You are currently viewing 387. Jacques Cousteau, Divulgationist Thinking Man (+Introducing the Collector’s Corner)

387. Jacques Cousteau, Divulgationist Thinking Man (+Introducing the Collector’s Corner)

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Cousteau smoking a Peterson Mark Twain commemorative

This morning I wanted to continue our survey of the great Thinking Men—and often men of action—who have taken up the Peterson System Pipe. This short piece first appeared in Of Pipes and Men, available only at

JACQUES COUSTEAU (1910–97) was without a doubt the DaVinci of undersea exploration, forever changing the way we understand our world. A polymath adventurer, his list of accomplishments is staggering. As a graduate of the French Naval Academy, he envisioned a life in naval aviation, but a car wreck left him with two broken arms so he turned to underwater experiments instead. He did service as a naval intelligence officer during WWII and directed a commando raid against Italian espionage agents in France. A few years’ previously he had married the beautiful Simone Melchior, the first woman scuba diver and aquanaut, who would become known as “the Shepherdess” and de facto commander of his laboratory ship the Calypso in the post-war years.

Couteau with the beautiful Simone and their family

Cousteau directed all his energies throughout a long and extraordinary life to sharing the ocean’s unknown gifts. He pioneered divulgationism—the sharing of scientific findings with a popular audience—with books like The Silent World (1953), undersea films including the Palm d’Or-winning film by the same name (1956) and two television series, including the legendary Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau.

Jacques and Simone on board the Calypso–notice the Peterson 124 Churchwarden!

He co-developed the Aqua Lung and numerous underwater vehicles, including the famous “diving saucer” SP-350. He predicted the bio sonar of porpoises and other cetaceans and was well-known for his conservation efforts. His undersea archeological work included locating the wrecks of the Roman Mahdia, the HMHS Britannic (sunk by the Germans in 1916) and the 17th century French ship La Therese.

Bill Murray as Steve Zissou with Cast members of the Wes Anderson film

For the first-time contemporary explorer into the world of Cousteau, the best introduction I can think of is Wes Anderson’s brilliant comic homage The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004), one of Bill Murray’s finest hours and arguably one of Anderson’s finest films. As film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky says, Anderson nails the “blasé quirkiness, boys-adventure camaraderie and useless technologies” that seem to make up so much of Cousteau’s filmography. From there, try the pipe smoker’s delight, World Without Sun (1964), available on YouTube. This is probably my favorite, because (like Vishnevetsky), I find myself “inexplicably endeared by the emphasis Cousteau puts on his team’s incessant smoking, including a shot where a diver enters the Conshelf II through its moon pool and is immediately handed a lit pipe.”

Now this is the way to do it, fellas (from World Without Sun)

For us as Thinking Men, of course, it’s the iconic photo of Cousteau with his Peterson Mark Twain that’s so indelible and so very right. Hats off!

Funko VYNL Steve and Ned (2018) with the
iconic Peterson Mark Twain (1984)



Left to right:
Pete Geek Classic; Dracula; Cousteau; Red w/ Black Band; Red w/ Silver Band

Gary Hamilton is taking a new batch of his Pete Geek tampers to the Chicago Pipe Show in early April. You can go to the front of the line, however, and order from me! He was here a few weeks ago and left a box. There are five different styles this time, all with the new “Pete Geek” logo in the top and a genuine morta (bog oak) tamping head:
1. The Pete Geek Classic – shown at the left in the photo above. To match the Pete Geek Zippo.
2. The Dracula – his best-seller at the Texas Pipe Show, matching the Dracula Classic and System pipes.
3. The Cousteau – for divers, sailors, submariners, Cousteau and Steve Zissou fans: sporting red, black, gray and white swirls.
4. Red with Silver Band.
5. Red with Black Band.
Those who order will receive a Pete Geek tamper similar to the one pictured above (a Cousteau, or whatever you decide), but not identical, as there are slight variations in the acrylic swirls.
Price: $50 for those in the US; $65 international. International Pete Geeks, your tampers ship FedEx, quick and reliable.

