111. Dublin Shapes: A Visual History by Era (1896-2018)

In the past few years I have become enamored with the Irish equivalent of the English billiard—the straight dublin. I have heard some folk cavil against it for one of the very reasons I love it: its v-shaped chamber, which creates a more concentrated flavor as the bowl is smoked to the bottom. In my experience, this type of chamber requires the least number of relights of any bowl geometry and for that reason also trumps the billiard. That it is linked by name with Dublin (and so with Irish smoke) is yet another reason for my affection. Seriously, can you think of any other pipe shapes named for a city? (No, Bull Moose, Minnesota doesn’t count.)

The dublin shape name seems to appear with every other straight shape at the dawn of briar history in the last decades of the 19th century. The name suggests its origins, and you might think it has something to do with the dudeen or clay pipe of Dublin. No, and yes.

No: dudeen, also spelled dudheen, doodeen, and doodheen, is from the Irish Gaelic dūidīn, and is the diminutive of dūd, “pipe,” so that a dudeen is “a short tobacco pipe made of clay,” according to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. And “Dublin,” of course, is from the Irish dubhlinn (dubh = black and linn = pool). The dublin shape is common among clays, but not specific to the town of Dublin.

Yes: Somehow, quite early in the history of briar pipes, the shape name came to be associated with the town bearing its name.It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, whether it was a name used in an early pipe catalog or a name like the “dutch” billiard coined by servicemen. And if any pipe maker might be said to have proprietary rights to the shape, I’d say it would have to be an Irish maker, wouldn’t you? The Peterson book, incidentally, has some history about the Dublin clay pipe industry in the late 19th century as well as K&P’s own clay System pipes.

(Courtesy Bill Burney)

In the Fall 1998 issue of PipeSMOKE, Jacques Cole, one of the only writers to discuss shape names, writes:

The Dublin is probably the oldest briar pipe shape – like a cone, either slight or extreme – owing its origin directly to clay pipes. The reason for the name is quite obscure and no satisfactory explanation has been found. A variant of the Dublin is the obtuse-angled Zulu (sometimes called Yachtsman or Woodstock) and is made with either a round or an oval shank. A variation with an upright bowl and extreme cone is called a Bell Dublin.*

It’s significant, I think, that Peterson’s very first catalog contained the shape, if not the name. Remember that over the years, Peterson has only rarely added names to their shape numbers, although a few shapes have only had names. It’s also important to understand that Peterson has only attempted a comprehensive catalog of all the shapes in production five times in their long history (1896, 1906, 1947 and 1975/79), and even then omitted some shapes that were produced in such small quantities as to not warrant the printer’s ink. On the other hand, there is every reason to believe that there are a number of shapes that have begun production and then been in the catalog for decades, sometimes since the company’s beginning.

What follows is as comprehensive a visual catalog of Peterson’s dublin shapes as I’m able to present based on the literature at my disposal and the generally poor condition of what Poirot calls my “little gray cells.” This post surveys only the straight dublins, although I would like to document the heeled and bent dublins sometime in the near future.

 PART 1: THE STRAIGHT DUBLINS

 Patent-Era Straight Dublins (1896-1921)

1896 Patent System Dublins

Straight Systems are fascinating pipes, and if you ever get a chance to smoke one, try it. I believe the 120 System re-entered the catalog quite briefly twice, once in the 1950s and then again in the late 1970s. They have three characteristics: they’re very dry; they have shallow bowls (as you can see in the demonstrator photo below), and they ghost easily, much as the current reverse calabashes, and so require care if not devoted to a single type of tobacco or blend.

Pre-1963 Shape 120 Demonstrator

 

1906 Patent System Dublins

By the 1906 catalog, Patent System dublins are represented in only two sizes, shapes 31 and 32. As the 1896 and 1906 catalogs were printed at full scale, by laying a transparency of the 1906 shapes over the 1896, it appears that the 1896 shape 30 is closest in size to the 1906—identical, it looks to me. And the 1906 shape 32 is smaller than the 31, making it the smallest, with the 1896 large shape, the 28, having been discarded.

 

1906 Patent Lip Dublins

Far more important for later generations of smokers was the introduction of the Patent Lip dublin shapes, which with their traditional drilling at the side of the chamber’s floor allow for a conventional chamber size. The largest of the three, the 120, has been in production now for 112 years, but the 121 and 122 were both seen well into the mid-twentieth century.

