Dating clay pipe bowls
1790-1820 style Napoleonic Period
They can also be used to check any dates provided by associated bowl forms, marks or decoration, which can be especially useful for smaller contexts where only a few such pieces are present.
Stems were straight until the late eighteenth century dating clay pipe bowls curved varieties were introduced. Spur forms first appear in the very early seventeenth century and soon became an alternative style used in lesser numbers in most areas of the country.
Stem stamps are only rarely found.
Clay Pipes c.1600-1720
The fractions of an inch are always given in 64ths, and not rationalised to larger alternative units e. The London typology is still one of the most useful because of the dating clay pipe bowls, accurately drawn forms and the widespread influence of London styles. Retaining this unit of measurement ensures that any new data is comparable with previously published material.
Initials or full name marks placed across the top of the stem were most frequently employed in central southern England and the West Midlands, while decorative stem borders were most often employed in the Midlands and north.
In broad terms there were always two different styles of pipe in contemporary use; those with heels and those with spurs. As a result, fragments usually show a clear taper along their length and can be quite chunky if the fragment comes from near the bowl. Home Find by location How to Some pipes were burnished during this period and many areas of the Midlands and northern England exploited local clays, where these were available. A spur is the term used for a projection underneath the bowl that is usually longer than it is broad. Burnishing was used for better qualities of pipes and almost without exception pipes had bottered rims i.
Moulded marks or pattern numbers on the sides of the stem were introduced around the middle of the nineteenth century and became the most widespread and common form of marking thereafter.
Stem bores can, however, be used for distributional plots or as bar graphs to show changing site use over time. Burnishing was still used in some areas, but very rarely in the far south west, the south east and East Anglia.
Heel forms were the earliest style to be introduced in the late sixteenth century and remained the dominant form in most areas for at least the next century. A heel is usually broader than it is deep, as opposed to a spur, which is the opposite. For this reason, it is important to look at specific local typologies as well as the more general national ones.
During the seventeenth century both types generally had rather squat barrel-shaped forms and they almost always have a band of milling at the rim. Bowl forms can be dated by reference to national and local typologies, links to which can be found below. The skill and experience of the individual undertaking the work will play a large part in determining how accurate and reliable any assessment of dating is, and specialist advice should certainly be taken when dealing with large assemblages or those where the pipe dating is fundamental to the excavated deposits.
Seventeenth century bowls tend to tip forward slightly and had quite thick walls. Long stems were sometimes rather oval in cross section and could be curved. As a result, they are generally rather cylindrical in appearance with less evidence of any stem taper.
The most common method is to use the butt ends of a set of Imperial drill bits, although a finely gradated ruler or other measuring devices can also be used. It also allows the date of larger assemblages to be calculated using the stem bore dating formulae that have been developed in the USA. It typically tapers to a pointed or rounded base, although later varieties sometimes have the end trimmed off.
It is important to print these out at life size check the bar scale when printed before comparing pipes with them, since size can be crucial, especially for seventeenth century forms. A fine sandy fabric was used in the Oxford area and pipes from areas with access to the Coal Measures often employed clays with opaque white gritty inclusions in them.
The new decorative styles of short-stemmed pipe are hard to categorise into meaningful typologies but should be easily distinguishable from the earlier forms e.