I met William in person (he’s a fellow Pete Geek) at the Chicago show last month. We got to chat about Petes both in the smoking tent and at various tables in the show, and at one point he shared with me some photos of his gorgeous collection, which includes over 600 pipes. He companions so many great Petes that he allowed me to select which ones to share with you, offering my own captions along the way. As impossible as that process was, I finally just went for what I found most unusual and simultaneously appealing, whether aesthetically or historically. Like so many Thinking Men in the Peterson community, he’s had a full and fascinating life.
The ebony SH Return collection really pops against the blonde rack, doesn’t it?
There is a purity in the lines of the Strand here that the ebony enhances in a way a grained smooth pipe simply can’t do.
The Hansom was the first “gaslight” stack rhodesian in the Peterson catalog and now (sadly) the only one. The Iceberg Bow would follow it as a round-shank sibling, and was itself followed by the incredible POY for 2018, which to my mind perfected the styling with its oval shank and forward-thrust chin, but I love all three, the Hansom being the most quintessentially Sherlockian / Victorian to me.
CHIP: I was employed by a major insurance company for 43 years. Over half of the time I was in a leadership position. We lived in three different states and ended up in the Corporate Headquarters. My wife is still working for the same company along with our youngest daughter. Out oldest daughter lives in Tennessee, just ten minutes from BriarWorks. After obtaining my MBA, I was an adjunct professor at Illinois State University teaching three different insurance courses over 13 years.
Tom Palmer was always reticent to talk about where the designs for the Dublin-era pipes came from, so we know very little about most of them. The Iceberg Collection channeled everything nautical, bringing it all together in four incredible shapes.
I also retired from teaching when I retired from my “full time” job! About a year before retiring, we purchased a golden doodle puppy so that he could become a therapy dog in the community. He has been a certified therapy for over five years, less the two years of Covid restrictions. We are back to visiting the local hospitals several times a month. It is very satisfying for both of us when we see patients that get excited to visit with him.
When did you begin smoking a pipe? What led you to Peterson?
A few years prior to retiring in 2017, I took up pipe smoking at the encouragement of a friend. After purchasing a Savinelli and a Peterson I was hooked. At least once a month we would go to Jon’s Pipe Shop in Champaign, IL to smoke, buy tobacco and look at pipes. It seemed like every time there was another Peterson to purchase. Around this same time, I started looking at all makes of pipes online. Once, when I purchased a pipe locally, I asked the seller if I could pick it up in person.
This second release of the Captain Pete line dates from c. 1998. While in the book we state that it used all XL Sherlock Holmes pipes, I have a 107 sitting in front of me from this same release: same band, same short P-Lip stem. A marvelous line.
That eBay purchase turned into a lasting, and still ongoing, relationship of refurbishing the pipes he purchases in Germany. Since the starting the partnership of refurbishing (cleaning, sanitizing, removing bite marks, and polishing) his pipes, I have cleaned over 4,300 pipes. We have an agreement that any Petersons, Savinellis, or Kriswills he receives, I will keep. While he provides most of my supplies, there is no charge for cleaning the pipes. It is a great working relationship that has matured into a personal relationship over the years because of pipes.
Why have you focused so much of your interest in Peterson?
Because of my Irish-Scottish ancestry, a vacation in Ireland to visit family living there, and my oldest daughter spending a semester in Dublin, along with the quality of Peterson pipes, Petersons seemed like a perfect match. Yes, I have multiple other brands of pipes, but Petersons are my first choice. Several of my uncles smoked pipes when I was young, so I had a little bit of pipe smoking knowledge. Recently, one of my uncles passed away and my aunt gave me three of his Brewster pipes. I have refurbished them and they are now displayed long with my other pipes.
The Roundstone Spigot line came out in 2016 and was only available for a year, replaced in 2017 by the Newgrange and in 2018 by the System Spigot. The Roundstone’s acrylic stem is, when seen in natural natural and with your own eyes, one of the most gorgeous stems you’ll ever see.
