29. The Making of the Peterson Pipe (VHS, 1998)

Nollaig Shona Duit!* Here’s a little something for your Christmas stocking. The Making of the Peterson Pipe, a point-of-sale video made a mere eighteen years ago, is from an era when the only people to see it would be those fortunate enough to find a tobacconist who sold enough Peterson pipes to justify playing the video from a small television sitting atop the counter. It’s fascinating for any number of reasons, but rather than tell you I’ll let you light up that new Christmas pipe and find them for yourself. Enjoy!

The Making of the Peterson Pipe (May 1998)
Power Video Production, Dublin
25:00 minutes

Notes on the Video

01:58   Even as late as 1998, the company was still thinking of itself as Kapp & Peterson. There’s nothing wrong with the switch to “Peterson’s of Dublin,” and obviously it makes sense from a business perspective. But this is not the historical reality, and every once in awhile we ought to remember that for over a century, the company thought of itself and was thought of by pipe smokers across the globe as Kapp & Peterson.

02:05 Molly Malone – The famous statue of the mythical Molly Malone, installed in Grafton Street for the Dublin Millennium celebrations in 1988. She’s still a stunner. The narrator quotes the opening lines of what many consider the unofficial anthem of Dublin City, “Molly Malone,” also known as “Cockles and Mussels” and “In Dublin’s Fair City.” The song probably dates from around the 1880s, although the legend goes back much farther:

In Dublin’s fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”
“Alive, alive, oh,
Alive, alive, oh,”
Crying “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

She was a fishmonger,
But sure ’twas no wonder,
For so were her father and mother before,
And they wheeled their barrows,
Through the streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”


She died of a fever,
And no one could save her,
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.
But her ghost wheels her barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

Peterson released their Molly Malone: Cockles and Mussels commemorative set a few years back (but still available), which featured the unusual use of a tan acrylic swirl stem reminiscent of the early K&P horn stems which one sees all too rarely on the estate market.

Molly Malone: Cockles and Mussels Collection

02:27ff The beautiful old shop at 117 Grafton Street. Note The Thinking Man flat-back plaster sign above the entrance. He had suffered quite a bit from the glass-house effect of the “protective” acrylic glass by 1998, evidenced by the bare plaster-work (originally he was painted). He was taken down and restored when Peterson moved its shop around the corner to Nassau Street. Anti-tobacco laws currently prohibit Peterson from re-installing him over the new shop.

03:01 That’s long-time Peterson shop veteran Brian Treacy behind the counter, who will still gladly help you with your pipe, cigar and tobacco needs at the Nassau Street store.

03:45 Notice the video begins with a cigar push. Cigars were still the thing in the late 1990s, and Peterson was aggressive in its marketing, placing them in the front of their catalogs and brochures of the period.

04:00 The man Brian is selling the cigar to is actually another Peterson shop veteran, John Dromgoole.

05:32 At last, the pipes! Per Jorgen from Denmark, the older gent is Seamus–Seamus Tighe, who according to our oral histories of K&P employees, was manager of the 55 Grafton Street store. His father, Jimmy Tighe, also managed one of the Peterson shops in Dublin. We have some delightful anecdotes to share concerning both father and son in the book!

06:06 Notice the sign above the factory in Sallynoggin reads “Kapp & Peterson Ltd.” It would soon be replaced with “Peterson’s of Dublin.”

06:12 That’s master craftsman Joe Kenny on the left and Tony Whelan, Sr. on the right. Whelan was factory manager at the time, although has since retired.

06:45 Whelan points out the grain in the rare Peterson Free Hand, known as the Plato in the U.S. and the Barktop in Europe. This is the only pipe Peterson makes from plateau briar. You can find them at Cupojoes here in the U.S. and Bollitopipe in Italy.

07:00–23:00. This is a much more relaxed tour in the “making of” the Peterson pipe than the one done in the 150th Anniversary film. I prefer it over the recent, more visually sophisticated version, just because it does give you a methodical demonstration of each of the steps. Unlike so many other pipes companies (Dunhill comes to mind, but there are a number of them), Peterson has always been very transparent about what they do and how they do it. Their honesty, integrity and human sense of proportion about what matters and what doesn’t puts them above all the rest, in my opinion.

14:00 Notice the darker stain is applied and burned in first, then “mopped” (sanded) off before the lighter stain is applied and burned in and a third, final coat of the lighter stain applied and wiped (not burned) off.

15:27 This is a great visual treatment of how the aluminum P is heated and pushed into the mouthpiece. These aluminum Ps, by the way, go back to around 1953, although they weren’t used with any great frequency until the 1980s.

22:12 The COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp, MADE IN over THE REPUBLIC over OF IRELAND was still in use in 1998. It has since been gradually phased out, replaced on most pipes simply by Peterson’s over Dublin.

22:38 That’s Doris Barrett, in charge of the warehouse and a Peterson employee for a long while—one of only two current Peterson employees who worked at the factory in the old factory at Stephen’s Green.


*The Irish-Gaelic greeting for ‘Happy Christmas!’ Pronounced ‘null-ig hun-a dit.’






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