1229 meerschaum pipe dec19.jpg

Meerschaum pipes are a specific category of collecting. “Meerschaum” is German for “sea foam.” The material, which has been harvested in Turkey for centuries, is sometimes seen floating in the Black Sea — hence the name.

John Sikorski

John Sikorski


Dear John: I just discovered your article on antiques and collectibles in the Citrus County Chronicle. We have moved here to Crystal River from Ohio and have brought with us a number of items that we would like to know something about and their values. The first question is about tobacco pipes that belonged to my husband’s father. We have about a dozen, all hand-carved. The first and most unusual is the one in the photograph we included. I am interested in knowing what it is made of; some people have suggested it is made of ivory or bone. Another question is what was smoked in it, and what is the value. — E.I., internet

Dear E.I.: You have a cheroot pipe, used to smoke small cigars or cheroots. The material it is made of is Meerschaum. Meerschaum is a soft white clay mineral. Large deposits have been found and mined in Turkey since the 18th century as well as other places. It was sometimes found floating in the Black Sea and looked a bit like sea foam and was named meerschaum, German for sea foam, by Abraham Werner in 1788. The hand-carved decorations depicted a wide variety of subjects, from storybook themes, like yours with the scarecrow and rabbits, to erotica are miniature works of art.

Meerschaum pipes are a specific category of collecting. The one you have is a fine example of the type. The stem is made of amber. It is good you have the original fitted leather clad container for the pipe. Potential dollar value is in the $200 range, perhaps more on a lucky day.

Dear John: I enjoy your articles. I am enclosing some photographs of a brass vase and tray. My uncle spent some time in Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s through the ‘50s and purchased them there. I have a letter in Arabic writing which provides information about the items. The tray is 27 inches in diameter. The vase is 14 inches tall, the middle diameter is 9 inches, the top opening is 5 1/2 inches across.

There are no markings on the base nor inside the tray or vase. My only information about these items is that they were hand-tooled in Saudi Arabia. I would appreciate any information you can give me on these items. — F.I., internet

Dear F.I.: The vase and tray are handmade, no earlier than the 1940s. The decorative motifs are traditional, and objects are still being produced as they were hundreds of years ago. There is no specific collector interest currently.

John Sikorski has been a professional in the antiques business for 30 years. Send questions to Sikorski’s Attic, P.O. Box 2513, Ocala, FL 34478 or asksikorski@aol.com.

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