You are currently viewing 391. SPECIAL BULLETIN: The Shannon Air System Descends Tomorrow

391. SPECIAL BULLETIN: The Shannon Air System Descends Tomorrow

REVISED 3/31/04 9:15 AM

Public Service Announcement
The Pete Geek Meet at the Chicago Pipe Show, 4:15-6:15 pm

 in the Sky Harbor AB room after the Saturday show.

PETE GEEK MEET @ THE CHICAGO PIPE SHOW.  We’ll be doing a swap & sell of pipes, tobaccos & ephemera, a show & tell of rare Petes and a discussion of how to expand interest in Peterson pipes across the global pipe community. For more information, email petegeek1896@gmail.com.  Please join us!

 

THE DROP

Per Alex Willard: “The Shannon Air System will be available around 12:00am EST tomorrow. We’re trying to avert the massive system crash special Peterson drops sometimes cause by shifting the release to a time with less traffic.”The 110 Shannon Air System features a triangular shank
hearkening back to those seen on Lorenzo’s Elba pipes in the 1970s and 80s.

Right after Christmas Peterson kindly sent me samples of “The Shannon Air System,” the first new System since Charles Petersen’s original Patent in 1865. As these drop tomorrow way early here in the US and Tuesday in Europe, I wanted everyone to be on the look out, as the first batch will be fairly small—about 300 pieces, I’m told. The first wave will feature shapes based on the 110, the XS120, the XSB42, the XSB10, the XS21 (Hudson) and the XS605, mostly in Terracotta and sandblast. A few PSBs and two Supreme blasts will also be available. One hundred only will be serialized with the stamp “LARRIGAN 100 – x /100″ to commemorate Paddy Larrigan’s 100th birthday (as explained below).

 

THE BACKSTORY

 The Shannon Air derives its name in part from the pipes specially stamped “FOR SHANNON AIRPORT” sold between 1947 and 1983 at the Shannon Airport.  The airport opened in 1945, which inaugurated the world’s first Customs Free Zone and Duty Free shops in 1947. Peterson began selling their pipes at the airport, which had to include the shank stamp to be eligible for duty free purchase. The pipes so stamped seem to have been from every line and grade (mine’s a 308 Premier), and at least for me are a great piece of Peterson history.  (If you’ve ever seen a Peterson B.P.L., this line consisted of Pete bowls finished by a K&P partner in a small workshop almost next door to the James Fox shop in Dublin and only sold at the Shannon Airport.)

A 312 System with the “FOR SHANNON AIRPORT” stamp

 

An Early Republic era 31 straight System: dry, dry, dry!

 The new System is based on on two ideas, the first being the straight System that goes back to the Patent era and featured an extended tenons and wide-bore shanks. The last vestige of the Straight System was the small shape 31, which finally  disappeared from the catalog about 5 years ago after a long and lingering death.  Many of us have seen and perhaps even companioned versions of the straight System, often without the extended condenser.

Tom Lomprey’s 1911 Patent Era Calabash

A second important inspiration behind the Shannon Air is the traditional meerschaum-bowl gourd calabash. If you have a copy of Gary Schrier’s History of Calabash Pipes, Second Edition you’ll understand the historical precedent here, one similar to the original Patent System: utilize an air chamber between the smoker and the tobacco to cool the smoke to allow smoke and moisture to expand and cool inside the chamber prior to its arrival through the button. The hotter the smoke, the more flavor is lost. It’s not the volume of the chamber that matters nearly so much as the existence of the chamber itself.

Peterson outsourced their gourd meerschaums, as they did their morta bog oaks and clays, but then made their own “Captain Warren” type briar calabashes, not only in the Patent era, but later on in Paddy Larrigan’s extraordinary output of one-offs, as seen below.

A Paddy Larrigan Briar Calabash (HM 1996)

 I companioned the 1996 Paddy Larrigan briar calabash seen above for a number of years. He has always called them “basket pipes,” but the concept is identical to the gourd calabash, as they feature a briar cup or basket that fits down into the lower part of the bowl either by threads (his earlier ones) or cork gaskets (his later examples). Several of these reside at the Peterson Archive, and I hope at some point Austin Quinlan or Giacomo Penzo will restore them. In the meantime they can be seen in the big Peterson book.

 

Larrigan’s sketch for a “rear basket” System

So fast-forward to just a few years before Larrigan’s retirement, when the sketch for a “Rear Basket pipe” (seen above) was apparently drawn. It is this sketch that the company used as inspiration for the new Shannon Air System. “It seemed like the thing to do when we realized this was going to be Paddy’s 100th year,” said one spokesperson. “We were just thinking of Paddy’s basket pipes, and kicking around what we might do. But those are obviously artisan in intent and execution. But this “rear basket” design– why not see what we can do with it?  As it turned out, in talking with our factory manager and pipe specialists, this was something we could achieve, something we feel will really add to Peterson’s portfolio.”

