315. Charles Peterson Collection #4: the Deluxe Natural Rusticated System

Rev. 12/28/2022. WHOOPS! The original Rua Spigot of October 2021 was not the first of the CP Collection. It was not stamped.

Back in March of this year, Chuck Stanion reported the introduction of The Charles Peterson Collection for SPC’s Daily Blog and how it came about with Giacomo Penzo’s experiments in contrast staining on the Rua Spigot. The Collection was officially launched with the Rua Spigot’s immediate sequel, the Barley Spigot. And now, just a little over two weeks ago, Smokingpipes has dropped their latest small-batch in the Charles Peterson Collection, as indicated by the “CP” shank stamp.

Today’s release is the fourth in the collection, as Prof. John Schantz so wisely and kindly reminded me in the original comments for this post. Chronologically the CP Collection therefore includes (1) the Barley Spigot (December 2021), (2) the Iora (March 2022), (3) the SH Rua Spigot P-Lip (July 2022) and now (4), the new Deluxe Natural Rusticated System.

For System geeks, this is an important release marking the first time a Deluxe System has been released as a vergin in Natural and rusticated finish.

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Of the 13 shapes currently in the System range, all are represented in this release aside from two of the smallest, the 8 / 313 and the 12 ½ / 317.

I was late to this party but nevertheless found a spectacular XL5 with the “boomerang bend,” probably my favorite System bend (seen above). The drilling is spot-on, right at 12 o’clock. The reservoir is quite deep. No tear-away in the shank’s airway. The wear-gap isn’t as narrow as a few recent issues, but still appreciably narrower than my Deluxe Systems from a few years back. Stem bend is great, dropping the bowl at that historically-informed tilt that tells everyone within viewing that a Peterson bent is in the house.

The shape of the calabash 305 and XL5S sometimes looses its flare even in smooth releases, but on this rustication it’s been preserved quite nicely around the rim.  Bowl and shank are also well done.

The stamps on my XL5S are gathered nicely, quite deep as you can see:

Half of the shapes in this collection (the XL02, XL5, 9, 11, 11FB and B42) utilize vulcanite P-Lips, and a word I think should be said about these. The articulation of the P-Lip is razor-sharp (look at the 02 Fat Bottom in the photo below). I am guessing (but don’t know) that a new generation of stems has arrived at the factory.

Look at the gloss on these vulcanite stems: their shine is as high as the acrylic stems, which isn’t something one normally associates with Peterson’s vulcanite. Looking at the wear-gap, I can’t tell whether this is something that the craftsmen are doing by way of finishing in the factory or not, but it’s a wonderful incremental step.

Is the chamfering of the Deluxe wear-gap between the stem’s end and the threads of the tenon extension also new? If not, I don’t remember it. If you’ve acquired a new Deluxe within the last year or so, take a look and please comment. Gary Hamilton and a few others will I hope be able to comment on what this signifies for the engineering.

 

02 Fat Bottom

I asked Josh Burgess, Managing Director at K&P, about the way this Natural has been finished, in comparison with other natural releases like the Rogha, Burren, Supreme Sandblast and Special rusticated House Pipe.* Here’s what I learned:

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Mark: How many of the Deluxe System Natural Rustics were made for this CP Collection release?

Josh: We actually produced just under 150.

05

Mark: Looking back at previous natural releases, what kind of bowls can be / are used for these kind of projects? I think the last factory bowl grading sheet I saw was 2019, but I’m wondering how bowls are selected for any of the naturals, including the Supreme Sandblast. As I scrolled through the available Deluxe Natural Rustics at SPC and SPE on release day, I didn’t see the kind of blemishes that common on the Burren (which the Pete community actually quite liked, despite the “flaws”). These all looked super clean, some with a bit more wax, but just a smidge.

Josh: For a normal rusticated pipe, we have one round of grading. The bowl gets designated as a rustic due to the presence of flaws or the absence of a good grain structure. I always feel it important  to say that this doesn’t bear upon the smoking quality of the pipe. I have, for example, two Sherlock Holmes Professors, one a rusticated, the other a lushly-grained smooth. The rusticated pipe has outperformed the smooth from day one.

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Mark: I think that’s something most of the pipe community has finally come to understand, thanks to the efforts of folks like Fred Hannah, Shane Ireland, Rick Newcombe and others.

Josh: When our pipes are rusticated, you’ll usually still see a few spots of discoloration before they are stained, as you observed on the Burren. But for a Natural Rustic (in distinction from the Burren), we’ll do a second round of grading after they’re rusticated and only select bowls that are really clean and suitable to be left natural. There’s no special grade, as you can’t really judge this level of cleanness before rusticating. It’s just an additional selection process.

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Mark: Let me ask about the Natural House Billiard Spigot. Was it a tanshell? The ones I saw seemed a little darker than this release.

Josh: It really depends on how you’re defining “tanshell.” Neither the Natural House Billiard* nor the Deluxe Natural Rusticated employed stain, but we did use a different finishing technique to achieve a different look for those pipes.

