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360. Announcing the PPN Pipe of the Year: The XL5BC of Sherlock Holmes

Whew! I know it’s seemed like a long wait this year, but it’s almost over. The PPN 2023 Pipe of the Year should be ready to ship out in about a month. I just got a photo that says it all from Craig Hairrell, CPG, who’s been in Dublin and at the factory earning his Pilgrim Merit Badge:

Craig tells me these pipes have received their first stain but are waiting their final treatment and assembly.

If you already signed up on the Google form in June for a pipe, you’re all set.

If you signed up in June but don’t want a pipe any longer OR want to reduce your original order from 2 pipes to 1, you would really help others who do want a pipe by clicking on this form: CHANGE MY ORDER  FORM.

If you’re not already on the waiting list form and want a pipe, sign up here: PUT ME ON THE WAITING LIST FORM. I’ve shown the photo of the XL5BC to a couple of folks who’ve already said “not interested,” so getting in the queue now is a good idea.  Last year there were several who elected not to buy a pipe when they dropped, so don’t give up if you’re late to the party. Now, about that pipe:—

 

ESSENTIAL
RELEASE FACTS

Appeal Factor in a Nutshell

  • First use of the “BC” or short-tapered wear-gap stem on a System in about 100 years (seriously)
  • First time the “XL5BC” stamp has been used
  • First time the Deluxe Sandblast System has appeared with this stain and finish
  • 130 serially numbered and stamped pipes
  • The Sherlock Holmes Connection

Price

From Josh at Peterson: “On the US side, the MSRP will be $220. Regular discounts at Smokingpipes apply, so the actual price will be $176. On the EU side, the price is €190 (Irish VAT inclusive or varying a bit based on the customer’s local VAT rate). As you’ll see, this is the same price as a DeLuxe System Sandblasted.”

Check Out

As we did last year, those who are signed up for a pipe will receive a log-in code from PPN for SPC, SPE, SPC 9mm or SPE 9mm when the order is ready for purchase. Like last year, there will only be one generic photo. That’s just the only way to make a small project like this work and keep our price down. If you follow the weekly email updates from SPC and SPE, you know the sandblasting at K&P just keeps getting better, so I don’t think anyone should be disappointed. If they are, my advice is to hold on to the pipe for a year and double your money (that happened in eBay just recently).

Average Measurements and Other Details

Length: 5.50 in./140 mm.
Weight: 2.05 oz./59 gr.
Bowl Height: 2.25 in./57.15 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.69 in./42.93 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.83 in./21.08 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.57 in./39.88 mm.
Stem: P-Lip Tapered BC Vulcanite
Filter: Optional (as ordered)
Shape: Calabash XL5BC
Finish: Standard Sandblast, matt earthy two-tone
Stamps:  XL5BC
PPN2023
Peterson’s of Dublin
Made in Ireland in ellipse
Numbering: x / 130

The POY will include all the usual goodies for a DeLuxe System, including the silver polishing cloth, suede pipe sock and recent “Chat” brochure. It also includes a special PPN “Chat with the Smoker” created just for this year’s pipe.  The brochure features artwork by my friend Larry Gosser which he created for the big Peterson book. His amazing Of Pipes & Men is still available from Smokingpipes and I heartily recommend it (not least for the witty biographies which accompany his incredible illustrations). You can also get original artwork from him through his eBay shop. If you like his work, consider supporting Larry. As an independent artist, he’s unique in the pipe world. Original artwork can be commissioned as well. You can contact him at ldgosser@comcast.net or through his eBay shop.

DID SHERLOCK HOLMES
SMOKE THE XL5BC
OR OTHER SYSTEM PIPES?

Like many another Peterson fan who is simultaneously a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, I’ve long been interested in the connections between the two. For the PPN 2023 Pipe of the Year, I thought I’d see if there was in fact any way to determine if the Great Detective really smoked a Peterson Patent System and not just his film representative Basil Rathbone (discounting Jeremy Brett’s use of the 124 K&P churchwarden).

It is not perhaps as well known as it ought to be that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the agent for John Watson’s recounting of Holmes’s cases, had a deep connection to County Waterford, Ireland: his mother Mary Foley was from Lismore. He would write in Memories and Adventures that he was “an Irishman by extraction” (p. 2).

