Meerschaum (the word mean seafoam) pipes have been made since the 1720's as a substitute for lower grade clay pipes.
The material is a naturally occurring soft clay mineral called sepiolite which was sometimes found floating on the Black Sea. The clay is truned, carved, smoothed with glass paper, heated and then polished. It's the porous material that makes the pipe cool-smoking. It's also lightweight and pure white which makes these pipes rather beautiful and also makes it viable to carve huge ones! Some of the bigger Turkish pipes are really more like tourist souvenirs (in common with our Calumet of last week)
But the true beauty of the Meerschaum is in its unique character -- the faces themselves and the fact that they take on years of patina with smoking and turn through yellow to dark amber with use. It's not a pipe that stays the same! It's a pipe with personality.
This one was bought 30 years ago in Uff's Tobacconist's in Canton Cardiff as a present for Noel's birthday. And he's ageing beautifully -- well -- they both are! :)