342. Pete Spotting & the Pete Geek Meet at the 2023 Chicago Pipe Show
PSA: Pre-order your 2023 CPG Pipe! See end of blog.
This year’s Chicago International Pipe and Tobacciana Show at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort was held last weekend and I’m pleased to report that it was quite a bit larger than last year’s, even though I missed seeing many of my friends and acquaintances from Europe and Asia. To get an idea of what it was like, take a look at some of the photos on the CPCC website. As the world’s largest and most important show, there’s so much to do that it is absolutely impossible to do it all. Everyone has their own agenda of course, although most everyone hits Friday’s swap & sell in the smoking tent and the show on Saturday. After that, there’s a lot of socializing to do, catching up with old pipe buddies and attending one or more of the special events.
THE FRIDAY SWAP & SELL
I imagine in the early days of the show there actually was a bit of swapping that went on, although since I’ve been attending (2011 and after) it’s all about selling. The swap & sell is a good way to find great estates, vintage tobacco and all kinds of accessories and for me usually presents some opportunities to find rare Petes at prices better than eBay. There were a number of great smoked and unsmoked Petes on display. Our Andy Camire, CPG, had a great table with a number of incredible pipes from his collection, including a silver cap meer that Chris Tarman picked up (about which more in a moment) and another real eye-catcher: a 306 Cumberland Spigot.
This 306 Cumberland Spigot, from the SPC Archives, is obviously smoked and has seen better days, but the style of grain is almost identical to the one James picked up from Andy.
Another CPG, James Ravenwood, picked it up. If I remember correctly, it was $325, which is a good value. It features what I call “pure birdseye” in Post #328. James told me he has a handful of these rare Cumberland Spigots, which seem to have all been made in the late 1980s and early 90s. The 1989 Sterling Mount pipe box brochure features a 306 Cumberland Spigot:
Just as many PGs don’t like the P-Lip, many could care less for the 306 and its little brother the 304. I thought it a rather plain shape myself until I understood its back story: not only is it a Paddy Larrigan original design but it’s based on the Specialty Barrel. It represents, in other words, an Irish beer barrel. Paddy told me he likes to be able to sit his pipes down when at the pub (well, back when you could smoke in the pub) or watch TV.
I want you to notice the hallmarking on James’s pipe, which lacks the letter code. (I couldn’t get a good photo of the whole pipe at the time.) This hallmarking issue came up just recently, although I can’t remember who brought it to my attention. The year letter code is missing and has been replaced with the Convention Marks for sterling utilized by a number of European countries. With magnification, you can see it’s the .925 Conventions mark for sterling in this string:
The mark is explained at the Dublin Assay Office’s online site, but you can download the official PDF right here:
This type of error has come up enough that I’ll revise the Hallmarks page and will be sure to include this in the next Peterson book.
I also saw rising star Trey Rice, whom I met at the Texas Pipe Show last October. Trey had a table both at the swap & sell and at the show the following day. He and his Dad are both Pete fans. Check out his website here look for him on Instagram and Facebook.
“The pause that refreshes”: an early evening break featuring a one-off 313 Rua Spigot System and one of Gary Hamilton’s new tampers with a briar handle and morta head.
The Swap & Sell ended at 4pm and by 5 or so we were able to reconvene in the smoking tent for the “pause that refreshes.”
I think it was somewhere around this time that I first caught up with Terry Carpenter, whom I first met a few shows back with his wonderful wife Teresa. That year he showed me a Burren Large Tank (D18) which he’d acquired just a few weeks earlier and this year he showed it to me again. I thought you’d enjoy seeing the “before” and “after” (the “before” is a stock photo, but you get the idea). Like Terry, I love the idea of the natural vergin pipes. Unlike Terry, I don’t smoke my Rogha (Post #88 and Post #92) and Deluxe Rustic (Post #315) nearly enough! Seeing his D18 in person is much better than the photo but you get the idea of what can be done.