 

Irish Free State-Era Straight Dublins (1922-1937)

The IFS-Era added two new straight dublins to the 120, 121, and 122: the 120F (“Flat” or oval shank) and slender 417. The System straights seem to have disappeared by this time. The 120F is a natural thought in Peterson’s design language, which always comes back to comfort and practicality, and I can imagine someone in bowl-turning or even a customer thinking how great it would be to set his straight dublin down in order to emphasize a point over a pint.

The first illustration of the 120F seems to be in the1937 “A Chat with the Smoker” pipe-box brochure issued not longer after Peterson opened their London factory. (It may well have been in production before then.) Examples of the shape appear as late as the 1965 catalog and may well have been made for several years after that.

The 417, a small-bowled Dublin with a “bing”-length shank, first appeared in the 1937 catalog, but with two shape numbers: 417 for the Kapet and DeLuxe and 2022 for the “K” and 1st quality. The 2022 number would be dropped by 1945. Like the 120F, the last sighting of the 417 was in the 1965 catalog.

 

Éire Era Straight Dublins (1939-1948)

The Éire Era produced two new dublin shapes. The first was a rarely-seen and gorgeous 935, illustrated here in the US-only Shamrock version created for Rogers Imports, Ltd. The 900 shape numbers are seen only in the 1937 catalog and a tantalizing chart in the 1942 George Yale catalog. As you can see from the average measurements (given at the bottom of this post), the 935 is smaller than the 120.

The other Éire dublin came at the end of the era in the 1947 shape chart as part of “SPORTS” line’s shape 8, a pocket-pipe version of the 120.  This line was created using used popular bowls, then shortening the shanks and mounting them with tiny P-Lips (aside from the original bulldog shape 5). Italian smokers continued to order the “SPORTS” pipes well into the early 21st century and they are still sometimes available in the US.

 

 Late Republic Era Straight Dublins (1969-90)

Peterson created no new variations on the dublin shape for most of the Republic Era (1949-1990), although one magnificent example appeared in 1988 at the very end of the Late Republic-Era as part of the 988-1988 Dublin Millennium pair of commemoratives. It is a unique and aggressive shape with its forward-sloping chamber jutting out like a ship’s prow from the famous Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast. While neither the current nor former factory managers (Joe Kenny and Tony Whelan, Jr.), nor Doris Barrett, could recall a catalog number, the intrepid Jim Frenken spotted the number on a German eBay listing, XL88S. Here’s one of the photos:

 

Dublin Era Straight Dublins (1991-2018)

 Tom Palmer’s Dublin era saw no less than four new dublin shapes as well as a bell dublin and a handful of bent dublins. It is significant that these shapes followed 1988’s Millennium with its almost futuristic or Italian sensibility yet began with the 1995 shape A4 dublin Antique Reproduction. In hindsight, I think Peterson was making a de facto statement about the importance of the dublin shape to its catalog.

The A4 is one of my favorites in Peterson’s dublin group, originally issued as the 1903 Antique Reproduction in the quartet of four shapes from 1995. It was doubtless inspired by an engraving with just this mounting from the 1906 catalog (which you’ll see in the Peterson book).

Peterson’s reproductions are hit-and-miss, sometimes being homages rather than strictly authentic re-creations, sometimes being somewhere in between, and once in a while hitting the target dead center.

As a reproduction, the A4 is a fascinating, even remarkable piece. Folk unfamiliar with Peterson history might easily enough mistake it for the real deal. The thick shank makes it an obvious homage to the shape 31 Patent System seen above [not to be confused with the current-production System 31]. And it scores perfect marks for the high-fidelity S (saddle) Patent-Lip System mouthpiece with its graduated bore and build-in (rather than screw-in) extended tenon seen on mid- and lower-grade Patent Systems. But it’s not a System pipe. Instead, Peterson designed it as what we call in the book a type of “sub-System”—a long-standing Peterson design concept—the graduated bore P-Lip mouthpiece will keep a straight pipe’s air hole much drier, but by forgoing the reservoir, allow for a deeper chamber (20mm x 42mm). And that, in my opinion, is all to the good.

The B16 is the Big One in Peterson’s shape group, the largest of all production dublins, and appropriately so as it honors Tom Crean, the “Irish Giant” who was pictured several times smoking a Peterson dublin. The B16 was issued as part of my all-time favorite Dublin era special collection, the Great Explorers, which came out in 2002.

