PSA: See end of post for the 2024 Dubliner Donegal Tweed Flat Cap Event
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.
The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.
I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
I recently read an article in The International Journal of Consumer Studies that was illuminating and sobering here at Christmas, one which somehow puts me in mind of the cautionary visits of the three spirits to Ebenezer Scrooge. In it, the authors look at the global surge in collecting behavior to find six large motivations:
- Achievement through Collecting
- Social Membership
- Cooperation and Competition
- Societal and Personal Memories
- Financial Value
If we stop for a moment to think about our devotion as Pete Geeks to our favorite marque, I suspect we’ll all find one or more of these apply to our own fascination with Peterson pipes. At pipe shows and through emails I’ve talked with enough hobbyists to know that all six eventually come into play where pipes and tobaccos are concerned. For many, pipes are a source of meaning, grounding and comfort—1, 2, 4 and 5 in the list. Sometimes, as in an acrimonious exchange I witnessed from the sidelines this week, it can be filled with the bile of competitive achievement and chains to whip those who don’t approve of or agree with our own obsessions. Insofar as I understand the readership of PPN, I think what we do is mostly done in a cooperative spirit of appreciation and learning. Maybe that’s because this isn’t a forum, and it’s certainly true that I detest trolls, but honestly, in the thousands of comments this blog has received in almost 10 years, there hasn’t been more than four or five snarly remarks.
There’s another side to collecting behavior, of course, and it’s important to realize that the marketplace–the pipes & tobaccos marketplace–is, as a niche or “boutique” industry, driven by the collecting behavior of consumers. Witness the serialized release of not only pipes but now of tobacco tins, of the weekly “special” editions and short runs, and the scarcity marketing and advertising tactics that sometimes drive us crazy and other times catch us short of the necessary wherewithal to make a desired purchase.
The competing models of scarcity and abundance—of Marley (unreformed) and Scrooge (reformed) are nothing new in either the marketplace or one’s personal outlook, of course. The trick is to know where you want to land. I think there are two helpful guides here. One is the old slogan from Tracy Mincer’s Custombilt pipes : “As individual as a thumb-print.” The other is the late “Trucker” Chuck Wright’s admonition “There’s always another pipe.” Between the two, we may find a useful way to think about the innumerable choices that face us as pipe companioners:
- “Individual as a thumb-print.” Princeton philosopher James E. Loder makes it real when he says love “earnestly desires the fulfillment of the unique particularity of the other one” (Logic of the Spirit, 266-7). While he’s talking about human beings, the same can be said in an appropriate way regarding our pipes. It’s easy to overlook and neglect a pipe in the rack for weeks or months at a time, even a really fine smoker, then suddenly pick it up, dust it off and in looking closely at it marvel at what the craftsman or artisan has achieved and remind us of why we acquired it in the first place. Because Sister Nature enters into the equation for briar pipes, no two briars of even the same factory-cut shape are going to be alike.
- “There’s always another pipe.” I am amazed at how on almost a daily basis I can find and appreciate a beautiful pipe. We’re not going to run out any time soon, at least insofar as I can tell from the daily new pipe feeds I get in my email or the growing number of Petes I see in my eBay’s “saved” feeds.
With all this in mind, then, perhaps we can pause here at Christmas to dwell in gratitude on the gifts of Peterson pipes past, present and future, whether they be pipes anticipated, pipes brought to our appreciation, or pipes in our pipe racks.
THE SPIRIT OF PETES PAST
1891 Meerschaum Poker (Patent Era)
from the collection of Lance Dahl, CPG
As everyone knows, 1898 was the year of the third and final System patent. K&P had only released their first catalog two years previously, and in it there was nothing remotely like this aggressively modern—even contemporary—take on a classic poker. It’s the kind of strength on display in so much of the later Peterson design language, and as surprising as it is, K&P has had two fantastic pokers in their catalog and deleted them both: the 2006 Limited Edition (which is very close to this shape, although not as streamlined) and the D19, formerly stamped as the “L. Tank” for “Large Tankard) and featured in the 2010 MT Collection’s curious evocation of a cob pipe.
1910 Apple (Patent Era)
from the collection of Lance Dahl
This 1910 Patent apple is from the workbench of Paul Combs, CPG and is the very earliest Peterson apple shape I’ve documented. The shape wasn’t in the 1906 catalog, which tells us that its introduction in the world of briar shaping may very well have occurred in the first decade of the 20th century.
84 Kildare Patch (Late Republic Era)
This quarter-bent dublin, like so many of the best Petes, has muscle and to spare, seen in the thick shank and strongly flared chamber. It’s one of any number of Petes that exude the Peterson house style, yet have mysteriously disappeared from the catalog or—as in the case of this shape—never made a proper entrance. The “84” number is part of the 84, 85, 86 and 87 sequence of apple shapes, the 84 being the smallest (well, maybe the Junior apple is the smallest current iteration). As part of the Kildare Patch line, the pipe appeared in the 1979 update to the 1975 Centenary Orange catalog.