THE FRIDAY NIGHT PETE GEEK MEET
Through trial and error, we learned a lot about where and where not to hold the Pete Geek Meet. Not, as it turned out, in the smoking tent, which was absolutely packed and so loud I thought I was at a Metallica concert. However, Paul Bender (the Man who more or less runs the show) told us we could find an empty room not far from the convention rooms, which we did. While we couldn’t smoke, there were some big tables and a lot of quiet. There was no agenda aside from introductions and some show & tell, but speaking not only for myself but from many who attended, it turned out really well, thanks to all the participants, who included Linwood Hines, Andy Camire, Roland Doll, Chris Tarman, Fred Heim, Paul Combs, Rick Morris, Paul Brooks, John Coatney, Marie Irwin, Mark Berman, Ken Sigel and Chas Mundungus. There were several other Pete guys at the show, including Mark Dominguez, artisan pipe maker at Lone Star Briar Works who obligations but who it was great to meet. Do check out Mark’s Facebook page!
Chris Tarman, CPG (a few of Fred Heim, CPG’s Petes are in the foreground)
Chris’s 1988 Meer Silver Cap One-Off
Chris Tarman, CPG—who I called “Gary” so many times that he’s considering legally changing his name (or bringing an injunction against me)—brought several of his great pipes, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off the 1988 silver cap meerschaum, unsmoked, he acquired from Andy Camire. While it looks at first glance like a 302, it’s not. It’s very close, but it’s actually a one-off, totally unique.
Mark Berman’s HAND MADE House Pipe with a Silver Gray NAP Cumberland Stem
CPG Mark Berman may not remember it, but at the 2019 Las Vegas pipe show I was standing with Silver Gray and Brad Pohlmann when he asked Silver if she’d do a NAP stem for his HAND MADE—the large Deluxe System we all call a “House Pipe.” She agreed, and this is the first time I’ve seen it. The color of the Cumberland is extraordinary and matches a stain I’ve never seen on the HAND MADE. Mark will perhaps correct me on his pipe, as it doesn’t look to be the normal issue but something above and beyond.
Andy Camire, CPG
Andy Camire, CPG, is a long-time collector known to almost everyone at the Chicago show, and he brought so many fantastic pipes, most of them unsmoked, that I could’ve sat and photographed them all evening. As it was, I did come away with a few good photos.
This first is a gigantic squat tomato setter with a “75s” stamp on it, a Kapet, if memory serves. But look at the grain! Andy will correct me if I misremember, but I believe the pipe has the cursive “P.L.” stamp on the base—a Paddy Larrigan original. Andy has more Paddy Larrigans than any Pete collector in the world, I do believe.
Andy also had this gorgeous straight-grain spigot 312 hallmarked “B” for 1987. The spigot style here was the one Paddy originally came up with and while it was accompanied with what is for us the more familiar beaded spigot tenon, that transition didn’t happen for a decade or so. This style of spigot is now the one seen only infrequently.
That’s Paul Brooks, CPG (left) and Ken Sigel (right). Note Paul’s gorgeous collection of Pete meers.
Andy’s 339s, dang it, was NOT for sale…
Not in focus, but here’s a 339s silver cap—that’s right, my dearly beloved shape 4. It’s simply never seen with a silver cap. At the top of the photo on the left is Dick Morris and right is Ken Sigel. I was on sensory overload by this point and only now do I remember Dick had a number of great meers, which you can see. Behind the 339s are some of Andy’s treasures, which span the decades.
Paul talking about smoking an XL5 with a House Pipe NAP stem he commissioned from Silver Gray
Paul Combs, CPG (Posts #337, 320, 311) and Ken Sigel, CPG (Post #321, ) both specialize in “the old guys,” as Ken calls the Patent and IFS era pipes, especially the House Pipe stems. Their ability to geek about the minutiae of pipe engineering is also astounding. They would speak and I would hear a foreign language . . . mostly. I didn’t get photos of Paul’s hand-turned bone tenon extensions, but it may be he’ll do a post on his tenon work at some point if we all ask him nicely.
Paul and Ken: Note the very long House Pipe in front of them.
