clay pipes

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toot

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A broom straw wound be good for a quick fix but will not really 'clean' it out and it will clog right back up, especially depending on the tobacco's moisture content.
To Clean a clay pipe simple hold it over a fire and BURN IT CLEAN. Even a tar (tobacco) soaked pipe (or just the stem - but a 'cake' is not needed in clay) will burn out Clean White like the day it was made.
But Be Careful not to get burned - it will be HOT! And always lay it aside and let it cool naturally, also it will be brittle when hot but once cooled - JUST LIKE NEW AGAIN!
some were even boiled to remove the resin.
 
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some were even boiled to remove the resin.
That I have not heard of, sounds messy from what I know of handling dirty pipes. Also with pipes being made of clay that seems like it may damage their integrity??
Being made of 'fired clay', putting them to flame has not harmed any I have cleaned, even did one on an electric stove top once; smelled up the kitchen and took much longer but it did eventually burn out all white - the wife told me i wasn't allowed to do that again...
 
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The pipe arrived yesterday and delivered a very pleasant, efficient smoke. Time to order a few more. It smoked as well as my favorite briar. Thanks for all the advice and interesting discussion.
 
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The pipe arrived yesterday and delivered a very pleasant, efficient smoke. Time to order a few more. It smoked as well as my favorite briar. Thanks for all the advice and interesting discussion.
The nice thing about clay is that there is no 'break in' required; it is ready right out of the box, and there is no need for building a 'cake'. The only draw back is that they get Hot, but you eventually figure it out.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I'm sorry,,,, I just don't buy into the bit (ha ha ha, get it?) about breaking off the end of the pipe for the next user.
1st of all, it would leave a sharp edge.
Secondly, and more importantly, I see no reason to believe most folks had any incling that a clean pipe end was a necessity. Knowledge of transmission of germs and disease was in its infancy at this point.

Is it an "urban myth"? What exactly is the myth?

See they have found shortened "tavern" pipes, and even tiny pieces of pipe stem in archaeological digs, obviously cut by a tool, not the teeth, or snapped by other means so....,
..., somebody simply added the "avoiding germs" part, totally missing that germ-theory was not yet known to the general public, to explain why anybody would trim a pipe stem....,

So WHY nip the ends?




It is true that the longer stem provides a cooler smoke, however a longer stem also takes a harder draw, further, the raw smoke and residue remains longer which soon clogs the long thin stem. As I mentioned earlier a pipe needs to be made proper to function correctly, I have had a few from various vendors that were nothing more the 'props'; the draw was Horrible!
Near near the tip is a good point for the clog to form. ;)

Also we are talking about an environment with constant hardwood smoke, candle/rush smoke, and tobacco smoke... and as a result... very well seasoned and/or spiced foods. Some of the 18th century foods that I've made from original recipes are quite strong in flavor. I once thought that either I was off in my measurement conversion or that the modern sources for the spice/seasonings were more potent than the historic ones. Then a Foodie that I know who specializes in 18th century food suggested the flavors were strong in some recipes to fight the assault of the smoky conditions. ???

Do you really want to smoke that pipe after the last guy, who had just finished a dish made with garlic and red pepper in a healthy dose?



Now; have you ever tried carrying a 9" to 20" clay pipe between your teeth for a day...and don't break it?
Such long (cool and refreshing) pipes were a household, tavern, church item and not for travel or laboring. I doubt any at all will be found in the hills or along any trap lines carried there by the MM.

Now Briar; if I recall correctly, did not come about until early 1900s. Prior would be ash and other hard woods.

Well the tavern pipe or church warden isn't actually held by the teeth. Highly uncomfortable. The stem is held in the hand, and the tip is merely placed in the lips to draw on the pipe. In fact, if one has too short a stem, it having been nipped over time, OR one has a particularly hot smoking tobacco, the smoker can partially draw in air along with the smoke from the stem, to further cool the smoke.

