There are a number of unsolved mysteries in the Kapp & Peterson universe, ranging from the politically profound (“to what extent did Charles Peterson collaborate with the Irish Republicans?”) to the more quotidian but still puzzling (“why was there an A and a B and a D shape group, but not a C?”). Today’s topic is slightly closer to the latter than the former, but baffling nonetheless, and it concerns the enigma of the 700 shape group.
The only 700 I’ve ever seen is the 777 dublin bulldog found in the George Yale annual catalog for 1942, a shape which has only surfaced on eBay once over the past fifteen or so years I’ve been watching. Not long ago Brian 500s told me there were more. What? Really? Not only that, but he has three of them in his collection.
The 700s, according to one conspiracy theory you won’t find on the internet, were made for members of the Irish Illuminati. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it, for a shape group that has never appeared in the K&P catalog and been doing so regularly for the past 80 years? If it weren’t for the fact that one is sitting on my desk right now and three others on the bench, I wouldn’t believe it myself. I long thought the Yale catalog page was a ruse perpetrated by Harry Rogers and Harry Kapps after they’d spent too many hours in the sun on Coney Island.* It now appears that it was some sort of coded message to US members of this secret society.
The fact that the 700 shapes time travel and shape-shift like an Irish Marvel Comics alt-universe, skipping lines and eras with no regard for logic or continuity only further supports my theory. I’ll begin at the end, therefore, and go backwards.
701 Tankard / Deluxe Classics Terracotta
I begin with a very strange, very recent addition: the 701 Tankard. You’ve seen the shape, of course. It’s been known since c. 1945 as simply the “Specialty Tankard,” then out of the blue (seemingly) it was assigned a 700 shape group number just a month or two ago. There are four shapes in the original Specialty group, as you’ll doubtless recall (Calabash, Belgique, Barrel and Tankard). But for some reason only this shape received a new number. Very suspicious, right? I asked K&P personnel directly about the switch and received a very convoluted reply about data and inventory, but in the background swear I could hear an lepracaun voice saying “it’s all grand, y’know, but we can neither confirm nor deny any connection with the Irish Illuminati…”
Length: 5.85 in./148.59 mm.
Weight: 1.00 oz./28.35 g.
Bowl Height: 1.79 in./45.47 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.37 in./34.80 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.71 in./18.03 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.13 in./28.70 mm.
744 Volcano / De Luxe SPECIAL
The most recent of Brian’s three 700 shapes is a small volcano setter from the De Luxe Classic range. The MITROI stamp, the fact that it’s a setter and a small pipe and features straight grain all lead me to think this is a Paddy Larrigan hand-turned piece made in the 1980s or very early ’90s. I say this because Paddy likes smaller pipes for his own use (the 20s is his favorite System) and it’s not a shape seen anywhere in the catalog. It looks like plateau block. If it’s his work, then he undoubtedly hand cut the unusual stem as well. For his own artisan creations he used a small lathe he called “the French” because it was used by French craftsmen employed by K&P in the building next door to the old Stephen’s Green factory in the decades before WWII. If it’s his work, it’s the smallest piece by him we’ve documented so far.
Measurements & Other Details:
Length: 5.25 in / 130 mm
Weight: 1.50 oz / 43 gr
Bowl Height: 1.31 in / 33.3 mm
Chamber Depth: 1.09 in / 28 mm
Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in / 19.3 mm
Outside Diameter: 1.81 in / 46.2 mm
Era (best guess): Late Republic / Early Dublin (c. 1988-91)
725 Straight Brandy / Kapet Line SPECIAL
This Kapet SPECIAL straight brandy reminds me strongly of the Danish and Italian pipes I used to see in the 1980s. The Kapet goes back to 1925 and was the first K&P line with a name. The line was last seen in 1987 in the “down-sizing” brochure when the company still in an iron lung from the World Pipe-Ockalypse of 1984. (And isn’t it weird that in Amazing Spider-Man #254 for July 1984 Doc Ock trashes a pipe and tobacco shop swearing to bring down the Irish Illuminati and all pipemen everywhere?)
Nothing like the 725 seen above has ever been seen in any K&P catalog. There were only two craftsmen at K&P capable of turning this bowl—Larrigan and his friend and fellow-craftsman Frank Brady. I would speculate one of them made it because of the SPECIAL stamp. Non-believers may carp, “Isn’t it is just possible that, as K&P lost their bowl-turning department in 1984, this was an out-sourced bowl that was finished and sold?” If so, then why the SPECIAL stamp? Regardless, the demise of the Kapet line in the late 1980s means we can date reasonably date it to the last years of the Late Republic era (1968-90).
731 Hex-Shank Hybrid / Dublin & London SPECIAL
When the Dublin & London line first appeared in the 1940 K&P brochure, it was offered only in the P-Lip. All the D&L pipes I’ve examined have had bone tenon extensions as well, which this one does not (nor does it have threads for one) The line, originally celebrating the 1937 opening of the London factory which allowed K&P to dodge Britain’s anti-Irish import duty, featured high-grade briar, always in the honey finish seen here (which darkens a bit with age and smoking, as Dr. Will Magnus demonstrates in Metal Men #2, June-July 1963).
The SPECIAL stamp is present yet again, possibly denoting the fact that the pipe was turned by hand. (By the way, the SPECIAL shape sometimes denoted a finish and not a shape, as seen in some Systems from the late 1980s.) The almost pencil-thin hex-shank of this curious hybrid shape makes me think of the very early 1960s when thin was in, the MITROI stamp assuring us it was made after 1949. The fact that Dr. Magnus, a known member of the Irish Illuminati, is seen smoking a pipe very like it in “The Deathless Doom” (Showcase #40, Sept.-Oct. 1962) pretty much cinches it, right?
Length: 6 in / 155 mm
Weight: 1.05 oz / 30 gr
Bowl Height: 1.95 in / 49.6 mm
Chamber Depth: 1.70 in / 43.2 mm
Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in / 21 mm
Outside Diameter: 1.39 in / 35.4 mm
Era: Early Republic
777 Dublin Bulldog / Shamrock
I’ve probably enthused enough about the Dublin Bulldog in other posts, so I won’t belabor it here. I suppose what mystifies me is the number. It was in all likelihood made in 1941 since it appeared in the Yale annual catalog for ’42. And with the extra shamrock on the nickel hand-soldered band with the MADE IN over IRELAND shank stamp, we know it was marketed by Rogers Imports, Ltd. in the US. But as it was stamped 777, why were all the later 700s we’ve recovered stamped with lower rather than higher numbers? Does it somehow have to do with the Irish Illuminati themselves? And were there any 700s above the 777? Most importantly, why hasn’t K&P reissued this incredible shape??!
Length: 147 mm
Weight: 38 gr
Bowl Height: 51.4 mm
Chamber Depth: 43.3 mm
Chamber Diameter: 19.4 mm
Outside Diameter: 33.4 mm
Era: Éire (1938-48)
If you or anyone you know has any of the 700 shapes or information about the Irish Illuminati, do drop a line in the comments section below. We’d all love to hear what you know.
Thanks to Brian 500s for sharing his collection
with all of us . . . again!
*Yes, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. They did go to Coney Island together. Their photograph together is found is in The Peterson Pipe Book: The Story of Kapp & Peterson.