On Thursday afternoon of January 3rd this year, something rather wonderful happened: Smokingpipes.com released a small batch of 80 Peterson pipes to launch SPC’s 20th anniversary celebrations. I took a look, of course, but when I went to look again the following morning, all 80 pipes were gone.
Peterson produces a number of small batches each year for their clients all over the globe and I don’t hear about a number of them, but this one deserves special mention and a gallery walk approach, if for no other reason than to document Peterson’s new era of blasting. What you see in this post are the top shelf blasts—in terms of character rather than strict regularity—and by using this post as a benchmark, you should be select your future Peterson blast acquisitions in a (perhaps) more informed manner.
Sykes Wilford, in an SPC blog post and video on January 3rd, gave a great deal of important information about this small batch as well as about Peterson’s blast grading, which, combined with an earlier post on this site, give a good idea of what’s happening in Sallynoggin and what we can expect in future releases. Sykes writes:
I think it was Beginning in early 2000, while attending college and working for a cigar and pipe shop, I started considering the prospect of establishing a business to sell pipes on the internet. I incorporated Laudisi Enterprises that May, registered Smokingpipes.com that June, and we sold our first pipe that November.
Two decades and lots and lots of pipes and pipe tobacco later, Smokingpipes celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, a milestone we plan to commemorate with a range of special, limited edition projects spanning multiple countries, manufacturers, and products, beginning today with Peterson’s limited edition SPC 20th Anniversary line.
Early on, we decided that Peterson’s contribution to the Smokingpipes 20th Anniversary project would be a silver spigot — silversmithing being so core to Peterson’s identity — but we also wanted to showcase the quality of the marque’s recently revamped sandblasting process, which now follows an approach similar to that of artisan pipe makers — from Tom Eltang to Jeff Gracik to Michael Parks — but on a larger scale to accommodate higher rates of production.
From mid-September to late November, Peterson sandblasted some 3,000 bowls using this new process. These bowls were separated into four grades depending on the quality of the grain structure and the depth of the blast. For this project, we’ve insisted on sandblasts with character, prioritizing depth of blast and cragginess over perfect regularity. Accordingly, William Murray, who does all of Peterson’s grading, began selecting bowls from only the two highest briar grades, with a particular focus on depth and strong grain structure.
From this stock, we hand selected the most interesting 80 sandblasted stummels, in a wide variety of Peterson shapes, presented in a classic black stain with black acrylic stems. All 80 feature a sterling silver spigot mount (hallmarked for 2019, since these were made in the waning months of that year) and 10 also integrate a sterling silver rim cap. Each Smokingipes 20th Anniversary Peterson pipe comes with its own black pipe bag, custom crafted by master leatherworker Claudio Albieri, emblazoned with logos for both Peterson and Smokingpipes. Each pipe is numbered out of 80 and includes a card signed by Glen Whelan and Jonathan Fields.
The individuality of the pieces speaks for itself, and I’m in hopes we’ll be seeing this kind of top shelf blasting on a few System pipes in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, compare these to the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day pipes and what I think you’ll see is not only how great the 20th Anniversary small batch was, but how fascinating the lower-tier blasts are as well, in many cases equaling in visual (if not textile) interest some of the pipes seen here.
Smokingpipes 20th Anniversary Peterson Spigot Sandblast. Small batch of 80 numbered sterling spigots, 10 with silver caps, released January 3rd, 2020. High-grade sandblast in gloss black, acrylic spigot fishtail mouthpiece, hallmarked “I” for 2019. Black leather pipe sock by Claudio Albeieri with Peterson “P Ball” logo on one side and SPC logo on the other; includes envelope with signed card by Glen Whelan (director of sales at Peterson) and Jonathan Fields (factory manager).