You can order here:  GARY’S NEW PETE GEEK TAMPERS




Introducing the

James Walsh, CPG, recently proffered a brilliant suggestion—to wit, this Collector’s Corner—where every week anyone so inclined may share a favorite Pete companion or collector’s piece with just a very few lines of description and/or elaboration.

I get quite a few emails with photos of some rare, exotic or just downright gorgeous Petes. I always file these away thinking to gather them up and share once or twice a year, but James’s idea is much, much better as we have in our community a number of intrepid collectors, men who would put Mr. Sherlock Holmes to shame (if truth be told) in their ability to uncover, discover and recover rare Petes, but men who also don’t have time or interest in doing a “Pete Pilgrimage” blog post. “Rare” is not an essential qualifier here, just a fantastic Pete that you love and want to share.

If you have a Pete or two you’d like to share—whether it’s from 2024 or 1891 or anywhere in between, please send your photo(s) and just a few words to go with them to  We’ll post weekly, in the order received, and in return—the brand-new merit badge, the “Collector’s Corner” seen above. The badge is a multivalent scallop shell with a Patent 02 System, symbolizing that Petes are as fascinating to collect as some of us find collecting sea shells. It also symbols the notion of pilgrimage and the journey we each make with our pipes, like the famous scallop emblem of St. James worn by travelers on the famous Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage I’ve always wanted to make.

For this first installment I’ll show you want I mean and how simple it can be, using for example a pipe I’m really excited about.  Like all the best new acquistions, it occurred in a really fun transaction with Matt Ramsey CPG:

Photos of the estate pipe Matt sent me, saying he knew I’d been wanting one

The pipe is from the Hallmark Silver Cap & Chain Commemorative issue, which debuted in 1974 and probably ran to 1976 or so, as detailed in in Post # 213.  This commemorative seems to have been the very first K&P issued, coming as it did on the eve of their 1975 Centennial and right before their massive Centennial releases. The issue was released in three grades: dark smooth ($165), black sandblast ($170), and natural ($200). Matt’s pipe is hallmarked 1976 and a Natural. After acquiring and then documenting the incredible ’74 black sandblast for the post in 2021, I did my usual “Catch & Release,” and wouldn’t you know it that not long afterwards I succumbed to a serious infatuation with shape 9! (PPAD is real, and as Gigi often tells me with a twinkle in her eye, “You can’t look at pipes all day without finding at least one to fall in love with!”) While that black blast is being given the best of care with friend and CPG Bob Cuccaro (see Post #225), when Matt told me about his pipe needing a new home, I couldn’t resist. The 9 has since become a real rival to my first Pete love, the System shape 4.  I have to thank Matt publicly for thinking of me in the first place and then leaving the pipe for me to recondition, as that part of acquiring a new pipe is really fun for me.  It cleaned up very nicely, as you can see here, despite the smudgy fingerprints on the sterling–and of course, it smokes great.






You can see our Aussies have had their part in promoting the new hats

For those who ordered the Pete Geek Dubliner flat cap, the hats are here and PayPal invoices went out yesterday. If you didn’t get an invoice and ordered a cap, please check your spam / junk folder. If it’s not there, then contact me at and I’ll send you another invoice.

We do have a few extra caps: 2 medium, 4 large and 1 XL. If you’re interested, you can get one here: PETE GEEK FLAT CAP.

Wearing it backwards won’t get you a fashionista award

Like the Deneen Pottery Pete Geek mugs, the Dubliner flat caps are a bit of an artisanal craft. Gerry Moran, CEO and founder of Hatman of Ireland, told me that his company “offers a range of Donegal Tweeds.”

So what does it mean that the hats have a “100% Donegal Tweed” label sewn inside the quilted lining? Ray at Hat Man of Ireland told me that  while “Donegal” tweed as a type of fabric was first woven in County Donegal, the gurantee means the hat is woven at one of the traditional woolen mills of Ireland.  Donegal tweed is a wool fabric often but not always  woven with a speckled appearance that can be made up with a random background, in herringbone, checks, as a solid or in patchwork.  It is characterized by a weave structure composed of uneven thick and thin slub yarns (think thickly textured, with connotations of rusticity) which contrast with the ground color. These yarns are usually heavier in texture and weave than Harris or other types of tweed.  Donegal tweed is the strongest, heaviest in appearance of all the tweeds, marking it as particularly Irish and certainly more rugged than its English (and usually Scottish) counterparts.

