224. “Smoking is the Art”: Sweet Petes Future / Past

224. “Smoking is the Art”: Sweet Petes Future / Past

When we look at any beautiful object (natural or artistic), we suspend all other activity, and we are simply aware, we only want to contemplate the object. While we are in this contemplative state, we do not want anything from the object; we just want to contemplate it; we want it to never end. We don’t want to eat it, or own it, or run from it, or alter it: we only want to look, we want to contemplate, we never want it to end.

In that contemplative awareness, our own egoic grasping in time comes momentarily to rest. We relax into our basic awareness. We rest with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. We are face to face with the calm, the eye in the center of the storm. We are not agitating to change things; we contemplate the object as it is. Great art has this power, this power to grab your attention and suspend it: we stare, sometimes awestruck, sometimes silent, but we cease the restless movement that otherwise characterizes our every waking moment. . . .

—Ken Wilbur, The Eye of Spirit: Integral Art and Literary Theory, 44

 

“Sweet Petes” has become an annual tradition here on Peterson Pipe Notes, having appeared in a kind of virtual gallery walk of favorite Petes from the past and present. It debuted in 2016 and returned in 2017, 2018, 2019 and in an IPSD edition for 2020. The idea is simply to offer a selection of fascinating Petes with a few notes on what hit me or other Pete Geeks as remarkable about each piece. This year’s edition begins with an update from Josh Burgess, Managing Director at K&P, on new pipes and finishes we can expect to see this year—some of which debuted this past week. From there, like every good museum, we preface the tour with a brief introduction by an informed guide, in this case one of the great guys in the hobby, Ted Swearingen.

 

 

New From K&P for 2021

Josh Burgess writes:

On new releases, we’ve got some things in the works. We’re adding a few shapes that have been in the Churchwarden/Specialty line that are going to be making appearances elsewhere now. The Specialty Tankard is going to be showing up as shape 701. The Churchwarden Dublin will appear in the standard line as the 124, the D15 will appear as the 127 and the D16 will appear as the 128. This will flesh out our Dublin/Bent Dublin offerings a bit, so we followed the 120 shape numbering convention.

The “new” 128 (formerly the D16) debuts in the Aran Nickel Mount P-Lip

Two other new series will be appearing soon. First is Deluxe Classic. This series will be a selection of high grades—non-Systems with classic mounts. It’s a revival of the old Deluxe series of sorts, but we’ve added a new twist. We’ll be offering three finishes: Natural, Terracotta, and PSB. Each shape will feature large silver bands to echo the POY aesthetic. I’m really excited about those. We’re also going to be releasing Irish Harp Sandblasted. It’s a nice brownish tan SB with a silver band and the Cumberland colored acrylic stem. I think customers can expect to start seeing both of these series in May.

Additionally, we’ll be expanding Deluxe System offerings by adding the PSB grade, as high quality sandblasted bowls become available. So interested Pete Geeks should be on the lookout for those. Finally, we’re working toward our POY, Christmas and a few other special designs for later in the year. More on those soon!

 

 

Smoking is the Art
by Ted Swearingen

This weekend I showed my wife a 110-year-old Barling, a pipe in pristine condition, one dressed in a few lovely silver adornments, which is something I like in a pipe right now. The pipe didn’t belong to me, and to the best of my appraisal it appeared unsmoked. “If that were mine, I’d smoke the hell out of it!” I shouted at my wife. I didn’t mean to shout. I was excited. But she was horrified at the idea of that pipe being smoked. She told me I should, effectively, become part of the stewardship of its virginity for the rest of my life, that I should adopt it, safeguarding it for a future generation beyond my reckoning. Her condemnation was quick to start, delivered swiftly, and ferocious. I’m so proud of her.

In attempts by many pipe smokers to explain our hobby to outsiders, pipes have been compared to art collections, and collecting pipes and treating them with care (i.e. handling them correctly) is not unlike acquiring art, because they’re created by absolute masters of the craft. I think, however, they’re rather unalike. As engaging as it may be, art appreciation is a passive pursuit. Art enjoyment is spectatorship. We look at art, or listen to or watch or read it, and we may be deeply affected by it, but we don’t do anything. We have no active part in the performance.

