Different fields of collecting
The collection of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum consists of different parts that can also be seen as separate chapters in the history of smoking. Each of them has its own meaning for purposes of research that the museum does or for the permanent presentation in the museum.
The prehistory of smoking is illustrated with the collection of pre-Columbian pipes from Middle- and South-America that date back to 500 BC. Despite of the great rarity of these, mainly archaeological objects, the Pijpenkabinet managed to acquire the best collection of pre-Columbian pipes outside Mexico.
The excavated pipes from the Netherlands and West-Europe form in number an important part of the collection. In this collection examples of all the different styles of pipes are preserved. As a reference and study collection this part of the collection has been the base for the series of archaeological books the museum published.
The clay tobacco pipes from the nineteenth and twentieth century from different European countries also are an important category. These objects illustrate the enormous variety in shapes and designs, including the rich selection of figural pipes that are a special attraction to many museum visitors. Of several renowned factories the museum holds a representative production-review.
The category of pipes made from ceramic is closely related to the clay tobacco pipe, although they are not traditionally casted in a metal mould but made from liquid clay in plaster moulds or they are hand modelled. The origin shows a wider scope but in general the dating is more recent.
The collection porcelain pipes, originating from France and the German-speaking countries, is not represented in any other Dutch museum. From the rare figurals pipes from the eighteenth century and the artistically painted nineteenth century examples the museum owns a rich selection. The most important factories are Meissen, Nymphenburg, Königliche Porzellan Manufacture in Berlin, and from France Sèvres.
Pipes from meerschaum are respected to be the most attractive ever made. The special qualities of the material makes carving easy, which often led to highly artistic achiefments. During the use colouring starts, which gives these pipes unexpected patinas. Starting as a tobacco pipe, in the second half of the nineteenth century the meerschaum developed to interesting cheroot holders.
The selection of wooden pipes is most varied. From the eighteenth and nineteenth century are soft wooden pipe bowls lined with meerscaum or shield metal. Other interesting and nice examples are decorated on folk-art level as well as artistic. After the middle of the nineteenth century the briar pipe dominates. From that time onwards we see tradition and modern design alternate: the Pijpenkabinet collection preserves the billiard and the bulldog next to the Porsche design and the Bugatti.
To the category of various materials curiosities such as glass, metal, agate, bone, ivory etcetera belong. Even pipes from shell or the pincett of a crab exist. Most of these products never became popular as smoking pipe; they were gifts for curiosity and display purpose mainly. The Pijpenkabinet shows a selection of these pipes from different countries and in unexpected designs.
The collection of ethnographic pipes encounters a selection of over sixty countries in Africa, Asia and America. Especially in Africa smoking is extremely popular, pipes from some cultures are rich examples of expression, playing a part in their ceremonies. In contrast are the pipes from the Near-East, the ancient Ottoman Empire, being skilfully made and refined in shape. The Asian specimen varies from most course pipes from the mountain tribes in Yemen to the refined kiseru from Japan.
The opium pipes from China form group on its own. For this most addicting way of smoking exquisite objects exist, having stems in bamboo, ivory, tortoise and cloisonné. Some opium pipes are embellished with precious stones in gold or silver mounting. The bowls, in which the costly opium is consumed, are true examples of Chinese craftmanship made in the famous local stoneware, in porcelain or even in jade.
The original pipe makers tools illustrate the manufacturing processes in all its aspects. Especially the hundreds of brass moulds throw light on a unique industry in West-Europe that in the meantime disappeared. Of the most important Gouda factory, the Goedewaagen firm, the museum preserves the complete inventory of the workshop. In comparison tools from other centres in the world are added to the collection.
The chapter tobacco curiosities illustrates the culture of smoking. In this collection utensils in folk art as well as more artistic items are kept. Some examples are bridegrooms' pipes, pipe cases, covers for pipe bowls, also braziers, tobacco jars and pipe boxes. This collection completes the image of the smoker and its social environment from the seventeenth century till present day.
A relatively small collection encounters ethnographical tobacco related items from non-European countries. The most popular are the pipe cases and tobacco containers from Japan or the beautifully decorated snuff bottles from China. In this chapter you also find some remarkable statuettes showing smokers from primitive cultures.
Related to the ritual of taking opium is a collection of opium paraphernalia that illustrates the habit of smoking opium. Next to spatulas, needles and scrapers also nicely decorated jars to store the opium are in the collection. Also lamps for heating the opium and trays and even neck rests are present in this group.
A collection of smokers prints, drawings and paintings represents the use of the pipe and the habit of smoking. From all periods illustrations have been brought together, making the setting of pipe smoking visible. Next to depictions of groups of smokers, also portraits of individuals occur, all of them showing the relation between clothing and the pipe in use, some also expressing the social layer by its interior.
A collection of original records informs us about the history of the workshops and their owners. The collection encounters guild regulations, lists of makers' marks, personal annotations, also business cards, letterheads and pricelists. These items often represent the fashion styles of the era they were in use and are of great importance for knowing more about the workshops.
A group of tobacco wrappers and packages illustrate the iconography of the various tobacco products. Original packages are collected next to the prints that survived from the late seventeenth century to present day and from all parts of the world. The largest groups in this section are the wrappers and box labels for cigars.
The total number of museum objects in October 2016 is 32.293