Thursday, 2 September 2010

Peterson Pre Republic Pipes

Peterson Pre Republic Pipes.

Pre-republic era (Before 1949)

The pre-republic Peterson's are often considered to be 'special'.They hark back to a time when quality briar was in abundance and craftsmanship was of the highest level.
Like all collecting desirables, pre-republic pipes now are relatively hard to come by, with availability declining with each passing year. The amazing thing that I find with pre-Republic's is the consistently high smoking qualities that they show,regardless of being a high or low grade issue.
No it is not that I am looking through rose tinted glasses and being sentimental,they really were very well made.I base my judgement on owning and smoking quite a few of them.

For the purpose of this exercise,and bearing in mind the eccentric vagaries of Peterson nomenclature,I am suggesting that an acceptable criteria or starting point of when the Pre Republic era begins and ends,requires a short historical resume.:-

The Irish Free State came into being in December 1922. The British sovereign, as King of Ireland, was nominal head of state, but Ireland was a republic in all but name.
An entirely new constitution was voted by the Irish people in 1937, with provision for a President Of Ireland as head of state. Therefore, Ireland became a republic in 1937, but was not called that. It was called simply EIRE (Ireland in Irish.)
When, in 1945, the British government inquired of prime minister Eamon de Valera weather he intended to proclaim a republic, his answer was: "we
are a republic", having refused to say so before for eight years. This was news to the British: when George VI ascended the British throne in 1936, he had been crowned King of Ireland, as well, little knowing that there no longer was a Kingdom of Ireland!

Republic of Ireland Act of 1948 officially changed the name of the country to The Republic of Ireland.

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.
Phew! So there you have it.easy and straight forward,eh yeah!

Peterson initially graded their mass -produced System pipes, i.e., regular catalogue pipes (in descending order) "Deluxe," "First Quality," "0" grade, "2nd grade," and "3rd grade."
You will also find old Peterson Systems stamped System 4 or System 5. The shape number is also indicative of briar quality; for example,- 364 is Peterson's 3rd quality shape number (the 2nd quality sister pipe is a 314.)

Somwhere in the 1940s they introduced the "Premier" and "Standard" stampings. The "Premier" falling just under the "Deluxe," and the "Standard" becoming the former "2nd grade" quality.

The stampings on the silver bands are "faux" hallmarks and are just decorative symbols of Ireland ... a Shamrock,a wolfhound , and a castle or tower.

In regard to the silver and nickel markings of this period,well nuff said,it is a blooming minefield.
Here is some additional information from my old friends,fellow Pete nuts, ChuckW and Ed Mac, that may help clarify.

Hallmarks are only required on precious metals not nickel. Also a pipe made in England must meet english requirements which now (and for a number of years)are only 925 for sterling. This is an EU standard I believe. The shamrock, wolfhound and tower are not hallmarks. Dublin hallmarks for sterling are hibernia, lyre and a letter denoting the year. They are still required for silver and gold in Ireland.
On the faux "hallmarks" vs Dublin silver hallmarks. There are many Peterson pipes with sterling silver bands that do not have hallmarks though, even some in the Premier and Deluxe grades.

I have many, many Petersons stamped "sterling silver" on the band that lack hallmarks. There is no question about it. I don't know if it is silver-plated and still stamped sterling silver or what. I have a pipe that is a System Premier stamped "sterling silver" but without hallmarks. I am looking at it with a 15X loupe, and it never had any hallmarks. I have found if they have the "K" & "P" in shields on the band, they often lack hallmarks.
it was my understanding that the sheets and tubes of silver were purchased by Peterson, stamped with the maker's mark, and then sent to the assay office. The assay office then would return the hallmarked tubes and sheets for the Peterson silversmiths to use.

Ed quote:- “I am only talking about Pre-Republic pipes made in Ireland; all of the Petersons made in England I have with silver bands have London hallmarks on them.

Peterson knows very little about the history of their pipes; I have spoken at length to Tom Palmer of Peterson, and they just do not have records, or really much knowledge, about Peterson pipes prior to 1980.

I own about 250 hallmarked Petersons dated between 1890 and 1939, and I have probably another 50 Pre-republic pieces that are stamped "Sterling Silver" but never had hallmarks. Oddly, almost all of the old, hallmarked Petersons I own are not stamped "Sterling Silver." I also have maybe 100 Republic pieces that bear Dublin hallmarks, and just a few that are stamped 'Sterling Silver" but have no hallmarks. Many of these are unsmoked, so there is no chance the hallmarks have worn off. I think the inconsistency has something to do with the "Sterling Silver" stamp; I have an idea of someone who will know the answer to this question.

You are correct about inconsistency being more the rule than the exception regarding pipe nomenclature and stamping. I have been working on a guide for old Peterson pipes for several years, and they changed their stampings and grading systems often, and offered many special pieces and oddball lines, even in the old days. It is part of the joy of collecting”.

Here are some examples from my humble collection of pre Republics.I hope you enjoy the view.

An O grade(highest) 1934 Deluxe.

A standard system 307 Eire 1938.

A standard system 358 made in Eire 1938.

A standard system356 made in Ireland.

An 02 Oom Paul 1946

I hope that the above has given a taster for acquiring these great pipes.I love them.


  1. Very well done, Jim. I understand it a little better now. And that O grade 1934 Deluxe is awesome!!!

  2. Hi, Jim,
    I am continually amazed and fascinated by your beautiful collection and the rich historical narrative that you have assembled to accompany and elucidate it. It is the sort of labor of love on which one might wish Peterson itself had periodically occupied its staff. However, they are pipe-makers and not historians; we Peterson enthusiasts are all the more fortunate for our access to your archives. Thanks again for your great site!


  3. Hi Jim:

    Very informative! I'm a pipe maker and seller of estates at I've been consigned several pre-Republic pieces, unsmoked, that I'm trying to price. I'd very much appreciate your advice on setting a reasonable selling price. Please contact me at if you'd be willing to help out.

    Best regards,


  4. Hi Jim,
    Compliments on your ravishing collection.
    I just recently purchased a free Irish state shape 683 (3) and I am over the moon with it. It came from the most kind South African seller and he threw in some lovely tobacco too .
    As to my knowledge Pete's exported to the US were not hallmarked, but mostly stamped " sterling silver ".
    Could it be so ?
    Best regards,