Blog by Kenneth Lieblich
Recently, my wife and I visited some antique shops in the beautiful Fraser Valley, near Vancouver. We stopped in at one shop that was particularly nice and specialized in antique lamps, but which had the odd pipe or two laying around. In one of the display cases, I noticed an old pipe stand with four or five tired-looking pipes. The owner obligingly opened the case so I could take a gander, but the pipes on the stand were not much to my taste. I was about to move away when my wife commented, “Wait, what about that pipe down there?” pointing to something a couple of shelves away. It was a pipe sitting in a Peterson box and I knew it was something special even before I got my hands on it. When I did get my hands on it, choirs of angels broke into song, as I discovered I was holding a brand-new, unsmoked 2011 Peterson Limited Edition Pipe of the Year. It is a gorgeous, luxurious, hexagonal panel with a sterling silver ferrule and military mount. I freely admit that I was rather awestruck — not expecting to find a Pipe of the Year in an old antique shop. Naturally, it was not inexpensive, but it was worth it, and besides, I couldn’t just leave it sitting there. This is a beautiful pipe – no doubt about it. The left side of the stummel reads Peterson’s [above] Dublin. On the right side of the stummel, it reads Y2011 [above] Limited [above] Edition [above] 46/1000. So, this pipe has one of the very rare low numbers for the pipe of the year: 46! On top of the ferrule is engraved a beautiful, stylized P, flanked left and right by triquetra (the Celtic Trinity knot). On the other side, is engraved the word Peterson above the three silver hallmarks: a seated Hibernia (indicating the city of Dublin), a lozenge with 925 inside it (indicating that it is sterling silver), and the letter ‘A’ (indicating that it was made in the year 2011). The band and the stem had no markings. However, unusually for Peterson, the stem wasn’t a P-lip — it was a fishtail. Peterson has made a Pipe of the Year for many years now and the best source of all things Peterson is, of course, Mark Irwin at Peterson Pipe Notes. He says the following:
“After Charles Peterson’s System pipe, Tom Palmer’s Dublin-era Pipe of the Year is arguably the company’s most noteworthy accomplishment in the worldwide pipe-smoking community. It’s an idea that other companies and artisans have since imitated and continue to imitate. It’s one that’s given us some of Peterson’s most remarkable pipes in the B and D shape charts.
The series has completed its 23rd year, and as Pete Freeks and other pipe companioners and collectors often have questions about them, I thought one place to begin would be a visual dictionary of all twenty-four pipes. That’s right, there are actually twenty-four different shapes, because in 2000 a set of two different shapes was released. Here we go.
When the series began, it had two names, one stamped on the bowl–LIMITED EDITION–and another by which it was commonly called–PIPE OF THE YEAR. Most in the hobby now use POY as the preferred acronym.
Only the smooth pipes are called “Limited Edition” and numbered. The sandblasted edition (aside from the Founder’s Edition 2015 POTY) is called the “Pipe of the Year” and stamped accordingly. That is, until 2016, when “Limited Edition” stamping was dropped and the series began being stamped PIPE OF THE YEAR.
The first four years of production lacked a year stamp (aside from the sterling hallmark) and were just stamped “LIMITED EDITION” and so on. That changed in 2001, when Peterson began stamping “Y” plus the year above the “LIMITED EDITION.”
For more information (and to see all of Mark Irwin’s photos), please visit this article: https://petersonpipenotes.org/2014/07/13/a-visual-history-of-petersons-limited-edition-pipe-of-the-year-1997-2014/
As I mentioned earlier, the pipe was unsmoked, so it was obviously in good shape. But there were still a few things I wanted to touch up. The sterling silver was thoroughly tarnished and would need some cleaning, and the stem, unsmoked though it may be, was still well-oxidized. So, it went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. There were a couple of tiny (almost invisible) blemishes on the stem, which I treated with black cyanoacrylate glue. I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. On to the stummel! The briar wood itself didn’t require any attention, but I used compressed air to blast out any dust or debris inside the draught hole and chamber.
I then moved on to the sterling silver ferrule and the band on the military mount stem. I used a jewelry polishing cloth as I prefer to avoid harsher chemicals. It took a surprising amount of elbow grease to remove the tarnish from the silver, but, as you can see, I managed it in the end. Even though the stummel was already shiny, I added some Conservator’s Wax and hand-polished it to ensured it was as glossy as possible. This Peterson is more handsome than ever and is ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner! I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the Irish Pipemakers Section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5¾ in. (146 mm); height 1⅞ in. (48 mm); bowl diameter 1¼–1½ in. (32–38 mm); chamber diameter ⅞ in. (22 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2⅜ oz. (67 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.