Smokers from Brittany

About 1900 no part of France was more famous for their typical smokers' types as Brittany. Fishermen were serious smokers, generally using a short clay pipe, thoroughly brown by its intense use.

Their grotesque looks, face tanned by wind and sea, dressed in wax coats, made them photogenic. Photographers made hundreds of portraits of these sailors at that time: without exception with a stump of a pipe between their teeth.

For women who stayed behind repairing nets and selling fish, smoking a pipe was as common as for their husbands. Especially old widows were arduous smokers. As counterpart to the many portraits of men, unique series of photographs of women smoking a pipe are known. The clay tobacco pipe was their favourite.

The portraits of coastal men and women show pipes with no special decoration at all. They smoked plain, short stemmed cutties, using the old pipe even when the stem got broken. One fisherman is an exception. Perhaps his favourite clay got broken during the posing. He is depicted with the famous Jacob pipe, a highly decorated farmer’s pipe not really popular among sailors.

a fisherman with typical hat and cutty between the teeth, Boulogne, France, 1900-1910 a fisherman with typical hat and cutty between the teeth, Boulogne, France, 1900-1910
a fisherman with typical hat and cutty between the teeth, Boulogne, France, 1900-1910
a 'loup de mer' never without his cutty, Brittany, France, 1900-1910
personalities that no longer exist complete with wiskers and a clay pipe, Brittany, 1900-1910
fisherman from Iceland with between the teeth a Jacob pipe, fairly uncommon for these type of people, Dunkerque, France, 1900-1910
lighting another pipe, smoker from Rennes, France, 1910-1920
a piece of wood serves to light this pipe, Brittany, France, 1910-1920
sailor with typical clothing, a stump of a pipe between his teeth, Brittany, France, 1900-1910
woman in local dress lighting a clay pipe, Brittany, France, 1910-1920
woman in local dress lighting a clay pipe, Brittany, France, 1910-1920 woman from Brittany never without her pipe, 1910-1920 smoking woman in traditional dress, Brittany, 1905-1915
magnificent folk type with a water jug on her head and a clay pipe between her teeth, Morlaix, France, 1900-1910
once common in the streets, a smoking woman, Brittany, France, 1900-1910
carrying water while smoking, Morlaix, France, 1900-1910
the Dutch sailorman recognizable on the shape of his clay, Sealand, the Netherlands, c. 1925
man and woman near the fireplace of their home smoking a pipe, Quimper, France, 1900-1910
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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