Smokers' clubs

Already in the seventeenth century smoking in a group became popular. The smoke room or tabagie is the oldest example. In the eighteenth century German rulers introduced a tobacco college where the important people met and serious matters were discussed while smoking a pipe.

In England many smokers’ circles existed, where it appears to be more important to smoke and drink than to discuss. Hogarth illustrated these clubs in his prints. The serious circles meant for conversation are not known from that country.

Also in many clubs and artist circles it was quite common to meet and smoke together. Several of these groups even had their own tobacco pipe. An example is the Felix Meritis artist society in Amsterdam that introduced a society pipe in clay, showing the name of the club.

In the nineteenth century a lot of small smokers societies were born. Some of them being cultural, others mainly for political conversations or for practising science or art. The tobacco pipe always represented the element of friendship, next to giving piece and rest and stimulating the brains.

In the twentieth century new circles were born, introducing the odd habit of smoking as a competition. By smoking a fixed quantity of tobacco people tried to keep their pipe burning as long as possible. Of course, the pleasures of smoking were fully spoiled by the aspects of competition. In the 1950's and 1960's these events became so popular that even national and international championships were held.

some smokers sitting and puffing in front of an open fire, the Netherlands,1630-1650 scene from a tabagie, when smoking was still done in a smoke room, 1670-1700
a smoaking club where everybody seems to disappear in clouds of smoke, F. Scott, England, 1792
detail of the smoakers club nobody being without immense clouds of smoke, F. Scott, England, 1792
a beautiful engraving of an English smoakers club, F. Scott, England, 1792
detail of a phanatic smoker from the print from Hogarth, England, c. 1780-
an evening with smoking an drinking from the series a mid-night's conversation by William Hogarth, England, c. 1780
a nineteenth century wood engraving illustrating an eighteenth century group of smokers with long clay pipes, England, 1860-1880
the gentleman smoke a chiboucq, water pipe or cigar and the ladies get paler and paler, even after consulting the snuff bottle, Petit Journal pour Rire, France, 1875-1890
a smokers group in the open air visualizing all sorts of tobacco use, Alexander Verhuell, the Netherlands, 1835-1860 a smokers group in the open air visualizing all sorts of tobacco use, Alexander Verhuell, the Netherlands, 1835-1860
a smokers club fromt the Belgium-France border area, 1934
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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