I doubt he’s thinking of it this way, but Todd Becker of eBay’s deadmanpipes has donned a Christmas-in-July Santa suit to put some cheer in the summer doldrums of every Pete Freek’s pipe: he’s given his blessing to allow me to digitize and post for download a rare and important Rogers Imports Peterson catalog from 1939. Intended for retailers, the catalog fills a much-needed gap in our understanding of the shape chart between Peterson’s own 1937 and 1945 catalogs.
The catalog documents the early days of Roger’s distribution of Kapp & Peterson in the US. As we discuss in The Peterson Pipe, Rogers Imports was responsible for laying the foundation for Peterson’s enduring popularity as a marque here in the US, creating unique lines and marketing them individually (see pp. 155-57, 323-24).
The “Captain Peterson” story is told in the Peterson book. Look for it!
Harry L. Rogers had applied to the US Patent Office on December 2, 1935 to use “Peterson” as a trade mark, and then again on January 1, 1938 to use “Shamrock,” which suggests that Rogers Imports became Kapp & Peterson’s US distributor at some point in 1935 and had launched the Shamrock line by 1938—the first year of Peterson’s Éire era (1938-48).
The 1939 copyright date seen at the bottom of page 2, in conjunction with the printing code on the inside back cover (“A B C 5th EDITION”) suggests there were four previous catalogs.
Rogers offered seven Systems in the Standard grade: 363 (today’s 313), 359 (the old 309), 362 (312),
364 (314), 358 (the old 308), 357 (307) and 356 (the old 306).
When the Peterson book went to press in late 2018, we only had a limited understanding of when the Rogers-Peterson lines began, but this catalog is proof that the Killarney, Sterling Silver and Shamrock lines were being made for Rogers at least as early as 1939 and probably 1937, judging from the trademark application dates. It also documents Kapp & Peterson’s manufacture of natural or “virgin briar” (unstained or barely stained) lines in both the Dublin and London factories.
I’m also happy to report that a few revisions of the book are now in order. That didn’t take long, did it? So get out your pencil, it’s time to annotate your copy: (1) The Croydon Square origin date is given as 1949 in the book, as we only had an RDTA Almanac an unhallmarked specimen to go by. But now—surprise!—it’s clear that the line was being made as early as ’39. (The similarity between the name of Croydon Square and Trafalgar Square also has me wondering if the latter didn’t replace the former at some point.) (2) We can also pencil in ’39 as the earliest documented date (so far) for the Captain Pete. (3) The ad copy in the catalog also suggests that, at this date, the line was made exclusively at the London factory. (4) And if that’s not enough, at the beginning of the “N” section in the Information Guide, you can write, “An N prefacing two-digit shape numbers of English-made pipes refers to a natural finish.”
(Does anyone know anything about the BBPIA? This emblem was in the Rogers catalog.)
So much for the historical details. I don’t want to spoil all the fun of discovery, but there’s just a few more highlights I can’t resist pointing out:
- The Classic Range 900 shape group, woefully under-represented until now, can be seen as an integral part of the Éire era’s shape production;
- The Classic Range 600 shape group has some interesting and seldom-seen shapes in it, in addition to leaning toward larger, heavier pipes.
- The Special Lightweight line is the forerunner of the 1947 Specialty quartet (tankard and barrel, belgique and calabash) and is marketed as both a women’s pipe line and a distinctive featherweight;
- The London factory’s output in the Croydon Square and Captain Pete lines are revealed as not merely for the English market, but were being sold to the US as well, with their own unique double-digit shape numbers.
I hope that’s not too much of a plot spoiler, but I suspect you’ll have as much fun as I have poring over the catalog. Just click on the link under the cover illustration. Feel free to share it around & don’t forget to mention Peterson Pipe Notes!
…for allowing the digitization and dissemination of this catalog among fellow Peterson aficionados. You can almost always see Todd’s amazing restorations of classic English pipes on offer at deadmanspipes on eBay. Todd writes, “My interest in Peterson came when I visited their shop on Grafton street on my honeymoon ten years ago and bought my first pipe. I wasn’t even an avid pipe smoker yet but I picked up a Killarney XL02 and it was so beautiful I had to have it. I bought some cigars while there and also a tin of Connoisseur and smoked that tin while on my honeymoon and fell in love with Peterson. That pipe smoked perfectly from the get-go and is still today my favorite pipe. Maybe it was sheer dumb luck, but it is one of those pipes where you can walk away and it will still be lit 10 minutes later.”
The wording in this newspaper ad suggests Rogers had just opened for business,
as 100 Fifth Ave. is the first address we have for the company.
Incidentally, this is the first use of the “Contented Man” logo in the 1930s I’ve seen.