172. A Catalog of Peterson’s Dublin Shapes, 1896–2020
IPSD—“International PETERSON Smoking Day” (or is that “pipe”?)
is Thursday, February 20th. If you haven’t done so, please
send a photo of your favorite Pete (or yourself and your favorite Pete),
where you’re from and your vocation or interests
before Thursday evening the 19th, 6pm CST.
Over the past several years I have been in love with what amounts to the Irish equivalent of the English billiard—the straight dublin. It began innocently enough with a “meat and potatoes” Aran that I could use traveling and not worry about. But that pipe quickly revealed itself to be what Fred Hanna calls “a magic briar” and I soon looked for other Peterson dublins, only to be surprised at how good they smoked. I blush to confess I even left the Peterson fold and sought out dublins by Luciano, Becker, J. T. Cooke and Dirk Heinemann, and while not Petersons, they, too are pretty awesome pipes.
When I posted my first attempt at a visual history of Peterson’s Dublin shapes in 2018, I was dissatisfied not only with the illustrations but because I didn’t have the patience to go on to Peterson’s early heeled dublins and more recent bent dublins to complete the survey. Adding insult to injury, two dublin shapes since the original post appeared have altered my understanding of the shape’s history in an important way, and as these impacted my understanding not only of Peterson’s past but also recent production, I thought it time to revise the whole thing.*
I have heard some folk, including a favorite American artisan and my go-to pipes podcaster, cavil against the dublin shape for one of the very reasons I love it: its v-shaped chamber, which creates a more concentrated flavor as the bowl is smoked to the bottom. In my experience, this type of chamber requires the least number of relights of any bowl geometry and for that reason also trumps the billiard. That it is linked by name with Dublin (and so with Irish smoke) is yet a third reason for my affection. Seriously, can you think of any other pipe shapes named for a city? (No, Bull Moose, Minnesota doesn’t count.)
The dublin shape name seems to appear with every other straight shape at the dawn of briar history in the last decades of the 19th century. The name suggests its origins and you might be pardoned for thinking it has something to do with the dudeen or clay pipe of Dublin. Well, no. And yes.
No: dudeen, also spelled dudheen, doodeen, and doodheen, is from the Irish Gaelic dūidīn, and is the diminutive of dūd, “pipe,” so that a dudeen is “a short tobacco pipe made of clay,” according to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. And “Dublin,” of course, is from the Irish dubhlinn (dubh = black and linn = pool). The dublin shape is common among clays, but not specific to the town of Dublin.
Yes: Somehow, quite early in the history of briar pipes, the shape name came to be associated with the town bearing its name. It doesn’t really matter I suppose whether it was a name used in an early pipe catalog or a name like the “dutch” billiard coined by servicemen returning from the Boer Wars. But if any pipe maker might be said to have proprietary rights to the shape, I’d say it would have to be an Irish one, wouldn’t you? The Peterson book, incidentally, has some history about the Dublin clay pipe industry in the late 19th century as well as K&P’s own clay System pipes, which from 1896 to about 1945 were amazing pipes.
In the Fall 1998 issue of PipeSMOKE, Jacques Cole, one of the only writers to discuss shape names, writes:
The Dublin is probably the oldest briar pipe shape – like a cone, either slight or extreme – owing its origin directly to clay pipes. The reason for the name is quite obscure and no satisfactory explanation has been found. A variant of the Dublin is the obtuse-angled Zulu (sometimes called Yachtsman or Woodstock) and is made with either a round or an oval shank. A variation with an upright bowl and extreme cone is called a Bell Dublin.**
It’s significant, I think, that Peterson’s very first catalog contained the shape, if not the name. Remember that over the years, Peterson has only rarely added names to their shape numbers, although a few shapes have only had names. It’s also important to understand that Peterson has only attempted a comprehensive catalog of all the shapes in production five times in their long history (1896, 1906, 1947 and 1975/79), and even then omitted some shapes that were produced in such small quantities as to not warrant the printer’s ink. On the other hand, there is every reason to believe that there are a number of shapes that have begun production and then been in the catalog for decades, sometimes since the company’s beginning.
What follows is as comprehensive a catalog of Peterson’s dublin shapes as I’m able to present based on the literature at my disposal, the pipes I’ve personally seen and the generally poor condition of what Poirot calls my “little gray cells.” This history documents everything in the Peterson catalog I think of as belonging to the shape: straight dublins, heeled dublins and bent dublins. By your leave, I’ve omitted the zulu / yachtsman and Kaffir as cousins and not true dublins.
