Figural clay pipes
Next to the popular stemmed clay pipe a new type of pipe is born in the early 19th century. This so-called stubstemmed pipe has a short stem ending in a collar suitable to fit with a stem of bamboo, wood, reed or vulcanite. Stubstemmed pipes are less breakable, which gives the pipe maker the freedom of applying a more elaborate decoration. Especially portraits and even complete persons have been depicted in these types of pipes.
Fashion starts in the early nineteenth century and soon this pipe becomes a rage. French pipe makers design endless series of figurals depicting famous or notorious persons: the murderess Charlotte Corday, the lovers of the French kings, as well as politicians and statesmen. Poets and writers, exotic persons are to be found as a pipe, in the end even death and the devil.
The figural pipe is a mass product, formed in a two- or more parted press mould, by itself an ingenious piece of mould makers craftsmanship. The most important factories are Gambier and Blanc-Garin from the Northern-French town of Givet and Duméril and Fiolet from the city of Saint-Omer.
The ultimate flourish of the stubstemmed pipe takes place in the middle of the nineteenth century, although production continues till far in the twentieth century. In course of time the subjects change from exclusive to ordinary, so is the target group changing from intellectual to lower layers of society. Also the work itself is getting less interesting: the fine modelling disappears and makes place for more general depictions in a rather crude quality.
All objects on this page are part of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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