Blog by Steve Laug
With this Peterson’s “Kapruf” 9BC I am turning again to work on a few more pipes from Bob Kerr’s estate. This is the first of the Peterson’s that I am working on. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stamping to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. I decided to take a break from working on his Dunhills to work on a few of the other pipes. The first of them is a really nice Peterson. It is a shape that is one of my favourites so this one will probably stay with me.
I love these older Peterson’s 9BC shapes and find that the sandblast versions really are a favourite of mine. This one has a rugged sandblast finish with lots of nooks and crannies in the briar. It is a beauty! The pipe is stamped Peterson’s “Kapruf” over London Made England. That is followed by the shape number 9BC over 56. The valleys and ridges of the sandblasted grain showing through the grime and dirt are a mixture that leaves a rich texture. It had a rich reddish brown stain that does not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow filling in the blast on the rim. The edges of the rim and top are dirty but look pretty pristine under the grime. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was lightly oxidized with the typical tooth marks and chatter on both sides that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. He obviously loved the Peterson’s as much as he did his Dunhills. The P-lip button had some light damage to the top surface. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The edges look pretty good. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful undulations of the sandblast. There is a lot of dust and grime filling in the valleys. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the bowl and shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. The London Made over England stamp is faint but readable under a light. The pipe also bears the same 9BC over 56 stamp that Al Jones (upshallfan) noted on the on his previous blog and had called a mystery pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/25/peterson-shape-56-mystery/).Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the deep tooth marks and scratching, oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The “P” logo on the stem is long gone but the robust p-lip button is in very good condition.Al Jones had written a couple of blogs on the Peterson’s Kapruf 9BC so I turned to rebornpipes to refresh my memory through Al’s blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/03/peterson-9bc-kapruf-pre-59/). I quote from there and also include some of the catalogue pages from the blog.
I didn’t know much about the Kapruf line. It is described in a 1960’s catalog as: “A fine sandblast finish distinguishes this range of light natural grained pipes with their distinctive red colouring. Very popular with sportsmen.”
The second page shows the 9BC shape. I have boxed the shape in with a red box for quick reference. Al had also written a blog about another “Kapruf” 9BC he had picked up that was not stamped with the 9BC stamp but with a shape number 56. Interestingly the one I am working on is stamped with both numbers. I quote from a pertinent section of that blog on the shape number (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/25/peterson-shape-56-mystery/).
Well, the Shape 56 mystery is now resolved…Well, further sleuthing from the world’s foremost Peterson authority yielded an answer – which came directly from a blog entry here on rebornpipes, by our very own Steven Laug. In 2015, Steve posted a catalog from Canadian importer, Genin, Trudeau & Co. which shows their unique numbering system. I even comment that the Shape 56 looks like a 9BC! So, all the while, the answer was hiding on this blog! Below is that brochure page showing the Shape 56. Steve comments that the postal code used in the address dates the brochure to between 1962 and 1969. I guess not many Canadians appreciated the shape, so they are pretty uncommon. Thanks to Mark Irwin for his superior memory and to Steve for making this type of ephemera available, you never know when it will come in handy.
I have included both the link to the document for you to check out and a page from it that shows the 9BC/56 connection Al noted above (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/13/petersons-pipes-brochure-from-genin-trudeau-co-montreal-quebec/). I have put a red box around the shape number to make identifying it simpler. Be sure to check out the document as it is very informative.I turned to an article on Pipedia by a good friend, the late Mike Leverette entitled A Peterson Dating Guide (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_Peterson_Dating_Guide;_A_Rule_of_Thumb). While the one I have in hand is slightly different in terms of stamping it is an English made Peterson that bears the stamp London Made England. I quote from the section by Mike on the English pipes.
English made Peterson pipes actually spans between the pre-Republic and Republic eras. In 1895, Peterson opened a shop in London England that lasted until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So the English Era, for a simplified date, will be from 1895 through 1959. The stamps Peterson used in London and that we have seen are:
- Made in England – block format
- Made in England – circle format
- Made in London
- Made in London England
- Simply, London England.
- Great Britain
I went to the full article on Peterson pipes after this to try to pin things down a bit more clearly (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I believe the pipe is from the Republic Era – 1950 – 1989. I quote the pertinent section of that article below:
1969/70 – The ‘Made in England’ stamp was discontinued with the closing down of the London based factory. Although Peterson has always prided itself in being an Irish made pipe, Peterson had also maintained a pipe factory in London since 1899.
English made Peterson pipes actually spanned the period between the pre Republic and Republic eras.
In 1899, Peterson opened the ﬁrst in a series of several successive shops in London, England, that lasted until the late 1960’s/70s.
1899 – 53, New Broad St. E.C.
1910 – 7, Hills Pl., Oxford St. W.
1915 – 21, Mortimer St. W.
Finally moving to 74/77 White Lion Street until 1970.
So the English Era, for a simpliﬁed date, will be from 1899 through to around 1970. The stamps Peterson used in London are:
- Made in England block format
- Made in England circle format
- Made in London
- Made in London England
- Simply, London England
- London Made over England block format
- Great Britain
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from both Mike’s Pipedia article and the longer article that the pipe was made during the Republic Era prior to the closer of the London based factory. My thinking is that it came from the final factory location on 74/77 White Lion Street which closed down in 1970. That fits the time frame of many of the pipes from Bob Kerr’s estate. I also knew that the pipe was brought into Canada by the Canadian importer, Genin, Trudeau & Co. in Montreal, Quebec. Noting above that the catalogue postal code puts it in the late 60s early 70s which also fits the story. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks very good. The sandblast finish is very nice. The bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks on the top and underside. The “P” logo on the stem was long gone though I could see a faint ghost of it on the left side. I took a photo of the stamping and was able to capture all of it. Even the illusive London Made over England portion shows up. Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
Now on to the rest of the restoration on this pipe that links the two shape numbers that Al referred to – the 9BC and the 56. Since Jeff had done such an amazing clean up job on the bowl it was very easy for me. I only had to rub the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the tooth marks in the stem. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic style lighter. Since vulcanite has “memory” heat will lift much of the tooth damage. The photos show the marks that remain after the heat treatment.To repair these deeper tooth marks, I filled them in with clear super glue and set the stem aside to dry. Once the glue cured it would be a matter of blending the repairs into the surface of the stem with sandpaper.Once the repairs had hardened I also sanded them to blend them into the surrounding vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined do a great job in blending the repairs. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I am on the homestretch with this pipe and I really look forward to the final look when it is put back together and polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The valleys and ridges of the sandblast looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1969/70 Peterson’s “Kapruf” 9BC/56 Bent billiard was a fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has that classic Peterson look in a sandblast “Kapruf” finish that catches the eye. The combination of various brown stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand and I think that as it heats with smoking that over time the finish will darken and look even better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one is staying with me as I carry on Bob’s legacy each time I fire up a bowl. I have a lot more to work on include 18 more Petersons. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.