In 2010, Peterson released its most visually extreme straight dublin shape, the aptly named ‘Wilde’ or B47 from the Writers Collection quartet. The narrow waistline of the bow and cant of the rim gives the shape the quasi-optical illusion of a dublin bell, accentuated by the slightly downturned mouthpiece. It’s still a straight dublin, but it has become much more fluid.

Peterson has always been a bit secretive about who designed what shape. Apart from Charles Peterson’s originals in the 1896 and 1906 catalogs and several Paddy Larrigan originals, only a few shapes can be traced to specific designers, as you’ll see in the Peterson book.

But whoever designed the Titanic centenary collection, released as the Iceberg 1912 quartet, did a remarkable job evoking a maritime feeling. The B57 / Port takes the classic dublin shape and cinches it slightly at the waist. It is almost (but not quite) the same shape as the B47, being a little thicker around the waist and with a straight mouthpiece.

 

Average Measurements and Production Years for a Few Classic Straight Dublins

 Shape 120 Patent Lip Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1906 – present.
Average Measurements:
Length: 6.16 in./156.46 mm.
Weight: 1.40 oz./39.69 g.
Bowl Height: 1.94 in./49.28 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.63 in./41.40 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.83 in./21.08 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.38 in./35.05 mm.
P-Lip: Yes

Shape 122 Patent Lip Straight Dublin.

Years of production: 1906 – c. 1960
Average Measurements:
Length: 5.5 in. / 139.7 mm.
Weight: .095 oz. / 27.7 g.
Bowl Height: 1.78 in. / 45.29 mm.
Chamber Depth:  1.527 in. / 38.80 mm.
Chamber Diameter:  0.734 in.  / 18.65 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.226 in. / 31.15 mm.
P-Lip: Yes

Shape 120F (flat shank) P-Lip Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1937 – c. 1965
Average Measurements:
Length: 6.03 in./153.16 mm.
Weight: 1.10 oz./31.18 g.
Bowl Height: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.61 in./40.89 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in./19.05 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.33 in./33.78 mm.
P-Lip: Yes

Shape 417 Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1937 – 1965
Average Measurements:
Length: 6.21 in./157.73 mm.
Weight: 1.00 oz./28.35 g.
Bowl Height: 1.74 in./44.20 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.57 in./39.88 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.67 in./17.02 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.24 in./31.50 mm.
P-Lip: Yes

Shape 935 Straight Dublin.
Years of Production: 1938- c. 1945
Average Measurements:
Length: 6.25 in. / 158.75 mm.
Weight: 1.40 oz. / 40 gr.
Bowl Height: 1.75 in. / 44.45 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.375 in. / 34.925 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in. /19.05 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.325 in./ 33.65 mm.
P-Lip: Yes

Shape Millennium Dublin (1988).
Year of production: 1988
[One of the set of two pipes released in celebration of the 988-1988 Dublin Millennium]
Average Measurements:
Length: 6.26 in./159.00 mm.
Weight: 1.80 oz./51.03 g.
Bowl Height: 2.04 in./51.82 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.67 in./42.42 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in./20.83 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.55 in./39.37 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite
P-Lip: Yes

Shape A4 / 1903 Antique Reproduction
Years of Production: 1995 – c. 1998
Average Measurements:
Length: 140 mm / 5.46 in
Weight: 47 gr / 1.64 oz
Bowl Height: 49 mm / 1.92 in
Outside Diameter: 34 mm / 1.32 in
Chamber Diameter: 20 mm / 0.78 in
Chamber Depth: 42 mm / 1.64 in
P-Lip: Yes

Shape B16, Great Explorers Crean
Years of Production: 2002 – c. 2006
Average Measurements:
Length: 5.63 in./143.00 mm.
Weight: 2.00 oz./56.70 g.
Bowl Height: 2.06 in./52.32 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.70 in./43.18 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.84 in./21.34 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.58 in./40.13 mm.
P-Lip: No (aside from a few sets through Lubinski.it in Italy)

Shape B47, Writers Collection Oscar Wilde
Years of Production: 2010 – c. 2014
Average Measurements:
Length: 5.82 in./147.83 mm.
Weight: 1.60 oz./45.36 g.
Bowl Height: 2.15 in./54.61 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.75 in./44.45 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in./20.07 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.
P-Lip: No

