In England and later Great Britain, a measure of capacity used for wine, half a tun, = 126 wine gallons. After 1824, it was = 105 imperial gallons, about 477.3 liters. The pipe, sometimes called a butt, corresponds to a certain size of barrel. See wine barrel for a chart showing its relationship to other wine measures.

The statute 1 Richard III, chapter 13 (1483 – 1484) defines the pipe as 126 gallons.


In France, a unit of liquid capacity corresponding to a barrel in which wine was shipped. opens a new page containing a chart that shows relationships between this unit and other units in its system


In the Straits Settlements, a measure of capacity = 126 imperial gallons (about 572.8 liters or 151.3 U.S. gallons). This unit arose from retaining the number of gallons in a pipe during the conversion to imperial measure, while replacing wine gallons with imperial gallons, gallon for gallon.


The size of the pipe in Gibraltar is a special problem due to the mix of English and Spanish elements.

in use in Britain as described in definition 1, above, that is, 126 wine gallons (about 476.96 liters) before 1825, and 105 imperial gallons (about 477.3 L) thereafter.

Before 1713 Gibraltar was Spanish, and even afterwards its chief trading partner was the major Spanish port of Cadiz, about 150 km up the coast.


The weights and measures both of England and Spain are used here, between which there is the following customary or established proportion.
…The Arroba, which contains 3¹⁄₃ English Gallons, when filled with water, is reckoned to weigh 261b. avoirdupois.

The wine measures are chiefly those of Cadiz, and the Pipe is estimated at 126 English Gallons.

Kelly, 2nd ed, 1821. Page 165.

The Weights and Measures are chiefly those of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with the following Old Spanish Weights and Measures, viz. :-the Pipe = 105 Imperial Gallons.¹ [that is, about 477.34 liters].

1. Browne (3rd ed, 1879). Page 202.

This is strange. Why should the current British definition of the pipe head a list of Old Spanish Weights and Measures?

13. The Quarter Masters of Corps, previous to their receiving the wine from the Contractor, will see the quantities measured into pipes with a regular English Wine measure, and, on their being filled, will mark, upon each pipe, its contents, in order that the same pipes may serve in future as known measures, by which other issues may be made.

General the Earl of Chatham, K.G., Governor.
General Regulations and Standing Orders for the Garrison of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar: Printed at the Garrison Library, 1825.
Page 33.

Nel grosso commercio furono adottati i seguenti rapporti:
5 Fanegas di Castiglia = 8 Winchester Bushels.
1 Pipa di Cadice = 116 old Wine Gallons.
1 Arroba di olio = 3¹⁄₃ old Wine Gallons.

Il Gallon per il vino in uso a Gibilterra ha un valore speciale, essendo = litri 4,141000.

Martini, 1883


But Nelkenbrecher

Page 188, under Cadiz.

Wein- und Branntweinmaass. Die Arroba (A. mayor, A. de vino) oder Cántara = 15,844 Liter = 0,982087 kastilian. Cántaras. Die Eintheilung und Vervielfachung ist die kastilianische (s. Madrid): die Pipa Branntwein und Spiritus hat jedoch 32 kastialian. C. = 516,256 Liter.

Wine and brandy. The arroba (arroba mayor, arroba de vino) or cántara = 15.844 liters = 0.982087 castilian cántaras. The subdivisions and multiples are the Castilian (see Madrid): the pipa of brandy and spirit, however, has 32 castilian cantara = 516.256 liters.

Page 420, under Gibraltar.

Neben den englischen Grössen, deren Hohlmaass hier das alte ist, bedient man sich immer noch der kastilianischen Grössen und das Weinmasses von Cadiz. Dabei gelten folgende Gleichungen. … die Pipa von Cadiz = 116 Wine Gallons … Für Wein dient ausserdem ein besonderes Gallon von 1,094 Liter.

In addition to the English units, of which the units of capacity are the old ones, the Castilian units and the Cadiz wine measures are still used. The following equivalents apply. … The Pipa of Cadiz = 116 Wine Gallons … For wine, a special gallon of 1.094 liters also serves.

says a Spanish unit, the pipa, from the nearby city of Cadiz, was used for brandy and spirits, = 32 castilian cantaras, about 516.256 liters. Under Gibraltar, he says the pipa = about 116 wine gallons, which would make the wine gallon 4.450 liters, or be only 439.11 liters.

The existence of this Gibraltar gallon is confirmed by pre-1824 English sources:

Pipe, 117 gallons = 126 gallons English wine measure.⁵

which makes the gallon of Gibraltar about 1.077 English wine gallons.

5. R. Montgomery Martin.
History of the British Possessions in the Mediterrnean: comprising Gibraltar, Malta, Gozo, and the Ionian Islands.
London: Whittaker and Co., 1837.
Page 110.


Besides the standard pipe, certain barrels of other sizes were called pipes:

  Mid 19ᵗʰ century,
most according to Waterston
20ᵗʰ century
cider 100-118 imperial gallons  
port 115 imperial gallons 115-117 imp. gal.;
522-535 liters
sherry 108 imperial gallons  
wine, Lisbon 117 imperial gallons 117 imp. gal.; 530 liters
wine, Cape 92 imperial gallons  
madeira 92 imperial gallons 92 imp. gal.; 418 liters
wine, Teneriffe 100 imperial gallons 100 imp. gal.; 455 liters


In Norway, a unit of liquid capacity for wine, = 2 oksehoder = 12 anker, about 463 liters.

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