Monday, January 17, 2011
Women Pipe Smokers
Women and Pipes
By Beth Maxwell Boyle
Women Pipe smokers are rare today but female smoking was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Respectable women were commonly seen smoking pipes in public. Many famous paintings exist of noble women of the period drinking in the smoke from a clay pipe. The middle classes were eager to enjoy this new pastime as well. In the Elizabethan times clays were quite delicate with graceful thin bowls and long stems. The Dutch redesigned these clays by enlarging the bowl and lengthened the stem.
Dutch, French and English women all enjoyed the "Indian Weed". For centuries the favorite way of enjoying tobacco was to smoke it in clay pipes. As early as about 1575 pipes were being made in England, but by the 17th century Holland had become the dominant center for the manufacture of clay pipes. Clays were made in many other European countries at this time, as well. Such pipes were usually white, with small bowls and long stems. They were extremely fragile and did not last long. However, by the 1850s, when pipe smoking in general became associated with the working class, female smoking began to decline, at least in public. The acceptance of female smokers seemed to vary between regions at this time. It is believed that many women kept their old habits. It is more than likely it was done in secret while they outwardly treated the act as a disgrace.