Tuesday, July 31, 2007

QUOTE: Richard Carleton Hacker

"Pipe smokers everywhere owe a debt to Charles Peterson."

Richard Carleton Hacker
Smoke: Pluck of the Irish

Monday, July 30, 2007


  • Chris's Pipe Pages has some excellent images of Peterson's features in catalogues form the 40's on into the seventies and forward. Navigation: Click on any given catalog. If there are multiple pages, navigation is at the bottom.
  • Ashton Distributors, Inc. the US distributor of Peterson's has a nice PDF catalog of Peterson's that they carry as well. Ashton is also the distibutor of Peterson Pipe tobaccos.

Pipe Fiction: The Pipe Show Murder

What better than a murder mystery featuring the Peterson p-lip? The Pipe show Murder, by John Seilers is just that. "The story is the third in a series of stories drawn from the same socio-politicaleconomic background found in the stories entitled "Satisfaction” and “Death in a Closed Room” which can be found in the free 240+ PDF:

Peterson Guy: Mark R. Mahan

Mark R. Mahan
Author of the now defunct website, "The Thinking Man's Peterson's Pipe Page." It's been stagnant now for probablly years but none-the-less, worth a peek. Its inspiring that someone would take the effort to create a website (be it ever so humble) dedicated to his love of Peterson's pipes.

Mark has/had a wonderful collection of "Pre-Republic Peterson's", as well as as pipes made in pipes made in the "Republic of Ireland. " There is a nice picture of MAker with Tom Palmer of Peterson's.

I hope some day Mark will find this site, and give us a holler!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dateline Peterson

The Peterson timeline for dating has been uploaded and added to Project Links. It is a helpful resource for approximating the age of your pipe by its Stamps and Logo.

There are other methods Outline in A Peterson Dating Guide; A Rule of Thumb best if use in combination with the timeline. These methods include:
  • Dating by Hallmarks
  • Dating by Series

Peterson Clay System Pipe: Question Asked, Question Answered

Did Peterson ever make a clay System Pipe?

dennisthemenace Knoxboard Location: Fort Wayne, IN USA
Answered: Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:08 am

"Ah yes, Peterson did indeed once make their famous system pipe in clay. I saw one in an Iwan Ries catalog around 1969 right after I graduated high school and started working for the first time in a tobacco shop, Churchill's of Birmingham (MI) which then had a shop in a Fort Wayne, IN mall. I asked about them when I visited the Peterson shop in Dublin on a 1973 visit; they told me that the clay pipes hadn't been made for about 10 years at that point. In 1978 I was in the Iwan Ries shop in Chicago & asked about them, and they still had a couple of them in a drawer so I bought one, similar to the one you purchased on e-bay but w/ a rounder billiard bowl. I think it was about $20 at that time. I still have it & like it for trying new blends as the clay imparts little flavor of its own, other than a slight earthiness which has diminished in time. It seems we have some real collector pieces here, as I've never seen any others, and I've worked in several tobacco shops in three different cities, and visit them wherever I go."

Editor's note: I have known Dennis to be a knowledgeable and reliable source. In fact, he might have very well sold me my first real pipe in Erlich's of Boston some twenty plus years ago.

Addendum: The original poster learned thathis clay pipe was made in England at the Peterson factory on White Lion St. Until the late 60's & were "quite plentiful at the time."

Review: Peterson Straight Systems Pipe

MoSheeBoard Knoxboard Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 10:46 am

Post subject: Mini Review: Peterson Straight Systems Pipe

I've always been a fan of the Peterson Systems Pipes. They seem to be consistently good smokers. I currently own a #307, a #309, and a #314 (my favorite). All of these were full bent shapes. In the Systems line, there is one (the #31) that is a straight pipe. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I purchased the #31.

The #31 is a lightweight pipe (1.2 oz) in a, I think, billiard shape. The light weight of the pipe is partially attributable to the small size of the bowl and the thin wall of the bowl (the thinness in my collection of Petersons). The pipe measures 5 3/4 inches in length.

