Archive for October 2008

400 Year Old Dutch Clay Pipe

I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite pipes. I’m fascinated with Dutch history around 1602 with the Dutch East Indies Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). They established colonial Dutch Indonesia, which is my heritage.

This pipe has been dated to the mid-1600’s. I’ve included a contemporary pipe for size comparison.

2006 04 24 Pipes 12006 04 24 Pipes 2

Clay pipes were used in inns during that period. The pipe would start out about the size of a Churchwarden, but as each new guest used them for smoking, they would break off a piece of the stem so they’d have a fresh smoke. This pipe measures about 6 inches, which is pretty long for a surviving pipe from this period.

1629 Historia BelgicaIt’s a nice accompaniment to a 1629 edition I have of Historia Belgica. The Netherlands emerged from the 1558-1567 war between the Low Countries (roughly Belgium, The Netherlands and pieces of Germany) and Spain. The book is a history of that period of time. The author of this book is pro-Spain. This is from my personal collection. This is printed on vellum, the book is bound in goatskin, and this is a Latin translation.

Meerschaum Stem Replacement

I have a Meerschaum I really like to smoke. Not a collectable, not some delicately handled pipe, not fancifully carved; just a pipe I enjoy smoking. It’s been dropped who knows how many times, scratched up, and been the subject of strange experiments involving heat guns and beeswax. Basically, it’s a beloved beater.

That being said, for the second time, I managed to drop it directly on the lip of stem, breaking the lip. Nasty sharp edge. It’s not like a tough vulcanite stem.

Stem ReplacmentSince I’ve been through this before, I ordered a stem replacement from Cup O’ Joes, but after ordering it, I wish I had seen the one from Tobacco Barn as it’s much less expensive.

On getting my replacement stem, I had to carefully unscrew the existing stem tenon “receiver” from the shank portion of the pipe. See that “carefully?” Well, I managed to break the shank. Duh!

Okay, there’s no easy way to repair a broken meerschaum. Most say to give it up. On the more laborious side, there’s a recipe using powdered chalk and the white of an egg. Now mind you, I told you at the start that this is a pipe I enjoy solely for smoking, and it’s already worn and torn, so I used the fastest, least attractive fix I could think of: superglue gel. The gel is ideal for porous surfaces. Mind you, it leaves a glorious scar across the repair if you’re less than careful…uh, like me. It’s not worth the investment of replacing the pipe (although I do plan on eventually replacing one of my briars with another simple meer) and the damn thing still smokes beautifully. I touched up the scar with a special paint marker I bought for a Halloween project a few years ago, so it blends with the shank.

So I finally carefully screwed the “receiver” into the repaired shank. Voila, good as…well, it works. And the shank? Just another scar that says, “I love you.”

Okay, that just sounded wrong on so many levels.