Daily Archives: July 20, 2015

Sneak-Peak: The Peterson Christmas Pipe 2015.

Always look forward to Mark’s write up. I am still hoping for the day he writes and says the Peterson History book is going live!

peterson pipe notes


Here’s a sneak-peek at the Peterson Christmas Pipe for 2015, which should be getting to the States almsot any day now. Tony Whelan, Jr. at the factory says it will be available in 11 shapes: the 01, 03, 05, 106, 221, 408, 68, 69, 999, B10, and X105. I know that can’t be right—eleven shapes? Not twelve? Isn’t it the “twelve pipes of Christmas” and all that? Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Maybe Peterson will order one of the limited B shapes from the workshop at the North Pole’s Sallynoggin Division between now and Christmas.


This year’s pipe has a nutmeg / gingerbread theme, elegantly understated after last year’s flamboyance, but quite welcome and expensive-looking. The color on the acrylic stem is wonderful, as you can see, and features a gold hot-foil “P” stamp. The nickel band is engraved “2015” on the underneath and features a picture of…

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The Pipe of the Baskerville

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you.”
― Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Scottish author, in “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” 1902

The first time I had occasion to suspect some force was working against me on the subject of this essay, restoring a Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes Baskerville smooth, was my belief that the pipe offered for sale was, in fact, not authentic. The discovery that my fear was misplaced was, of course, a happy relief and led me to purchase the distinctive Hungarian shaped model from an eBay seller. The desired confirmation was the result of an email I sent to Peterson’s of Dublin doubting the legitimacy of the pipe shown due to the absence of the Baskerville name on the nomenclature. In every other respect – its overall appearance, apparent beauty and shape – the pipe seemed right, but these days any online buyer cannot be too careful. I included in my query a link to the eBay listing and soon received the following reply from a gentleman named Glen:

“I can tell you this is a genuine item. It has discoloured due to smoking over the years and there are variations on stampings throughout the years of the lines.”

This brings me to my conclusion that the pipe I bought is from the original Sherlock Holmes Collection in 1987. Later issues tend to include the more common stamping of Peterson’s of Dublin/Sherlock Holmes/Baskerville, while mine is abbreviated to Peterson’s/Sherlock Holmes. The newer designs also have the inset sterling band, while the shape of my older Baskerville is smooth and uniform up the shank leading to the bit.

Pete1The other problems I faced with the restoration will be discussed in the order of their occurrences.

The Baskerville makes the second pipe from the several Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes series I have so far acquired. I expect someday to own the entire collection, in all of the other finishes that include the same number of rustics/sandblasts and eight ebony versions, not to mention one variety that really revs my engine. But that can wait. Here is my other SH pipe.Pete2 A great fan of the riveting published adventures of the brilliant if fictional mystery sleuth, I never tire of re-reading them or watching the various movie and TV adaptations, in particular the BBCs recent modern-day “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. And as I noted in a previous blog, Holmes, despite the myth born of generations of portrayals by many talented if misled actors, did not smoke a gourd calabash or churchwarden. The most common type or shape of pipe mentioned by his loyal chronicler, in fact, is cherry wood (with six references). See https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1661/1661-h/1661-h.htm – or better yet, re-visit the stories themselves – for details.

I came across some curious similarities in the life of the celebrated creator of Mr. Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street in London and the crime solver himself. Despite early stabs at writing, one of which was published, Doyle surprised his family by deciding to pursue a degree in medicine, which he received from the University of Edinburgh in 1881. [http://www.biography.com/people/arthur-conan-doyle-9278600#synopsis]

At least two real persons, both medical doctors contributed to Doyle’s ultimate creation of Sherlock Holmes: one of his professors and mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell, a renowned forensic scientist, had keen powers of observation, and Dr. Henry Littlejohn, a surgeon of police who for almost half a century consulted with Edinburgh police on medical issues related to crimes, both later contributed to Doyle’s unique detective character. [http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/04/real-life-sherlock-holmes/]

After Doyle completed his third year of medical school, he signed on a ship’s surgeon for a vessel bound for the arctic circle. This experience gave him a zest for adventure.

