FROM THE MUSEUM COLLECTION:
Meerschaum (German for “sea foam”) pipes have been prized by smokers for centuries for the desirable properties of their primary material, the mineral sepiolite. Flavor neutral, lightweight, porous, and resistant to high heats – sepiolite provided a better smoking experience than the common clay pipes of the day and made Meerschaum pipes a premium option.
The need for an artisan to personally carve each Meerschaum pipe restricted who could afford them, and as such, these intricately designed pipes became stylish accessories among the wealthy. In fact, because of their artisanal nature, some people commissioned Meerschaum pipes exclusively as art pieces for display and never smoked with them. But for those who did, after several years the creamy white color of the sepiolite would turn to a deep golden brown or cherry, and the pipe would develop a desirable petina – like the one in our collection!
This pipe was given to the Historical Society by an unknown donor in 1979.
Shelter Island Historical Society
PO BOX 847
Shelter Island, NY 11964