280. Pete Shape Numbers from a 1955 Genin, Trudeau &Cie Pipe Box Brochure
PSAs (Peterson Service Announcements)
Are you attending the Chicago Pipe Show? The world’s biggest and best pipe show is back after a two-year COVID-inflicted hiatus. If you’re going, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Chicago” in the title. We’ll organize some kind of CPG gathering at the show. There are attendees from all over the world, artisan and estate dealers, ephemera and vintage tin dealers, big tables by Smokingpipes and Iwan Reis and open-house hotel rooms with dozens of vendors and artisans in the evenings and a smoking tent where more pipes are being smoked simultaneously than at either other point on Planet Earth. While Peterson will not have a table, Laudisi Enterprises, Peterson’s parent company will be there as will Smokingpipes.com. Word has it they’ll be giving away a free spigot, Irish Wolfhound puppy and bottle of Irish single pot whiskey to anyone with his CPG identification. You don’t want to miss it.
Are you interested in a Peterson Pipe Notes CPG System? I haven’t responded individually to all who have submitted their names and ensured themselves a place in the queue, but I received an update from K&P that they will make us the pipe!
At this point I have submitted a wish list of options: a System with sterling mount (either dome or space-fitting), preferably with vulcanite, but that depends on bowl availability; aluminum tenon extension for best possible System engineering; sandblast (not black) in either contrast stain or tan (like the House Pipe Spigots a few months back); price between $150 and $200 US and hoping it can ship from either SPC or SPEu, whichever is closer to you. The order may not be ready until around Christmas, so you’ve got plenty of time to save or get an early letter off to Santa. Forty pipes minimum is the magic number of pipes here, but if you want one and have not submitted your name yet, please an email to email@example.com. Most importantly, you don’t have to be a CPG to buy one. In fact, buying one will get you your CPG certificate. If you’re already a CPG, we’ll add a merit badge to your certificate.
Just to reiterate: if you want a pipe, there is no minimum number being made. Once the design and price have been settled on, I will email everyone to let them know how to make payment.
Back in post #140 I shared two rare Genin, Trudeau & Cie Canadian shape charts offering Peterson numbers that often cause a lot of head-scratching among collectors, and this morning I’d like to add a third. GT&C was an old-time mail Canadian order firm similar to Hudsons Bay, Sears and Montgomery Ward that offered all manner of goods not unlike Amazon today. GT&C was K&P’s sole Canadian distributor from c. 1900 until at least 1975, but probably for several years longer. Alfred Kapp and his son Harry, both Rotarians, handled Peterson’s distribution in Canada, making regular trips to visit their fellow Rotarians in Toronto, and one distinction of this relationship was that pipes made by K&P for GT&C had a unique set of shape numbers. Most, if not all of the pipes made for export to Canada were made in the London factory, at least until its closing in 1963.
Today’s shape charts are found in a GT&C Chat with the Smoker brochure. This is one from a series of pipe box brochures which all rely on a formula laid down from the very first “Chat” columns in the 1896 and 1906 catalogs. The brochures were placed in every pipe box from the Irish Free State era until c. 1983, always offering some tutorials, a bit of Pete history and charts of currently popular shapes, giving us a glimpse into what was not only fashionable but in production. * So let’s take a look:
A “Champion Piper” and Front Cover Panels
The back panel features a business history of the company that, while containing a bit of spin, also has some lore that had been forgotten by the time we came to write the book. “Over 80 years ago,” the opening phrase, dates the brochure to c. 1955, as the company held its founding to be 1875, which was actually only the year Charles Peterson joined Frederick Kapp in Dublin but which they would use to date their origin until the early 1990s. It references Charles Peterson’s practice of working in the front window of Frederick Kapp’s shop as well as the predominance of clay pipes made on nearby Francis Street, which would disappear in great part because of K&P’s entry-grade briars into the local market.
The front panel is a redesign of the “Chat With the Smoker” brochure format that goes back to 1937, including the original engravings of The Thinking Man and a smooth 314 System. K&P is still being cited as “Dublin & London” because the London factory won’t close up for another five years.
The advice on breaking in a new pipe is the kind of precautionary maxims most pipe makers used to issue with their pipes, some of it still in use by smokers today but none of it pertaining to the System as System. The “Smokes Dry / Cool / Sweet” is unhelpful, not explaining the usefulness of cleaning while hot, of not allowing the bowl to lay on its side after smoking, the necessity of swapping the reservoir and so forth. Both of these pieces are identical with earlier known versions of the “Chat” brochure.
K. & P. Silver Mounted Briars and Bent ‘System’ Pipes
Opening the brochures reveals two shape charts, the most expensive GT&C would carry and a sampling of System shapes. The System shape numbers, as many Pete Geeks now know, are prefaced with a “1,” making the 309 a “1309” and so on. If GT&C, which is still in business as Trudeau, had an accessible archive it might be possible to find out why Alfred or his son Harry Kapp struck up with arrangement, but I’ve been unsuccessful in locating anyone at the company with an interest to help in such a crucial investigation!
The Silver Mounted shapes are presumably GT&C’s equivalent of the Rogers Imports Ltd. Sterling Silver line, which debuted in the US c. 1951. Without a few of these pipes in hand to compare with shapes I know, it’s almost impossible to speculate how the Canadian 200 shape numbers might be cross-referenced with the same shapes made for other markets. It’s easy to spot a familiar face like the Dublin 120 (the 206) in the left-hand column, but impossible to make other identifications. The Canadian 224, for example, looks a bit like the 263, a stack Canadian.
The final panel, the Shamrock Series, is a needed reminder that not all Peterson Shamrocks were Rogers Imports Shamrocks. There was also this unmounted fishtail line being made concurrently for Canada and other parts of the world. I’ve never once come across one of these “300” shape group pipes, but how fascinating they are. Of course there are bowl equivalent numbers to these: the 361 will be either a 120, 122 or 124 Dublin, surely. The long stems are interesting as well.
Chat with a Smoker GT&C c 1955
(right click to download full brochure PDF)
Banner collage by Chas. Mundungus
featuring an unsmoked 1309 System with Made in England COM stamp
I’ve got another small batch of ‘catch & release’ Petes this week on eBay, including (among others) a lovely Maltese Cross sterling apple, an amazingly grained GIANT and an “Irish bend” dublin 120. Global Shipping is again being offered.
Молись за Україну
Pray for Ukraine
* The decline in popularity of the System and P-Lip, I suggest, is due in no small part to the fact that after 1983 no one had any guidance directly from the company about the unique smoking properties and requirements of Charles Peterson’s most famous pipe. Brand fatigue set in and by the late Dublin era, not even some of the company’s executives seemed to understand the rationale behind why and how the reservoir should be drilled, the P-Lip engineered and the tenon extension crafted.