Likewise, I’ve heard pipes described as utilitarian objects. Which they are. Like toothbrushes, and coffee cups, pipes are functional items that provide a very real, practical use: the business of smoking pipe tobacco. But equally simple objects of utility don’t require anything of us; we need no practical or theoretical expertise to use a chair or a spoon in order to make proper use of them. When these objects are intelligently made, we need no training or experience to operate them. The blunt, pragmatic notion that a pipe exists only to burn tobacco, completely overlooks the entire dimension of pipe smoking itself as an artform, or at least the final fundamental and essential element of that art’s culmination.

Because pipe smoking, properly informed by refined technique and applied experience, is and of itself an art form, I tend to think of a pipe as an instrument that makes art, like a musical instrument, and not a “piece” of art (though it certainly can be; just ask Antonio Stradivari or Roman Totenberg), nor is it a functioning item that also happens to be art. Smoking the thing is the art, and the pipe is the instrument of that art making. A pipe can be a useful thing, as a tool, as an instrument, and it can be a work of art produced by a master craftsman, but a pipe is first, and always, an instrument at the crux of the smoking artform.

So, if that were my pipe, yes, I would smoke it like I smoke all my pipes. I fully understand maintaining something beautiful and old. Besides, what if it smoked terribly? What if it lost my interest? But the ultimate satisfaction to be derived from a pipe isn’t in its possession; it’s in its use.

I explained much of this to my wife. She stood down, reflected. I may have got through to her. On the other hand, she’s always wanted an antique Steinway piano, and I fear I have handed her a new argument in favor of the purchase. I can’t read her mind, but I can see thoughts darting through her head, and they’re Steinway-colored thoughts. If the time comes, I think I may relent and accept her argument. She should never play that piano.

From Scott Forrest’s collection, a 1905 Patent System with the FA (Facing Mount) and ultra-rare AB (tapered) stem. Breath-taking.

 

 

A Kapruf shape 57 Made in England. The “57” is either the London factory’s number for a K&P oom paul or K&P’s Canadian number. Note the P-Lip. Made sometimes between 1937 and 1963.

 

From Craig Hairrell’s collection, #1/1000 of the very first POY in 1997.

 

This extraordinarily rare glazed clay System, shape 20, was probably made at the D. McDougall clay pipe factory in Glasgow. It is seen in the 1945 catalog and would have been made after Hitler invaded France in May and June of 1940 and French production came to an end (notice the ferrule lacks the “Brevet”). Not as fine as the French glazed or unglazed pipes, but still wonderful.

 

Here is a mystery I have never solved: a Patent Heeled Dublin reproduction from the Late Republic or early Dublin eras.  I put these images in a folder at some point before we began work on the Peterson book in 2011, but never found out anything more about it.

 

And here is the real thing, from Lance Dahl’s collection: an Amber Patent Heeled Dublin.

 

 

One of Paddy Larrigan’s XXL Hand Mades from the 1980s or very early 1990s, this is the first meerschaum-lined I’ve seen. He did almost all of K&P’s meerschaum-lined pipes, experimenting with ways to make them smoke as cool and sweet as possible.

 

 

From Brian 500s collection, this is only the 3rd K&P gourd meerschaum I’ve ever seen. The other two are owned by my publisher Gary Schrier and are seen in the Peterson book. Like the bog oak and clay System, these bowls were outsourced, then completed in the factory with precious metal adornment and P-Lip stems.

 

 

Here’s a wonderful Irish Free State 362 (shape 11) System with a P-Lip horn mouthpiece. Horn is becoming a bit more known these days thanks to the Ropp Vintage series. More easily damaged by dental chatter than vulcanite, it’s still quite strong and gorgeous to look at. It has no taste or odor. I say K&P should bring it back! Oh wait, they have issued a few vintage horn stems, haven’t they?

 

 

…Yes, they have. This XL23 (Lestrade) is probably still at Haddock’s. The vintage horn P-Lip is really long to take a bend like that.