Is it a true Systems pipe? Most definitely. There is a moisture trap which runs horizontally under the bowl, a little past the center point of the bowl. The smoke hole is bored at a steep angle from the chamber through to the trap. The mouthpiece ends in a classic P-Lip. However, a metal stem runs from the end of the mouth piece to the end of the trap.

So how does all of this work. With its small bowl, the #31 Systems pipe is good for short smokes. The small bowl is made all the smaller by the moisture trap which runs under the bowl. This all makes for a lightweight pipe which is easy to clench in your teeth. However, this also limits smoking duration to 15-20 minutes of nirvana. The metal stem produces the occasional dreaded gurgle. I don't know why this was included in the design. However, the stem can be unscrewed (its threaded in) and discarded which, for me, resulted in a better smoke without the gurgle. This did not affect the moisture trapping function.

The smoke hole which is bored from the chamber to the moisture trap presents an occasional problem. Remember, the hole is bored at a steep angle down. If the hole is blocked, there is no way of clearing it and you have to dump your tobacco and start all over. In my other Systems pipes, I can use my pick and simply poke the obstruction clear and continue smoking. The same goes for loosening up a too tightly tamped bowl of tobacco.

So how does the #31 pipe smoke. Once boken in, it provides the same consistently good smoke that my other Peterson's have. What more is there to say? Would I recommend the #31 pipe. To each his own, however, I prefer my other Systems pipes. My main concern with the #31 pipe is the limitations on clearing the smoke hole. For this reason, I would not buy another #31 pipe.

Agree? Disagree? Do comment:

Testimony: Peterson military mounting system

petersonguy Knoxboard Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 10:31 pm

As evidence of my faith and success with this Peterson military mounting system,
I've constantly carried a fully assembled Peterson in my left front pants pocket
for over forty years of delivering mail, bending, stooping, and sitting, and
have yet to have any problems. You can disassemble it if you wish, but it kinda
makes a mess, and is not at all necessary. You'd actually have to TRY to damage
one of these wonderful pipes. Like anything, above all you want the thing to do
what you want it to, when you want it to, and it hasn't failed me yet

Latakia Konxboard Yoda posted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 4:30 pm

And a couple more thoughts. I've been in a Peterson state of mind, today.

..just finished cleaning and etc. a number of older pipes this afternoon---mostly Dunhills---and the delicacy and fussiness of the traditional, parallel, non-banded bit/bowl junction jumped out at me, after having handled mostly Petes this past week. Their trademark banded/domed shank with a tapered "jam fit" bit truly IS a better solution. The so-called Military design. It means:

  1. Cracking a shank is (for all practical purposes) impossible

  2. Bit removal can be safely done regardless of the pipe's temperature

  3. Alignment isn't the often tedious several full turn "chirp at a time" process, but just a quick 1/16 turn while applying a little inward pressure.

  4. And the biggie: The unequal expansion and contraction of the bowl and bit because they are made of different materials, stops being an issue. Heat and humidity are the biggest dimensional change inducers, of course, meaning the situation is unavoidable. So... how about using a design where a perfect bit/shank fit isn't dependent on dimensional constancy? (Duh!)

The only negative I can think of: Most repairmen do not have access to Peterson replacement bits and parts. If work is needed, you only have a limited number of choices.

SHPC Pres. "Scores" Antique Peterson Pipe Sign

"Peterson Pipes"

President of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston, Dock Perry, aquired this sign while antiquing. The dealer told him it used to hang in front of a shop in Upstate New York (USA). He immediately sent out inquiries to the popular online forums describing it as being "double sided" and learned that it is likely from Arnold's Pipe Shoppe in Troy NY. Arnold's went out of business in the 1980's. The sign "likely dates from the 1930's. "

One forum member recalled seeing a similar sign in a local (to him) Applebee's.

Have you ever seen such a sign, and if so where? Please do comment:

How *I* Came to be a Collector

9/10/2001 I was working for an Ad Agency specializing in Human Resource advertising.

9/11/2001 USA Attacked.

10/7/2001 I was unemployed.

