390. A Visual History of Peterson’s Bulldog Shapes, Part 2: From the End of the Patent through the Irish Free State and Éire Eras

Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, smoking a Peterson bulldog in the Sherlock Holmes film
Dressed to Kill (1946)

Rev. 9am, 3/24.

Irish Bulldogges! I had no idea they were so popular among the Pete Geeks, really I didn’t.  This morning we’ll continue on with our survey of the history of this shape in the K&P catalog, moving from the final years of the Patent era on through the Irish Free State and Éire periods, stopping at the 1947 Distributor’s Catalog which appeared just before the Republic was created.

Petey, the Pit Bull Terrier of Our Gang Renown
in the IFS and Éire Eras

Along the way I’ll be inserting bulldogs Pete Geeks have sent that are relevant to the IFS or Éire eras. Before we get started, three things to help us along our way:

Hallmarks. First is simply to remind everyone—especially those trying to date their pipes—that the surest guide to dating a pipe’s manufacture are its stamps and hallmarks—and you can find out a great deal about those by clicking the HALLMARKS page tab in the black bar at the top of the screen.

Plus One.  Second, catalogs and ephemera are also crucial in dating a pipe, especially its appearance in a line. That’s where the big Peterson book can come to the Pete Geek’s aid with its orange-tabbed “Collector’s Reference” section. As important as this method is for dating, we have to remind ourselves that printed ephemera always appears after a pipe is in production and so it can only give us approximate or what I think of as “+1” dates, meaning that the pipe or new line in question probably appeared a year before the catalog.

The Good Neighbor.  Finally, to really be part of Pete Geekdom, it’s important to be a good neighbor.  I believe there is still vital information about Peterson shapes, lines and series waiting to be recovered by the Peterson community as a whole.  As you’ll see in what follows, this matters more than you think.

1939 Peterson-Rogers Catalog petersonpipenotes

Todd Becker (of eBay’s Deadmanspipes), for example, won the super-rare 1939 Rogers Imports Ltd. Peterson catalog a few years back and sent it to me to scan and circulate a PDF.  This act of fellowship has given every Peterson collector considerable knowledge on the end of the Éire era, on what the London and Dublin factories offered in lines and shape numbers in that critical moment just before the Pipeocalypse of World War II descended.

The Last of the Patent Era Bulldogs

One of the things that makes shape numbers so difficult to ascertain after the big 1906 catalog is that shape numbers weren’t stamped on the bowls. It wasn’t until sometime in the early Éire era that this began; previously, bowl numbers were penciled on the inside of the chamber, as we documented in the big Peterson book.

Another difficulty is that the shape numbering system changed several times in the K&P ephemera, so many times that it’s difficult to keep up with all of them, let along make a reliable cross-reference chart! Do you remember—I know you do—that as late as 2010 no one in the hobby understood the cross-referencing of identical bowl shapes that transitioned from the System to the Classic range?

Lance Dahl’s 1913 Meerschaum

We’ll begin with a beautiful and easily dated meer bulldog from Lance Dahl’s collection, a meer from 1913. It announces itself at every turn: Patent label case, amber P-Lip, hallmarked to 1907. It’s the iconic shape as defined in our last post: a shorter upper cone and taller lower cone, separated by twin bands; a tapered diamond shank, in this case eventuated in a saddle. The P-Lip button, as so often happens, accentuates the design language, bringing with its half-circle a horizontal closure to the vertical oval of the bowl. Note the bowl, as on iconic bulldogs, sweeps inward as it descends down from the lower cone. I draw your attention to this because this feature will change in the development of K&P’s bulldog catalog later on.

From the 1909 A. C. McClurg mail order catalog

The engraving from the A. C. McClurg mail order catalog seems to show us the McClurg shape number and not K&P’s, but who’s to say for certain? McClurg—if you don’t have the Pete book—was a Chicago-based mail order house that thrived in the decades just before and after 1900.

From the 1910 Hudson’s Bay catalog

The Hudson’s Bay mail order company issued catalogs for Western Canada (where they had salesrooms as well) from 1896-1913. While the drawings from their 1910 catalog are very primitive compared to McClurg’s engravings, there is some valuable information to be gleaned. First—how amazing is it that K&P had made its way to the rather sparsely populated western reaches of Canada by 1910? Next, while Hudson’s Bay probably invented the names of the two bulldogs shown, it appears as if the T1510 and T1512 were different shapes, not just different in quality. Finally, how about it if every pipe retailer would just include a pound of the customer’s favorite blend with every sale? (Okay, it’s true SPC does send out a tin of C&D’s aromatic commemoratives with various promotionals through the year. That counts in today’s world!)