So now for the drumroll: the most astounding point of the evening came when Ken brought out a 1909 House Pipe that Charles Peterson gave to a friend, J. Crawley. To quote from the Big Pete Book:
People who knew him [Charles Peterson] often called him by the nickname Captain Peterson, and decades later the company would offer a line of pipes by that name. Some have surmised that he got that nickname because he often wore a naval officer’s jacket. There is no surviving evidence of that, and he never served in the military. However, it does make sense that a man working in a shop where people often spoke the words “Kapp ‘n’ Peterson” could very well begin to be called “Cap’n Peterson.”
He must have enjoyed the nickname and may have introduced himself occasionally as Captain Peterson. Case in point: Charles presented an extraordinary sterling-banded house pipe as a gift to a friend or business associate named J. Crawley in 1909. It is just short of 17 inches long, with a large bowl that is two-and-a-half inches tall. Besides being one of the longest Peterson house pipes known to exist, this specimen has the added distinction of being, in a way, the earliest known Captain Pete. It is stamped as a Peterson Patent with appropriate Dublin hallmarks for 1909 and custom engraved:
Feb 5th 09
I also believe—although my co-author Gary Malmberg dismissed this as mere speculation—that there is more salient reason for the “Capt. Peterson” nickname. When we wrote the book, Gary and I didn’t know much about the personal life of Charles. Sandra Bondarevska, who’s written the Peterson family biography (in Latvian), does. Charles’s first wife was the widow of George Kapp, the meerschaum pipe maker and brother of Frederick Kapp (the one who opened the shop in Dublin in 1874).
Linwood Hines holding Ken’s 1909 Capt. Peterson House Pipe
When George Kapp died, his estate was left to wife Sarah and it was considerable enough to allow Charles, after they married, to finance his Patent System work (which would remain his property until the creation of Kapp & Peterson a few years later). Sandra told me that Sarah and Charles were extremely happy as a married couple and her early death left him devastated. I believe that the reason Charles was called “Captain Peterson” is because the Patent System was financially the joint property of Kapp (Sarah) and Peterson (Charles) and she had more of a hand in the company’s affairs than she’s given credit for.
(This also brings up an interesting point: Sarah Kapp and Charles Peterson obviously knew each other from more than just a business letter or two. My conjecture is that CP may have first traveled to London’s Soho district to work for George before joining Frederick in Dublin. This would explain their previous friendship. It also makes sense that, as a meerschaum carver working under George, he would have traveled with Frederic to work in that capacity in Dublin.)
THE SATURDAY SHOW
The Main Event never begins until 10am, which gives everyone a chance to close their eyes for an hour or two and get caffeinated. The new Marriott Resort venue has two huge show rooms and this year the tables in the second room were almost completely taken. Last year I’d say only about half were occupied, so from numbers alone I’d say things are looking up if still not on a pre-COVID par. I knew from last year that hunting for estate Petes was my priority, but even so it took about an hour and a half just to make a quick run through the tables in both rooms.
Wayne Powers—a Peterson lover and TV personality you may know—was there with a table this year offering some seriously vintage tins going back to the 1970s and 80s. I saw the Gallaher’s Rich Dark Honeydew tin at exactly the moment my wallet was empty and figured it would be gone by the time I returned after lunch with a new sack of doubloons. Wayne didn’t recognize me and I didn’t recognize him until I looked at the photos when I got home, so if he reads this—Wayne, sorry, buddy!
Gallaher’s Honeydew is one of those legendary Irish Virginias that I’ve always wanted to try. I don’t even remember it being available in the US, although the tin has the old familiar James B Russell sticker on the bottom, which dates it to the 1970s-80s.
From an ad in the Toronto Star, 1922: replete with all good Irish things. Note the Gallaher’s signs and hanging rope tobacco as well as the IFS-era Peterson’s logo.
Linwood Hines, who knows almost as much about tobacco as Mary and Mike McNeil of McClelland fame, told me that Gallaher’s is probably a dark Virginia with a mild honey top-coating.
