As mentioned last week, Shimshon Cook, CPG has taught me the joys of using a Zippo. Before you think unkind thoughts about my mental deficiencies, do remember I’ve been without my Rx lithium and off the rec ‘shrooms for over a year now! But it’s been so many decades since using a Zippo that I had to approach with my beginner’s mind concerning a few basics—e.g., can you really draw the flame down far enough into the bowl to smoke an entire bowl? Or, if I place the ring of the Zippo pipe lighter on the crown of my Pete, do I risk burning the pipe rim? Shimson is a good, kind teacher and didn’t even raise an eyebrow (well, okay, maybe there was a twitch) and even agreed to go over everything in a fun video he made for PPN:
For my part, I haven’t attempted mastering the traditional insert for pipe lighting as Shimson does so effortlessly, but thus far have only used the pipe insert. I’m one of those rare pipemen who enjoys the aroma of lighter fluid, probably because as a boy, I used to make pop can “bazookas” with my cousins.
I haven’t had any problems whatsoever with placing the Zippo ring on top of the pipe rim. It does require a bit more draw to bring the flame down than an Old Boy and lacks the directional control, but works quite nicely. For me there’s an added attraction. I have a bad habit of wanting to smoke a bowl to the very bottom, which can cause char around the air hole as well as fry my tongue. Butane lighters are great enablers in this regards. But a Zippo, as the flame won’t pull down beyond about 30 mm, prevents these combustive problems. That bit of leftover tobacco at the bottom of the bowl is also insurance against char at the airway and char of my tongue. If the chamber is much deeper than 42mm, I simply I turn to my favorite Peterson Old Boys, but that’s fine as well, giving me a chance to practice my slow cadence.
THE PETERSON ZIPPOS
One upshot of my recent interest in Zippos is recalling that Peterson issued one or two of these a few years back. I’ve turned up five, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than that and would of course like to hear from you if you have one not seen below.
2005 Shape 303 / Zippo Sherlock Holmes Pipe Lighter Gift Set
This is a fairly nice “beginner’s kit,” and while not everything I’d have wanted I’d be glad to gift it or to get it. First, it delivers a System 303, introducing the new smoker to the flagship Peterson System.
The pipe lighter is fine, but doesn’t really say anything about Peterson. The Janus-faced Sherlock Holmes at least offers a bit of a connection, although K&P presumably had artwork they could’ve provided that would not only say Sherlock Holmes but also Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes.
I’m dating this to 2005 because Bill M.’s lighter from this set contains the Zippo date code E (left) 05 (right) for May, 2005. It may be that the set appeared earlier, of course. What’s also great is the Zippo logo on the ferrule of the pipe. That’s something special for pipe collectors, like the old Gold Block 314 Systems.
2007 Zippo 75th Anniversary Pipe Lighter Gift Set
This one’s not difficult to date, since it’s right on the lighter as well as the poster: 2007.
Notice that both this set and the one from 2005 utilize a typical K&P hinged companion box from this era.
If I were a first-time pipeman or looking to gift a friend or nephew with a beginner’s set, this really wouldn’t be it. A fishtail sandblast 408? This doesn’t represent K&P very well. The sterling band with a laser-engraved Zippo 75th Anniversary logo at least identifies the pipe properly, even if it seems a little out of place on a sandblast pipe. And a Zippo that doesn’t even advertise Peterson? Great for Zippo and its pipe lighter insert. Not much for the Peterson pipe smoker.
2011 Shape 106 / Zippo Peterson Logo Pipe Lighter Gift Set
The third pipe lighter gift set arrived in 2011 and was again a mixed bag. A ho-hum poorly-sandblasted pipe, the 106, which has about as little personality as it’s possible to give a pipe. However, for the $100 or so the set cost, you did get an outstandingly-branded Peterson lighter. At last! The logo, as Pete Geeks who’ve been around for a decade will recall, is “the Great Oval Pete.” Why the designer thought he had to remove the dynamism by placing Peterson horizontally rather than on an incline, as the satin pipe bags and wood pipe stands did, is beyond me. But it still rocks and I’d gladly spend some hard-earned coin on one like this.
