34. Peterson’s System 4130: Built to Last

In the past thirty years or so the System has lost its place as the flagship in the Peterson catalog. There are a number of reasons for this, but chief among them is that the public—and perhaps Peterson—has forgotten exactly what these pipes can do, and how they do it. One of my goals in writing The Peterson Pipe is to re-establish the System as the incredible pipe it is by re-educating the public. I can’t tip my hat with text from the book, but I can share Mark Domingues’s restoration of this classic vintage System 307, which is an education for those with eyes to see.

Throughout much of the twentieth-century, but especially in the first half when this pipe was made, a pipe-smoker might only own one or two pipes. If it was a System, that would have been enough. Notice the extreme punishment this pipe was put through, and how it was able to withstand it because of the sterling cap, which held the split briar together long after a traditionally-mounted pipe would have been thrown away.

Note also the silver-soldering of the early pipes: these ferrules were made from hand-cut sheets of sterling, which were soldered, of course, by hand. David Blake, Peterson’s former silversmith recently retired, will take you through each of the steps involved in how these were made.

Finally notice that even though the bowl is partially split, it was sufficiently strong to hold the stem in place. The bowl crown’s charring also gives evidence of the smoking practices of another, more rugged days.

Mark’s restoration is a true labor of love and proof of what a System can take. The “4130” number is a mystery to me—Mark rightly suggested to me in an email it might have been some kind of after-market stamp. The ferrule design and stamping and the circular COM plus the stem-bend give me the feeling it was made sometime in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but why there was no “307” stamp on it is a mystery.

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  1. I knew that you would have interest in this unusually stamped Peterson!

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