German engineering is famous worldwide for its precision and style. They are some of the best manufacturers of a wide range of consumable goods that include automobiles, musical instruments and aircraft engines to name just a few things. Perhaps a little less well known but no less excellent in quality is the German tradition of tobacco pipe making. Vauen pipes are a perfect example of the German quality that goes into their pipes!
Meerschaum pipes originated in Germany in the early 1700s and were the largest producers of this type of pipe until Turkey took the lead. Meerschaum is a stone with similar qualities to soapstone which makes it a very suitable material for smoking pipes. Because of its excellent heat transfer properties, the outside of the bowl stays comfortably cool while the hot coals burn merrily away inside. It is a soft stone that is easy to carve making it a popular choice for creating highly artistic and stylized designs from. As the pipe ages it takes on a lovely yellowish red patina that gets darker as it goes up the stem from the bowl for a beautiful effect. German carvers were once the leaders in this art and some of the beautiful pipes that came out that glorious time were the inspiration for pipes that are still being made today.
Today, Germany has many fine artisans that are skilled in creating briar pipes as well as meerschaum and other more contemporary materials. They sell high end beautifully handcrafted pipes that are made in the finest German tradition of quality. Some of the more well- known carvers sell their pipes for several hundreds of dollars apiece depending on the quality of material used and the complexity of the pipe. You can find some of these special pipes online at websites that cater to pipe smoking enthusiasts with pipes, tobacco and any accessory you might need to enjoy this pastime.
What you are likely to encounter in more common markets than the specialty artisan pipes from Germany are stems that are beautifully handmade from German ebonite. Ebonite is a hard rubber that is very well suited for pipe stems as it is durable and resistant to bite marks and will not change to undesirable colors when subjected to the heat produced in smoking the pipe. Most people that make their own pipes prefer German ebonite because its quality is generally superior to other materials that stems can be made from. The Precise German engineering that is put into the manufacture of this product makes it a superior choice for quality pipes. If you take the time to carve a beautiful bowl from a special piece of wood or stone, you want the best stem that you can get to make your pipe a true masterpiece and German quality products are by far industry leaders.