And then there is the Watson connection. Not only was Watson a physician, but take a look at this photo of the author himself and compare the likeness.Pete3 RESTORATION
These photos of the Baskerville as I received it show how the picture in the eBay listing was a bit forgiving of the effects of age and smoking on the pipe, as noted by Glen from Peterson’s.Pete4







Pete11 Here, in brief, is where everything truly began to go against me, although I might state the process that unfolded with greater accuracy and brevity as being my own fault, pure and simple. I actually reached the end of a full “restoration” and took what I thought would be the photos of the finished pipe when, upon closer scrutiny, I noted with a sick feeling in my heart and gut that the Baskerville was not up to my standards, even though I knew I was not about to offer this potential beauty for sale. One-dimensional pictures tend to reveal the flaws with unforgiving accuracy. Check out these two angles alone, which are representative of the whole as it was.Pete12

Pete13 For the most part, I’ll leave the criticism to the readers, but I will point out the most noticeable flaws, including unfixed scratches and other blemishes, not to mention the awful look of the chamber in the first photo above. Most disturbing to me was my failure to remove certain black areas caused, as noted before, by age and use, as well as the general lack of discernible graining I had intended to enhance.

And so, as the traditional children’s song goes, “Finnegan, begin again.”

Removing the newly-applied waxes and stain, this time with 500-grit paper for a slow, gentle approach, proved much easier and faster than the far more laborious work I did the first time around. I only had to focus on the unresolved scratches and black areas. The paper alone was perfect for the small but pervasive scratches and a good deal of the blackened briar.Pete14





Pete19 The dark patches were the most difficult to remove, and when I reached the point where the sandpaper wasn’t up to the task, I finished with the finest grade steel wool. This part required considerable effort around the bottom, front and back of the bowl as well as the shank, but it worked. At last, the wood was the right shade and with no more serious dark spots.

Having enjoyed a few bowls of tobacco in the Baskerville (well, more than a few), I sanded out the small amount of carbon with 320 paper and retorted the pipe once more. Then I stained the outer wood with Fiebing’s Brown and flamed it.Pete20 I took off the char with 4000 micromesh and buffed from 1500-4000.Pete21





Pete26 The stem, almost perfect, only wanted gentle micro-meshing in a few spots, with 3200 and 4000. I buffed it with red Tripoli and then again on the clean wheel. I buffed the bowl and shank with white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba.Pete27







Pete34 But remember how I was describing how everything turned against me, only it was really my own fault? Well, then, that brings me to the final error: one I have learned to avoid so often in the past but this time spaced until it was a single stroke too late. In my enthusiastic sanding with the 500-grit paper, I took off a little of the Peterson’s/Sherlock Holmes stamps – not all, but part.Pete35

For this blog, I attempted considerable research into the various Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes pipe series. I use the word various because of the three main groups that are commonly known to connoisseurs of the great Irish pipe company established in Dublin in 1865: the Sherlock Holmes Original Collection (with the word Original added only after the decision to add another and then a so-called final series was made), the Return of Sherlock Holmes Collection and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Collection. My goal was not only to identify the differences in the several lines’ designs and names but to determine the date(s) of manufacture. Despite my previous knowledge of the incredible difficulty of dating pipes in general and Peterson’s in particular, I thought these tasks would be easier than usual. I have almost never been more mistaken.