505 Bent Rhodesian (Late Dublin)
Dating from around 1980, the small in number 500 shape group (made for Europe) was just a little ahead of its time (see Post #49): a little too large, for one thing. This bent rhodesian with its graceful elephantine shank and stem is another one of those “What a great Peterson shape!” shapes that never made it and should have.
THE SPIRIT OF PETES PRESENT
This year witnessed a number of releases ranging over the entire gamut of Kapp & Peterson’s catalog. In more-or-less chronological order we saw—
- Patrick’s Day 25th Anniversary
- Junior Rusticated
- Terracotta Spigots
- Deluxe System Revival 9B
- CP 308 Rustic
- 2023 Carroll of Carrolton
- Short Army (with new P-Lip stems)
- 125th P-Lip Anniversary Premier Barley System
- 125th P-Lip Anniversary Rua DeLuxe System (with “B” stems)
- 125th P-Lip Anniversary Ebony DeLuxe System (with “B” stems)
- Iora Classic Range P-Lip
- SH Junior Bulldog
- 2023 Christmas Pipes
- Plateau Revival
- Junior Rusticated (new shapes)361. Christmas Pipe 2023
I wish we might have detailed reviews of every release—and I’ve probably missed one or two new releases in the list above—but for this morning I want to single out a few of what I thought were the more significant issues.
Short Army (Post #349)
I waxed eloquent about the amazing new P-Lip mouthpieces on the 2023 Short Army release in Post #349, but have to say it again: aesthetically, they’re the best we’ve seen in an “AB” (army taper). Ever. Ergonomically, at the button, again—the best. Smoke channel? Fantastic. I want to add that I hope at some point we might see a sterling-mount release of the same. I have one complaint, but it will doubtless go unheard in the course of things: something this good should be a regular part of the catalog instead of a short-run like this. Pipemen would routinely turn to these, making them the perfect complement to the System range.
(One other note: I confess I liked the look of the shiny pipes seen in the adverts better than the matte finish of the actual pipes, but that’s something a bit of white compound and carnauba addressed, as seen above.)
XL5BC (Post #360)
How can I not be fond of the XL5BC? It’s great to see the short taper “B” stem on a wear-gap mount. and the Arklow blast and finish are also beguiling. Almost as fun for me and a few of my Sherlock PG friends is the connection to the Great Detective himself, although I’m afraid I lost more than a few folks on that journey—for which, my apologies.
CP 308 Rustic (Post #346)
The SPE-only Charles Peterson 308 Rustic wasn’t a popular release (indeed 12 are still available), although it remains one of my personal favorites. This may have been because these stummels were, I believe, taken from the last of the 2010 Mark Twain release and I’ve had a great fondness for that shape since its debut in 1981. If you carefully compare the shapes, chambers and cheeking, I think you’ll agree that the two are the same—although I’ve never asked K&P to confirm this. It’s true they didn’t include a tenon extension (for the first time in the history of the Premier System line), which was curious, as was the choice to give the “CP” stamp to a standard rustication finish. For all that, to me it’s a winner. I love the throwback rainbow-bend P-Lip vulcanite stem (obviously new/old stock) as it meets the brightwork of the sterling and the beauty of the chocolate rustication. This shape has also proved, since its launch 42 years ago, a marvel performer with virginia and va/per tobaccos.
Jekyll & Hyde Halloween System (Post #363)
Here’s another “Thinking Man” release, one to while away the evening’s meditations on the human condition. It may have been a throw-away Halloween release for some, but for those who appreciate the urban gothic of Robert Louis Stevenson’s hushed winter’s tale of horror, it’s something quite the equal of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I’m glad to be able to companion both the Dracula and the J&H Systems.
2023 POY X160 (Post #355)
This year’s POY was an achievement on several levels, but before commenting on those there’s one thing that hasn’t been said: the 1906 X160 represents Kapp & Peterson before the house style had developed. Yes, the System’s patents engineering laid the foundations of the style, but if you look carefully at the original 1896 System shapes most of them bear little resemblance to what would come later. The full-blown design language, the one we associate with Peterson at its most distinctive, wouldn’t come into its own until the end of the Irish Free State and beginning of the Eire eras—sometime in the 1930s. And that’s also why the X160 is important to us, as a reminder of K&P’s beginnings.
Three other things ought to be said about the 2023 iteration of the X160. First, that K&P has shown that a factory army mount can be an exceptional smoking instrument. How they achieved that I couldn’t say, but they did. Second, from a purely aesthetic level if you compare a Patent-era X160 to Giacomo Penzo’s version, his is arguably better shaped. It’s simply a more beautiful pipe. Third, the Peterson craftsmen presented the X160 in a full panoply of finishes that would have made Charles Peterson proud. Well done!