As I wanted a true black herringbone Donegal tweed for the Pete Geek flat cap to show off the Pete Geek embroidery and bring in the traditional Peterson color palette,* Ray turned to Hatman of Ireland’s associate, the famous Foxford Woolen Mills, renowned for its blankets and throws.  Foxford Woolen Mills is in County Mayo, down the west coast from Donegal through Sligo to Mayo. The story—and I paraphrase from an Internet source—is an intriguing tale woven in the west of Ireland, where it sits on the shores of the River Moy. The mills started in 1892 when Agnes Morrogh-Bernard, a Sister Of Charity, came to the town and sought help through Michael Davitt from a County Tyrone mill owner, John Charles Smith.  Sister Agnes used the River Moy to power the mill and in the first 90 years of business, the mill employed 220 people.  The Foxford rug (in US-speak, a throw) and the Foxford blanket became known worldwide as a quality Irish product and this put Foxford on the map.  The Garda [police] uniforms were also made from fabric loomed here for many decades.

Originally, wool would have been used local sheep grazing close to a mill, but eventually local wool came to be seen as too rough by Irish mills for most of their goods, so other wool has come to be imported from  Italy, France, the UK, and Australia.

Foxford Woolen Mills continued until 1987, when the receiver moved in (US speak: they went bankrupt).  The market had changed, businesses were modernizing and the building was expensive to maintain.  This was a huge blow for the town and jobs were lost, jobs in many cases that had been in families for generations. (Sound familiar? If you’ve read the big Peterson book, you know the same thing happened to Kapp & Peterson.) However, a local accountant that worked for the receiver, Joe Queenan, understood the quality of the product as well as the brand’s reputation, which had never been in doubt. (Sound familiar? K&P’s ownership turned around a number of times in the 1970s and 80s.) So Joe and his wife set about rebuilding the business.

In 1992, the Foxford Woolen Mills Visitor Centre was opened, including a historic woolen mill tour as well as the obligatory gift shop and a restaurant. Now simply called “,” you can see a short film with some amazing documentary footage back by visiting their website, where you can also see their incredible array of throws, rugs and clothing made from their mill. Even better–and I am only partially in jest–we ought to stage a Pete Geek Pilgrimage and go see it, as well as the Kapp & Peterson factory, Peterson shop in Dublin, and M. Cahill’s in Limmerick (Ireland’s oldest still-operating pipe and tobacco shop)!

That’s Sister Agnes there to the right of the pillar

Apologies from the boys Cozy (left) and Cupcake (right) if you should find a one or two traces of them
in your hat package. I’ve asked them to refrain from helping me while I pack the hats, but sometimes they get a bit zealous.



A Late (or Early) Happy IPSD 2024!

Gary Hamilton, CPG.

For this year’s “Beauty & Beast” theme, I selected the 1990 Patent Commemorative Oom Paul and the diminutive 317 System. The concept of beauty and beast evokes a thought of opposites.  Playing on that line of thought, I decided to select two pipes that share opposing qualities, but which qualities? The idea of big and little immediately popped into my mind, and the selection of pipes became immediately obvious as I perused the rack of Peterson’s.



If you missed out on a Pete Geek Deneen artisanal mug or simply another, there’s still a few that need good homes (yes, they’re microwave and dishwasher safe). You can order them here: THE LAST of the PETE GEEK MUGS.


Scott Forrest, CPG.

Dang I love the 4AB in rustic!


Gaz Hansen, CPG.

Sharing a cup is always a good idea.


Lester Mills, CPG.


Nate Lynn CPG.

You just don’t see pipe racks like this one–which I believe Nate made–with that slight angle allowing a better profile view.


