By the 16th century, tobacco smoking had become common in Europe and America. Initially the expense of tobacco made it popular only among the wealthy, but by the latter half of the 17th century, prices had dropped making it affordable for virtually everyone. As smoking became more common, the mass production of cheap tobacco pipes became a major industry.

White Clay Pipes

The most common style of tobacco pipe from the 17th through much of the 19th centuries was the kaolin, or white clay pipe. Most of these pipes were made from high-quality white, or kaolin, clay found in Britain. American-manufactured pipes made from red or Pamplin clay existed by the late 19th century. Clay pipes were mass produced from molds and fired in kilns to 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit. The main characteristic of these pipes was they were very inexpensive.

Other Pipes

Pipes became more diverse at the end of the century.
Pipes became more diverse at the end of the century.

By the latter half of the 19th century, the variety of pipes increased greatly. The white clay pipes gave way to red clay earthenware pipes often with a brown or clear glaze. The bowls were ceramic, and the stems were often made from reed or other material. “President” pipes made from glazed earthenware depicting the bust of the president became popular. In addition to earthenware, porcelain pipes from Germany and other parts of Europe appeared on the market. Pipe makers experimented with other types of material too such as briar (very hard wood) and metal.