The Junior Rusticated Series by Peterson

Peterson's Junior Rusticated tobacco pipes

Diversity has always been a pillar of the Peterson catalog. From their solid work pipes able to prevail over rough daily use to their equally robust, silver-clad, smooth-grained works of technical and visual distinction, Peterson has provided for every pipe smoker's every need. It has been a few generations, however, since the Peterson portfolio has included a full range of smaller pipes.

That omission has now been remedied. The Irish workshop has developed a line of 10 entirely new Peterson shapes to accommodate those who appreciate smaller, lighter, more conveniently carried pipes. It's a welcome addition. Every pipe collection should have pipes large and small to accommodate different occasions and windows of opportunity.

The Junior line of Peterson pipes features classic shaping, reduced stature, fishtail mouthpieces of black ebonite, and Peterson's own rustication technique modified to accommodate a smaller overall canvas. "In the earliest days of Peterson," says Josh Burgess, Managing Director of the company, "there were a number of shapes similar to those found in the Junior line. It was in the '40s and '50s when some of those shapes fell out of production." There are no records indicating the reason for dropping those shapes, but it's most likely that by the '60s the popularity of smaller pipes had waned.

... by the '60s the popularity of smaller pipes had waned

Maybe that's because times were booming economically and smoking was common. During the early- and mid-20th century, smoking was accepted everywhere — smoking at work and in the grocery store, on planes, and at the doctor's office was perfectly acceptable. It was an era when bigger was better: big cars, big skyscrapers, big dreams, big futures. There was time to smoke large bowls of tobacco, whereas now, 75 years later, we can smoke almost nowhere and are often limited in our timeframes for savoring a pipe. Smaller pipes have regained popularity, possibly because of their practicality for our limited smoking opportunities, but also because of the practicality of small, light, easily clenchable and carriable pipes for the hectic and stressful routines of modern life. Many, though, are simply attracted to the compact dimensions of small pipes.

Adapting Peterson's Signature Rustication

All of the pipes in the Peterson Junior series are rusticated. For those unfamiliar, rustication is the hand carving of a pipe's surface for a seemingly random, tactile texture more aggressive than sandblasting. A good rustication is pleasing to the eye and delightful in the hand.

Dropping a pipe can be devastating if the stem breaks, but even when it doesn't we're often left with a dent in a smooth pipe or noticeable variance in the lines of grain highlighted by sandblasting. Rustication, however, is more forgiving, and small dents or scratches blend into the surface more easily than with other finishes. With rustication, we're less likely to find ourselves with visually irritating cosmetic flaws from wear and tear. Those imperfections can still accumulate with years of use and repeated clumsiness but they don't monopolize our attention to the degree they do on other finishes.

With rustication, we're less likely to find ourselves with visually irritating cosmetic flaws from wear and tear

Peterson's rustication technique is recognizable, but it was necessary to modify it for the smaller sizes of the Junior line. "The Prince is a good example," says Josh. "If you rusticate that pipe in the same style as you rusticate a House pipe, of course you're not going to have anything left. You have to be more moderate with the depth by using smaller tools. But part of the goal here is to achieve the same effect regardless of the size of the pipe, and I think the guys who perform our rustication did a very good job in capturing the same spirit, the same style of rustication that you would see on a larger Peterson pipe, but scaled down."

The Fun Inherent in New Projects

Peterson's Junior Rusticated tobacco pipes

Peterson's Junior Rusticated pipes will be available beginning Tuesday, March 14th at 6:00 p.m. EST.

The pipe makers at Peterson had quite a bit of fun with this series, because the Junior line represents a style that the factory has not produced in modern memory. "When we think about the Pipe of the Year," says Josh, "we focus on a shape from the past. But the Juniors were especially fun because there are so many different shapes, and it was an enjoyable exercise to puzzle out what particular configurations would make these pipes sing. What can we do in terms of stems, for example. Some of the pipes favored a very small bend or abbreviated lengths. It was sort of an historical exercise of figuring out how these pipes would've been presented in years gone by."

When the project was proposed, it was thought that its scope would be across only about four new shapes. "It just grew from there as we experimented and made more samples," says Josh, "and we pursued those ideas until we had a pretty serious number of shapes, just because we liked them so much." Early designs were discussed and tweaked by the Peterson team, including Josh, Sykes Wilford, Sales Director Glen Whelan, and Production Manager Jonathan Fields, but everyone in the factory participated. The new shapes had to be run through every station to catch any production issues, so the input of every operator was imperative.

... the input of every operator was imperative

"We started," says Josh, "by looking at the shaped bowls and thinking about what stem length would work, and as we continued to devise improvements, we ended up pulling all the stops and saying, 'Let's see what we can really do with these.' And the guys just went to town and they developed what you see here. I think there were some cases where we thought, 'Would this bowl be better if we bent the stem a bit? Would it be better if the stem were just a bit shorter, maybe a little longer?' So there were tweaks like that, but not as often as with a typical Pipe of the Year, for example."

