Research § 15

Archaeology and pipes

On demand the Amsterdam Pipe Museum (former Pijpenkabinet) Foundation assists in dating and describing pipes and other smoking utensils from archaeological sources. The benefits are on both sides: the excavating institution gets the optimum results and conclusions from their finds and – on the other hand – the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is able to update its knowledge on the clay tobacco pipe. Recent founds, closed context within the excavation, information on find conditions and related finds, it all brings new knowledge and is a stimulus to further research.

Recent archaeological projects spread over the Netherlands have proven once more that the history of the clay tobacco pipe and the habit of smoking could be extended and refined. Studying new finds often means that new knowledge on the development of the product is gained, but also on the trade in pipes and the behaviour of the consumer. At most excavations interpretations of the pipe finds went that far that even a profile of the users could be given. Aspects such as fashion, personal taste, patterns of distinction such as the search for or the lack of status can often be reconstructed.

In times that smoking was still fashionable, the tobacco pipe played an important role in the material culture. Distinction with a pipe was a common phenomenon. Pipe finds often reflect the need for status or the lack of it, but even more specific patterns can be concluded. In the Dutch town of Middelburg for instance, military officers used the tobacco pipe to express their personality, the exuberant choice of their pipe made smoking in the barracks almost to a joke. In contrast to this, women in the almshouses in Alkmaar smoked for the pleasures of the nicotine: in complete absence of urge for status, they spent no money on their pipes, but only to the tobacco.

Pipe finds also indicate trade relations. In Bourtange, a fortified settlement far from every village in the north-east of Holland, the soldiers were fully depending on the imports from the town of Groningen. Nevertheless, many pipes were brought to this fortified town by soldiers between their lips or in their kit-bags. They now often prove were these people came from.

In southern provinces of Holland, for instance in Venlo, smoking has not been very popular at first. When in the 1730’s pipe making workshops were started up in nearby Westerwald, smoking also became fashionable in Venlo. The smoking of tobacco and the use of pipes got popular and soon pipes became a medium for distinction. Within some years the feeling for quality lies far above the average level in Holland.

In archaeology pipe finds can add new information to an excavation and provide a better and more interesting interpretation. Certainly, under one condition: the determinations have to be done professionally and from the best possible level of expertise. The Pijpenkabinet Foundation in Amsterdam is the most suitable partner for this work. This institution holds the national reference collection containing thousands of well-described pipe finds, next to a thorough documentation centre and a wealth of original sources on pipes and its industry. By using this expertise the finds play a role in the network of knowledge on this material. Those who are convinced that the clay tobacco pipe is the most renown indication for dating post-mediaeval archaeology is kindly invited to explore these possibilities with us.

The Amsterdam Pipe Museum (Pijpenkabinet Foundation) has given its expertise to archaeological projects in New York, Australia (shipwrecks), Spitsbergen (whale fishing settlements), France (the Louvre palace) and more recently in Holland in the cities of Alkmaar, Gouda, Middelburg, Vlissingen and Venlo. Often it concerns finds of many hundreds of pipes that are dated and described in their context. By the appointment and convened payment to the Amsterdam Pipe Museum, the institution sending in pipe finds receives a full written report and if they wish an article for a wider public.

For those who prefer to do the work themselves we advise to read the following article:
Instructions for working with pipe finds (Richtlijnen voor het verwerken van pijpvondsten), Amsterdam, 2003. Curator Don Duco presents a general system to report on pipe finds in a systematic way. The article deals with the cleaning, sorting out, describing and concluding of the material.

Some of our reports:

Kleipijpen, Chapter in: Schans op de grens, Sellingen, 1993

Gedachten rond een raadselachtig vondstcomplex (Thoughts on a mysterious pipe find), Amsterdam, 1995

Goudsche tabagie of gastvrij hoerehuijs (A Gouda smokers' house or a brothel?), Amsterdam, 1996

Kleipijpen, Chapter in : Wonen op niveau (Clay tobacco pipes, chapter in: Living with a certain status), Alkmaar, 1997

Kleipijpen (Clay tobacco pipes from Amersfoort, 2001

Drie eeuwen tabakspijpen uit Alkmaar, een analyse van de kleipijpen na vijftien jaar stadskernonderzoek (Three centuries of tobacco pipes from Alkmaar, an analysis of the clay tobacco pipes after fifteen years of archaeological research), Alkmaar, 2004

Vondstrapport Stadsschouwburg Middelburg (Reports on the finds from the municipal theatre in Middelburg), Amsterdam, 2004

Kleipijpen Visgracht/Grote Markt, Dendermonde, 2002, (Clay tobacco pipes fromt the Visgracht/Grote Markt in Dendermonde, Belgium, 2002), Amsterdam, 2005

