Restoring a Hand Carved Meerschaum Calabash with a 9mm Acrylic Filter Stem

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on came from a trip Jeff and his wife took  to Europe in the Fall of 2017. He picked it up in a bazaar in Frankfurt, Germany. It was a nicely carved smooth Calabash with a round brass Altinay logo on the ruby coloured acrylic stem. The finish on the bowl and cap were scratched and worn looking but still had a lot of charm. The bowl and rim top appear to have been quickly cleaned for the sale but there was still a light cake in the bowl and some lava spots on the inner edge and rim top. The meerschaum was beginning to develop a patina on the shank and lightly on the bowl and rim top. The ruby coloured acrylic stem was made for a 9mm filter which is not surprising. It gave a good first impression but had deep tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. He took photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition. You can see the issues on the rim top and stem as I noted above. There are also some scratches on the rim top itself that I am hoping will polish out and look much better. You can see the tooth damage on the stem surfaces on both sides ahead of the button. The mortise on the shank has been fitted with a nylon tenon that holds 9mm filters. The stem has been drilled out to fit snug over the tenon. Jeff took photos of the side and heel of the bowl. You can see the graceful lines and nicely carved bowl of the pipe. It is a lightweight block meerschaum that is well made. There are a lot of visible scratches around the sides and top. He took a close up photo of the left side of the bowl to show the scratches. He took a photo of the brass Altinay two pipe logo inset on the left side of the taper stem.I turned to Pipephil to see what I could learn about the brand ( There was a sidebar that said that the Altinay Pipe Co Ltd. was founded in 1964 in Eskişehir (Turkey). I did a screen capture of the section on the site and included it below.I then turned to Pipedia to learn a bit more about the brand ( I have copied pertinent information on the history of the brand below.


Necdet Altınay (1941-2018), who worked in various jobs from a young age to support his family, entered the meerschaum carving sector at the age of 14 and became a meerschaum master at a young age by training from the best masters of the time.

After developing himself in all areas of meerschaum carving such as compositions, sculptural works, famous claw figures until the age of 23, he founded Altınay Pipe Co. in 1964 and started working on purely classical style pipes by noticing the important deficiency in the pipe industry about classical style meerschaum pipes.

He has developed his skills on classical pipes with tactics he received from European pipe masters and has gained an important place in the sector with international fairs he attended regularly.

The importance he attaches to quality and customer satisfaction in his business has made the ALTINAY brand a popular and sought-after brand in meerschaum sector. And soon started exporting worldwide, America, Russia China and especially in Europe through distributors.

Besides his own brand ALTINAY, he also produced meerschaum pipes for world famous brands such as Dunhill, Peterson, Savinelli, Chacom, Brebbia, Butz Choquin. As it is already for Rattrays and Andreas Bauer now.

After working 3 generations together for several years, before he passed away in 2018, largely transferred his superior skills and vision to his son (Nedim Altınay,1967) and grandson(Said Altınay,1990), whom he worked and trained for many years. Now Nedim and Said are working together to take the company further in His quality and vision…

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual thoroughness. He carefully reamed the pipe with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He cleaned the stem Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe 3 years later when I finally got around to working on it. The rim top and inner edge of the rim looked very good with some slight darkening on the rim top and inner edge. The stem surface looked very good with some deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the logo on the left side of the taper stem. The fit of the stem to the shank is snug. The shank also shows some patina developing nicely along its length.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The tenon is nylon and is integrated in the shank. The stem is drilled to slide snug on the tenon. The stem is a nice looking ruby red acrylic. I polished the smooth meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I worked on the darkening of the rim top at the same time. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The longer I polished it the more the patina came to the surface. The pipe became more beautiful with each grit of polishing pad. I took out my Dr. Perl Junior 9mm filters made by Vauen to fit one to the stem of this beauty. It fit in mortise and tenon perfectly and did not inhibit the air flow significantly. Impressive.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the stem surface on both sides with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished polished it with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish. I wiped it down with the cloth and Obsidian Oil one final time and set aside to dry. This Altinay Meerschaum Calabash with a ruby coloured acrylic stem is a beautiful pipe. The polished light weight meerschaum that shines through the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Altinay Meerschaum Calabash fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 55 grams/ 1.94 oz. This Altinay Calabash is a real beauty and the 9mm filter ruby coloured acrylic stem just highlights the beauty. Jeff made a great find when he picked this up in Frankfurt. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

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