11FB

Mark: The mystery of the tanshell continues! LOL. For readers unfamiliar with it, it was Dunhill’s fourth finish, introduced in 1952, which was not simply naked briar but involved the  kind alchemical wizardry than pipe companies necessarily safeguard.

So about the carnauba wax on the Naturals: I notice on my Supreme Sandblast 9s that the very light wax coating is creating a beautiful, consistent patination or darkening which is quite even and consistent. It’s not like the earlier Rogha Natural sandblast. That pipe and the Burren line which came in its wake have no finish whatsoever, which means the darkening is due to oils in the fingers and dust, bringing up the blast lines quickly but in a dark grey-brown. A different kind of thing.

Josh: Our initial thought was that the wax simply helped the pipe look more attractive, but it does have the added benefit that you’ve noticed, as I can attest. We were testing in the factory and I ended up smoking a sandblasted pipe with no finish at all, like the Burren and Rogha. I’ve kept the pipe, and while it has darkened it has a lot of handling marks. I think the wax on the Deluxe Natural Rustic and the Supreme Sandblast helps minimize helps this and distributes the color more evenly, as you note.

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Mark: One last question. How is the current rustication being received, in terms of sales and customer response?

Josh:  Based on sales, I think most customers have responded better to the sort of rustication that we’re doing now versus the old pineapple style rustication or the shallow rustication. Those pipes just weren’t very interesting—either visually or texturally. I think the trick is to be careful on some of the smaller shapes. I don’t think we always get that balance just right, but we’re certainly striving for a depth that’s proportional to the shape. Our rustics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think what we’re doing now is much more in keeping with Peterson tradition.

Mark: Thanks, Josh!

20FB

As I wrote back in April, the Charles Peterson Collection is similar in its aim but broader in scope than the Craftsman Series of 2014-16, which was a collaboration with Ashton, K&P’s then-distributor in the US. The purpose then and now (it seems to me) is to showcase the skills and artisanry of K&P’s craft folk with a single-issue small-batch collectible. The CPC releases seem to be running somewhere between 120 and 180 or so pipes, making it more accessible than the infuriatingly scarce earlier series, but if you got back and look at those pipes, the new series is also at a consistently higher level. The attention to what the artisans can do has been heightened, or so it seems to me, pushing each release to achieve something that hasn’t been done before.

B42

 

XL5S

 

 

CHARLES PETERSON COLLECTION: THE POSTER GALLERY

 

#1

 

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

Many thanks to Josh Burgess, Andy Wike and Kapp & Peterson
Media materials and most photography courtesy Smokingpipes.com
Additional photos courtesy C. Mundungus
…and I really like this ornament, courtesy Tom Cuffe:

 

* The House Pipe Billiard Natural Rustic was not part of the CP Collection. Josh Burgess told me ” it would have probably been included in the CP collection had it occurred to us at the time as it would definitely fit within its ethos.”

THIS PIPE TOOL COULD KEEP YOU OUT OF COURT

So this is a true story. A few weeks ago I was summon yet again for jury duty. For those of you who still work, you will be unable to conceive how getting up and being somewhere at 8 am is one of the Seven Abominations of Retired Men, but it is.

I made it, somehow, and managed to get there in time to stand outside in a very long queue in what was, for Texas, a fairly bitter wind. Somewhere after 8 the doors were unlocked and we we trailed in, standing this time in a kind of chute where all the cold wind blew down our necks.

An hour or a day or a few minutes later, the line began moving. Eventually I made it up to the front, deposited my keys, Sig-Sauer P320 and portable rocket launcher (back pocket) into the greasy plastic bins. Made it to the other side and a nice fella in a blue uniform asked me to step out of line.

He held up my keys and pointed his index finger at the Rockwell tool you see in the photo above, a custom job made for me by Prof. John Schantz. “You can’t bring this in here,” he said.

“It’s a pipe tool,” I said. “No blade,” I said.

“Sorry sir,” he said. “You can’t bring this in here. I can dispose of it for you, or you can return it to your vehicle.”

By this point of the morning I had finally said, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours,” with the full conviction that I would be selected for a two-to-three week criminal trial involving the the illegal smuggling of pipe tobacco across state lines in an 18 wheeler full of 100% legal cannabis.

So I walked out into the bitter wind, feeling better about carrying my Cross and now knowing where this day was headed. Made it to the vehicle across the busy street and into the labyrinth of the parking garage without getting run over. Removed said customized Rockwell pipe tool. Returned to the court building.

Got the front of the line and the nice fella in the blue uniform said, “Stop here, please.”

I was expecting this and unbuckled my belt to drop my shorts for a full cavity search.

Instead the nice fella in the blue uniform raised his voice and said, “All you folks in line, we’ve filled our quota. We don’t need anyone else today. You’re free to go home.”

True story.

 

 

Bill M.

 

Kendall Boykin
“The blast is awesome. It’s # 83 which happens to be my birth year as well which is icing on the cake.”

 

 

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