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The Speedwell Collection of Pictorial Pipe Bowls

Displayed on this page are the best specimens from Germander Speedwell's collection of decorated clay pipe bowls, all found on the Thames foreshore and now given safe haven in the Speedwell Asylum for Retired Pipes, which can be seen in this video, starting at 12:35:

Please note that to search the Thames foreshore, you need a permit from the Port of London Authority.

Click on each image to view/enlarge, or to view them in the correct order, scroll through each gallery by clicking on the first picture and using the arrows. 


A knight (hand-painted and probably by a French maker); Bacchus (?); several different Turk's Head designs; two African heads, the first one probably also French, and the second one a tiny delicate miniature - probably a child's bubble pipe. The skull is from a very unusual pipe design - the gaping mouth (rather than the top of the head) is the hole for the tobacco, and the stem has two branches - see photos of an intact original here

Small Turk's Head clay pipe
Turk's Head - front left view
Turk's Head - front view
Miniature clay pipe with negro boy head - 2
Miniature clay pipe with negro boy head
Miniature clay pipe with negro boy head - 1
Negro head - side view
Negro head - face on


The pipe with the cross-hatched hand may represent the Red Hand of Ulster; it also has the initials 'T W' on the back of the bowl, often found on pipes from the north-east and Scotland, though it's not clear exactly who was using these initials. The pipe bowls with the hand and heart symbols are  Oddfellows pipes - see more below, under Freemasons and other Fraternal Organisations.

Clay pipe bowl with hand - 1
Clay pipe bowl with hand - 2
Oddfellows clay pipe bowl - hand
Clay pipe with glove, maker William Tennant
Bird talon
Clay pipe bowl with bird claw


Horses: The pipe with the horse and crescent moon has the wording 'White Horse' / '& Half Moon', and will almost certainly be from the former White Horse and Half Moon public house in Borough High St; the maker is W. King, Borough. Following the horse hoof pipe bowl and animal hoof spur are four different horse head spurs - one of superior quality, one by maker W. T. Silk, another by Burstows of Greenwich, and one rather crudely formed, but with an intact bowl. 

Dogs: A novelty dog pipe by Dumeril of St Omer, France, with much of the original paint surviving on one side. Following this are two pipes with dogs reclining on the stem, the first being a greyhound, beautifully rendered with even its ribs clearly visible.

Frog and fish: a very eccentric scene of a frog riding on a fish; almost certainly French-made.  

Birds: two different swan designs, and an eagle.

Others: a fox and grapes - probably from a Fox and Grapes tavern, and based on the Aesop's Fable. 

Horse hoof
Clay pipe bowl with animal hoof
Horse head pipe spur
Clay pipe bowl with horse head spur
Clay pipe with horse head spur - W.T. Silk
Clay pipe with horse head spur
Dumeril dog pipe - painted side
Dumeril dog pipe - unpainted side
Clay pipe bowl with reclining dog
Dog on stem
Fish and frog - right side
Fish and frog - left side
Fish and frog - back of bowl
Fish face and frog foot
Clay pipe with swans - right
Clay pipe with swans - left
Eagle - probably Napoleonic, left side
Eagle - probably Napoleonic, right side
Probably from a Fox and Grapes pub c.1800-30


The first pipe, with the broken remains of its bowl, has the figure of a naked woman reclining on the stem; this is probably by a French maker.

The next pipe, with Britannia on one side and a figure appearing to hold a document on the other, commemorates a Bill of Rights passed in 1820-30, repealing clauses of the Magna Carta. The text on the bowl is:  KING AND CONSTITUTION    MAGNA CHARTA BILL OF RIGHTS.  The text on the full stem is:  LEWIS MANUFACTURER   NEW ST, HORSLEY DOWN and the maker's initials on the left and right of the spur are S / L. This is likely to be Samuel Lewis; Horsley Down was a previous parish/sub-district on the south side of London Bridge in Southwark.

The Hope and Justice pipe has the symbol of hope on one side and justice on the other, but I still need to find out if this relates to a particular event or organisation.

The pipe with the figure in chequered breeches commemorates the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The figure on this side is the Scotsman, with his round shield and downturned sword, and the words 'I BUT DISTURB'. The other side, which is missing on this broken pipe, shows the Duke of Cumberland, with his upturned sword and the words 'I VICTORY GAIND'.

The Admiral Vernon pipe commemorates a victory that never happened, at the Battle of Cartogena in 1741. The pipe depicts English naval hero Admiral Vernon claiming victory from the Spanish leader Don Blas, who is shown kneeling and surrendering his sword. This souvenir pipe was produced prematurely, when the English were confident of success, but in fact the Spanish ended up outwitting them and holding the town, while the English suffered an embarrassing failure and retreat. 

Clay pipe - naked woman

Clay pipe - naked woman - detail


Clay pipe - Bill of Rights - left


Clay pipe - Bill of Rights - Britannia

Trafalgar pipe - edging

Clay pipe - Bill of Rights - seam

Clay pipe bowl - left side - figure kneeling

Clay pipe - unidentified; figure kneeling

Clay pipe bowl - right side - figure with flag

Clay pipe - unidentified; figure with flag

Nelson and Napoleon?

Nelson and Napoleon?

Clay pipe with Hope and Justice - left

Clay pipe - Hope and Justice - left side

Clay pipe with Hope and Justice - right

Clay pipe - Hope and Justice - right side

Admiral Vernon pipe, left side

Culloden clay pipe - full length

Clay pipe - Battle of Culloden

Culloden clay pipe - close-up

Clay pipe - Battle of Culloden, close-up

Admiral Vernon pipe, right side

Admiral Vernon pipe - Don Blas and ship

Admiral Vernon pipe - Don Blas

Admiral Vernon pipe - Admiral and ship

Admiral Vernon pipe - Admiral Vernon


In the first rows are flowers and plants as national symbols - the common Rose and Thistle pipe, and pipes with roses, thistles and shamrocks (and probably leeks), and three different Scotch thistle pipes. Among the others are a tulip, acorns (including a miniature half-sized version), various flower sprigs, grapes and vines, and foliage decoration. 

Rose and thistle pipe - rose side
Rose and thistle pipe - thistle side
Scotch Thistle clay pipe bowl
Scotch Thistle pipe bowl - thistle
Clay pipe bowl with thistle
Clay pipe with branch and leaf
Acorn clay pipe bowl
Clay pipe bowl with tulips
Clay pipe bowl - bunch of flowers
Flower on sides of bowl
Clay pipe bowl with bunch of grapes
Clay pipe with grapevine
Pipe with leafy embellishment


The first rows are all masonic pipe bowls, with symbols like King Solomon's Temple, the open book, the all-seeing eye, the square and compass, the plumb line and other masons' tools. Note the crescent moon with its face.

The pipes with the hand on one side and heart on the other are from the Independent Order of Oddfellows; the symbols of the hand and heart symbolise charity -  'giving with the heart'.

The pipes with the initials RAOB are from the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes; the photos show several different designs of these. 

Freemasons - Temple of Solomon
Freemasons, showing Temple of Solomon
Freemasons clay pipe bowl with moon face
Freemasons, showing all-seeing eye
Oddfellows clay pipe bowl - hand
Oddfellows clay pipe bowl - heart
RAOB pipes - in stable
RAOB - Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes - rig
RAOB - Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes - lef


Football, a bicyclist, a single boot kicking a ball, billiards and cricket. The billiards pipe is by pipemaker Ebenezer Church of Kings Cross. 

Clay pipe with footballers, left side
Clay pipe with footballers, right side
Clay pipe bowl with foot kicking ball
Clay pipe with cricketer - right side
Clay pipe with cricketer - left side


The first pipe has the words 'WESTERN / ALLIANCE' either side of the bowl's base. The double-sided figurehead has a bird on the right side and a lion on the left. Behind the figurehead are some half-obscured letters which may be FR / ITAN. The alliance it refers to may be that of Britain and France (represented by the lion and what could be the French Imperial eagle), possibly during the Crimean War; the quality and detail of this pipe suggests it's from the second half of the 1800s

Most of the sailing ship pipes have an anchor on the other side, but the one with the maker's name on its stem has the floral symbols of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland on its other side. This pipe was made by George Brooks of Hartlepool, probably in the 1860s-70s. 

Western Alliance clay pipe

Western Alliance clay pipe

Western Alliance clay pipe - right side

Western Alliance clay pipe - right side

Western Alliance clay pipe - left side

Western Alliance clay pipe - left side

Clay pipe with sailing ship - left side

Clay pipe with sailing ship - right side

Clay pipe with ship and anchor - left side

Clay pipe with ship and anchor - right side

Sailing ship pipe - ship side

Sailing ship pipe - ship side

Sailing ship pipe - ship side, close

Sailing ship pipe - ship side, close-up

Sailing ship pipe - plant side, edge

Sailing ship pipe - plant side, edge

Sailing ship pipe - plant side

Sailing ship pipe - plant side

Clay pipe with ship and anchor - left side

Clay pipe with ship and anchor - right side

Clay pipe bowl with anchor

Clay pipe bowl with anchor

Clay pipe with anchor - side

Clay pipe with anchor - front


This clay pipe is from Irish regiment the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who were active 1881-1968.  Note at the bottom of each side the word 'EGYPT' below a sphinx, referring to one of their military campaigns.  Along the stem are the maker's details: 'HILL . LATE . DUDMAN' and 'PLUMSTEAD' refering to John Hill who is thought to have taken over Henry Dudman's Plumstead pipe workshop around the 1890s.