Starting at the source, so to speak – in this case, http://www.peterson.ie/CatalogueCOMP.pdf – I found, on pages 10-13 of the catalogue, listings for the first two collections, but nothing concerning the Adventures pipes. And although this catalogue did give the date of the SH Original Collection as “First produced in 1987 to honour the most famous character in fiction, Sherlock Holmes,” the term “first produced in” was vague. Well, for this small amount of help I was grateful, although almost every other website on the subject repeated the same general year. Also, I am sure that no matter how popular Sir Arthur’s brilliant mystery sleuth may be, the notion that Mr. Holmes deserves the high place in all of literature that Peterson’s bestows upon him would be readily accepted by Holmes himself were he real and alive but hotly debated in scholarly circles.

Furthermore, the official Peterson’s catalogue showed only the smooth versions of that series with a note that the series was of seven pipes, one for each day of the wee, with shapes “most favoured by Holmes.” [Again, see my proof of the erroneous nature of this claim above.] Almost as an afterthought, the catalogue reveals that all of the smooth designs shown are also available in rustic, sandblast and ebony versions, and a gold band can be substituted for the sterling silver.

As for the Return of Sherlock Holmes Collection, no date(s) of manufacture is given, and Peterson’s again shows only the smooth versions and notes the availability of gold bands but makes no reference to the same alternative rustic, sandblast and ebony versions. But it does mention and show these a couple of pages down.

The greatest surprises are the absence of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Collection altogether but the inclusion of beautiful pure white, sterling banded Sherlock Holmes Meerschaums in the same designs as the Original Collection, but again undated.

Therefore, searching far and wide for a list of the Adventures of SH Collection, I came across another Peterson’s of Dublin site showing the seven newest designs, mixed among smooth, rustic and sandblast. [http://www.peterson.ie/c/164/adventures-of-sherlock-holmes] Again, no date(s).

Finally, as a last measure before finishing this blog, I thought of the obvious and Googled “dating peterson sherlock holmes pipes.” I was rewarded with a site [http://thepetersoncollector.blogspot.com/2010/07/welcome-to-my-new-blog.html] providing almost all of the hard-sought data:

Sherlock Holmes Original Collection 1987-c. 1989
Return of Sherlock Holmes Collection c. 1991
Sherlock Holmes Meerschaums 2006

And so, would anyone out there who knows when the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Collection came to be please reply to this blog with the coveted information…and if possible, a URL to verify it?

Sure as there be five-leaf clovers, I will sleep better having read the end of the mystery.

Crafting another Frankenpipe – one plus one equals three

Blog by Steve Laug

I have wanted to do some more experimenting and learning new ways of doing things for a while now. That is why I love refurbishing, there is always something new to learn. I was sent some pipes as a gift to either scrap out or clean up. In this lot was an Israeli Anderson freehand pipe. The bowl had been cut off and what was left was not much different from a Falcon base. There was no way it would hold any tobacco that would even make it worth smoking and it was in pretty rough shape. The stem was great the base was solid but the finish was done. I also had a pipe that I had cut the shank off of and repurpose on another project so the bowl was left. It had a lot of large fills on the side that were full of pink putty. I thought maybe with a little imagination I could join the two parts together and get a workable pipe. Let’s see what I can do with the parts.Franken1

Franken2 I don’t have a table saw or a band saw so any kind of cutting briar needs to be done by hand. In this case I used a hacksaw to cut the bottom of the bowl off so that I could splice the bowl and the base together. I figured it would work and I might get a half way decent pipe out of the blend.Franken3


Franken5 I used a small drill bit to place six small holes around the base and the bowl. I stabilized the small cracks with wood glue and briar dust. I planned on putting a bowl coating on the interior so I was not too concerned with the walls of the base. I had some small stainless steel pins that I had found that would work well to join the two parts together.Franken6 I inserted the pins in the holes in the base and glued them in place. When the glue had set I put glue on the top of the base and the bottom of the bowl portion and set it on the pins as well.Franken7

Franken8 I pressed the bowl onto the pins in the base until the two surfaces connected. I clamped it in place until the glue dried. Once it was dry I put a ring of super glue around the joint on the two and pressed briar dust into the remaining crevices in the joint.Franken9



