Marks on clay pipes
Many Dutch clay pipes were provided with a maker's mark that is stamped on the heel, the protruding foot of the pipe. There are three groups: figural marks, letter marks and number marks.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a second method of branding came into use in Gouda: the embossed or relief mark on the side of the pipe bowl. Side-mark pipes were mainly intended for the peasantry and have a short stem. The letter and number combinations are not that exciting, but depictions of people, animals and objects are often very attractive.
In addition to the pipes themselves, the mark was also applied to the packaged goods. For this purpose the pipe makers used a printed paper wrapper that sealed the boxes and baskets. The brand is adorned with a frame in which the name of the pipe maker together with the city coat of arms. In Gouda, the packaging brand became an artistic challenge in the 1740s and 1750s. Some designs remained in use for several generations.
The Gouda pipe makers' guild meticulously kept a trademark registration. A wooden board with handle showed all the makers marks in use. When the guild assistant made his tour among the pipe-makers, he could check the correct use of the pipe marks. A rare example of brand pride is the goblet on which a Gouda pipe maker had his brand vignette engraved. With this glass the manufacturer toasted to the success of his factory.
In Gouda the pipe makers’ mark loosed its importance from 1850 onwards. After 1880 the full name of the manufacturer is stamped on the pipe stem, which turned out to be more effective. In the twentieth century the stamped mark disappeared, the tradition was lost forever.