Shape B57, Iceberg 1912 Port
Years of Production: 2012 – c. 2016
Average Measurements:
Length: 5.71 in / 145 mm
Weight: 1.92 oz / 54.4 gr
Bowl height: 2.17 in / 55 mm
Chamber Depth: 1.73 in / 44 mm
Chamber Diameter:  0.79 in / 20 mm
Outside Diameter: 1.61 in / 41 mm
P-Lip: No

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*From “PipeSMOKE’s Guide to Pipe Shapes and Styles,” Vol. II, Issue 2, Fall 1998. This was on-line a few years back, but doesn’t seem to be available any longer. Cole’s article was taken from a chapbook he wrote, Briar Pipe Shapes and Styles: Pipe Line Guide No. 1 (Park Hill Publications, 1990), 38ppgs. Gene Umberger kindly forwarded me the entry for “Dublin,” which appears on p. 8:

 

“The DUBLIN is most probably the oldest Briar shape, owing its origins to the traditional shape of the simple Clay Pipes. Some of the earlier Dublins were found also with the ‘heel” under the bowl. Modern conditions are not encouraging for the maker to turn this type and the Dublin has had its ‘ups and downs’ in popularity. Between the last Wars, it virtually disappeared from some catalogues. In Western Germany, after 1945, pipes were small to contend with the shortage of tobacco, but when larger shapes began to be once more required, the DUBLIN was one of the first to be asked for. You will find a number of derivations centered on the stem, and the most popular of these is perhaps the ZULU, sometimes called YACHTSMAN. Usually produced with an oval stem, it is also made with a round shank. A fairly long ‘all-square’ can be rather pleasing.”

 

** Joe’s opinion was confirmed by Doris Barrett in shipping and Tony Whelan, Jr., retired factory director. Email to Mark Irwin, 24 October 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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88. Peterson’s Rogha: A Small Batch Release of Natural Virgin Briars

A few weeks ago, Gianluca at the Sansone Smoking Store in Rome contacted me and asked if I’d like to see some photos of Sansone’s Peterson Rogha pipes from 2016, made especially for his shop, as he was preparing to put up a new 2017 small batch on his website. I said yes, of course, even though I had no idea what a Peterson “Rogha” was.  The photographs arrived the next day, and as you can see, they’re natural virgin briars. The photos were so gorgeous that when our book designer saw them, she immediately asked if we could use one for the book (Gianluca said yes, by the way).

Natural Virgin briars aren’t something many pipemen here in the US know much about—what they are, why they’re special, or how they smoke. But ask an Italian smoker, or an aficionado of Castello or Radice, and you’ll get a warm and enthusiastic response. When Peterson releases a small batch of these, it’s something to talk about.

The first question incognoscenti (rookies) of this type of briar (like myself) may ask is simply, where did the idea of a natural briar come from? Gianluca says the commonly-circulated story in Italy is that pipe-smokers in the Castello workshop were the first to discover the smoking properties and beauty of the natural briar, which Castello has released as Natural Vergin or Natural Virgin. “It’s a really sweet smoke,” he says, “because the briar is very porous and untreated with any kind of lacquer, stain or polish, allowing them to season like meerschaums.”

2016 05 Rogha (photo by Francesco Castiglione)

In Irish, “Rogha” can mean “choice,” “pick” or “selection,” and all three are apt descriptions of the line. The Rogha, now in its third year, is an extremely limited-edition line made in collaboration with Mario Lubinski (Peterson’s renowned Italian distributor and a passionate advocate of the brand), comprising mostly System but some Classic Range shapes as well.The line came about through Gianluca’s friend and collaborator Giuseppe Balzano, who is passionate about virgin briar and about Peterson, and wanted to see if he couldn’t bring his two loves together. They went to Mario Lubinski with their plan, and he agreed to hand-select bowls for them on his annual trip to Dublin.

Mario writes, “I’ve never been able to find more than 12-18 bowls per visit suitable for this kind of project, they’re so few and so rare.” Gianluca says the bowls have to be very clean, without root marks or spots. They’re rare enough that while there was a Rogha edition in 2014 (19 pipes, actually), there wasn’t one in 2015, because Mario couldn’t find any bowls of the right quality. For 2016, Mario found only 12, and for 2017 another 12. The bowls must be absolutely flawless.

“The Rogha is similar in some respects to the Army Linseed oil finish we’ve done in the past,” says Mario. But the Rogha is totally virgin briar: no stain, no oils. Many Italians believe they’re the best smoking pipes in the world, but you’ll have to be the judge of that for yourself!”

