276. K&P’s Pipes for the Illuminati na hÉireann *

The more I work with Peterson pipes the more fascinating their history becomes. The historical chapters (one through five) of The Peterson Pipe felt beyond my capability in the beginning, which was why it was such a blessing to falll in with Gary Malmberg, who not only loves history but can do the research. As we worked over those initial chapters, I began to warm up to the work and observe how he went about it. At some point I began reading beneath and under and over the lines he was writing to see if I couldn’t add to the story a bit.

The 1906 catalog’s R.I.C. Pocket Pipe (the Shamrock Grade was between a I. and a II).

One of my first tiny victories came with a a strangely-designated pocket pipe from the 1906 catalog, the R.I.C. Neither one of us knew what it was and it certainly wasn’t important in the scheme of things, but I couldn’t let it go and kept at it until I finally figured it out: it was made especially for (and perhaps to honor) the Royal Irish Constabulary (1822-1922). The pipe was available in both army and navy mounts and seems to have had a chamber about the size of the current 314 System.

As the book’s research and writing rolled on, Gary and I received a number of helps, tips and hints from friends and Pete fans all over the globe. Looking ahead to The Pocket Peterson in a few year’s time, I find I’ve got an unofficial team of “Pete Geek Irregulars” now at work, looking at every pipe and marking and in several cases adding to our fund of knowledge about the history of K&P or its pipes.

Lance’s Patent House Pipe, a one-off dutch-billiard shape, hallmarked 1899. Note the two Maltese crosses on the bowl. Bowl is 3 in. tall, chamber 2.35 in. Stem 7 inches.

Two of the foremost researchers among the P.G. Irregulars are Lance Dahl and Scott Forrest, who independent of one another came up with compelling evidence regarding an unknown stamp on a number of pipes in their collections. The stamp looks like a Maltese cross and appears either singly or doubled on pipes from the Patent era through the Éire and Early Republic.  Because pipemen can sometimes be quite dogmatic about what they read in a forum or imagine the case to be (“don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up”), I should let everyone know that Scott’s background is in historical research and Lance worked in government intelligence before his retirement, giving them that “Thinking Man” spirit we routinely find in our fellow CPGs.

Over a year ago, Scott first asked if I knew what the Maltese cross stamp was all about, as he had a few pipes with it. I’d never seen one, although co-author Gary Malmberg has. I hypothesized it could be a grading mark from the factory or a tobacconist’s mark (common enough on Petes).  That satisfied him until he got in touch with Lance and the two began comparing notes. They believed it was a marking for a club, lodge or other organization since it was found on Peterson pipes across several decades. Then Lance, who had been reading recently about the history of Irish republican intelligence organizations and came across a reference to Illuminati na hÉireann.

The badge of the Cumann na mBan, the Irish paramilitary women’s group
Annie Peterson joined in 1914.

To be sure, Ireland has had more than its share of turmoil and trouble, and even during Charles Peterson’s lifetime  those difficulties would impact his company over and again. As Sandra Bondarevka documents in her biography of the Petersons, Charles Peterson and his cousin Conrad were involved at different levels in the fight for Home Rule and was even under surveillance by the British police for a while. Charle’s wife Annie was a member of  the Cumann na mBan (literally “The Women’s Council”), an Irish republican women’s paramilitary organization formed in 1914 and led by the flamboyant and theatrical Constance Markiewicz,a friend of Annie’s. Markiewicz not only fought in the Easter Rising (killing a few of the Brits) but afterwards would go on to be Minister of Labour in Dublin from 1919-1922 and the first woman elected to the Westminster Parliament.  My favorite quote from her: “Dress suitably in short skirts and sitting boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank, and buy a revolver.”

Constance Markiewicz ( Minister of Labour, 1919-22) in her Cumann na mBan uniform

Lance, who is active in Masonic research circles, began to collaborate with Scott and offered to look at scholarly archives he had access to in Ireland. While he couldn’t find any connection between the Masons and this group, he did find it mentioned in a book published in Rome in 1865 found in the Special Collections Library at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (the “National Seminary of Ireland”):

LANCE: “The book is really just a catalog of secret organizations flourishing across Europe who were perceived as threats to the Papacy. From what little I could translate, the author’s aim seems to be about retailing a summary of each group and then making an assessment of their impact on religious politics at European, regional and local levels.”

Lance’s 1918 Patent: the earliest apple shape I’ve seen in the wild, with the Maltese cross to the left of the shank stamp.

It was Scott who brought me into the search, asking if had ever seen the Maltese cross in any of K&P’s records. I couldn’t recall instances but said I’d keep an eye out. If you’ve read the big Pete book, you’ve seen a page from the company ledger containing employee information that dates from the 1930s. It contains details of those who were working at the company at that point and on into the late 1950s. One week, while looking up a craftsman’s particulars, I ran across this page, which I’ve looked at a number of times but never noticed the cross:

This is the entry for James Malone, one of Charles Peterson’s earliest hires after the business changed names to Kapp & Peterson. If you read from left to right, you’ll notice Malone was born in 1874, entered service at 17 in the workshop for 8 pounds a week, went on to repairs and died on May 16, 1950 after 59 years of service. His name and two others are rubber-stamped in red ink with the cross. One of the other two was Jimmy’s older brother Liam, an enigmatic figure whose early life was colorful to say the least (he was transported to the penal colonies in Australia as a young man). Liam worked at K&P for about two years before moving to the Tidewater region of Virginia to direct Friars, a furniture and pipe-making concern run by the Carmelites (“White Friars”).

