Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff and I often purchase pipe bowl/stummels of brands that we like and want to restore. These have included a lot of different bowls. If you have followed us for long you know that some of these have included Peterson’s, Dunhill’s, and a wide range of Danish and English pipes. Awhile ago Jeff and I were sorting through the bowls in our collection and pulled out eight Peterson’s bowls that were dirty and stemless. A friend referred us to a contact named Silas Walls, of Walls Pipe Repair in Wallace, Idaho, USA as he seems to have a good supply of original Peterson’s stems. Our friend has had him fit stems for some of his Petes and was very happy with the work. We made contact with him and sent him eight bowls for restemming.
In the photo above I show the 8 restemmed pipes. I have marked the 6 I have worked on already with a red X). This seventh one that we cleaned up before mailing them out was a bowl that we purchased on 08/31/2019 from an auction Nyack, New York, USA. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Peterson’s [arched over] System. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in Ireland (two lines) followed by the shape number 313. The ferrule is stamped K&P [over] Sterling Silver. Next to that it reads Peterson [over] Dublin. The bowl was dirty with lava on the rim top and a moderate cake in the bowl. The Sterling Silver ferrule was quite dirty and worn with some small dents in the surface. Jeff took photos of the bowl before he did his cleanup work in preparation for sending them to Walls Pipe Repair for their new stem. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. There is also some great grain around the bowl and shank. I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson) and read through the article there. I found an interesting note in the middle of the page. I quote the pertinent section below and have highlights some important information in red below.
As usual when trying to get accurate facts in regard to Peterson history, something will jump up and get in the way. They are missing many of their records. The following is the best that we can do for a guide to the myriad markings during the period 1922 – 1949. Prior to 1920 it was rare for a country of origin to be stamped on the pipe, just Peterson’s Dublin on the band. After 1921/22, if it is stamped “MADE IN IRELAND” and the “Made in” is stacked over “Ireland” or “MADE IN EIRE” or several other forms, it was made between 1922 and 1938. A considerable number of Peterson pipes were stamped “Irish Free State”. From about 1930 to 1949, most of the pipes (those which were stamped) were stamped “Made in Ireland”.” If the stamp reads “MADE IN IRELAND” in a circle, the pipe was made between 1939 and 1948. These are all “pre-republic” pipes. I can tell you that the mark “Irish Free State” was adopted in 1922;and replaced by “Eire” in 1937 and then by “Republic of Ireland” in 1949.
I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Peterson’s System 0 Made in Ireland stamp. On page 126 it had the following information
The stamp reads IRISH over FREE STATE, in small letters, usually perpendicular to the line of the shank, very close to and parallel to the seam where the shank meets the mouth piece. On banded pipe, this often hidden under the band itself. At the same time, they issued a smaller number of pipes stamped MADE IN over IRELAND. Today’s collector may encounter specimens of these with mountings hallmarked for every year from 1922-1937.
The information was very helpful. I have highlighted the pertinent reference to regarding the stamping. I knew that I was dealing with a Pre-Republic period pipe stamped Made in Ireland made between 1922-1938.
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. It looked much better. I took pictures of the bowl without the new stem from Silas Wall. It is a great looking piece of briar and the sterling silver ferrule looks very good. When the pipes came back to Jeff with their new stems they looked great. When the pipe arrived here this week I took photos of it with its stem so you can see what I see. The first six pipes from the lot were flawless and quite beautiful. The last two – this 313 and a 314 looked great at first glance but upon further examination the stems were not correct. The draught on the P-lip portion of the stem usually was on the top of the stem in all Peterson’s pipes but in the case of these two pipes the airway came straight out the end of the stem. Here are the photos of the pipe and stem. I took photos of the flawed stem next to a properly drilled stem. You can see in the photos where the airway exits the stem. In the photos below the new stem is on the left side and an original is on the right side. It is a little hard to see but in the new stem the airway exits at the end of the button and on the original it is on the top. The hole is the same size but the position is wrong. The shape of the button/p-lip is also quite different and more flat. It is obviously the wrong stem. I contacted Walls Pipe Repair about the problem and sadly it took many months to get some resolution. I suggested that they send me two unfinished stems and I would fit them myself. The problem was that these two were also not quite correct. You can see that the shape is very different and the blade itself was significantly thinner that the stem that had been fitted to the bowl. I took a photo of the pair below.I put the two stems aside and went through my cans of stems and found a stem that is quite similar. The blade is slightly longer and thinner than the one from Wall but the shape of the button and the shank end of the stem would work well with a few adjustments. Here are some photos of the stem I chose from a variety of angles. I used a topping board to shorten the extended end of the stem to match the length of the stem fitted by Wall. I fit the new stem to the shank and took photos of the pipe as it looks now. The fit is good but I will need to polish it and give it a slight bend. With the new stem chosen I turned to work on the out of round and damage inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner bevel of the rim edge and remove the damage and bring it back into round. It looked much better. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the grit. The bowl began to take on a rich shine. It is going to be a beauty. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips. I let it sit for 10 minutes and the Balm did its magic. It enlivens, cleans and preserves the briar. It certainly brought this bowl back to life. I buffed it off with a clean cloth and took the following photos. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Made in Ireland Peterson’s System Bent 313 with a Sterling Silver Ferrule and a vulcanite P-lip stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The beautiful grain that shines through the polished finish is stunning. As the pipe is smoked the patina should develop and look even better. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Peterson’s System 313 Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 37 grams/1.31 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the Irish Pipe Makers Section of the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in purchasing this pipe send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.