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The Opium Museum

The Opium Museum is, at the heart, about the trade in rare antiques, since opium smoking paraphernalia was outlawed. Still, there are pages and pages of the history of opium and its use in countries all over the world, with many historical photographs.
Beginning in the 18th century, opium accompanied the Chinese diaspora: first to the Chinese quarters of Asian cities, and later to the Chinatowns of the West, particularly North America, where opium smoking in the Chinese manner and with Chinese-made paraphernalia became fashionable among non-Chinese.

Once the drug was banned and its paraphernalia outlawed, these illicit items were heaped into piles and burned in public bonfires. From Shanghai to Saigon to San Francisco, the means to smoke opium were destroyed along with the drug itself. So few examples of these relics remain that most experts on Chinese art are blithely unaware of just how sumptuous and opulent this art form had become during its heyday.

For serious collectors, there is information on how to identify genuine opium tools and have them appraised. Link -via Metafilter

Some people will be surprised of the reason behind the Opium Wars of the 1800s, fought by China and the British Empire: the Brits wanted to sell it opium, and when China refused, they went to war :)
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I am reminded of the US Gov't's destruction of hand-blown glass pipes several years ago, including those from Tommy Chong's company. To a prohibitionist, it's never art, just something evil that needs destroying, no matter how beautiful it may be to others.

Yes, Alex, the Brits were undoubtedly some of the meanest and most evil bastards of all time. The glories of the Victorian era were built on blood and conquest.
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I've seen many opium pipes from the past two centuries, mostly in pictures but also in museums. Some of these are exceptionally detailed with some incredible craftsmanship. It's a real shame so much was lost.
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Actually, the story of the Opium Wars is a little more complicated....and I may be a little off, but this is what I recall.

Hygiene and sanitation in Britain was not all that great, and many places got their drinking water from rivers where people upstream dumped their waste. If you were thirsty, water could kill you, so you drank beer or wine. This meant that many people were tipsy, all day long.

Then came tea, and to make it, you had to boil the water. This provided the only non-alcoholic beverage that was safe to drink. There was only one problem....the Chinese would only accept silver or gold in payment. This was depleting the British treasury, and they needed a solution, and FAST.

Enter opium. British ships would travel to India with luxury and manufactured goods, then load up with opium for China, sell it there, and use the gold and silver to buy tea, silks, and spices.

The Chinese objected to the opium, and war resulted. The British sailed a warship up a river, and THAT was the origin of the phrase "gunboat diplomacy". As part of the settlement of the war, Britain ended up with a lease on a chunk of rock known as Hong Kong, which expired in 1997.

Like I said, this is simplistic, and from memory, so feel free to provide clarification.
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The opiumwar against China in the 19th century is of the past. Take a look at the modern opiumwar which is going on on smaller scale. And next to that in and around Afganistan. As we see it on many places in the world today. You can read about it in 'The politics of heroin' from AW. McCoy (reprint, 2003). Addiction is a problem for the human race for about 2 million years. There is nothing new under the sun. The fact that persons do something illegal mostly depends on the coutry where ya at! Law and health is no good combination.Greetings...
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