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.
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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