Any Tips on Restoring a (Potentially) 100 Year Old Meerschaum?

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Rumple100

New member
Nov 29, 2020
11
8
EDIT: Fixed Capitalization in Title (See Rule 9)

Hey guys, I just found this forum and just joined (I apologize if this is in the wrong place)!
So, I'm a theatre prop artisan by trade and I just recently got interested in expanding my work into restoring old pipes. I was browsing etsy and ebay recently and came across a super unique meerschaum that I kept coming back to, I just ordered it and it should arrive in the next couple of weeks. The pipe measure's a measly 3.75 inches long and includes a rather antiqued soft case.

The listing for the pipe dated it to the 1910's, I'm not sure how to gauge that accuracy, and it looks to have encountered quite a bit of use (or abuse), so my question to you fine people is what the best method of refurbishing a meerschaum pipe might be. From the pictures it appears it will need a new stem, it's wrapped in fabric tape that the seller hasn't removed. And the bowl looks relatively cleared out (from a novice's opinion), I see some tiny holes have formed on the bowl's outer surface but have no idea how deep those may go, but the listing states that there are no visible cracks.

I would be so grateful for any advice as to how to start restoring this thing when it arrives (it's coming from Scotland), and I promise I will make a follow up post detailing the restoration (if such a thing is possible) for any who are interested.

The seller's description reads:
"A gorgeous, preloved, little meerschaum pipe with what seems to be an unusual design of spikes or spines around the lower part of the bowl and along the stem, despite this it is comfortable to hold and is very tactile being highly polished from use.

There has been a repair carried out at some point using fabric insulating tape, we have not attempted to remove the tape to inspect it. Measuring just 9.5cm (3.75 inches) long, the pipe has seen a lot of smoking but there are no cracks visible.

Like the pipe, the leather-covered felt-lined case has seen a lot of use (see images) but is still intact with both tiny brass hinges and the brass closure working well. It measures 11.5cm (4.5 inches) long by 5cm (2 inches) wide."


Here are the photo's of the pipe I have dubbed "Barnacle Boi":
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ashdigger

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2016
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Grytviken, South Georgia
The pipe appears to be broken. There’s not much to restoring/cleaning those internally. Warm water and pipe cleaners. Exterior, warm water micro fiber cloth.

The stem is taped. That can’t be good.

The “spikes” are for heat dissipation
 

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Rumple100

New member
Nov 29, 2020
11
8
The pipe appears to be broken. There’s not much to restoring/cleaning those internally. Warm water and pipe cleaners. Exterior, warm water micro fiber cloth.

The stem is taped. That can’t be good.

The “spikes” are for heat dissipation
Thanks for the input! The tape scares me as well, I ordered this as a sort of gamble, either it's able to be/worth restoring or it makes a cool shelf ornament. Here's hoping for the best
 
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warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
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It doesn't appear to be Turkish meerschaum judging from the coloring. A new stem/bit should be easy to procure from a decent repairman for a price. Nicks and scratches are simply there, part of the history, and I know of no way to repair.

I'd be interested in how the vendor established an age for the specimen. It is indeed a fine looking pipe. The single picture showing what I'd call normal "wear and tear." It doesn't look abused to my, simply used by a smoker more interested in it as a tool and not a piece of artwork.

Enjoy smoking it!
 

Ahi Ka

Preferred Member
Feb 25, 2020
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Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Also, would be interested to see if the only reason the stem is taped on is because the original amber stem was broken so instead of getting one made for it an owner just used a vulcanite stem that kinda worked
 
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Rumple100

New member
Nov 29, 2020
11
8
It doesn't appear to be Turkish meerschaum judging from the coloring. A new stem/bit should be easy to procure from a decent repairman for a price. Nicks and scratches are simply there, part of the history, and I know of no way to repair.

I'd be interested in how the vendor established an age for the specimen. It is indeed a fine looking pipe. The single picture showing what I'd call normal "wear and tear." It doesn't look abused to my, simply used by a smoker more interested in it as a tool and not a piece of artwork.

Enjoy smoking it!
Thanks for the insight! I've seen a few of your responses on some threads while I was perusing the forum the past couple of days. I'm 100% prepared to send it out to fit a new stem if it's feasible and just hope it wont end up costing me an arm and a leg. The (hopefully) surface scratches and holes are one of the things that drew me to the pipe, I love history and being able to see it manifested in an object that was apparently well loved by it's original owner is super cool.
 
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Rumple100

New member
Nov 29, 2020
11
8
Also, would be interested to see if the only reason the stem is taped on is because the original amber stem was broken so instead of getting one made for it an owner just used a vulcanite stem that kinda worked
That would be the best case scenario, here's hoping it's the case
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
8,388
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After looking at all of the shots it may indeed be a Turkish. I'd need to see it in person to be sure. And, it appears to be a well used pipe with the owner treating it it not unkindly but, as a day to day smoker, indoors and out. A wee, gentle scrub with a damp paper towel should remove a lot of the dirt. If it is old, the keepers of the pipe over the years didn't store it well would be my guess or, backstory. Who knows! You can make up your own history if the pipe finds a place with you.
 

greeneyes

Preferred Member
Jun 5, 2018
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5,090
This type of pipe has a proper name that describes its shape. I saw it in an old advertisment, but the nomenclature seems to have been forgotten. I like them. I'll try to find the ad.
 
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jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
17,803
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Carmel Valley, CA
Now I see what ash refers to.



Lovely piece! Hope the tape removal is pleasant!
 

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