Cumberland Stem

Discussion in 'Need Pipe Smoking Advice? Ask an Old Fart!' started by Deckard, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. Deckard

    Deckard Active Member

    Jan 29, 2010
    So what exactly is a Cumberland stem. I know the visual effect, that tortoise/wood grain patterns in warm brown/red hues. But is there more to it? Does it have to be of a specific material, vulcanite, acrylic, etc.?
    Cumberland on a Dunhill

    Alls I know is I like it. I have a couple pipes with bad stems and solid bowls and was thinking of having them fitted with Cumberland stems.
  2. Snake

    Snake permanent ankle biter

    Jun 13, 2010
    Deck, i think it's acrylic, but don't
    quote me on that one. BTW, I have a
    Chestnut very similar to the one you
    linked to, and I didn't pay NEAR as
    much as they have that one going for.
    I either got a screaming deal, or
    they've significantly gone up in price.
    Of course, I did buy mine in '04.

  3. Falconeer

    Falconeer Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Hi All,

    I think it's a pattern on acryllic - Sas uses it quite a bit, with a bit of luck he'll clarify it for us all!

    Best as ever

  4. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

    Feb 11, 2010
    I have no real knowledge on the subject, but I was under the impression it was a form of ebonite? Don't know where or how I got that, but maybe someone can enlighten us all. Good question.
  5. Marine Dad

    Marine Dad Member

    Jan 26, 2010
    I think Cumberland is a type of vulcanite. In my limited experience, it also seems to be very soft.
  6. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Clumsy Poop!

    Jul 15, 2009
    MD is right. Cumberland proper is a vulcanite rod made up from red and black rods, melted and swirled together for the brown/red marble effect. It is very soft, and oxydizes fairly quickly if the protective wax coating is scraped off.

    There is a harder version in ebonite, which has a higher sulfer content if I understand these things correctly, but the color combos are not quite as subdued as the vulcanite version. It's a bit more "brick" colored.

    There is also a brown marble acrylic available, and I'll report on that when it shows up.
  7. tyler

    tyler Member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Just to clarify terms a bit, ebonite is another name for vulcanite. Ebonite gets its name by combining ebony with vulcanite to get "ebonite" to describe the deep black rubber.

    That said, Sas's usage is common in pipe making. Vulcanite is often the term applied to preformed stems, and ebonite the term applied to rod stock. It's a bit of an artificial distinction, but it helps distinguish hand-cut stems from their cheaper counterparts.

    Cumberland is, as has been described, a red/black swirled vulcanite/ebonite rod stock material. I've never seen preformed stems made of cumberland, so if you see a stem from that material it was most likely hand cut.

    There are some acrylic materials designed to mimic the look of cumberland. They don't like quite the same, but they are a nice enough looking material in their own right.
  8. Strongirish

    Strongirish Member

    Sep 17, 2009
    My favorite pipe maker uses them, Jan P and I love them. I have 6 of his pipes that have them. You won't regret buying them and they look terrific.
  9. Deckard

    Deckard Active Member

    Jan 29, 2010
    Thanks for clearing this up. I may look into the acrylic substitute as I'm sick of dealing with maintenance on vulcanite. Although as these would be hand cut they'd probably be of higher quality and less prone to oxidization. I'll have some time to think about it as the coffers are pretty tapped right now.