Blog by Steve Laug
I am working on the last two Peterson’s System Standard pipes from Bob Kerr’s collection of 9 Peterson’s System pipes. I have restored quite a few of his Petersons already so this is kind of subset of the Peterson Collection. You can read about those restorations in previous blogs. To be honest with you I have been dreading working on these 9 because when they arrived they were absolutely filthy and the reservoir in the shank was filled with tars and oils. It looked to me that they had never been cleaned. Jeff cleaned them for me and because of that I have been enjoying working on these Peterson’s particularly because Jeff has done such a thorough cleanup of them before I receive them. When I took it out of the box of the pipes that Jeff had cleaned up and sent back to me, I could see that it was stamped Peterson’s System Standard vertically on the left side of the shank next to the band. The right side of the shank was stamped Made in the Republic of Ireland over the shape number 307. It has some stunning grain around the bowl and shank like the first one that I worked on that can be seen under the thick grime.
There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim appear to have some damage all the way around the bowl. I think that there was a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The nickel ferrule on the shank end was oxidized and is stamped on the top and left side K&P Peterson’s over three hallmarks. It is not dented or damaged. The stem was actually one from the Deluxe System Pipe so I swapped the two stems earlier in the restoration process once it arrived in Vancouver. Both stems were oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the “P-lip’. 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 thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a lava build up on the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl. The rim top looked pretty good but it was hard to know for sure but it appeared that there was damage all around the inner edge. The outer edges of the rim appeared to be in good condition. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the swirling grain around the sides of the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the bowl and shank. The vertical stamping on the left side was readable as you can see from the photos. It read Peterson’s System Standard. He did not take a photo of the stamp on the right side of the shank but it read Made in the Republic of Ireland with the shape number 307 underneath. The nickel ferrule on the shank end is stamped on the top and left side K&P Peterson’s over three hallmarks – a Shamrock, a shape that looks like a reclining lion and a tower. Typically these hallmarks are not like those in silver that help to date a pipe but are rather marks that make it clear that the pipe was made in Ireland. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. There were two deep dents on the top of the stem just ahead of the P-lip. I have included the information on the shape number on this pipe that I picked up on researching the previous pipes. It is one of two Peterson’s System Standard pipes in Bob’s collection marked with the 307 shape number. I started my hunt for information by turning to a Peterson Catalogue that I have on rebornpipes and looked up the System Standard pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/peterson-hallmark-chart/). I have put a red box around the 307 shown in the catalogue page shown below. That should give a clear picture of the size and shape of the pipe.I am also including the information from Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I have included a bit of the pertinent history here.
1950 – 1989 The Republic Era – From 1950 to the present time, the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.
During the 1950’s and 60’s the Kapp & Peterson company was still in the ownership of the Kapp family. However 1964 saw the retiral of the company Managing Director Frederick Henry(Harry) Kapp.
Pipedia also included a section of information on the System pipes including a diagram of the sytems look (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson#Republic_Era_Pipes). I quote a section of the article in part and include a link to another article on Pipedia on the System pipe.
The Peterson System pipes are the standard bearers of the Peterson pipe family, famous for the excellent smoking pleasure they provide. Often imitated but never equaled, the Peterson System smokes dry, cool and sweet, thanks to the scientiﬁc effectiveness of the original design. The heart of the System is the unique graduated bore in the mouthpiece. This makes the suction applied by the smoker 15 times weaker by the time it reaches the tobacco chamber. The result is that all the moisture ﬂows into the reservoir and, thus cannot reach the smoker’s mouth. The Peterson Lip further enhances the effectiveness of the graduated bore by directing the ﬂow of smoke upwards and away from the tongue. This achieves a uniquely even distribution of smoke and virtually eliminates any chance of tonguebite or bitterness. Furthermore, the shape is contoured so that the tongue rests comfortably in the depression under the opening. Each “PLip” mouthpiece is made from Vulcanite. For the Peterson System pipes to work properly, the stem/tenon has to have an extension, the tip of which will pass by the draft hole from the bowl and into the sump. Upon the smoker drawing in smoke, this extension then directs the smoke down and around the sump to dispense a lot of the moisture before the smoke enters the extension and stem. On the System Standards and other less expensive systems, this extension with be made of Vulcanite turned integrally with the stem. On the more expensive System pipes this extension will be made of metal which screws into the Vulcanite stem. This extension on the earlier pipes will be of brass and the newer pipes will be of aluminium. Most smokers not knowing this function of the metal extension, assumes that it is a condenser/stinger and will remove it as they do with the metal condensers of Kaywoodie, etc. Should you have a System pipe with this metal extension, do not remove it for it will make the System function properly and give you a dryer smoke (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_closer_look_at_the_famous_Peterson_Standard_System_Pipe).
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 that the pipe was made during the Republic Era between 1950 and 1989. Most of Bob’s pipes were purchased in the 60s so my guess is that this is also a 60’s era pipe. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning these 9 Peterson’s System Standard pipes as they are a real pain to get clean. He cleaned this filthy 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 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 I was amazed it looked so good. 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 was darkened with nicks and notches around the top and inner edge. The inner edge was very rough – but not as bad as the other System pipes in the estate. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface. The majority of the marks were on the underside. One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration! 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 with all of the background on the line and the background on Bob Kerr it was time to get on with the restoration of this next mixed grain Peterson’s System Standard 307 Bent Billiard. I am really coming to appreciate the hard cleanup work that Jeff did on these pipes. They were a real mess when I sent them to Jeff and I have to tell you it was great that I did not need to clean this pipe. I decided to start the process by dealing with the damage to the inner edge and top of the rim. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the flat surface as well as the inner edge. I gave it a very light bevel so that it took care of the damage on the inner edge. The second photo shows the rim top after the shaping. There was a deep chip in the shank near the bowl/shank junction on the left side of the shank. It was probably a fill that had fallen out. I wiped the chip out with alcohol on a cotton swab and then filled it in with clear Krazy Glue. I let it cure and then sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the rest of the surrounding area. I filled in the deeper nicks on the rim top with Krazy Glue as well and sanded them smooth. I stained the area with a Maple stain pen to match the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a finished shine. I rubbed the bowl and rim 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. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation that remained in the vulcanite and also the tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem. 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 a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry. Once again at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. This is the first of two 307’s from Bob’s pipes so 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 is quite stunning and really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the bowl and thick shank. This is the first of two of Bob’s Peterson’s System Standard 307 Bent Billiards and it was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. The polished nickel Ferrule works as a contrast between the stem and the briar and binds it all together. It really is a quite stunning piece of briar whose shape follows the flow of the briar. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This beautiful pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store if you would like to add it to your collection and carry on Bob’s legacy. If not, 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.