Seeking solace in the pipe, I took an old Dr. Grabow from the tackle box bought some drugstore tobacco and lit up. I was hooked. I learned you need to rotate smoking your pipes which is hard to do when you only have one!

Online, I found a program at alt.smokers.pipes operated by Bear Graves. He would clean and polish pipes and send out a handful to people like myself. In fact he shipped out over 3600 pies worldwide! When my box arrived I was amazed. There it was a "Racing Green ~ 268 Dublin" with a silver band.

I loved it then and love it even more now (despite its flaws and fills). The pipe just seems to want C&D's Snug Harbor Flake, a blend I only like in this particular pipe. This combination of pie-tobacco-and history makes for the best smoke ever. True Synergy- Magic! It is "the working man's pipe" as well as the "thinking mans pipe." Its all that's good.

10/7/2006 Employed, and "finally on my feet again." It was my time "Pay it Forward." Another internet search tells me that Bear no longer operates the program so instead I shipped out a box of my favorite tobaccos and a pipe to someone I me online. I was glad to do it.

07/23/2007 I believe Bear works for one of the top US retailers of Peterson pipes, Smokingpipes.com. Thank you Bear. Thank you Peterson.

How did you come to appreciate and/or collect Peterson Pipes? Please comment:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Peterson Pipe Project Data File

First Draft posted: 7/25/2007

The crux for collectors. A compilation facts, see TPPP Data Link v1.0. It is obviously an unruly work in process and always will be (unruly, and in process!) Feel free to contribute.

If you know of shapes or styles not represented, please do comment...

Peterson Pipes Featured in Company's Informative and Educational Video

Peterson of Dublin, noted pipe maker since 1865, introduces a new informative video - "The Making of the Peterson Pipe." The video focuses on the traditional tools and methods of manufacture that contribute to the individuality and unique characteristics of Peterson pipes. It includes a brief history of the company and a look into Peterson's retail shop in Dublin. The highlight of the video is a view into Peterson's factory to witness the complete pipe manufacturing process. Watch as the factory's skilled craftsmen create Peterson pipes, from the selection of woods and grading of the bowls up to the finished product.

"The Making of the Peterson Pipe" is perfect for pipe smokers and retailers alike.

The Wicklow ~ 60

This pipe is stamped:
Peterson's 'Wicklow' - 60-

Made in the Republic of Ireland.

Wicklow is known as "the Garden of Ireland" and is just south of Dublin. The pipe is deeply blasted with a great sunrise pattern on one side of the bowl. The shape is a prince with a saddle cut twin-bore mouthpiece, and it is 6 1/4" long. The bowl is 1 1/2" high with an inside diameter of 7/8".

The original owner purchased it in the 80's.

If you own a "Wicklow" or any other Peterson with an original twin-bore bit please do comment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Peterson Dating Guide; A Rule of Thumb

This guide first appeared in pipelore.net on August 26, 2006 by: Mike Leverette .

The history of Ireland is an old and honorable one; steeped in warfare, family, racial and religious traditions. No other country can compete in comparison. However, the first couple of millennia of Irish history have no relevance to this dating guide. Should you wish to read more on the history of the Irish, I recommend "The Story of the Irish Race" by Seumas MacManus who gives a very vivid, and near as we can tell, an accurate portrayal of their history.

History pertinent to our purposes began in the year 1865; the year Charles Peterson opened a small tobacco shop in Dublin. Later in 1875, Charles Peterson approached the Kapp brothers, Fredrich and Heinrich, with a new pipe design and with this, a very long-lived partnership was formed, Kapp & Peterson. This new pipe design is the now famous Peterson Patented System Smoking Pipe. By 1890, Kapp & Peterson was the most respected pipe and tobacco manufacturer in Ireland and rapidly gaining followers in England and America. In 1898 another of Peterson's remarkable inventions became available, the Peterson-Lip (P-Lip) mouthpiece, also known as the Steck mouthpiece. So for the purpose of this dating guide, we will study Irish history, relevant to our pipe dating needs, from 1870s until now.

