Tobacco Pipes Blog
Tobacco pipes have a long and fascinating history. A history the average smoker would probably consider fairly masculine. However, this is only a reflection of recent history and not a historical fact. Women have always, and still do, smoke pipes.
History of female pipe smokers
Smoking pipes, usually made of clay, were tremendously popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. The west was newly acquainting itself with the wonders of ‘The New World’ and with it, tobacco. Women of all classes smoked both in public and in private. Calling it “the Indian Weed”, the tobacco leaf was smoked for recreational purposes, but also believed to serve useful medicinal purposes for both men and women.
This began to change as smoking pipes began to be associated with the working class throughout Europe. By 1850, smoking was no longer a socially acceptable thing for a woman in French or English high society or in American polite society for that matter; but many ladies still smoked in private. Conversely, the Irish, Scottish and rural American working-class women continued to enjoy their pipes without shame up until the 1930s.
By the time World War I began, tobacco pipes were the dominant way of consuming tobacco. Although smoking in any form was considered vulgar for “gentle” women at the beginning of the war, by 1920 tobacco companies were actively targeting a female audience. Although cigarettes were the primary choice for smokers of both genders, many of the suffragettes in Britain and a few notable American actresses smoked tobacco pipes. This is where the trouble began.
Tobacco pipes and culture wars
From the 1920s to the 1960s, with a brief break for World War II, Western culture (and America in particular) drew a strict line in the sand between acceptable and unacceptable female activities. Regarding tobacco, cigarettes were fashionable and tobacco pipes were vulgar. The line was clear and most women held it.
The 1960s and it’s ‘culture wars’ represented a shift back towards women smoking tobacco pipes, after targeted marketing from brands like Butz-Choquin, Vauen and Lorenzo brought European women back to the pipe. However, the trend never latched on in America and the habit of sitting down to enjoy a quiet smoke continued to be the territory of men. Maybe, as this writer wonders, because women were too busy trying to balance their newly “liberated” choices with the traditional demands of being wife and mother.
Women pipe smokers today
The conversations about female smokers today usually center on Hipsters. However, this fact is only true in America. European female smokers have always been there, although not always in public. As with other male-dominated arenas--think sports, professional kitchens or politics--the move towards feminine smokers has created its fair share of backlash. A reader can find a never-ending commentary in smoker’s forums as to whether or not female pipe aficionados are a good thing or bad. But the bustle matters not. That women are entering the hobby, in ever greater numbers, is a fact.
A word from a pipe gal
Tobacco pipes are not inherently masculine or feminine and neither is the hobby. It is only cultural preconditioning that determines our bias. Women enjoy smoking pipes for the same reasons men do. We don’t always smoke Churchwardens; I know I don’t, and we don’t need our pipes to be sparkly. Whatever you love about sitting down to smoke a bowl, just assume it is similar for us. After all, when the ‘new world’ was first discovered, we were all equally enchanted with the tobacco leaf and not much has changed as to why.
Photo Credit: Girl With Pipe, IMBJR.com
A fresh take on pipe tampersRik Ruff started smoking a tobacco pipe just 12 months ago.He is retired from the United States Air Force, and now working as a civilian contractor. He was a long-time cigarette smoker and enjoyed the transition to tobacco pipes easily. He says every time he lights a bowl he's reminded [...]
We’ve mentioned recently how much fun it is to work with new makers. When Matt Van, a Florida-based tobacco pipe lover like us happened upon us, we considered it serendipity.A family legacyMatt Van may be a newcomer to handmade tobacco pipes, but he has been carving and working with wood since his pre-teen years, where [...]
Ron Orr, a tobacco pipe smoker for just over a year, is a graduate student in Lubbock, Texas. Once a month or so we share the stories of pipe collectors at all stages. In the third installment of our continuing series of Tobacco Pipe Collector Spotlights we talk with Ron about seven day sets, Friday night [...]
Approaching their 150th birthday, Peterson of Dublin seems more relevant than ever. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?Maybe, in the case of Peterson, it isn’t so much about new tricks, but a dogged commitment to the soul of tobacco pipe smoking.Slow down, smoke a bowl with meMuch has been written about [...]
With 149 years worth of choices, adding to your collection of Peterson pipes can be an exercise in analysis paralysis. The current portfolio is enough to keep you sorting through choices for months. Add estate considerations and, although not really infinite, the choices begin to feel that way.Adding to your Peterson pipe collectionBefore we try [...]
We’re busting at the seams with good news in the office today.In fact, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably already experienced our most exciting update since our launch back in 2010...That’s right, we’ve had a facelift!TobaccoPipes.com is turning four, just in time for The 4th of July!We’re celebrating our own independence as well [...]
It’s so Italian, it’s almost a cliche, flashy design to make something naturally spectacular even more show-stopping. The Savinelli Pigna Series follows in the footsteps of ancient and modern artistic giants by paying homage to the simple, but mysterious pine cone.The Pigna’s significancePigna literally means pine cone in Italian. The Italian culture, documented as far [...]
Charlie Dunn, a veteran tobacco pipe smoker enjoying life on the side of a North Carolina mountain, is the second in our series of Tobacco Pipe Collector Spotlights. Once a month or so we share the stories of pipe collectors at all stages. If you would like to be featured in this ongoing series, contact [...]
Most of us here at TobaccoPipes.com are familiar with Nat King Cole’s iconic phrase, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Just six words and we’re transported to a fireside Christmas much colder than the ones we celebrate here in tropical Florida. The glittering stems and warm chestnut bowls of the new Marron Glace Pipes are reminiscent of [...]