Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I have chosen to work on from Bob Kerr’s estate is another one of his unique Petersons. I have restored two of the Canadian Imports from his estate – a Kapruf 54 sandblast bent billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/09/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-another-canadian-import-petersons-kapruf-a-54/) and a Kapruf 9BC 56 (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/09/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-linking-petersons-kapruf-9bc-with-the-56-shape-number/). These were interesting in that they both had a unique numbering system for Petersons pipes that were specifically brought to Canada by the Canadian importer, Genin, Trudeau & Co. of Montreal, Quebec (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/13/petersons-pipes-brochure-from-genin-trudeau-co-montreal-quebec/). I also finished restoring a Flame Grain X220S that was very nice https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/16/a-petersons-flame-grain-x220s-bent-billiard-from-bob-kerrs-estate/). This next one is of interest because it is a large System 0 1307 bent billiard with a fishtail stem. It is part of the estate that I am cleaning up for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with their father, 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 stampings 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 really am enjoying working on the Peterson’s in the estate. This was another unique one. When I first looked at it when it came I wondered if the stem was a replacement. However, the shape and the fit of the stem makes me wonder if it was not original. When I took it out of the box of cleaned up pipes that Jeff sent back I could see that it was stamped Peterson’s System 0 on the left side of the shank and Made in England in a circular shaped stamp on the right side. The shape number 1307 is stamped on the underside of the shank just next to the nickel ferrule. It has some interesting grain around the bowl and shank under what appears to be a thick varnish coat. The shank is quite thick and the finish very dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a fair lava overflow filling in the blast on the rim. The edges of the rim and top are dirty but they looked pretty good under the grime. It was another beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the deep tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. 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 it was hard to tell how the inner edge looked under the lava. The outer edges looked okay but there were some nicks there as well. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful mix of grain underneath the varnish, dirt and debris of the years. Jeff took photos of the stamping on both sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping on the left side was readable as you can see from the photos. It read Peterson’s arched over System over 0. The stamp on the right side read Made in England. The nickel ferrule was stamped K& P Peterson’s of Dublin with three hallmarks. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick idea of the Flame Grain line. Unfortunately there was no information to be found there. I then turned to Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes to see what I could garner from that information. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I quote a pertinent portion of the 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
I also looked at the article that the late Mike Leverette wrote on pipedia to see if the above information matched (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_Peterson_Dating_Guide;_A_Rule_of_Thumb). I quote a portion of that as well.
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
Though there are a couple of more, the above will give one the general idea. We believe the earliest stamp of this era was the “Made in England” in a block format since Peterson was using the “Made in Ireland” block format at about the same time on their Irish production pipes. The “Made in England” circle format was used during the same time frame as the “Made in Eire” and “Made in Ireland” circle formats.
I looked also on pipesmagazine forum to see if I could find any information on the 0 grade stamp on the shank (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/petersons). Here is what I found in a quote from Chuck.
On to your query about grading.
- A System 0 would be the same as today’s Supreme grade.
- A 1 would be a Deluxe.
- A 2 would be a Premier.
- A 3 would be a Standard.
I have a 4 and a 5 grade which I assume were lesser grades and have been discontinued or will simply have re-graded as Standards in today’s market.
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping on the pipe. It is an English made Peterson and was made before the factory closed in 1969 or early 1970. The System 0 stamp would be the same as a current Supreme grade System pipe. From what I have learned about Bob’s other pipes this fits well. 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. Wiping it down with acetone on a cotton pad enabled him to get rid of the varnish top coat. The finish looks very good with great 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. Jeff did a great cleaning job on the rim top. The inner edge looked pretty good. There is a small burn mark on the right front inner edge of the bowl but it is minor. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. I also took close up photos of the fishtail stem to show the lack of tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. 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 English Made Peterson’s System 0 1307 bent billiard. I did not need to clean the pipe. I decided to start the process by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and bring the bowl back to round. I followed that by sanding the rim top and edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos below show the process and the results of the sanding. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I decided to clean the briar with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to clean up the sanded surface of the briar and blend the repairs into the briar. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. After I dried the bowl off, I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth 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 stem. I decided to give the stem a proper bend first. I heated the stem with a heat gun until the vulcanite was flexible and then bent it to match the angle of the bowl. The photos tell the story. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the remaining oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove some of the scratching. It is starting to look good. I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up). I polished the stem 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 excited to be on the homestretch with yet another one of Bob’s pipes and I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, 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 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 grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the rich reds and browns of the bowl. This Peterson’s “System 0” 1307 shaped bent billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the stunning look of a well-made Peterson’s System pipe with the polished nickel ferrule. The thick/chubby shank makes it a very comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. 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 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you want to carry on Bob’s legacy by adding this pipe to your collection let me know as it will soon be on the rebornpipes store. I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. 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.