PREVIOUS   NEXT   CONTENTS   HOME 

10. The Evidence from Contemporary Documentary Sources

In 1771, H L Duhamel du Monceau published L'Art de faire les pipes á fumer le tabac in which he described methods of manufacture and kiln types used in Northern France and the Low Countries (Duhamel du Monceau 1771). This work was, comprehensively summarised by the Diderots in their Encyclopédie,..., where the majority of Duhamel du Monceau's illustrations were also reproduced) Diderot and Diderot 1751-72: IV, plates in vol I Supplément pls 1-4 and vol VIII pl xviii) (Walker 1977, 80).Several later writers in English draw heavily on one or other of these works purporting to describe the English industry, apparently unaware that in England different methods were used.

10.1 English Encyclopaedias

The earliest descriptions of English pipe kilns in English encyclopaedias known to this writer are from the early years of the nineteenth century. J M Good, editor of Pantalogia, published in 1813 and A Rees, editor of Cyclopaedia or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature, completed in 1820, both include descriptions which accord with the archaeological evidence. The actual dates when the research was undertaken are problematical.

Extracts from Rees' Cyclopaedia

The work by Rees was originally published in 90 parts between 1802 and 1820; two parts made up each volume, there being 39 volumes of text and 6 volumes of plates. The parts were undated but included booklists from which dates have been ascribed by D B Jackson (Jackson 1895).

Furnace for baking Tobacco Pipes is included in Part 30 dated 8 October 1810. (Rees 1819, 1972 edition pagination V1, xi) The plate depicting the pipe kiln was drawn by J Farey Junior and bears a publication date of 1816. (ibid, V3, 35)

Pipe - Tobacco, is included in Part 54 for which no date has been given but comes between Part 53 dated March 1814 and Part 58 dated December 1814. (ibid, VI, xi)

In the preface Rees states that he and his co-adjutors had availed themselves of other similar dictionaries, but that, In their account of the arts and manufactures, they have consulted the artisans and manufacturers themselves, and derived from them every kind of information that was likely to conduce to the credit and utility of the work. (ibid, V1, xxi)

Rees lists his fellow adjutors for manufactures as Duncan, J Thompson, Parkes, and Farey junior (ibid, V1, xvii-xix).

Extracts from Good's Pantalogia

Good's Pantalogia was, according to the preface, begun more than eleven years before the publication date of 1813. The engraving of the pipe kiln bearing the legend J Farey delt is dated April 1st 1812.

It is not clear whether J Farey and J Farey Junior are the same person. Both engravings have their merits when considered with the archaeological evidence.

The reports of pipemaking and pipe-kilns included by both Rees and Good are clearly descriptive of English methods and not taken from the works of Duhamel du Monceau or his derivatives. Both include, in their respective introductory passages on pipes and their manufacture, sections derived from Chambers (Chambers 1728). Both contain passages which are taken one from the other or from an unknown common source, and both contain well-observed descriptions which the other has omitted. What is clear is that both describe English methods of manufacture and kiln technology which can be recognised from the archaeological record.

In the light of the evidence available at present, Rees appears to have produced the first printed description of the kiln in 1810 followed by Good in 1813, and that Good's description of the manufacturing process published in 1813 precedes that included by Rees in 1814.

It is clear from their descriptions of the methods used in the manufacture of tobacco pipes that both writers are describing English practice.

Both accounts list an English source for the pipe clay, though in the case of Good an error has obviously occurred.

Neither Bartholemew's Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles, 9th ed 1966 reprint, nor the Census 1961: England and Wales; Index of Place Names L-Z (1965) lists a Maidenhead in Kent (Walker 1977, 178).

Rees on the other hand appears to be accurate, listing Purbeck in Dorsetshire, known for its pipe clay since the early 1640s (ibid, 254), as the clay source. Both accounts describe iron pipe moulds as opposed to the copper alloy moulds of the earlier continental writers. Both describe the lever for introducing the stopper into the bowl, a method used in England since the early eighteenth century, as can be seen from examination of English pipe forms. The common practice on the continent, as illustrated by Duhamel du Monceau, was to use a rotational movement with a hand held stopper. Good alone records the knife being thrust into the cleft of the mould to cut the end of the bowl flat, this feature, being linked with the plunged rather than the rotated stopper, is also typically of English usage. Clearly, then, this is an accurate observation and recording of English pipe making practice. This is equally clear in the descriptions of kilns in the two accounts reproduced here. The order has been reversed to reflect the relevant publication dates.