An XS120 Dublin PSB Shannon Air System

It didn’t hurt that several artisan makers, and even pipe makers like Ser Jacopo and Missouri Meerschaum, have made pipes on similar lines.

A Revyagin “Fortune Cookie” calabash

Like many fashions in the pipe world, the idea for this kind of “rear-basket” (Larrigan’s term) calabash was all the rage for a years, but has now mostly faded, leaving ample room and opportunity for K&P’s new release. It was first made by Russian artisan Michail Revyagin (2010).  Some of Michael Revyagin’s calabash shapes quite literally copy Lagenaria siceraria, the bottle gourd, while others resembled inflated fortune cookies (and that’s not a slam—they’re awesome).

Rolando Negoita’s Conducta came out in 2011, at about the same time as Danish friend Tom Eltang’s Tubos (2011). Both artisans continue to make these great pipes, although Eltang’s is seen much more frequently.

Andrew Harris’s Reverse Calabash appeared in 2012, followed by Radice’s Aero Billiard (2013) and AlPascia’s Curvy (2015).  Other makers have also entered the field, including Missouri Meerschaum, Il Duca, Chacom, Daniel Mustran, Talamona and others. While each maker has a unique name for their design, they all work on the same principle used for the Shannon Air System.

A Rolando Negoita “Conducta”

Rolando Negoita explains that this type of pipe “is a variation on the principle of the gourd calabash. I have engineered these pipes so that the smoke from the tobacco chamber will pass through a cooling chamber in the shank before being delivered to the stem. In addition to cooling, this chamber will act to decant and filter the smoke as well.”

A Ser Jacopo Insanus, clearly inspired by the Andrew Harris design

 Andrew Harris amplified Negoita’s idea, creating a second chamber as big or bigger than the tobacco chamber, which he said in Pipes and tobaccos was “the key.” For him, the size of the chamber needs to approximate the size of a gourd calabash chamber—“a quarter cup of rice is pretty close to the average amount of air space” in a gourd calabash.*  This results in a bulbous briar, certainly more of a hand-held pipe. Unfortunately for the pipe community, it didn’t prove popular enough for him to continue, and as far as I know Harris no longer makes pipes. I really regret not getting one from him at his last appearance at the Chicago Pipe Show back in 2012. Interestingly enough, Ser Jacopo has begun using his design—sparingly—in their Insanus line.

A Tom Eltang “Tubos” and for my money, one of his most beautiful compositions

 Eltang borrowed from shape evolved into a calabash, in collaboration with Negoita, its industrial styling evoking quite a bit of discussion in the hobby and (in my opinion) being the idea behind Peterson’s 2016 POY.

 

The Missouri Meerschaum Reverse Calabash from 2015

I’ve been a MM fan since driving Route 66 and seeing the factory, and I wish they’d put these into regular production!

 

A current Radice “Aero Billiard”

  The Radice family, working out the same principle, cross-bred their Aero Billiard with the Italian love for nosewarmer “Chubby” shapes, first releasing their version through Luca di Piazza’s NeatPipes. They continue to make these, although not with as much frequency as they once did.

 

THE FLIGHT MANUAL

A Moriarity Shannon Air System is the most whimsical of the Shannon Air designs,
one that shows the definite sensibility of Giacomo Penzo, K&P’s pipe specialist.

I’ve been smoking my Shannon Air System (the XS120 seen above) three or four times a week since receiving it back in January, enough that I can comfortably offer the following “Flight Manual” for those who are thinking of investing.

The “Rear Basket.”
The Shannon Air System is a chubby, shorter shape with an outsize mortise housing an air cooling chamber which functions like the old gourd-and-meerschaum calabash, but with the essential flavor distinction that has made briar the king of pipes for over a century. The tenon and stem unit is P-Lip, but acrylic to insure a secure fit with the acrylic ring glued inside the mortise.

 The Open Draw.
You will immediately notice the openness of the Shannon Air System’s draw. If you’ve only smoked traditionally drilled pipes or even pipes that have been opened up for an easier draw, be mindful as you smoke of just how easy the draw is in the Shannon Air.  It’s far, far different than the P-Lip bent System. It’s not as bone-gasping dry as a straight System, but closer in moisture level to the traditional bent System.  This is a pipe made for sipping, for slowing down and relaxing, for enjoying every nuance of your favorite tobacco.

