Welcome back to another episode of All Pipes Considered, the first installment of this series in quite some time and one we filmed in our brand new video studio. On today's episode, Sykes Wilford and Joshua Burgess, the Managing Director at Peterson, sat down to discuss an exciting limited-edition pipe from Peterson: the Carroll of Carrollton pipe. Inspired by the only Irish-Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Carroll of Carrollton pays tribute to the intertwined histories of the United States and Ireland, presenting a unique variation of the popular Belgique shape outfitted with a demi-Churchwarden stem to echo the refined silhouette of the traditional tavern pipe. It's accented with a broad sterling silver band and available in a number of Peterson's most popular finishes. To honor the 245 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, only 245 pipes were made. Check out the video above for more information about this exceptional series.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Sykes Wilford]: This is our first All Pipes Considered video in a long time, courtesy of the global pandemic, and it is our first live, studio video in that long, too. That's about 16 months. So we're really excited to be here.
[Joshua Burgess]: And you've got a nice new place.
[SW]: Yes, we've got new digs for our video studio. We moved it into a larger room and redid all the lighting with cool accents. It feels very professional and grown up.
[JB]: Yeah, this is nice.
[SW]: So we're here today to talk about Peterson's homage to American Independence: The Charles Carroll of Carrollton pipe. Before we begin, a little bit of background on Peterson and the United States. Peterson, of course, is this venerable Irish company, but the US has been its biggest market for decades now and it has done a number of American-specific projects in the past — including two or three Independence Day pipes in the late '90s or early 2000s. Of course, we are very much involved in the life of Peterson these days, because Smokingpipes and Peterson are owned by the same parent company. Josh Burgess is the Managing Director of Peterson, and he's here to talk about how this pipe came about.
[JB]: Yeah, that relationship is a very special one for Peterson as well, and it seemed really natural to us to commemorate that. Not only this special relationship that exists between Ireland and the US, but the special relationship that has historically existed between Peterson and its US distributor — and now, of course, that's a really special and close relationship. So we wanted to do something to commemorate that and we settled on the Charles Carroll of Carrollton pipe. Carroll is a bit of an obscure figure for some of our viewers who are perhaps not in Maryland. So shout out to all you Marylanders out there. If this were a call-in show, I'm certain that we could get some of you to phone in to talk about Charles Carroll.
But Carroll's one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and not as well known as many of the others outside of Maryland, but he was a really notable figure and a prominent Irish American. Carroll was born in 1737 during a really interesting time in the life of the Colonies. He was born into a really prosperous and prominent family in Maryland, and his grandfather had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. He grew up both Irish Catholic and also American. And over his young life, Carroll became a prominent figure in Maryland and started to distinguish himself in the 1760s as a bit of a political figure. Carroll became opposed to British policies in the Colonies at the time and became an outspoken critic of the Empire. He started getting involved in this Revolutionary cause in the late '60s and early 1770s.
We all know the famous story of the Boston Tea Party, and Carroll actually participated in his own Maryland version of that. During the Annapolis Tea Party, Carroll and some of his Revolutionary colleagues went out into the harbor and actually burned a ship called the Peggy Stewart. Carroll quickly became this Revolutionary figure, and he spent a lot of time writing newspaper articles, giving speeches, and promoting the Revolutionary cause. In 1776, having been elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, Carroll was on his way to Philadelphia for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but — travel being what it was in the 18th century — he actually arrived too late to vote for it, but just in time to sign it. So Charles Carroll distinguishes himself as the only Irish Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.
So Carroll was a natural choice for us when we were thinking about how to commemorate this special relationship between Ireland and the US, between Peterson and Laudisi — its American distributor — and also the really enthusiastic group of Peterson collectors and pipe smokers here in the United States. It was natural for us to settle on a character like Carroll who had been so prominent in the starting, really, of that relationship.
[SW]: The series is all built around pipes of that era and the Declaration of Independence. So there are 245 pipes in this series. It's limited to 245 in five finishes, and that's one per year since the signing of the Declaration. After much discussion, we opted for a very Peterson version of the clay tavern pipe — complete with a sort of semi-churchwarden stem, a small, Belge-shaped bowl, and, of course, because it's Peterson, we had to put some silver on it. So it's evocative of the era, of course, but not actually period appropriate because briar was not yet used for pipes for another hundred years.
[JB]: Right, but it does have that sort of traditional feel to it, alluding to the pipes that men would have smoked in taverns. There's another Carroll connection here, as he was a prominent landowner in Maryland and grew tobacco. So I think the shape is evocative, not only of the sort of pipe-smoking culture, but also of Carroll himself being a tobacco planter.
[SW]: So these come in five different finishes, and we'll talk in a moment about those. I'm holding the Sandblast now; it's a Black Sandblast with a silver band and a black stem, of course, so very contrasted and severe. This is the Rustic, again with a silver band, in Peteron's iconic red-and-black Rusticated finish. It's similar to many Peterson series like the Donegal Rocky and System Standard rusticated, which both use this stain. And then, next up, we have the Heritage which is sort of a new-old stain from Peterson that we've been reviving at Peterson over the last year and a half.
[JB]: Yeah, a really classic, sort of historical pipe finish. I'm really fond of that finish.
[SW]: It's sort of a Dark Brown, and it's a color you saw a lot in the early 20th century, both for Peterson and other manufacturers. Then we have the Terracotta, a lighter Orange-Red finish that does a beautiful job of contrasting the grain. And finally, a very few (just 10 of the 245 pipes in the series) are Naturals. So, the series sort of spans the spectrum of Peterson finishes, but with a stem configuration that Peterson hasn't used in quite some time.
[JB]: Yeah, that's right. It's also our first time sandblasting a pipe of this size. So, we do some other stuff in this size, but on the whole, I'm really pleased with how these turned out. I'm pleased that we get to commemorate the special relationship between Peterson and the US and between Ireland and the US. Thanks for tuning in and checking out the website. Hopefully, you'll find a pipe that you can make your own.
[SW]: Thanks so much.