Learn About Calabash Meerschaum Pipes

Want to Learn More About Calabash Meerschaum Pipes?

Do you associate calabash pipes with Sherlock Holmes? You might be surprised by what you learn below.

What is a Calabash Meerschaum Pipe?

Technically, a calabash meerschaum pipe is a pipe, carved from meerschaum that mimics the shape of a Calabash Pipe. This shape is characterized by a deeply bent shank and stem that ends in a upturned bowl with a meerschaum or porcelain cup. The body of the pipe and shank are traditionally made from African Gourd or turned from woods like mahogany. A calabash meerschaum pipe is one that has been constructed entirely of meerschaum to resemble the shape of a calabash pipe; including the distinctive "lipped" rim. See the example at right of a calabash meerschaum pipe.

Most people, when referring to a meerschaum calabash pipe, are more accurately talking about a traditional Calabash Pipe with a meerschaum cup for the combustion of pipe tobacco.


WikiPedia defines a Calabash Tobacco Pipe as:
Calabash gourds (usually with meerschaum or porcelain bowls set inside them) have long made prized pipes, but they are labour-intensive and nowadays quite expensive. Because of this expense, pipes with bodies made of wood (usually mahogany) instead of gourd, but with the same classic shape, are sold as calabashes. Mahogany Calabash Pipe

What is a Calabash Pipe?

The name Calabash comes from the gourds that make the elegant shape of the original version of these pipes. To this day, African Calabash gourds make the best pipes in terms of strength, beauty and weight but Calabash gourds can be grown and found in most countries. Traditional Calabash Pipes come in multiple pieces and are characterized by a deeply bent (similar to an Oom Paul shape) pipe body and shank made of a hollow semi-porous material with a cup attached to the mouth of the bowl to burn tobacco in. The hollow body of the pipe ensures a cool, dry smoke as smoke drawn from the burning tobacco expands in the inner body of the pipe before being drawn in by the smoker.

By breaking down into multiple pieces (cup, bowl and stem) not only facilitates proper cleaning of the pipe but during the Boer War, when these pipes first came into prominence, this allowed British soldiers to break the pipe down into a smaller package, lessening the likelyhood of damage in the field.


Did Sherlock Holmes Smoke a Calabash Pipe?

It is interesting how that Calabash Pipes have become synonymous with detectives when Arthur Conan Doyles fictional detective never actually smoked a calabash. The calabash pipe started being used by actors in plays in London and then in film because as a prop, it made more of a statement than the smaller bowled-pipes that Holmes of the original stories seemed to favor.


What Materials Are Calabash Pipes Made From?

Hollow-bodied Calabash Pipes were originally made from meticulously grown African Calabash Gourds (hence the name) but also are made more recently using lighter woods such as these Mahogany.

Solid-bodied Calabash Pipes can be made from any number of different materials. You can easily find briar calabash pipes as well as meerschaum calabash pipes these days.


Where Can I Buy A Calabash Pipe?

You can find calabash pipes at a tobacconist near you that carries meerschaum pipes by IK Meerschaum. If you are looking to buy online, you can order your calabash meerschaum pipe directly from us.