Catalogues clay pipes

Manufacturers use a printed catalogue to show the retailer their assortment. In the eighteenth century, when the choice of products was still limited, a simple shape chart with price list was sufficient. For a simple smoker like the clay pipe, stating quality and length was quite enough.

From the mid-nineteenth century, lithographic printing has been used to print illustrated catalogues. Lithographers are able to give the depiction of the pipe an almost three-dimensional appearance. The shape number is placed with each image, which also functions as the order number. This model number is also used in the factory, it is stamped into the pipe mould, but it is also noted in stock.

Although colour printing has been around for half a century, it has only been used in pipe catalogues since the First World War. Yet long after that many catalogues were printed in black and white. Since the catalogue is not aimed at the general public, but only intended for the retailer, there was no need to produce expensive and luxurious printed matter. The English and German manufacturers in particular keep it as plain as possible by using simple line drawings. French and a number of Dutch companies pay much more attention to the depiction of their pipes.

In the 1920s there was a major renewal with the introduction of the photo catalogue. Only the more wealthy manufacturers do this. But even then the handiwork of drawing, sometimes artfully coloured, continues to exist, often even deceptively as if it were a photo.