Pipes from the Thames, 10 years on!

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Part of the Jarzembowski Collection (LIVNP 2005.24).

This week’s blog entry is a combination of an update on the current Historic England project on one hand, and a nostalgic look back at an ongoing project,  the Jarzemboswki Collection (LIVNP 2005.24), on the other.

Back in 2005, thanks to support from the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders, the Archive was able to acquire a very substantial collection of clay tobacco pipes from Ed Jarzembowsk and his wife. The vast majority of the fragments had been collected by the couple from the Thames Foreshore from around Blackfriars and Queenhithe, but it also included a large of fragments from Salisbury that were collected following dredging work on the River Avon.

When the pipes came to us each individual pipe had been placed in a paper envelope on which Ed and his wife had painstakingly recorded where the fragment had been found, the date it had been found and any mark that was on it. Not only that, but they had also attempted to identify the maker from that mark, which more often than not was a moulded mark. These envelopes were then placed into a large number of lettuce boxes. This storage system worked fine until it came to transporting it half way across the country to Liverpool. By the time the pipes had reached Liverpool, most of them had jumped out of their envelopes. It was only thanks to the Jarzembowskis’ excellent record keeping that we were able to get the fragments back in to their correct envelope!

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One of the many lettuce boxes of pipes.

Clearly priority had to be given to getting these fragments properly marked and bagged. Therefore, this was our first mammoth task and in 2006 the first of a long line of volunteers set about marking, bagging and cataloguing a collection with an estimated 10,000 fragments.

Our position within a university environment enables us to offer training and research opportunities for students from the departments of archaeology, history and archives. Since the NPA employs a comprehensive cataloguing and indexing system that conforms to Museum Documentation Association standards, we are able to provide training for students who wish to seek future employment with the museum and heritage sector.  Large collections, such as the Jarzemboswki’s mean there is plenty of material for them to get their teeth into.  It’s a win-win situation – they get the training and we get some much needed help.

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Our 2006 volunteers hard at work in our old workroom.

Each fragment within the collection has been given a unique accession number and has been carefully bagged.  All of the fragments with stamp marks have been impressed for inclusion in the National Clay Tobacco Pipe Stamp Index, which is another very important project that the Archive is associated with – but that is a whole other story!

Once marked with their accession number and, having had any stamped mark recorded, the full details of that fragment including details of any attribution Ed and his wife were able to make, were logged onto an Excel table.  This table is both sortable and searchable.  Great progress was made during the initial push from our volunteers who managed to fully catalogue over 6,000 of the estimated 10,000 fragments.  We are very pleased to say that many of those initial volunteers have gone on to pursue careers in the museum sector and we like to think that their time spent with the Archive has helped them on their way. Last week, a new set of volunteers started working with us. 

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Our 2016 volunteers in our posh new labs – well, sadly not really our labs, but we get to use them!

These new volunteers are working on a number of our collections, one of them being the Jarzembowski Collection and it is hoped that this last push will see the catalogue of this group of pipes finally completed.  At that point we’ll be able to upload the catalogue to our website so that it is fully available for researchers.  Yes it has taken nearly 10 years – but sometime things are worth waiting for!

In the Spotlight! By-Laws of the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers

 

This week’s Spotlight object is a copy of the By-Laws of the London Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers, which is dated 1800.

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Bye-Laws of the Worshipful Company or Society of Tobacco Pipe-Makers, dated 1800 (LIVNP 2011.14.01)

For many years the organisation of the pipe making industry in and around London was in the hands of an incorporated company of tobacco pipe makers.  The company came under the jurisdiction of the City of London authorities and was able to present its freemen to the City Chamberlain for admission to the freedom of the city.  This basically meant that they were entitled to trade within the city.  Unfortunately, very little is known about the company or its origins as few records survive but what is clear is that there were in fact three distinct companies of tobacco pipe makers, with their roots going back to the early days of the pipemaking at the start of the seventeenth century.

The first company came in to being in 1619 under James I, who granted a charter of incorporation to the “Master Wardens and Society of Tobacco Pipe makers of Westmynster”.  This was a short-lived organisation, their Patent being officially surrendered in 1621, although they appear to have continued functioning in some form until the mid-1620s.  The second company was formed in 1634 when a charter was granted to the “tobacco pipe makers in the Cities of London and Westminster”.  This was, once again, revoked a few years later in 1639, although the company appears to have lingered on until about 1642.  The third company came into existence in 1663 when Charles II extended the charter to pipe makers in the cities of London and Westminster as well as the Kingdom of England and the dominion of Wales.  It is the third company that regulated pipemaking in and around the capital for the next two centuries and this is the one that the document in the Archive collections relates to.

The document is entitled Extracts of the Bye-Laws of the Worshipful Company or Society of Tobacco-Pipe-Makers of the Cities of London and Westminster, Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales, made on the 23 March 1738, and approved, allowed, and confirmed by the then Lord Chancellor and Two Chief Justices.  This particular copy, however, was clearly printed in or after 1800 (the date is at the foot of the document) and it is signed by Thomas Phipps, Clerk.  These extracts deal with the rules relating to apprenticeships.

These regulations limited the number of apprentices that a master pipemaker could take and state that any new apprentice within 20 miles of London had to be presented to the Master and Wardens of the Company before being taken on, or within a month of starting.  They also stipulated that any children of a pipemaker must be formally bound as an apprentice from the age of 14 and that pipemakers were prohibited from hawking their wares about the streets for sale.  An apprenticeship was normally for 7 years, with the apprentice being eligible to set up his own business and trade independently when it was completed at about the age of 21.

These regulations shed a fascinating light on the way the trade was run and the restrictions that applied to pipemaking families in terms of employing their children or selling their wares.  They show how regulated commercial life was during the eighteenth century and provide insights into the ways in which pipes were manufactured and distributed from the workshops.