Lá Fhéile Stiofáin or Lá an Dreoilín or Boxing Day!
Whatever you want to call December 26th and however you choose to celebrate, whether devotionally as St. Stephen’s Day (in the Republic of Ireland and much of the Western world), dressed up as a wren (in some parts of Ireland) or in a spirit of giving as Boxing Day (Northern Ireland and the UK), I hope you’ll find time to smoke your favorite Pete (maybe even one left under the tree yesterday) and reflect on the many things you have to be grateful for on every levels. For myself, the many new acquaintances, friendships and camaraderie of Pete Geeks throughout the world certainly tops the list. A hearty thanks and a pint of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout to all at Kapp & Peterson as well–you really have no idea how much joy and pure contentment you create for all of us. And I raise my pipe today as well to the wonderful people at Laudisi Enterprises and Smokingpipes.com, who week after week support the blog and are such loving, conscientious stewards of K&P.
I love my Patent & Irish Free State-era House Pipes. I love the bowl wall thickness of the House Pipes, which dissipates heat well. If smoked slowly, these long-stemmed House Pipes are also very cool smokers. I can nurse these for three-plus hours or longer.
I have three favorites among the long-stem House Pipes. The first is an XXL 1899 dutch billiard, a one-off with two Maltese crosses on it. (It was featured it in the PPN April Fool’s Day post, “K&P Pipes for the Illuminati nahÉireann.” Bowl is 3 in. tall; chamber 2.35 in; Stem 7 in.
My second favorite, and the first House Pipe I acquired, is from the Irish Free State era, hallmarked 1927. I was lucky enough to be the first person Mark Hoover (of LaBelleEpoque.com) offered it to after he found it in Europe. I paid the most I had ever paid for a pipe at the time, however, it has the longest stem Peterson offered in the Patent era, 15”. It is unbroken and original, which is absolutely remarkable since so many of these long stems have been broken over the years.
My third favorite is slightly smaller, Charles Peterson’s own favorite the O1 shape, although it’s silver capped. Hallmarked 1912. In this photo it borrows a stem from an IFS era O1 hallmarked 1923, until I can get Silver Grey to make a new stem for it and my Patent-era Nickel-capped pipe. 1912 Silver Cap, bowl 2.5” tall; .85” diameter; 1.98” deep; 7” stem.
I also want to call attention to my Patent era O1 Nickel Cap. It also needs Silver to make a stem for it, so for the present I use a stem off what I believe is a huge IFS-era Nickel band 01, with the Nickel Mount Marks. The pipe is Grade Three (3 a circle). It is the only nickel capped O1 I have seen. 2.85” bowl height; .95” bowl diameter; 2.15” diameter; 2.3” bowl depth. While my 1899 is taller, this one is more massive in overall bowl size. I have size XXL hands 9.0” from the top of my middle finger to the bottom of my palm.
Over the last several years I have added fifteen more of these oversize Petes to my collection. Please don’t be afraid to add them to your own rotation if you find them, even if they have broken or missing stems. Three of the House Pipes I’ve bought were just the bowls. I sent the cased O1 to K&P with a broken stem and they made a new one for it. The outlay for the new stem with shipping was only about €50.00, a deal to get a 1906 cased House Pipe back in smoking condition! The other two O1 bowls I have also came without stems, but wonderful artisans like Silver Gray are able to make new P-Lip stems and breath new life back into these wonderful pipes. They are such classic pieces of Peterson history. Sláinte!
Here are six of my favorite Patents, L-R, top-to-bottom:
1904 House Pipe ‘O2’ (from Carrickfergus, Antrim)
1905 20 FAB- crack in shank repaired
1902 Meerschaum with broken Amber stem, original case
1911 small Dutch 8 1/2 ABC (bottom of P-Lip sanded off)
1901 army mount billiard
1907 French Brevet (Patent) w/replacement stem from Luxeuil Les Bains, France, via Latvia)
The 1904 House Pipe is a great smoker. Restoration revealed a few minor crack inside the chamber, but I couldn’t resist smoking it once. I had a wonderful smoke of Peterson 3 P’s, then put the pipe away and will finish the inner chamber restoration later.
I smoke the 1905 ‘AB’ regularly. I spotted this on eBay along with a 1911 smooth bent Comoy’s, so made a deal on both. They both looked equally horrible with lead-gray ferrules, but both cleaned up great. This pipe had a small crack running from the top of the shank down to the bottom of the ferrule, which was an easy repair. The bowl required no sanding and cleaning revealed beautiful straight grain. It’s a fantastic smoker!
The 1902 meerschaum was my first Peterson Patent. I cleaned it up and removed the coloring disc, but have not had the courage to fix the amber stem. It’s a clean break, so should be an easy fix, and I’m looking forward to smoking it.
The tiny 1911 ‘ABC’ Dutch is a nice little smoker.
I have only smoked the 1901 army mount once.
The 1907 French Patent is one of my favorite Petersons. It is shown here in a non-original case and has a non-original screw-in stem. I suspect that the original stem was a non-saddle amber p-lip, and I plan to have something similar made for it.
When I acquired my first House Pipe I treated it like a display object. It was an 1898 O2 (based on 1896 catalog). It has a button stem. I finally got the nerve to smoke a bowl, since after all it is a pipe isn’t it? Since then as I have acquired more House Pipes. It may be my imagination, but it sure seems to me that these long-stemmed System pipes draw better and smoke cooler than some of the modern shapes.
The bowl on the O2 is HUGE: a very deep 2.4” and 0.9” chamber diameter (the PPN Commemorative, in comparison, is 1.9 x .8”). The O2 is extremely well balanced, but obviously too big to hang in the mouth. That said, even with a conventional length stem this pipe rests on my chest when I am slouched down in my “contemplative posture.” With a hand under it and arm resting on the chair arm, the pipe is surprising light. With the the orifice button on the shorter stem the smoke sort of runs at you. There is no diffusion as with the the P-lip. This pipe doesn’t draw, it has draft! Seriously, it almost smokes itself.
Even as a sipper, however, it can burn when smoking Gawith’s FVF. Cutting down on airing time for this tobacco helped. For me, the O2 is an all-evening pipe – smoke a bit, talk a bit, drink a bit. Repeat. It does take a bit more effort to light, but it gives a huge taste as the bowl burns down through fresh tobacco. Little sips do it. Not much re-lighting. Smoking partial bowls is tricky, however, because of the bowl depth.
On to the long stems. The O1 with the House Pipe stem smokes noticeably easier than a System with a short stem. The long stem seems to smoke easily, yet doesn’t allow me to go too fast. Perhaps it’s a combination of the large bowl and long stem, but the same tobacco seems to have more complexity to the flavor in this pipe. It is also quite noticeably cooler than a conventional-length stem.
This brings me to another interesting point. The Patent era pipes all seem to have a proportionally greater depth of reservoir (distance from draw hole to bottom) than contemporary Systems. I have to do some more measuring to see how true this is, but it sure looks that way to my eye. Could this larger, deeper reservoir make for a better draw and a cooler smoke?
The last observation I want to make concerns comfort. With a long stem like this, it’s necessary to play around a bit with your posture. I find my own comfort zone when the bowl is literally sitting on my midriff.
“COLLECT ALL THREE!”
Thanks again to Bryan Heydn
for his spectacular triptych for the PPN 2022 Christmas Pageant.
If you haven’t done so already and want to see his entire creation, right-click the image above to save it to your desktop. Once there, you can assemble the three panels to see how Brian combined elements from all the Pageant participants, K&P history and the spirit of Christmas.