79. The Wrong Pipe: Reconditioning A MADE IN EIRE 312 System

 I like to tell myself I’m not much of a pipe collector, but work on the Peterson book has forced me into the role more than I’d thought possible, all “for the greater good,” my Pipe Acquisition Disorder tells me. That being the case, during the course of writing and research on the Peterson book a number of interesting pipes have come my way. This MADE IN EIRE (in a circle) 312 Standard System is one of them. There are so many “wrong” things about this pipe that I thought you might find its story interesting.

When it arrived a few years back, at the beginning of our labors on the book, I was delighted because it was the first EIRE stamp I’d ever seen first-hand—EIRE being that very, very short period of Peterson history from 1938 – 1948.

Left to Right: Eire, Early Republic, Late Republic, Dublin Era 312s

The bowl, as you know if you looked at my last 312 blog, is something different from what is being frazed these days, a bit taller, a bit more egg-shaped, and just . . . different.* And that’s not what’s wrong with it—that’s all to the good for a Luddite like myself who usually prefers things as near to their sources as possible. Here’s what it looked like when I first did my reconditioning:

First Restoration

But to my taste, it smoked sourly and so I rarely pick it up. And for me that’s the first wrong thing—a pipe that gathers dust in the rack needs to find a home where someone is smoking it, or at least giving it some serious appreciation. I had restored the pipe to the best of my ability back when I received it, but in beginning to think about letting it go, I decided I’d have a second try at freshening it up, not wanting to sell someone second-rate goods.

So I gave it a 24-hr. dunk in an isopropyl bath, and it popped out smelling clean and sweet. That bit of wrongness, at least, was taken care of, as I proved to myself when I gave it a trial smoke at the end of the reconditioning.

After the alcohol soak, inasmuch as the wood is at the very least 70 years old, I thought I’d treat it to a coat of mineral oil, as Charles Lemon has demonstrated on his blog. I don’t think Charles leaves this on for more than 15-20 minutes, and certainly not all night, which I did. This wasn’t a mistake, exactly, but I don’t recommend it, for reasons I’ll explain later.  Anyway, the mineral oil did rejuvenate the wood and break out the grain, but it also re-darkened it and gave it a matte finish.

The black walnut stain is another “wrong” thing, albeit from a purely subjective standpoint, as it is unusual among the Peterson Systems I’ve seen. At first it was off-putting, as it obscured so much of the grain, and I’d hoped after the alcohol soak and clean-up I might be able to lighten the pipe a little which would make it more pleasing to me.

You can see that it’s not a bad piece of briar: some small minor fills, great birds eye on reverse side, but there is a major bald spot on the reverse above the stamp on the bowl (which I failed to photograph, but you get the picture). And that, I suspect, in combination with the 3 or 4 little fills, is what made it a Standard System, and what made giving it a black walnut stain the right thing to do.

Here’s the third bit of “wrongness.” The alcohol soak, as it often does, loosened the ferrule and so I took it off to have a look under the hood, so to speak. And take a look at it. It’s not nickel-soldered, it’s pressed! There’s no solder line on the outside or inside of the cup. “Wrong” is the incorrect word, of course. Surprising is more apt. You see, we know from the K&P Employee Register that K&P employed nickel-solderers for decades. And we (that’s my co-author Gary Malmberg and myself) had been thinking all along that all nickel mounts were hand-soldered in the factory before about 1961.

I went scurrying over to my rotation and pulled off the pre-1961 Standard Systems, and sure enough, some have that tell-tale solder-mark on the outside, others don’t. What’s the answer? I don’t know, but I do know the later pressed ferrules lacked the faux hallmarks (shamrock, wolf hound, round tower), and this one has them (although they’ve been almost eradicated by buffing), indicating that it was made prior to 1961, when the faux-marks were discontinued.

A fourth “wrong” that bothered me about this pipe: it’s a 312 Standard System, quite plainly marked, and the MADE IN EIRE stamp is supposed to mean it was made while Ireland officially knew itself as “Eire.” But during those years, a 312 was a second-grade pipe, not a third, and would have had a sterling mount, right? The shape number for a third grade (with nickel mount) was 362 in the 1937 catalog. In addition, it should have had a “3” stamped under PETERSON’S over SYSTEM on the obverse of the bowl, instead of STANDARD.