1: THE STRAIGHT DUBLINS
Patent-Era Straight Dublins (1896-1921)
1896 Patent System Dublins
Shape 28, 29 and 30 System dublins from the 1896 catalog
The first Peterson dublins were known as “Straight Patents, with Straight Bowls,” shown above in as 28, 29 and 30.
Straight Systems are fascinating pipes, and if you ever get a chance to smoke one, try it. The 28, 29 and 30 are in descending order of size, the 28 being the largest, the 30 the smallest. At this earliest phase of production, K&P was anxious to advertise the astounding variety of mounts and mouthpieces on offer, which can sometimes obfuscate the differences between what looks to be the identical bowl.
This demonstrator from the 1950s shows how the pipes were drilled. What it doesn’t show, since it is missing the stem, is the extended bone tenon that would have screwed into the vulcanite P-Lip and extended to just below the airway into the chamber.
1906 Patent SYSTEM Dublins
Shape 31 and 32 System dublins from the 1906 catalog
By the 1906 catalog, Patent System dublins are represented in only two sizes, shapes 31 and 32. As the 1896 and 1906 catalogs were printed at full scale, by laying a transparency of the 1906 shapes over the 1896, it appears that the 1896 shape 30 is closest in size to the 1906—identical, it looks to me. And the 1906 shape 32 is smaller than the 31, making it the smallest, with the 1896 large shape, the 28, having been discarded. It would be wonderful to know if you’d found a shape 28, but shape numbers until the end of the Irish Free State era (1922-37) were penciled inside the bowl and not stamped on the outside.
1906 Patent LIP Dublins
Far more important for later generations of smokers was the introduction of the Patent Lip dublin shapes, which with their traditional drilling at the bottom side of the chamber’s floor allow for a conventional chamber size. The largest of the three, the 120, has been in production ever since, but the smaller 121 and 122 were both seen well into the mid-twentieth century.
Irish Free State-Era Straight Dublins (1922-1937)
A 120F for “Flat” with an oval shank
The IFS-Era added two new straight dublins to the 120, 121, and 122: the 120F (“Flat” or oval shank) and slender 417. The System straights seem to have disappeared by this time. The 120 “Flat” is a natural thought in Peterson’s design language, which always comes back to comfort and practicality, and I can imagine someone in bowl-turning or even a customer thinking how great it would be to set his straight dublin down in order to emphasize a point over a pint or a cuppa.
The first illustration of the 120F seems to be in the1937 “A Chat with the Smoker” pipe-box brochure issued not longer after Peterson opened its London factory on White Lion Street. (It may well have been in production before then.) Examples of the shape appear as late as the 1965 catalog and may have been made for several years beyond that.
A 417 Donegal Rocky Sterling Band
The 417, a small-bowled Dublin with a long shank, first appeared in the 1937 catalog, but with two shape numbers: 417 for the Kapet and DeLuxe and 2022 for the “K” and 1st quality. The 2022 number would be dropped by 1945. Like the 120F, the last sighting of the 417 was in the 1965 catalog. The bowl seems bit more forward in its cant than the 120F.
Éire Era Straight Dublins (1939-1948)
There were several dublin shapes during the Éire era. The 935 is typical of the period, a smaller chamber of approximately 19x34mm but a longer stem (about 165mm). More fascinating is the column found in the Rogers Imports 1939 catalog, which in addition to the 935 includes the 934, 3214, 978 oval and 914 push bit, none of which are found in the 1937 catalog nor in any later K&P ephemera that I have seen:
Whether these were made exclusively for Rogers Imports or just never made it into K&P ephemera is anyone’s guess.
The other Éire dublin came at the end of the era in the 1947 shape chart as part of the “SPORTS” line’s shape 8, a pocket-pipe version of the 120. This line was created using used popular bowls, then shortening the shanks and mounting them with tiny P-Lips (aside from the original bulldog shape 5).
Italian smokers continued to order the “SPORTS” pipes well into the early 21st century and they are still sometimes available in the US. Peterson has come back time and again to the idea of a “pocket pipe,” with the recent Shorts line being one of the best.
Early Republic Era (1949-59)
And now we come to something hitherto overlooked: the appearance of not one but two new 120s in the Early Repubic Era.
Not long ago I acquired an Éire Era-Rogers Imports 120 Shamrock and was amazed to see that it’s a different shape than the 120 we know today. You can see the considerable differences in the picture above by first noticing the correspondence between the 1906 illustration up toward the top of this post with this Éire-era Shamrock. It’s the same pipe, same shape.
