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Meerschaum pipe with dual busts may bank $400

A reader's inquiry about a unique set of meerschaum pipes prompt Dr. G. Marchelos to provide a brief history lesson, in the latest Ask the Experts column.

Q We have an old pipe and believe it is a Meerschaum. There are two faces/heads on the one pipe, a man and a woman. I don’t know if it was made in the image of a famous couple or made personally for a client. It belonged to my husband’s grandfather who was born in the late 1800s in San Francisco, of German immigrants. I’m not sure where he obtained it. 

If you can provide any additional information, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.
— M.M.
via email

Meerschaum Pipe Unique In Design

A The pipe is meerschaum of a great age. Meerschaum was, and still is, popular in Europe including

Dual bust pipe

Dual bust meerschaum pipe. (All photos submitted by readers)

Germany. Today most are carved in Turkey, but before WWI they were widely made in the area of Germany around Idaroberstein.

The one image is probably that of Immanuel Kant, the famous German philosopher. Adding to this possibility is the style of clothes the two men are wearing, which was popular in the 1760s, 1770s and 1780s. Kant died in 1804. This appears to be a pipe for an academic, while the other figure is probably also a philosopher of that period such as Schiller, Hegel, etc. It has a period stand which adds to its value. The stem is partially broken, which takes away value.

Overall, a willing buyer should buy the pipe with stand for $400 to $450. It is a great and unusual piece. Although the owner was born in California, the pipe probably came from the previous generation. There are many categories of sea foam pipes and as many collectors across the world.

Bringing Forth Facts About Bible

Q Bought this Bible that seemed to be quite old and in good condition. Just curious as to what year it is from and if it has any value other than being a beautiful bible. Thanks!

— M.S.
via email


Exterior of bible.

A This Bible is not very old, nor very valuable. Although the year is not shown in the photos, the Bible was printed and distributed in the early 20th century, probably the 1930s. This makes the book too new to have great value. Exceptions would be if it has a provenance that it belonged to a famous person; or if it had detailed birth and death records of a family over several generations so it could be used for genealogical research, etc.

The spine is stamped in gold lettering and the name of the publisher, which cannot be read in the photo, is at the bottom. The cloth book mark shown was standard during this period and millions of similar editions were printed by many companies and sold widely. In general, old Bibles do not command high prices unless they are very old, unusual, etc.

Over the last 50 years libraries of seminaries and church affiliated colleges have closed in great numbers. As a result, Bibles are always found in thrift ships, antique malls, and book shops, for a small price except as noted. Old editions in many languages are also found. Unless they are in Slavonic, etc. they are not valuable.