Thursday, May 21, 2015

An 18th century Wedgwood chibouk pipe.

by Arjan de Haan

Even a seasoned pipe collector will occasionally stumble upon a pipe that is more than simply a nice addition to one’s collection; an item that rouses curiosity and stimulates one to find out more about the object in question thereby turning the collector into a detective.

Recently the author came across just such a pipe shaped like a chibouk and in jasperware. 

The pipe is made of pale blue jasper with very fine white appliques. 

The walls of the pipe bowl are remarkably thin 

 and the whole is finely executed.

The shape is very unusual since most collectors will think of the typical “Staite’s Patent” Wedgwood pipes. These are the pipes with the acorn shaped plugs on the underside of the bowl, apparently meant as a nicotine trap. 
This pipe however has the precise dimensions of early Ottoman clay pipe bowls from around 1800.

Some initial investigating quickly yielded an article about Wedgwood pipes written by Ben Rapaport showing several pipes from the collection of Sarunas Peckus. This article gave a tantalizing lead since it reproduced two photographs from an old book on collecting named “Bye-paths in curio collecting” written by Arthur Hayden and first published in 1919. 

The first photograph shows a group of Wedgwood pipes from the Etruria museum which has now become the Wedgwood museum in Barlaston and is attached to the Wedgwood factory there. Two of these pipes are “Staite’s Patent” pipes, one appears to be a hookah bowl and the other four are typical chibouk pipes. 

According to Hayden these pipes were all made between 1795 and 1810.

The second photograph proved even more exciting since it shows 8 drawings from early Wedgwood pattern books. The drawings all depict chibouk pipe models which in most cases are identical to pipes made in the Ottoman empire around 1800. The bottom two pipes are the most exciting since they are clearly jasperware pipes and the one on the bottom right is a virtually exact drawing of the pipe that stimulated the initial research into Wedgwood pipes. According to Hayden these drawings are dated ca. 1781.

The book where these photographs were first printed was meant as an inspiration for both novice and seasoned collectors to discover new subjects to collect. It is an interesting time-piece and gives some insight into how collecting was viewed at the beginning of the 20th century. The following paragraph is the full text on Wedgwood pipes from this book. 

“Wedgwood Tobacco Pipe Heads.-Among the miscellaneous articles made at Etruria are found some that may have escaped the attention of the collector. The fine jasper bell-pulls are known, and one of white, green, and lilac, is illustrated in Professor Church’s monograph on Josiah Wedgwood: Master Potter published in 1903. They are made to admit of the old silken rope passing through them. There are other minor objects of Wedgwood ware to which attention might be given, watch-backs, earrings, opera-glass mounts, taper-holders and scent bottles in jasper ware of different hues and tints. The illustration (p. 399) shows a page from the old pattern book of a series of “pipe heads” by Wedgwood. In the catalogue of Wedgwood and Bentley’s productions in 1781 mention is made of “pipe Heads to use with reeds” and these examples are of that period. The three in the top row and the two on the left  in the second row were made in black basalt or in red body. The two in the bottom row were made in jasper, probably only in blue and white. The rough drawing interpolated in the second row is taken from an old “ shape book “ drawn by Daniel Greatbach, 1770 to 1795, overseer at the jasper ornamental works. Th is example, as the manuscript note shows, was made in cream colour with red and black dipped. The other illustration shows examples at the museum at Etruria, all of the Wedgwood and Byerley period 1795 to 1810. It is interesting to note that in 1780 these pipe heads were used with reeds. It is possible they were used with dried reeds cut from Josiah’s own canal. It is a curious sidelight on past customs, and one wonders why the habit has been discontinued. The meerschaum head and the long cherry wood pipe were the next stage ; the long “churchwarden “ was a variety in common use by connoisseurs when pipe smoking was more a matter of otium cum dignitate than it is now. In the illustration of the museum examples the two on the left  of each row were made in blackbasalt ; all the others were made in red, with the exception of the smallest pipe head which wasin pale blue. The specimen with the continuation beneath it is termed “Staite’s Patent.” We do not now know what that patent was, but it suggests similar ideas once on the market where a receptacle beneath the bowl was intended to receive the noxious nicotine . The writer is reminded of a youthful Figure 3; The second photograph of the Hayden article. Original text with this photograph: “OLD WEDGWOOD TOBACCO PIPE HEADS. Designs from old pattern book at Museum at Etruria ; date about 1781.”Page 8 smoker of a pipe of this nature who accidentally drew in a mouthful of pure nicotine, and had to be revived by doses of nux vomica and strong coffee. It will be observed that a screw is attached to this, as shown by the right hand example on lower row, also a “Staite’s Patent.” Some of the examples are marked ~Wedgwood,” but not all, and there is considerable scope for the collector to disinter old specimens.”

This initial discovery of the jasperware chibouk pipe as well as this quaint publication have stimulated a deeper investigation which will in some time lead to a full length article on Wedgwood pipes.

If you have Wedgwood pipes in your collection or if you have information on the factory please contact the author, Arjan de Haan at:

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