A closer look at the Peterson Sherlock Holmes series of pipes
A closer look at the Peterson Sherlock Holmes series of pipes
The subject for this pipe focus is the Sherlock Holmes issue of briar pipes, let us look more closely at the individual pipes in more detail.
Probably the most successful series of pipes ever introduced by Peterson in terms of numbers. They were first issued in 1987 to honour Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous fictitious detective character, Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes is perhaps the most famous pipe smoking character in fiction. He is reputed to have kept a selection of favourite pipes – from plain black clay to richly grained briar – to which he frequently resorted to for inspiration,while unravelling a mystery, or solving a knotty problem. For solace, after bringing a difficult case to successful conclusion, and always for pleasure. A man who kept his tobacco in a Persian slipper has to be something of a character, and a colourful one to boot, as indeed was Mr. Holmes of 221B Baker Street, London.
The pipes,crafted in Ireland from selected Mediterranean sourced briar, are made to honour the novels original characters,places and items encountered by Sherlock Holmes in his various adventures.
The initial issue, the 'Original Collection' , was in the form of a 7 day set and included a specially crafted wooden rack for the complete set. The seven pipes were made from selected briar. These were eventually made available in meerschaum, smooth, ebony, rustic and some sandblast. All are extra large bowls. with a hallmarked Sterling silver band,with the options of the Peterson lip or the fishtail mouthpiece.
Each pipe is mounted with a genuine Hallmarked Sterling Silver band and Sherlock Holmes profile stamp, specially struck to honour the Great Detective.
Peterson offer the same range of pipe shapes as second grades, in the issue known as the "Kinsale".I appreciate that this allows prospective smokers the opportunity to own the same range of shapes at budget prices. However as in most things in life ,cheaper doesn't always mean as good as. These 'seconds' have bowls of a lesser quality and finish and do not have the hallmarked silver SH bands. I find the acrylic coating quite off putting and in my opinion, contributes substantially to increased overheating of the pipe bowls.
Please also appreciate that my comments are my personal opinion and may not be representative of opinions, held by others. It is based on many years ownership and experience of smoking the complete Sherlock Holmes series. It is so easy to be drawn into the romance and mystique of such a well known issue of pipes and to lose the subjective focus,so here are my thoughts on this iconic series of Peterson pipes,warts and all. To facilitate my personal thoughts,I have scored each pipe from 0-10 on a quality,functionality, value and aesthetics scale.
In general terms I find the Sherlock Holmes series very appealing to the eye,but disappoints by failing in quality and value for money. I would suggest that there is room for improvement in both the quality of finish and basic engineering, to make these much improved smoking pipes.
The first pipe in the series is named "The Original"-,and is a typical Calabash shape which has long been associated with Holmes himself. It is the bent urn Peterson shape XL11.
My own personal thoughts and experience of this shape I have to admit, have not been that positive. As well as not scoring highly with me in terms of both looks and functionality, I find that it tends to overheat quickly. Even when deliberately controlling my smoking cadence and maintaining a deliberate sipping technique, it continues to burn hot. On a scale of 0-10 I would score it at 7.0.
Next pipe is "The Baskerville"- .I have to admit a soft spot for this one ,as it was my first ever Peterson pipe. To me it had it all ,the looks,plus charisma and was a large bent. A clencher's delight. It is a full bent and is Peterson shape XL12.I would score this one at 7.5.
Third is "The Baker Street"-,a large bulldog, Peterson shape XL13.Again I find this both an appealing shape and a very tactile and comfortable pipe to smoke. It has an excellent draw. Scoring 7.5.
Fourth pipe is "The Deerstalker"- a quarter bent bulldog,Peterson shape XL14.To my mind this shape just oozes classic Peterson charisma and elegance. It is a favourite shape,again one that I find very tactile and a wonderful smoker. I would score this one an 8.0.
Next is "The Squire",- another bulldog,one that I would call a large quarter bent Rhodesian. Very elegant and comfortable in the hand..Peterson shape XL15.Scoring 7.5.
The sixth pipe is "The Professor"-,a large half bent brandy shape. Another shape that I am drawn to,superb in the hand and an excellent smoker. This is Peterson shape XL16.I would score this one 7.5.
The final pipe in this issue is "The Watson"- the largest and to my mind the best of all this group. A full bent Rhodesian. tailor made for me,it is a clencher's delight to smoke. Peterson shape XL17.Scoring a worthy 8.5.
The second issue was called "The Return of" - and was based on the success of 'the Original',with seven additional new shapes and dedicated wooden rack being created. All similar to the first issue,with XL bowl sizes and similar sterling silver bands with the SH stamp.
The first pipe in the 'Return' series was "The Rathbone"'- a large elegant bent, with a large stack bowl. In honour of the actor who played Holmes in the old black and white pictures of the nineteen thirties and forties. This is shape XL20.A great comfortable bent shape with a good draw. Scoring a solid 8.
Next pipe is "The Hudson" – a large quarter bent Bulldog. A great classic bulldog shape that smokes as well as it looks. This is shape XL21. I would score this one 7.5 .
Third is "The Mycroft" - named after Holmes's brother. A classy elegant Horn shape that is an excellent smoker. This is Peterson shape XL22.Scoring a good 8 on the scale.
The fourth pipe in the series "The Lestrade" - is my personal favourite of all of the Sherlock Holmes series. This is the instantly recognisable, full-bent apple shape XL23. It is the quintessential dangler/clench-er pipe. It is equally tactile in the hand when not dangling,in this form I prefer it with a tapered fishtail stem to maximise the draw and smoking pleasure. Being a wee bit biased in regard to this one, I have to give it a very worthy 9 score.
Next is "The Milverton" – a large full bent with an angular stem .Peterson shape XL24.I have to admit, it is not one of my favourites. I just do not like the angular stem. In terms of smoking it is average by me. I would rate it a 7 on the scale.
Number six is "The Strand" – a quarter bent apple, it is Peterson shape XL25.To my mind a very pleasing elegant flowing shape. Very tactile for a straighter stemmed pipe and an excellent smoker. I would score this one a credible 8.5 on the scale.
Finally, the last of the seven is "The Hansom" – a shape I just cannot warm to. I find it seriously wanting in regard to it's aesthetic appeal. A bent Rhodesian, Peterson shape XL26.I only have one to complete the collection. I find it neither pleasing to hold, or to look at. Others may feel differently,I can only award it a 7.
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