Continues Gianluca: “When we saw the first Rogha pipes Mario brought back in 2014, they took our breath away. It was like looking at the soul of a Peterson pipe laid bare.”

A 2014 Shape 05 Rogha after smoking several bowls

So how does one companion such a pipe? “The natural virgin is a briar that has nothing to hide,” says Gianluca. “It acts like a sponge—the smoker should do nothing to clean the outer surface; just smoke it! This kind of pipe works in principle like a meerschaum; it absorbs impurities from the smoker’s fingers on the outside and tobaccos in the chamber inside and ever so slowly it becomes darker and darker. The smoke is sweet, because all the heavy tar residue is naturally absorbed into the wood like a meerschaum.”

In the right light, a natural virgin can seem to have a slight rose blush, as you would expect from naked wood. Sometimes it looks nearly white, and sometimes a very light blond. So, what does it look like as it ages? To my embarrassment, I can tell you—after a half-dozen or so smokes, the outside just begins to look a bit dirty. I know that because I lucked into a new Larrysson artisan lumberman a few years back, had no idea what it was, and as the outside begin to look, well, smudgy and grimy, I traded it off! Whoa. Bad idea. If I had persisted, as you can see in these pictures of Castello natural virgins, it would eventually have begun to color:

Unsmoked Castello Sea Rock Natural Virgin Pot KK

Moderately Smoked Castello Natural Virgin Pot S55 KK

Heavily Smoked Castello Natural Virgin V KKK

The Rogha 2017 pipes, like the earlier issues, are sterling mounted, with the tough new well-formed acrylic P-Lip mouthpieces (yes!). The blasting, which Gianluca says is done by Peterson’s regular provider, is more intense than we usually see on a Peterson. I’ve included both the color and black and white photos of all 12 pipes to give you an idea of their real color and of the contrast in the blast.

Like most recent Peterson high-grades, the bowls are hand-stamped with the classic forked-tail Peterson’s over Dublin stamp, and the hand-stamped shape number beneath. This year’s batch includes nine X220 / 312 Systems, a 150 bulldog, an 80s and a 999. Each pipe comes with a tamp special to the 2017 release. They’re priced at 220€, or about $270.

Rogha photographs
by Filippo Verova (and Francesco Castiglione*)
for Sansone Smoking Store

 

Many thanks to Gianluca at Sansone Smoking Store
and to Mario Lubinski, Lubinski.it
Castello photos courtesy Smokingpipes.com

 

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83. Peterson’s First Italian Kapp-Royal Line (1988-1995)

Greetings, fellow Kappnists!*  I like to say “Every pipe has a story,” some of it to be read in the pipe as physical object, some of it in the pipe’s origin and maker, some in the companionship it offers me in my own pilgrimage, and some yet unwritten. An estate pipe always come with a fair amount of mystery: what is its provenance? who companioned it? why did they part company? were they close friends, or mere acquaintances, or even hostile toward one another? Idle speculations, but I can’t help but wonder.

One of my ambitions after quitting my day job is to write a novel about the adventures of a single pipe, similar to the conceit of the classic Tales of Manhattan (1942), which follows a formal tailcoat from one wearer to another (including Henry Fonda and Charles Boyer), affecting each in some way.

When I saw this Kapp-Royal 107 in December, I knew it was unusual: the fine grain, the briar-insert ring, and its point-of-sale—northern Italy. I’m a fan of the 107, Peterson’s stoutest billiard, as you may already know, especially when it’s got a P-Lip. It appeared to be an early Kapp-Royal in the Peterson-Mario Lubinski collaboration, which began back in the mid-1970s and continues to this day.

Over the years, Mario has taken up a handful of Peterson line names that were no longer being used, several from the old Peterson – Iwan Reis collaborations of the 1960s and 70s. None is quite as fortuitous as the Kapp-Royal name, because Mario has always simultaneously been interested in Peterson’s early “Kapps” history and in offering some of the finest pipes Peterson make.

Even Lubinski’s routine Peterson offerings can sometimes be astonishing, because Mario often hand selects the pipes. Look at this Italian-market 309 Standard System, which has no fills and absolutely knock-out Birdseye:

 

The 107 would appear to have been made at about the same time as the higher-grade Galway line iteration from 1983, which likewise featured the very unusual briar-insert ring in the ebonite P-Lip mouthpiece, albeit a bit wider. The finish seemed close from the internet photos, and may even have been identical. I’ve only seen a few examples of the Galway in person, but as you can see from the 268 Zulu below, it was a lovely line, created during a very dark period in Peterson’s history.