Before we start with this Peterson dating guide, an observation; the Kapp Brothers were making pipes as early as the 1850s and in many of the shapes we now associate with Peterson since the Kapp Brothers simply took there existing shapes and incorporated Charles Peterson' s patented design into them. From their inception, Kapp & Peterson's goal was to make a good smoking pipe that the ordinary, common working man could afford and we believe they have, very admirably, lived up to this.

Explanation of Title
The vagaries of Peterson's processes do not allow for an accurate dating guide so this guide is a 'rule-of-thumb' guide only. For example; Peterson did not take up the old Country of Manufacture stamps as new ones were issued so depending on which one the various workers happen to pick up, the stamps can and do cross over the boundaries of the various Eras. Some of the pipes of the Sherlock Holmes Series of the 1980s have pre-Republic stamps, as well as other pipes produced in 2000. However, there will not be too many of these missed stamped pipes. For silver anomalies, see the section on silver marks.

Stamping of Bowls
During the years of Kapp and Peterson's business operations, the country of Ireland has undergone several name changes and K&P's stamping on their pipes reflects these changes. Knowing these changes, a Peterson pipe can be roughly dated and placed in "eras."

  • The Patent Era was between the years of K&P's formation until the expiration of the patent; 1875 through approximately 1910. Though for our purposes we will list this era as 1875 through 1922. Peterson pipes made during the majority of this period had no "Country of Manufacture" (COM) stamped on them. However, later in this period, say around 1915/16, Peterson began stamping their pipes "Made in Ireland" in a block format.
  • The Irish Free State was formed on 15 January 1922. So the Free State Era will be from 1922 through 1937. Peterson followed with a COM stamp of "Irish Free State" in either one or two lines, either parallel or perpendicular to the shanks axis and extremely close to the stem.
  • Eire was formed on 29 December 1937. The Made in Eire Era will be from 1938 through roughly 1940? or 1941?. For dates with ?'s, see below. Peterson now stamped their pipes with "Made in Eire" in a circle format with "Made" and "Eire" in a circle with the "in" located in the center of the circle. This COM was used during the years of 1938 - 1940?/41?. Later they stamped their pipes with "Made in Ireland" in a circle format (1945?-1947?) and still later with "Made in Ireland" in a block format (1947?-1949). The "Made in Ireland" block format came in either one line or two lines.
  • The Republic Era is from 1949 until the present. The Republic of Ireland was formed on 17 April 1949. From 1949 to present the stamp for this era is "Made in the Republic of Ireland" in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.
  • English made Peterson pipes actually spans between the pre-Republic and Republic eras. In 1895, Peterson opened a shop in London England that lasted until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So the English Era, for a simplified date, will be from 1895 through 1959. The stamps Peterson used in London and that we have seen are:

Made inEngland - block format

Made in England - circle format

Made in London

Made in London England

Simply, London England

Great Britain

Though there are a couple of more, the above will give one the general idea. We believe the earliest stamp of this era was the "Made in England" in a block format since Peterson was using the "Made in Ireland" block format at about the same time on their Irish production pipes. The "Made in England" circle format was used during the same time frame as the "Made in Eire" and "Made in Ireland" circle formats.

As one can see this is pretty straightforward but there have been inconsistencies within this method of stamping. Peterson was never very energetic in removing their old stamps from the work stations so the older stamps can and did cross-over into the newer Era's.

The explanation for the question marks in the 1940's dates is, during the Second World War briar was hard to come by for obvious reasons, so no one can say for sure what years Peterson produced briar pipes and how many briar pipes were produced in those years. Why the switch from "Made in Eire" to "Made in Ireland" is anyone's guess since the country was still technically Eire until 1949. As a point of interest and due to the shortage of briar, Peterson did make clay and Bog Oak pipes during the war years though they had ceased clay pipe production in the Patent Era and Bog Oak production back in the early 1930s.

