Jason is the first Pete Geek to my knowledge to have assembled every single year of the St. Patrick’s Day commemoratives, a series which began back in 1998. In so doing, he has cleared up the mystery of the missing 1999 SPD: there wasn’t one. He’s also documented just how special the original 1998 St. Patrick’s Day issue was intended to be. Like a few other K&P releases over the years, it seems to have had two names originally: the “Tri-Colour” (which the Irish call their flag) and the “St. Patrick’s Day.” All the 1998s in Jason’s collection have spectacular grain as well, and he’s gathered enough of them to convince me this was no entry-grade line in its first year, at least. To see such a collection at a pipe show was once common fare for those able to go to such shows. Now that the emphasis at pipe shows has moved away from sharing collections and trading between pipemen to artisan makers, estate dealers and retailers, it seems to me that we can nevertheless thank the internet for giving us a platform for sharing with one another. Thanks, Jason, for inviting us to enjoy this outstanding Peterson collection. It’s a rare treat. -Mark
In 2006, I got a job working at the Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Georgia. It’s there that I fell in love with the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday. Savannah is full of Irish descendants who take the holiday seriously, and the city boasts one of the largest SPD parades in the world. Though I’ve since moved back to my hometown in North Carolina, I still treat the holiday with fervor and take the day off from work. It’s a good time to visit my local Irish pub, smoke that year’s Peterson SPD model and pair it with a cold pint. After I became a fan of Peterson pipes, it was only natural for me to gravitate to collecting Petersons with stamps that commemorate my favorite holiday.
1998 SPD 106
The first Peterson SPD pipe I purchased was a 1998 106 model that someone was selling with a Chacom pipe in a package deal. I resold the French pipe and socked away the Peterson in a cigar box. I’d never seen a pipe sporting the colors of the Irish flag on a band and I knew it was special.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day I realized I had about four SPD pipes in consecutive years. That’s when the idea first came to me to collect one model from each year. I remember saying to myself, “Jason, that’s crazy. There’s too many pipes. Even if you got them all, you’re looking at adding over 20 pipes to your collection.” I reasoned it would be a large collection for any piper just in itself. But I love a good hunt, and soon I started stringing together consecutive years. I found the 2009, 2010, and 2011 and somehow 2006, 2007, and 2008 popped up. I needed a 2004 and one would appear as if the pipe universe itself were lending a hand. I kept a list of what I was missing and fellow pipe friends from PSOI joined in the hunt. Pipers are good about that: we help each other and we’re a great community of friendly, like-minded people. I’d often get messages with a link, “hey, do you have this one?”
The 2008 was one of the hardest to find. It was the first year Peterson made the pipes green and they had trouble with the finish. Even if you found one, it most likely had lost its color.
I was fortunate enough to find an XL02 with most of its color intact. I keep all green-colored pipes wrapped up and stored away from the sun and return them there after I smoke them. Indirect light, not just direct sunlight, can affect a green pipe’s finish. They say proof is in the pudding, and I say that’s why my pipes stay green while I see other’s green pipes lose their color. I’ve discovered some pipers don’t mind if their green fades. In fact, some quite enjoy it looking at the gradual discoloration with the same wonderment as a changing meerschaum pipe.
The XL21 / Hudson as 2000 SPD
Though it took a couple of years, before I knew it I was down to just one—the 2000. I found the earlier models were harder to locate. I finally completed my list and announced it on on the PSOI Facebook page ,thanking everyone who helped me on my quest. I then set out to collect every model released from the 1998 first generation.
THE 1998 FIRST ISSUES
The problem, I quickly discovered, was there wasn’t much to go on regarding the shapes of the 1998 first-issue SPD pipes. I began to make my own list based on pipes I saw online or someone smoking. I wrote down the shapes and began hunting the pipes. I’ve been lucky so far. I don’t know of anyone who has this many. Some of the pipes in my collection are unsmoked. I’ve never before bought a pipe to keep and not smoke. Pipes were meant to be smoked. It reminds me of a fine airplane built to fly. What if we stuck it in a hanger? Everyone would come by and admire its beauty but wouldn’t be living up to its potential or even doing what it was designed to do in the first place. It’s meant to fly! I’ve heard Glen Whelan, the director of sales at Peterson once say, “We build ’em to smoke!”
