How much for a decent meerschaum pipe?

Discussion in 'Need Pipe Smoking Advice? Ask an Old Fart!' started by sonsw87, Mar 19, 2012.

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  1. sonsw87

    sonsw87 Member

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    I'm not looking for anything fancy as long as they smoke good. I just wanted to try them out as I have never tried them b4. I saw one one at local tobacconist but seemed lil cheap. Can anyone suggest me a good brand or place to get one? Also if you could educate me lil about meerschaum pipes that would be great. (such as whats the difference or things i should be careful about etc)

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Kiowapipe

    Kiowapipe Active Member

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    I'm not the expert, but a couple things to look for are:
    1) You want block meerschaum, not pressed. Block meerschaum is carved from a whole chunk of meerschaum whereas pressed is made from meer dust and epoxy.
    2) You want something with an unrestricted airway. A lot of new meers have a nice open delrin tenon setup which should serve well. Lots of older meers and some new meers have a sort of two-piece teflon push-pull connector, which kinda sucks and will cause gurgles- it can be modded to improve things, though.
    3) Just like with a briar, you want a pipe that's drilled right, so the draft hole isn't too low or too high.

    The brands most often suggested for a sure-fire good smoke are Altinok and Baki. IMP also seems to get good press. Probably $100 plus for a good new one. You can get much cheaper estates off eBay, but it's a gamble as to how the thing will perform. Not necessarily a bad gamble, but a gamble nonetheless.
     
  3. sonsw87

    sonsw87 Member

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    Hmm how do I know ones made from block or pressed?
     
  4. dhintonca

    dhintonca Member

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    A good maker will tell you, and at least from Altinok you get a signed certificate of authenticity. A simple test for a new pipe however is to lick your finger and dab the inside of the bowl. If it feels sticky, it's block (the moisture gets absorbed instantly and it feels gluey for a moment).
     
  5. Lestrade

    Lestrade Active Member

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    This!
     
  6. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Huh??? What did you miss? Maybe you're more of an expert than you think! ;)
     
  7. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    See dhintonca's post.

    The only other thing I'd mention is that there are very few reputable companies making pressed meerschaum pipes anymore. Bowl inserts on calabashes, yes. Most of the pressed stuff you'll find on Ebay. And if a company says "block meerschaum", it's block. If they don't say, ask them.
     
  8. cigarsarge

    cigarsarge Active Member

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    Paid $150 for my Bekler...Worth every cent.
     
  9. Mister Moo

    Mister Moo Normal Cow Moderator

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    1) The most common novice error is to not ask what you asked. You are already ahead of the game.

    2) The second novice error is, when info is solicited, to ignore good advice and inexplicably buy a very cool looking small-to-medium sized no-name meer with a restricted airway and a velour-lined case for $40. It is invariably a skull wrapped in a dragon claw.

    3) The third most common novice error is, having solicited good advice and still bought a predictably hot smoking, drooler pipe, to tell everyone meers smoke hot, they bowls are too small, they gurgle and they're not worth a crap.

    Advice in posts above is excellent. I add/confirm:
    a. buy a quality brand (Altinok, etc. - ask more about this)
    b. get a larger pipe with a 4mm airway
    c. consider delicately carved meers can be cool looking but they're also delicate crud-trappers that need a bit more care than smooth finishes
    d. block will color better than pressed but pressed meer isn't a dealbreaker where smoking quality is the issue
    e. be thinking "Hello!" at $90+ if you want a winner for the long haul
    f. I'm not knocking pirate faces, skulls and dragon's claws - get whatever you like - but some carvings get old way before the pipe wears out - ;)
     
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  10. cigarsarge

    cigarsarge Active Member

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    I have a knock around pressed meer that smokes like a champ..Colored up really well after a good waxing. Cost around $20.
     
  11. sonsw87

    sonsw87 Member

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    Thanks for great infos. I was gona ask this Q after I bought my pipe but since it came up ill ask it.. How do I color my meer pipe? Do I need special treatment. From what I read I just smoke it and it will do its magic.. Also I heard meers don't need to be broken in and no need for cooldown time in betwwen bowls. Is tht ture?

    Thanks.
     
  12. jhe888

    jhe888 Member

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    How meers color is the subject of a lot of speculation, legend, and arcane knowledge. Some color easily and relatively quickly, and some don't. African meer doesn't not seem to color as readily, but that is only the general rule. (No new pipes will be made of African meer - the sources became closed years ago, but you occasionally find an estate for sale.) There really isn't anything to do to make them color other than to smoke them. There are gadgets that expose them to smoke, and some report they work. Some people think touching the meerschaum inhibits coloring, so they touch only the stem. I don't know about that; I don't worry about it. Some wax them again, although the makers dip them in wax when they make them. I take the view that I will smoke mine they way I want, and the pipe will color the way it wants.

    Meers don't need to be broken in much, if any. They need less cooldown, although I still give them a little rest.
     
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  13. Mister Moo

    Mister Moo Normal Cow Moderator

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    The clay can get damp at the heel of the pipe depending on tobacco, smoking speed, etc., and that can soften it. I don't let that slow my turn-arounds down too much unless it gets downright swampy - in which case, the pipe gets a rest. Also, when a bowl is hot and damp and maybe a bit soft it is quite possible to jam a pipecleaner through the airway and into the heel of the pipe opposite the airway. This done repeatedly will dig a hole into (or through) the pipe. Use caution not to drill a hole through your meer with pipecleaners - word to the wise.

    Re: cigarsarges $20 great smoker... they are out there. I'm just saying there are a whole lot more sure things for $90 than there are for $20.
     
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  14. sonsw87

    sonsw87 Member

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    I looked around for the meer pipe and seems it goes for about 120-200 for a decent pipe.. Looks like I won't have meer pipe for a while haha. Since I'm saving up my money for my new camera..
     
  15. Kiowapipe

    Kiowapipe Active Member

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    :) Yeah, I hear ya.
    I've been looking to buy an Altinok for a while, but every time I put together the requisite wad of cash I end up feeding the cellar instead.
     
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  16. Mike Pomery

    Mike Pomery Active Member

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    I.M.P. are proably the entry point at around $120, and man, they are worth it.
     
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