Milverton Natural (Hallmarked “M” for 2023)
Into many of our lives as Pete companioners comes a moment when we’re on the spot at the right time and with the “ready” in our pockets to pounce on what, for us, is a pipe of surpassing beauty. K&P’s Naturals nearly always fall into this category for one of us or another, and those who follow the blog regularly know I have a deep love for birds eye.
The Milverton (XL24) is part of the Return of Sherlock Holmes collection that appeared between 1992 and 1997 and one of less than half a dozen diamond-shank bent billiards. To my eye, it’s the pinnacle, all the more so in this striking piece hallmarked 2023. There is a secret about the Milverton that I suspect almost no one knows: there is no appreciable tenon-mortise gap (unlike so many of K&P’s Classic Range pipes) and the smoke channel will pass a pipe cleaner. What this means, of course, is superb airflow and a great smoking pipe.
Plateau Revival (Post #376)
from the collection of Chris Streeper
To cap a marvelous year, the Plateau Revival arrived just in time for Christmas delivery. Those with the new EPDN app (Emergency Pete Drop Notification) were able to circumvent unknown drop times to select one of 200 individualized plateau, bark tops not only in Supreme and Natural grades but—at least for me—the more important black sandblast, Rua and Iora. These latter sandblast finishes allowed plateau briar to reveal some phantasmagoric ally amazing textures. This is one drop I really regret missing out on, especially in its Iora realization as seen in Chris Streeper’s, CPG’s jaw-dropping photos.
THE SPIRIT OF FUTURE PETES
I asked Managing Director Josh Burgess what we might expect for 2024, and despite being inventory time, he somehow—in the middle of the night, I suspect—found time to write back to us:
JOSH: In terms of what to expect for Peterson next year, I think we have a few exciting things in the works. I’m most excited about the Pipe of the Year 2024. We’re preparing something that hasn’t been seen in a number of years that features some pretty exceptional design work from Giacomo Penzo and the rest of the team. Additionally, we’ve got a fun offering for Saint Patrick’s Day, a special sandblasted release (hint: those virgin sandblasts from the 125th anniversary Premier Systems had some companions in the classic range shapes), and a Christmas pipe release that I think will get us all in the holiday spirit. And there’s sure to be much more along the way.
More generally, I think 2024 will be an exciting year for Peterson. We’re continually making improvements in the factory and relishing watching our staff get more skilled. Our work at Peterson since 2018 has, in so many ways, been an effort to recover and revive all that was best in 150 years of Peterson tradition. As we wrap up production for the Christmas Holiday, 2024 promises to continue that mission.
Finally, we look forward to more exceptional blog posts from PPN! I’m confident we can promise your readers a year of interesting pipes–and content–in 2024.
Many thanks to all who contributed to this post:
Paul Combs, Josh Burgess, Scott Forrest, Clint Stacey and Charles Mundungus.
Special thanks to Laudisi and the people of Kapp & Peterson.
THE PETE GEEK
DUBLINER FLAT CAP EVENT
My own Photoshop simulation of the embroidery on the cap
What will probably be our first Pete Geek event of the year—although it’s the second to be announced—is a Donegal Tweed Dublin Flat Cap with the Pete Geek logo:
Hatman of Ireland’s programming visualization for the embroidery
This is the embroidery craftsman’s digital rendition of what the embroidery will look like. (When I showed my wife, she knew all about this kind of technology from her work as a seamstress and quilter). Here’s what you need to know:
- We need a minimum order of 50 caps to make our order
- The “Pete Geek” logo will be embroidered along the right side of the cap
- This is “the Dubliner” Contemporary Irish Flat Cap made from 100% Donegal Tweed
- Individuals are responsible to correctly measure and order the right size
- Price is $65, including shipping in the US
- Price is $75, including shipping internationally FedEx International Connect where available, otherwise US First Class Intl (this does NOT include any customs/import fees)
- Deadline: Tuesday, 2nd January, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. CST (GMT-6)
- You will invoiced through PayPal when the caps are ready to ship
- Estimated to ship middle February 2024
- You MUST fill out the Google form below to participate
- Questions? Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hat Man of Ireland writes, “This Dubliner is a contemporary version of the traditional Irish Flat Cap. With its curved peak, quilted lining for extra comfort, double stitching at the seams and a strap at the back for added style this expertly tailored cap can be worn with pride anywhere around the world. Made from 100% Donegal Tweed.”
Cap sizes are as follows:
Medium – 58cm
Large – 60cm
XL – 62m
XXL – 63cm
To measure your head, follow the instructions provided in this YouTube video forwarded to us by Hatman of Ireland:
Here’s two more shots of the back and side details, which are difficult to see in the black cap but which will be present:
Finally, let me echo this Christmas wish sent to me by Clint Stacey, CPG:
Bíodh Nollaig mhaith agaibh!
Wishing you a good Christmas!
 Cary Lee, et al, “Consumer Collecting Behaviour: A Systematic Review and Future Research Agenda,” The International Journal of Consumer Studies 46 (2022), 2020-40, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcs.12770 .