Clay pipes have been used for smoking tobacco from the 17th century onward.
The Dutch city of Gouda was a major production centre and remains of pipes produced there can be found all over the world.
Trying to identify and date clay pipe fragments can be both difficult and fun.
These sites are build and maintained mostly by people collecting pipes, involved in archaeology and sometimes even producing pipes.
The kaolin tobacco pipe is one of the most useful artifacts that might be encountered at historical archaeological sites, for their short use-life and easily recognizable stylistic evolution provide valuable dating cues (Nol Hume 1969; Oswald 1951).
No one knows for sure who made the first clay pipes.
The idea of smoking tobacco came from the American Indian, who had long fashioned their own clay pipes.
It is a small fragment of the upper wall and rim of the bowl mouth. The fragment incorporates a design motif consisting of upturned flames (that would have originated lower on the bowl), and a decorative band around the rim. Because the fragment is small, there is some ambiguity in the type.
A mold seam is present indicating that this piece comes from the back of the bowl (closest to the stem). Decorative molded pipe bowls like these became common after 1730 and were evolving into more elaborate forms after 1820. Though less likely, the steepness of the rear wall suggests that it might also be of several other types (10-14) that were in use between 17.
There is little doubt that the earliest pipes came from England.
The Spanish had observed the Indians off Florida’s coastline smoking cigar-like rolled tobacco leaves in 1493 and had eventually adapted that form of smoking for themselves.
Clay pipes were first developed in the early 17th century and were in use into the late 19th century.