107 Kapp-Royal (top) and the 268 Galway (bottom): identical stain,
but note wider briar ring on Galway mouthpiece

What makes this 107 even more appealing to me is that it was originally companioned by Jean Marie Alberto Paronelli (1914 – 2004), surely one of the most fascinating figures in the history of pipe-making, as well as one of the least known here in the US. According to his grandson, pipe maker Ariberto Paronelli, J. M. Alberto Paronelli not only knew Mario Lubinski, but was (like Lubinski) a pipe distributor for about thirty different brands from around 1960 to 1990, with two offices in Milan, and was the first Italian importer of Dunhill.

You know, that looks like a Peterson 11s. It’s unsmoked, as it still has
the paper-slip inventory inside the chamber. I wonder.

Early in his career, Jean Marie Alberto worked for the fabled Rossi pipe factory, but in 1945 at the factory’s closing (if I have this detail correct), he set out on his own. He was a polymath, writing verse, sculpting, painting, creating pipes, running an artisanal pipe company and working as a pipe distributor for Italy. He was involved with the creation of the Académie Internationale de la Pipe, which seems to have held its first meetings in his Gavirate home, and still publishes the (somewhat stuffy) Journal of the society, now based out of England.

When I got in touch with Mario Lubinski to ask him if could tell me anything more about Paronelli’s pipe, he told me that it was indeed the Lubinski version of the Kapp-Royal, and that he not only knew Jean Marie well, but that his own father was in business with Alberto back in the day: “Great fellow, with a strong and unique personality. . . I didn’t know he was a Peterson collector!”

As for the Kapp-Royal line, I struck gold. Mario writes: “the Kapp Royal line was made just for Italy, of XS quality, better-grained than that used for the Galway line. The Galway was the same bowl quality as the Kildare, but with the Kapp-Royal’s distinctive black and white finishing. Our price lists show the Kapp-Royal was originally offered from 1988 to 1995, when it was dropped. I have attached some photos of the line from the old catalog, illustrating the shape range.”

Look carefully at the number of pipes in the shape range: 12 seems to be the magic number for Peterson. We don’t talk about this in the book, and it’s too late to add anything at this point, but the light bulb came on over my head when I saw Mario’s chart: as often as not, any given special Peterson line will contain 12 shapes.**

I suspect there may be Something Significant in the Irish company filling out a line with twelve shapes, but while I have read quite a bit in Celtic mysticism, I have only a slight understanding of the Hermetic Tradition as found in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths.

Ariberto told me the 107 chubby billiard came from his grandfather’s personal collection, and he had cleaned up the outside so well that I thought from the internet photos it really was almost new. It turned out that it needed a bit of internal cleaning, but that was all right, because it told me that Jean Marie had obviously enjoyed the pipe on many occasions and it must have been a good smoker for him. Ariberto also buffed off the white enamel P on the mouthpiece, as you can see from the shape chart above.

I started by reaming the bowl. The carbon-cake was obviously quite old with little odor and came out easily, leaving a clean, unscarred chamber. Then I thought I’d run a few alcohol-soaked bristle cleaners through the air passage to see what the plumbing was like, and there I got a surprise. This pipe had been smoked and smoked and smoked!

After I had cleaned it up, I was dismayed to find the stem and shank faces didn’t meet up. You can see this, actually, in the first photo of the pipe at the top of the page–I just hadn’t noticed it until this point in the reconditioning.

I contacted Charles Lemon over at Dad’s Pipes for help, to see if there was a way to bring the two together. He wrote back with three possible solutions:

  1. Double-check the mortise to make sure you’ve gotten all the muck out. A bit of something blocking the tenon from seating completely is usually the culprit.
  2. One other explanation may be that the pipe has sat unused for some time and the briar has dried out and shrunk slightly. An easy way to test this theory is to smoke the pipe a few times and see if the gap closes.
  3. Another option, if you think the tenon is hitting the end of the mortise before the stem face seats properly, is to sand the end of the tenon slightly to remove the gap.

I was able to do enough measuring and fiddling to figure out #3 wasn’t the culprit (and you can see this for yourself in the top mortise photo, where the tars have built a wall), but as I wasn’t ready to smoke the pipe, thought I’d try #1, even though the chamber appeared from the photographs to be clear. I used Q-tips and isopropyl, getting back into the corners.It turned out the mortise wasn’t as clear of debris as the camera had led me to believe, and the extra cleaning did the trick, as I can no longer capture any light when looking at it over the Ott-light.