The explanation, of course, is that K&P abandoned the complicated second and third grade double numbering system sometime after 1937, but before the end of the Eire era in 1948. What I’d been thinking of as a “wrong” thing turns out to simply help date the pipe to sometime closer to the end of the era. At this point I began to get excited, having discovered something new about dating Petersons. There was also a bit of humility seeing in the rear view mirror another part of me, the guy who says, “Don’t tell me the facts; my mind’s made up.”

Replicating the 1937 Catalog Bend

A fifth, minor “wrong,” and one easily corrected, was simply that the mouthpiece looks like a replacement. The arch bend (which became more-or-less standard by the late 1980s) just didn’t ring true to the Eire era. After a few attempts with the heat gun and some dips in a bowl of cold water, I gave it a bend more typical of its era, seen in the 1937 catalog.

I followed the stem restoration with some final touches to the bowl, giving it a few coats of carnuba. Now, remember a moment ago when I talked about the mineral oil? When I smoked the pipe to check the bowl for sweetness, the oil pressed outward–I could see it visibly evaporate–necessitating a fresh coat of carnuba. I smoked it a second time just to be sure the mineral oil had dried, and it had.

Finally, of course, a pipe is simply “wrong” for the pipeman if he doesn’t appreciate it, which in my way of understanding (which is not everyone’s) means smoking it.

I did smoke it twice to assure myself it was sweet and clean, but after such a problematic relationship, and with other established 312s in the rack, I knew I’d never give it the attention it deserves: respect but not companionship, I suppose. So I gave it a final touch-up, cleaning out the mouthpiece again and giving the bowl a light cotton-pad and isopropyl treatment before putting it on the market. And as of this writing, I’m happy to report it has found a new home in Waco, Texas, where I understand it is being treated with the admiration it so richly deserves.

Rath Dé ort!

 

*FRAZING MACHINE: A machine which guides briar block against cutters to duplicate preselected pipe shape. A clamp-fitted shaft and a cam follows a master model to shape shank and lower half of bowl.

I haven’t been able to find a photograph of a frazing machine, but Pipedia gives us this additional information: “A frazing machine has been used in the manufacture of Pipes. Its general structure is such that a pattern of the pipe or pattern of a section of a pipe is mounted in the machine and then the stummel is installed in the same machine. When the frazing machine is started the pattern pre-installed in the machine is then recreated on the surface of the stummel. In other industries of modern methods of manufacture, they are referred to as pantograph machines and pattern makers. Some pipe makers do not use such machinery and rely on the person crafting the pipe as the three-dimensional view provided is believed to produce a more acceptable and aesthetic appearance. Such companies that do utilize frazing machines reserve them for ‘roughing in’ the stummel only when manufacturing multiple pipes of exactly the same style.”

 

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78. First Look: The 2018 Peterson Pipe of the Year

I never thought we’d see the day when the Pipe of the Year was actually on the world market and available, at least with those with eyes to see, before January 1st. But so it is—the 2018 POTY is slowly rolling out, and true to the sea change at Peterson, it’s out on time. Those who’ve been Pete Nuts for years expect the POTY here in the US around the second week of June. This was because, traditionally, the company wanted to have the hallmark stamp bear the year of the pipe’s issue, and getting the Assay Office in Dublin Castle to get the sterling marked meant the pipes wouldn’t get on pods to cross the ocean until May. And that thinking surely helped with dating issues.

What this means for newer Peterson pipes is that the hallmark may actually predate the pipe–something new in the company’s 150+ years history. The POTYs I’ve seen recently all have a G for 2017 and not H for 2018 (and the same can be said for early releases of the St. Patrick’s Day 2018 commemorative). But as the pipe itself is plainly laser-engraved with the date, all this will mean is that companioners will know with a little more accuracy in what part of the issue of 500 pieces their pipe was made.

If you follow the Pipe of the Year, you know there was a change in direction when Conor Palmer became Commercial Director (click here for a visual history of the POTY). His strategy since he began with the company in 2014, he told me, is simple: “we like to try and vary the shapes each year. And this year we decided to settle on a bent shape at the outset.” If you look at the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 pipes, you’ll see this pendulum swing: from the large straight army-mount in 2014 to the 2015 Oom Paul Founder’s Edition, then the straight fat-pencil tubular modern chimney of 2016 followed by the homage to the short, chubby vintage “Jap from the 1906 catalog in 2017.

As for the design itself, Conor writes, “I personally like diamond or oval shaped shanks, so that was something we were trying to flesh out from the beginning. This one was modeled on a rough sample we pulled out of the archives.”

