1.How long have you been in the pipe business? Tell us the history of your company? How many people work there?
This meerschaum business established in 1963 and now this year is our 60 th of anniversary. My Relative Uzkesici established this company and then his son, my cousin carry on this business for 20 years and then I took the flag and now it is my turn and I am general manager of the company since 2003.
In 1999 we have added an on-line presence that can be found at meerschaumstore.com.
As you may know Turkiye has essentially banned the export of meerschaum blocks, in large part due to the collaboration and hard work of my family. This acted in driving the meerschaum pipe business to center itself within the borders of Turkiye
The grade of block meerschaum is rated on a scale of Grades 1-6, with 6 being the best. This grading system was first introduced by my family and the Meerschaum Store. The grading takes into consideration both the quality of the meerschaum itself, but also the workmanship of the finished product. Every product comes with a product label detailing the grading, and includes the name of Carver. This helps make each pipe seem like a personal gift.
We have been working with about 12 artisans at this time.
2.What is Meerschaum?
Meerschaum is a specifically magnesium silicate, a soft (somewhat opaque) gray to white mineral that is soft an easily carved, is an excellent insulator, and does not burn. Meerschaum is currently obtained in greatest abundance in the Eskisehir region in Turkiye between the cities of Istanbul and Ankara. When first mined, meerschaum is soft, much like soap, but hardens with exposure to air and heat. Less dense than water, meerschaum in spite of being ‘rock’ actually floats on water.
Also meerschaum is called as “ white gold”. Because of its specifications, meerschaum is the best material for smoking pipes.
3.How long has it been used for pipes?
From history, we know that the meerschaum has been known for almost 5000 years.
The discovery of meerschaum is described by a traditional legend, ‘The Mole Legend’ Despite this, a piece of meerschaum, unearthed from excavations conducted in the Eskisehir
Demircihöyük region under the supervision of Professor Manfred ‘Osman’ Korfmann, proved that meerschaum or similar stone had already been known and had been crafted by people 5000 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. The floors of the kurgan king tombs in Kuban Valley, dating back 4000 years, were decorated with meerschaum brought from Asia-Minor (Eskisehir).
The meerschaum pipe-making art began in the late 1600s, although the exact date is unknown. There are many stories about where and when the first meerschaum pipe was made, and everyone from a Hungarian count to the king of Poland to a French artist is given credit, but no one knows the exact origins with certainty. In the 1970s, the Turkish government banned the export of raw meerschaum to stimulate this local industry. Today, all meerschaum pipes are made in Turkey.
Eskisehir is the most modern and cultured city in Turkiye.
4.What else is Meerschaum used for besides pipes?
Not only used for pipes, meerschaum has historically been sourced to make carvings of all sorts including dolls, jewelry, small statues and figurines, and incense burners.
Meerschaum is a fantastic material for not only smoking pipes and beauty accessories and souvenirs but also for industry such as factory chimney for filtering purposes.
The stone was so valuable that its off cuts were also used as a base in wooden pipes. As a result of various research, meerschaum was found to be a valuable raw material in the production of ceramics, paint and paper.
5. Describe where Meerschaum is found and how do you get it?
Meerschaum is currently obtained in greatest abundance in the Eskisehir region in Turkey between the cities of Istanbul and Ankara. the mines in Eskisehir total over 4,000 in number – and is be sheer volume, the richest meerschaum mining fields in the world. We have been working with many miners and they supply usenough quantity of block meerschaum in every month. Here we are very careful while choosing the premium grade of block meerschaum to create our collections.
6. Can you talk about your Meerqueen brand a little bit?
Meerschaum pipes are more than just smoking pipes. A MeerQueen meerschaum pipe from is more than just a meerschaum pipe. With 60 years’ experience in this business, Meerqueen pipes truly are museum quality pieces that should become heirlooms passed from generation to generation.
We classified our products into three categories.
Silver, Golden and Diamond Series.
In silver category we offer our affordable series. The grade of block meerschaum and workmanship is 4 out of 6
In golden series the grade of block meerschaum and workmanship is 5 or 6 out of 6. We use normal stem connection and Lucite stem.
In our diamond series the grade of block meerschaum and workmanship is 6 out of 6. We use a Teflon/Delrin tenon system with acrylic stem