I’m looking forward to a first smoke with some Mac Baren Mixture Flake tonight, which I usually use when breaking in older estates, as it burns at a lower temperature than virginias and va/pers and is less likely to instigate a burn-out—something I’ve learned the hard way.

 

 

Special Thanks:

Albierto Paronelli, www.paronelli.it

Mario Lubinski, www.lubinski.it

Charles Lemon, www.dadspipes.com

Photo of the 309 Standard System courtesy Al Pascia, www.alpascia.it

 

*If kapnismology is the study of pipes and pipe-smoking, then Kappnismology is the study of Kapp & Peterson, right? If you are reading this and are so inclined, you have my permission to forthwith refer to yourself as a Kappnist, as in “Mr. Bartleby T. Scrivner, Kappnist.”

**I’m not thinking of big, standard lines like the Aran or Donegal Rocky or other Classic Range lines that draw on nearly the entire shape catalog, but “special” lines like the St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas commemoratives and yearly lines like the recent Waterford or Valencia. It happens frequently enough to warrant mentioning, in any event.

Pictured at Top: Shape 53 lovat and the beloved 90 (aka 9, XL90, 307, 9BC etc.) at bottom, from a period Lubinski sales catalog. If anyone has a copy of the “Chip of the Old Block” poster which Mario Lubinski used as background, please drop me a line. It was available during the 1970s and 80s and I think circulated among collectors a bit, but neither I nor Peterson has a copy, and there’s still time to stick it in the book somewhere! The original appeared in the 1920s, shortly after the System patent expired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80. Sweet Petes: The Language of Pipes

One part of the joy of pipe-smoking has to do with the “language” of pipes: how is it that a shape, texture, and color combine in a particular piece of briar (or other medium) to say something significant, something important, something magical to the smoker?

How form and function synergize to create meaning is an endless mystery that never loses its fascination for me. And one of the chapters I’m proudest of in the book discusses just this topic—the Peterson house style. So while we wait for the book to be completed, let me show you some of the most interesting pipes that have spoken to me over the past year, sharing stories of new lines and old, antique, entry-level, obscure and high-grade.

Shape D21 as Amber Spigot

At the top of my list is the reappearance of a shape from 1906, the 2017 POTY, shape D21, which scores for me on many levels. I confess it was love at first sight back when I first saw it in the 1906 catalog. Later I learned I wasn’t alone in my admiration – Chuck Wright was another devoted admirer, and we’d tell anyone who would listen about these shapes. He finally acquired a set for a while, one in briar and one in meerschaum, which he gifted at his death to Tom Palmer a few years ago. But it’s more than a shape—it’s one of the great smokers in my rotation, and the proof for me of any pipe is in the end how it smokes. But the proof of the shape is in the smoking, and it has established itself in my rotation with its great conical chamber, always delivering an effortless, flavorful smoke.

 

 

Shape D18 as De Luxe System

A second favorite, now trickling its way down (or out of) the POY series, is 2015’s shape D18, the Founder’s Edition. I have been hoping my body chemistry would revert to its old latakia-loving ways, and while it’s recovered somewhat from the traumas of recent years, I still don’t turn to big chambers like this very often. That being said, I had the D18 De Luxe System in my cart at Smokingpipes long enough to have someone else scoop it out from under me. When a second one came up on their site the following week, I was just strong enough to resist the urge, realizing I wouldn’t smoke it enough to justify putting it in the rack. I did write Joe Kenny at the factory, however, asking if the D18 would be a permanent addition to the System lineup, as its shape is spot-on perfect for the System reservoir. He said that no, it wasn’t, these were just one-off whimsies.

D18 Kapp-Royal: Amazing Grain

Just as beautiful, though not a System, is the Kapp-Royal version for the Italian market. I sometimes wish Peterson would release a few of the POY as naturals, or super-high grades.

 

 

Here’s a shape from Marc Brosseau’s collection that I think Peterson ought to consider re-releasing: the 36, which was originally (as seen) a small straight System.  This amber-stemmed meer, hallmarked for 1901, is proof that amber isn’t as delicate as some people think. What makes it so amazing is the chubby effect achieved by the short stem. Mark’s version seems to be the shortest that was offered, as per the 1906 catalog.

Shape 36 from the 1906 catalog. Notice it was available
in even shorter mouthpiece lengths!