Archives, indeed. The pipe can now be reasonably be said to be part of an emerging Peterson shape group, but to define it we need to step back and look at its predecessors.

(I)

The first appearance of a shape like this was the “Hansom” from the Return of Sherlock Holmes series (1997), which later appeared as the XL26 in the Kinsale line. I’ve read it described as a “combination acorn, bulldog, and calabash.” I can see all three of these shapes, but I wonder if “stack bent bulldog” isn’t more visually to the point? When I first saw this shape, I was almost repelled by it (“Nope! I’ll skip that one,” I remember saying). But it slowly and inexorably cast its spell on me, perhaps because there is something iconically Victorian about this shape and I have always loved both Dickens and Doyle. I had never seen anything like it. Its conical or v-shaped chamber also makes it a standout in my rotation, making for some of my happiest VaPer and virginia smoking experiences.

Return of Sherlock Holmes Hansom (1997)

Length: 5.64 in./143.18 mm.
Weight: 2.10 oz./59.39 g.
Bowl Height: 2.47 in./62.64 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.87 in./47.62 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.78 in./19.91 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.71 in./43.55 mm.

(II)

In 2012, Peterson released the Iceberg 1912 Collection “Bow,” (B60), which some e-tailers have mistaken for the Hansom. Apparently, they can’t see the round shank of the Bow, which actually makes it (to speak of it again as a hybrid) a “combination acorn, bulldog, and calabash.” “Stack bent rhodesian” is easier to visualize.

Actually the Bow has a different frazing, related to the Hansom but not identical. Look at the difference in the crowns at the rim, for instance: the Hansom has a taller and more steeply inclined cone above the double beads than the Bow. If you take the time to compare the measurements from several examples of each, you’ll also find that the Hansom routinely has a slightly smaller chamber diameter, is heavier in the hand, and most importantly, has an average of 5mm extra depth in its chamber. It’s a reasonable mistake, but at least in my experience, the pipes make for much different smoking experiences.

 Iceberg 1912 Collection Bow (2012)

Length: 5.50 in./139.70 mm.
Weight: 1.90 oz./53.86 gr.
Bowl Height: 2.35 in./59.69 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in./20.83 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.68 in./42.67 mm.

(III)

Behind the new POTY, the Bow and the Hansom there is at least one early briar shape to which all three bear a distinct family resemblance: Comoy’s “Quebec” from 1911. If Neil Archer Roan’s A Passion for Pipes blog were still online you could read all about this remarkable piece. As things stand, you can at least take a look at it in an illustration of one of the fourteen reproductions Roan had made for his blog’s 2014 Pipe of the Year.

It lacks the more conically-articulated head of the Bow and Hansom, but its hefty shank and stem look like something that might have (but did not, in fact) come from Kapp & Peterson. Hmm.

Vollmer & Nillson’s Comoy’s “Quebec” (1911 / 2014)

Length: 4.99 in./126.75 mm.
Weight: 1.80 oz./51.03 gr.
Bowl Height: 1.85 in./46.99 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.45 in./36.83 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.47 in./37.34 mm.

And now Peterson has a third shape, resembling yet not identical to the previous two. “I guess for me,” says Conor, “the oval shank, domed top and tapered chamber all make for what will hopefully be an eye catching and interesting piece.” The almost swan-neck effect of the oval shank is, indeed, one of the loveliest features of the pipe, one that will might be missed by anyone who sees only obverse / reverse profile shots of the pipe. The long neck is also pertinent given 2017’s exquisite Waterford long-necks, another first in the Peterson design aesthetic. As much as I love still photography, it’s certainly worth a minute of your time to look at the Al Pascia video to get the pipe in motion:

“Believe it or not,” said Conor, “the silver work is much trickier for the guys to complete on oval or diamond shanks as it is harder to ‘turn over.’ But we felt it was worth pursuing in the interest of creating a unique shape this year.” Which indeed they have.

I’m looking forward to a first smoke and expect marvelous things from this pipe’s 19mm x 50mm conical, v-shaped chamber. This is not a chamber size you can find from most pipe-makers these days, and more’s the pity. I also appreciate the wide mouthpiece and its 4.57mm thickness, both of which will make it easy to clinch. And either the acrylic is getting softer, or I’m growing used to it.

The pipe comes in one of the new snap-hinge hardshell boxes (pictured at top) we’ve seen on the Amber Spigots—a real upgrade for ephemera lovers and the best box and a great improvement over the XL black box of recent years.

