In September of 2017, Peterson released a custom line in collaboration with SPC, the Arklow, which I praised at the time as one of the most original and eye-catching gateway lines Peterson had released, due in part to the twin finishes (walnut and burgundy), the inclusion of some B shapes and the concave, slightly shortened, smooth-finished rims.
The 2020 Arklow XL02 “Fat Bottom”
Just a few weeks ago, Peterson re-introduced the Arklow, this time as one of its standard lines. Peterson’s release of a successful or innovative custom line into the world market isn’t a new practice but goes back at least to the early 1970s when the Iwan Ries-Peterson “Dunmore” Premier Unmounted System (which Iwan Ries persisted in misspelling as “Dunmoor”) became available as a regular line. A number of Mario Lubinski’s special Italian market lines have also gone into general production—the Kapp-Royal, Ashford and nickel-banded Aran to name three.*
This time out, while there aren’t twin stains and B shapes to choose from, Peterson is showcasing its ever-heightening skills in sandblasting. The two I’ve seen in person (the 69 and 304 shown in this post) are far beyond anything from the 2017 issue, with a felt tactility and seemingly infinite blast variations.
The bowl stamps this time out are, of course, done by hand—laser-engraved stamping now being a thing of the past. The arched fork-tail “P” PETERSON’S over DUBLIN stamp is used, with ARKLOW in caps (and not quite a straight line) with the bowl number stamp nearby.
I was pleasantly surprised by the nickel ferrules. They feature the original maker’s mark of K&P over PETERSON—which is not the surprise. What surprised me was the high gloss finish. When a Pete geek friend first saw them about half-way across the room she said, “Are those sterling?” In the past several years, I’ve been known to spin my new nickel-mount Petes on the buffer to bring up the shine but on the new Arklows there’s no need, which is fantastic. (You know I have to insert a plea that maybe it won’t be too long until we’ll see the return of the three classic nickel-mount marks of shamrock, fox hound and round tower.)
Shape 68 Kapp-Royal (top); 68 Arklow 2017 (middle) and 68 Arklow 2020 (bottom)
If you look carefully at the illustration above and flip back to the 2017 Arklow post, you’ll see two other differences between the 2017 and 2020 Arklows. The 2020 Arklow mouthpieces aren’t hot-foil stamped and many of the 2017 shapes were shortened at the crown by 2-4 mms. This gave a very distinctive look to the 2017 pipes, but it is more than compensated for in the 2020’s new depth of (in-house) blasting and individuation.
I’ve seen fifteen shapes so far, all from the standard catalog: 03, 05, 65, 68, 69, 120, 221, 230, 304, 338, 406, B10, B11, X220, XL02 [fat bottom] and XL02 [ball]. Once again, if you’re a fan of the XL02, be aware the Fat Bottom and the Ball are both available.
There is also a bit of variation in the stain color, which isn’t any kind of problem since that just adds to the uniqueness of each pipe. You can see what I mean in these two crown detail photos:
At $115 MRSP and $82.80 at SPC, if you’re a fan of Peterson’s army mounts you might want to consider adding one of these imminently affordable beauties.
The town of Arklow c. 1916
Incidentally, the Arklow, like almost all of Peterson’s lines, is named after an Irish place–in this case one of the oldest towns, in County Wicklow on the eastern coast. The Vikings established it in the 9th century CE, although many archeologists believe the Vikings built their town on a site established as early as the 2nd c. CE.
Many thanks to Peterson
Photos courtesy Smokingpipes.com
and Chas. Mundungus
*The Burren line is a rare example of the concept backfiring. In my opinion it happened because the original on which it was based, the Italian-market Sansonne Rogha limited edition was an unblemished sandblast “natural virgin” System with sterling mount. It was appropriated as a gateway army mount line. This might not have happened if the directors had had a deeper appreciation for this uniquely Italian concept or been pipe smokers. Or both.