186. Was the Dublin & London Peterson’s “Supreme” Line?

I received a Dublin & London box a few weeks back containing some surprises that I thought you might enjoy reading about.

Peterson’s Dublin & London line, stamped “London & Dublin” when made in London, seems to have debuted around 1940. I base this on the fact that the English factory on White Lion Street opened in 1937 and K&P’s November, 1938 Punch ad makes no mention of it.

The first appearance, along with the other lines mentioned in Punch, is in the catalog brochure c. 1940.

1940 Peterson Catalog
(You can download a restoration of the complete catalog by right-clicking the link above)

While I was delighted just to add a D&L box to my collection, when I got to looking at it I noticed something curious on one side of the lid—it reads “PETERSON’S over SUPREME BRIAR.”

And this got me wondering: was the Dublin & London line Peterson’s supreme or absolute top-of-the-line? When you look at the grain on this D&L 120 dublin, it certainly looks as if it could be:

The Supreme line was introduced for Rogers Imports, Ltd. in their 1953 catalog. It went for an astounding $15 when the Shamrock went for $3.50. That’s a little over four times as much, or in today’s Pete dollars about the distance between an Arklow and a Silver Cap Natural.

The D&L box wasn’t made for the US market—it lacks the distinctive Rogers Imports Ltd design work and is fancier than any Rogers box I’ve encountered. Whether this was because Rogers didn’t import the D&L or didn’t import it in sufficient numbers is anybody’s guess.

And then there’s the wool-lined satin pipe sock. The color complements the box, and as the box also contains a pristine guarantee and Chat brochure, it seems fairly certain that this was the sock that originally came in the box. It reads “Peterson’s over SUPREME”:

Gary Malmberg, my co-author on the Peterson book, has probably seen (and sold) more Dublin & Londons than anyone.  I asked him if he thought the quality of briar on the D&Ls and the Rogers Supremes were equivalent, so that one could suppose the D&L was marketed outside the US and the Rogers Supreme inside the US, being the same grade but with different line names. He said he thought that was a reasonable assumption.

The quality of some of the more recent Supremes I’ve seen is beyond any of the old D&Ls either Gary or I have ever seen, and unlike the D&Ls are often banded in sterling or gold. That being said, the D&Ls in their turn are beyond the Peterson English-made Naturals I’ve seen, the latter being flawless bowls but typically without grain as dramatic as this 120:

I think the guarantee slips in the old Pete boxes are also beautiful, and as the one in this box is pristine, thought you might enjoy seeing it:

A final surprise came with the “Chat” brochure. It’s very close to the Rogers Imports version from the 1950s, which makes me believe it was printed at a similar time, c. 1945-1955, but for the non-US market. Like the Rogers brochure, it lacks the more usual “Over [blank] years of experience…” story underneath the “Guarantee,” :

Whether or not the Dublin & London was in fact Peterson’s highest line doesn’t matter, of course, to anyone but a fellow Pete fan. But it’s an interesting speculation and may make you pause the next time one appears on the estate market to take a closer look.

 

Early Republic Dublin & London 120
courtesy Jorgen Jensen

N E W S

The Peterson Pipes: The Story of Kapp & Peterson recently won a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher’s Association in the Best First Book–Non-Fiction category. I think it’s because of our designer’s amazing layout work, but it could also have to do with the erudition of co-author Gary Malmberg or the insistence of editor Gary Schrier that I learn the difference between an em dash and an en dash. Kudos are also due to everyone who so enthusiastically supported both the book and the blog. The book is officially sold out at the publisher’s, but copies are still available at Smokingpipes.com.

I’ve been working with Gary Schrier at Briar Books Press for a few months now on a digital restoration of Kapp & Peterson’s extremely rare first catalog from 1896, and am happy to announce that it will be launched at this year’s special two-day CORPS pipe show in Richmond:

Smokingpipes.com asked if I’d do a presentation on the reprint and others things Peterson on Friday the 2nd at 1:30pm, and of course I was delighted—old teachers don’t need much prompting to get up and talk about their passions!  While the restoration is complete, the design work hasn’t begun yet on the catalog, but I thought you’d like to see one of the images of one of my favorite Systems, the 13, apparently only made from 1896-1905 or so:

To its right (upside down) is Mark Twain’s beloved 14, which Peterson used in their 1981 commemorative homage.

 

FOR SALE

I have the following Petes for sale which all appeared in the Peterson book. Estate pipes have been restored and cleaned and are ready for smoking.  If you’re interested, make a comment and I’ll contact you to provide photos. Prices include shipping both domestic and international.

2002 Great Explorers Collection (4 pipes in original case, unsmoked)
Featured in the Peterson book and in an earlier blog post ($1300)

2YK (2000) Pipes of the Year: Silver Cap Straight Brandy and Bent Spigot
Featured in the Peterson book and on the blog ($400 for set)

999 Shamrock John Bull, Early Republic (c. 1950s)
Featured in Peterson book and in earlier blog post ($200)

 

Sometimes people ask me why I’m selling a pipe, which is a good question. I’m not one to collect for the sake of collecting, although I don’t knock that hobby like I used to after the years spent acquiring Petes for the book. Mostly I buy a pipe to smoke it, but I also quite often buy a pipe for research and use on the blog or the Peterson book. If I find I’m not smoking a pipe much, I also let it go, which usually happens after I obsess about a particular shape and find I’ve accumulated more examples of it than I can possibly smoke on a regular basis.

 

 

 

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