Reconstituted London Clay Pipe

Posted on February 15, 2011


The banks of the Thames are absolutely littered with bits of broken clay pipe. Being fragile and cheap they were cast into the filthy river when they inevitably snapped, like so many cigarette ends in the street. The stems of these are easy to find and it’s not difficult to find enough of the correct outer and inner diameter to build a longer tube but the bowls are very scarce. They break easily and in many hours of mudlarking I’ve only found four intact bowls. The style of this one seems to date back to the 1700s according to some internet research (not exactly rock solid).

I am going home to South Africa soon to visit my family and I always struggle to find a gift for my grandfather, a long time pipe-smoker and collector, he has a vast collection of smoking pipes of varying styles. When I found these bits of clay pipe I realised this would be a perfect gift for him and set about reconstructing the pipe. The parts are cemented with epoxy resin but I wanted it to be smoke-able and having the smoke passing epoxy seemed a bit hazardous to me so I fixed the stem together around a slim brass tube keeping the airway clear to the bowl. Then I filed down any differences in stem thickness, sanded and polished. Nothing complicated but quite a satisfying result. I might put a few more together with the remaining bowls I’ve found but I’m not really sure who would want them, maybe pothead-archeologists?

Posted in: Clay Pipes