Incidentally, Joe Kenny, factory manager, told me the rustic version (for which I do not have an illustration) will feature the same red over black stain as seen on the sandblast.

Putting the three pipes together like I’ve done here makes it obvious that Peterson has claimed a new shape for its chart. But with oval, diamond, and round shanks, what should it be called? Their double-beaded crown precludes a straight identification with the acorn shape as it has come to be understood within the hobby:

They actually bear a much closer resemblance to the classic acorn street light globe:

But the Hansom, as I said earlier, has always seemed to say something Victorian. I’ve thought about the shape on and off in the years since the pipe became part of my rotation but could never quite put my finger on it. The stars finally lined up one night when I was smoking the pipe and watching Jeremy Brett in one of the BBC / Granada adaptations: it looks like a Victorian gaslight.

With the acorn shape name already taken, maybe “gaslight” works. I doubt  it will inspire an avalanche of imitators like the Devil Anse, acorn, or volcano of past years. But that’s all right. Pete Nuts seem to march to the drum of a different pipe band.* So just between us—although feel free to throw the name around—I think I’ll call it a gaslight, as in, “Oh, that’s a Peterson gaslight shape, isn’t it?”
Pipe of the Year 2018

Length: 5.57 in.  / 143 mm.
Weight: 1.88 oz. / 54 gr,
Bowl Height: 2.28 in. / 58 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.96 in. / 50 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.74 in. / 19 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.64 in. / 42 mm.
Mouthpiece Width: 0.735 in. / 18.68 mm.
Mouthpiece Thickness: 0.18 in. / 4.57 mm.
Mouthpiece: Acrylic

Many Thanks:
Conor Palmer at Peterson
Al Pascia

Bollito Pipes
Smokingpipes.com
Charles Mundungus

*Sorry, just can’t help myself. From Wikipedia: The most common form of pipe band, the Scottish/Irish pipe band, consists of a section of pipers playing the great highland bagpipe, a section of snare drummers (often referred to as ‘side drummers’), several tenor drummers and usually one, though occasionally two, bass drummers. The entire drum section is known collectively as the drum corps. The tenor drummers and bass drummer are referred to collectively as the ‘bass section’ (or in North America as the ‘midsection’). The band follows the direction of the pipe major; when on parade the band may be led by a drum major, who directs the band with a mace. Standard instrumentation for a pipe band involves 6 to 25 pipers, 3 to 10 side drummers, 1 to 6 tenor drummers and 1 bass drummer. Occasionally this instrumentation is augmented to include additional instruments (such as additional percussion instruments or keyboard instruments), but this is typically done only in concert settings.

Pipe bands are a long-standing tradition in other areas with Celtic roots, such as the regions of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria in Northern Spain and Brittany in Western France, as well as other regions with Celtic influence in other parts of Europe. The tradition is also long-standing in the British Commonwealth of Nations countries and former British colonies such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pipe bands have also been established in countries with few Scottish or Celtic connections such as Thailand, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina.”

 

77. Pipe Story: An Irish Emblems “Crossmolina” System 313

Crossmolina is a beautiful, fairly quiet little town (when not beset by flooding fears) that sits on the River Deel in County Mayo in the province of Connacht in northwest corner of Ireland. I like to say that “every pipe has a story,” and quite a long time ago someone in that town loved it so much that he or she special ordered an “Irish Emblems” 313 dutch billiard System from Kapp & Peterson and had the town’s name engraved on it.*

The Irish Emblems Systems pipes were available from the get-go, or at least from the 1896 catalog onward, until sometime shortly after WWII. Paddy Larrigan told me at the factory that there was still a gentleman who carved these for K&P during the 1950s, after which the practice seems to have fallen by the way.

K&P Irish Emblems pipes are few and far between on the estate market, and of course their story will be told in The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson. But this little fellow, whose portrait may reside in the encyclopedia chapter, just couldn’t wait until then, so here he is.

He’s got a silver-soldered ferrule with the classic K&P in shields over PETERSON over SYSTEM, and is stamped 3 in a circle. Given all the carving, there is, unsurprisingly, there is no COM stamp. The carving style is different from the earliest shamrocks seen in the 1896 and 1906 catalog Irish Emblems and lacks the pebble-texturing of those pipes, so that it seems reasonable to suppose he was carved sometime later. The silver soldered mount indicates a pre-1961 date, so my best guess would be the first decade of the Early Republic Era, 1948-1958.

