All but one of the Victorian meerschaum pipes and cheroot holders in a 15-piece collection sold at John Nicholson’s auction in Haslemere, Surrey, on September 13 went for prices between £100-1500 each.
The exception was this magnificent specimen carved as cornucopia and a semi-nude lady embracing a winged cupid. Described as ‘museum quality’, it sold to a UK private collector at £9600 (plus 25% premium) against an estimate of £3000-4000. The collection, assembled by a retired Surrey furniture dealer, totalled £17,000.
The first recorded use of the soft mineral meerschaum for making pipes was c.1720. During the 19th century, at the height of its popularity, the centre of meerschaum pipe production was Vienna.