Rob Guttridge, CPG.

See Rob’s 9s Spigot System on the right? Where was I when these were released as smooths with such great grain?
Obviously “not at home.”


“Abba” Mark Hunt CPG

In the background left you can see Nutmeg, she who stole my own dogs’ hearts when she visited us! They still dream of her.

Ken Sigel, CPG.


Fletch Hiner, CPG.

I couldn’t resist finishing with Fletch’s incredible Pete.

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Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
4 months ago

I never tire of looking at these Pete pics. The Jacques Cousteau pics were also very cool to see – and ‘Life Aquatic’ is incredibly underappreciated. One of those films that I guess you either love or you hate. I might have to watch it tonight.On another note, I can’t wait to wear my hat and have people say: “Hey Pete!” and me look at them like they’re nutz.

Chris Streeper
Chris Streeper
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

I agree… Life Aquatic is such an underrated film. It’s definitely one of those love it or hate it kind of flicks.

4 months ago

Very nice read these morning. Thank you. Coffee taste so much better out of my Pete Geek Mug.

4 months ago

WOW! Mark, Everything I love about Peterson Pipe Notes in one post! Great history, so many gorgeous pipes, incredible tampers, beautiful mugs AND a pilgrimage to Ireland? Oh yeah… sign me up, I would love it. Great info on Cousteau, like so many of a certain age, he was a hero of mine.Great work on the tampers Gary! I could not resist and signed up for 2. Will look forward to the flat cap’s arrival & more info on a future CPG journey to Emerald Isle. I drink daily from my black coffee mug & Nutmeg sends her best to… Read more »

4 months ago

Mark, You are a very kind soul. The before and after images on the 9s would’ve made for an appropriate beauty and beast submission or rather, beast and beauty in this case! I’m awestruck by the after- pics. What a fantastic job so closely restoring it to its original glory! I must say, It was serendipitous stumbling upon this pipe after having only discovered blog post 225 for the first time a few weeks prior. While much of my adventures come by way of arm-chair archaeology, equally satisfying to the unearthing of these wonderful treasures (as in the case of… Read more »

4 months ago

Enjoyed reading this morning’s post while having some WeBe coffee (locally roasted) in my new Pete Geek mug, and a rustic 313 filled with C&D Sansepolcro. Thank you again, Mark, for all your efforts.

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

Another fantastic piece! BTW, Gigi is right, which is why many of us a perpetually broke 😉! Thanks again!

4 months ago

Mark, what a great read this morning! Thank you. I would never have guessed that Jacques Cousteau would have smoked a pipe! Like others, I always enjoy a good feed of Pete photos, and this morning was a good meal!

4 months ago

Did I miss 387? Cannot find it.

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton
4 months ago

Mark, thank you for another great post about all things “Peterson”. I guess I really never made the connection between Cousteau and pipe smoking, and it seems there is a fondness for the Peterson brand. I’m glad you presented this, along with a “new” pipe smoking movie to go sleuth out…The Collectors Corner, what a grand idea…I cannot wait to see all the pipes! Those mug shots sure are fascinating to look at, what wonderful collections from all the “Pete Geeks”!

4 months ago

Does anyone know what tobaccos Cousteau enjoyed?

Chris Streeper
Chris Streeper
4 months ago

As always, Mark, a fantastic post. This one especially ticked all the boxes… even tugged in my heart strings a bit… I have very fond memories of watching Jacques Cousteau documentaries with my father and grandfather when I was a kid. Most of my Irish ancestry fled County Mayo during the great famine, so the county holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps it was Cousteau, perhaps it was my ancestral heritage, perhaps with my grandfather who was a sailor… maybe a bit of all of them, I can’t be certain, I certainly gained a great love for the… Read more »

Rick Myerscough
Rick Myerscough
4 months ago

Love seeing everyones collections and the cups look good too. I already have several coffee mugs made by the same folks… so I had to pass.
I had forgotten Cousteau smoked a pipe… but it was fun seeing him and his family.
Your two dogs… look like they are good helpers…