The Smoking Experience.
The Shannon Air System’s dual chamber geometry defies the logic of traditional chamber shapes when it comes to the smoking experience and is much closer to Charles Peterson’s Straight System than the Bent System. Many experienced pipeman have found vapers, virginia flakes, english and balkans each respond best to specific chamber sizes, but this is not the case with the Shannon Air. You will find the flavor spectrum of your favorite blend opened up, revealing itself in new ways, rather like listening to a album on a new high-end set of audiophile speakers. You’ll hear “notes” in your tobacco you only suspected before!

Once loaded with your favorite blend, the Shannon Air System will not only deliver a richer smoke, but a much cooler one as well. The open draw encourages sipping, and sipping will encourage you to slow down a little more and relax with your pipe. The draw also requires much fewer relights during your smoke. Like a traditional V-shaped meerschaum-and-gourd calabash, you’ll notice the tobacco smokes completely and evenly all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

The Break-In.
From the first smoke, the design of the Shannon Air System will lead to you believe it’s already been broken in, so different is the experience from the break-in process of a traditional briar. But please, give your Shannon Air the same respect and attention you would in breaking in any other Petersen pipe.

The Care and Cleaning Process.
The Shannon Air System can be smoked several times a day with outstanding results.  Like a straight System, it ghosts really easily—at least, in my experience.  So you may want to devote it to a single type of tobacco.  Even more than other pipes, its optimum performance will depend on your attention to its cleanliness. After each bowl, let the pipe cool, then remove the tenon from the mortise with a slight twist. I recommend applying torque at the juncture between tenon and mortise, rather than applying torque back at the bowl. Blow through the stem onto a tissue, wiping the residue off the back of the stem. Then make a loose twist from the tissue and corkscrew it into the mortise. Run a pipe cleaner through both the stem and the smoke hole between the mortise chamber and the tobacco chamber and the pipe will once again be ready for flight.A Terracotta XSB10 Shannon Air System: one for Sherlock Holmes, perhaps?

With many thanks to Sykes Wilford
for his encouragement of this post,
and of course to K&P and SPC for archival photos.
Special thanks to Tim Lomprey for photographs of his
unbelievable 1911 K&P Calabash

Póg mo Thóin!
…which is to say,
HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

 

and a joyful Easter to you all.
Christ is risen. Alleleuia!

 

* “The Second Chamber” [Anthony Harris], Pipes and Tobaccos 16, no. 4 (Winter 2012), 30ff.

 

Nate Lynn, CPG.

 

 

Picture Yourself Here.

 In the 1978 Peterson-Glass catalog, a color version of this mirror was released. The last time I visited the factory, either the original color version or this one was hanging on the wall across from Josh Burgess’s office.  CigarWorld in Germany has about 20 or so of these new/old stock mirrors left.  I haven’t yet traced when this one appeared, but if you click on the link, you can see that the mirror can be wall mounted or stood up on an attached strut.

Point-of-sale materials from the 1978 Peterson-Glass catalog

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James Walsh
James Walsh
15 days ago

OH WOW! The Shannon Air System is amazing! Looking forward to the release. Great description of the experience, can’t wait to fire one up!! So great to see Peterson paying tribute to Paddy and his artistry! I love the pic of the 1978 POS items.I would love to find some of these old displays and I find the collapsible boxes very interesting. I had never seen one until I purchased an interesting Pete last year that came with one of these boxes. The pipe is stamped SPECIAL but does not scream high (or higher) grade as is more typically seen… Read more »

Nevaditude
Nevaditude
15 days ago

Wonderful news that they WILL honor Paddy Larrigan after all! They wanted to surprise us, and it makes me smile broadly 😁 for THIS is perfect and unique, AND might I daresay WORTHY of the man & his legacy! 👏🏼 Thanks for the heads-up about the thinking man mirror.👍🏼 I made a purchase 😃. I am looking forward to meeting fellow CPG’s at the Chicago Pipe Show. Another excellent blog Mark, thank you AND so very very well done Peterson… A great great choice for the 100th b-day. Happy Easter wishes to those celebrating across the globe this day! ☝🏼be… Read more »

John M Young, CPG
15 days ago

Good morning, indeed. Thank you for another great way to start to my week and expand my knowledge of the Shannon Airport line. That is certainly the only line associated with an airport which I would not complain about. I do believe that I had bemoaned the loss of the straight system pipes in comments for the past 2 or three weeks. I swear, those were not “plants” by some conspiracy minded Pete Greek from Nebraska. This is amazing news and sure to end the remission of Peterson Pipe Acquisition Disorder (PPAD) in many a CPG around the word.

Martin
Martin
15 days ago

Great Story but April Fools Day is here just tomorrow. About these Mirrors I bought two over the years and the first I think round about four years ago.
Happy Eastern You all.

