Unmarked CAOs?

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anglocatholicpiper

Junior Member
Jun 27, 2016
55
3
39
Orlando, FL
It seems like a good deal of Meers are unmarked, even many nice ones. But I came upon an unmarked estate meer in a case (that fits) with a CAO sticker. It's beautiful and already coloring like its block meerschaum (much like my Altinok). But I'm wondering if unmarked CAOs are common/uncommon? Basically: without the markings, can I be sure it's a CAO?

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,708
792
Anecdotally, I can only tell you that none of my CAO's bear a mark. The cases bear a mark. If the case closely cradles the pipe and bears the logo I'd feel, would not attest, that it probably is indeed a CAO. I don't buy used pipes so I can't really help you there.

 

metalheadycigarguy

Preferred Member
Apr 26, 2012
2,577
2
Washington State
CAO pipes were carved from excellent quality meerschaum, and will color very well if smoked regularly. From my research on CAO meerschaum pipes; the only pipes that are signed by the carver are Bekler's pipes. CAO had other carvers, but none of the other carvers signed their pipes. I have a CAO egg and claw and it reads CAO 1982 on the bottom. It's the only pipe I've seen with that kind of marking. No signature from the carver just the copywrite logo and CAO 1982 which I thought was interesting. I'm still trying to figure out the significance of that since I've never seen any other CAO marked like that.
Bekler began signing his pipes in the late 70's, and was the first one to do it. Since then many other carvers have began to sign their pipes, but there are still many master carvers that don't sign there pipes. It's a shame the artists didn't sign their pipes years ago, because many of the pipes from the 1800's were true pieces of art, and unfortunately many of those carvers never got and never will get the recognition they deserve.

 

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mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,744
1,591
I always thought it was strange that my meer had no markings on it. Not that I ever would, but if I were to sell it, prospective buyers would only have my word to go on that it was a Straumbach Meerschaum and not something else.

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
471
18
Seattle
Most CAO pipes until the mid- to late-1980s had a gold-colored metal dot carrying the CAO logo embedded in the stem. Note that I said most, as pipes do show up without it. Cases carried a sticker inside; the circular logo sticker was used at least until the late 1980s or maybe early 1990s, with a diamond shape sticker replacing it.
As metalheadycigarguy notes, a VERY few CAOs were carved with some identifying information. Ismet Bekler's pipes carried his "i. Bekler" signature, with edition pipes also having the title of the edition (say, "King Tut"), number ("No. 82 of 100") and year ('82). A few Beklers also had "CAO" or "©CAO" carved on them. But non-signed CAO Beklers exist, too.
Pipe cases are always made for each individual pipe. If the case is original, it'll be a perfect fit. If it's not a perfect fit, the case isn't original. If your pipe is in a case that it fits perfectly, and the case has a CAO sticker, it's a CAO pipe. Be very happy with it, and smoke it well. They always used top-notch meerschaum.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,869
73
My CAO meerschaum has the gold dot CAO on the stem.
A couple of years ago, I saw a large Sherlock Holmes pipe that had the CAO dot on the stem but it wasn't in a fitted case. It was in a nice rectangular box velvet lined box with a cutout to fit the pipe. Pretty sure it was a CAO. The reason I didn't buy it was someone had taken a rotary tool and did a very poor job of carving Beckler's name in the shank. Not only was it was a badly carved signature but his name was misspelled.
The shop owner wasn't happy when I told him it while it was a CAO, it was a fake Bekler.

 

brendhain

Member
Mar 5, 2018
133
12
What color is the stem?
If it is the dark orangie stems then it might be a CAO. I worked in a pipe shop in Bowling Green, KY from 1987-1991 and got to go down to Cano in Nashville 2-3 times a year to buy pipes.

He talked a lot about some of the logistic problems, such as once a box sent with 150 pipes came with 150 empty cases. He mentioned the some not having the brass CAO, too.

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
471
18
Seattle
How was it spelled on the pipe, Pappymac? His name was spelled B-E-K-L-E-R. Many people add a "c," but there wasn't one. The proper CAO signature is always "i. Bekler," lowercase dotted "i." The rectangular chest case was used heavily with later CAOs, but mainly with Bekler's work, and sometimes also had his signature printed on the top of the case along with the later diamond-shaped CAO logo, as seen here (note that the printed signature isn't an exact copy of his real one as used on pipes).


 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
499
155
South Florida
I have 6 CAO pipes, five of which are signed by Bekler.

The sixth is a free hand carving that has a vertical bowl with a half bent stem.

No signature, but one thing that stands out is that it has a vented cap on the bowl that is also carved meerschaum.

Perhaps there is a particular carver that this might be typical of???

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
471
18
Seattle
Can you post photos, Gatorlope? Bekler was the undisputed master of abstract carving, though his cousin Kural did some, too. There were other unknowns doing it. But Beklers are, I think, able to be IDed solely based on the carving style.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,869
73
I actually have two unsigned CAO Meerschaum. I was gifted this unsmoked one last year by a friend on another forum. Look closely and you'll see it's a meerschaum corn cob.

And, it's no longer unsmoked.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,869
73
Gifted, Pappymac? That's a kind gift.
It was a very kind gift. His forum user name was Dutch and we got to where we were messaging each other almost daily. He said he wanted to reduce the number of pipes he had and decided to give them to pipe smokers who actively participated in the forum. He gave away at least 5 other pipes I think.
Then he just disappeared from the face of the earth. Stopped participating in the forum, stopped responding to email, etc. After 3 months, one of the guys even sent a letter to him and it was returned "addressee unknown".

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
499
155
South Florida
Posting photos is something that I would enjoy, but haven’t figured out yet. I’ve transferred some into my album with my profile, but still haven’t figured out how to post them to the forums.

Re the Bekler pipes that I have, two of them are a boxed Holmes & Watson set from CAO that I found 30+ years ago. Still unsmoked, so you can probably picture those without an actual photograph. The others need photographs!

 

jonasclark

Senior Member
Aug 4, 2013
471
18
Seattle
Gator, here's how, at least my method: Sign up for Imgur. It's free. Drag-and-drop photos into the album. When you've put some in, click on a photo and you'll see a stack of links on the right side. Copy-and-paste the proper link into a forum post. The first link will show up as a bit of clickable text. On this particular forum, the 5th link down ("BBCode"), pasted here, will show as a photo.

 

gatorlope

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2019
499
155
South Florida
Jonas, I’m using an iPad, so most of the helpful hints that I’ve gotten haven’t helped much, but I’ve found a way to transfer photos from my album by using a split screen, dragging my photo to the reply box of the forum that I’m posting to. That doesn’ give me the picture, but it does give me the url code, so I hit IMG and copy the code into the box. Labor intensive, but it works!
So give me a few day to take some pix & upload them to my album and I should have some pictures for you!

 

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