Pipe smoker or not, the artistic beauty of an expertly carved meerschaum pipe is undeniable. And no craftsmen find the beauty dormant within the mineral quite as superbly as the Altinay family. Through three generations, a keen appreciation and skill for the art have been passed down, and from their facility in Eskisehir Turkey, Altinay remains one of the most treasured carvers of meerschaum pipes to this day.
Necdet Altinay (1941-2018) was just fourteen when he entered the world of meerschaum pipe carving. Having taken up a plethora of miscellaneous jobs to help support his family, he stumbled upon a passion. As an apprentice in the craft, Necdet learned from masters of carving meerschaum. After nearly a decade of honing his skills, he founded Altinay Pipe Company in 1964 at the age of twenty-three.
At the time, most carvers’ focus was on the classic sculptural and claw styles popular in meerschaum pipe design. Though Necdet’s background engendered great skill in these disciplines, he saw an opportunity to develop his own aesthetic. He would focus his style on the classic shapes of traditional British and French pipe making. With further guidance from European carving masters, he was able to refine his style—finding the crossroads at which the ornate elegance of the meerschaum met the sober integrity of the classic shapes, most often carved from briar.
Altinay continues to produce incredible traditional shaped pipes, although not exclusively. Beautiful sculptural and claw styles certainly have their place in the catalog.
Through attending industry events around the world, pipe smokers everywhere became aware of Altinay’s phenomenal meerschaum pipes. That reputation would lead to partnerships, in which Necdet would carve meerschaum pipes for industry leaders such as Dunhill, Savinelli, Butz Choquin, Brebbia, Peterson, and Chacom. Even today Altinay carves pipes for Rattray’s.
Taking Altinay Pipes beyond the carvings of a single artisan, Necdet would pass his passion and talent along to his son, Nedim. In 1990, a third master-to-be was born in Said Altinay, who for years would be guided by the two savants—his father and grandfather.
Unfortunately, Necdet Altinay passed away in 2018, but his vision and passion persist in each Altinay pipe, still carved by the hands of the craftsmen he brought up.
The father and son duo have continued the tradition of stunning artisanship in their carving and have even expanded the Altinay catalog into meerschaum-oriented pipe accessories.
One such item is the Altinay Meerschaum Rustic Coloring Bowl. There are many unique qualities that meerschaum possesses as a tobacco pipe material, one of the most loved being its propensity for darkening into rich hues of gold and amber as it is continually smoked. Although, this coloring can be concentrated around one area, often the heel and shank of the bowl, depending on the pipe's shape. This contraption helps to have a more even dispersion of coloring around the bowl.
Then we have a brand-new development from Altinay, meerschaum bowl filters. These false floors have a neutral taste and are designed to facilitate airflow while providing the cool, dry, comfort of meerschaum in a briar or pipe of another material. Not only does it catch moisture and tar, but it reduces dottle, which saves a lot of tobacco in the long run.
Even these expansions into other facets of pipe smoking showcase Altinay’s commitment and respect for the stone. Meerschaum has persisted as a prominent pipe-making material for so long because of these qualities that facilitate the most satisfying of smokes. But also crucial to meerschaum’s longevity, is its capacity to look as wonderful as it performs. But for that to be realized, there must be creative minds and skilled hands preserving the tradition. The Altinay family is etched into that history.
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