These two accounts give a consistent picture compatible with the archaeological evidence. Both agree on the materials used in the construction of the muffle which they both describe variously as the crucible or the pot; both place this within a cylindrical fire brick-lined brick structure surmounted by a brick chimney. In both accounts there are flues surrounding the muffle and ribs projecting on the inside to support the bowl ends of the pipes. Rees states that there are 12 flues, separated by 12 supports, and that there are six ribs; Good merely that there are a number of vertical flues and several ribs. On the matter of capacity they both agree that the kilns would hold 50 gross of pipes.

The material recovered from Waverly Street, Bristol, dating from the first quarter of the nineteenth century, confirms the accuracy of these accounts. The muffle is constructed from clay, firing to an off-white colour, strengthened with layers of pre-fired pipe stems. Sections of the muffle wall were recovered which are large enough to provide an accurate dimension for the radius and which display consistent spacing of the flue dividing bars. A reconstruction of the muffle plan, using this data, shows that the Waverly Street muffle had twelve flues separated by twelve bars just as described by Rees. There is insufficient material to reconstruct the muffle to its full height or to provide dimensions between peripheral shelves (Rees's ribs). The evidence supports a minimum of three shelves spaced at a minimum of 24mm centre to centre. The muffle has an opening in one side, extending downward from the rim to an unknown point below the top shelf which it cuts. Rees describes a muffle with an integral dome. The muffle from Waverly Street does not include this feature, though there are fragments which may have come from a separate clay dome.

Much of the later nineteenth century literature tends to confuse rather than elucidate by combining aspects from the eighteenth century French descriptions and the works of Good and Rees. This may stem from the copyright of engravings, originally fourteen years from the date of publication under the 1735 Act (8 George III, c 13), extended to twenty-eight years in 1767. From 1842 engravings were to share the copyright protection of the book in which they appeared.

Porter writing in 1832 draws extensively on Rees for his description of the muffle (crucible) form and method of construction.

The kiln used for baking the pipes is cylindrical; having a circular fireplace at its bottom. With the exception of the spaces required for the circulation of heated air, the interior of the kiln is occupied by crucibles, wherein the pipes are placed. These crucibles, which are made very thin, are composed of the same clay as the pipes, and are strengthened by the insertion of broken pipe-stems. The bottoms are framed of these stems, radiating towards the centre, and having the interstices plastered with pipe clay. The top of each is dome shaped; and a pillar of clay is placed in the centre through the whole altitude, which serves at once to strengthen the crucible, and to support the stems of the pipes. The side of the crucible is provided with six horizontal ledges, proceeding at equal distances all round, and upon these the bowls of the pipes are arranged, while the stems are made to lean against the central pillar. The crucible is capable of containing in these six divisions fifty gross of pipes; and, if the heat of the furnace is properly managed, these will be sufficiently baked in seven or eight hours. (Porter 1832, 102)

Unable to use the engravings which accompanied Rees's text, Porter reproduces those from Duhamel du Monceau simplifying the chandeliers into a featureless pillar and adding ribs inside the boisseaux to accord with his description. To conform the text to the illustration which shows three stacks of boisseaux he simply says that, the interior of the kiln is occupied by crucibles as opposed to the single crucible described by Rees.

For his description of the manufacturing methods Porter relies almost exclusively on Duhamel du Monceau for both text and illustrations. In this section he describes a curious and unlikely sounding practice for finishing pipes which is repeated by several subsequent writers with a bearing on the reliability of their remaining text. He writes:

..the last polish, which is given by rubbing them with flints bored with holes, some of which are of the same diameter as the stem, while others will admit the head of the pipe. (Porter 1832, 101)

This could well be a misunderstanding of Duhamel du Monceau's text which Walker interprets in the following way.

The polishing was done with two pebbles called pierres de torrents in which two channels, to take the size of the stem and the bowl, had been formed (Walker 1977, 85)

Hebert writing in 1836 offers what amounts to a précis of Good, omitting the illustrations and all reference to them from the text. Herbert does, however, correctly state sources of clay as Purbeck in Dorsetshire and Teignmouth, the latter being the port in south Devon from which the Newton Abbot clays were shipped (Herbert 1836, 305-6).

Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines, published in 1839, uses the same text as Rees with a little rewording. The engraving is also copied from this source down to the letters identifying its various parts. Ure does introduce one new term however, referring to the muffle chamber as a crucible or sagger.

An anonymous account in the Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Arts, published by Charles Knight in 1839, without illustrations, is for the most part a précis of Porter repeating his description of the flint finishing tool but correctly describing a single crucible (Anon 1839, 504). The text for this was almost certainly being prepared before Ure published his work as, when the same society published their Penny Cyclopaedia Volume XXV in 1843, they offered a revised account acknowledging Ure as their source. This second account combines generally accurate description from Rees via Ure with some of the more doubtful details from Porter via Penny Magazine. There is no new information in the account which basically restates the 1810 position (Anon 1843).

Knight's 1851 description of the manufacturing process is derived from Porter or the Penny Magazine while his description of the kiln is a précis of Rees, or Ure (Knight 1851, 1702).

Tomlinson 1852 is derived from Porter. Phrases such as circular fireplace and pillar of clay...to strengthen the crucible are common to both accounts (Tomlinson 1852, 449).

Noyce 1859, acknowledging Ure as his source, writes only that the baking kiln is capable of firing fifty gross in from eight to twelve hours. This source is distinguished for the inclusion of a new engraving designed to illustrate in a pictorial manner a kiln with pipes in place as they would be for the firing. The pipe stems are supported by a central column of ten props and buns while the bowls are on ten peripheral shelves projecting inwards from the chamber wall. The fire is clearly shown in a sunken stoking pit. The totally confused perspective suggests that the drawing was not made with the kiln in front of the draughtsman and yet some details appear to have been observed. It would not be possible to observe all of the features shown from one fixed viewpoint; the opening in the chamber wall would be much narrower than shown; the fire would not be burning with the chamber still open. What the artist has attempted, for his young readers, is an illustration of the principle in as convincing a manner as possible (Noyce 1859, 94; see Figure 91).

Three accounts of the McLardy works at Manchester, printed in The Tobacco Trade Review, between 1881 and 1894, provide new detail as well as information concerning linked kilns and different types of kiln for specific products or processes.

These three accounts provide a useful picture of the kilns used by a major manufacturer towards the end of the nineteenth century. Unlike the earlier descriptions, they refer to a specified works which, in the words of the author of the first article, are the largest in England. The three accounts differ in some details probably because the authors failed to understand fully the technicalities involved. The third account clearly states that In an open space surrounded by a high boundary wall are four large kilns, circular in shape; that the pipes are placed in circular seggars which are then placed in rows all round the kiln one on top of the other until they reach from floor to crown; this applies only to the short pipes, the long clays require a differently constructed kiln called a pot-kiln two of which are constantly at work. From this it would appear that of the four circular kilns, two are pot-kilns for long pipes and two saggar-kilns for short pipes. The saggar-kilns are most clearly described in the first account, circular with four fire boxes spaced equally around the circumference with a continuous crown to reflect the heat down through the seggars, through the fretwork brick floor, through underground flues, to the chimney. The underground flues are so arranged that waste heat from one kiln can be channelled into a second to pre-heat the charge, thus effecting a considerable saving of fuel. The author of the second account, confused about the relationship between fires, the flues and the kiln, describes the fires communicating with the underground flues from which the heat ascends through the floor. In other respects the account agrees with the first and may in fact be derived from it.

The kilns for long pipes, the pot-kilns of the third account, are described as furnaces in accounts one and two, distinguishing them from the seggar-kilns which are referred to simply as kilns. They are clearly similar to the kilns described by Good and Rees having the pipes supported radially between the standard and steps in the circumference. Accounts one and two describe these steps each being larger than the one underneath it implying a chamber widening towards the top (such steps in the muffle wall have been recorded from a number of sites covering a period from the end of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, Figure 94). Although neither account is illustrated, the first describes the standard as a series of round clay dishes, or bowls, made of fine clay in the shape of sugar loaves, corresponding in size with the steps in the furnace and upheld by clay pillars in the centre. The second account goes a little further, In the centre is a clay standard supporting an inverted fire-clay mug, or cap, upon which are laid, all round and close together, the pipes to be burned, the ends of all the stems pointing to the centre. When ranged round they are covered with very thin sheets of clay backed with paper, as a protection. Another cap is then fitted on, another range of pipes laid round, and so on until the furnace is filled, by which time it contains about 150 gross. Although neither account describes the muffle or flues, the second places the fires underneath, and the words, the most elaborate precautions are taken to insure uniformity of graduated heat, and to prevent damage to the quality of the pipe, must surely allude to these features.

