Blog by Paresh Deshpande
Having restored my grandfather’s Pete System # 31, Made in Eire, a few months back (for those who would be interested in reading the write up, here is the link: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/06/01/restoring-my-grandfathers-petersons-system-31-made-in-eire-billiard/), and after I had received my Pete System #307, Made in Eire, duly restored and in pristine condition from Mr. Steve Laug, I have been fascinated by Peterson System pipes. So while surfing eBay, I came across this Peterson System #314. What I found most interesting was the “LIMITED EDITION” stamp under the shank and the sterling silver ferrule!!!!
This Pete is a medium sized pipe with beautiful cross grains extending from the front and back of the bowl along the underside and top of the shank right up to the Sterling Silver ferrule at the shank end. Densely packed, beautiful birdseye adorn the sides of the pipe. The sterling silver ferrule is stamped “Peterson’s” in cursive hand over “DUBLIN” followed by “STERLING” over “SILVER” in block letters. This is followed by three hallmarks. The bowl is stamped on the left side as “PETERSON’S” with a forked “P” over “SYSTEM” in an arch while the right side is stamped with COM stamp of “MADE IN THE” over “REPUBLIC” over “OF IRELAND” in three lines followed by shape number “314”. The bottom of the shank is stamped “LIMITED” over “EDITION”. Yes, there are a large number of stampings on this pipe and all are clear and crisp. However, the stamping on the stem is conspicuous by its absence. It is felt that the more detailed the stampings on a pipe; the easier it is to accurately date it. But believe you me, Gentlemen and Ladies; this set of stampings set me on a wild goose chase!!! The reason for this was that the era of forked “P” in Peterson’s did not correspond with the COM stamp. Also the letter “K” in the silver hallmark date did not match with either the forked P or the COM stamp. Thus, I was unsure about dating this pipe when I spoke to my mentor, Mr. Steve of rebornpipes and he clarified the issue. I was informed that Petersons came out with limited edition pipes to commemorate a particular pipe and this particular specimen was to commemorate the System pipe. He further advised that the Hallmarks would help me date this piece.
With this input, I channeled my energies in that direction. The first thing I did was to check the Hallmarks that were seen on the silver ferrule. The same were as seen in the picture below and I have highlighted the letter “K” which will help in dating.Thereafter, I searched for hallmark charts and the Dublin Assay Office in particular and chanced upon a chart which I found most relevant and have highlighted the letter “K”. Thus, I can safely say that the pipe dates from 1997. It is also pertinent to mention that the now famous “P-LIP” invention by Peterson was in 1898!!!! Thus, could it be possible that this pipe was made by Petersons to commemorate 100 years of this revolutionary invention????? I don’t know!!!!Now that the issue of dating was settled, the forked “P” was still haunting me and led me to search for further inputs on this issue. I came across the under mentioned site and have extracted relevant portion from this site: http://thepetersoncollector.blogspot.com/2010/07/welcome-to-my-new-blog.html
The “Made in Ireland” block format (above) can be another headache in dating Peterson pipes since this stamp was used in the late Patent Era as well as the late 1940s. So for a guide we must take into consideration the style of lettering Peterson used on their pipes. From the start of the Patent Era until somewhere in the early 1930s, Peterson used the “Old Style” lettering that used a forked tail “P” in Peterson.
From then until now, Peterson used the more familiar script “P” (above) intermixed with a plain block letter “P.” Later in the 1970s, Peterson began production of “commemorative” pipes, often referred to as “replica” or “retro” pipes and these will also have the old style lettering but according to the pipes that we own and have seen, most of these will have a small difference in the original forked tail “P”. Again, there appears to be a cross-over with the old style forked tail and the later forked tail P’s (below). However, these commemorative pipes generally have a silver band with hallmarks so one can date these pipes by the hallmark.
Thus, my curiosity regarding the issue of COM stamp, forked P and hallmarks seen on this pipe were all tied up together and I proceeded to the next stage of my restoration process.
INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The bowl is not very dirty but the beautiful grains are all dull and lackluster. However, all the stampings are very distinct, clear and crisp. The bowl has a decent build up of cake inside while the reservoir is completely clogged and filled with tar and gunk. The smell from the bowl was very strong, though sweet and will have to be addressed. Draught hole is clogged and air does not pass freely through it. The rim of the bowl has some overflowed tars, oils and grime but it’s not heavy. This should be easily addressed. However, the inner edge of the bowl has taken some serious beating and needs to be addressed.The stem is heavily oxidized with light bite marks near the lip on both surfaces. Air does not flow easily through the airway and will have to be cleaned. THE PROCESS
Abha started her work of cleaning the chamber by reaming it with a Kleen Reem pipe cleaner and followed it up with my own fabricated pipe knife, scrapping all the cake from the bottom and walls of the chamber. Once she reached the bare briar, she further scrapped the cake from the walls by sanding the chamber with a 220 grit sand paper. This also helps to even out the wall surfaces.Once the bowl was reamed down to its bare briar, it was evidenced that the inner edge of the rim was damaged and also there was a burn mark on the left side of the bowl in the 7 o’clock direction.The best way to tackle this issue was to lightly top the rim on a 220 grit sand paper and create a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim. I was very deliberate and cautious while working the burn mark and scrapped the burnt briar to expose the solid wood. Once the topping was done and bevel created, I polished the rim top with the micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding it with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I was very satisfied with the result of this process. I turned my attention to cleaning the internals of the bowl. With regular and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I attempted to clean the draught hole and the reservoir. I soon realized that there is a lot more gunk and tars accumulated in the reservoir and hence used a spatula to dig out the oils and tars from it. I gave a thorough wipe down to the insides of the bowl and shank with cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol.The smell in the bowl was addressed by a salt and alcohol bath. I filled the bowl and shank with kosher salt keeping it slightly below the rim level. I filled it with isopropyl alcohol and left it overnight to do its magic. I usually seal the shank end with a plastic sheet tightly wrapped around a cue tip to avoid the alcohol from oozing out, but in this case since the shank is upturned, there was no need to do so. By next morning the salt is dark colored, more so the shank. I removed all the salt and with a pipe cleaner cleaned the bowl and shank of any residual salts. I blew through the draught hole to dislodge the trapped salts. I wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By evening, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history.While the bowl was drying, I worked on the stem. I started by flaming the surface of the stem with a Bic lighter. This helps to raise the minor tooth chatter and deeper bite marks to the surface to a great extent. I followed it up with sanding it down with a 220 grit sand paper. I took special care and efforts to enhance the lip and lip edges on both surfaces. To finish the stem restoration, I it with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding it with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil in between the pads. The stem is now nice, shining and glossy black.I cleaned the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and toothbrush and thereafter rinsed it under warm running water. I took care that water does not enter into the chamber and the mortise. Thereafter I dried the stummel with a paper napkin and a soft cotton cloth. Once the bowl had dried, I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration” balm in to the surface. The transformation is almost immediate. The bowl now has a nice lively sheen to it. I left it to rest for a few moments and then polished it with a soft cotton cloth. To finish, I rubbed a small quantity of PARAGON WAX in to the stummel and polished it by hand using a soft cotton cloth and reattached the stem. This wax was also rubbed on to the stem and polished again. The finished pipe is shown below. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this write up as much as I enjoyed working on it and writing and researching this pipe.