I’ve noticed the grain on the original 1998 pipes is outstanding, dispelling the stereotype that all the SPD pipes are entry level to mid-tier. I’ve also noticed the pipes have a nice coating on the bowls that helps me clean and restore the pipes when necessary.
1998 – X1. This was one of two shapes featured in the Racing Green / Claret special collections released in 1997 as Bernadette O’Neil’s launch into the amazing Dublin era shape world, the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. In the Racing Green / Claret editions, this pipe had no shape number. Here it is stamped X-1. Way to go, Jason! -Mark
1998 – D3. I’ve heard it said that the D and B shapes of the Dublin era (1991-2018) have no relevance or viable connection to the grand tradition of K&P design. While it’s true that some of those shapes did not further or elaborate what we expect in a Peterson, this D3, while it may have originally been meant for the Danish market, simply exudes Old Dublin charm. If I ever see a P-Lip version of this, either in an SPD or any other line, stay out of my way. I might (accidentally) knock you down to get to it! -Mark
1998 – 268. It’s possible this is a replacement stem, but given the distinctly Peterson bend, I don’t think so. This kind of stem-bending on what would otherwise be straight pipes not only seems very Irish to me, but was much more common from the 1960s through the 1980s. It then seemed to drop out of favor, which is a pity, as you can almost hear Barry Fitzgerald and the other characters of John Ford’s The Quiet Man laughing if you put your ear over the bowl of this pipe. Oh, and notice it has a fishtail. – Mark
1998-05. What is it about a NOS (new old stock) pipe that is so breath-taking? This 1998 05 has a deep bend in the P-Lip making it even more irresistable. How Jason keeps from smoking it? I don’t want to know. -Mark
1998 – 80S. Yet another NOS, this time in the classic 80s. And here’s the box I made allusion to at the beginning with the important information: the “TRI-COLOUR” stamp indicates that at least initally the St. Patrick’s Day may have been named for the Irish flag. Or maybe it’s just that Irish way of thinking we in the States who weren’t raised in Irish neighborhoods sometimes have trouble with. In either case, boxes are important documents. Hold onto them. Pass them on.
THE COLLECTION, 2000 – 2022
2000 – XL 21 / Hudson (See full photo further up in post). The first in the set was ironically the last pipe I purchased to complete the set. I found the further back the edition, the harder they were to locate. Note the nickel band stamp, which was used from 2000 to 2014, with only the year changed. The white paint “P” and shank stamp also typify the series. -Mark
2001- XL 20 / Rathbone. I love the swan neck and this shape is one of my favorites.
2002 – XL90. This year was very difficult to find and this shape was in serious need of lovin’.
2003 – 107. (Bring in the heavy artillery! The classic 107 Chubby Billiard in an SPD. Rock n’ Roll, doggie. -Mark)
2004 – XL 105, Great smoker this one, the compact billiard holds more tobacco than you’d expect.
2005 – 502. The 502 is part of shape group rarely found in America. It’s a great apple shape and the grain on this pipe is out of this world. (Got to agree with Jason! I wish we had a better apple in the K&P chart. -Mark)
2006 – 999. This pipe is an odd one. I found it in England. I haven’t seen another 2006 this color. Was it painted? If they did, it was a professional job. (This is the red lacquer finish similar to that used on the 1997 Claret Collection. K&P also used it on the Around the World line. -Mark)
2007 – 68. (The great 68, a chubby brandy introduced c. 1979. One of the most fantastic shapes in the catalog to cradle. If you find one with a P-Lip and sterling band, consider yourself blessed. -Mark)
2008 – XL 02. (See photos earlier in post.) One of the hardest to find. It was the first time Peterson colored their pipes green in this line and they had a hard time. If you find one from this year, most likely it’s lost its color. This one has a little discoloration but its green is still strong.