Holmes, however, came to Kapp & Peterson’s Patented System pipe through a different route. Early this year I wrote my friends Charles Mundungus and Michael Sparks, the protagonists in The X Pipe novel I’m trying to finish, to see what they might dig up from across the pond. Charles, who owns no electronic devices beyond those used for playing his LPs, wrote back as follows:

I would add three things to what Charles and Michael report:

  • First, they didn’t touch on K&P’s London agent Arthur Colton, who did a spectacular job advertising the Patent System in all the city’s papers and many of England’s prominent magazines, as those who have a copy of the 1896 catalog facsimile to hand can attest for themselves.
  • Second, Mundungus didn’t mention that while we know why Paddy Larrigan created the c. 1984 05(b) System calabash—to replace the 05(a) dublin System—we don’t know whether he, Tony Dempsey and Jimmy Nicholson already had in mind the centenary of A Study in Scarlet and an XL version commemorative for 1987. Probably so.
  • Third and most important, just as William Gillette received the idea for using a gourd calabash in his stage portrayal from Holmes himself, so Basil Rathbone received his marching orders via Willaim Gillette when the latter visited Holmes in his rooms at 221B Baker Street.  Holmes was smoking the Peterson 4AB at the time and Gillette asked first about using it, but Holmes said he rarely took it out with him on cases, preferring the XL5BC, 12 ½ SC and 20S Systems as they fit in the Inverness coat and waistcoat more conveniently than the larger 4AB. This is one crucial piece of the Kapp & Peterson – Sherlock Holmes puzzle that has not been recovered until now.

Seen here is my guess of what Holmes’s own XL5BC might have looked like. It seems unlikely that as a one-off shape it will ever surface, but who knows?  Vulcanite rod stem bending always depends on the rod and who’s shaping it, which means that K&P stems and stem bends always vary just a bit over the decades and even by craftsman, making each unique to a particular period and factory culture. That it usually varies only “a bit” is to me remarkable in a company that has just celebrated the 125th anniversary of the P-Lip.

Armed with all this intel, I went to the Chicago Pipe Show in May to talk it over with Sykes Wilford, if I could catch him at a quiet moment at the SPC tables. When I did, he was (as always) quite enthusiastic and about eight weeks later the “AP1” arrived for approval of the design—a mark of his dedication to the project being the fact he did the blasting on the AP1 himself.

The stamping area seen above is not what the POY will receive, but I wanted you to get an idea of the area, as Jonathan Fields, factory production manager, is a perfectionist when it comes to having space for a clean, uncluttered shank stamp area.

The POY stamps will include the MADE IN IRELAND in an ellipse (the Laudisi era stamp), PPN2023 in a line (something new for us), x/130 and XL5BC:—this last being something that really makes the project special for me, as it’s the only use of the “BC” in a shank stamp other than the original 9BC Classic Range shape from the Rogers Imports Ltd. era.

What is certain is that K&P has achieved the “BC” effect I was hoping for. As you can see, not only the measured length but the visual length of the current XL5S and the XL5BC are substantially different. This in part is achieved by the BC stem being shorter. But the shortness is heightened by the “stout” effect of the tapered stem as well. (The blasted XLCAL bowl is also slightly shorter–2mm–due to the blasting.)

 

PRODUCTION

The XL5BC 2023 Peterson Pipe Notes POY was designed in May of 2023 at the Chicago Pipe Show by Mark Irwin and Sykes Wilford. Josh Burgess supervised production. The production group was comprised of Glen Whelan, Jonathan Fields and Sykes Wilford.  Jonathan managed production in the factory at Deargrange, Ireland, which commenced the last week of August, 2023.  Virtually every craftsman and craftswoman in the shop had a part in making the pipes. While their names are included in the “Chat” PPN brochure, I want to thank them as a group here as well.

Photo of PPPN2023 pipes at factory
courtesy Craig Hairrell

 

 

 

 

MASS FOR CHARLES PETERSON

David Michael, CPG, forwarded this notice concerning a mass which was said for Charles Peterson at Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church, Sullivan’s Island, SC, on September 3rd, appropriately enough on the 125th anniversary of the final System patent. You can read the notice in the middle column at the 9:30 service. While Charles registered himself as a “Free Thinker” in the Irish census, his wife Annie and their children Soldie and Conrad were Catholic.

 

…and for all who read to the end,
a PG tobacco mat to celebrate the PPN Pipe of the Year:

2023 PPN Pipe of the Year XL5BC Drying Paper

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Scott
Scott
9 months ago

Wow! What a great looking pipe. Looking forward to adding this to my collection.
Well done.

J Ravenwood
J Ravenwood
9 months ago

This is fantastic, I for one am very excited for this one! Is the drying paper just something we can print out?

