Have you ever heard of "meerschaum"? If so, it might have been in reference to a meerschaum pipe, which I happened to own suddenly when I purchased a box lot of items at an auction I attended recently. Meerschaum is a mineral that is also known scientifically as "sepiolite". The word "meerschaum" is a German word that means "foam of the sea". Meerschaum is so light and porous that it can float on top of water. Found mostly in Turkey around the Dead Sea, meerschaum is also found in the U.S. and other areas around the globe in small quantities.
My meerschaum pipe, carved into a lion head:
According to Wikipedia, meerschaum replaced clay as a superior pipe-making material. The porous nature of meerschaum draws moisture and tobacco tar into the stone which provides a cool, dry, flavorful smoke. As the pipe is used, it typically changes color, from white to golden yellow to orange to reddish brown as the tar is absorbed into the bowl of the pipe.
Here is a older, well-used meerschaum pipe, image courtesy of Wikipedia:
Meerschaum is so easy to carve, you can almost make impressions in it with your fingernail.
The tips and stems of vintage cigarette holders were also sometimes made of meerschaum.
This vintage cigarette holder from the 1940's recently sold on Etsy:
The typical carved meerschaum pipe like my example, because it's a common motif, not signed by a specific carver and it doesn't have its own case, is probably worth about $35.00 to $45.00.
So there you go, another little vocabulary word you can use to impress you friends when you go to the flea market together. There's a good chance you will come across a meerschaum pipe one of these days.