Now compare the Éire-era 120 with the 120 that we all know, in this case represented above by one of the first iterations in a Dublin & London from the Early Republic era, c. 1955. See the difference?
I believe it all had to do with a second 120 from the Early Repubic era, the 120 System:
The 120 System came into the catalog in the 1950s, along with its partner the 87 apple. Go up to the 120 Demonstrator photo—which is of this identical shape and probably made at the same time—and you’ll see why the shape was changed: to accommodate a reservoir.
K&P had to give the bowl less of an outward flare and thicken up the shank to make proportional room. It also had to be shortened to accommodate the P-Lip army mount. But it’s not an antique reproduction, since K&P never made the 120 as a Patent System, but only a Patent Lip. The company only produced the 120 and 87 Systems for a few years in the late 1950s and then again for a few years in the late 1970s, as we document in The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson.
In any case, I love this later version of the 120, as it flows from the original System design language (“chunky shank” for short). I can see where folk might like the more lissome, svelte earlier version, but honestly, this one puts the Pete in Peterson.
Late Republic Era Straight Dublins (1969-90)
Only one new dublin shape appeared in the Late Republic era (1969-1990), the superb Dublin Millennium (1988), which appeared as one of a set (the other an oom paul) to commemorate the city of Dublin’s 988-1988 millennium. Unique and aggressive with its forward-sloping chamber jutting out like a ship’s prow from the famous Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Peterson meant it to celebrant the most iconic of Irish shapes.
While neither the current nor former factory managers (Joe Kenny and Tony Whelan, Jr.), nor Doris Barrett, could recall a catalog number, the intrepid Jim Frenken spotted the number on a German eBay listing, XL88S, which may be the same pipe.*** Here’s one of the photos:
Dublin Era Straight Dublins (1991-2018)
Tom Palmer’s Dublin era saw no less than four new straight dublin shapes. These began with a look back in the remarkable 1903 Antique Reproduction (1995). In hindsight, I think Peterson was making a de facto statement not only about the importance of the dublin shape to its catalog but to Peterson’s heritage as well.
Peterson’s reproductions are often hit-and-miss, sometimes being (strictly speaking) homages rather than what a historian or cultural anthropologist would call an authentic recreation. But sometimes they hit the target dead center.
As a reproduction, the 1903 Antique Collection (1995), shape A4, is a fascinating, even remarkable piece. Folk unfamiliar with Peterson history might easily enough mistake it for the real deal. The thick shank makes it an obvious homage to the shape 31 Patent System seen above (not to be confused with the recently deleted straight billiard System 3)]. And it scores perfect marks for the high-fidelity S (saddle) tapered Patent-Lip System mouthpiece with its graduated bore and build-in (rather than screw-in) extended tenon seen on mid- and lower-grade Patent Systems.
But it’s not a System pipe. Instead, Peterson designed it as what we call in the book a type of “sub-System”—a long-standing Peterson design concept—the graduated bore P-Lip mouthpiece keeping a straight pipe’s air hole much drier, but by foregoing the reservoir, allowing for a deeper chamber (20mm x 42mm). And that, in my opinion, is all to the good.
The next dublin came seven years later in the 2002 Great Explorers Collection quartet as “The Crean.” The B16 / Crean is the Big One in Peterson’s shape group, the largest of all production dublins, and appropriately so as it honors Tom Crean, the “Irish Giant” who was pictured several times smoking a Peterson dublin.
In 2010, Peterson released its most visually extreme straight dublin shape, the aptly named ‘Wilde’ or B47 from the Writers Collection quartet. The narrow waistline of the bowl, forward can at the rim and slight bulge at the base gives the shape the quasi-optical illusion of a dublin bell, orgqanically accentuated by a slight downturn turn of the mouthpiece. It’s still a straight dublin, but it has become much more fluid and is one of the most original, elegant shapes produced in the Dublin era.
Whoever designed the Port (seen above), from the 2012 Iceberg 1912 quartet did a remarkable job evoking a maritime feeling. It was released to commemorate the building of the Titanic in the Belfast shipyards and the opening of the amazing Titanic museum there. The B57 / Port takes the classic dublin shape, cinches it imperceptibly at the waist and then gives it a wide, massive crown. Seen from the side, it is almost (but not quite) the same shape as the B47, so I’ve photographed it from slightly above to give a better understanding of its visual impact.