De kleipijpen van Huis te Vleuten (The clay tobacco pipes of the House Te Vleuten), Amersfoort, 2005

Kleipijpen en ander rookgerei (Clay tobacco pipes and other smokers' utensils), Amersfoort, 2006

Zeventiende en achttiende eeuwse pijpen uit Vlissingen (Seventeenth and eighteenth century clay pipes from Flushing, Sealand), Amsterdam, 2006

Pijpvondsten van de Maasboulevard te Venlo (Pipe finds from the Maasboulevard in Venlo, the Netherlands), Amsterdam, 2006

Een groep eerste-generatie pijpen uit Den Haag (A group of first-generation pipes from The Hague), Amsterdam, 2006

Pijpen uit een stortlaag van 't Slot te Gameren, (Clay tobacco pipes from the castle at Gameren), Amsterdam, 2007

Tabakspijpen uit een gedempte gracht in de Bierstraat te ‘s-Gravenhage (Clay tobacco pipes from a former canal in the Beerstreet in The Hague), Amsterdam, 2007

Pijpvondsten van de Citadel te Antwerpen (Pipe finds from the fortification of Antwerp), Amsterdam, 2007

Kleipijpen uit de Kerkstraat in Aalten (Clay tobacco pipes from the Churchstreet in Aalten, the Netherlands), Amsterdam, 2008

Scheepswrak Dordtse Kil bij Dordrecht, Amsterdam, 2008

Pijpvondsten aan de Wijnhaven in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, 2008

Over smaak valt niet te twisten, twee zeventiende eeuwse vondstgroepen vergeleken, Amsterdam, 2008

Roken in een boerenkroeg in West-Friesland, Westerheem, 58-4, 2009

De pijpen van het scheldeterrein in Vlissingen, Amsterdam, 2009

Pijpvondsten aan het Bolwerk in Gouda, Amsterdam, 2009

Click here for the complete list of publications of the curator.

For questions to the curator of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum click here to e-mail

etnographic pipes Cameroon pipes
modern briar pipes
opium pipes and paraphernalia covers for pipes
figural clay pipes
the making of clay pipes pipemaker's marks
Dutch decorated pipes
pr-columbian and American-Indian pipes meerschaum cheroot holders
porcelain pipes
early wooden pipes stemmed clay pipes
pipes of various materials
waterpipes carved briar pipes
painted porcelain pipes
pipes from Asia carved meerschaum pipes
Don Duco, the specialist of the Pijpenkabinet Foundation at work
a find of seventeenth century pipes from the village Westeinde near Enkhuizen, the Netherlands
remains of a Gouda pipe smokers club, 1610-1620
click for objects from the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
etnographic pipes Cameroon pipes
modern briar pipes
opium pipes and paraphernalia covers for pipes
figural clay pipes
the making of clay pipes pipemaker's marks
Dutch decorated pipes
pr-columbian and American-Indian pipes meerschaum cheroot holders
porcelain pipes
early wooden pipes stemmed clay pipes
pipes of various materials
waterpipes carved briar pipes
painted porcelain pipes
pipes from Asia carved meerschaum pipes
etnographic pipes
Cameroon pipes modern briar pipes
opium pipes and paraphernalia
covers for pipes figural clay pipes
the making of clay pipes
pipemaker's marks Dutch decorated pipes
pr-columbian and American-Indian pipes
meerschaum cheroot holders porcelain pipes
early wooden pipes
stemmed clay pipes pipes of various materials
waterpipes
carved briar pipes the making of clay pipes
covers for pipes
painted porcelain pipes etnographic pipes
pipes from Asia
carved meerschaum pipes Dutch decorated pipes
pipemaker's marks
opium pipes and paraphernalia Cameroon pipes
pr-columbian and American-Indian pipes
meerschaum cheroot holders porcelain pipes
early wooden pipes
stemmed clay pipes pipes of various materials
waterpipes
carved briar pipes the making of clay pipes
covers for pipes
painted porcelain pipes etnographic pipes
pipes from Asia
mis-backed pipes from the II-maker in Gouda, 1639
group of pipes with Jonah and the big fish from the later type, Gouda, the Netherlands, 1645-1675
pipe bowls with relief decoration from the best years of the Gouda industry, 1745-1760
pipe bowls from the course quality, named farmers' pipes, west part of the Netherlands, 1770-1820
pipes excavated on the dump of the most important factury for pipes in France, firm J. Gambier, Givet, 1860-1900
publication by the Archeologisch Diensten Centrum (Archaeological Service Centre) in which the curator of the Pijpenkabinet has written a review on the pipe finds, 2005
This is the old website of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum.
Visit our new website www.pipemuseum.nl
including the on-line collection .

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