Submitted by ondinee on 12 July 2017 - 10:06pm

Known as steamers to the convicts, this tobacco pipe with its bowl in the shape of a man’s head, was among 1500 fragments of convict-era pipes recovered by archaeologists at Hyde Park Barracks. A rare complete pipe, the stem bears the moulded lettering 'MARKET WHARF’ (obverse), ‘ELLIOTT MAKER’ (reverse). Its maker Joseph Elliott was born in the colony, and established his pipe making business on Sussex Street, near the Market Wharf (at the end of Market Street, where goods were loaded on and off boats for the markets where the Queen Victoria Building now stands). Elliott would have used a mould to make thousands of pipes like this one, which were sold in the pubs, shops and markets around the town.

Many convicts enjoyed smoking, as a welcome relief from the brutality and drudgery of convict life. Tobacco, which they called weed, was not part of their rations but was available to buy in the pubs or on the black market. Elliott sold his pipes for four shillings per gross (144 pipes), which meant they cost 3 pence each. Even after the markup that the pubs and shops added, most convicts could certainly afford to buy them with the few pennies they had earned by working on Saturday afternoons, by gambling, or by selling stolen goods.

Joseph Elliott
Front view of face carved onto white clay pipe bowl. Face has prominent eyebrows and moustache. Sydney Living Museums Image
Hyde Park Barracks archaeology collection


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