If ever there was a year Santa needs to be on time, it’s 2020. Pipe smokers are better equipped than most to cope with stress, of course, but I can’t think of a year with so many imponderables, perplexities and no-win scenarios. In that mix, of course, are the absence of all the little daily blessings we once took so much for granted. So it is that with shortages of so many other essentials since March, I was relieved to learn the Peterson Christmas commemorative pipe will be rolling out right on schedule—tomorrow, in fact!
Once again K&P is offering up a calming “incense holder” (as an old “Chat with the Smoker” brochure calls it) for your favorite blends in a pipe that can keep the true spirit of Christmas alive all year. Continuing with last year’s Stille Nacht aesthetic, this year’s commemorative to peace and good will exudes the warmth of a good fire in the hearth, home and comfort. The ebony gloss in-house sandblast, copper-plated band and Cumberland acrylic fishtail may be just the necessary balm to render some relief in the months leading up to Christmas and beyond.
For the third year in a row, the Christmas pipe features the classic nickel-mount marks of shamrock, foxhound and round tower, those great symbols of Éire Charles Peterson first applied to his nickel-mounts back in 1891. This is the only way, so far, to get them on a new Peterson pipe, which apart from the recent Christmas pipes haven’t been seen since the early 1960s.
Stamping this year is, of course, applied by hand: Peterson in cursive over OF DUBLIN in small caps with a larger CHRISTMAS underneath and 2020 and the shape number nearby.
There seem to be two different acrylic rods being used this year. While both may be described as Cumberland, the one seen in the top photo is like last year’s more caramel and black lines while the two below offer a subdued red with occasional black swirls. They both look fetching.
The much-expanded shape chart this year also has some surprises, which I greatly relish. In addition to a broad range of perennial favorites, there’s some novelties rarely or never seen in the commemorative lines to be found at both ends of the size spectrum.
For the ever-growing legion of pipe smokers favoring smaller bowls (“group 2 and 3” I think they’d say) there’s the D15, D5, 406, D16, Tankard, 69 and 304:
This is the first time any of these aside from the 69 has appeared in the Christmas lineup and should prove ideal for those who like a shorter smoke. The D15 and D16 are from a group of three pipe shapes developed some years after the original D shape group specifically for the churchwarden line, but are charming in these versions.
For lovers of larger bowls and longer smokes, the B42 (Darwin), XL11, XL02, XL90 and 306 are on offer:
The XL02 looks especially jaunty and the B42 has never, I think, appeared as a commemorative offering before and seldom in anything other than the System line, and the 306 hasn’t, I think, been in the Christmas lineup before.
The “usual suspects” always in high demand are also on offer: the 01, 03, 05, 106, 107 (not often seen), 120, 221, 304, 408, 606, B10, X105 and 68 (another greatly neglected shape):
If I counted correctly, that’s two dozen shapes, up from last year’s baker’s dozen of 13. Engineering is much the same as last year. If you’ve had success with earlier iterations of the acrylic F/T army mounts, you’ll find this seasonal offering as good or better. I like to reserve this type of pipe for burley flakes, English and orientals, but that may not be everyone’s experience, as I find a bit of turbulence in the gap between tenon and mortise that seems to make my virginias and vapers smoke a bit hot. The superb bowl coating, however, means a quick break-in and great smokes from the start. Remember to run your shank brush through the stummel’s airhole in case there’s any bits of tearaway, as sometimes happens in these gateway pipes. If you find the pull difficult in the first few smokes, check to see that the pre-carb hasn’t melted over the airhole in the chamber base, which sometimes happens but can be remedied with a shank reamer or sometimes just the shank brush.
Review pipes courtesy Kapp & Peterson
Stock photos courtesy Laudisi Distribution Group
Additional photography by C. Mundungus
Nollaig shona dhuit!
Believing is seeing.
They’re beautiful! Seems as though the elements of previous offerings have been tweaked for better harmony. Ill be on the lookout for a B42 as I love that shape and prefer a larger bowl. I have an older one that’s really very plain but a great smoker. The newest sandblasting has improved greatly with more definition and subtle detail revealed. The copper ferrule is a great touch, an unexpected bit whose warmth compliments the other colors. Merry Christmas and I hope every reader gets gifted with one of these beauties.
Paul, I couldn’t agree with you more. Of the three Christmas offerings with the copper ferrules, this is my favorite. Hope you snag a B42 in the very near future!
I am not, nor ever will be a great fan of anything but smooth pipes. Some contrast stained sandblasted pipes catch my fancy in a high grade ring grain, but otherwise anything but smooth pipes come off as crap wood that needs to be used up (which I understand). The weird swirly fake Cumberland? pattern is not appealingly to me either, the straight pattern is ok. I can get behind the copper band on some finishes, and I definitely like the faux hallmarks showing up once again. I do generally prefer smaller straight pipes, maybe group 3-4, but the only… Read more »
John: your reserve is, as always, refreshing. LOL. Glad to see you’d still accept one for more than kindling if it found its way under your tree, but I can understand your feelings. I know some very prominent hobbyists who have nothing to do with blasts or rustics and of course you’re right that this was traditionally a way of salvaging the wood and keeping costs down. I spend quite a bit of time watching movies while I smoke in a darkened room, so that may explain part of my enjoyment of blasts and rustics, although even while reading I… Read more »
You are right Mark, we pipemen/women are generally a bipartisan lot. I would never begrudge any one for the pipe they smoke. Nearly any tobacco pipe is better than none.
I have to say very surprised and excited with the D shapes and the Darwin being introduced. The sandblasting has been incredible and I am sure this year will sell very well.