The "Made in Ireland" block format (above) can be another headache in dating Peterson pipes since this stamp was used in the late Patent Era as well as the late 1940s. So for a guide we must take into consideration the style of lettering Peterson used on their pipes. From the start of the Patent Era until somewhere in the early 1930s, Peterson used the "Old Style" lettering that used a forked tail "P" in Peterson.
From then until now, Peterson used the more familiar script "P" (above) intermixed with a plain block letter "P." Later in the 1970s, Peterson began production of "commemorative" pipes, often referred to as "replica" or "retro" pipes and these will also have the old style lettering but according to the pipes that we own and have seen, most of these will have a small difference in the original forked tail "P". Again, there appears to be a cross-over with the old style forked tail and the later forked tail P's(below). However, these commemorative pipes generally have a silver band with hallmarks so one can date these pipes by the hallmark.

Also, we must address the stamp "A Peterson Product." During the last few years of the Pre-Republic era and throughout the Republic era, Peterson began stamping their other lines, such as Shamrocks and Killarneys, with "A Peterson Product" over the COM stamp. So a pipe stamped thusly will have been made say from 1948 to the present with the COM stamp identifying it as a pre-Republic or a Republic pipe.

Silver Band Dating
Silver hallmarks are placed on the silver after an assay office, in Peterson's case, the Dublin Assay Office, has verified that the silver content is indeed sterling, in other words 925 parts of silver per 1000 parts of the metal. The silver hallmarks on Peterson pipes are a group of three marks, each in an escutcheon; the first is a seated Hibernia denoting Dublin Ireland, the second is a harp denoting the silver fineness, and the third is a letter denoting the year. The style of letter and the shape of the escutcheon the letter is in, will determine the year in which the assay office stamped the metal band and not necessarily the year the pipe was made. Peterson orders these bands by the thousands and sends them to the assay office for hallmarking. The assay office will stamp the date of the year in which they received the bands and it may be a year or two or three before Peterson's employees happen to place one of these bands on a pipe though generally the bands are placed on a pipe in the year they were stamped. The Dublin hallmarks can be found in any book on silver markings or on one of several web sites.

For the one year, 1987, the Dublin Assay Office added a fourth mark to commemorate the City of Dublin's founding in 988. However, the Peterson pipes we have and have seen with silver dates of 1987 and 1988 generally do not have this fourth mark.

Here again, we must add a "maybe" to the above hallmarks. On 1 June 1976, certain countries attended an international conference on silver markings and decided to adopt an entirely different mark for sterling silver. This mark is an Arabian numeral, 925, located between the scales of a balance beam and in Peterson's case may or may not have the Hibernia and Harp marks to either side. These particular pipes can only be said to date between 1976 and the present, and were stamped as such for shipment to the different countries involved in the conference. For pipes shipped to all other countries, Peterson still uses the old style hallmarks. Peterson pipes with a sterling silver band that does not have hallmarks could have been made for the United States market since the United States only requires sterling silver to be stamped "sterling silver" or "sterling."

Before we close this section on silver hallmarks, we must address the marks that many people refer to as hallmarks. Peterson uses three marks on some of their pipes that are not silver hallmarks but are rather another Peterson logo (below). These marks are:

  • A Shamrock for the many shamrocks found in Ireland
  • A Prone Fox representing the famous fox hunts in Ireland's history, and
  • A Stone Tower for the many hundreds of stone towers spotted throughout Ireland

Again these are not genuine silver hallmarks: Also many of the newer pipe smokers think that Kapp & Peterson's official logo of "K&P," each in a shield shaped escutcheon, are hallmarks but, of course, they are not. They are simply Kapp & Peterson's initials.

Dating by Series
Dating by series or numbers is an area in which we are having a difficult time of establishing. For instance, the 300 series are all shapes used during the Patent Era and we believe Peterson started using this number system when the original patent expired. In the case of the 300 series and without looking at the COM stamp or silver hallmark, one can only say that they were made between 1910 and today. The 300 series was not in Peterson's 1905 catalogue.