2009 – 306. The grain is awesome on this pipe. Straight grain on one side, birds eye on the other. It’s the only 306 in all of my pipe collection. (The 304 and 306, Paddy Larrigan’s barrel sitters, were his final answer to the problem of a comfortable sitting System. It takes its design cue from the 1945 Specialty Quartet’s barrel. Both, of course, evoke the Irish love for pubs and good beer. -Mark)
2010 – B31. Another rare shape and hard to find. A curious fellow with a large bowl but thin stem. (The B31, the Boyne from the Rivers Collection, is another shape I would argue belongs in the catalog. I think it has to do with the rather bulbously-shaped bowl. It just speaks “Irish” to me. Imagine it in a P-Lip. Or a fishtail. Marvelous. -Mark)
2011 – 221. To my knowledge, this is the first year Peterson put a decorative sleeve on their pipes. The grain on this pipe is outstanding and the stain rivals the high-end natural stain. (Another bygone glory of the Dublin era days! The decorative sleeves and fancy display boxes. . . . Incidentally, this one would have been designed by Tom Palmer’s partner Elke Ullmann.
2012 – 107. I’m a big fan of the 107 shape and you’ll find many in my pipe collection. The grain here is off the charts. This pipe is very special. The gentleman I purchased it from was selling off his entire collection and he said this pipe was his best and favorite smoker. He didn’t know why but it was special. He was right. This pipe is one of my favorite smokers and it’s naturally sweet and draws effortlessly. (Just one word: MUSCLE. -Mark)
2013 – 268, B60, B58. This year is one of my favorites for the SPD line. The walnut stain pairs great with the contrasting lighter stain. The grain on the pipes from this year are splendid. This year there were three collectible shapes within the collectables and I have all three. 268, b60, and an unsmoked B58.
2014 – X220 and 107. This was a great sandblast year.
2015 – XL105, 221. Peterson went all out and engraved a Celtic knot at the top of the bowl and paired it with a color band and rich green stain. When the team at Peterson gets together and brainstorm ideas they create a few pipes to see them in person in order to make a final decision. I have one of the experimental SPD pipes from 2015 that never saw the light of day. It’s one of my prized possessions. It maybe and probably is the only one in existence. It’s unsmoked and will remain so. This pipe I consider a model or Peterson collectible and is not a pipe to smoke. I have many other pipes to smoke. This year also had the best box sleeve in my opinion and was the last time Peterson used a sleeve.
2016 – XL02. This XL02 has a great tight straight grain. This year was either a love it or hate it kind of a year. I loved them. I think orange is a very unappreciated color.
2017 -150. This is one of my favorite years for the SPD pipe. Peterson has mastered their green stain at this point and the color is rich and dark like a jewel. This year has a nice clear coat and the band sports an engraved Celtic knot and shamrock.
2018 – 106 Filter. I almost broke my consecutive streak with this one. I wasn’t crazy about the bright yellow thin stem. But when I saw the filtered version that thickened the stem, I said. “Yes, I can do that.” Ironically this has become one of my favorite pipes and not only is it beautiful, it’s a great smoker. I have it reserved for aromatics.
2019 – 01, XL302, XL307. System goes green. If I can’t decide on a shape I buy more than one. After all it’s a System pipe and a perfect dry smoke is hard to beat.
2020 – Tankard & 68. I wasn’t sure about this one when they previewed it. But I went with the 68 model and right away I saw the pictures didn’t do it justice. It glows with several layers of green with the sandblast having soaked in that stain. It has a nice acrylic stem. I never worry about oxidation and this one tasted sweet right out of the box. The tankard was the rarest of the shapes for this year. It’s great for carrying to the pub. It easily breaks down and slips in and out of my pocket as needed.
2021- 268. The first year of the SPD stands. I love this almost off-turquoise green stem. Peterson has applied their new rustication and this shape was the hardest one to get from this year. I bought the XL 11 when they were released but found that I don’t have that kind of bowl time. I sold it and found the more compact Zulu that fits into my schedule.
2022 – 606 and D20. The 606 pot which has lately become my favorite shape and has been absent from the last SPD series.
An Old Irish Blessing
May your days be many and your troubles be few.
May all God’s blessings descend upon you.
May peace be within you, may your heart be strong.
May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.
May the strength of God pilot us, may the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us, may the word of God direct us.
May thy Salvation, O Lord, be always ours this day and for evermore.
Молись за Україну
Pray for Ukraine