A 1913 bulldog from Lance Dahl’s collection

The pipe above from Lance Dahl’s collection is a great study in the kinds of dating problems we face. Lance writes, “I have two Patent era Bull dogs I like to smoke about once a month. The first is a 1907 Meerschaum and the second is a 1913 Briar marked K&P Irish Made. Both have amber stems and are individually cased.”  Notice the K&P Irish Made bears no Patent stamp on the shank nor a Patent stamp on the band. Lance comments:It’s interesting for sure, no Patent stampings. It’s simply marked K&P over IRISH MADE and hallmarked to 1913. The case label is KAPP & PETERSON over DUBLIN with LIMITED in the center. The bit looks more orific to me than a fish tail.” The pipe leaves us, as so often happens, with a conundrum we simply can’t answer. The hallmark makes this a 1913 pipe. The orific button adds slight, but not definitive support, as this style of button wouldn’t disappear until the late IFS.  The case label argues against, rather than for, a Patent dating, as does the K&P over IRISH MADE. But wait, there’s more! The expiration of Charles Peterson’s 1891 patent was in . . . yes, that’s right, 1911. Twenty years later.  The expiration of the 3rd patent (the P-Lip) was in 1898.  But we have documented dozens of Patent-stamped Petes through 1918.  (And let’s confuse matters more: here on the blog and in the book we use the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 as the end of the Patent era. Why? Because it’s an easy and historically convenient marker.) So what’s the answer regarding Lance’s meer? We can’t say with 100% certainty, but it’s certainly a beautiful piece and certainly shows indications of coming from the first decades of K&P’s operation.


The Irish Free State Bulldogs

Pictured above is a 1922 HM sterling band, Grade 2 (Premier) from the collection of Sébastien Canévet, looking as if it just come out of the box. We notice the “Patent” stamp is gone underneath “Peterson’s”, replaced with “DUBLIN.” An extraordinary piece!


The 256 bulldog from the c. 1922 Temporary Illustrated catalog

These bulldogs are from a beautiful little brochure in Linwood Hines’s collection entitled the “Temporary Illustrated Price List.” This fold out appeared as early as 1922, which would make these shapes the first to appear in the Irish Free State era.

The 256 is a backward-looking shape, with its amazing B or tapered army mount. I love it not only for this peculiarity but for the beaded twin bands, which make their first appearance here. I’m certainly all releasing something like this again, which actually isn’t far from the PSOI pipe example Jason Canady sent me:

Jason’s 150 adds a spigot (a great addition) and a Cumberland acrylic fishtail, bringing out the stain admirably.


The 643 and 662, also from the Temporary Illustrated catalog

Now here’s something you don’t see everyday: 600 shapes that are bulldogs rather than (as today) pots. These look more like what we expect from the classic Peterson bulldog. Notice the sharper forward cant on the 643 as well as its sharper angle at the front heel. Here we also have the classic division between saddle and taper, one which has persisted ever since in various iterations.

Pictured above is the 643 “in the wild,” something we so rarely see! It’s a 1922 HM sterling band, Grade 2 (Premier) from the collection of Sébastien Canévet, looking as if it just come out of the box. We notice the “Patent” stamp is gone underneath “Peterson’s”, replaced with “DUBLIN.” An extraordinary piece!

And if things weren’t giddy enough in this morning’s romp with the Irish Bulldogges, pictured above is Jasan Canady’s 662!


The Éire Bulldogs

Yes, the state of Éire didn’t exist until 1938. But the London factory, opened in response to Britain’s harsh duties on Irish goods, was opened in late 1937 and can be said to be part of that transition. So–I’ve chosen to move the bulldogs from 1937 forward a year, especially as we know the catalog probably didn’t appear until the first part of 1938 (the London factory only opened in November of 1937).

Bulldogges from the 1937 Dublin & London catalog

You might be thinking that six separate bulldog shapes in a comprehensive catalog isn’t anything remarkable. Except.  Except the 1937 catalog was far from comprehensive and was in fact produced during another of the harsher times in Ireland’s economic life, in an Ireland which had yet to pull out of the Great Depression. Six bulldogs reveals in actuality a huge interest in and demand for Ye Olde Irish Bulldogge, and wow these are really diverse, much more so than in some of today’s straight and bent billiards which are almost impossible to distinguish one from the other.

The 982 / 170 at the top is, I suggest, the predecessor of the SH Baker Street. Notice the shank is not tapered, but a diamond with parallel lines. The forward cant of the bowl is slight and the shoulder of the mount is longer than was usually the case in bulldogs.

At the other extreme, the 981 / 155 at the bottom is the closest thing K&P has made to a true soft and rounded chubby bulldog. It’s charming, so charming in fact that if you have one you want to send my way, by all means do so!

The 980 / 150 above the 981 is a great shape and bears little resemblance, at least to me, to the contemporary 150.

The 1043 / 179 I admire for its length and athleticism. Easily a marathon runner.

