168. The 777 Dublin Bulldog: Peterson’s Elusive Shape from “The Emergency”

Among the top five rarest Peterson shapes must rank the elusive “Dublin Bulldog,” shape 777, a hybrid as the name suggests with a dublin’s bowl and a bulldog’s diamond shank. To my knowledge, it only appeared as one of three “special oversized pipes” in the George Yale 1942 annual catalog.*

The Shamrocks which appear on the other page, as you can see, were going for $3.50. How George Yale could get away with a $6.00 price tag for an ever-so-slightly larger Peterson must have had something to do with the fact that the 777, 990 and 991 were as the copy suggests limited edition or specialty shapes.

We certainly wouldn’t call the 777 “oversized” today, even though it comes close to the XL sizes of the Sherlock Holmes shapes. Here are side-by-side of measurements of a 120 Dublin from the Éire-era (1937-48) made at about the same time as the 777 and a first-issue Sherlock Holmes Baker Street bulldog from 1990:

Measure                      Éire dublin      777 dublin bulldog      SH Baker Street (XL13)

Length:                        145 mm.          147 mm.                      143.8 mm.

Weight:                       36 gr.               38 gr                            51 gr

Bowl Height:              47.5 mm.         51.4 mm.                     54.6 mm.

Chamber Depth:          40.4 mm.         43.3 mm.                     44.3 mm.

Chamber Dia:             18.2 mm.         19.4 mm.                     20.4 mm.

Outside Dia:                34.3 mm.         33.4 mm.                     43.3 mm.

 

The restored 777 with a period Shamrock box

It very well may have come in a Shamrock box like the one it’s pictured with above, which originally housed another Éire-era shape, a bulldog 3262, found in the 1939 Rogers Imports catalog:

The nickel-mount is also worth a look. It may be that part of the higher price was not only the unusual shape but a bit of extra craftsmanship. The nickel band, which has been silver-soldered as you can see in the second image down, has also been turned on both sides—quite a pleasing effect.

777 (left) and 120 (right) Nickel-Mount Marks

Compare it to what I believe is the slightly later nickel band from the Shamrock 120 pictured above. I have a hunch that the 777 band is slightly older—the shamrock is placed below the nickel-mount marks. The 120 also lacks the K&P Maker’s Mark, another indication in my view that it was a later pipe. And as long as I’m going out on a limb, I’ll also bet that the MADE IN over IRELAND on the 777 also marks it as older than the MADE IN IRELAND in a circle seen on post-WWII Rogers Imports pipes.

The “dublin bulldog” name given the 777 by Peterson is in itself quite interesting, and not only because Peterson hasn’t as a rule named many of their shapes. It seems to epitomize the dire fence-straddling of Ireland’s nuanced and rather complicated neutrality during World War II, struggling for its independence from Britain yet politically far from the fascism which was engulfing the world.

Always known in Ireland as “The Emergency” (1939-46), as this era began K&P’s four largest export markets were Britain, America, Germany (!) and Australia. The recent opening of its London factory on White Lion Street doubtless helped it stay afloat, but U-Boats, restricted trade ports and a chronic shortage of Irish ships made exporting Irish goods increasingly problematic and finally impossible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if trade ledgers still molder in Peterson’s vault documenting this fascinating period, but until they see the light of day we can only surmise what a difficult situation K&P was in. Then as now, Peterson is almost wholly dependent on importing the materials it needs to manufacture pipes and exporting its product around the globe.

This view of the St. Stephen’s Green shipping room is probably from the early 1950s

In any event, as we document in The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson, these were extremely lean years, certainly from 1942 to 1946 or so, at which time the Irish economy gradually moved into the boom time of the 1950s.

I’ve always thought the 777 would make an exciting issue in Peterson’s Antique Collection series, unique for its period and yet with a characteristically Peterson house style. What do you think—would you like to see a reproduction?

 

* Fascinatingly enough, when this pipe appeared on eBay, the seller was also offering the 991.

You can get a sense of the history of this period  here. and another view here.  To get a sense of the U-Boat drama involved in Ireland’s maritime exports (and imports), take a look at this. There is a small shelf of books on “the Emergency” waiting to be read for the curious, almost all written within the last two decades.

 

I have a half-dozen estate Petes just now on eBay for those interested, including the XL02 Emerald pictured above we used in the Peterson book. Global Shipping is available for friends overseas. You will find them here.

 

Continue Reading 168. The 777 Dublin Bulldog: Peterson’s Elusive Shape from “The Emergency”