On my 60th birthday, Landrick presented me with a vintage, unsmoked pipe from Italy with a mouthpiece made of amber.
Pipes with mouthpieces made of amber are extremely rare.
Actually, the fossilized resin of prehistoric plants, amber is rare due mainly to the unbridled exploitation carried out in the past centuries – just think of the famous Amber Room of the Tsars.
It is so scarce and valuable that whatever minuscule amount that is harvested has mostly been secreted away to make jewelry – rings, necklaces, cameos, earrings and the like, and pipes with amber mouthpieces are very hard to come by, and extremely pricey.
History has it that it was some skilled Viennese and Hungarian craftsmen who were the first to use amber to make mouthpieces for pipes.
Such pipes are now almost exclusively available only for viewing in museums or private collections, because they are almost never made nowadays.
Kudos to Landrick and his resourcefulness for having found this, and of course, my heartfelt gratitude for his generosity.