There was so much enthusiasm around the Junior pipes that prolonged discussions were unnecessary. "It's a nice collection of shapes," says Josh, "and I think there's something for everybody, whether you like a straight pipe or a slightly bent pipe. It was enormously interesting to work on that project and experience the diversity possible. Every shape ended up being something that we liked." It's funny how projects can expand, especially fun projects. The benefit of that fun is that we now see 10 new shapes from Peterson where we might have seen only four. Four new shapes would have been a thrill, but 10 is indisputably better.

The Junior's Historical Orientation

"For me," says Josh, "the Junior series is about celebrating a bygone era for Peterson, an era that is accentuated and revealed by these pipes and that features diversity in shape and size. They represent a part of the history of Peterson, and are significant because they highlight something interesting that Peterson has done for a long time."

Josh says that the 1920s and '30s were a fashion high-water mark for the popularity of smaller pipes. Like fashion, trends come and go, and often return. "In other eras," says Josh, "different configurations became more popular than others. In the '70s and '80s, for example, large pipes were particularly popular. I think what we see today is more diversity and more appreciation for a variety of sizes and styles, and that often depends on the person. We all know guys like Rich Esserman and Gibb Robinson, renowned collectors who favor large pipes. We have our own Shane Ireland and Truett Smith who favor small pipes. But I suspect there are a lot of people like me, in the middle, who find large pipes suitable for some occasions and small pipes suitable for others."

The blend chosen can also influence preferred bowl size. "Some blends that I smoke regularly perform best in a larger chamber, and then I have others that do their best work in a small chamber. What we see today is a lot of diversity and appreciation for a range of shapes, and this is an opportunity for people who have not yet tried a smaller pipe to discover that it is suitable for certain activities and certain types of tobacco."

"What we see today is a lot of diversity and appreciation for a range of shapes"

For those who find satisfaction in the historicity of pipes, the Junior line is almost an oxymoron: The shapes are venerable and tightly connected to Peterson's mid-20th-century history, and therefore hardly junior. It's their size that their name refers to. Those who have not yet become curious about smaller pipes may find them a revelation, and we all know that sometimes a small bowl of tobacco works best for specific situations. "I think many will be surprised by how well they smoke," says Josh.

The practicality of small pipes is irrefutable even for those of us who gravitate to larger pipes. They're lightweight, perfect for driving or other activities requiring hands, and they perch in the teeth almost as lightly as smoke itself. There's also the enthusiasm of the staff at Peterson to consider. "There was a lot of talk in the factory as the pipes were going around about how nice they were" says Josh. "Obviously, the folks at the factory see a lot of pipes, and for them to be excited about something, for them to say, 'Gosh, these are really nice,' is a special thing. They see pipes all day every day, and like all of us who work around something all the time, you can get a little desensitized to the specialness. For the staff to sit up and take notice and say something about how nice these are is very special. This is a meaningful project for them, and they've put a lot of love in these pipes."

Peterson's Junior Rusticaed tobacco pipes
Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   History Peterson


    • Ron on March 12, 2023
    • When will these be available?!

    • Wes on March 12, 2023
    • Under one of the photos it states 6pm, March 14th .

    • Wes on March 12, 2023
    • I'm glad to see some smaller _proportioned_ pipes made available that are not simply a short-stem version of the same old shape or look like they came from the strip mall shop that sells glass and rolling paper.... Also, more importantly, there is no need for them to be priced any higher than the "normal" sized version. Let's be honest- aggressive rustication helps hide and make good use of less attractive and, in this case, smaller chunks of burl- no need to scale it down just to price it up... All that stated, I hope to add one/some to the rotation.

    • Joseph Kirkland on March 12, 2023
    • Kudos, Chuck! A wonderful article. Only recently have I found the value of smaller, bent pipes.

    • Ben on March 12, 2023
    • Will these be available in sandblast or smooth in the future?

    • Steven on March 12, 2023
    • Why, oh why, does Peterson's never put P-Lips on special pipes?That's a deal-killer for me.

    • John Hammann on March 12, 2023
    • Where are the prices?

    • John Hammann on March 12, 2023
    • Where are the prices?

    • John Hammann on March 12, 2023
    • Where are the prices?

    • F Sykes Wilford on March 12, 2023
    • They’ll be priced at the very low end of Peterson’s price range when they launch on the 14th.

    • Kenneth Seguin on March 12, 2023
    • Wonderfully photographed and crafted artworks. Handsome enough to purchase just to admire. High praise to the rusticators.

    • Kenneth Seguin on March 12, 2023
    • Wonderfully photographed and crafted artworks. Handsome enough to purchase just to admire. High praise to the rusticators.

    • Kenneth Seguin on March 12, 2023
    • Wonderfully photographed and crafted artworks. Handsome enough to purchase just to admire. High praise to the rusticators.

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