Authentication & Appraisal

Obtaining authentication and appraisal of antique opium pipes, opium lamps and other antique opium-smoking paraphernalia

Have you discovered what you think is an antique opium pipe or lamp among your family heirlooms? If you believe you own such a piece, the Opium Museum is now offering an authentication and appraisal service that will enable you to learn the correct market value of your authentic relic and, if you so desire, perhaps sell it for what it is really worth. 

If, on the other hand, you are interested in purchasing an authentic antique opium pipe or opium lamp, you may want to have your potential purchase authenticated by the Opium Museum before you hand over your money to an antiques dealer.

The interest in antique opium paraphernalia is such that already the demand has outstripped supply, and as so often happens in such situations, the unscrupulous are taking advantage. As a collector I am alarmed by the large number of fakes to have hit the market in the past few years. Not only has the amount of newly-made fakes grown, so too the quality of these fakes has improved and most are being sold as genuine antiques.

During my research on the subject I have been astonished to find fake opium pipes and lamps in the best collections, and to see seemingly reputable online dealers and auction houses offering fakes to their unsuspecting clients. I have even spotted fakes in museum exhibitions.

Some dealers get around issues of ethics by simply leaving out estimates of age or provenance in their catalogs or on their websites. Other dealers and websites brazenly misrepresent the age of their offerings. Their opium pipes may be labeled as "nineteenth century" but in fact they are not much older than the sandwich you had for lunch. By utilizing modern "antiquing" techniques, reproductions are made to simulate decades of age and even opium use.

A piece's authenticity can only be confirmed by examining its design and material characteristics and then comparing it with known genuine pieces. I have gained the expertise to make such judgment through the examination of thousands of authentic pieces of antique opium paraphernalia.

There is absolutely no substitute for the experienced eye.

For all these reasons I am now offering an authentication and informal appraisal service. Fees are reasonable and I am usually able to deliver a verdict within twenty-four hours of payment. If you are interested or have any questions, please contact me at the email address below and if possible include a photograph of the piece to be authenticated or appraised. I will get back to you promptly.

Please email me at

Steven Martin

Author, Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction (Random House; 2012)

The Art of Opium Antiques (Silkworm Books; 2007)