Happy Father’s Day to you, whether as biological father, nurturing father, pater familias, mentor, in loco parentis, servant leader or leader-manager. Fathering is a difficult task, requiring wisdom, forbearance, mercy, justice, leadership by example and an abundance of love—all of which can be enhanced by the judicious and timely application of a good pipe and choice tobacco.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of a number of remarkable System and Classic Range shapes in the Peterson catalog. The decade from 1975 to 1985 was the high-water mark of Peterson invention and engineering, second only to the original Patent era. Bowls, mouthpieces, finishes and internal engineering—at least, from pipes I have examined—have never been bettered.
In the detail above from the 1979 catalog update, from left to right you can see the first new System shapes to be introduced since Charles Peterson’s 1896 designs: the 1 bent pot or “short dutch,” the 2 and 3 small and large bent apples, and the 5 bent dublin (seen as Premier and Standard Systems 301, 302, 303 and 305 in the second and third rows and Dunmore Premier Unmounted Systems 70 , 71 , 75  and 76  in the bottom row). In the decades since their introduction, the 301, 302 and 303 have become staples of the System lineup.
Pay particular attention to the A or army-mount mouthpiece in the pipes on the second, third and fourth rows (and the 2 in the first row): notice its high, wide shoulder. This was a new design, created only for these shapes (and the MT System) and would be discarded by the early Dublin era (c. 1991). Externally, it looks like nothing so much as an old WDC Wellington mouthpiece. But look closer, or better yet clinch one and you’ll see why I call it the “Comfort P-Lip.” It’s got a wide, flat button and a thick tenon externally, and of course the graduated bore inside. If you’re looking for the ne plus ultra System Standard or Premier mouthpiece, look no further.
The 05, the only bent dublin Peterson has ever released, was only available from 1979 to c. 1984. As related in the Peterson book, users were complaining that the narrow shank prevented the reservoir from functioning correctly. My own experience with the shape confirms the truth of that finding, but what no one realized at the time was just how well the 5 and its larger sibling the XL5, performed as bent dublins. It’s a shame they were dropped, but they appear regularly on the estate market and I encourage anyone who enjoys the v-chamber of a straight dublin to seek this shape out.
In the Classic Range illustration seen from the same catalog, then-managing director William Sweeney and his craftsmen and women introduced six new shapes: the 68, 82s, 107, 119, 405s and 04.
The 04 was a first, tentative attempt to release an homage to vintage Peterson shapes—in this case, the 1906 Kaffir. It’s a striking pipe and comes up every so often on the estate market, but like many Peterson reproductions doesn’t really seek an authentic recreation, being larger and heavier than the original, as well as having a 1/8th bent stem.
The little 82s is the only Peterson shape I simply cannot abide, having spent $12.50 on a Kildare iteration as an undergraduate only to find the P-Lip too small for me to clinch and the pipe to be the sourest-smoking piece of briar I’ve ever exerpienced before or since. But that’s a personal experience and I’m sure others have found it amicable enough.
The 119 is an almost anonymous entry in Peterson’s nearly interchangeable stable of billiards, a fairly small one with a chamber of about 18.5 by 35.5mm.
The real stand-outs here are the celebrated 107 chubby billiard, arguably Peterson’s iconic straight billiard, and the massive 68, which is impressive in the hand and is best seen in the P-Lip Sterling Army when you can find it (which isn’t very often).
The Italian-market Cara System 301 from the early 1980s
Among the 1979 Systems, my favorite is the 1 (301 as Premier or Standard, 71 as Dunmore System), for no other reason than that it was my father’s favorite. He had three of them at one time or another. I remember when I went to London in the late 1990s, he specifically requested I bring one back, as he’d bounced his on the garage floor while working on an MGB. It was hot and a hairline crack appeared on the bottom of the shank and he was afraid to smoke it. After his passing earlier this year and the instant evaporation of all his pipes among nephews and nieces following his memorial service, I discovered it (pictured at the top of this post) in the bottom drawer near his easy chair, hairline crack and all.
While Peterson has called the 01 / 301 a bent pot, I think that’s only because no one at the time of its release had sufficient recall to place it in Peterson’s larger group of straight-sided bent billiards, which most famously include the O.1 and O.3 house pipes, the 02 and 02BB oom pauls, the 4 / 309 bent dutch made famous by the Thinking Man icon and by Basil Rathbone’s use of it in the Sherlock Holmes film franchise of the 1930s and 40s, and the tiny 8 / 313. And that not to mention the 1988 Dublin Millennium commemorative and 2015 Founder’s Edition / POY oom pauls. While the XXL house pipes, oom pauls and Thinking Man 4 / 309 are no longer in production, the little 313 is still with us, as well as the 301.
As seems to happen in most areas of human endeavor, the first issues of the 301 are arguably the finest. This has to do with the magnificent Comfort P-Lip, which visually balances the bowl in a way later mouthpieces never have, as well as Peterson’s early pride in the shape by releasing it in so many upper-grade lines. The shape 71 Premier Dunmore unmounted version, for example, can be documented with two different Comfort Lip mouthpieces:
Note the lilt or gentle curve at the button: correctly executed, this tips the crown of the bowl about 5º and is one secret of the comfort in the Comfort P-Lip, giving the teeth a wide, level platform. As with everything in the world of Peterson, there’s always a bit of variation since stems are bent one at a time, by hand. But with a little experience, you can begin to see (and feel) the best bends.
If you want a 301 and can’t find a clean, early example on the estate market, just avoid the vulcanite mouthpiece on many current releases, which is tubular, impossible to clinch and destroys the delightful chubby effect of the original:
For my money, the SPD2019, or any 301 with the acrylic P-Lip, is to be preferred over current vulcanite mouthpiece versions if you want a new one. The button, at least, works like a P-Lip should, and while blocky is still better than the current vulcanite:
While I can’t claim to have noticed detrimental effects in its use, for the record, the bore of the acrylic P-Lip isn’t graduated. It proceeds from the button through most of the mouthpiece at 1.5mm, then abruptly shifts to 5mm about 15mm from the tenon-end. According to one industry authority, it is impossible to use a tapered drill bit on acrylic. Furthermore, in Premier Systems, the acrylic P-Lip lacks the historic tenon extension which has been part of Premier and DeLuxe System engineering since the original Patent. Sounds like a good argument to return to the original 1979 vulcanite design to me. As a wise woman once said, Si Non Confectus, Non Reficiat—” “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.”