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Work and Aims of the Society

The Arbeitskreis Tonpfeifen (German Society for Clay-Pipe Research) is devoted to the study of clay pipes and those people who came in contact with them, i.e. those who made them, who traded them and who smoked them.

Pipe bowl with the coat of arms of Saxony and a portrait of the Elector, made in Grimma around 1800

Between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the clay pipe was the most used smoking utensil. It can often be accurately dated with the help of the maker's mark and a frequently brief inscription on the stem and/or bowl. Thus, in many archaeological excavations, clay pipes, normally as fragments, provide valuable help in dating the excavated material; they have the function of key fossils. They also give useful evidence about trade between the place where they were made and the place where they were smoked.

Since extensive research on clay pipes was started in Germany by the members of the Arbeitskreis Tonpfeifen, about 250 centres have been recorded where clay pipes were produced during the last 300 years. However, in most cases, no detailed information has been obtained about the actual production sites. The Society aims to intensify this research and encourages the efforts of official bodies as well as professionals and amateurs in this direction. This also involves making the relevant organisations (museums and all institutional and government bodies concerned with archaeology, history, the environment, and conservation) more aware of the value of clay-pipes found in excavations as well as clay pipes picked up by members of the public.

One of the important tasks facing our Society is to modify and improve conventional methods of identifying, describing, classifying and drawing clay pipes. This includes the systematic cataloguing of finds, the standardising of drawing techniques, and the working out of a classification for the decorations on clay pipes. In this work and in other research work and activities, the Society keeps in close contact with other researchers in Europe and overseas, as well as with the "Society for Clay Pipe Research" and the "Pijpelogischen Kring Nederland".



last update: 11/08/18
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