The 2023 Christmas commemorative drops this Friday, September 22nd, at 6pm Eastern Time. There are shapes aplenty this year, including one rarity (seen above) and four in the Sherlock Holmes range:
01 * 03 * 05 * 103 * 106 * 120 * 127 * 128 * 150 * 15 * 221 * 230 * 264 * 268 * 304 * 306 * 338 * 404 * 406 * 408 * 53 * 606 * 65 * 69 * 701 * 85 * 86 * 999 * B42 * B5 * D21 * X105 * X220 * XL02 * XL11 * XL13 * XL16 * XL17
The gloss deep ruby sandblast is intended to evoke, says Andy Wike at Laudisi, “the deep red stains of the first sandblasted pipes.”* In studio lights, the red hues come out more brilliantly than what I was able to capture in my own home lighting (which I admit is anything but ideal), or in natural daylight or evening home lights.
The clenching shelf looks to be perfectly parallel to the bowl rim across all the bent shapes, as this rather imperfect photograph suggests.
Stamping is clean and immaculate, as we’ve come to expect in recent years, well arranged on the underside of the shank.
The sterling band’s inset bead lines is a cause for celebration, as I thought these were now a thing of the distant, pre-Laudisi past. They lend great elegance and sophistication to the sterling, as they always did on Dublin-era high grades. The new vulcanite F/T features an inset aluminum P and the new chamfering, which should provide a good smoking experience.
As seen in this XL16 (above) and the samples I look at, the stain doesn’t seem to have taken in a few of the wider crevices, revealing a raspberry color. There are also some places around the shank tenons where a bit of Halcyon II wax or other polish might remove some blackened discolorations.
The year’s complete package includes a suede leather pipe sock, the “Chat” brochure and the little silver polishing cloth. The bowl + mount + stem + leather sock package seems a bit incongruous to me, in the sense that the inset P and beaded sterling historically have been used in mid-high to high-end releases, while the bowl treatment is typical of entry-level lines. While it doesn’t sing “Christmas” to me the way recent years have or proclaim the festive spirit like Rattray’s recent release does, there are still a number of shapes on offer I’d leave out for Saint Nicholas. I’m sure every Pete Geek will have his own favorites, but here’s a few of mine—
TO ANDY WIKE, K&P & LAUDISI
FOR MEDIA AND SAMPLES
*I was reminded, in fact, of Dunhill’s Rubybark with its sterling band, but of course it didn’t appear until 1972. In fact, I couldn’t think of any marques with a blast finish in dark ruby from the late 19th c. or early 20th c., Dunhill’s own blast not appearing until 1917/18.