Peterson, a collaborative enterprise, has always been a bit vague about who designed what shape. Apart from Charles Peterson’s originals in the 1896 and 1906 catalogs and several Paddy Larrigan originals, only a few shapes can be traced to specific designers, as you know if you’ve read the Peterson book. I asked Tom Palmer not long ago about this, and in his ever-charming way he said that design was largely a team process–thus neatly skirting around how these shapes specifically come to light. But I don’t mind. It just adds to the mystique.
2: THE PATENT ERA HEELED DUBLINS
Heeled Patent Dublins from 1896 Catalog
Turning to the early heeled dublins, the 1896 catalog lists three sizes for the “Straight Patents, with Heeled Bowls.” Anyone who’s been in the hobby for a few years will recognize the anachronism in the design: the heel is a carry-over from clay pipe days, heels commonly being applied to aid the smoker when the bowl gets too hot to handle. Of course, a good briar should never get that hot but you can see how it made a transitional shape for those accustomed to smoking clays and turning now to briars, which in 1896 were still a fairly new thing, with clay pipes still in large demand and being made on Francis Street in Dublin by a number of family businesses.
Heeled Patent Dublins from 1906 Catalog
In the comprehensive 1906 catalog, the large 31 is retained from 1896, the 32 and 33 disappear, and a small 34 has been added. Remember, these are System pipes and have shallow chambers.
What’s new for 1906 is the addition of the entire Patent Lip catalog—the Classic Range in its infancy. And for it, Peterson has added three Patent Lip heeled dublins, the 140, 141 and 142. Seen below is the kind of mind-boggling profligacy one could expect of the young company’s ability to take a shape and give it every conceivable mount. This array, of course, was not on display in most brick-and-mortars, but one could special order.
And that’s it for the Patent Heels, either in System or Classic Range. I did see an alleged heeled dublin reproduction back a few years before we began work on the book, but I’ve never been able to find the .jpeg in my digital files and no one at the factory has any memory of having made one.** Still—what do you think? A worthy entry in some future Antique Reproduction collection?
3: THE LATE REPUBLIC & DUBLIN-ERA BENT DUBLINS
You’d think Peterson would have made a number of bent dublins, but as far as I have been able to determine, there have only been three: one System and two Classic Range.
The 305a is to my eye a very pure interpretation of the dublin: it’s got the straight sides, the v-shaped conical chamber and a pleasing bend. You can read more about it here, but it was short-lived, in production only from 1979 to 1984 or so, as the shank—which you can see—was actually too thin to hold a genuine reservoir, and customers complained.
It was also released in an XL shape, the XL305a and XL315a (American market) as well as the Dunmore System XL75a, which is pictured above. While neither pipe in my experience draws much moisture in the well, they are both superb smoking pipes because of their dublin chambers. Well worth seeking out on the estate market, they were made not only in the System range, but in every Classic Range line imaginable during that period, including a few spigots.
Fast-forward to the Dublin Era (1991-2018) where the B30 pictured above appeared as part of 2007’s Rivers Collection in a sterling army mount with a wide-rim and slightly convex rim. Amazing piece.
The next bent dublin, the wide-rimmed B44, has a decidedly Danish flair to it and appeared in the 2010 Writers Collection as the Shaw.
In 2015, two smaller bent dublins appeared, the D15 (top) and D17 (bottom), making their way in several lines—the churchwarden, the Ashford and the Kapp-Royal among them:
And that’s the Peterson dublin story. . .
. . . unless you want to think about Peterson handmades, like this one big one from Paddy Larrigan, hallmarked B for 1987. How many he made in his long career is anybody’s guess, but surely a few.
1955 tin point of sale strut card for the London & Dublin line
and their new virginia tobacccos,
featuring the 120
Average Measurements and Production Years
for a Few Classic Straight Dublins
Shape 120 Patent Lip Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1906 – present.
Length: 6.16 in./156.46 mm.
Weight: 1.40 oz./39.69 g.
Bowl Height: 1.94 in./49.28 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.63 in./41.40 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.83 in./21.08 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.38 in./35.05 mm.
Shape 122 Patent Lip Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1906 – c. 1960
Length: 5.5 in. / 139.7 mm.
Weight: .095 oz. / 27.7 g.
Bowl Height: 1.78 in. / 45.29 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.527 in. / 38.80 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.734 in. / 18.65 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.226 in. / 31.15 mm.
Shape 120F (flat shank) P-Lip Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1937 – c. 1965
Length: 6.03 in./153.16 mm.
Weight: 1.10 oz./31.18 g.
Bowl Height: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.61 in./40.89 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in./19.05 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.33 in./33.78 mm.
Shape 417 Straight Dublin.