 

 

This Sherlock Holmes “Original” is hallmarked N for 1900, and was up on Mike Gluckler’s Briar Blues site for a while. It’s the only time I’ve seen the 05 given a precious metal rim treatment, and it makes a fabulous calabash, don’t you think? It’s the kind of rugged-looking smoking instrument one can envision the Great Detective picking up for an evening’s ruminations.

 

 

Going out beyond the stars (at least for me) was 2017’s Master Craftsmen series, ten Amber Spigots in a custom leather presentation package designed by Claudio Albieri. The last time Peterson did something on this level of extravagance was in the mid-1990s. I read a lot of harsh criticism about the MC on one of the forums, which was fascinating. Peterson seems to attract more than its share of negative criticism, and it sometimes seems like their pipes are never what some folks want them to be: their low end isn’t high enough, their high end isn’t good enough, their grain is never flawless enough.

My two visual picks from the Makers Series, although the chambers in both are larger than I normally smoke, would be the B65 (2014’s POY) straight-grain and the B42 contrast-stained sandblast. The B42 I’ve long admired as one of the strangest shapes Peterson has ever released, and here it looks positively organic and handmade.

The B65, 2014’s POY, my least favorite of all the POYs, but in the MC treatment it Peterson’s language comes to life: massive, masculine, full of sunlight. You can check out the Smokingpipes video and notes here.

 

 

Coming back closer to my realm of pipe-possibilities is the Ebony Tank Spigot, shape D19, from the 2010 Mark Twain collection. This unique realization, with its sterling spigot and rim cap, is surprising and even a little startling, and gives off a kind of steampunk aura to me, like it’s ready for some serious mind-bending adventures.

 

 

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the LT Ebony Spigot comes this exquisite high-grade Dublin & London B10. We haven’t seen many pipes from this 2016 line because of the high-quality grain requirements, but when they are released, they are always something to behold.

 

 

This 124 cutty shape is a scarce and unusual entry in the Peterson shape catalog. Its first appearance is seen in the 1950 Briars by Peterson’s White Catalog. It then appears in a 1973 shape chart from Associated Imports (see below, fourth row down). It also appeared in the 1996 Old English Collection and has been seen in the churchwarden releases of recent years. The chamber is too small for me, but the lines on this Flame Grain with its stretch acrylic marmalade mouthpiece, are beautiful.

 

This House Pipe, purportedly used in an Alfred Hitchcock film, is one of those outrageous pipes that used to have a prominent place in any truly respectable tobacconist’s shop. This one looks like it could have been made anywhere from the late 1950s through the 1980s, but I couldn’t get any information on whether it had a hallmark or not.

 

Shape 68 Cork

The Cork is another seldom-seen line, this pipe from the collection of the Snowy Owl, Thomas Carrollan. The glossary in the Peterson book gives this information:

Cork  c. 2000 –  Higher-grade orange stain line, no band, 9mm filter, with amber-colored acrylic fishtail stem and aluminum P. European-market only.

It’s also one of the earliest (if not the earliest) of Peterson acrylic mouthpieces. I’ve just recently discovered this shape on my own: the 68 is a real chunk, a handful of solid briar. It may not look it in the picture, but it’s a big, solid piece of smoking furniture, as big or bigger than the 307 / XL90, but cut not for System use but for an army or navy-mount. I’ll talk more about it in another blog.

 

 

The B5 was the earliest of the B shapes to find a lasting place in the shape chart, back in the early 1990s. This gold-band Supreme, hallmarked for 1998, shows us why: it’s just a classic. It’s from Al Jones’s collection.

 

 

Here’s another line we won’t see here in the US, Mario Lubinski’s Rugby, a matte green finish with a white striated acrylic mouthpiece and hot foil P, with, of course, the obligatory Lubinski sterling mount. Many of the ferrules, as you can see in the 05 and XL20 above, feature the Hinch mount.

 

 

And I’ll end with what is surely the finest small batch line Peterson has ever made, in collaboration with Laudisi (Smokingpipes.com): the Arklow. As the B10 just recently appeared, I thought I’d share it with you.

 

And of course,
I can’t end without a shot of my favorite
Peterson shape – where are they getting these XL339s? –
in its Arklow dress:

Seen at top: Makers Series 1 of 10, shape B42
(Courtesy Smokingpipes.com)

Thanks to all the usual folks for use of their photos–
they’re all listed in the Blogroll.

Fumare in pace