If ever there was a year Santa needs to be on time, it’s 2020. Pipe smokers are better equipped than most to cope with stress, of course, but I can’t think of a year with so many imponderables, perplexities and no-win scenarios. In that mix, of course, are the absence of all the little daily blessings we once took so much for granted. So it is that with shortages of so many other essentials since March, I was relieved to learn the Peterson Christmas commemorative pipe will be rolling out right on schedule—tomorrow, in fact!
Once again K&P is offering up a calming “incense holder” (as an old “Chat with the Smoker” brochure calls it) for your favorite blends in a pipe that can keep the true spirit of Christmas alive all year. Continuing with last year’s Stille Nacht aesthetic, this year’s commemorative to peace and good will exudes the warmth of a good fire in the hearth, home and comfort. The ebony gloss in-house sandblast, copper-plated band and Cumberland acrylic fishtail may be just the necessary balm to render some relief in the months leading up to Christmas and beyond.
For the third year in a row, the Christmas pipe features the classic nickel-mount marks of shamrock, foxhound and round tower, those great symbols of Éire Charles Peterson first applied to his nickel-mounts back in 1891. This is the only way, so far, to get them on a new Peterson pipe, which apart from the recent Christmas pipes haven’t been seen since the early 1960s.
Stamping this year is, of course, applied by hand: Peterson in cursive over OF DUBLIN in small caps with a larger CHRISTMAS underneath and 2020 and the shape number nearby.
There seem to be two different acrylic rods being used this year. While both may be described as Cumberland, the one seen in the top photo is like last year’s more caramel and black lines while the two below offer a subdued red with occasional black swirls. They both look fetching.
The much-expanded shape chart this year also has some surprises, which I greatly relish. In addition to a broad range of perennial favorites, there’s some novelties rarely or never seen in the commemorative lines to be found at both ends of the size spectrum.
For the ever-growing legion of pipe smokers favoring smaller bowls (“group 2 and 3” I think they’d say) there’s the D15, D5, 406, D16, Tankard, 69 and 304:
This is the first time any of these aside from the 69 has appeared in the Christmas lineup and should prove ideal for those who like a shorter smoke. The D15 and D16 are from a group of three pipe shapes developed some years after the original D shape group specifically for the churchwarden line, but are charming in these versions.
For lovers of larger bowls and longer smokes, the B42 (Darwin), XL11, XL02, XL90 and 306 are on offer:
The XL02 looks especially jaunty and the B42 has never, I think, appeared as a commemorative offering before and seldom in anything other than the System line, and the 306 hasn’t, I think, been in the Christmas lineup before.
The “usual suspects” always in high demand are also on offer: the 01, 03, 05, 106, 107 (not often seen), 120, 221, 304, 408, 606, B10, X105 and 68 (another greatly neglected shape):
If I counted correctly, that’s two dozen shapes, up from last year’s baker’s dozen of 13. Engineering is much the same as last year. If you’ve had success with earlier iterations of the acrylic F/T army mounts, you’ll find this seasonal offering as good or better. I like to reserve this type of pipe for burley flakes, English and orientals, but that may not be everyone’s experience, as I find a bit of turbulence in the gap between tenon and mortise that seems to make my virginias and vapers smoke a bit hot. The superb bowl coating, however, means a quick break-in and great smokes from the start. Remember to run your shank brush through the stummel’s airhole in case there’s any bits of tearaway, as sometimes happens in these gateway pipes. If you find the pull difficult in the first few smokes, check to see that the pre-carb hasn’t melted over the airhole in the chamber base, which sometimes happens but can be remedied with a shank reamer or sometimes just the shank brush.
Review pipes courtesy Kapp & Peterson
Stock photos courtesy Laudisi Distribution Group
Additional photography by C. Mundungus
Nollaig shona dhuit!
Believing is seeing.