337. The ‘Silver’ Special Story: NAP House Pipe Stems
by Paul Combs
When I first got my hands on The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson in the Fall of 2019 I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed with breadth and depth of the world of Kapp & Peterson that opened up for me. One of the Peterson innovations that could easily have been lost to the annals of pipe history if not for Mark and Gary’s research and documentation is the NAP stem, Charles Peterson’s other patent, the subject at hand.
I was curious about the NAP stem after reading about it in the book, but really got interested after reading the PPN posts #124, 144, 162 and 241 about the NAP bits and seeing Silver Gray’s absolutely amazing work in crafting the NAP replicas.
By the time I read them these posts were a few years old, but in one of them Silver had said that she was taking commissions on NAP bits for Peterson pipes. So I hoped for the best and sent her a note at the end of November. Silver responded and informed me that she was no longer taking commissions on NAPs, but that she still had one NAP pipe for sale on her site, a Deluxe 12.5, and that she also had some other Peterson System pipes that she was preparing to make NAP bits for in January that she would be making available for sale. The 12.5 was quite beautiful, but was simply too small for my taste. However, the larger of the other coming NAP pipes was an XL5S, a shape I knew and liked and actually already owned. Deal made – I could hardly wait!
As I waited in anticipation for the NAP XL5S it occurred to me that since I like big pipes and especially big pipes with long stems, maybe Silver would consider making it a little bit longer for me. We talked about it over the phone and she was reluctant but willing. How much longer did I want? I had played around with a couple of my house pipe stems and an XL5S bowl, even mocked up a picture, and to me a 9″ bit looked about perfect. OK, 9″ it would be.
Choosing a bowl… I’d like the large one on the left please.
First steps – precision drill and slit for the NAP. Guess which one is mine?
Tenon extension fit.
First shot – shorter saddle version. The fit and wear-gap looked great, but we agreed the saddle wanted a bit more length. This was not the end of the story.
Longer saddle version, shaping—
…and more shaping.
She turned out beautifully.
I really wanted Silver to sign it and she did. Thank you, Silver!
Silver stamp on the shank as well – a true Silver Special!
It turned out so nicely that my son Christopher wanted one. But where could he get a 9″ NAP bit? Oh, I have an idea…
[Mark: This is SUCH a cool look.]
…and Father and Son pipes – short saddle, long saddle:
Mark: Since 2019, Silver Gray has made several improvements on her ‘clamshell’ / NAP lip and I can’t let the opportunity pass without sharing these.
Silver recently finished a special pipe for the cover and story of a book I’m close to completing, and her work involved creating two new NAP stem pipes. Seen above is the button for the pipe made with vintage Bakelite rod. If you have an earlier NAP-stem pipe from her, you can compare it with her work here.
It’s my opinion that the new buttons smoke even better than the original. They’re cooler with even less turbulence and more comfortable as well.
She used photographs of an unsmoked NAP amber button made by Charles Peterson himself, making sure the ‘notches’ each have a softer, deeper ‘V’ than previously. She’s also fanned the entire assembly or scallop, making it more organic and rounded, as well as cinching in the outer left and right sides of the scallop. To all this she’s added more of a front upper and lower shelf-line. Instead of the notches emerging directing from the upper stem, there is now a rise, giving the button more space to fit inside the lips. While all the changes make this a better a NAP than Peterson’s original, this last one especially helps because it keeps undue smoke from rising up again the inside of the upper and lower lip, letting the smoke escape at an angle rather than directly up or down. This means you’re not pulling hot smoke across the inside of the gum. Like Peterson’s original NAP and Silver’s 2019 NAP buttons, the smoking experience is totally amazing. It’s a sipping button, giving a bigger, truer flavor profile than anything I’ve ever smoked.
If you’re interested in acquiring a Peterson/Silver Deluxe System, Silver told me recently she will be making some in the next few months. Her own-designed pipes also frequently utilize the clamshell and I can’t recommend them highly enough. You can visit her website to view a gallery of her pipes and contact her directly. She has a unique aesthetic and is a meticulous artist, creating (as the muse strikes her) very strong masculine shapes as well as quite voluptuous feminine ones.
Photos by Paul Combs, Silver Gray
& Chas. Mundungus
CHICAGO PIPE SHOW. The next CPG Event will be the Chicago Pipe Show. If you’re planning on attending, drop me a line. I’m trying to get a head count as the Chicago organizers have asked if we’d like to have a special Peterson Group (a first in Peterson history). I said that would be fantastic. I’ve talked to Dan Chasin who heads the PSOI /Pipe Smokers of Ireland group, to which some of you belong, and I hope some of them will join us.
CPG EVENTS WRAP-UP
I never dreamed there would be four CPG events in a row but that’s the way things rolled this spring. Take a look below as a few last-chances remain for those interested:
ZIPPOS. Everything has been mailed out (except one overseas FedEx, going out Monday) and there are 4 lighters remaining. If you’d like one, drop me an email [firstname.lastname@example.org].
AWESOME MAN-CAVE POSTER. I’m order the posters tomorrow around 12 noon CDT (GMT-6). If you want one, drop me a line today or early tomorrow.
T-SHIRTS. Larry Gosser already ordered the T-Shirts, but wrote and said if someone still wants one, drop him a line at email@example.com before Tuesday (sorry, no world clock time on that).
Looking forward, the PPN 2023 pipe is in the production queue at Kapp & Peterson and will be out in the fall. I’ll post sample photos as before. The run will be limited to around 90 pipes, serially-stamped, of course. Like last year’s pipe, it’s something unique.
James Ravenwood, CPG. Don’t look at the Briar Circle 02s. It may cause heart palpitations.
‘A Fine Pair’ from Joe Marti, CPG: the 1998 and 2023 shape 69
Clint Stacey, CPG. I’m a bibliophile and love all these great crime first editions.
Erik Rynders, CPG. Great photo! I love bokeh.