217. Kapp & Peterson’s Early French-Made Figural Briars

I’m pleased to present the research of Sébastien Canévet on Kapp & Peterson’s early figural briars. The Dublin firm wanted to offer as many options as possible to its original customers, but in the factory made only meerschaums and briars. We know Charles Peterson and probably Jimmy Malone also made custom or artisan pipes as well (a tradition that continued until the early 1990s), and that companion cases were custom-made in the factory. But cherrywood, bog oak, clay, gourd calabash and figural briars were all outsourced and then finished with  bands and K&P stamps at the factory. Clays and figural briars were both originally outsourced for production to France.

Kapp & Peterson’s Early French-Made Figural Briars
by Sébastien Canévet

I’ve never seen any sculptured Peterson pipes in person. I only have pictures and drawings. There’s only one photograph of a signed Peterson in my possession: the mustachioed gentleman seen below, Vercingétorix, a well known character in French history who struggled against Julius Caesar in the 1st century B.C. I know it’s a real Peterson because of the hallmark.

Vercingétorix

We know Charles Peterson visited the Saint Claude pipe factories in France for professional reasons on a regular basis. I’m lucky enough to own several nice sculptured French pipes from Saint Claude, and I have a bit of knowledge about them, so when I saw this photo of Vercingétorix for the first time in The Peterson Pipe: the Story of Kapp & Peterson I was pretty sure it was in fact a French Production.

This pipe was made by Louis Lamberthod with a machine of his own invention which was able to duplicate figurative pipes. A large original model in zamac (a zinc aluminum alloy also known as zamak) was used to duplicate fourteen pipes simultaneously. The result was a roughed-out which was then finished by hand. The machine reduces the work time by a quarter.

Below you can see the zamac model (15 inches high), a pipe signed Lamberthod and the same with the Peterson hallmark.

Lamberthod model in zamac

Lamberthod (signed) Peterson (signed): Hallmark “c” for 1918

The archives of the Lamberthod factory have disappeared, so I can’t search for any letters or bills about Peterson, but I have no doubt about the origin of the Peterson Vercingétorix. Two other sculptured pipes are illustrated on the cover of the 1896 catalog [forthcoming in a digital restoration from Briar Books Press in 2021]:

These also could be Lamberthod productions, but there’s no way to be sure without a physical hallmarked specimen to document it.

This model in plaster is of a dog with an open mouth, yet very similar:

I also own a pipe signed Lamberthod with a similar shape:

Two solutions are possible: the drawing on the cover could simply be inaccurate or it could be a pipe from another pipe maker.

In my opinion, the dog on the K&P catalog looks more like another Saint-Claude production: the dog of Joseph Dalloz. The zamac model still exists:

Louis Dalloz’s zamac model

It’s not difficult to theorize that on his visits to Saint-Claude, Charles Peterson was able to choose from the productions of several different pipe makers for figural briars. Louis Lamberthod opened his factory around 1895 and it remained in operation until his death.  Joseph Dalloz began production much earlier, circa 1865 and ran it until his death in 1904. His nephew Dalloz-Dessertine inherited the business and continued to produce the same models until the outbreak of World War II.

The Dalloz Machine

The two machines of Dalloz and Lamberthod still exist. The first one was build around 1865 by Dalloz and is to be found today at the Musée de la pipe de Saint-Claude. The second machine was build by Louis Lamberthod 30 years later.

Dalloz Machine

The machines work on the same principle as a pantograph, which is an instrument for copying a drawing or plan on a different scale by a system of hinged and jointed rods. A “sensor” takes the shape on the large zamac model and reproduces it on several blocks of briar at the same time.

After Monsieur Roger Vincent, who is the last pipe maker with the title of “meilleur ouvrier de France” (a rare title given only to the very finest craftsmen), the machine cuts 25 percent of the work time. After the work on the machine, the briar block has the basic shape of the finished pipe, but still needs a lot of manual work.

In the picture above, we can see the different stages required to reach the final result.

Lamberthod Machine

This drawing shows Joseph Dalloz working on his machine circa 1880:

And here are several zamac models:

And here is Louis Lamberthaud, circa 1900:

And his own machine, inspired by the Dalloz invention:

Many thanks to
Sébastien Canévet
for sharing his research about K&P’s early history

Banner and select photos of the Vercingétorix
courtesy Gary Malmberg, Secondhand Smokes

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