Aluminum air pipes

Pipes and Bottles at the Kelley House Exhibit – The Mendocino Beacon

Several clay pipes are on display in the Kelley House Museum’s current exhibition. Most are incomplete – missing a stem or the bowl – but are nonetheless intriguing – as are the old glass bottles and other remnants of an earlier era that we have excavated from our archives for this show, “Neighbors of the other side of the pond”.

The joys of smoking were introduced to Europeans by Native Americans in the 1500s, and when Sir Francis Drake returned to England with tobacco, the famous man began a craze for smoking and its paraphernalia.

Pipes were used by women and even children in the early decades of their introduction. The smell of tobacco would have masked the stench of the streets in large cities that had primitive sewage systems. At one time, smoking was encouraged to ward off the plague.

The kind of clay pipes used at the time, and which we show, are still made and appreciated today. Smokers particularly appreciate them because their clean and neutral ceramic material does not compete with the flavors of specialty tobaccos.

Most, but not all, of the pipes in our collection came from the bottom of Kelley Pond. They have an integral stem, with the bowl and long stem made in one piece, making them simple and graceful. Formed in two-part molds using finely ground white clay, they were incredibly cheap to make and essentially disposable. Their stems broke easily. Back when it was fashionable to have stems as long as a yard, if the stem broke, one could continue to use the pipe until another break or two occurred and the bristles of the nose begin to burn.

Through research we know that the majority of our pipes were made by a company named “McDougall” in “Glasgow”. These two words were stamped on opposite sides of the pipe stems when they were made. We also know that McDougall started making pipes in 1846. It is highly unlikely that a clay pipe found its way to Mendocino and the depths of Kelley House Pond before William Kelley built it. , providing us with a date of about 1880 for their first arrival.

Other pipe bowls in the collection are stamped with the initials “TD”. First made in England in the 18th century by Thomas Dormer and possibly his son, TD pipes were widely copied by pipe makers throughout the 19th century.

Pipes made in Glasgow have traveled the world and been reported by archaeologists in Australia, Jamaica, Easter Island and Canada. They dominated the market in the second half of the 19e century. Mendocino can join the ranks of places around the world where these pipes have been smoked, smashed, and thrown out of sight and out of mind.

Come see the clay pipes, Frozen Charlottes and other curious artifacts at the Kelley House Museum, open Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Our historic walking tours can be booked online at Call us at (707) 937-5791 or contact [email protected]