In 1846 a German named Jean Knödgen started the production of clay pipes in Belgium. At the end of the 19th century Jean Hillen (married into the Knödgen family) took over the company and developed the idea of also producing briar wooden tobacco pipes in his factory. He had some suppliers from the French Jura district turn some bowls which he then finished himself. Some time later he took up the complete production process of briar wooden tobacco pipes so he did not have to depend on others. Jean Hillen had 2 sons: Jos Hillen who was responsible for sales and Albert Hillen who was responsible for the production of pipes. Albert was also an interpreter in the English army during WWII and he succeeded in establishing many international contacts. Thus they were soon able to export the first pipes manufactured in Belgium to countries all over the world with the brand name HILSON (Hillen and sons). In 1980 the Hillen Pipe factory from the Belgium-Limburg town of Bree was purchased by the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory where the production of Hilson pipes was continued, carefully observing the traditional craftsmanship.