Well Briar pipes were more introduced in the late Victorian era (at least in the English speaking world) as evidenced by the stories penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in the late 1880's and 1890's. Doyle often remarks how his character Sherlock Holmes smokes a "clay pipe" in The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Red Headed League, A Case of Identity, The Blue Carbuncle, and in The Adventure of The Copper Beeches ; Holmes smokes a "long cherry-wood pipe" which he used from time to time instead of his regular clay pipe. In The Man with The Twisted Lip the pipe is "an old twisted briar pipe", and in Silver Blaze one of the characters had a "briar-root pipe", and another a briar pipe with an amber stem. (The Calabash pipe that we see in black and white movies about Holmes, played by Basil Rathbone is pure hogwash as far as the actual stories are concerned)

LD
 
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Back in the day digging out honey hole bottle spots along The Rahway and Elizabeth rivers in NJ. We came up with several pipes dating from colonial times. It was a rare find because very little was tossed out because everything (glass containers/bottles were usually repurposed. Some of the examples were clay rolls placed into the palm and packed down on each end. They were tossed into a kiln as a firing test for clay. you could actually see the palm print from the individual on it. But , these honey holes were few and far in between. My buddy once dug an ale bottle with an old cartridge in it..complete. Must have been one heck of a conversation that night. SM
 
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Back in the day digging out honey hole bottle spots along The Rahway and Elizabeth rivers in NJ. We came up with several pipes dating from colonial times. It was a rare find because very little was tossed out because everything (glass containers/bottles were usually repurposed. Some of the examples were clay rolls placed into the palm and packed down on each end. They were tossed into a kiln as a firing test for clay. you could actually see the palm print from the individual on it. But , these honey holes were few and far in between. My buddy once dug an ale bottle with an old cartridge in it..complete. Must have been one heck of a conversation that night. SM
Nice argument but don't hold water. Are you a smoker?

First: Tavern pipes. I never said they were 'carried about', re-read the posts. As for even the 9" plus I was stated the would 'not' fair well in a pack.
For travel purposes the ones 7" and smaller would (and still are) more sturdy. The small one that pipe makers call the "Elizabethan" is only a few inches.

Now for "broken tips":
1) if you are a pipe smoker (as I am), continued biting on clay, gnawing, chewing, etc will eventually saw right through it - when it snaps off it can (and has) look just like someone Snipped it off! Pipe is still good just a little shorter.
Now thinking of a Tavern Pipe at a tavern; they are not (usually) passing it around as if sharing Wacky Backy, no they 'Rent it' or just borrow depending on the owner, and That Person has it for the evening (or however long his meal and/or gambling may last. I that time he is eating, drinking, yackity yacking... and very often Chewing on the end of the pipe. Depending on how vigorous a chewer, depending on the state of his teeth, it may not take long before - Snap - he bits it right off.

Another scenario; as mentioned the Tip is a point of clogging (so is the vent entry from the bowel, also depends on the moisture content of the tobacco). With saliva, and as said food material, the tip can clog up and 'snipping' or simply braking it off is an easy remedy for a 15" to 24" long stem. Holding over the candel does tend to create 'extra' smoke that may be frowned upon in some circles. As smokers we have a saying "Control your smoke, man" for those who start to become chimney stacks in the room.

As for the 'next customer'; perhaps some found the tip too fowl and might break it off, but as for the tavern owner, it would be far more Profitable to just hold over a flame for a few minutes - better to rent the pipe for a month until broken then a few nights because you keep snipping shorter.

Yes, where ever taverns have been found, Many shards and 'tips' can be found. A friend of mine who was crew a few years ago sailed to the infamous Tortuga. He brought back many tales, one was that it is said "The streets are paved with the shards of broken clay pipes". He swears it looked like it and despite it no longer being allowed was able to sneak a few back he now has on his mantle. (a perk of sailing a tall ship dressed as a pirate).

No, there is no evidence that tavern pipes were 'Snipped' between users, at least not by the tavern owner (or his employed). The most obvious explanation for 'broken tips' found at any dogs is...they were broken, perhaps bit off, but not as any kind of 'typical' handling.
 
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In the early 1970's , took a tour of a tavern at Colonial Williamsburg. The tour guide informed us , to take notice of the clay pipe rack on the wall next to the fireplace. There were about a dozen pipes in the rack , some short and some full size. The guide said it was proper to break off the end of the clay pipe to insure the next smoker would have a , "sanitary", end to put in his or her lips . Yup , that's what she said. I think I would go buy myself a new , full length , "sanitary " pipe.
 
