The 2017 Valentia line takes its name from beautiful Valentia Island just off the southwest coast of Ireland, historically famous as the site of the first permanent communication link between Europe and North America with the completion of the Transatlantic telegraph cables in 1866. Like other stops on the Ring of Kerry tourist route, it’s a must-see, and I’m really hoping to spend some time there on my next Peterson pilgrimage.
The six shapes comprising the new Valentia line all continue Peterson’s commitment to an idea that began back about 1945 with the Specialty quartet of pipes known as the Tankard & Barrel, Calabash & Belgique seen below. The Italians have always liked to call small pipes like these “Lady Pipes,” and I can see how Jackie Onassis could have tucked one of these away in her purse when out and about with JFK.*
Don’t let the name put you off. I can see why the Calabash and Belgique got the nick-name, but the Tankard and Barrel, while small, are as quintessentially Irish as a shape can be. Talk about gender and pipe shapes can be useful to illustrate an aesthetic or design principle in a particular shape or line of pipes or even marque (for example, “the Peterson house style is predominantly masculine, while classic English shapes are feminine”), but is worse than worthless if attached to the gender self-identification of the pipe-smoker. This may be why 2016’s expansion of the idea began with the decidedly masculine look of the sterling army-mount Short Classics.
The Valentia pipes are probably the finest green-stain pipes Peterson has produced. The earliest documented example of a green Pete came back with the 200-piece Limited Edition Racing Green duo in the 1990s, and has been more or less a staple in the catalog ever since, appearing in the long-standing Racing Green line as well as several of the St. Patrick’s Day commemorative years.
Once again, there’s quite a bit of variation in the acrylic stems, as you can see. Sometimes this can be quite dramatic. The wide flare promises a good clinching experiences, as, of course, does the extremely light weight of these pieces. I also like the slightly wider-than-usual sterling bands.
I’ve long been intrigued with small-bowled pipes, but my current lifestyle rarely offers me the opportunity. Fellow pipemen tell me they’re wonderful for short smokes or for flake tobaccos, but I’m an after-work smoker, so I’m usually looking for a bowl that will give me 2 hours or so of Pete Heaven.
Pictured at top: the Calabash
Pax in fumare!
A next-gen System on the horizon?
Stay tuned. . .
*Jackie O. a pipe-smoker? See “A Woman’s Handbag,” http://www.alpascia.com/moments/d/A-womans-handbag-i23001.html#