This year Halloween comes after Christmas, at least for Pete Geeks! We’ve seen lots of good stuff from the Dubliners this year and the POY’s yet to come. Anyway, the 2021 Halloween System pipe debuts Tuesday, September 28th at Smokingpipes.com in the US and at about the same time at other online retailers. Andy Wike, Marketing Manager at Laudisi for Kapp &Peterson, told me only 850 pipes have been made for the entire world, so best give this a serious thought.
The Halloween System will be available in in nine of the thirteen System shapes and represent a good cross-section of the catalog, omitting only the 301, 304, 305 and 306. The line up includes the 302, 303, 307, 312, 313, 314, 317, B42 and XL315:
302, 303, 307
“On the Halloween pipes,” writes Josh Burgess, Managing Director at K&P, “it’s something that we’ve kicked around for a while. Seasonal releases are a lot of fun for pipe collectors, and they’re pretty exciting for us at the factory too. It gives us the chance to stretch our legs a bit and do a smaller run of pipes outside our regular offerings. Halloween is a natural choice for an Irish pipe manufacturer, since the holiday has at least some of its roots in the Gaelic celebrations of Samhain. There were several directions we could have gone, but in the end, we decided to let the System dress up as Dracula for Halloween.”
As with most things Kapp & Peterson, there’s a back story that yields a bit of historical context. The 2021 Halloween pipe is the Systemic progression of three earlier Dublin-era release, the Samháin (2009), the Dracula 2012 and the Dracula army mount (2018). Each has important historical connections to Ireland and is worth knowing about.
The Samháin strut card gives a good overview of the ancient Celtic festival, so I suggest you give it a read. The line seems to have been sold only in 2009 and 2010 and featured a lacquered orange and black contrast stain, vulcanite P-Lip or fishtail with silver hot-foil P and nickel band stamped Peterson in script over a witch on a broom stick over HALLOWEEN in small caps. In it you can see K&P’s first steps toward the later Dracula and Halloween pipes, using the orange and black (subtle) palette and the “Yes, I can drive a stick” witch logo (not so subtle).
It’s worth noting that Kapp & Peterson became interested in Ireland’s Celtic heritage around 2005 with the extraordinary 2005 POY spigot prince, which was followed by the equally impressive 2008 POY, both featuring Celtic knots stamped (not laser engraved) into the silverwork. But Peterson backed away from the Celtic motif here at the last moment (or so it seems), perhaps deciding to broaden market appeal by using the witch and “Halloween” logo rather than symbols drawn from the ancient festival.
The Dracula line, originally called “Dracula 2012,” was designed as a stand-alone commemorative to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the death of Irish author Bram Stoker. Yes, another of those little-known but important Pete Geek factoids: everyone knows (or thinks they know) the book and its movie spawn, but few these days remember the author of the novel was Irish. Go figure. Anyway, as you can see from the strut card, the commemorative was originally released in just five shapes with a gloss black bowl and nickel band laser-engraved “Dracula” in gothic script and a few bats.
A recent Dracula 150 sandblast
I recall K&P designer Elke Ullmann telling me in one conversation or another that the Dracula 2012 was the most nerve-wracking of all her creative decisions because of the acrylic red and black stem, considered outrageous in the pipe world at the time. She already had a reputation at the factory as a bit of a rebel and “Let’s try it!” kind of person, and I took it that the word from distributors and some in the factory had been rather harsh that no one would buy such a pipe. They were happily wrong and the line has been in year-round production ever since. Over the years it quickly expanded from the original shapes and gloss finish to most of the Classic Range shapes and eventually a sandblast finish as well.
The Dracula army mount XL90 (2018)
Six years later, during K&P’s “Mad Army Madness” period, the Dracula sandblast was given army mount treatment. This was during the last year of the Dublin era when it seemed like everything was coming up army mounts. This one was a grade above others, however, in that it featured a sterling ferrule. It was available in several of the Classic Range shapes, including the 01, 106, 302, 303, 307, 606 and XL90. Just a half-step (but what an important one) from this release to the Halloween System in 2021.
The Halloween System XL315
The Halloween System features a beveled rim and on the samples I’m looking at some good blast work as well, probably a rung above the Standard System sandblast. Everyone’s definition of “good” is different, so it’s important to look carefully at the actual pipe you’re going to buy. It doesn’t hurt to keep in mind that the Halloween System has an MSRP of $145, right between the Heritage Standard System ($135) and the Standard System ($150). To carry coals to Newcastle (sorry for the pun), it’s also a black sandblast System, which is something unique in the System line (the ebony System only being available in smooth).
And did I mention the Halloween leather pipe rest? I’m beginning to experience a sensation that must have greeted earlier pipemen when they opened a System box and found a Gratis Pipe Tool inside. It’s become a fun, useful bonus in the 2021 special issues at this point, something I’m sure will be welcomed by everyone just as the Gratis Tool was in days gone by.
The stamps are all placed together on the underside of the bowl, crisp and clean, and I’m especially glad the year stamp is present.
Sorry for the dust on the left stem! That’s me, not K&P.
I’m impressed with the acrylic red and black swirl P-Lip, not just the colors but the design. I’ve been smoking an XL315 version for about a week now, and either my teeth have adjusted or the stems are a bit different than the earliest acrylic P-Lips, because I’ve had no trouble clenching and I’m finding it really comfortable. The nickel bands, with standard K&P maker’s marks, are bright and without scratches, and there’s no tearaway in the airways of the pipes I’m looking at.
The reservoir drilling seems a bit small in diameter, but more on that later. For now I’m just having a good time enjoying the cooler weather and approach of All Hallow’s Eve as I break in the Halloween System during my annual “Uncanny Film Festival.” Tonight, The Uninvited. This week—Vampyr, The Phantom Carriage, Der Hund Baskerville and more to follow. Stay tuned, and if you’re a fan of uncanny and/or classic horror films, let me know what you’d watch (or read) while breaking in your Halloween System.
Thanks as usual to
Josh & Andy
at K&P and Lauidsi
Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh!