Smoking and Pipes

Smoking…smoking is a fairly disgusting habit really. I, regrettably smoked for a very long time.

Smoking is bad for you there is no getting away from that and it was just as bad for the Victorians Era although oddly enough it did far more damage to their teeth (as well as their lungs) usually because tobacco was delivered through clay pipes. In a recent study the Museum of London excavated a Victorian cemetery in Whitechapel in east London found most people had a type of notch in at least two if not four of the front teeth.

Why?

It comes from holding a clay pipe between their teeth when working, as with someone who holds a cigarette for a long time it can stain the fingers, or ion their mouth can stain a moustache which is decidedly disgusting in my humble opinion.

In an osteological analysis of 268 adults buried between 1843 and 1854 found that some wear associated with pipe smoking use was evident in 23 percent.

“In many cases, a clear circular “hole’ was evident when the upper and lower jaws were closed,” said Donald Walker, human osteologist at Museum of London Archaeology Service.

Males were mainly affected but the evidence was found that a number of young adult skeletons may well have started pipe-smoking at a young age….mind you that doesn’t surprise me as my father started smoking at the age of 8!

Clay pipes of which Sherlock Holmes was a smoker to Elizabeth I and really the first time  when tobacco arrived in Europe from the new world, but it wasn’t until 1881 that cigarettes were being widely smoked in Britain and that was really the end of the clay pipe, sadly not the end of smoking!!

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2 thoughts on “Smoking and Pipes

  1. Clay pipes are a fantastic tool for dating archaeological sites – they are the cigarette butts of old, discarded frequently, not usually kept for years. Many of the makers and their marks are well known and the time that they were in business, so dates can often be narrowed down to a 25 year span. Useful now, even if symptomatic of lousy habits and bad health.

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