The 2019 Peterson Christmas Pipe is rolling out across the globe, and for those of you who missed it for your Christmas-in-July, it’s here and it’s just what those of us in the heat-drenched Southwest need: something cool, something quiet, something for a little solace from all the sizzlings, shootings, tropical storms and day-to-day insanity that have made 2019 one of the craziest years on record.
The 606 Pot
This year’s pipe continues the soft-spoken, Stille Nacht vibe seen in recent years, featuring the second appearance of the “faux-marked” copper-plated ferrules and bands. I say faux marks, but you’ve got your Peterson book, so you know the shamrock, foxhound and round tower stamps were featured on every nickel-mount Peterson pipe from 1896 until around 1963.
I’m particularly proud of this band, because it was in a conversation with Conor Palmer that I casually mentioned (in rather stentorian tones, I’m afraid) that it would sure be nice if Peterson could bring back these traditional marks. And of course, above them is the original K&P “maker’s mark” which always accompanied them.
Of the twelve shapes chosen for this year, the 304 is my favorite—and apparently, everyone else’s as well! When the pipes launched on Smokingpipes last week there were plenty of every shape, but the next day the 304s had vanished like Santa up the chimney. (The bend on the pipe in the middle, by the way, it particularly fetching.) When I asked my wife and long-time Peterson collaborator about it she said, “Well of course! It looks like Christmas—look at that fat little belly!” So yeah, we know what pipe Santa will be smokin’ this Christmas Eve on his duly appointed rounds.
The contrast stain, which strikes the eye as a kind of burgundy-over-copper, is the perfect accompaniment to the copper band and subdued acrylic Cumberland stem. The stem in turn helps the copper-color hot foil P pop, doesn’t it?
I was privileged to take a close look at the 999 rhodesian and a 106 billiard. The drilling on both, I’m excited to say, seemed dead-on, at least for these shapes. The 999s always seem to be drilled at the top, as this one is, but the 106 is dead-center. There was no tear-away in either stummel’s airway, which has been the case in previous years.
The bowl stamps (hand-stamped, naturally) are also great: the shape number, “CHRISTMAS,” even 2019! It’s all there (which isn’t always the case with Peterson).
The X220, aka the 11S (DeLuxe System) and 312 (Premier and Standard System)
As for the shapes, after the 304 the XL02 once again catches my eye, probably because it looks so much like a Christmas ornament. But this year I want to draw you attention to the fact that there are really two shapes that bear the XL02 stamp. I know I’ve gone on about this in other posts, but this year, take a look for yourself.
XL02 “FAT BOTTOM”
One shape I call the XL02 FAT BOTTOM. Seen above are two of them. This is the original c. 1979 02 shape released in the System range as the 02s and 302 and in the Classic Range as the 02 and XL02.
Compare the FAT BOTTOM to the BALL, seen above. Usually I whine on about how the older shapings are the best (because they usually are), but I really like the BALL version of the XL02. I don’t know when, exactly, it appeared, but my unfounded hypothesis is that Peterson has two different out-sourcers making these two shapes—one making the FAT BOTTOM original and one making the BALL. I have a System Spigot in the BALL and adore it.
The 68, a fabulous Irish Army shape introduced in the late 1970s
There’s loads of other great shapes as well this year: the 01, the 05, the 68 (yea!) as well as the old classic 69, 106, 606, X220 and XL90.
The 05, looking very Hogwartish in its rusticated guise
To keep this from being just another Peterson puff piece (which I’m often accused of), let me get critical for just a second. If you’re a Pete Freek, you’ve seen what looks just like this type of rustication pattern on the Aran Rustic, the current Sherlock Holmes rustics, the System rustics and maybe even the current Derry Rustics. Is it a lot to ask for some variation? I much prefer the craggier Rosslare Rustic treatment, but if you know anything about rusticated pipes you know there’s as many ways to rusticate a pipe as there are craftsmen to rusticate them: it all just depends on the tool the artisan uses.
The 01 ‘Short Dutch’
Okay, I have one more gripe: what happened to the fantastic sleeves the Christmas and Summertime commemoratives used to come in? Maybe I just got gypped, but one reason I’ve always loved the Christmas pipes is because you get an old-timey sleeve (yeah I know, it’s not even a box, but still) to go with it. ’Nuff said.
The small 69, an original Patent-era shape
So when it all gets to be too much sometime later today or this week, you might begin to think about putting a little Christmas in your life. Your faith orientation (or lack of) doesn’t really figure into the equation here: what you’re aiming for is just a little embodied peace and quiet: some time off-line and off the grid with a good pipe to remind you in a tangible way what’s really important.
The XL90 for the Long Night
…and the little 03 for the before-everyone-else-gets-up smoke on Christmas morning
The 106 for a ’40s – ’50s White Christmas
Photos of individual pipes and shape chart courtesy Smokingpipes.com
Banner and detail photos by Chas. Mundungus