Colonialism and the expansion of empires

Tobacco pipe crate stencil, Kumasi via Takoradi

Made for John Pollock & Company, Manchester, 1950s

Object number 2001.281
Purchased from Gordon Pollock

See this object at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Tobacco pipe crate stencil, Kumasi via Takoradi

This stencil was used to mark crates containing clay pipes made by John Pollock & Company. They were exported to Kumasi, which is now in Ghana. Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti kingdom, was located on the main north-south trade routes and was an important commercial centre. Britain had been in conflict with the Ashanti people during the 1800s to try and reduce Ashanti influence and open up new trade routes. In 1874, Britain defeated the Ashanti and gained some influence, but it was not until the region was absorbed into the Gold Coast Colony in 1901 that Britain took control of trade in the region.

Clay pipes were first made in Britain in the mid-1500s when tobacco was introduced from the USA. As tobacco became more available and cheaper to buy, smoking became fashionable and manufacturing increased. Clay pipes were one of the commodities exported to west Africa and traded for enslaved people as the first leg of the triangular trade, with the third leg bringing American and Caribbean tobacco back to Britain. The popularity of clay pipes in Britain declined from the early 1900s, but exports to west Africa continued into the 1950s.

This information was provided by curators from the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).