by Matthew Cobb
As many readers noticed, Nicola White’s Thames mudlarking unearthed the bowls of two clay pipes (all rats, joints and jewels were pareidolia):
Nicola tells me these pipes were made in the late 16th and early 17th centuries! (She can tell that by the style.) So they have been sloshing around in the Thames mud for about 400 years before finally ending up, next to each other, on the bank the other day. Think of all the history that has passed by while they lurked in the muddy waters of the Thames, waiting to come back into the light. Furthermore, although they have lost their stems, the bowls are surprisingly intact.
It is relatively easy to find broken bits of pipe stem while mudlarking (I have several examples, just from idle pottering about when the Thames is at low tide), but intact bowls are much rarer.
This site explains the evolution of the Dutch clay pipe down the centuries. These two specimens are clearly of the earliest type.