Is a Pressed Meerschaum Bowl in a Gourd Calabash Bad?

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northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
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A little pipe and cigar shop in my city got an order a gourd calabash pipes in stock. They are great looking pipes, using real gourd, but use pressed meerschaum for the bowl instead of block meerschaum. I know pressed meerschaum is not ideal because it does not color as nicely as a block meerschaum will, but does it taste any different? Would I be better to hold off until I find a gourd calabash with a block meerschaum bowl?
I am not concerned about how well the bowl colors, I am only concerned about the flavor of smoke. What do you think, will a pressed meerschaum bowl taste any different from a block meerschaum bowl?

 

xrundog

Preferred Member
Oct 23, 2014
737
0
Ames, IA
I've had a lot of pipes with pressed meerschaum inserts. They give a nice flavor. The main drawback is that the pressed stuff is much denser and therefore heavy. It is also prone to degradation from moisture over time. But that's a lot of time and smoking.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,948
227
I was looking into Strambachs at one point and I'm pretty sure they use pressed meerschaum for the cup.

 

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northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
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Any reference I can find comparing the two options only comments on the difference in coloring. I can't find anything that comments on the flavor, which leads me to believe that it is a moot point.
Nonetheless, this pipe would still set me back $200, so I just want to seek a little more information before pulling the trigger.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,948
227
You could probably ask the calabash smokers here, but this fellow swears there's basically no difference when part of a gourd calabash.
EDIT: OK, I took out the link to another pipes forum (isn't that discouraged?). Anyhow, here's the money quote:
A large number of meerschaum cups for calabash pipes are pressed. As it's the gourd (or mahogany, etc) bowl that determines the smoking characteristics, the cup isn't critical as far as pressed or block. And nowadays with gourds being scarce, a calabash gourd with a block meerschaum cup will set you back several hundred bucks.
Strambach can offer block meerschaum pipes the same way Peterson did - by commissioning the carving from a Turkish carver and re-badging the pipe. Peterson's were clearly block. I should add that I've never seen one of the Strambach pipes up close, so I'm just speculating.
 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
15,151
7,595
Chicago, IL
The only issue I have ever heard of was with the coloring. Even then, Pioneer used to make a calabash with pressed meerschaum, and they were considered one of the better calabashes you could buy.
I think it's more important to carefully examine the quality of the pipe's construction: specifically, the ferrule, or gourd extension into which the stem mounts (assuming a standard military mount); and the quality and fit of the cork inside the gourd's rim, which seats the bowl.
I would recommend a calabash with deep bends; the extra leverage is very important in larger, heavier pipes, and you'll find them much more enjoyable and less tiring to smoke.

 

jarit

Senior Member
Jul 2, 2013
333
2
Yeah, apparently the modern calabash cups are made of pressed meer. Member "meerqueen" talks about it in this thread:
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/question-about-gourd-calabash#post-186770

 

klause

Preferred Member
Jul 9, 2012
550
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For that kind of money you could, with a little patience, pick up a gorgeous vintage, early 20th Century Calabash from eBay, or any number of reputable vendors of estate pipes.
Maybe early pipes used block meer for the bowls?
Other than that, I don't see any discernable differance in the ones I have.

 

northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
1,390
0
Yeah, apparently the modern calabash cups are made of pressed meer. Member "meerqueen" talks about it in this thread:
Thanks for posting this link Jarit. A lot of good information there.
For that kind of money you could, with a little patience, pick up a gorgeous vintage, early 20th Century Calabash from eBay, or any number of reputable vendors of estate pipes.
Thanks for the recommendation Klause, but I am not a big fan of estate pipes. Call me strange, but there is something special about breaking in a new pipe and making it mine!

 

klause

Preferred Member
Jul 9, 2012
550
0
Not strange at all, Neil - I understand that, completely :)
Good luck in the hunt.

 

bruce74

New member
Jan 29, 2015
9
0
I had a pressed Meer Calabash that I loved. There wasn't any difference in smoking quality between it and my block Meer pipes. I gave it to a friend of mine when he fell on hard times and I pushed pipe smoking on him as a partial remedy for the associated melancholy that ensued. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another for a smoking implement but may balk if I was buying a real show piece.

 

papipeguy

Preferred Member
Jul 31, 2010
15,781
14
Bethlehem, Pa.
I've had these 2 Pioneer meers for over 40 years and they smoke just fine. I wouldn't fixate on pressed vs. block for a calabash. It's all about the gourd. FYI, the black pipe is made from block.


 

meerqueen

Member
Sep 9, 2012
222
0
Hi,
99% pressed cups are used on gourds and mahogany pipes.We have been selling them since 1963 without any problem.
Regards,

 

northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
1,390
0
Thank you all for the feed back. Your encouragement lead me to another wonderful purchase...

I have to say I am excited to take this beauty on her maiden voyage, but will have to be patient as I do not think the meerschaum would react well with the cold weather. Fortunately, the fiance will let me smoke in the house on special occasions, I think this will classify as one!

 
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