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In the early 1970's , took a tour of a tavern at Colonial Williamsburg. The tour guide informed us , to take notice of the clay pipe rack on the wall next to the fireplace. There were about a dozen pipes in the rack , some short and some full size. The guide said it was proper to break off the end of the clay pipe to insure the next smoker would have a , "sanitary", end to put in his or her lips . Yup , that's what she said. I think I would go buy myself a new , full length , "sanitary " pipe.
As mentioned already; 'sanatry' was not much a thing back then.
However I have heard/read about the Pipe Boxes (and probably 'racks') at taverns.
As I mentioned; pipes were 'rented' to customers and travelers. If they cut the end off each time it was used or became clogged; you don't make much profit off each pipe, especially the 9 and 10 inch ones.
It only takes minutes to Burn it out held over a fire - and ALL taverns had a fire, if not in the dining area then in the kitchen.
Breaking off the tip does not clean out the stem either...spittle and resin builds there too, as well as the entire clay pipe begins to turn brown (see the pic I posted earlier). A fully brown soaked pipe can be turned shiny new white within 10 minutes (including cooling time).
While it was suggested they were also 'boiled in water' - perhaps, never heard of it and never tried it but fire would be quicker, cleaner, and more efficient....not sure if boiling would make 'like new', but I have ner tried.

I would say (yes, I hear you cringing) that one of the duties of the tavern wench (dish boy, whoever) was to:
Empty all un-drank tankers back into the bottle (imagine all the nasty Backwash from all that nasty spicy food!!), gather all the plates, cups, and bowls to wash them (yes, they washed them - and SPIT SHINED too, with Spit!), and to put all the used clay pipes to the fire before returning them to the rack or box for the next day's business.

Any businessman snipping the end of his pipes purely because the tip was clogged - Loses a Lot of money in short time.
And those in the hills, with shorter pipes and no local market or trading post to get another.....I would not be clipping my travel sized pipe when a few minutes in the fire I have one like new again!
 
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Sorry Sussexmuzllodr, that last post was meant for @Loyalist Dave...not sure how/why it quoted you??
Hey no problem. I could go on forever about our dig antics back in the day. Army Corp. of Engineers came in to widen the river and they took it down to bedrock. Layer after layer of ash dirt was exposed. Back then the edge of town was now almost the center and things are plowed down as things expand.. we actually had a telegraph pole.yes it was nothing more than a tree loaded down in 150 years of mire. It had a full rack of brookfield insulators on it. I came up with a crockery bed warmer..flat on one side with a knob on the end and a cork hole on the top. It is said you filled it with hot water and tied a cord to it to pull it up to your backside. Made by Dorchester Pottery works in Mass. I have only see one other in an Antique shop in VT.. I could go on with many tales..but this forum is not about bottle digging. Thanks for letting me rant....SM
 

toot

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The nice thing about clay is that there is no 'break in' required; it is ready right out of the box, and there is no need for building a 'cake'. The only draw back is that they get Hot, but you eventually figure it out.
that is why there is a small tit on the bottom of it, to hold onto.
 

Notchy Bob

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For those who might be interested, I found some historical documentation related to reed pipestems. It appears that cutting reeds was a good way to earn a little cash:

2022-09-21.png

2022-09-21 (1).png


This was from Frederick Gerstaecker's Wild Sports in the Far West, describing the author's experiences on the American frontier in the late 1830's. Gerstaecker, a young German in his twenties, was different from a lot of European adventurers in that "he was on his own hook," meaning he was on his own and didn't have a lot of resources. Unlike some of the wealthy travelers like Sir William Drummond Stewart or Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Gerstaecker had to work his way and support himself and his hunting habit. Much of his time was spent in Arkansas, and his book provides a remarkable description of life on the frontier by an objective observer.

