283. Early Peterson Ads & the “Dry Smoking Bevel Lip” from Wally Frank’s PIPE LORE
Eugene Umberger, our hobby’s premier bibliographer, Doctor of Pipes, author of the comprehensive Tobacco and Its Use and several fine articles in Pipes & Tobaccos and The Pipe Collector, recently sent me some photos to share with you from Wally Frank’s Pipe Lore. These date from issues in 1938, 1940, 1942 and 1943 and offer some fascinating material on Kapp & Peterson’s production history right at the cusp of World War II. What’s more, I think there may be an undocumented Peterson button here, but I’ll need your help to substantiate that.
This is an important ad for Pete Geeks as it comes prior to the important 1939 catalog. When Rogers took over K&P’s US distribution, Wally Frank eventually seems to have dropped Peterson from its lineup.
The ad features what appears to be a P-Lip nickel-band entry grade, what in the 1939 Rogers catalog will be the Shamrock line. I don’t make out a shamrock on the band and doubt that it’s there since Rogers had filed a copyright for Shamrock in 1937.
There’s six shapes, five standard straights—the illustrated billiard (8) and four outline shapes–apple (2), dublin (3), pot (21) and bulldog (29). Then an oom paul. The numbers don’t correspond to anything in the K&P catalog but match the identical shapes Wally Frank illustrates in the Captain Peterson charts later on, so these are obviously stock numbers used at WF. As K&P made so many of the first five shapes, it’s almost pointless to speculate which shape numbers any of them might be. If it is an oom paul, however, the full bent would be the 02B.
Notice how much space is given in the ad to educating the smoker—four separate panels. The one showing the way the smoke travels over the tongue is fantastic. To my knowledge no one has ever gone to this trouble before—including K&P.
The two P-Lip ads are also quite useful, especially to the uninitiate.
“The Perfect Clogless Bore” is another great illustration. Only Shane Ireland, Director of Smokingpipes.com, has ever commented about this function of the graduated bore P-Lip—and he’s never seen this ad. While neither the illustration nor the text explains how the graduated airway and P-Lip accomplish the task, at the Las Vegas Pipe Show in 2019 he explained that there’s no way any type of debris, ash or physical matter can be drawn up this type of bore. He may have been speaking of a bent System, but the ad here makes the same claim for the straight—which is, in this case, a “sub-System.” Oh, and notice the remarkable “step-down” tenon extension. Peterson pipes utilized this type of sophisticated tenon into the late 1950s. This one is molded into the stem, while the high-grade lines would use a screw-in bone tenon extension. On the straight Petes I have with this type of of tenon, there’s a little snap when it pops into place. Quite pleasing.
Wally Frank went all-out for this Father’s Day ad—it’s so dynamic I found myself picking out all the shapes I wanted and trying to leaf through to find the order blank. It’s also the earliest ad for Captain Peterson I’ve seen outside the 1939 Rogers catalog. Note the overwhelming predominance of straight shapes as well. There’s several of these Pete Geeks will recognize from the 1920s through 40s in the big Peterson book or from estate shopping—most small from today’s standards.
These Captain Petersons—all 1,728 of them according to the ad (with the same copy in the 1942 page below)—are all in natural finish (which we already knew about), but they feature a button I’ve never encountered: “the Peterson Dry Smoking Bevel Lip.” And this is where I need the help of the PG Irregulars. If you have any of these pipes and can provide good photos of them, including the “Dry Smoking Bevel Lip,” I will happily award a CPG or Merit Badge to your existing CPG.
The diagram shown here and in also in the June 1942 catalog is confusing, as (to me) it doesn’t specify whether one is looking from the side or top. However, I have a Shamrock 999 from the same period with what I believe to be the same button. The advertising copy reads, “the Peterson Dry Smoking Bevel Lip . . . gives perfect mouth comfort—no sharp corners. The wide draft slit at the end keeps slugs from entering the mouth.” Now take a look at the 999’s button:
When I first got the 999 I thought the button slot had been filed out it was so large. But to me it looks as though it hasn’t been filed but was molded. Notice how the “bevel” lip and the button aperture are both rounded. Finally, notice how the button lips are angled (beveled) down to the button’s end in both the detail photo of my 999 and the Captain Petes:
Perhaps the 1930s and 40s were a time of experimentation and improved engineering for stem buttons? Certainly this is a far cry from what were made for non-System Petes from the late 1890s through the 1920s and seen later on. And perhaps I’m way off base. I notice from being around other pipe smokers that sometimes we turn our speculations into facts at the speed of sound.
