Color, Repair, and Verify Meerschaum Pipes

Since nothing is forever, especially websites, and the original post had an illustration that’s already disappeared, I thought I’d better duplicate the post before it disappeared. It’s without permission, however, it is from a long out of print book to begin with.

Description

This section is from the Henley’s Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.

How To Color a Meerschaum Pipe

  1. Fill the pipe and smoke down about one-third, or to the height to which you wish to color. Leave the remainder of the tobacco in the pipe, and do not empty or disturb it for several weeks, or until the desired color is obtained. When smoking put fresh tobacco on the top and smoke to the same level. A new pipe should never be smoked outdoors in extremely cold weather.
  2. The pipe is boiled in a preparation of wax, 8 parts; olive oil, 2 parts; and nicotine, 1 part, for 10 or 15 minutes. The pipe absorbs this, and a thin coating of wax is held on the surface of the pipe, and made to take a high polish. Under the wax is retained the oil of tobacco, which is absorbed by the pipe; and its hue grows darker in proportion to the tobacco used. A meerschaum pipe at first should be smoked very slowly, and before a second bowlful is lighted the pipe should cool off. This is to keep the wax as far up on the bowl as possible; rapid smoking will overheat, driving the wax off and leaving the pipe dry and raw.

How To Repair Meerschaum Pipes

To cement meerschaum pipes, make a glue of finely powdered and sifted chalk and white of egg. Put a little of this glue on the parts to be repaired and hold them pressed together for a moment.

Note: I’ve used superglue successfully, but it does leave a visible line, and it doesn’t color normally.

How To Verify Genuine Meerschaum

For the purpose of distinguishing imitation meerschaum from the true article, rub with silver. If the silver leaves lead pencil-like marks on the mass, it is not genuine but artificial meerschaum. If no such lines are produced, the article is genuine.

Note: I’m not sure if this will verify whether the pipe is made from carved meerschaum vs. pressed meerschaum dust.

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