It will be fun tomorrow to see how many pipes whisk out the door at SPC. I blinked and the POYs were gone. I’m sure the supply for these will be much greater, although the toil of finding just the right one may take a toll!
I am both cursed and blessed to be in the Great White North (Montana). I just saw the SPC Pete CP2020 update which posted to my email at about 11:30 PM last night (I was sound asleep). I looked on SPC at about 7:30 AM here…..I looked (just for the heck of it)…..either all of the D15 are out the door, or they didn’t actually have any. My guess, all gone before I saw even one.
I was on the internet at 12:30 and there were about 5 D15 and about 10 or so of the D16. I am sure they will have extra supply if the demand is there to bring them out through the holidays. My 2018 999 is mainly for English blends, so this purchase, above and beyond finishing my Pete Sherlock Meers, pickaxe, and a few unicorn POTYs, will only add to my addiction 🙂
Wow, Some of those are lovely! In contrast to John Schantz, I’ve always prefered a sandblast or rusticated pipe – I just like the feel in my hand. I do, however own and love a couple of smooth pipes with a lovely grain. I like that D15 shape. My wife and I have started watching all episodes of Sherlock Holmes again on Netflix, ( with Jeremy Brett who is my favorite S.H ) and I love the smooth churchwarden he smokes – the longer of the two – and the D15 shape reminds me of it. Does anyone know what… Read more »
Hey Marlowe, there has been some speculation on the make of churchwarden Jeremy Brett smoked. I agree, the D15 seems very close. It has been so long since I owned a churchwarden that, when I go through the series again, I may be tempted to get one.
I have one churchwarden. I took a few of my late Dad’s pipes to Charles Lemon and he chose a Brigham 129 – bent Author shape – as one that he could best fit a church warden stem to. He fitted one up for me ( it’s featured in one of his blog posts, Oct 1 2018) and it came out really well. The only regret I have with it is that I chose an acrylic stem instead of vulcanite.
I see there is a variety of rims, between bevelled and flat.
Personally I prefer the flat rim, especially on these blasted briars, as it lens more to that sharper hewn-log aesthetic, and thick walled effect. The bevelling to my eye only looks good when on smooth bowls, where the smooth curves and transitions are less abrupt. Curious why there is this variation in treatments
My guess is that those bowls with beveled rims had a large divot in them that they had to get rid of. I think that the same thing had to be done for the “Arklow” stummels. They have to figure out ways to use the “not so good” stummels rather than throw them in the furnace to heat the shop. It works to keep the price down on entry level pipes and keeps one of our favorite pipe factories viable. All for the good. Personally, I like the beveled rims and I have almost “pulled-the-trigger” on buying one for that… Read more »
Just nailed down a classic 408 shape in this series. They’re going fast. The one I snagged is a larger one (6.29″) and has a very nice ring blast. My understanding is that with a military mount you can remove the stem while smoking it when it’s still warm. Is that true?
Jim, it is one of things I like best about army mount, very easy to keep dry :). Love my 2018 999 for that reason and my orange army 01.
Thanks Bob. I wasn’t sure because I don’t have to many of them. 999’s and 01’s rank up there in my favorite Pete shapes. The XL 90 is my favorite.
Oh Boy, someone must have cancelled the D15 and I pulled the trigger along with some more Pete gear!
Hi Jim, yes, that is certainly true of any military mount or System pipe, which really makes it convenient when the draft gets clogged at the bottom of the chamber. I’ve done it in mid-smoke. Not being the world’s best tobacco packer. LOL.
Hey just a heads up: if you use a countersink bit at the tenon end of the stem, place the tip inside the airway, and spin the bit by hand enough times, you can chamfer the end of the tenon. Doing that simple trick will help to reduce the turbulence at that junction.
Thanks, Daniel. I’ll give this a try on my Christmas pipe.
I bought the 05 last night. This will be my first Peterson pipe. I just thought it looked beautiful. And the size and shape appeared online as if it would fit my large hand well. I love the rough craggily appearance, to me it is more of a reflection of the natural environment than something highly polished and smooth as glass. I am very excited for my first Peterson pipe.
Hi Joe, hope you have happy smokes with it. The 05 is a fantastic shape, first appearing in 1984. It was created by K&P’s master craftsman Paddy Larrigan to initiate their Sherlock Holmes series.
Nice to see a new version of the most classic pete’s shape for this Christmas edition… it really tempt me to buy one but some aspects and questions are strongly stoping me: why so dark colour of the strummel (does the color hide major flaws?)? and why the stems don’t wear the iconical silver P stamp or inlay??
it gives me the idea that they had leftover or discarded strummel and somehow needed to get rid of them… don’t you?
Hi Luca! Good questions. I’ll try to answer them briefly: 1. Color–yes, all pipe makers stain bowls that don’t have spectacular or even good grain, even artisan makers. These are sandblasted, so after the blasting there are no fills. Peterson has traditionally offered a wide range of stains, moving from “natural” (light orange or honey) to black. The Ebony Spigots, for example, are flawless bowls, but the bowls have no grain and so are perfect for ebony spray, which cannot have any fills (or the spray doesn’t take well). 2. Sometimes Peterson uses the silver foil stamp and sometimes not.… Read more »
So Mark, there’s an internet rumor that the 2021 Christmas Pipe might be some combination of Christmas and the Sherlock Holmes shapes. Any comments? https://www.reddit.com/r/PipeTobacco/comments/pepc1z/petersons_2021_christmas_pipes_i_was_hoping_for/
That photo was from K&P, David. So there you go! I’d heard but was hoping the pipes would be army-mount w/ copper bands, which would make for something truly different, esp. with a festive Christmas acrylic stem.