Trafalgar Square shape N46

Regrets, regrets! I acquired this incredible Trafalgar Square N46 several years ago from Joe Mansueto. Joe, if you read this, I’m very sorry to say I let it go. It was very foolish of me.  Joe added the very slight bend to the stem which, to my mind, only makes this more Irish. In fact—if someone from K&P should be reading this—think about how these 1/8th bends are used elsewhere in the Peterson shape chart. Why not here why not here why not here? I’ll buy the first.

The N Stamp

Also note this is a pipe made in the London factory. The line isn’t mentioned in the catalog ephemera, and while it may have been made in the Early Republic, I’m going to put it here. Also note that wonderful “N” prefix, which always indicated natural smooth pipes at the London Peterson factory.

I wish K&P could take a page from its history and begin issuing smooth natural pipes again. As this N46 shows, the grain shouldn’t be spectacular (“Supreme” grade). The whole point of a natural smooth is simply to give the pipe smoker an opportunity to buy a pipe with no fills or pits and watch it darken over time. I imagine that some of the pipes used for the Heritage and Ebony lines would be great for use in a Natural line.


A Sterling 1939

Speaking of natural smooths, this Sterling pipe is from Todd Becker’s 1939 Rogers catalog. It featured better grain than the Trafalgar Square (indicated by the sterling band). Notice Rogers uses false advertising here: the “genuine ‘Hall-marked’ sterling band.” Well—sort of. The K & P in shields were registered, just not as assay hallmarks. They were the second set of Maker’s Marks K&P registered.

Here in the same catalog is Joe Manseuto’s shape 46, this time in its Captain Pete iteration, along with shape 39. Obviously the two best-selling bulldogs in the K&P kennel!

Elsewhere in the 1939 Rogers Imports catalog are the Shamrock bulldogges, some of which shapes we’ve seen before but with different numbers. While all are of interest, the 971 deserves to be highlighted here as it approaches the squat bulldog 493 that we’ll see just a few years down the road.

In this column of the Rogers catalog we can see the expansion of the Peterson bulldog range with the addition of the first bent bulldog in K&P’s catalog, the 80. While official K&P nomenclature would call this a “rhodesian,” we now prefer the more precise taxonomy of bent bulldog, as rhodesian design language must include a round and not diamond shank.  (Also note the 999 Author at the bottom, which I’ve included as a not-too-subtle reminder that K&P needs to get this chubby Irish shape back in its catalog.)

And can you believe your eyes! Here’s the 80s and the 971 in a companion case from the collection of Lance Dahl. Notice the very deep bend on the 80s, something from the “age of clenching,” something very Peterson, something not much practiced in the past 40 years!

Br. Jack Gillespie CPG, with his 80s Donegal Sterling Bent Bulldog. His Donegal and his Shannon also shown here.


Shape 197 from the 1940 White catalog

The official catalog from K&P in 1940 was such an impoverished affair that one wishes it were possible to drop by the factory and stand everyone a pint or maybe a sandwich at the local pub. Of course, Ireland was being blockaded at the moment by German U-Boats, so I may have had a few logistical problems.  That things were pretty bad is in evidence from the photos it  recycled from the 1906 catalog:

At the bottom right, standing at the rail: Charles Peterson and Henry Kapp


Two years after hostilities ended and bringing our survey of the IFS and Éire eras to its conclusion is the fullest flowering of bulldogs in K&P’s history, before or since: the distributor’s catalog c. 1947. Three squat bulldogs, the 493, 494 and 495, all reintroducing the “Cad” name.  The 170 / 175 and 150 /155 don’t appear to be different shapes, but merely different stems—one saddle, one bent.

Here on this second page of bulldogs from 1947 is a shape that may or may not be the same as the XL 500 shapes from the late 1970s and early 1980s: the 594 / 595. Also notice the 80s and 80b. Oh that Peterson could today afford an 80B stamp! They’ve been using the 80S stamp for decades now, having lost the 80B and apparently forgotten there’s a different between saddle and taper. Let’s start a fund-raiser, what do you think?

If you want your own 1947 restored catalog, here it is: 1947 Shape Chart RESTORATION compressed with my compliments.

Finally, in the bottom right corner, the SPORTS 5 bulldog. I had one of these rarities once! Smoked great. So why did I trade it off . . . ?


Dr. Watson: “Why yes, Miss Vedder, this is a Peterson bulldog.
How remarkable of you to notice. Would you like a puff?” –
Terror by Night (1946)


 Thanks to all who’ve contributed. This time out: Lance Dahl,
Br. Jack Gillespie, Jason Canady & Chris Streeper (for advice on
smoking bulldogs).


More from MALCOLM GUITE on Peterson and Tolkien!

In his latest “Spell in the Library” YouTube video, Malcolm Guite celebrates Tolkien, Peterson pipes, the importance of pipe smoking and even reads from my own Pipe Smoking in Middle Earth  which is now back in stock at Smokingpipes.com.  Check it out!

Continue Reading390. A Visual History of Peterson’s Bulldog Shapes, Part 2: From the End of the Patent through the Irish Free State and Éire Eras