2014 Peterson Sherlock Holmes Collection Zippo
Here’s an incredible lighter that Brian 5000s brought to my attention from his own collection of Pete ephemera. The artwork many of you will know from the Peterson book: it was used to promote the original 7-day set. I reproduced the great little window sticker in the Peterson book. I don’t imagine it received much circulation in its day, as charming as it is, although the bust of Sherlock was taken from the ad campaign for the original set in 1991-93.
And that’s what makes this gorgeous Zippo so mysterious to me. The bottom of Brian’s lighter as the letter code as “G” (July) and the year cold as 14 (2014). The final four SH pipes, the Adventures collection, came out three years before the lighter in 2011, which leaves me without a clue as to why K&P would have commissioned Zippo to make the lighter.
2015 Peterson 150th Anniversary Sterling Zippo
So this is the one to die for, as we like to say. I found the photos on the Nassau Street shop’s Facebook page and they’re from 2015—the 150th anniversary. Federica Bruno, whom many of you know as Peterson’s wonderful bilingual specialist (and who helped me on the Pipes of Sherlock Holmes book), asked John Dromgoole at the shop, who said that this sterling Zippo was made at the behest of K&P’s Chinese distributor, who sent a few of them over to the shop. Notice these are individually numbered. This is doubtless the ne plus ultra Peterson Zippo. This one has it all: special occasion (150th anniversary), the Peterson logo, Charles Peterson’s signature, what appears to be a 308 or similar Patent pipe, “Dublin Ireland / est. 1865)” and is even numbered.
A few of Bill M.’s Pete-themed Zippos
Many thanks to Shimson Cooke, Brian 5000s, Bill M., Federica Bruno & John Dromgoole
A CPG Certificate / Merit Badge Opportunity
With Shimson’s encouragement and help, I contacted Zippo a few weeks ago about doing a special CPG Pete Geek limited edition lighter, and they’re an incredibly helpful set of folks. Here’s what you need to know:
- We have to place a minimum order of 30 lighters (so yeah, buy 2!)
- Price in the US including USPS first class shipping and tax: $44.95
- Price outside the US, including USPS first class international shipping: $64.95 (customs not included, of course)
- Deadline: Monday, 30th January, 2023
- You will invoiced through PayPal when the lighters are ready to ship (3-4 weeks from ordering, the rep told me)
- CPG Certificate or Merit Badge to be awarded for participation in the event
- You MUST fill out this Google form to be eligible:
ORDER THE PETE GEEK ZIPPO HEREDesign concept. The lighter utilizes the red/gold palette of the 1970s/80s Peterson pipe boxes which I also use here on the blog. The exact “Pete” logo seen in the box was first used in a 1955 catalog and, to my mind, is the finest in this style of logo (much better than the current one) reflecting as it does the broad, masculine nature of K&P’s design language. The pipe? What else could it be but the iconic Thinking Man 4s also seen on the box, reproduced from the 1906 catalog. While not seen in the artist’s renditions, the insert for the CPG Zippo will be the gold-tone pipe insert:
A Rare Opportunity
A Silver Gray / Peterson Deluxe 12.5 System NAP Pipe
My friend Silver Gray is working on a project with me and in the course of conversation I learned she has a Deluxe System 12.5 beautifully grained with her own NAP stem (which looks amazingly Patent-era) for sale. I can’t tell you how rare these pipes are and how marvelously they smoke. It’s $525 plus $10 shipping. Here’s some photos, but you’ll find more at her website, where you can also contact her for more information. If you’re unfamiliar with this amazing pipe, simply type NAP in the SEARCH box at the top right to find several fun posts on how it came about and what the original vetting group thought of it.
(Yes, it comes with its original factory P-Lip stem as well Silver’s marvelous NAP clamshell reproduction!)