(Revised 15 January 2018)
Peterson’s Pipe of the Year is one of the company’s most long-standing successes in the worldwide pipe-smoking community, and an idea that other companies and artisans have since imitated. The series is now in its 21st year, and as Pete Nuts and other pipe-companioners often have questions about them, I thought it would be fun to put images of all twenty-two pipes together in one place. That’s right, there are actually twenty-two different shapes, because in 2000 a set of two different shapes was released. Here we go.
When the series began, it had two names, one stamped on the bowl–LIMITED EDITION–and another by which it was commonly called–PIPE OF THE YEAR or POY. Most in the hobby now use POTY as the preferred acryonym.
Only the smooth pipes are called “Limited Edition” and numbered. The sandblasted edition (aside from the Founder’s Edition 2015 POTY) is called the “Pipe of the Year” and stamped accordingly. That is, until 2016, when “Limited Edition” stamping was dropped and the series began being stamped PIPE OF THE YEAR. There are a few other “ifs, and, and buts,” but this will get you started.
The first four years of production lacked a year stamp (aside from the sterling hallmark) and were just stamped “LIMITED EDITION” and so on. That changed in 2001, when Peterson began stamping “Y” plus the year above the “LIMITED EDITION.”
For those curious to know, the 2004 and 2008 bowls are, per Tony Whelan, Jr., former factory manager, exactly the same.
2009 Limited Edition
The 2014 was the first to feature only the availability of an acrylic mouthpiece. More’s the pity, but the company seems to have problems sourcing quality ebonite mouthpieces, and that, combined with a growing preference among younger smokers for the less-intensive upkeep of acrylic and the fact that many pipemen no longer clinch their pipes seems to be spelling the end of the ebonite-era of Peterson mouthpieces. Get ’em while you can! Incidentally, this shape would become the last of the Bs, shape B65, in subsequent appearances.
The FE was issued in an edition of 1865 pieces, to commemorate the year the company was founded, with smooth, sandblast and rustic pieces all being given a serial number. The mouthpiece for the FE is ebonite, incidentally. It became shape D18 after debuting as the FE / POY for 2016.
In 2016, the LIMITED EDITION stamp and designation were dropped in favor of simply “Pipe of the Year.” The issue was also reduced to 500 pieces from the standard 1,000. This is one of the most innovative POYs ever released at Peterson. It became shape D20 in its subsequent releases.
The bowl on this one’s an exact, and I mean exact, replication of the 1906 “Jap.” The bowl walls are thicker than the original. It became shape D21 after its debut as the 2017 POY.
2018 Pipe of the Year (Bolitto)
I love this Peterson “gaslight” shape–you can read about it and its evolution in the blog on the 2018 POY. It should become shape D22 in the catalog.
I’ve had several of LEs in my rotation over the years and from time to time think it might be fun to collect all of them, but then I get practical and remember pipes that I didn’t hit it off with, pipes that lay gathering dust and tarnish in the rack—the curse of not being a collector, I suppose. If you or anyone you know has a complete collection, please drop me a line—I’d love to blog about your collection.
Photo credits are given in parentheses below each pipe.
Thanks to all the contributors!
*Thanks to Jim Frenken for correcting the photo for 1999. The image is from Peterson’s Smoker’s Guild #3, Summer 1999.