 

Here’s a fascinating 307 Standard System (shape 9). Notice the wide-flared “A” or army mount mouthpiece. Sometimes on the estate market a Peterson is seen with a WDC Wellington mouthpiece, but as we can see the impressed “P” on the stem, we know this is an OEM stem. It must have been made sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I say this because of a very important shape chart that the late Chuck Wright sent me back in 2011. Study it carefully, as it contains the great “comfort P-Lip” mouthpieces I sometimes rant about, as well as containing the cross-reference pipe numbers for each bowl shape:

This photocopy from an old Hollco-Rohr catalog demonstrates why paper ephemera can be so important: at the time we discovered it there was great contention among other Pete Geeks as to the parallel pipe shape numbers!

 

 

 

A non-System shape from the  1905 catalog, one of the 160s, hallmarked 1920. Do notice the bend at the clenching shelf: the bowl would hang down about 15 degrees. Tsk, tsk.

 

From the Brian 500s collection, a DeLuxe gold-band straight apple nosewarmer with amber P-Lip.

 

What’s so fantastic about this 2020 fat bottom Premier 302, at least for me, is the contrast stain and the perfect blast ripples up both sides. I do love a Premier System.

 

From Stephano Zerbi’s collection, two beauties from the Italian market. At top, a 1996 XL12 (looking exactly like the Baskerville System from 1990) and a 1997  shape 230, also with the wonderful tapered vulcanite P-Lip. Such wonderful pieces! And there’s that tapered mouthpiece again. I especially like the aluminum “P.”

 

 

 

This is the 2019 PSOI (Pipe Smokers of Ireland) pipe, the now-retired D19 Large Tankard, one of Glen Whelan’s finest creations.

 

Another great piece from the Brian 500s collection: a pristine and practically new/old stock bulldog meer with amber P-Lip, hallmarked 1907.

 

 

This calabash is remarkable because of the extraordinary elegance of its mouthpiece, which dates it to the Early Republic era, c. 1945-55 or so. I believe it was sold through Todd Becker’s Deadman pipes on eBay.

 

A NAP amber mouthpiece was found at the factory not long after the return to in-house sandblasting. Here’s the wonderful result.

 

From Lance Dahl’s collection, a Patent Lip Meerschaum, probably shape 160. Love, love that swan neck.

 

The 304 is another of my favorite Larrigan shapes, here dressed in genuine vulcanite cumberland and a silver spigot, dating from about the time of its release in the early 1980s. Many don’t appreciate the very Irish aesthetic Larrigan brings to this shape: it’s essentially the 1945 [Beer] Barrel Specialty enlarged as a bent “setter.” At the time Larrigan made it, he wanted a pipe he could set on the table or the bar at the pub. It makes sense to anyone with half an interest in quality brew. This kind of birdseye is one of nature’s greatest gifts to pipe smokers.

 

A real rarity, a dublin Patent Straight System with amber mouthpiece, hallmarked 1908.

 

This charming Kapet 11 is from the Early Republic era. The stem bend and dublin stack give it a very Irish aesthetic. The rustication is spot-on identical with Castello’s Sea Rock, although why the pipe was stamped “Kapet” (a smooth line) rather than “Kapruf” (the rusticated line) is anyone’s guess. I’m beginning to believe that “1” or “11” signifies “one off,” having now seen about a half dozen pipes with these numbers.

 

From the Brian 500s collection, this 1916 CAD (see footnote 2 here for the name’s origin) or bulldog is one of the shapes estate collectors seem to come back to again and again, and you can see why. It’s a fantastic chubby and the tapered lines of the P-Lip mouthpiece are exquisite.

 

Lee Skiver writes, “My Patent Commemorative Rustic (Pebble Grain) is mounted here on a magnetic stand of my own design that I’m currently testing. Essentially a 1 inch wide rare earth magnet buried in some stacked leather, with a 3/8 inch magnetic sphere in the tobacco chamber.”  Pebble Grain still rocks the rustic Pete world, folks.

 

From the collection of Brian 500s, one of Charles Peterson’s own favorite shapes, the O1, with an AB tapered mouthpiece. I wonder why the shouldered army mount replaced the tapered one? Any guesses?