James Walsh
James Walsh
14 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Good catch Martin! I think you nailed it. Mark has been known to pull the old April Fools trick 🤣

Massimo Genoni . Cpg
Massimo Genoni . Cpg
14 days ago

Rumors
talk about the nickname zeppelin : for an explosive experience .
As highlighted by the author:
“ You’ll hear “notes” in your tobacco you only suspected before! “. 

Sébastien Canévet
Sébastien Canévet
14 days ago

Dear Mark, as far as I understand, you forget to tell that Peterson tooks its inspiration from a strange fish called the humphead wrasse to design its new shape. It will be a wonderful adding to the collection of all the CPG.

Chris Streeper
Chris Streeper
14 days ago

This reads like a story which should be published tomorrow… and not on its usual day. Either way, thanks for the good read and Happy Easter! He is risen!

Mark Y Berman
Mark Y Berman
14 days ago

“THE DROP

Per Alex Willard: “The Shannon Air System will be available around 12:00am EST tomorrow. We’re trying to avert the massive system crash special Peterson drops sometimes cause by shifting the release to a time with less traffic.””

CLARIFICATION: 12:00am is MIDNIGHT; is that correct for the drop?

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton
14 days ago

Well it seems that some Leprechaun is off to shenanigans on this post, that is until Martin’s post brought us back to reality. The history of the Shannon airport and the pipes stamped as such, was very interesting and informative! And to Tim Lomprey, what a wonderful K&P Calabash, truly exquisite!

Craig Hairrell
Craig Hairrell
14 days ago

The Peke Geek Meetup at the Chicago Pipe Show is scheduled to be held in meeting room Sky Harbor AB. This is inside the hotel, so no smoking, unfortunately.

Mark Derington
Mark Derington
14 days ago

It would be interesting to see how many people actually get on the website to try to buy this! 🤣

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
14 days ago
Reply to  Mark Derington

The first post really had me scratching my head, but I HAVE a Giacomo Penzo pipe that is very similar in design to the Radice Aero Billiard shown above, so these pipe designs are not completely far-fetched. But I still think Mark has outdone himself!

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
14 days ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

The first pipe really had me scratching my head, but I HAVE a Giacomo Penzo pipe that is very similar in design to the Radice Aero Billiard shown above, so these pipe designs are not completely far-fetched. But I still think Mark has outdone himself!

Mark Y Berman
Mark Y Berman
14 days ago

First 100 buyers also get a free case of Guiness, right ???? LOL !!!

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
14 days ago

This was a really great read, but I have to ask, just knowing Mark: which parts are April Fools?!?

Matt
Matt
14 days ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

I’ll stay up late and take one for the Team. Once I’ve fully confirmed the legitimacy of the drop- checkout and all-I’ll alert everyone.
Sleep is important. Happy to help, happy to play the fool 😜

Matt
Matt
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Upon a second read, I think it’s pretty safe to say that im one of those suckers they say is born every minute 😂. Grateful Christ came to save the suckers too

Nevaditude
Nevaditude
14 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Likewise….Preach it Brother Matt, preach it! He came to save the sick, which includes the sickers and the suckers. Hallelujah! It does appear that Our Bishop of the ’Briar Mark is playing the sicker, while we play the suckers. I’ll admit it- I leaped before I looked… at the calendar…sigh! 😃 Still, t’would be a cool pipe!! I like my straight System 31 very much. Very dry as the Bishop said. AND as dry as his humor is… but I knew that and took the leap regardless… Well played Mark, well played. Happy Resurrection Day. AND Happy April Fool’s Day… Read more »

Erik R
Erik R
14 days ago

Those look like some mighty fine lip warmers! I almost forgot the date and got to thinking to myself “what are they doing?”

J Keatley
J Keatley
14 days ago

Great article and great tribute to Paddy Larrigan! You eluded to investing in the Shannon Air System pipes and I think you are spot on. Not sure if it would be something I would smoke, but I feel the need to adopted one or two.

Rob Guttridge
Rob Guttridge
14 days ago

Well done, Mark!
Just enough plausibility to keep me going ’til my leg was pretty close to fully extended, and the hints that “taffy was being distributed” were pretty clever: “rear basket system” indeed . . . .
Happy Easter, and thanks for the joke!

Mark Y Berman
Mark Y Berman
13 days ago

I picked up a beautiful SUPREME Shannon Air right at Midnight, but they reneged on the free case of Guiness !!!!!!

Scott Forrest
Scott Forrest
13 days ago
Reply to  Mark Y Berman

I picked up one that had a Maltese Cross stamped on it (it took up the entire left side of the shank!)

Massimo Genoni . Cpg
Massimo Genoni . Cpg
10 days ago
Reply to  Scott Forrest

I received a free fire extinguisher

Mark E Domingues
Mark E Domingues
13 days ago

Dammit! Ya got me! I might have to make one similar to these!