Missouri Meerschaum Corncob Buying Guide
Missouri Meerschaum Buyers Guide
© 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013,
with contributions by John L Patton/tiltjlp (Updated 1/27/2013)
CC-BY-SA 2015 (Cobbit) by Jestersage
Thanks to my dad’s mentoring, I’ve been a corncob smoker for over 50 years, and have written The Complete Corncob Primer. In this Buying Guide, I offer my opinions on the Missouri Meerschaum brand of corncob pipes, which I and most other experienced cobbers feel are the only decent corncobs still being made. While I have my favorites, and prefer Natural to Plastered bowls, every MM cob smokes cool and dry. Here are my reviews, starting with the largest bowl sizes to the smallest. Only cobs I have smoked are included here.
Missouri Meerschaum now offers, in limited numbers, natural versions of many of their line of cobs. They're in such short supply that you have to call the factory and speak to Marilyn to order them. They hope to produce my Naturals as they are able to grow the larger cobs needed for them.
MM will soon begin offering Maple hardwood pipes in their three most popular corncob shapes, the apple-Diplomat, the Spool, and the Country Gentleman. I was able to purchase one of each to smoke and evaluate, and will offer my honest opinion, pro and con, in order to help you decide if these new basket pipes might deserve a place in your rack. They will sell at $14.59 each, and the trio will ship for $51.27 at least in the US, which seems like a fairly good price.
All three have the same construction, and the same improved Danish Bit that their cobs have, and come with the same filter most of us remove and discard. So if you like the open draw that make cobs cool smoking, you’ll like the draw of these Maple pipes too. It seems to me that any blend smoked in these cob-shaped hardwood pipes tastes truer, or maybe fresher, than the tobacco will taste in cobs, briar, or metal pipes. It won’t be obvious with every tobacco, but several blends I enjoy regularly really did taste better in one of these Maple Cobs, as I now call then
One thing I will caution about is that these Maple pipes do seem to smoke hotter than corncobs. Luckily I smoke very slowly, and was able to control the amount of heat coming through the bowl. But as Strong Irish, who has smoked one of these Maple Cobs mentioned, unless you smoke as slowly as I do, you’ll probably need to allow cake to build in them, before you’ll find them acceptable. I like them so much that I have ordered a second set of three, although I don’t need any more pipes. While these Maple hardwood pipes won’t replace my cobs, or my few briars, I will add them to my rotation and look forward to enjoying them.
The Cherry Wood poker is not a cob, but MM. It’s a small, thin walled pipe, which I use for some of my flakes, makes it. It’s perfect for two of the Heinrichs Dark Strong Flakes, so no, you won’t be able to stuff a full slice of FVF in this baby, but it does its job like a champ.
The Maple Wood poker is a twin of the Cherry Wood, which I find imparts a natural sweetness to any tobacco. These are excellent, low-cost flake pipes, which come either as bent or straight models. In spite of their thin walls, neither the Cherry or Maple version gets overly warm with flakes.
MM has begun offering what they call a Grab Bag Of Smokable Pipes, which are seconds, with cosmetic flaws. I ordered a grab bag, requesting, if possible mostly bent pipes, since that’s pretty much all I smoke. I received 7 bents and only 3 straights, and after careful inspection, other than for a few minor dings, and a botched staining job on a Country Gentleman, I honestly couldn’t figure out why 9 of those 10 pipes didn’t pass Quality Control. But then, Phil Morgan had vowed to improve QC. While I had hoped I might get a couple Ozark Mountain Hardwood pipes, I got 2 straight Legends, 1 straight Pride, 5 bent Washingtons, a slightly undersized Country Gentleman, and an old-style Diplomat. I can’t say enough good things about what I would call a MM Bargain Grab Bag. $37.49, which includes shipping, for 10 near perfect corncob pipes is a wonderful way to build up your pipe collection.
The Diplomat has been my cob of choice for a long time, but the thicker walls that made it a real favorite was also the biggest drawback it had. The Diplomat no longer has the thick walls that I had come to appreciate. Diplomats now have standard sized bowl thickness, which isn't really a bad thing, since they are now lighter in weight and better fit my hand.
