Français   English
Pipes en terre
Presenting Clay Pipes
Pipes en terre


Every clay pipe presented on our website are from the Gambier and Bonnaud brands and have been traditionnaly manufactured. The Gambier manufacture, located in Givet in the French Ardennes, closed in 1926. The Parisian warehouse for Gambier pipes was located place de la république. Dear old Gambier did not want to use electricity for fear that it would set his warehouse on fire and would only use candles !

The quality of his clay pipes is remarkable. The clays he would use for cooking the pipes were thoroughly chosen. Dear old Gambier would mix Belgian ardennes clay and French ardennes clay and add some alluviums from Hungary. Aficionados are very picky and sensitive to these clay pipes' taste. The seasoning of a clay pipe is particularly important.

In the beginning of the XXth century, smokers could give their brand new clay pipe and two packs of tobacco to a pipe seasoner. They would get it back with a nicely seasoned pipe and could finally appreciate their new pipe and its excellent smoking.

Then, the clay pipes would usually be sold in the "estaminets" (countryside pubs of the north of France). A pipe holder would be nailed to the wall in these pubs, and you could leave your pipe overnight.

The 1st smokings should be lights. Thus, it is advised to put a little bit of water in the pipe's head so that it is a little bit wet before putting tobacco in there. But back then, smokers would often ask the pub owner to pour brandy in their pipe's bowl !

This tradition is still in our minds and a lot of smokers still think it is good to season their briar pipe with alcohol !

It is obviously out of the question to season wood-based pipes with alcohol but I still see some smokers thinking about it.

Let's read about the advantages of these pipes, which were smoked long before briar pipes:

- Although they are usually small, clay pipes, like meerschaum and briar pipes, let the smoker go through three quarters of a bowl and taste every flavour during 20 to 30 minutes.

- Even more than with another pipe, it is possible to smoke several times consecutively with the same clay pipe as long as you clean the chamber, shank and stem.

- Clay is good if you want to switch tobaccos because it is less affected by the usual aftertaste that tobaccos leave (for example when you smoke Latakia then Semois tobacco, or Virginia then Burley tobacco).

- They are of easy maintenance.

- Even if they are more fragile than meerschaum and briar pipes, they bring such an unusual and good taste to the aficionado ! And if they were to be broken, replacing them is not so expensive !


Pierre Voisin                               to see clay pipes click here