Taverns used to keep long stem (16") clay pipes for the use of their
patrons. After each use, an inch or so would be broken off the stem so that
it would have a clean bit for the next user.
I can easily see a situation where a tavern owner would hang the rack on the
wall to keep it out of harms way. When a customer would request a pipe, the
barkeep could take the rack off the wall and set it on the bar so the
customer could select one.
Paul K. Dickman
Fox River Traders was correct in saying their clay pipes were identical
to those in colonial Williamsburg. Pipes from the simple molds of
Shakespeare's time were still produced late in the 20th Century.
They said the part about taking long-stemmed pipes from racks on tavern
walls and breaking the ends off was a story. It helped sell racks, but
I don't believe the story.
Clay lets you taste tobacco better than other pipes, but brier became
more popular late in the 19th Century due to three drawbacks of clay
pipes: they're brittle, the bowl gets too hot to hold, and the passage
English companies produces lots of clay pipes about 6" long because they
could be carried in a pocket and were very cheap. The smoker had to
take care not to burn his fingers and his tongue.
Long-stemmed pipes were more fragile and more expensive, but the smoke
was cooler and they could be held comfortably by the stem. It's
unlikely that a tavern keeper would lend expensive long-stemmed pipes to
customers. It's even more unlikely that a customer would ruin a
long-stemmed pipe by breaking it. Wiping would probably have been
considered adequate. Clay pipes buried in coals would come out pure and
A clay pipe would not have been hung stem down because the narrow
passage in the stem would soon have gummed up. A tavern keeper would
not have presented a customer with a portable display of fragile pipes.
Until Victorian times, they were like Model Ts. A customer had
only to choose whether he wanted a long one or a short one.
I guess they would have dripped as the tallow cooled. You'd want to
catch the drips. When you weren't making candles, you'd hang the table
on the wall before somebody tripped on it. I'm going to read up on
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