I also ordered a 5th Avenue Diplomat, which could be seen as a slightly downsized version of the American General, which I have always felt was a but heavy for my likes. The new 5th Avenue is roughly a half inch shorter, a slightly narrower than the General. The 5th Avenue I got is 2” tall, finished, and has a ¾” bowl diameter, so you’ll still get a nice long smoke, without any weight issues. It weighs just about the same as an Apple-shaped Diplomat. Flake smokers might like the 5th Avenue as a mini-stack. While I still prefer the old Diplomats, I was favorably impressed with the 5th Avenue.
The new, Natural Freehand is without a doubt the coolest smoking, driest, and best corncob pipe I’ve ever smoked. It comes in a white or reddish tone bowl, and the feel of the natural cob in your hand seems to add to your overall smoking experience. While in extremely short supply, the Natural Freehands is hand assembled, making the Freehand one of the finest cobs I have smoked in over 50 years.
The standard Freehand, which is plastered and burnished, is also very impressive. It delivers an excellent, cool and dry smoke. Maybe it’s because of the tall, conical shaped bowl, which is 2 1/4“ deep, but the pipe seems to enhance the flavor of any blend I smoke in it. I have heard that the shanks can be fragile, but the bowls are quite large, and no two are alike. Although the Freehand is heavier than my other cobs, it’s very well balanced, so that the weight isn’t even noticed.
Morgan Nose warmer
A fairly new model is the Morgan Nose warmer, available as a straight natural only. It is a reduced-size Diplomat, and though I prefer bent pipes, the Morgan is a nice, fun pipe to smoke. A comparison between the Morgan and the Diplomat showed that the Morgan weighed 23g to 35g, was 4 ½” long to 6 ¼”, had an interior bowl depth of 1 1/8” to 1 ½”, a bowl width of ¾” to 1 ½” and held 6g of salt to 9g in my tobacco capacity measurement. At $7.50, this would make a classy starter cob for anyone.
The American General has, as do most MM cobs, a polished exterior. Some folks remove this coating, for a more natural smoke. I’m much too lazy to do that. What would make the General a favorite is that it has a tall bowl, sort of a stack, and thicker walls than the popular Country Gentleman. This to me is a near perfect cob, other than its weight. I can fill the bowl all the way and have a nice, long, relaxing 90 minute or longer experience, or I can partially fill it and enjoy a nice, shorter smoke. Although it’s less expensive than the Freehand, I would choose the Freehand over the General, personally.
Great Dane Spool
The Great Dane Spool is very similar in bowl capacity to the Diplomat, and is a perfect fit in my small hands. The Spool has a slightly narrower inner bowl than the Diplomat and so; it’s a half-inch taller, and basically the same weight as the Diplomat. The Natural Great Dane Spool is a very stunning pipe, in that mine is both red-hued as well as white. I rate this as an equal to the Diplomat. Note: The Spool almost smokes itself, ending every pipe with a fine ash, and nothing else. This might be due to the fact that the Spool is similar in design to a Poker.
Great Dane Egg
The Great Dane Egg is the only current model that isn’t a sitter, or poker style. That for me is a minor drawback. Otherwise, this is a nice cob, with thick walls and a medium sized bowl, similar to the Pride. It’s actually a cheaper version of the Bulldog, which was discontinued in 2000, and which was the last MM cob of somewhat higher quality.
The Country Gentleman is popular, in part, I think because it looks funky, with that black coating it shares with the Patriot Spool. Now, some folks mention that it has a larger bowl than the Diplomat, which is true, but there is so little difference, it hardly matters. What keeps the CG from being a favorite of mine are its thin walls. It’s simply can get too warm to handle comfortably, and I’m a very slow smoker. In 2013 Missouri Meerschaum finally added a hard wood insert to the bottom of the Country Gentleman, like most other larger sized cobs.