Ken Sigel
Ken Sigel
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

I have had good luck printing the drying paper pdf’s on absorbent paper folks use to press flowers. It too has an aged looks and is super at drying tobacco.

Ashdigger
Ashdigger
9 months ago

Absolutely stunning.

Erik R
Erik R
9 months ago

Yes! Great work Mark and rest of production team! Love the shape, the finish and the stem. So glad to have made it on the list this year to get one.

Christopher Lauer
Christopher Lauer
9 months ago

What an awesome PPN release Mark! Thank you one and all that were involved in making this year’s pipe a reality. I have been recently looking to fill a gap in my system pipes as I am lacking the 05 shape. What better way to do this than with a XL5BC.

Gaz
Gaz
9 months ago

Fantastic!, it is one my favorite shapes and it’s a PPN POY with special stampings is just icing on the cake.

Michael Mikropoulos
Michael Mikropoulos
9 months ago

XL5BC! I would get this Pete even if I only read the model name! It looks so exuberant!
All kidding aside, it’s a really amazing pipe! True beauty! Loved it already and can’t wait to smoke it! And of course the Sherlock Holmes background info is just what I need for my morning reading! Thanks Mark!

Haggis
Haggis
9 months ago

Crud! I missed the post back in June somehow. Guess it’s waitlist for me. Looks like a good one this year.

Justin H. Beal, CPG
Justin H. Beal, CPG
9 months ago
Reply to  Haggis

Haggis, you summed it up for me too! Crud! I’ll be on the wait list with you… Fingers crossed for both of us!

Harald Stoe.
Harald Stoe.
9 months ago

It really looks wonderful. Thanks to all involved for the effort. I can’t wait to hold this PPN POY in my hands.

John M Young
9 months ago

in one word: Lovely. Thank you for all the work.

Stuart Whelan
Stuart Whelan
9 months ago

Great work again Mark and the Peterson Team.
The XL5BC is a stunning pipe which will take pride of place in my collection.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago

Truly a stunning Companion.

Nevaditude
Nevaditude
9 months ago

Outstanding! Thank you Mark & all on the Peterson team, working for all of us on the Pete Geek team. It is so appreciated! Love my XL315 spigot rusticated & my 305 Smooth. Great smokers and this XL5BC will be a wonderful addition to my own team of Petersons. Let’s look forward to more adventures of Mundungus & Sparks!

Nevaditude
Nevaditude
9 months ago
Reply to  Nevaditude

Oh, not that it matters, but let me add that I personally love the stem, the stain & sandblast of this year’s PPN. Happy CPG!

Lee S.
Lee S.
9 months ago
Reply to  Nevaditude

Hear, Hear!

I agree completely, and gents let’s all remember the spiritual significance of a pipe like this one, even if it doesn’t “tick all the boxes”… which it does for me, haha!

Eric B
Eric B
9 months ago

Wow Mark, it’s been a busy year for you. Thank you for everything you’ve done: the Zippo, Pocket Jars, Poster and now the PPN pipe. Oh, and the weekly blog. (Did I miss anything?) A Sherlock Holmes System; I can’t think of a better pipe!

Tom Cuffe
Tom Cuffe
9 months ago

Incredible to think we signed up to this pipe sight unseen. So an element of trust involve in Mark and the Peterson team.
Seems like an age ago we signed up. Now to finally see the pipe and it looks brilliant. Looking forward to this one.

bbjs62
bbjs62
9 months ago

Wow… just a big wow. Thanks Mark and everyone involved.
The XL5BC is one of my dream Pete’s I thought I never will see, soon I will own one.
Exceeding my expectations.Totally.

William Auld
William Auld
9 months ago

Splendid!! Mark, you and Peterson have done it yet again! A real beauty!

Dan B
Dan B
9 months ago

Wow! Just wow. I’ve fantasized about an XL5 with a B or BC stem, especially after the 9B Revival this year. It looks better than I even imagined, and I’m beyond excited to add this to the rack! Thank you Mark, and thank you to the Pete team. Cheers!

Paul Combs
Paul Combs
9 months ago

She is a real beauty Mark! Thanks to you and the team at Peterson for making this vision a reality. ??

Matthew
Matthew
9 months ago

I did miss this in June! I had put my name down on the waiting list bright and early this morning, but I had not received an email confirmation. Does my name or email show up on your list? Thank you for your time.

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
9 months ago

Gorgeous!!!

