anti-slavery tobacco pipe

Contributed by Derek Best

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Josiah Wedgwood made his "Am I not a Man and a Brother" medallion in 1787 and slavery in the British empire was abolished in an Act of 1833. So this dates from those decades.
The pipe's clay may well have been carried by barge on the new canal network to its maker, but it is a common little pipe of standard unglazed make in two half-moulds and so I have no idea where it was manufactured. I have owned it for 15 years.
The pipe's picture is clearly derived from Wedgwood's design, which was the most important emblem of the anti-slavery campaigns. The other side of the bowl is more badly broken, but you can make out the lower half of a figure in female Grecian dress with the base of a spear or trident and a shield by her feet - Britannia?
I like the irony of a man who had presumably chosen the anti-slavery motif smoking tobacco grown by slaves in Virginia.
The pipe brings together C18th technology, a great industrialist, the fashion for tobacco smoking, which had grown hugely over the century, and the first great popular campaign to reverse a social evil.

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About this object

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Location
Culture
Period

after 1787

Theme
Size
H:
3.5cm
W:
2cm
D:
2cm
Colour
Material

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