In 19th century France there were roughly six leading factories. These were large companies with between 200 and 400 workers. Along the Meuse River, the companies Gambier and Blanc-Garin established themselves in the border town Givet in the French Ardennes, more or less in the area where pipe clay was mined. The companies Fiolet and Duméril were based in Saint-Omer in the Department Pas-de-Calais; other companies were located in Lille, Rennes and Montereau.
Each factory had its own characteristics, both in choice of themes and in design. As the protection of designs was not regulated, designs were frequently copied. Markings proudly placed by the companies on their products clearly show what each factory made. Another important source of information on French pipe manufacture were the printed catalogues – design books used by sales representatives to take orders from retailers. These advertising brochures are extremely rare nowadays. Over the years, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum has managed to trace a few of these design books and acquire them for the collection.