adventure outdoors, and even the most active of us still sit down regularly for work or a break. When sitting, a slightly heavier and bigger pipe is no trouble at all, though this next pipe is only heavy when compared to the previous two. For the times where you’re at your desk writing the next Great American novel or, say, a forum post about your new favorite tobacco, the new bent Mark Twain is what you’re going to want to reach for.

The Mark Twain

Quite different from the two mentioned above, this pipe has a Dublin shape, a plastered bowl, and comes in both straight or bent varieties. The Mark Twain is a filtered pipe and comparable in size, weight, and bowl size to the Diplomat. The Missouri Meerschaum Company said they used to make a Doublin shaped pipe back in the 1930’s and wanted to bring the shape back; this hand turned pipe is the result of those efforts. I found this pipe works great with some McClelland St. James Flake while sitting on the driveway with some bourbon watching neighbors drive past wishing they were as relaxed as me. I also reach for it as a preferred pipe while stuck answering emails, the depth and size of the bowl make for a great long-lasting smoke to take the pain out of what is otherwise work.

While I’m writing about how I love to smoke this pipe sitting down, I’m remembering Twain famously used a stand up desk. I have a great deal of respect for the man because he could write both brilliant novels and adept social commentary. It is an honor for Missouri Meerschaum just to know he chose to smoke their pipes. It seems right to me also that they should honor him with a well made, good looking pipe.

As for me and right now, I’ll hang on to this Twain and add a few more Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers to my collection. I am also thrilled that the Missouri Meerschaum Company—"an American legend"—has ushered three more American legends in to corn cob fame.

These three pipes are for sale now on Missouri Meerschaum’s website under the Hannibal Collection, (Mark Twain’s hometown). The Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer sell for $4.49 and the Mark Twain for $9.54.

*Author’s Disclaimer: While (more than) mildly infatuated with the pipes made by Missouri Meerschaum, I am neither endorsed by, nor do I work for the company. All of the above pipes were purchased with good old-fashioned plastic currency on the phone directly from Washington Missouri.

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12 Responses

  • Thank you, Kevin, I enjoyed reading this!
    Each year the NY Pipe Club throws a Summer BBQ/Picnic at a gracious members house. The club has established a tradition of providing corn cobs for all attendees as well as providing complimentary pipe tobaccos to go along with some sort of theme we think of to drum up interest for the event. Typically we provide and sample so-called typical “American Drug Store” Blends of assorted types. The cobs were added so that we could smoke these blends in the cobs in case anyone was worried about smoking them in their treasured briars. I believe we have ran the gamut of offerings from Missouri Meerschaum and I was looking for a new idea. After attending the 2014 Chicago Show and seeing the new Missouri Meerschaum models as well as the 4 new Corn Cob Blends of Russ Oullette, it was a no brainer and our 2014 theme was born!
    This year the club provided 30 Mark Twain cobs, 15 straight versions and 15 bent. To say they went over well is an understatement! There were none left as our turn out to the event hit the record for attendance mark for which I am extremely grateful!
    The four new corn cob blends were also a hit and were enjoyed by all. I won’t even begin to talk about our gracious host, Hank Saatchi’s skill as a BBQ Pitmaster!!!
    Anyway, glad to see this shape back in production and hope you all get a chance to enjoy them as well as the tobaccos!

  • Thank you Kevin and Mr. Miller. I love my cobs (and my briars). On weekends, I am always working in the yard, or on the house with a Missouri Meerschaum clenched in my teeth. Often a bare Missouri Pride, sometimes a County Gentleman. Cobs are perfect for work- they are light, forgive clenching, stay cool and dry even when the weather is hot and humid, only occasionally need cleaning, and I think they need less relights with their well ventilated bowls. Also, when I drop them onto the dirt, or handle them with dirty hands, I don’t worry like I would do with my shiny briars. They seem to make many tobaccos taste better. I just ordered some new MM blends to try. And, I will have to consider getting a Mark Twain. Sounds perfect for when (if?) I get some relaxation time!

  • Phil Morgan and his band of Champions have done a wonderful job in reviving the corn cob pipe market.

  • I have bought 2 Huck Finn and 2 Tom Sawyer; finding the TS too short, I fitted them with the Huck Finn stems. So I kinda have 4 HF now.
    I really like the fact that the HF and TS come without a filter.

  • I’m just getting started with pipe smoking after 39 years of never touching bit to lip. I was never a very good pipe smoker; I only burned drugstore tobaccos, got tongue-bitten constantly and was dubbed “Gurgle Meister” by more experienced pipe smoking pals.
    Today I took the bull by the horns…er, the cob by the corns? and purchased a 10 lot of factory seconds from M.M. I figured if I hated the experience, I’d only be out thirty bucks plus $7.50 shipping. a few questions…and they are all serious newbie questions:
    1. First, did I make a mistake buying the lot of “smokable seconds?” Does anyone have experience with this?
    2. What, if anything needs to be done to break in a corn cob pipe?
    3. Any suggestions for tobacco? Remember, my idea of haute fumage was Half & Half or Borkhum Riff Cherry. I guess I like aromatics, but I once tried a very sweet Cavendish that I liked (don’t remember what brand it was, a friend bummed me a boulful).
    Thanks in advance. I hate to come on here with my first post being a question, but I’m a bit worried that in my zeal I made a somehow poor buying decision. Cheers! Uncle Squinty

  • I smoke cobs while driving as I don’t have to worry about burnout fanned by the flame of open windows. I smoke them indoors when I want a shorter smoke. As with all my pipes, I usually smoke a pipe 2-4 Xs in succession. In these regards cobs hold their own.

  • Squinty: as per breaking in cobs go, I have heard that you should, upon imbibing your first bowl through it, soak the bowl in a glass of water for a few minutes before filling with tobacco and smoking. Lately though with cobs I have not bothered, and the newer pipes have not suffered. I don’t know anything about meer seconds, BTW, but it sounds like you’re already minimizing smoking costs in a big way.

  • Nice article and is inline with my recent visit to Elmira, NY and looking at Mark Twain’s study and other items that belonged to him being displayed at the college there.

  • Entertaining and informative article, and I appreciate the illustrations. Since the advent of the Forever Stem, my only remaining objection to cobs has been their relatively small bowl capacity. I recently bought a Mark Twain because its wall thickness allowed me to enlarge the chamber diameter with a rotary hand tool. I highly recommend this modification.

  • I live in Fredericksburg, Va. I wasn’t sure where to post this as I am a new user. I was wondering if anyone knew where a Jobey Pipe Maker manufacturer might be around here. I can’t seem to locate one. Thank You, M

  • Somewhere around the house I have a cob pipe that my father smoked when I was a six-ear old kid. That would be 70 years ago. He whittled on it between smokes, both the inside and outside of the bowl, rendering it quite thin. Once, when I was a teenager I happened to find it, along with a partial tin of exceedingly dry Velvet, and had myself an experience I will never forget!!
    I am a pipe smoker of some 56 years, and I have a couple of cobs of my own. I am not a tobacco snob (that’s what I call those who refuse to smoke pre-packaged tobacco) and, through trial and error I found that for me the only tobacco that really worked well in a cob was Walnut (no, not WalMart) brand. It has been several years since I smoked a cob pipe, but I do recall how satisfying the experience was.

  • I am very new to the forum, just joined at the insistence of a coworker and literally saw your article with no searching or intent to see it on my part. It was just kind of there. I have to say I agree with you on the Mark Twain, I purchased it a few months back, the bent version, and it has truly been a pleasure. So much so that I went to and bought a second one with an 8 inch churchwarden stem. I currently type this while I anxiously await its arrival.

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