I am reminded of a quote by the late Mike Leverette, on the quality of the modern Peterson pipes.
“In 1992, the ownership of Peterson was purchased by Tom Palmer. However and it's my opinion only, Tom speeded up production which resulted in pipes with more fills, dip staining, etc. resulting in inferior pipes, as compared to pipes produced before then. I have an Irish Second made in the 1960s which has less fills than pipes with the Peterson name on them made after 1992. He also introduced many new series which I cannot seem to keep up with, so I cannot speak for these; pro or con”.
To a certain extent ,I have to agree with that observation by Mike, even allowing for the passage of time since he made the quote. I am constantly defending the brand in the face of repeating criticism of the points raised in Mikes quote. I do feel that there are quality control issues that still need to be addressed, particularly with the entry level pipes.
Another major issue which has become highly topical, is the difficulties peculiar to Peterson, in the sourcing of the briar for their pipe production. Not just for the basic entry level pipes, but for all across the various ranges. Many prospective purchasers have expressed great disappointment in not getting firm confirmation of delivery of pipes being ordered within a reasonable period. No other pipe brand seems to have such briar sourcing problems at this time.
I have to wonder at the causes of these problems and ponder whether the desire to cut costs, streamline production, introducing too many new series and increase trade to more global markets are now impacting on the quality and type of pipes we have come to expect and admire.
Would it not be better to take a step back in time and not loose sight of the classical elegance and the quality craftsmanship that made the Peterson brand what it was, without cutting corners in the name of efficiencies and economies.
I can only hope and wish that the current production strategy undergoes a review to bring it back in line with the traditional Peterson values which Peterson enthusiasts have come to expect.
On a more positive note, there is hope that in spite of these turbulent times, that Peterson pipes can continue to succeed against the various global issues facing the production of a good quality classical pipe.
Flying in the face of the condemnation of smoking on health grounds,the pipe appears to be going through a gradual upturn in popularity. No longer considered the province of older middle aged males,it appears to be gaining in popularity,particularly with significant numbers of younger people.
Rising pipe tobacco sales suggest that pipe-smoking is making an unlikely comeback. Many old things eventually become trendy again and the latest yesteryear fashion making a comeback, appears to be pipe smoking. No one tracks how many young people smoke pipe tobacco. But the evidence, at least in the US, is of a renaissance.
This modest increase is credited by many to retro-loving students. Facebook and MySpace have thousands of members signed up to groups such as “The Ladies’ Pipe Smoking Salon”.
The most popular Facebook group is “The Collegiate Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking League”, with around 1,800 members globally.
The Scotsman paper reported:-
PIPE smoking could be set to become the latest craze among the trendy. After a big increase in pipe and tobacco sales in the United States, experts believe it could undergo a revival in Britain. Supporters claim pipe smoking is the perfect antidote to the hectic pace of modern life and say it relaxes both mind and body. With celebrity trend-setters Robbie Williams and Chris Evans known to be fans, many claim it could even catch on among the younger generation. Kate Neil, of the Pipe-smokers' Council, said: ''It is no exaggeration to say that this might be the next cult thing. I have heard from tobacconists across the country who have noticed a steadily increasing number of young people enquiring about pipes.'There are around half a million pipe smokers in the UK and the majority are middle or old aged. Well-known Scots adherents to the practice include the actor and comedian Billy Connolly and the Glasgow Queens Counsel, Donald Findlay. The manager of a large tobacconists in Edinburgh, said she had noticed a significant change in the age of pipe smokers. ''We have a growing number of young people coming into the shop out of curiosity, nostalgia or to wean themselves off cigarettes,'' she added.