Prof. John Schantz wrote back with the probable answer: “I would guess that it would make for a better ‘straight pull’ on the stem if the stem were a little bit stuck. A stem without the ‘grip ring’ would tend to be pulled from the bend of the stem and put more angled stress on the mortise/shank possibly cracking it, or maybe even snapping the stem off at the bend.” This makes perfect sense to me. Thanks, John!

This is the earliest Donegal Rocky I’ve encountered. The line debuted in 1945 and my guess is that this was among those released between 1945 and 1950. The chunky rustication isn’t far off from that being done in-house these days, and certainly rockier than any of that line in its later iterations. Like the Donegal line through the 1980s, it features a slender aluminum stinger, easily removable.

 

Of course I can’t end this without something from “the Great Shape,” Shape 4, aka 309, 4s, 79, et al. This one is a new/old stock 1309 MIE (Made in England) System 0, bearing the number for the Canadian market. The 1937 catalog indicated that First Quality (our De Luxe) bore no number and was followed by 0, 2 and 3. That makes four grades. But when the catalog was issued, the 0 and 2 were available in sterling mounts. As I’ve yet to document a 0 grade with a sterling mount, I’m not sure that ever happened.

 

 

“Smoking Is The Art” is republished by the kind permission
of the author and Smokingpipes.com. It originally appeared in
Pipe Line, March 20, 2019.

Many thanks to Josh Burgess, K&P
and Smokingpipes.com.

Thanks also to the Pete Bhoys,* stalwart and true, who contributed to this post.

And finally, CHEERS & APPLAUSE
to Mel-Bud for the long hours spent
stripping the malware from this blog site!

 

Unlock the identity of the new 2021 POY by unscrambling this message
with your Captain Pete Secret Squadron Decoder Ring:

lo4siesabnblrbahat

 

*It’s Celtic. Look it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Andy Camire
Andy Camire
25 days ago

What a fantastic way to start the week. Just amazing pieces of Peterson’s History and as it continues the company gives one the urge to accumulate more and more of these newly issued shapely pipes. As contemplative as this blog post starts off, personally I still wish to acquire some of these. Amazing and Thanks to all those sharing these wonderful smoking pipes.

John Schantz
John Schantz
25 days ago

Mark, In response to your query, “I wonder why the shouldered army mount replaced the tapered one? Any guesses?” I would guess that it would make for a better “straight pull” on the stem if the stem were a little bit stuck. A stem without the “grip ring” would tend to be pulled from the bend of the stem and put more angled stress on the mortise/shank possibly cracking it, or maybe even snapping the stem off at the bend? On a sad note, I forgot about “Sweet Pete’s” and didn’t get my choice in, dang 🙁 I love the… Read more »

John Schantz
John Schantz
23 days ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

I thought it might have been the little dublin amber I was eyeing on EBay myself recently. I did not pony-up the greenbacks either.

Martin
Martin
25 days ago

Wow what stunning Pipes and informations you provide here.The oldest pipe I can show is
a Mark Twain from 2014. Now I am also interrested in the new lines & of course the POTY.
Thanks for infecting me , next month i am on the hunt.

Martin
Martin
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

In fact i am suffering right now from the “virus” having planty of time to smoke, but no taste anymore. I think i use this opportunity to try my mixtures i discarded in the first place.

Martin
Martin
25 days ago

Some of the older Pipes here have very superb bruyere, I found my fathers pipe on the attic not long ago and its beautiful grain. That make me think bruyere 100 or 50 years ago was much better. What do you think?
Thanks again for this beautiful Blog.

Rob Guttridge
Rob Guttridge
24 days ago

Thank you Mark, what a great post, so many beauties!
I’m geeking out over the amber spigot with the NAP bit. What a rarity!
Also, not sure if my guilt over not sending you any pipe pics is assuaged or exacerbated by your inclusion of the exact same 307 System Standard that is my most recent acquisition from Smokingpipes.
On the plus side, their photo of it is doubtless more professional than mine would be. I love the shape of that stem (although this particular one does not fit the mortise as securely as most of my other standard systems).

