Friday, December 21, 2012

Clay Pipes as Trash

Two days ago I showed you pottery shards that I collected from our bike path in Zoeterwoude. Well today I have 17th century clay pipe pieces to show. And they were picked up from the same bike path over 10 years ago by me.

I can still hear a little boy from the caravan camping across the street from us asking, "Lady, what are you picking up off the ground?" To him the pipe shards would have been trash, but for me they were real treasures.

We even visited the Pijpenkabinet in the city of Leiden (of Pilgrim Fathers fame) to find out more about the clay pipe artifacts. At that time, there wasn't much info on the Internet, so I bought two books to help me identify my findings.

Today the Internet has lots of valuable info. is a good source. As far as I can tell from my collection, The most interesting are a few Henry Bedford pipes made around 1650-1665. I can tell that by his HB mark on the heel of the pipe head. The rest of the pipe heads and stems are a bit generic and difficult for this amateur to identify.

I found the following information at

Ever since the late 16th century, clay pipes have been manufactured in Europe – particularly in England and the Netherlands.

European clay pipe making first began in England in the 1570s, when potters began producing clay pipes as a sideline to their regular business.

During the war between the Netherlands and Spain, Queen Elizabeth of England sent soldiers to aid the Dutch. Among these soldiers were many skilled pipe makers who stayed in the Netherlands after the end of the war.

Pipe manufacturing in the Netherlands started in Amsterdam in 1607, followed by Leiden and Gouda around 1617. Before long, Gouda became the epicentre for European pipe making and a pipe makers’ guild was formed there in 1660.

The manufacture of clay pipes in Sweden probably began in the 1660s. The earliest archaeological evidence of this comes from a pottery in Örebro. As early as 1650, however, two Dutch men were granted permission to produce clay pipes in Stockholm, although it is not known whether production actually started.
Tobacco was very expensive at that time, which is why the clay pipes were given small bowls. The stems on the earliest pipes were often short and stocky, but this changed over time with the first longer and more slender stems introduced toward the latter part of the 17th century.

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