Justin H. Beal, CPG
Justin H. Beal, CPG
9 months ago

A beautiful job, Thanks Mark and to everyone involved with the PPN POY! As always, great post!

John Schantz
John Schantz
9 months ago

I’m already penchant. That is one ugly pipe.
I know that if a person can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all, but dang. Here is the good, I love the stem, that’s it. As for a PSB? is the PPN 2023 a PSB? in the picture of the tray, I see maybe three pipes that might qualify, most look misshapen without much of a blast grain. I like that they don’t have a bowl coating, they can’t hide the cracks in the bowls like in my POY 2023 ?

John Schantz
John Schantz
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

I knew they were not finished and were going to get the coating?. I tried to edit my earlier comment to add that bit of insight, but the system would not let me. I’m not sure where PSB came from, I knew they would not be that grade. I must have read Deluxe as Premier?

Bob Cuccaro/TLIP
Bob Cuccaro/TLIP
9 months ago

I love the blast and coloring. Reminds me of the arklow or Derry color. Thank you for putting this together again Mark!

John Schantz
John Schantz
9 months ago

I forgot to add…I love that they added the silver polishing cloth, they are awesome. I love the suede pipe bags, they are great too.

John Schantz
John Schantz
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

I’ll agree about the tarnish the new suede bags perpetuate, they are also a bit thick and stiff. They are heavy duty though. I too would prefer a thinner leather like chamois (which is lamb, or sheepskin traditionally). If they used the same (current) tanning process, they would cause the same problem. I’m not sure where this Twilight Zone is, I guess it’s in the past??

Christopher Lauer
Christopher Lauer
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

My Favorite episodes were “Living Doll” & “It’s a Good Life”

John Schantz
John Schantz
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

Ahh, before my time.

R. Dixon Smith
R. Dixon Smith
9 months ago

I was so excited that I sent a photograph of the new XL5BC to Dr. Watson, who remarked, “Simply amazing!”/ Many thanks and more to you, Mark, to Sykes Wilford, Josh Burgess, Glen Whelan, and Jonathan Fields, and to all the craftsmen and craftswomen at K & P for making your vision a reality. I’d wondered if the 2023 commemorative could equal or eclipse last year’s House Pipe. I needn’t have wondered. It has. As a friend of ours so aptly put it, “Simply amazing!”

Paul Casillas
Paul Casillas
9 months ago

Awesome pipe! Van’t wait!

Andrew Moultrie
Andrew Moultrie
9 months ago

To my eyes, another exceptional design for this year’s PPN pipe. To be perfectly honest, I was not at all expecting a calabash shape and was a bit shocked when I first saw the images, but the more I look at it the more I find to love. The stem is fantastic and, in my opinion, a much better fit for the shape than the standard S stems. Is the finish the same as the Aklow series, maybe with a few less trips around the buffing wheel? I think it is much more visually interesting than the standard black sandblasts.… Read more »

Chris Mendoza
Chris Mendoza
9 months ago

That’s an awesome pipe, and glad I signed up for one!!! Thanks for all the hard work putting these together

Marlowe
Marlowe
9 months ago

Thanks Mark and to the whole team involved – Marie is, of course included here for all her support work. It is a lovely looking pipe.I like the robust BC stem. I absolutely need to start unloading a number of non Pete’s on E-bay to make room for this. I regret letting the 4ab go now as I have realized ( why not before this I don’t know) that just because it’s a large bowl it doesn’t mean it needs to be filled to the rim. I just really, really, really hope that unlike one of my short army pipes,… Read more »

Cheyen Lloyd
Cheyen Lloyd
9 months ago

Mark, you and the fellas at Peterson outdid yourself again! Beautiful pipe! Love everything about this one!

Linwood
Linwood
9 months ago

For som in’s unconscious reason, I’ve always not cared for briar “calabash” shapes – possibly the full bend, or just a rejection of the popular idea that Holmes smoked one. Even the SH series original. Sorry.
But I have to say that THIS ONE IS AWESOME! Now, did I order one? Uh-oh! Darned if I can remember!
The 4AB – nice pipe! But not as long a smoke as I’d like. I’ll bet good tobacco that this XL will be! And a fabulous un tapered stem! And a superb sandblast!!!

Linwood
Linwood
9 months ago

Oops – non-saddle stem – not “untapered”.

Chris Tarman, CPG
Chris Tarman, CPG
9 months ago
Reply to  Linwood

An untapered stem would be pretty difficult to clench!

Bob Janis
Bob Janis
9 months ago

Can’t wait to smoke this beauty! Well done, lads. Well done.