Steven Hersey
Steven Hersey
24 days ago

Some stunning pipes here. Great article. It seems to confirms that part of the ‘pull’ of pipe smoking is the look and feel of a particular pipe which, somehow, ‘speaks’ to us. Quite a subjective process, but we know it when it happens.
A lovely range of shapes, colours, styles and finishes. I do like the tapered shoulder as well…
Thank you.

Martin
Martin
24 days ago

Interesting what peterson found in his drawer after decades. I hope they use this NAP stem as a blueprint to provide us with some, with the upcoming Deluxe Classic.
Can you imagine the fun we have.

Bob Cuccaro/TLIP
Bob Cuccaro/TLIP
24 days ago

Awesome article as usual Mark! Time to get my wallet ready!

Joe Marti
Joe Marti
23 days ago

My word…what a range of beauties. With all due sympathies to Mrs. Swearingen, I must agree with Mister. Pipes are made for smoking, pianos for playing, and hearts for breaking. Well, maybe not entirely on that last one. There are many, many fine pipe makers, and I enjoy them all, but Peterson just seems to be the essence of pipes to me. Beautiful examples. On the 1908 Patent Straight System with amber mouthpiece, do my eyes deceive me? It looks like the stem doesn’t quite fill out the case. Is it a replacement case, stem, or some third option I… Read more »

Joe Marti
Joe Marti
23 days ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

The game is afoot!

John Schantz
John Schantz
23 days ago
Reply to  Joe Marti

I was looking at that pipe when it was up for auction and was thinking along the same lines, causing some hesitation in possibly placing a bid. Then I got to looking closer and thinking, it does not look broken. What then, “replacement” stem from another pipe? Nope, I think the pipe was just old, and well used but definitely not abused, heck the amber stem looks nearly new after all. I believe that the mortise has just opened up from decades of use and the stem is sunk in. The exact circumstances that the “gap” in a Peterson “navy”… Read more »

Joe Marti
Joe Marti
22 days ago
Reply to  John Schantz

I think you most be right on the money – a navy style doing exactly what it was designed to do. It makes me want it more!

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
20 days ago
Reply to  Joe Marti

Mark Hoover did mention that he thought the stem had been worked on. I was dying to get a look at the connection. I also wondered about the top of the bowl not filling out the space. But it’s a beauty and a piece of history, regardless of changes during its life. Yep – pipes are made for smoking. I sold that old ‘Glasgow’ clay because I couldn’t bear to smoke it – glad it went to a good Peterson home and found its way here. I have another unsmoked one in the 309 shape. I found it odd that… Read more »

Joe Marti
Joe Marti
23 days ago

Also, the 309…please tell me someone in Sallynoggin (or Longs) has a heart and brings that gorgeous, genre-defining shape swiftly back.

Linwood
Linwood
22 days ago

I’m just finding the precious time to catch up here – please forgive my late replies. Thank you for the Sweet Petes – gosh how inspiring (and, as you know how I like the AB stems, thanks for including a few!). Somehow, as I look at modern offers from online retailers, I find it hard, since there are so many pictured, to concentrate on a few that in the recesses of my mind will be such wonderful classics – as honestly all have that potential! And, as Ted so eloquently wrote, they ARE instruments to be played, excuse me smoked,… Read more »

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
20 days ago
Reply to  Linwood

There has been a strong lobby for a modern issue of an exact copy of the 4AB. If they asked for advance orders I’d get in line for 2 or more. Mark, I believe the saddle was a design feature so that they could add a taper to the bottom of the stem to minimize the chances of bursting the bowl. With the saddle added, they could produce a more angular taper that snugged up against the ferrule and maintained the same stem width present above the saddle, while better protecting the shank. If you look at the insert point… Read more »

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
20 days ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

Sorry – meant “bursting the shank”

Lance Dahl
Lance Dahl
15 days ago

Mark,
Thank you for showing a couple pipes from my collection. There are some splendid pipes here for sure! Lee Skiver, if you read this feel free to email me; interested in your display project!! I could see six or so of these around my house!

Troy
Troy
7 days ago

Wow, a ton of shapes and pipes I never even knew about!