The Patriot Spool has the same black coating that’s on the Country Gentleman, but has the added bonus of being a narrow pipe. I like that, since it takes up less room, and when you live in a small apartment, it matters. I also think a black spool looks funky. Plus it has that thicker rim, for a bit cooler place to grip the pipe. It's also a nice flake pipe.
The Pride is an extremely nice smallish cob, and one of only a few MM models left alone, or unfinished. For that reason, it offers the dry and cool smoke every piper hopes for. I love this model, and its small size makes it ideal for quick smokes. The Washington is the same pipe as the Pride, only with the Plastered bowl.
The Legend is a fine starter pipe, and MM’s biggest seller. It’s what most people think of when you mention corncob pipes, what with its plastic amber bit. The Legend is a small pipe, and the shape varies slightly, since it seems that few source cobs are rejected.
The Eaton, which is only available as a natural straight model, is barely 5” long, and unfiltered. Think of it as a little brother to the Pride, although they don’t look that similar. Both pipes are natural, but the Eaton has a small barrel shaped bowl, with very thin walls. Unless you have small hands, your pinky finger might not fit into the bowl for packing, so this one might not be for you. I do have small hands, so I was able to pack my Eaton, which gave me a nice, cool 20-minute smoke. While I have though the Eaton was pretty much a toy, it’s actually a fairly decent cob for those times you’re in a rush.
The Pony is a small, unfiltered straight pipe. This model is a half step below the Legend in size and quality. Not a bad pipe, since I don’t feel there is a bad MM, just not the best.
The Cobbit is a new series of corncob churchwardens introduced by by Missouri Meerschaum in 2015. It comes in 4 varieties: Wizard, Elf, Shire, and Dwarf All of them are non-filtered pipes. However, the Wizard, Shire, and Elf's fitting is the same as those used by filtered pipes, and thus the stems, which is made of vulcanite instead of the standard acrylic, can be fitted onto existing filtered pipes. All the bowls are stained black like the Country Gentleman and fitted with a hardwood bottom.
- The Dwarf is the smallest and lightest of the series, measuring at 7 1/4 inches, and comes with the smallest bowl. Unlike the others in the series, it utilize the standard non-filtered fittings. It is designed to be easily clenched.
- The Elf and the shire pipe is also a mini churchwarden, just slightly longer than the Dwarf at 7 1/2 inches. However, its vulcanite stems can be used on the filtered fittings. The Elf, being based on the Rob Roy bowl, has greater volume than the Shire's bowl, which is virtually identical to the one from diplomat (except in a nicer looking color)
- If you definition of "churchwarden" pipes requires it to be about a feet, the the wizard is the only "true churchwarden" among the series, with a total length of 11 inches. The Vulcanite stem is at 8 inches, the same length as the Churchwarden Forever Stems. Its bowl is also significantly bigger and heavier than the others -- the chamber even managed to be deeper and wider than those of the General! Naturally, this make clenching completely impossible, and lighting the pipe require certain finesse. My solution is to pull the stem out and fit it onto other smaller filtered pipes that I have; the maple diplomat is a good fit.
Some people consider the vulcanite stem as merely "acceptable". Thus, if one decided to go with a Forever Stems Chruchwarden stem, this series may not entice you that much. However, Forever stem is also more expensive than the pipe, and it is smokeable for me; the Wizard's stem manage to give me the coolest smoke I ever have.
Dagner Sitting Poker
The "Dagner Sitting Poker" is a pipe which was designed by pipe designer Jason Dagner of Dagner Pipe Designs and which was put into production by Missouri Meerschaum in April 2016. It is a small, non-filtered pipe with a 4 1/2" length and a surprisingly tall 2" bowl with a 3/4" chamber and 1 3/8" depth and a hardwood birch plug. What sets the Dagner cob apart from the standard line is that it features an Italian-made black acrylic stem and a nickel plated band.
- http://www.corncobpipe.com/ the Missouri Meerschaum website, for product and ordering information, and a bit of company history
- http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=The_Complete_Corncob_primer The Corncob Primer, follow the link below.
- http://corncobsandbriar.phpbb3now.com/ John L Patton's Corncobs & Briar Forum