(Revised October 17, 2019)
Insert from the rare 2005 3rd Edition “Black” catalog of the 2005 POY
After Charles Peterson’s System pipe, Tom Palmer’s Dublin-era Pipe of the Year is arguably the company’s most noteworthy accomplishment in the worldwide pipe-smoking community. It’s an idea that other companies and artisans have since imitated and one that’s given us some of Peterson’s most remarkable pipes in the B and D shape charts.
The series is now in its 22nd year, and as Pete Freeks and other pipe companioners and collectors often have questions about them, I thought one place to begin would be a visual dictionary of all twenty-three pipes. That’s right, there are actually twenty-three different shapes, because in 2000 a set of two different shapes was released. Here we go.
When the series began, it had two names, one stamped on the bowl–LIMITED EDITION–and another by which it was commonly called–PIPE OF THE YEAR. Most in the hobby now use POY (sometimes POTY) as the preferred acryonym.
Only the smooth pipes are called “Limited Edition” and numbered. The sandblasted edition (aside from the Founder’s Edition 2015 POTY) is called the “Pipe of the Year” and stamped accordingly. That is, until 2016, when “Limited Edition” stamping was dropped and the series began being stamped PIPE OF THE YEAR. There are a few other “ifs, and, and buts,” but this will get you started.
1999 Limited Edition
The first four years of production lacked a year stamp (aside from the sterling hallmark) and were just stamped “LIMITED EDITION” and so on. That changed in 2001, when Peterson began stamping “Y” plus the year above the “LIMITED EDITION.”
For those curious to know, the 2004 and 2008 bowls are, per Tony Whelan, Jr., former factory manager, exactly the same.
The 2014 was the first to feature only the availability of an acrylic mouthpiece. More’s the pity. At the time it was released, the company was convinced that there was a preference among smokers for the less-intensive upkeep of acrylic. As of this writing in 2019, the tide seems to have turned as more and more smokers and artisans are in agreement that high-quality German SEM ebonite (vulcanite) rod is the way to go for comfort as well as durability. This shape would become the last of the B shape group, the B65, in its subsequent appearances.
The FE was issued in an edition of 1865 pieces, to commemorate the year the company was founded, with smooth, sandblast and rustic pieces all being given a serial number. The mouthpiece for the FE is ebonite, incidentally. It became shape D18 after debuting as the FE / POY for 2016. A few of the highest-grade bowls were later issued in Lubinski’s Kapp-Royal line and, even more desirable, as a very few System pipes with old-style tapered space-fitting mouthpieces.
The issue was also reduced to 500 pieces from the standard 1,000. This is one of the most innovative POYs ever released at Peterson utilizing classic Peterson design language elements (straight-sided bowl, massive shank) in a design that is truly fresh and innovative. It became shape D20 in its subsequent releases.
For the first time in the annual release, in 2017 the LIMITED EDITION hand stamp was replaced with a laser-engraved conglomerate stamp that reads “Peterson [in script] (over) OF DUBLIN [small caps] (over) Pipe of the Year (over) 2017 (over) [number of pipe] of 500.” The bowl on this is close, but not an exact replica of the 1906 “Jap.” I know this because I’ve held Chuck Wright’s Jap set that he bequeathed to Peterson and Peterson brought to the 2019 Chicagoland Pipe Show. The bowl walls are thicker than the original and the bowl itself is slightly oval-shaped when seen from the top, not the ball shape of the original. It became shape D21 after its debut as the 2017 POY.
2018 “Gaslight” Pipe of the Year
I love this Peterson “gaslight” shape, one of the most original in the entire history of the series. You can read about it and its evolution in the blog on the 2018 POY. It became shape D22 in the catalog, but as of May 2019, I hadn’t seen it in any subsequent lines.
2019 Chubby Rhodesian [“john bull”] Pipe of the Year
For the first POY of the new Laudisi Era, the company chose the classic 1937 chubby rhodesian as its inspiration. Per Jonathan Fields, factory manager, the bowl is not the original 999 or any of its subsequent iterations. It is shape XL661. Having said that, the external dimensions of the XL661 are very, very close to the original 999 John Bull. It is also cause for celebration that, for the first time in the POY’s history, the 2019 was released with a vulcanite P-Lip. Check the blog for a full-length analysis of the shape. Bowls stamped 1-10 were released in Natural, another first in the commemorative’s history.
I’ve had several of LEs in my rotation over the years and from time to time think it might be fun to collect all of them, but then I get practical and remember pipes that I didn’t hit it off with and pipes that lay gathering resentment and tarnish in the rack. The curse of not being a collector, I suppose. If you or anyone you know has a complete collection, please drop me a line—I’d love to blog about your collection.
Smokingpipes.com, Alpascia.it, Bollitopipe.it, Charles Mundugus, The Briary, James Fox and
the Black Swann Shoppe