Pipefinds with relief decoration
The Dutch clay pipe is pressed in a brass press mould. When an engraving has been made in the pipe mould, it becomes an embossed decoration during moulding. Larger pipe makers produced one or a few relief pipes in addition to their plain pipes. The subjects were taken from historical events: the stadtholders’ marriage or a peace agreement between several states. In other cases the decoration was more general: the coat of arms of the city of Gouda, Dutch provinces or the depiction of Mercury and Neptune.
The craftsmanship of the mould engraver determines the quality of the relief pipe. The very best engravings date between 1735 and 1755, when the silversmiths Dillis and Johannes van Oye were active in Gouda. After 1760, the interest of the consumer in decorated pipes declined, with the result that the artistic level went down as well.
A typical nineteenth century product is the epigram pipe, that doesn’t hold an elaborate engraved decoration, but only a simple text ribbon with an appropriate motto. At that time also so-called farce pipes were made, with a Punch-like portrait on the pipe bowl.
Relief pipes remained in production until the twentieth century. The themes shifted in order to highlight progress such as the steam train and the paddle steamer. For Holland the House of Orange retained its popularity. One of the last examples is the Friesland coat of arms, after the tobacco brand of the same name. Meanwhile, the artistic quality of the relief pipe had declined considerably. By 1900 it became a tradition that hardly appealed to the smoker anymore.