Matthew Webb
Matthew Webb
9 months ago

Wow!!! Definitely looking forward to receiving this pipe. Thank you to all the fine folks that had a hand in making this year’s pipe a reality.

Marc B.
Marc B.
9 months ago

Way to go Mark! Peterson hit this one out of the park.

Stan
Stan
9 months ago

Great news!
Definitely, in!

Chris Tarman, CPG
Chris Tarman, CPG
9 months ago

What a great looking pipe! A nice combination of a newer shape with a very old stem style. I suppose I’m in the minority, but my only (very small) complaint is that I wish the nomenclature area had a stain that matched the rest of the finish. Oh well… there’s always Magic Markers (just kidding!).

Jonathan Umpherville
Jonathan Umpherville
9 months ago

According to the definitive expert on Sherlock Holmes, that being his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes smoked three pipes. A black (possibly nicotine soaked) Clay that he smoked when he was in a foul mood, an “oily Briar” and a Cherrywood, with no distinction on wether the cherrywood was a pipe actually made of Cherrywood or if it was the Cherrywood shape, but I would using my powers of deduction come to the conclusion that it was actually made from Cherrywood as Doyle differentiates between wood types mentioning Briar as well as the Cherrywood. As for the PPN Pipe,… Read more »

Lee S.
Lee S.
9 months ago

Mark, this one is amazing, even better than last year!

Makes me think how you’ll outdo it with the 2024 PPN…

For nearly two years, I’ve kept my eye out for an 05 with a ‘B’ stem after seeing a recently sold one from the Italian market (they used to get all the great rarities, right?).

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this one, particularly since my nightly reading has been Holmesian of late.

Thanks for all your great efforts here Mark. It’s a real privilege to be a member of this brotherhood!

Cheers!

Charles
Charles
9 months ago

I absolutely love this pipe. What a beautiful addition to my Peterson pipe collection.

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton
9 months ago

Well, I’m a bit late to the party, but to echo everyone’s comment – “That’s a Really nice looking pipe!”. Mark, I really enjoyed the letter that Charles and Michael sent from Lake Geneva. This is so reminiscent of your very first stories about the The X Pipe, written some 40 years ago…Once completed, this novel will be a very enjoyable read for all pipemen!

Richard Roberts
Richard Roberts
9 months ago

Greetings ark and all fellow contributors. I,too, love this issue, although I have not put my name down on ‘the list’ since, were I to buy “yet another smelly old pipe) I should find myself pleading for a place to bed own for the night(the dog house suggests itself). I also would be grateful to read the evidence found that suggests that SH smoked a system pipe. It is, needless to say, a charming idea, a very pipe dream in fact; but in all my lifelong reading of the ‘canon’ I can find no definitive mention or substantiation of the… Read more »

Daniel
Daniel
9 months ago

Oh now that is tempting. My budget at this point dictates I either get this or a Halloween pipe… assuming there is a Halloween pipe this year. Have you heard anything?

Jonathan Umpherville
Jonathan Umpherville
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

Glen Whelan confirmed on the inquiry of another member in the PSOI Facebook group a few days ago that there is going to be a Halloween pipe this year.

Daniel
Daniel
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

I’m assuming it’s because the Christmas line is more established and the cells better, but so far each year they have released images of the Christmas pipe first. But this… oh this is tempting!

Jonathan Umpherville
Jonathan Umpherville
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

Personally if I only had to choose one I’d go for the PPN Pipe, it’s a Deluxe system after all and that prototype is gorgeous.

Daniel
Daniel
9 months ago

Yeah but I did specifically push in PSOI for the Halloween pipe to even exist in the first place… so I’m kind of invested ? Now… if this was an XL12 I’d have already given my left kidney.

Josh Scanlon
Josh Scanlon
9 months ago

What a great POY! Kudos to Mark and others that brought together this great looking Sherlock System Pipe!

Hank Lawrence
Hank Lawrence
9 months ago

Hey Mark, Pipe looks beautiful…Late to the dance. If there are any left would be interested in one…thanks!

Robert Terry
Robert Terry
8 months ago

I had to come back and re-read this post in anticipation of our purchase codes. Really an outstanding pipe. I’ve never been attracted to the XL5 shape, but the BC stem, blast, and color pushed me over the edge on this release. Really looking forward to this unboxing!!

Alex Khaled
Alex Khaled
8 months ago

Are there any of these left, I emailed you and submitted for one a while back and never got a response. Thanks.