Though we are still trying to find the start dates of many series, here are some that we are pretty positive about:

  • Centennial Edition - 1975 (for K&P's Centennial)
  • Great Explorers Series - 2002
  • Harp Series - 2002
  • Mark Twain Numbered Edition - 1979 (numbered 1 through 400)
  • Mark Twain 2nd Numbered Edition - 1981 (numbered 1 through 1000) Mark Twain Un-numbered Edition - 1983 to c1989 (There must be a fourth production of Mark Twain pipes for there a couple of men who own Mark Twain pipes with a silver date of 1998; we are still trying to pin down the dates of this fourth production.)
  • Emerald - c1985 to 2003
  • Millennium Edition - 1988 (for the City of Dublin's founding)
  • Sherlock Holmes Series - 1987 to c1989
  • Return of Sherlock Holmes Series - c1991
  • Sherlock Holmes Meerschaums - 2006

Peterson Clay, Bog Oak and Cherry Wood Pipes
Peterson Clay, Bog Oak and Cherry Wood pipes were offered in the Patent Era with or without a formed case, as also offered with their briar and meerschaum pipes.

Peterson made clay pipes during the Patent Era with only two shapes being offered and depicted in their 1905 catalogue. During this period their clay pipes were stamped/molded "Peterson Patent" and could be purchased with either a silver or nickle band. How long and in what years Peterson made these clays is not known but as stated above two shapes were offered in their 1905 catalogue. Then during World War II, Peterson again made clay pipes due to the understandable shortage of briar. The clays of this period are stamped "Peterson System" and were only offered with nickle bands. This later production of clay pipes ended with the closing of Peterson's London Shop in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Also during World War II, Peterson again made bog oak pipes and again, this was due to the shortage of briar. They had previously ceased production of bog oak pipes in the 1930s during the Irish Free State Era. On the subject of bog oak pipes, Peterson's bog oaks will always have a metal band with either an amber (early production only) or vulcanite stems and will have the appropriate COM stamp. As with their clay pipes, Peterson offered a silver or nickle band on their early bog oak pipes of the Patent Era and just a nickle band on their WWII bog oak pipes.

Peterson made pipes of cherry wood during their Patent Era in both the smooth finish and the bark-left-on finish; and as with their clay pipes, Peterson used both amber and vulcanite stems and choice of silver or nickle bands. And like their clay pipes of the Patent Era, the introduction and termination dates are not known. Peterson Cherry Wood pipes were offered with or without a meerschaum lining.

Metal Ferrules of Military Mounted Pipes
As pipes get older, wear will, with all the handling, cleaning and polishing, take its toll on the nomenclature which will eventually disappear, thus, making it harder to determine the age of your Peterson. A good thorough cleaning of old hand oils, dirt and ash will sometimes bring out a faint outline of the nomenclature but sometimes the nomenclature has completely worn away and even this cleaning will not bring it back. So where do we go from here to determine the pipe's age? The shape of the metal ferrule on Peterson pipes with the military mount will give you some hint though not a precise date.

During the Patent Era, the metal ferrules of Peterson military mounts will have a more 'acorn-ish' shape, that is, the bend will have a larger radius as it turns down to meet the stem. This larger radius gradually(?) changes to a smaller radius, more abrupt bend, during the Irish Free State Era and even more abruptly after World War Two when the bend takes on the modern day shape.

The metal ferrules on Peterson clay pipes during the Patent Era are angular while their clay pipes of World War Two will have the bend shape as do most of the Peterson pipes from then until now.

As with everything pertaining to the dating of Peterson pipes, this method can only give us a hint to the age of the pipe but it is better than nothing at all. The years of these changes in the metal ferrule shape are, we are sure, lost to the ages. However, someone with a larger number of Peterson pipes than we, may be able to check the silver dates for more precise age boundaries Well, this is a very short dating guide and we hope that you will be able to date more accurately your favorite Peterson with this information.

This guide first was first posted in Pipe Lore on August 26, 2006 by Mike Leverette. Should you have a correction or addition to any of the above, please do comment:

Mission Statement

The Peterson Pipe Project has been established to accumulate information relative to: the pipes, shapes, styles, their tobacco and most importantly the people who smoke them.
  • Do you have a story to share?
  • Are you a Peterson Collector?
  • Do you own pre-republic Peterson's?

Whether afficianado or expert, your input matters....