The Kurd I purchased it from told me that he gets all his pipes from a guy in Turkey who also carves them there. As I am new to these pipes and Turkey is a bordering country, I didn't have a reason not to believe him. In fact I told the local that he should get more of these raw looking pieces (if he can) next trip and I would buy them.
Is there something about the meerschaum that would cause an expert to suspect it came from somewhere other than Turkey?
<p>You won’t see too many... Turkey has banned the export of raw meerschaum for decades!<br />
You can find some pipes for sale like Wunkus has... kind of a free form pipe that is only a finished piece on one side.<br />
Also look for sepiolite specimens with gems and minerals, because it’s found in several places around the world. Turkey just got lucky and has the best!
First, in the vein of Meerschaum in its natural state:, here is this giant piece donated to CPCC for the auction at the 2018 show. It smokes incredibly well, but is definitely awkward due to its immensity.
This urchin was a commission done by Sadik Yanik. Amazingly, it was only two weeks from the time I sent him photos until the pipe arrived at my home.
No, no hollow inside. It must weigh 10 ounces. It’s more of a conversation piece than anything else, though. The urchin is big too. It’s impossible to clench either of them. I do also have a conventional SMS bent Dublin which is at the other end of the weight spectrum. Maybe 19 grams and a beautiful pipe for clenching.
This is a bit of an oddity.... I saw an English seller selling a “ceramic” pipe, cased and missing the mouthpiece. I figured that a two piece pipe in a custom case had to be something a little more special than just “ceramic”. So I bought it!
This is the pipe with the insert removed and turned upside down. I figure that the insert is meerschaum - unusual design w/ very thin walls, but meerschaum, nonetheless.
The outer portion of the pipe is very strange - it looks organic, but is polished like stone. You run your finger over the blemishes and there is no roughness, just a smooth polished surface.
My first thought had been some sort of ivory, but Ivory would be softer and not so mottled in appearance. I suspect that it is actually fossil ivory...
Gatorlope, the outside of your two-piece pipe is most assuredly meerschaum. This was a well-known pipe shape at one time, though less commonly-seen today.
Might as well toss in my now-complete (for the time being) collection of abstract pipes by Ismet Bekler. I've posted these elsewhere here, and a couple are in this thread, but here is definitely the best spot for the whole run. He carved these for his first two importers, Irving Korn's "Royal" and Golden Horn. Under Cano Ozgener at CAO, he gradually phased these out after a few early limited editions (Homage to Picasso and a la Rodin), but a few one-offs exist from the late 80s. After I had three of them, I decided to give them titles, and I decided they must have a 1970s vibe about them.
My first was carved for Golden Horn (Bekler began signing pipes while carving for them) and, along with MANY others out there, was dated 1974. It was bought as unsold stock by CAO, who put it in a CAO box case and added a second, low-quality segment on the shank, which I removed. Carved smooth, then pitted with thousands of tiny holes, and with three open loops, I named it "Picasso '74," since my introduction to Bekler's abstracts was a late 70s catalog with his "Homage to Picasso" series pictured.
My second was bought ten years later. It sat on the 'bay for a good two months. I looked and, though I can't now imagine why, was unimpressed. It sat and sat. I finally looked again, and it struck me how amazing it was. Smooth, with two loops and spot-carved flowers; I've seen two others with these same flowers, but they seemed to have too many. Came sans case; has his full "ismet Bekler" sig, and the brass Golden Horn logo dot, later copied by CAO, inlaid in the stem. Naturally, "Les Fleur" (Minnie Riperton or Ramsey Lewis?)
Next was the only one that doesn't 'sit,' with a smooth top and a mountainous bottom, as well as two holes. Full signature and a curiously off-center brass Golden Horn stem dot. This came in a big box case covered in blue faux plush. "Blue" has a 70s ring, Age of Aquarius and all that, but it has another meaning; the owner's grandpa had two, the other (waaaay cooler) in a red-covered case, and he and his father always called the pipes "red box" and "blue box."
After that followed one which, despite having a CAO case and brass stem dot, is unsigned. If you've seen enough of these, and enough abstracts by imitators (and by Bekler's cousin Kural), you'll develop an eye for them. They either "look Bekler" or they really don't. Kural had his own distinct style, and imitators were always clunky. This pipe, in my opinion, can only be Bekler's work, but it's unsigned! I think it's an offshoot of the multiple "a la Rodin" series of the early 80s. It has no holes, but it's so deeply-bent that it hangs easily. A front view looks like a lilting sailboat, so it's "Smooth Sailing" all the way.
Next came one I bought because it was inexpensive. I thought it'd be the ugly duckling. I was wrong. It's crazy complicated, with three holes. It looks like some sort of aquatic creature. This one is from before Bekler began signing, so probably 1973, but the case has a sticker reading 'Exclusively by Golden Horn (logo) Genuine Bekler - Beyond Imagination.' Golden Horn had several titled Bekler series; Beyond Imagination was for abstracts. Due to the aquatic vibe, it became "Pisces."
Shortly after followed a curious one. The former owner, I was told, battled depression by collecting meerschaum pipes and LPs. He had several Beklers and several others, some with cases, but for reasons unknown, every single one was missing its stem! This one reminded me of a piece of coral. No holes here, either, and a fin had been glued back on. Before adopting his full signature, ismet Bekler (later amended to i. Bekler for CAO), he signed some pipes ISMET in block letters, and some iSMET (the dotted i has a different pronunciation than non-dotted I in Turkish), but nearly always on the side, shank or bottom. This odd one has iSMET on the TOP, beside the chamber! "Coral" was fitting.
The 7th was a Royal Meerschaum product, in an enormous box case. The seller provided photos of only one side, and I suspected the other was cooler. Until I got it, I had no idea how right I was! This is enormous, and will stand on two C-shaped legs. It has three holes and insane amounts of twists and turns, all of which intersect flawlessly. There are two shank extensions. It comes with the card Royal provided, reading, 'This pipe was carved by Ismet Bekler, Turkey's foremost sculpter(sic) and carver of meerschaum.' It also came with some paperwork, and a photo of Bekler working (from his CAO era) which is autographed on the back! Here's the only side the seller showed.
Recalling the romance of Spain being a 70s thing, I asked a Spanish friend about ideas for a title. He suggested "Voluta," which means a spiral of smoke. Couldn't be more fitting!
"Voluta" standing on its case.
Bekler carving, on his knee-- the way many Turkish carvers work-- doing one of the side-facing heads he often made.
Back, with a greeting, his pipe signature, his actual signature (the big scribble says ismet) and a CAO stamp. The ultimate topper to a Bekler collection, I think!