Breathing Life into a Rusticated Peterson’s System 71 Straight Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is smooth finished Peterson’s Billiard pipe. This one is a System 71 Straight Billiard that has a rich coloured rusticated finish around the bowl sides and shank. It also came to us from the estate of Anglican minister that was a great friend of mine here in Canada. This Billiard had a badly oxidized nickel ferrule on the shank end. The contrast of the brown stains makes the grain really pop. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read Peterson’s arched [over] System arched [over] 71. It was stamped to the right of that and reads Made in the Republic of Ireland (3 lines). The tarnished ferrule is stamped with K&P [over] 3 shields as follows: in the first was a shamrock, in the second was a lion and in the third was a tower. That is followed by Peterson’s. It was in filthy condition when he brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the rustication around the sides and rim. There was a cake in the bowl and light spattering of lava on the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top looked to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have some light lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.   Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the rugged rustication that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe.     He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above. He also took a photo of the ferrule. I am including the link to the Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (

I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Peterson’s System Line. On page 314 it had the following information.

System (1891) The Peterson’s System pipe is the backbone of the company’s body of work, offered continuously since 1891. Defined by its reservoir, graduated bore, and the unique Peterson Lip mouthpiece, the design originated with an 1890 patent and was further refined by modifications patented in 1894 and ’98. Offered in numerous shapes and sizes, in bent and straight stemmed styles, marketed in smooth, sandblasted, rusticated or ebony finish, and rendered in briar, clay and meerschaum with mouthpieces of vulcanite, amber, horn, Bakelite and acrylic. From 1891-1915, Systems were labeled Peterson’s over PATENT, then from 1906-11 occasionally PETERSON’S over PATENT over DUBLIN, followed thereafter by PETERSON’S over DUBLIN. See Dublin. Chronologically, documented System stamps include the following. (A list of the different stamping follows)

I quote the section that fits the stamping on the pipe I am working on.

PETERSON’S over SYSTEM. Pipes stamped PETERSON’S SYSTEM have been documented as early as 1920. A ’20 brochure s the earliest printed reference to the Peterson System. The pipe came in three quality grades (no mark, 2 or 3) until 1959, thereafter De Luxe (no mark), Premier (the old 2) and Standard (the old 3). See Grading Marks.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top looked to be in good condition and the inner edge looked good as well. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface near the button.  I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is faint but reads as noted above. I also took a photo of the nickel ferrule.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to have a look at the parts and overall look.I restained the faded spots on the sides of the bowl and the rim top with a Walnut and a Black stain pen. The combination of colours worked well to blend it with the rest of the bowl and shank colours.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.     .   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem and button surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It worked amazingly well and the they lifted completely. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem by wet sanding it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this Peterson’s System 71 Rusticated Straight Billiard. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful flame grain all around it. Added to that the polished Sterling Silver band and the black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This smooth Classic Older Peterson’s System 71 Billiard is great looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29grams/1.02oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be stay in my collection for the time being. It is yet another of my friend’s estate that will stay in my trust. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

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