I have been meaning for some time to remind everyone of Peterson’s amazing “Italian” pipes—not made in Italy, but made in collaboration with Mario Lubinski of Lubinski.it since the late 1970s. I first became aware of these pipes through the internet and only gradually came to understand Mario’s passion for Kapp & Peterson and the dozens of original lines and novel finishes, all mid-to-high grade, he’s created over almost fifty years now with old Peterson legends like Tony Dempsey, Jimmy Nicholson and Paddy Larrigan and more recent craftsmen and women like Tony Whelan, Sr., Tony Whelan, Jr., David Blake, Teresa Lynham and Joe Kenny.
If you search the blog for “Lubinski” you can see many of the great Italian lines and issues identified in detail, or you can just cruise the Lubinski catalog, bearing in mind some of the lines are not longer in production. The last Lubinski I have any knowledge of was the incredible Rogha natural virgin limited edition he released through Sansonne Smoke Shop in May 2018, but a look at his current catalog listings shows there’s some new lines since then.
I wondered whether Mario’s collaborative creations with Peterson ceased about the time of the Roghas and not long ago asked Glen Whelan, director of sales at Peterson, about it. He replied: “I can absolutely confirm that Mario is still very much active and we are actually trying to plan together a time for him to come over to visit us here and chat about some Italian exclusive lines. So we will see plenty more Italian market Petes!” This being the case, I thought I’d have a look around to see what was still available from Italian sites and give pipe smokers, especially in the US, heads-up on how to go about ordering if they’ve never done so.
Unlike US and some other markets, the Italian on-line shops seem to carry what I can only describe as a “hand-picked” selection, mostly eschewing gateway (entry-level) pipes for some very individual and often amazing selections. Also unlike US markets, the Italians seem content to make these purchases knowing that they may not sell a piece for years. Case in point, Santa brought me a 1979 4s Supreme two Christmases ago, new/old stock, courtesy Tabaccheria Rizzi, waiting 40 years for me to come along.
The new/old stock XL20 (Rathbone) Dublin Silver Cap Sandblast seen in the top banner is the kind of thing that I’m talking about. It’s hallmarked Q for 2001, just ten years into the Dublin era (1991-2018), with an amazing blast and stain. There were several other SH shapes in the series, but this one, due to the bend of the vulcanite mouthpiece, has the grace and charm of the old Dunhill swan necks to me. It was 220 euros, or $237.00 US, which is amazing considering the vintage, blast and sterling work.
Now if you’ve never bought from the Italians before, there’s a few things you should know that will make the ordering process easier:
- First, the pipe you’re wanting probably won’t disappear before you can make a few email exchanges—unlike pipes on a certain US site.
- Second, the Italians are amazingly courteous and quite happy to hold a pipe or let you put it in layaway and pay it off.
- Third, language can sometimes be a tricky thing and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them. Expect to wait a day or even two to get an answer—or even more during the current COVID-19 crisis.
- Payment is easiest and safest through PayPal, where you can always file a claim if something doesn’t turn out right. If you elect to pay with a credit card, you may want to contact your company before placing the order. I’ve had several pipes declined by my credit card because I’d never shopped overseas at a particular establishment before.
- And finally, there’s shipping. Most Italian sites can have you pipe to you 3 days after they ship (which usually takes a day or two), which is better than most any US dealer. Having said that, if the Italian shop goes through FedEx at any point, the latter will sting you with an import tax between $20 and $30. DHL three-day shipping doesn’t seem to incur this penalty on the consumer. But the absolutely worst thing you can do is have it shipped Royal Italian Post. I checked out too quickly from LePipe on the XL20 and didn’t even see the DHL option so that the pipe took from November 29th to December 24th to arrive. And I’ve heard stories of pipes sent by Royal Italian Post never arriving at all!
Here’s a few pipes that tickled my fancy earlier this week. Life has been amazingly stressful of late (at least for me), and if you find you need a stress break yourself, what better way than to browse some beautiful Petes? Pack your own favorite Pete and either click on any of the Italian sites listed under “Pete Sites & Shops” on the right side of the blog, or if you want to go straight to the Peterson selection, simply click on the name of the shop below.
—not the re-frazed ones that have been coming out for the past two years or so. $131. That’s not a vulcanite stem, but at least it’s the original bowl!
Note the “AB” or shouldered amber mount—it would originally not have been sheathed in a spigot, but even so, it’s quite fetching.
Although Smokingpipes ordered some of these tapered space-fitting stems a few years ago, I believe the original idea was Mario Lubinski’s. $247.
Castle Collection (2009)
Surely one of the last-remaining Castle Collections on the planet—640 euros, but I think I forgot to subtract for VAT.
And here is the rarest thing I’ve seen: a Kapp & Peterson leather and buckram book presentation case with two Supreme 80s pipes, one with a solid amber band and one with a silver cap. From 1978. You can see a better photo of a presentation case in the Peterson book on p. 292. 620 euros.
Neither the line nor the shape has been available for quite some time. It has a sterling band with acrylic fishtail mouthpiece. 150 euros.
What the Original Sherlock Holmes might have been? 213 euros.
Patent-Era Vintage Windcap, 105.
And another great Patent-era nickel wind cap, this time on a 105 (I think). 238 euros.
Listed as a sterling army in natural, P-Lip with aluminum P. $135.
This looks like the 2013 POY / B62.
A Rock of Cashel, sterling mount with marmalade acrylic, in the B shape catalog. $128.
Tabaccheria Guzzi has an eBay store as well as its own online site. There is considerable overlap in stock, but there are pipes on each site that are not on the other. At this writing, Guzzi has the largest selection of Italian-market Petes available.
And one of the last FE’s still on the retail market! $400.
Rosslare Sandblast XL90, $234.
Kapp Royal B61, $244.
And to close the post, an XL339S Spigot, probably first issue from 1978 or 1979. 262 euros.
I found out yesterday that an article I wrote
about Dirk Heinemann, one of my favorite artisans,
has recently been published online here.