They’re Finally Here!

I got the originals from Ohio State today. I told you that it was a big hassle. But if you ordered an original from the archives, I’ll try to get in contact with you this week. If I don’t contact you be Thursday shoot me an email.

Steve H. saw my post yesterday about my grandfather’s pipe. He emailed me with a bunch of information that I want to share with you, especially if you’re a pipe smoker.

But first, let me tell you how I came about to smoke a pipe in my wasted youth. Back in the 60s, at the beginning of the college school year, tobacco companies would come on campus and give the kids tobacco and such in the hope that they would start smoking if they already hadn’t. My friends Fred and Jerome put their money together and bought a set of six pipes. Whenever I came around they pulled out their pipes and lit up. They kept after me to buy one of the pipes off them. None of us had much money. As I recall the lpipes came to about a buck 99 apiece. After about three weeks of this I finally broke down and bought a pipe from them. As soon as they got my money they dumped the tobacco out of their pipes and said “Thank God! we were burning the hell out of our throats.” My old friend Fred lives near me. We were boys together. And Jerome, whom I haven’t seen in about 45 years, is coming to visit this Saturday.

Steve, I hope it’s ok with you that I share this stuff about meerschaum pipes.

Oh, I’m sure that it’s meerschaum.

I used to smoke pipes, and I’ve had a carved meerschaum pipe (although not like his).

His is “colored” all the way through, which is evidence that he smoked it for a very long time.

Meerschaum’s “color” develops as tobacco distillates suffuse through the porous stone meerschaum.

(It starts out creamy white, all the way through.)

Meerschaum is German for “sea foam.” It’s called that because that’s what it looks like.

If I remember correctly, meerschaum is a form of calcium (calcium carbonate?), perhaps deposited as diatom skeletons on a sea floor which later rose to become dry land.

It’s associated in my mind with northern Germany. (Maybe I’m wrong about that.)

Really good meerschaum pipes used to be fitted with a mouthpiece (“bit”) made of real Baltic amber.

I remember that when it was warm, you could just barely taste and smell the trees which produced the sap which became the amber.

Later, amber became too expensive, and amber-colored plastic was used instead.

The metal band was where the amber bit joined the pipe. The metal reinforced what was a really weak mechanical joint, a cantilever.

Your grandfather’s pipe was probably of high quality, since the metal band is very cleverly set into the sculptural carving. That’s unusual.

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