Dating colonial pipes

In 1753 the Moravian Church bought, from Lord Granville, almost one hundred thousand acres of land in the Yadkin River Valley, North Carolina, that they called Wachovia or Die Wachau, which was part of their homeland near the Danube River in Germany.In Wachovia, they began a settlement called Bethabara where they started molding small tan/brown pipes from common or ball clay.Before the end of that century, though, the pipes were being produced with some stylish changes.Molded ribs and flutes were common on these pipes before the beginning of the eighteenth century after which came stylized tobacco plants and oak leaves and acorns.The stems were normally 6-12 inches in length and as these pipes were used multiple times by multiple smokers, small portions of these long stems were broken off where the last smoker held the pipe in his teeth, so as to get a clean mouth piece and to eliminate the harsh buildup of bitter tars and nicotine at the end of the stem.As the individual pipes continued to be smoked and the stems reduced, they eventually became short and were known as “nose warmers” but the early nicotine addiction forced the smokers into continuing to use the shorter and shorter pipes until they reached a minimal length that was called “smoking to the bitter end” referring to the disagreeable taste of the tobacco tars buildup in the short stem.

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These pipe stem pieces were probably broken on purpose but conceivably by accident simply because the pipes were fragile and easily broken during those rough and tumble times.It is not clearly understood just who made and exported the first clay pipes to the Americas but it was surely either the English or Dutch prior to 1630.By the 1670’s these small clay elbow type pipes were in common use throughout the New World and were sold and/or traded to fellow Euro/Americans as well as to the Indian population.But the kaolin pipes production flourished and toward the beginning of the nineteenth century, many of them had basket weave designs and fish scale replications as well as eagle claws and patriotic motifs.Most were still in the 6 to 12 inches long range but some were molded up to 36 inches in length.

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