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.
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