Years of production: 1937 – 1965
Length: 6.21 in./157.73 mm.
Weight: 1.00 oz./28.35 g.
Bowl Height: 1.74 in./44.20 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.57 in./39.88 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.67 in./17.02 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.24 in./31.50 mm.
Shape 935 Straight Dublin.
Years of Production: 1938- c. 1945
Length: 6.25 in. / 158.75 mm.
Weight: 1.40 oz. / 40 gr.
Bowl Height: 1.75 in. / 44.45 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.375 in. / 34.925 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in. /19.05 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.325 in./ 33.65 mm.
Shape Millennium Dublin (1988).
Year of production: 1988
[One of the set of two pipes released in celebration of the 988-1988 Dublin Millennium]
Length: 6.26 in./159.00 mm.
Weight: 1.80 oz./51.03 g.
Bowl Height: 2.04 in./51.82 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.67 in./42.42 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in./20.83 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.55 in./39.37 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite
Shape A4 / 1903 Antique Reproduction
Years of Production: 1995 – c. 1998
Length: 140 mm / 5.46 in
Weight: 47 gr / 1.64 oz
Bowl Height: 49 mm / 1.92 in
Outside Diameter: 34 mm / 1.32 in
Chamber Diameter: 20 mm / 0.78 in
Chamber Depth: 42 mm / 1.64 in
Shape B16, Great Explorers Crean
Years of Production: 2002 – c. 2006
Length: 5.63 in./143.00 mm.
Weight: 2.00 oz./56.70 g.
Bowl Height: 2.06 in./52.32 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.70 in./43.18 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.84 in./21.34 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.58 in./40.13 mm.
P-Lip: No (aside from a few sets through Lubinski.it in Italy)
Shape B47, Writers Collection Oscar Wilde
Years of Production: 2010 – c. 2014
Length: 5.82 in./147.83 mm.
Weight: 1.60 oz./45.36 g.
Bowl Height: 2.15 in./54.61 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.75 in./44.45 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in./20.07 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.
Shape B57, Iceberg 1912 Port
Years of Production: 2012 – c. 2016
Length: 5.71 in / 145 mm
Weight: 1.92 oz / 54.4 gr
Bowl height: 2.17 in / 55 mm
Chamber Depth: 1.73 in / 44 mm
Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in / 20 mm
Outside Diameter: 1.61 in / 41 mm
*Shapes change over time, especially when you’re talking about over 154 years of time. Sometimes it’s barely noticeable, and sometimes it can be glaring. Sometimes a bowl has been outsourced to a new vendor who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care or for whatever reason is unable to replicate the original shape. You can see this problem in contemporary B42 / Darwins to startling effect, to 307s, and312s and a few others. Sometimes it’s the loss of a detail, like the intricate beading around the original Baker Street SH. Most people won’t even notice, and even more could probably care less, but for Pete Geeks it’s a cause of concern because we want the best to remain the best, right?
**From “PipeSMOKE’s Guide to Pipe Shapes and Styles,” Vol. II, Issue 2, Fall 1998. This was on-line a few years back, but doesn’t seem to be available any longer. Cole’s article was taken from a chapbook he wrote, Briar Pipe Shapes and Styles: Pipe Line Guide No. 1 (Park Hill Publications, 1990), 38ppgs. Gene Umberger kindly forwarded me the entry for “Dublin,” which appears on p. 8:
“The DUBLIN is most probably the oldest Briar shape, owing its origins to the traditional shape of the simple Clay Pipes. Some of the earlier Dublins were found also with the ‘heel” under the bowl. Modern conditions are not encouraging for the maker to turn this type and the Dublin has had its ‘ups and downs’ in popularity. Between the last Wars, it virtually disappeared from some catalogues. In Western Germany, after 1945, pipes were small to contend with the shortage of tobacco, but when larger shapes began to be once more required, the DUBLIN was one of the first to be asked for. You will find a number of derivations centered on the stem, and the most popular of these is perhaps the ZULU, sometimes called YACHTSMAN. Usually produced with an oval stem, it is also made with a round shank. A fairly long ‘all-square’ can be rather pleasing.”
***Joe’s opinion was confirmed by Doris Barrett in shipping and Tony Whelan, Jr., retired factory director. Email to Mark Irwin, 24 October 2018.
Banner photo: Irish Whiskey Sandblast 120, Dublin Era, c. 2000
Sports 8 photo courtesy Gary Malmberg, Secondhandsmokes
B30 and D13 photos courtesy Smokingpipes.com