This is also a great find for Pete Geeks, as the US had fully entered World War II on December 10th of 1941. Allied shipping had been under constant attack by German U-boat wolf packs in what Churchill named “the Battle of the Atlantic” since 1939 and would continue to block commercial traffic until the introduction of aircraft carriers and roving warship support groups until late 1943. By then exports from Europe had stopped almost completely to make space for war materials and ordnance.
What a great chart! It’s scaled, which means we can be fairly certain what each of the shapes in the chart are in the K&P catalog. Being scaled also allows us to see just how small most of the popular shapes (ranged along the left page and bottom) still were. The dublin 120 was still in its 1906 frazing, as can be seen from the thin shank.
But what’s that?! Yes, here it is again—seen first in the 1940 catalog above—the “Giant Billiard” that will become the Chubby 107—My favorite Peterson straight billiard of all time. If only K&P would issue a Deluxe Classic 107…
Ogden Nash joins the war effort with “Whittling Joe” here. Not a bad poem–reminds me of some of the war songs Woody Guthrie wrote.
So five months have gone by since the last Pipe Lore catalog and it looks to me as though Wally Frank is pulling the wool over its customers’ eyes: despite saying this is the “first time” ever offered and labeling the pipes “Natural Briar,” it looks to me as if these are the self-same Captain Petes offered at $1.47 back in June! A 500% mark-up? I don’t know what to make of the claim that “no more of these pipes are being ‘turned’ in England. The London factory remained open throughout the war, so perhaps WF is just using advertising spin to say no more are available in the US. That I could believe.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to get one of these little catalogs in the mail every month? Every other month? Even three times a year? As you can see from the page spreads, they bear little resemblance to the PipesandCigars.com USPS mailers. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor I’m feeling, but I love the little factoids and cartoons scattered among the pages.
So is “Walnut Briar” a line or just an advertising description? It’s certainly not a K&P-sounding line name. If it is a line with a real line stamp on the shank, send me a photo of yours & I’ll send you a CPG or a Merit Badge.
Here we are in November of 1942 and Wally Frank is saying “No more [Petes] are being turned in Ireland as Briar is no longer available.” I believe it! If I’d been a pipeman that month and received this catalog, I would’ve thought long and hard how to convince my wife to let me buy one or two of these: the Giant Billiard (107) of course, plus maybe a 12.
Notice the whole “Special Lip” thing again. They don’t give it the fancy name this time, so whether it’s just an ad gimmick with nothing behind it or both the London and the Dublin factory were using the same “Dry Smoking Bevel Lip” I guess we won’t know until a Pete Geek steps forward to document this for us with some photographs.
JANUARY – FEBRUARY 1943
I love the WWII war birds. The P-47D “Jug” makes a persuasive appeal to tithe 10% for the war effort, doesn’t it?
Okay, so you can see I was wrong. Those were Naturals in the November 1942 ad. They would have had the “N” prefix before the London factory numeral stamp. These, by the way, weren’t “virgins” or unstained briars, but had the same light glow you can see on the Dublin & London and Premier lines of the 1950s. . . And boy, I really, really like that shape 36 pictured above! Obviously a liverpool–something we could really use in the current catalog.
Many thanks to Gene Umberger for these great photos
Two Vintage NOS Supreme Spigots from Ted’s Pipe Shop in Tulsa
Marc Clymer at Ted’s Pipes in Tulsa has two unsmoked gold spigots that Beth Kanaley brought back with her from her trip to Peterson in the early 1980s. These are gorgeous Supremes, and while the prices shown on the tags probably aren’t the current ones, if you’re interested you should give Mark a call at 918 521 3793.
Молись за Україну
Pray for Ukraine