Since Peterson pipes were the predominant pipes sold at Jon’s Pipe Shop, they had a nice selection for viewing and purchase. There is something about a pipe in the hand to seal the purchase! My favorite Peterson pipes are the straight billiards and bulldogs….105, 106, and 150s. When I started my collection, I only wanted smooth finished pipes, but in the last year I have started leaning toward the sandblast finish. I am fortunate to have two Roundstones I have fallen in love with. All of my Petersons are displayed in two different china cabinets.
I enjoy searching for the hard-to-find Petersons and have purchased them all over the world. The comaraderie among pipe smokers is wonderful. It is great to read about Petersons and their history and to talk to other Pete Geeks to discuss the Petes they have in their collection. I am fortunate to be located where I can easily attend the Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, and Briar Works shows.
The Claret Collection was released as part of Bernadette O’Neill’s 1997 designer collection for K&P. Only 250 sets were made and numbered and it featured an original bent (seen above) and the 87 apple. The Racing Green was identical in numbers and presentation, albeit with K&P’s first green stain. To see a set like William’s, with its fragile box and certificate, is quite remarkable.
Unfortunately, there are no pipe shops in my town. But, I can be at Jon’s in about 45 minutes and they have a great smoking lounge. Plus, they blend my favorite tobacco. Iwan Ries is two hours away and Jon’s in St. Louis is about two and a half hours away. There is a small group of smokers in my town, so we occasionally get together to smoke and tells lies to the group! Smoking is allowed in outdoor eating areas, but not in any interior eating areas. Except for smoking shops where smoking is allowed in a designated lounge area.
One of the Dublin era’s most elaborate sets, the River Collection (2007). William’s collection reminds me to tell you that the River Collection, like several of the other great Dublin-era collections, actually came in different grades, depending on finish. There was often a higher grade indicated only by an aluminum inset “P” rather than the hot foil silver one.
It is such a pity that these shapes are lost to the catalog. Every single one of them says IRISH and KAPP & PETERSON. While the Dublin era shapes might sometimes veer away from a strict Irish aesthetic, mostly (as here) they were right on target.
Love at first sight: when I saw the Boyne again in its SPD rendition from Jason’s collection, I fell in love with it. It’s such a classy, unusual shape, one that I almost never see. Something about the round shank rhodesian seems to evoke an Irish sensibility to me.
K&P, like every one else in the world, sometimes makes a mistake. Letting go of the four shapes that comprise 2011’s final four shapes in the Sherlock Holmes series was one of them. While there was a certain amount of “reboot” vibe to the Return of SH series, the shapes in the Adventure of SH are impressive for their originality of design, sitting squarely within the series yet each offering something unique. But it’s not just the visual appeal, but how well they smoke. I’ve smoked three of the four since 2011 and they’re incredible.
You can’t really see it from this vantage, but the SYLVIUS is K&P’s finest achievement if you’re looking for a stack billiard. It’s one of my favorite smokers, doing what stacks do best: creating long, sweet, cool smoking sessions.
The Gregson, a plumped-up version of the 2004 AND 2008 POYs, is a superb smoking instrument by anyone’s estimation. As a stack bent, it offers the bold muscular shaping we expect of our Petes.
The Hopkins: the most audacious “quaint” in K&P’s history. It’s big, funny, bold and holds its own against all comers. The kind of pipe that, if it were in a pub brawl, you’d want on your side.
Finally, the Moran. Yes, he was a despicable character in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. This is the only pipe from the Adventures of SH that I don’t have. It is one of the few unicorns on my list.
A few more pipes from William’s amazing collection!
The first issue Connemara line (?), shape 14, which I haven’t dated yet: Early or Late Republic?
The A1 from the original 1995 Antiques Collection in the Connemara 2010 release.
A final rarity for this post, a shape 86 from the Trinity line, c. 1998, German market.
William also has a gorgeous collection of K&P accessories that is, I’m sure, second to none. He’s agreed to share some of those with a few of my own in a joint post soon.
MANY THANKS TO WILLIAM
(all photos courtesy William as well!)