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: www.youtube.com/watch?v=usk5WwdArIo
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.
FACES AND HEADS:
A knight (hand-painted and probably by a French maker); Bacchus (?); four 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.
HANDS AND CLAWS:
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 bowl to the right of this is an Oddfellows pipe - see more below, under Freemasons and other Fraternal Organisations.
Horses: four different horse head spurs - the first of superior quality, the second by maker W. T. Silk, the third by Burstows of Greenwich, and the fourth rather crudely formed, but with an intact bowl. 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; the maker is W. King, Borough.
Also shown here is a horse hoof, and a pipe with an animal's hoof as a spur.
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.
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
Clay pipe - Bill of Rights - seam
Clay pipe - unidentified; figure kneeling
Clay pipe - unidentified; figure with flag
Nelson and Napoleon?
Nelson and Napoleon?
Clay pipe - Hope and Justice - left side
Clay pipe - Hope and Justice - right side
Admiral Vernon pipe, left side
Clay pipe - Battle of Culloden
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
FLOWERS and PLANTS:
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.
FREEMASONS AND OTHER FRATERNAL ORGANISATIONS:
The first row are all masonic pipe bowls, with symbols like Solomon's Temple, the all-seeing eye, the plumb line and other masons' tools. In the third photo, 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.
SPORTS and LEISURE:
Football, billiards, a single boot kicking a ball, and cricket. The billiards pipe is by pipemaker Ebenezer Church of Kings Cross.
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 - right 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, close-up
Sailing ship pipe - plant side, edge
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 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.
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: https://janeaustenslondon.com/2014/10/14/the-regents-bomb, with a satirical broadsheet here: www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-12836 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 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 third 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.
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.
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.
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 second - 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.
COMPLETE WORKERS' CLAY PIPES:
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. These probably all date from the 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.
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