Souvenirs of the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Drawings and written by Fred Peskett
The “Giant” Clay Pipes.
Novelty “Giant” Clay Tobacco Pipes were popular in the mid 1800’s particularly those with the bowl in the form of the heads of current politicians and military leaders also famous London landmarks, so it was inevitable that the Crystal Palace built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 should be manufactured as one of these giant pipes as a souvenir.
An initial look at these pipes seems to show that they are all identical and produced from the same mould, however, a closer examination reveals that there are a number of variations to the basic design, which suggests that there were several manufacturers of these souvenirs.
One pipe examined has a name in a panel on one side of the stem “W. T. Elare”, with “London” on the other side, this may have been the maker although it could have been the retailer? Since doing this article and drawing another clay pipe has been found of this type which has the impression far more distinct. and a correction is necessary. The name is actually W. T. Blake. The previous one has a poorly impressed B & K! A feature not previously noted for this Type is that the impression of the Transept is off-set to the centre of the bowl by 10°. On all other types the Transept is in the centre of the bowl.
There is a Great Exhibition Giant Clay Pipe on display at the Westbury Museum, Fareham, Hampshire, together with both halves of a steel mould, which was used for producing the pipe. Fareham and nearby Portchester were two towns noted for a number of clay pipe making factories, one in particular who made giant pipes was Leigh of Portchester. There is a seam of white clay from the “London Clay” geological deposits in the area near to Fareham which is ideal for clay pipe manufacture.
The pipe factory of Leigh was demolished around 1972 and the debris dumped in a land-fill site at Cams Bay, Fareham. By 1976 coastal erosion had uncovered the debris and had exposed fragments of clay pipes and items associated with their manufacture. I visited this site at low-tide and collected hundreds of the bowls of the conventional sized pipes and a few fragments of the giant pipes including those from the Great Exhibition type, so a name can be given to a least one other maker.
Four Types are listed plus one variant of the Type 1. None of the pipes found show any signs of being used for smoking!
The conventional size of clay pipe is known for the Building at Kensington for the 1862 Exhibition, but so far none of the small versions have been found for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
If you have one of these “Giant” Clay Pipes in your collection which shows any differences to those described and shown above please let me know so that it can be added to data already collected. Thank you.
For the purpose of identification the pipe with a known maker’s mark has been used as the basic design.
Type 1.Side view:-
(a) Has a “W.T. Blake” maker’s mark in a panel on one side of the stem and “London” on the other side.
(b) There is a small flag over the Transept on each side of the bowl.
(c) Around the windows in the Transepts each side of the bowl are small stars in each box.
(d) The design under the bowl is two fancy scrolls.
(e) The overall length of the pipe is 7˝”.
Front and back views:-
(f) Front view the central ridge is fully up to the rim and is plain. View from the stem end:- The Transept rests on protruding plinth, and there is a square block over the centre of the Transept.
Type la. The design is identical to Type 1, but the length is 7”.
Type 1 Pipe
Type 1 view from the front Type 1 view from the stem
Type 2. Side view:-
(a) There is no maker’s mark on the sides of the stem,
(b) The flag over the Transept is longer and tilts down to the right.
(c) The boxes around the windows of the Transept are plain, but the lower windows have a radius to the tops
(d) The design under the bowl has one fancy scroll and two serrated leaves.
(e) The overall length of the pipe is 7%”
Front and back views:-
(f) Front view:- The central ridge ends just above the roof and is serrated. View from the stem end:- The Transept does not rest on a plinth and the roof is angled rather than curved.
Type 3. Side view:-
(a) There is no makers mark, although fragments found at Portchester are the same as this pipe which suggest that it could be made by Leigh.
(b) There is a large flag over the Transept on each side of the bowl.
(c) Around the windows in the Transepts each side of the bowl are small diamonds in each box.
(d) The design under the bowl is a single scroll, two serrated leaves with a series of dots.
(e) The overall length of the pipe is 7%”.
Front and back views:-
(f) Front view:- The central ridge is narrow, does not reach the rim of the bowl and is serrated. View from the stem end:- The boxes of the Transept have small diamonds, the roof is formed by two arcs and not a full radius, there is no representation of a flag over the roof.
Type 2 Pipe
Type 2 view from the front Type 2 view from the stem
Type 3 Pipe
Type 3 view from the front Type 3 view from the stem
Type 4 Pipe
Type 4 Pipe from the front
Another type has Just been found, this is recorded as Type 4. The shape and features are generally the same as the Type 2, but the flag over the Transept is much larger than the other types and has an “X” in the top left of the flag adjacent to the flagpole, the flagpole has a round finial on the top. The view of the Transept does not have the diagonal glazing bars at the top.
Type 4 Pipe from the front.
© Exhibition Study Group 2013