December 31, 2015

Vintage Photos of Women Smoking Pipes in the Past

Women with pipes? Why not?

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.

In rural areas such as the Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland the women smoked without shame. Women in the Hebrides smoked well into the 1930s due to the cultural isolation just as Appalachian women in the US did. It was seen as a very crude and backwards habit by most of polite society but little changes in any society without contact with urban centers. Today a women smoking a pipe draws immediate notice and sometimes ridicule.

Two women with pipes, 1922

Five women smoking pipes and playing cards at table

Founders of a 'Women's Pipe Smokers Club', 15 April 1926

Girl enjoys smoking a pipe

Lady smoking a pipe when playing card

Lady smoking a pipe when playing chess, ca. 1950s

Parisian singer, Anny Berryer, smoking a pipe, September 1953

Performers savor their corncob pipes in a dressing room, 1941

Two women on a rooftop smoking pipes and drinking wine

Walking on the beach with pipes, ca. 1930s

Woman wearing skirt and hat with pipe

Women having a pipe after lunch in Wrigley Building Restaurant, Chicago, 1954

women smoking pipes, 1944

Women’s poker party, 1941

Young girl with a pipe, ca. 1900s

Young lady with a pipe, ca. 1930s

Young woman smoking on an outdoor bench, ca. 1920s

Young woman with a hooka or water pipe, ca. 1890s

Young women smoking their pipes

A Chinese pipe-smoking lady, ca. 1930s

A Geiko in costume for an Odori as a country girl, smoking a pipe and carrying a basket of flowers on her back, ca. 1920s

A young Japanese woman with pipe, ca. 1880

Anna Karina, April 1968


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