Franken12 I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess briar on the front of the base and bring it into alignment with the bowl. I did the same on the sides and back of the bowl.Franken13



Franken16 I sanded the bowl and base union with a medium grit emery paper and then with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the two parts and to work on making the junction smooth between the two. I followed that by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the walls of the new pipe. The photos below show the new “Stack” that had been fashioned from the two parts – one plus one did in this case render a third.Franken17



Franken20 I sanded the exterior of the bowl and base with a coarse grit sanding block and then with a medium grit block. The photos below show the state of the bowl after much sanding with the blocks. The surface of the bowl and base junction is smooth to touch. The large fills on the side of the bowl and the dark ring of the glue and briar dust patch around the middle were going to take some work to make them “disappear”.Franken21



Franken24 I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge to further smooth things out while I decide on how to proceed next with the finish on the bowl.Franken25

Franken26 The internal junction of the bowl and base needed some work as well. The bowl I had used was slightly conical on the base so the internal walls came in at an angle. The base walls were straight. I needed to sand the joint from the inside to smooth out the junction. I used the Dremel and the sanding drum to smooth out the junction. I proceeded slowly and carefully and was able to smooth out the walls. The photo below shows the inside of the bowl after the first work over with the Dremel and sanding drum. More needs to be done but you can see the progress.Franken27 When I got back from the office I decided to rusticate the new bowl with the same tree bark rustication pattern that the Anderson Freehand had. I used a pointed dental burr with striations through the shape of the cone. I held it like a pencil and worked on the surface of the briar. I followed the pattern on the lower portion of the pipe and worked to match it and continue it to the top of the rim.Franken28


Franken30 As I got closer to the top of the bowl I wrapped the edge with several layers of cellophane tape and folded it over the rim as well. I continued to use the burr until I had carried the pattern all the way to the edge of the tape. The original bowl also had some smooth spots in the midst of the rustication. These looked like the ends of cut off branches. I put several of them on the sides of the new bowl as well to match the lower portion.Franken31

Franken32 The next two photos show the conical burr that I used for the rustication pattern.Franken33

Franken34 To highlight the barklike nature of the rustication I used a black Sharpie permanent marker to colour in the trails in the briar.Franken35

Franken36 I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to even out the black and to set it in the bottoms of the lines.Franken37



Franken40 I stained over the black marker with a dark brown thinned 50% with alcohol. I applied the stain and then flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even.Franken41


Franken43 I then gave the bowl a coat of oxblood stain thinned 50/50 with alcohol and set it on the cork stand to dry.Franken44



Franken47 To protect the newly sanded bowl and the joint between the bowl and the base until a cake had a chance to form I mixed a batch of organic bowl coating that I have used for years. It sounds like it would smell and make things a mess but it does not. I use sour cream and activated charcoal powder. I put a dollop of sour cream in a bowl and empty the contents of three or more charcoal capsules into the sour cream. I mix it until it is a grey pasted. At this point there is very little smell to the mixture.Franken48

Franken49 I painted the inside of the bowl walls and bottom with a folded pipe cleaner. I want to give the bowl a coating on all sides. I insert a pipe cleaner in the airway so I do not get the mixture in the airway. I put on the coating in several layers letting the one underneath get a little set. I paid special attention to the area around the junction of the two parts.Franken50 I set the bowl aside to dry. When it dries the coating will be a charcoal black colour and provide a base for the formation of the cake. While it dried I worked on the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then moved on to sanding with micromesh pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, rubbed it down with oil again and then dry sanded with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and when it dried I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond.Franken51


Franken53 I lightly buffed the stem and the bowl with carnauba – spending more time on the stem than on the bowl. I then took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. I did not want too much of a shine as I think the matte finish looks good on the tree bark rustication. The finished pipe is shown below. Once the bowl coating has dried for several days it will be ready to smoke. I am still mulling over what I will pack it with for the inaugural smoke. Thanks for looking.Franken54