This meerschaum pipe with leather case was probably once the proud possession of a respectable gentleman. While working men smoked replaceable clay pipes, middle-class men often had a whole array of smoking paraphernalia. Gentlemen liked to have distinctive pipes such as this one with its stem in the form of a hand. The way the meerschaum bowl became coloured by the tobacco smoke was regarded as an indication of a smoker's skill. Middle-class smokers took great care in their selection of tobacco and their styles of pipe. They would often wear distinctive smoking jackets and caps, and even try to smoke in their own smoking chairs. In this way smoking a pipe became a way middle-class men could express their individuality.
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