Anyway, reed pipes must have been very popular in the late 1830's, if there was that much demand for the stems.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
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For those who might be interested, I found some historical documentation related to reed pipestems. It appears that cutting reeds was a good way to earn a little cash:

View attachment 164985

View attachment 164986


This was from Frederick Gerstaecker's Wild Sports in the Far West, describing the author's experiences on the American frontier in the late 1830's. Gerstaecker, a young German in his twenties, was different from a lot of European adventurers in that "he was on his own hook," meaning he was on his own and didn't have a lot of resources. Unlike some of the wealthy travelers like Sir William Drummond Stewart or Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Gerstaecker had to work his way and support himself and his hunting habit. Much of his time was spent in Arkansas, and his book provides a remarkable description of life on the frontier by an objective observer.

Anyway, reed pipes must have been very popular in the late 1830's, if there was that much demand for the stems.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
I think even some calumet pipes (Native Indian) used reed stems. Reed is a natural choice for pipe stems for those who had access. I read of one calumet that had a reed stem that was then wrapped in quills (don't recall if it was dated or not, but sounds pretty)
 
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Is it an "urban myth"? What exactly is the myth?

See they have found shortened "tavern" pipes, and even tiny pieces of pipe stem in archaeological digs, obviously cut by a tool, not the teeth, or snapped by other means so....,
..., somebody simply added the "avoiding germs" part, totally missing that germ-theory was not yet known to the general public, to explain why anybody would trim a pipe stem....,

So WHY nip the ends?





Near near the tip is a good point for the clog to form. ;)

Also we are talking about an environment with constant hardwood smoke, candle/rush smoke, and tobacco smoke... and as a result... very well seasoned and/or spiced foods. Some of the 18th century foods that I've made from original recipes are quite strong in flavor. I once thought that either I was off in my measurement conversion or that the modern sources for the spice/seasonings were more potent than the historic ones. Then a Foodie that I know who specializes in 18th century food suggested the flavors were strong in some recipes to fight the assault of the smoky conditions. ???

Do you really want to smoke that pipe after the last guy, who had just finished a dish made with garlic and red pepper in a healthy dose?





Well the tavern pipe or church warden isn't actually held by the teeth. Highly uncomfortable. The stem is held in the hand, and the tip is merely placed in the lips to draw on the pipe. In fact, if one has too short a stem, it having been nipped over time, OR one has a particularly hot smoking tobacco, the smoker can partially draw in air along with the smoke from the stem, to further cool the smoke.

Well Briar pipes were more introduced in the late Victorian era (at least in the English speaking world) as evidenced by the stories penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in the late 1880's and 1890's. Doyle often remarks how his character Sherlock Holmes smokes a "clay pipe" in The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Red Headed League, A Case of Identity, The Blue Carbuncle, and in The Adventure of The Copper Beeches ; Holmes smokes a "long cherry-wood pipe" which he used from time to time instead of his regular clay pipe. In The Man with The Twisted Lip the pipe is "an old twisted briar pipe", and in Silver Blaze one of the characters had a "briar-root pipe", and another a briar pipe with an amber stem. (The Calabash pipe that we see in black and white movies about Holmes, played by Basil Rathbone is pure hogwash as far as the actual stories are concerned)

LD
Here is one that claims "There is no documented proof" for cutting the end off tavern pipes. They say the pipes where "Sanitized by fire in Iron Kilns before passing to the next customer" and have a photo of a couple in an iron klin....not sure if a replica or one they found in a tavern?

They say the explanation for so many pipe stem pieces around taverns was simple "They are easily broken"

 

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The next fun thing to try if you are going to smoke a clay pipe is to grow your own tobacco! You can buy tobacco seeds on the internet. I grew three plants from seedlings given to me by a fellow reenactor. They will grow in northern climates, and they will grow well in poor soil. I was surprised how big my plants got and I was also surprised at the beauty of their flowers. Harvesting the big leaves, drying them properly and curing them is quite a bit of work if you need something to keep you busy.
 
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I already had a tavern pipe but earlier this week I decided to order a shorter clay pipe from pipeshoppe.com. It just showed up today so I think I'll give it a try after dinner tonight. A man can never have too many guns or too many pipes :)
 

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I went to a site about Williamsburg clay pipes and found what Mad L did - that the breaking off the end of a tavern pipe was not a known practice, more likely they just broke. 1,000's of pieces have been found around Williamsburg. I'm being careful with mine, but knowing me, at some point I'll drop it and break it. If so, then I'll bury it in my back yard for someone to find in a couple hundred years....
 

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