There were some Petes on the Smokingpipes table, which was hosted by Eryn Patrick (okay, really her name is Erin go Bragh but we won’t go into that) and Samuel Bowden. Dana Mahaney was manning the estates evaluation desk with Sykes Wilford. I always forget that I can take pipes to be evaluated to the show! Steve Mawby, SPC’s customer service manager, took care of the hospitality room. I got so excited asking Eryn about the possibility of a 9B Revival in natural that I completely forgot to take any photos.
Pete and Edith Rothenberg
While there were estate Petes scattered throughout the tables, Peter Rosenberg, one of the greats in the hobby and also a long-time Peterson smoker and collector, took the prize. He had a full half-table covered with incredible pipes. He also brought his charming wife Edith with him for the very first time—and I hope she’ll be back.
Gold Band Petes
I have never in my life seen so many gold-band Petes together in one place as on Peter’s table. I had to blow out the photo a bit so you could identify them, and even then some of them didn’t get in the photo. It seems to me like K&P did a considerable number of gold bands in the late 1990s and then slackened off. Now, of course, these are reserved for only the Supreme smooth. I’m wondering if the quality of briar in the 1990s was part of the reason for so many golds—these pipes all certainly have fantastic wood.
A Paddy Larrigan signed poker
As I was looking at each of these, one of them, which I thought was a Large Tankard D18, struck my eye. It wasn’t a D18. I’m hoping Paul Combs took it home with him, but I didn’t get to ask him: it’s a one-off poker initialed “P.L.,” and so an original Larrigan design.
I had to take a better photo of my two favorites, a 1989 first-issue Baskerville and 1990 Baker Street. I know the Baskerville appeared first in January of 1989 thanks to the dated ephemera which accompanied these pipes. The HM on the Baker Street is for 1990, so whether it’s a really a first issue or not, I can’t say. K&P promised the six remaining pipes following the Original would be released in six-month intervals.
The 221 Shank Stamp
One fascinating thing here is that on the obverse of the Baskerville there is a small “221” stamp. As in—of course—“221 Baker Street.” Someone, somewhere has pointed this out before. If you’re that person, do say so in the comments and tell us what SH pipe you found it on. Anyway, before I could put my camera away, Chas. Mundungus had bought the pipes right out from under me and disappeared. Drat his soul.
Looking smug: this man bought the SH gold bands right out from under me. I know where he lives.
THE SUNDAY 2023 PETE GEEK PIPE NEWS
Over espresso Sunday morning I visited with Sykes Wilford at the SPC table about the 2023 PPN pipe. I told him we already had 106 pipes on the Google Form list and asked if we could expand our original request of 90 serially-numbered pipes to at least accommodate the 106. Consulting inventory and giving it a think, he said he thought K&P could do 120 and maybe even 130, which is very good news. You probably haven’t thought about it (I hadn’t), but supply chain issues affect the pipe-making business just like they do every other enterprise. COVID really did a number on briar harvesting, one which is still causing quite a bit of strain for everybody on the trade side of our hobby.
If you haven’t already put your name on the pre-order list for the 2023 PPN pipe, fill out the Google Form here. The price will be about that of the current Deluxe System, in the neighborhood of $200 or so. As I told Prof. Schantz and Chris Tarman recently, I don’t want to talk too much about it until the sample has been made and we’re ready to go. I will tell you that it’s got the BC short tapered vulcanite stem and the ‘chimney’ and reservoir characteristic of the Deluxe System.
Ken Sigel: Home again, home again
Banner: Ken Sigel, CPG’s 18AB Patent System
to all the Pete Geeks at the Chicago Show
and of course to Marie Irwin for some of these photos as well as
the myriad things she does for the blog and Pete Geeks on a daily basis!
Late Night in the Smoking Tent
Before midnight this Doctor of Pipes was spotted lighting up a hitherto unsmoked POY 4AB. He is excited to announce the following:
They let almost anyone sit in the smoking tent, but those with extraordinary Petes seem to get the best seats.
Catch & Release
Two fun pipes this week on eBay: an unsmoked 14B Mark Twain POY and a Sherlock Holmes “Adventure of the Copper Band” Rathbone: