346. A Look at the CP 308 Premier System & Its History
The Premier System Rustic 308 was released on May 19th as an exclusive through Smokingpipes.eu and the Peterson Grafton Street store in a total issue of 75 pipes and has since then been making its way to various stewards all over the globe. It’s the 6th release in the Charles Peterson small batch collection and richly deserves a moment’s pause to celebrate its considerable virtues (for earlier releases, see Post #315).
The Blaszczak Bros. Rustic Revolution
The sixth CP is the second to feature “Blaszczak Rustication” (yes, that’s just been entered in the Quick Reference guide of the next Peterson book), a style I and many others love (see Post # 269 on the work of Wojciech and Jaroslaw Blaszczak). If you don’t, no worries, as rusticated pipes have never by any means been everyone’s cuppa, hovering out there with virgin finishes and (not so many years ago) even sandblasts.
As the advertising text said, the shape first appeared as the 14, one of Charles Peterson’s original Patent shapes. Seen above in the 14A, it is very close to the shape we associate with the vintage 308s seen on the estate market. The main difference is in the width of the tenon/mortise connection, which would become narrower over its 70+ year history.
As a shouldered “A” and in its first documented appearance as the 308, it appeared in the 1937 catalog. The illustrator bungled the first line of the bowl, in my opinion, but there you have it. As a 308 it was the 2nd grade, or Premier, featuring the sterling mount and a bone tenon extension. At that time, the 3rd grade or what we think of as Standard, was shape 358, which is seen in the 1939 Rogers Imports catalog:
Again, while the artist did his best, the ferrule is quite obviously too short and the angle of the stem as it moves into the mortise not right either! Anyway, the shape went along, apparently selling well enough, until sometime after 1955. The Dublin & London catalog I have from that year has a DISCONTINUED stamp over the shape, and while I can’t say when the book was stamped (and what a labor that must’ve been), as a new catalog didn’t come along until 1965, the shape might conceivably have continued for another decade:
Here is the 308 most of us know, and a sweet one it is. Fast forward almost 70 years and true to its initial promise, Laudisi-era Peterson has been steadily at work bringing K&P’s great achievements back for contemporary pipemen to enjoy. Shape 14 is the latest of their efforts, which appeared as the 2022 POY (see Posts #296 and #297). Putting the bowl into the 308 configuration, of course, gives it a very different effect:
Three 308s: Standard Early Republic (L), new Premier Rustic (M) and Premier Smooth Early Republic (R)
Seen above are two 308s from the mid-1950s, a Standard on the left and a Premier on the right. The Premier Rustic is very, very close as you can see. One visual difference that those new to Pete World may not see at first glance is the width of the mortise and tenons on the vintage 308s as compared to the new one. This change came about slowly in most of the System shapes, where the tenon / mortise width became narrower. One consequence of this in some of the shapes was the necessity of drilling a narrower reservoir. When taken as far as it could go in Paddy Larrigan’s Premier Dunmore Systems, the reservoir had almost been eliminated.
The 308’s original reservoir is so fascinating to me because it more closely resembles the early Patent reservoirs than any other System pipes most of us will find on the estate market. Take a look:
What you’re seeing is a mortise-reservoir combination. This is just one giant, open cavern, rounded at the bottom (and what kind of drill bit was that I wonder?). And yes, it does fill up. Whether it smokes better than other System shapes with smaller reservoirs, I can’t honestly say, as there’s too many other competing factors to know for certain. Here’s the reservoir on the new Premier 308:
I have to confess that what you’re seeing above isn’t really the reservoir as received. It’s been enlarged just a bit from its factory diameter of 10/32nds (0.313 in.) to 12/32nds (0.375 in.) The Early Republic 308s, in contrast, have a reservoir diameter of 19/32nds (0.5984 in.). For the metric guys (me, for example) that’s 8mm (current width), 9.53mm (my enlargement) and 15.2mm (the old 308s). Confused? Me, too.* Does it make a difference? I couldn’t say in a definitive sense. I can say that if you smoke high-sugar tobaccos (Virginias, for example), if the reservoir capacity is insufficient, the moisture will overflow into the smoke channel down onto the floor of the chamber. This has happened to me enough times motivate me to monitor the reservoir as I’m breaking in a pipe and if it’s looking like it’s going to overfill, then making the mod.
The stem work on the CP Rustic is gorgeous, I think. The P-Lip vulcanite stem looks identical to the design used until about 2010 on the 309, but actually it’s a bit narrower from the shoulder down, so I wonder if it wasn’t used on the 312s from a similar period. It’s too rounded at the top of the button to be comfortable for me to clench for long periods, but I cradle my pipes quite a bit more than I did 10 years ago, so it’s not really a problem, especially in such a graceful stem as this!
Take a look at the shank and sterling stamps here. Being upside down, it’s easier to see there’s four shank stamps. Each has to be done by hand, an operation currently performed by either Jonathan Fields (Production Manager) or Keith Healy (Pipe Manufacturing).
You may have noticed—as CPG Chris Tarman said in a comment—that there’s no PREMIER stamp. I wondered about this myself and don’t know whether that was just too many stamps or whether it got left off by mistake. Maybe the “CP” stamp supersedes the “Premier”? I don’t know.
I’ve only got one disappointment with the CP 308, and that’s with the lack of an aluminum tenon extension. All the Premiers in K&P’s history up to now have had screw-in tenon extensions, but perhaps there’s been a change of policy regarding the line.
The only other mystery regarding the CP 308 is that the chamber is just a bit wider than the POY 14B. Why that should be escapes me, as the two bowls are the same height. The diameter at the crown of the POY at the crown is actually 5 mm narrower (at 27.7mm) than the CP (at 32.3). It’s easily seen in a visual comparison of the two, but I suppose really not important as far Unsolved Mysteries of the Petersonverse go.
At the end of the day it’s just fun to see the 308 back again. It would be fantastic to see the shape reinstated permanently in the System catalog as both the 14B Deluxe and the 308A Premier and Standard. It’s a very feminine shape, quite different to my sensibility than the 11 / 312 and far from the Beefy 9 / 307. Its nearest sibling of late has been the POY 9BC, aka ‘John Bull’ (keep it dark).
CP 308 Rustic, Measurements & Other Details
Length: 152.61 mm
Weight: 63.20 g
Bowl Height: 48.19mm
Chamber Depth: 35.05mm
Chamber Diameter: 21.34mm
Outside Diameter: 41.25mm
Stem: P-Lip Vulcanite
Oh, and if you didn’t get a chance to acquire one of these beauties, amazingly enough there’s still 28 available.
I heard from K&P today that our CPG 2023 pipe is in production! The final stamps are these:
Peterson of Dublin
Made in Ireland
[Serialization Number] (x / 120)
* So yeah, I had to use a tire tread depth conversion chart to keep all this straight: