105. Peterson System Day 2018

Peterson System Day is coming Monday, September 3rd. It may not be as important as International Bacon Day (September 1st) or National Pie Day (which isn’t until January 23rd), and I imagine it could be at least partially eclipsed by everyone’s Labor Day festivities, which falls on the same day this year.

Nevertheless, in these wonder-days of artisan pipes and boutique tobaccos, let’s pause and fire up our Systems in honor of a carver who understood and studied pipe-engineering to the extent that he took out three patents on his own design from 1890 to 1898: the Latvian immigrant to Ireland, Charles Peterson. His third and final patent, completing the System, was dated September 3rd, 120 years ago.

Charles Peterson, 1885, age 33

Aside from bona fide Pete Geeks, few pipemen these days understand what the System does or even how it works, much less what a wonderful pipe it is when properly made and smoked. All this is explained in chapter 12 of The Peterson Pipe: The Story of Kapp & Peterson, but while waiting for the book launch next May at the Chicago show, we can still review the basics of this wonderful invention, swap a few System stories and let other smokers know there’s a reason—three, actually (or is it five?)—that the Thinking Man smokes a Peterson pipe.

Here’s a couple of “educational” tools for your pipe club, forum or personal use to download and pass along. Just right-click on the .jpeg above to download, or click on the PDF link below to print a tobacco drying paper version:

System Day 2018 Tobacco Drying Paper REV

And let me hear from you. What was your first System? Your favorite? Your best System story? Mine concerns an 11S De Luxe, hallmarked 1979, seen below. I was 21 and working nights full-time as a radio dispatcher for Oklahoma Natural Gas company to put myself through college. Around midnight a few weeks before Christmas my bride of just over a year came into the studio and was so excited by her shopping that I couldn’t hear Jay out on the trouble truck. When I finally finished with “KKL503 clear,” she said with all the starry-eyed pout a 21-year old can manage that she wasn’t going to wait around until Christmas and I’d just better open my present right then and there or suffer the consequences. I opened it.





This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Well, since 15 nov. 2017 I have bought 8 De luxe from England so now my unsmoked stock are 12. Also in unsmoked condition 6 premiers and 8 standards. And then I have the smoked ones in all 3 qualities. Among those arrived this year were a 9 s with a b stem. I was in a hurry to get it home.

  2. I do not remember when I got the first deluxe but it was at my tobacconist who just got two from the agent. 8s & 20s. I bought them both. But I do remember my first premier. It was in 1992 by a newsagent in Galway shape 314, around reasonable I£ 25. As I also bought a 101 Irish army, the following days the owner of the shop came out and waved when we passed by.
    In smoked stock deluxe 9, premier 6, standard 13

  3. And the one I did not get, a 4s in the Dublin shop old and with a green stem. A very, very fine pipe but John would not sell it to me because of the condition so I had to take another in that shape. I still dream about it.

    1. Jorgen, I can’t believe you don’t have a 4S! Everything else in the collection, but NOT my favorite shape?? LOL. You need to photograph your collection so we can put it up on the blog!

  4. About how many pipes have poems been composed? Some bloke from America wrote one about the Peterson System—I myself—and it is displayed in the venerable Peterson of Dublin Museum! Thanks for the great post celebrating the System’s patent—a milestone in pipe-making history that is indeed worth celebrating! I may light my prized natural System Deluxe 9s or perhaps my cherished natural Darwin System Deluxe for which I waited three years (if I recall correctly) from Brucciani’s in Carlisle. I’m tempted to purchase an 11s for good measure.when I can assemble the funds. Slainte!

    1. Bryan, a Darwin System!! You guys are killing me. You know I had a D18 System in my cart at Smokingpipes a few months ago–one of I guess THREE they made, and it was sold before I could check out. Talk about buyer’s remorse.

  5. Mark, Nice post! Can you tell me to what extent other Peterson lines (e.g., Sherlock Holmes?) also incorporate the reservoir System design element? I know the p-lip is pretty commonly found.

    1. Bill, I see my reply didn’t post. So here it is now: Peterson routinely incorporated the reservoir and used the P-Lip, making a “Sub-System” if you will, on various lines until the mid-1980s or so: you’ll find Donegals, Shamrocks, and the old Dublin & London, as well as Supremes and Premiers which all function as Systems, although without the army mounts. These are superb smoking devices and I highly recommend them. The Sherlock Holmes line was the last issued to incorporate P-Lips on high-end pipes, and even those in the Adventures of SH series had degraded P-Lips (with rounded tops, making clenching next to impossible). Any old estate with a P-Lip is better than one without–just the presence of the P-Lip will make a straight pipe perform miles above a fishtail. You won’t need a pipe cleaner mid-way through the bowl.

      1. Thanks, Mark. Then I take it that the Sherlock Holmes series does not have the reservoir?

  6. Reblogged this on rebornpipes and commented:
    Great write up on Peterson System Day – September 3. Great diagrams and info on the pipe. Thanks Mark

  7. Smokingpipes has several System D18s as of today. My fav is the 307.

    1. The 307 is a classic, isn’t it? I thought about those D18 sandblasts with the S mouthpiece, but what I really wanted and didn’t get was the D18 tapered in a natural smooth. I think Smokingpipes has a monopoly on those D18s, however, as they tell me at the factory they’ve no plans of introducing them into the regular System lineup.

  8. Brian sold me a 4s that day, good enough but not the one I wanted. I also have a premier 309 in unsmoked stock. I also have two ” Sherlock discovers the system “. Sometimes I can get the madam to take a photo, but only when she is not angry ! Yesterday evening I was looking on Harrison and Simmonds home page, de luxe £ 117 in their ebay shop £ 130, maybe one more…….and
    this is very,very fine!

    1. The Premier 309 is a very special pipe. May I suggest you break it in on Peterson System Day next Monday?

  9. Years back Hans Oddvar up in Norway brought from America a reprint “Peterson`s Patent Pipes” Manufactures Knapp (yes Knapp) & Peterson Ltd. Dublin,Ireland….In memory of Barry Levin. Hans Oddvar should make me a copy but he sent it to me saying : you can have it, it is only photos of pipes.
    He was waiting for the book as we all are.

    1. You should see the lithography of that catalog in its original splendor. I am hoping to get a first-class reprint of it reprinted after the book comes out.

  10. The 309 on 3. Sept. I do not know. What about The 1890 – 1990 “You can´t beat this system” pipe. I smoke a straight one and have two smooth and a rustic in stock and a single smooth bent one. Maybe I should take the bent. Yes, I think I will.

  11. Many thanks, Mark!

  12. Hey Mark thank you very much!
    i was wondering if I might use the jpeg on the facebook profile of our Webshop in Germany.
    Its just the best picture I could find of the system pipe and the 9/3 anniversary.
    Hoping for an answer
    Janez Valada

    1. Hi Janez, of course, you’re welcome to use it. Send me the link when it’s up!

      1. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to use it because I got a deadline to think about but if I’ll use it in the future I’ll send the link to you

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