Two Éire-era Shamrock 951s from Scott’s collection with the Maltese cross: one is stamped on the left, one on the right.

Scott and Lance both believe that if the ledger had members of Illuminati na hÉireann stamped in this way, then perhaps someone in management must also have been involved—possibly Charles Peterson himself, given his registration as a Free Thinker (as the “business” side of the company, Alfred Kapp was a Rotarian). K&P’s advertising during this period does include a few newspaper articles, like this one from the Irish Times, with the Maltese cross:

(Irish Times, June 24, 1914)

SCOTT: It’s crazy to speculate on the such scanty information, but since that’s what pipe smokers do almost every day regarding the origin of their pipes, here’s my take. This wasn’t an auxiliary of the Irish republicans. The Maltese cross is always thought of first as a symbol of protection, although to be sure numerous religio-political military organizations attached themselves to its use (like the Order of St. John, but there’s dozens of them). I say that because of what we know Charles Peterson’s own political views. But his cousin Conrad wasn’t adverse to using violence to bring about political change and neither was his own wife, right? So who knows? But it’s interesting that the Maltese cross pops up in these “Peace” advertisements in the 1910s, isn’t it?

The  Éire-era X155 bulldog seen in the banner (photo by Todd Becker)

LANCE: I think I’d have to agree with Scott’s theory, based on the text at St. Patrick’s. The motives and purpose of the group seem outside the normal purview of the Irish republicans.While the book is about anti-Papal groups, but the two paragraphs on this group don’t say they were anti-Catholic per se so much as suggest they should be considered anti-Catholic because they were motivated by some kind of tolerance or pacificism like we find in the Mennonites of Ukraine, the Moravians, Quakers, Molokons or whoever. But the use of the Maltese crosses (three), the all-seeing Eye and the shamrock is interesting, isn’t it? Obviously the “watching” thing is there, the idea of enlightenment or secret understanding. Then there’s the symbol of Ireland, which is also a symbol of the Trinity used in the St. Patrick legend. The last line of the text from the seminary reads Hic coetus doctrinam suam non a Patriciis, sed a Sanctis Celticis habere videtur, something like “the society takes its spiritual doctrine not from Patrick but the Celtic saints before him.” So I don’t know, at least not until something more turns up.

This Sterling Silver 86 can be dated to the first decade of the Early Republic era (c. 1955 or so) by the Peterson’s script stamp shared with the NYC Peterson shop in conjunction the MADE IN over IRELAND, a typical Rogers Import stamp.

If you have one of these pipes, do comment below. Scott and Lance are both convinced the organization was operative at least until the late 1950s from the dates of the pipes. I would say I remain a bit skeptical, but their case is a fascinating one and I’m certainly looking forward to their future findings.


Many thanks to Lance Dahl and to Scott Forrest
Banner photo courtesy Todd Becker, Deadmanspipes
Iora photo (below) courtesy Laudisi Enterprises

“K&P’s Pipes for the Illuminati na hÉireann”
is an extended note from the adventures of Liam Malone
in The X-Pipe: A Mystagogia of Pipe-Smoking


First release in the Charles Peterson Collection: the Iora Spigot

For all three who missed Chuck Stanion’s The Daily Blog post on the day of launch as well as the half-dozen pipe smoker’s podcasts, dozen YouTube videos, the CNN report and New York Times “Opinion” coverage, the Iora dropped last week at both Smokingpipes venues.

“The Charles Peterson Collection,” of which the Iora is the first issue, is similar in intent to the Craftsman Series of 2014-16, which is to showcase the skills of K&P’s craftsmen in a single-issue collectible of a small batch of pipes—about 180 or so this time out. The CPs look to be issued in a larger run than the CS, albeit with less diversity in shape now that the old Bs and POY shapes are gone.

Like most of the recent special issues, this one’s for spigot / bling / acrylic fans, which means virginia, va/per and hotter-smoking tobacco users will not find it engineered for them.  It does feature an amazing contrast stain that for me is even more stunning than the Rua. The Rua, as Chuck’s article indicates, was a run-up to the kind of thing we may hope to see in the future of the series.

For Pete Geeks to note, the Charles Peterson Collection pipes feature a small “CP” stamp in capital letters similar to the PSB stamp, in the near vicinity of the other shank stamps.

If this issue is an indication of what’s to come, I think we can expect to see it drop as an exclusive from the Laudisi-owned SPC sites without prior notice. This means (unfortunately) that just like in the bad old days of brick & mortar shops, if you get one, it may be more a matter of luck more than your personal enthusiasm for the brand or desire, as they used to say in kid’s TV commercials, “to collect them all.”

I’m hoping we may see something in the System line or Classics range, but I won’t hold my breath for the former. And remember: you heard it here last.

Peace and a Happy April Fool’s Day to all; nos stulti propter Christum, vos autem prudentes in Christo: nos infirmi, vos autem fortes: vos nobiles, nos autem ignobiles.



Молись за Україну
Pray for Ukraine


Continue Reading276. K&P’s Pipes for the Illuminati na hÉireann *