Clay pipe - Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - right side
Clay pipe - Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, left sid
Clay pipe - Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - right closeup
Clay pipe - Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - left closeup


The first pipe probably depicts the eccentrically-decorated cannon on Horse Guards Parade that it is photographed here alongside. The cannon, nicknamed 'Regents Bomb', was the laughing stock of London - perhaps that's why it was depicted on pipes. The full story is here: a satirical broadsheet here:    Further evidence linking the pipe with the cannon is the Prince of Wales feathers, which decorate the front on the plinth and are also on the other side of the pipe bowl (as seen on another example; this one is broken). Furthermore, the pipemaker - William Burstow of Blackheath Hill - was probably still at that address in 1816 when this eccentric ordnance was unveiled.

The second pipe also depicts a dragon (without the cannon) and the Prince of Wales' feathers - it's not known whether this is just a more rudimentary form of the previous design, or whether it simply depicts a Welsh dragon. 

The third pipe is from the Great Exhibition of 1851; it depicts a steam locomotive and a ship, with the words 'ART' and 'COMMERCE'. The stem tell us it was made by Thomas Coomer of North End Rd, Finchley. The seam is decorated with oak leaves and acorns, and under the ship are roses, thistles and other nationally symbolic plants. 

The last pipe shows Tower Bridge, with the Prince of Wales' feathers on the other side; this was probably designed to commemorate the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894. The Prince of Wales symbol may relate to a Prince of Wales pub that the pipe was made for, or it may be because the Prince and Princess of Wales were at the opening of the bridge.

Clay pipe bowl with Tower Bridge and P.O.W. feathe
Clay pipe bowl with Tower Bridge and P.O.W. feathe


Apparently this cross-hatching had a function (whether intentional or not) - this surface could be used to strike matches on.  See above under 'Hands and Claws' for more information on the pipe with the cross-hatched hand. 

Clay pipe with glove, maker William Tennant
Clay pipe bowl with cross-hatched harp
Cross-hatched heart
Cross-hatched shield


A small selection of my more characterful or unusual armorials.

The pipe in the second row has the wording 'Randall / Holland', with the Prince of Wales feathers on the back and floral decoration on the front seam. 

Armorial clay pipe
Armorial pipe - close-up of lion


The first pipe was made by William Sandy between 1862-74 in the building shown in the second image - Pipe House in Overy St, Dartford. 

The conical pipe bowl with the black band at the top is by the French maker Gambier and is probably from the early 20th century.

The third - distinctively shaped - pipe is by the Gallon pipemakers of North Shields. 

The others are by unidentified makers and include basket pipes; tree trunks; thorn pipes; dotty pipes; scaly pipes; an Irish pipe; pipes with intricate banded patterns and vines, and a boot. The pipe near the end, with a faceted design, has part of the maker's name - J. Rab......? of London. 

Clay pipe with basket
Clay pipe bowl - basket
Clay pipe bowl with raised dots and fluting
Clay pipe bowl with raised dots
Clay pipe bowl - tree trunk
Tree trunk or coral
Thorn pipe
Clay pipe with circles and lozenges
Clay pipe with grapevines and decoration - with st
Clay pipe with grape vines and decoration


Most of these intact examples, all found on the Thames foreshore, are workers' pipes, designed for smoking while at work, rather than at leisure, as they were small enough to be held in the mouth, leaving the hands free to continue working. Most of these date from the mid to late 1800s.

The first, curved pipe, is an unusually elegant curved design. The Cork pipe is a more common find; note also the shamrock on the heel. The second Cork pipe, however, differs in having a shield on its heel. Most of these simple everyday pipes are unmarked, but each is slightly different in design - so far, no two in this collection are identical.

Complete clay pipe, curved
Complete Cork clay pipe
Close-up of Cork clay pipe
Complete clay pipe - 3
Complete clay pipe - 1
Complete clay pipe - 2
Workers pipe


These are makers' marks from the heels of clay pipes dating from the 1600s. Usually they are the initials of the maker's name, but sometimes they consist of symbols like the gauntlet or fleur-de-lis, shown here.  The one with the initials LF is from the French pipe-maker Louis Fiolet. The heelmark with the letters PC has a tobacco plant intertwined. 


These symbols on the sides of the heels and spurs are also makers' marks; they include circles, shamrocks, flowers, a leaf, hearts, crowns, and the makers'  initials.


These now have a whole page to themselves!  Click here: Dutch clay pipes

Heelmark windmill - right side
9. Windmill on heel

Germander Speedwell 

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