The first account refers also to an enamelling kiln with the fire confined in flues and the second to a peculiar stove arrangement for vitrifying the coloured enamel on the ends of certain pipes. It is not clear if these refer to the same kiln. In 1887 the kilns were inside a building but by 1894 they stood in an open yard, either new kilns were built or, more probably, the building which housed them was partially demolished.

10.2 Other Sources

Two other sources from earlier periods bear examination, the first an eighteenth century description of a kiln from Rouen in northern France, where the industry was established by English makers, and the second an early seventeenth century description of materials used in furnace construction.

The Art of Making Pipes for Smoking Tobacco by H L Duhamel du Monceau published in Paris in 1771 includes a description, supplied by M Dubois, of the type of kiln used at Rouen (Figure 92).

Pipe-making at Rouen is believed to have been established by English makers (Walker 1977, 290-1). The type of kiln described here is very similar in concept to the English muffle kilns and quite different from the kilns of the Netherlands which Duhamel du Monceau also illustrates. The principles shared with English kilns are the small muffle to contain the pipes free from atmospheric pollution from the fire, together with radial stacking around a fluted pillar. It must be noted that there are no internal ribs or peripheral shelves but evidence regarding the date for the introduction of these features in English kilns is scant. The method of stacking the pipes vertically, in groups of bowl uppermost and stem uppermost, is known from Barnstaple circa 1620 where saggars were used. It must also be noted that the Dutch trompet, the French chandelier and the English prop all share similar features and serve a similar purpose. These Rouen type kilns may well be a parallel development stemming from an earlier English prototype. The removal of the entire top of the kiln is interesting; though there is no record of the English practice, kilns excavated at Portsmouth and Southwark were almost certainly top-loaded necessitating the removal of part, if not all, of the upper part of the brick shell.

In 1612 Simon Sturtevant published his Metalica ostensibly directed at the production of iron using coal as a fuel in place of charcoal. In the manner of early seventeenth century patents, the document sets out to define his inventions and secure his rights over them. His claims seem to have been premature as he failed to produce commercial quantities of iron and had the patent stripped from him the following year (Rovenson 1613, 1). His claim strayed far from the central theme and among other things he tried to control all furnaces for any purpose which utilised coal as their fuel. In fact he claimed to have invented a universal furnace, which he calls his caminick furnace, for the consumption of coal. In the section where he describes this universal furnace he makes particular reference to the materials used.

R 137. In the definition of your furnace, you make mention of furnace earths, I pray you what do you mean by them.

A. Furnace-earth, is any earthy substance, being made and prepared of stone, clay, or lome, that so it may become the fit and sufficient matter for the Caminick furnace.

R. 138. How many kinds of furnace earths are there wherewithal you build your furnaces.

A. There are three sorts of furnace earths. The first is the clay-pipes made of white clay, being tempered, wrought, and impastened with the dusts and pouders of divers other things. The second kind of furnace earth, is the clammy morter, which is the same substance and temper that the clay pipes are. The third kind of furnace earth, is the furnace stone, which is made into divers figures, formes and proportions by the press-mould art, and of the same matter that the other two kinds were made of. (Sturtevant 1612, 108)

This is the earliest description of the the combination of materials which are typical of English pipe kiln muffle construction known from archaeological material dating from the mid seventeenth to the late nineteenth centuries. Exhaustive enquiries addressed to museums throughout the British Isles have failed to find any similar material put to another use. It seems therefore, reasonable to assume that Sturtevant had observed and in fact describes a tobacco pipe kiln.


 PREVIOUS   NEXT   CONTENTS   HOME 

© Internet Archaeology URL: Internet Archaeology
Last updated: Wed Oct 9 1996

Your browser does not support JavaScript!