Crossmolina’s own story goes back, like most things in Ireland, a little further. In the 6th century, St. Tiernan established an abbey nearby that is said to have housed upwards of 1,400 students from all over Europe. With the Wild Atlantic Way nearby, and a pleasant walk up the River Deel to see the ruins of Castle Gore and Deel Castle (pictured above), you could make a good day of sight-seeing and enjoy a few pints of the Reel Deel Brewing Co.’s craft beers and local music on your return.

How this little 313 made it from Crossmolina to Tyler, Texas is another untold story. But for now, at least, he’s found a good home at the Peterson book’s indexer, and will likely remain there for awhile.

 

For L. J.–
Merry Christmas!

*Connacht was, incidentally, where the youthful K&P won one of their several patent medals in the early days.

 

 

 

76. Season’s Greetings – Beannachtaí an tSéasúir!

Season’s Greetings – Beannachtaí an tSéasúir (in Irish Gaelic) – to all. I hope that, like Father Christmas, this has been a joyful time for you to share your love with those around you. As the Celtic saying goes, “Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.” May this day find you in such a place.

Father Christmas, A Thin Place in Ireland, c. 1912
(is that a Patent Pipe I see sticking out of his bag?)

I have four blog notes in the pipeline, but December has been a busy month for the Peterson book, as we’re laboring to complete the third and final part by the new year. Don’t know yet if we’ll make it, but we’re getting close. After that, some minor appendices, the preface and the index. . . and it’s done.

We fully expect the book to be released in 2018, so much so that I’m presenting an illustrated lecture, “What Pipemen Don’t Know About Peterson,” at the Chicagoland Show on Friday night, May 4, in the McCardle Suite. Craig Cobine tells me it’s a smoking room, so if you can make it, bring your Pete. My co-author Gary Malmberg will be there for questions & answers afterwards, and our layout & design artist will be there to take care of the digital end of things so you can see some of the visual goodies she’s put together for the book.

To each of the blogs readers in the 119 countries across the globe – Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Buon Natale

Feliz Navidad

Joyeux Noel

Gesëebende Kersfees

Een Plesierige Kerfees

Gezur Krislinjden

Rehus-beal-ledeats

I’d milad said oua sana saida

Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah

Feliz Navidad Y felices año Nuevo

Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand

Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun

Selamat Hari Natal

Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar

Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!

Shuvo Naba Barsha

Vesele Vanoce

Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo

Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat

Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo

Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!

Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito

Feliz Navidad

Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan

Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun

Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo

Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth

Pace e salute

Rot Yikji Dol La Roo

Mitho Makosi Kesikansi

Sretan Bozic

Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok

Glædelig Jul

Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak

Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova

Rehus-Beal-Ledeats

Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!

Gajan Kristnaskon

Ruumsaid juulup|hi

Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar

Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad

Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar

Maligayan Pasko

Hyvaa joulua

Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn

Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!

Bo Nada

Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhat ùr!

Nadolig Llawen

Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu

Kala Christouyenna!

Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!

Mele Kalikimaka

Shub Naya Baras

Mithag Crithagsigathmithags

Selamat Hari Natal

Nollaig Shona Dhuit, o Nodlaig mhaith chugnat

Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut, Ojenyunyat osrasay

Gledileg Jol

Buon Natale o Buone feste natalizie e Buon Anno nuovo

Natale hilare et Annum Faustum

Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!

Linksmu Kaledu

Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto

Sreken Bozhik

Selamat Hari Natal

LL Milied Lt-tajjeb

Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa

Meri Kirihimete

Shub Naya Varsh

Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok

Merry Keshmish

God Jul o Gledelik Jul

Pulit nadal e bona annado

Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast

Bon Pasco

Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu

Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha

En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!

Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie

Boas Festas e Feliz Natal

Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua

Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn

Sarbatori vesele

Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom

Hristos se rodi

Buorrit Juovllat

La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou

Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou

Nollaig chridheil huibh

Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa

Vesele Vianoce o Sretan Bozic. A stastlivy Novy Rok

Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto

God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År

Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon

Sawadee Pee Mai

Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal

Froehliche Weihnachten

Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech

Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun

Srozhdestvom Kristovym

Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket

Naya Saal Mubarak Ho

Chung Mung Giang Sinh

E ku odun, e ku iye ‘dun

Cestitamo Bozic

From 100 Years Ago:
The Irish Times, December 8, 1917