31. Peterson and Sherlock’s “The Abominable Bride”

Peterson and Sherlock Holmes, together again! It’s been a long time coming, and whether by accident or design, is welcome all the same.

I spent last night watching the much-anticipated period episode of BBC’s Sherlock,The Abominable Bride,” * followed by all its bonus materials. I’d hoped to find some frames with the Peterson pipe to capture for the blog, but there just wasn’t anything that stood out. With the help of publicity stills, however, after viewing the film and various bonus materials, it’s safe to say Benedict Cumberbatch is using a Peterson Killarney XL02 with a saddle stem.

(XL02 Killarney, Courtesy Smokingpipes.com)

The current Killarney line with ruby-red gloss stain and twin nickel bands sandwiching a black acrylic band, debuted around 1991. It features an ebonite stem and hot foil P on the stem and is an entry-grade Peterson line, retailing at about $105. In Germany, the same line is marketed with a 9mm filter mouthpiece as the Connemara line.

The XL02, an apple-shaped bowl paired with thick shank, is not part of the Sherlock Holmes line, as someone on a recent blog from one of my favorite e-tailers pronounced, although the Sherlock Holmes LeStrade, the XL23, could be mistaken for it.

The shape debuted along with several others in the late 1970s as the 302 System, along with its little brother the 303, and has established itself, per Tony Whelan, Jr., at the factory, as one of Peterson’s top-selling shapes.**  It’s got a great chamber size for English and aromatic tobaccos, at about 19.5mm wide by 35mm deep.

302 and 303 System Debut, 1978-79 Peterson-Glass Catalog

Peterson’s long-time association with Sherlock Holmes can’t be documented back to 1890s, but in The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson, we do unveil how they became associated in the late 1930s, and of course talk a great deal about the three Sherlock Holmes collections Peterson has issued since the late 1980s.

After watching all the production specials on the Blu-ray, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of how much time and money went into finding authentic locations, period costumes and props, but when it came to one of the two most-defining props of the Great Detective, they simply dropped the ball. It’s very sad, really, that the UK, once the acknowledged purveyor of the finest briar pipes to the world, should have so turned its back that when it comes to something as simple as a briar pipe from 1895, one could not be sourced. Not that either Cumberbatch nor Freeman ever really seem to be smoking their pipes, but at least they’re using them, which is a step in the right direction. Oh for a nicotine-fiend Sherlock on the order of Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone or William Gillette.

I will give Moffat and Gatiss, the creators of Sherlock, credit for loving camera attention to Holmes’s “black, oily clay pipe”—I don’t know whether it was the real item or just (as in the pathetic pipes of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies) papier-mâché. I suppose it’s not their fault they live in a Nanny-State or never fell under the spell of Sherlock’s tobacco fumes.


XL02 Killarney Stats:

Length: 5.50 in. / 139.70 mm.
Weight: 2.10 oz./ 59.53 g.
Bowl Height: 1.70 in. / 43.18 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.36 in. / 34.54 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in. / 19.56 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.72 in. / 43.69 mm.


*Serious Sherlockians will recognize the title, “The Adventure of Ricoletti of the Club Foot and His Abominable Wife,” which Vincent Starrett calls “the most marvelous of all the missing titles” in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Otto Penzler, 1993, p. 100).

** For readers of footnotes: the top-selling System shape is the 303, followed by the 314, per Tony Whelan, Jr..

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