A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide

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Originally published in Pipe Smoker, Winter 1984, with a part of the guide re-published in the Spring 2005 issue of Pipes and Tobaccos. Republished here by permission of the author[1].

Please note: Scanning the text from the original article has presented problems, some of which I have not been able to solve. Much of the spacing in this presentation is not as intended.

A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide

Alfred Dunhill began to manufacture briar smoking pipes in 1910; the famous white spot first appeared on top of the hand-cut vulcanite mouthpiece in 1915 in order that the customer should know which part faced upwards. At about this same time a one year guarantee against defects was offered on the bowl of each pipe, and to insure against far older Dunhill pipes being replaced under this guarantee a simple dating code, showing the year of manufacture, was devised and stamped onto each pipe bowl. This code is still in use today.

Over the ensuing years great interest has arisen over the "mystique" of the Dunhill pipe in general and the dating code in particular. Pipe collectors, especially in America, pride themselves on having acquired Dunhill pipes in prime condition which were made in the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's. Some collectors strive to acquire only those Dunhill pipes made between 1920 (when Dunhill stopped buying bowls turned in France in favor of those turned in London at the newly opened Dunhill bowl-turning facility) and 1928 (the year of Alfred Dunhill's retirement). Consequently, much confusion has arisen over the dating code because it has not been standardized over the years, and seemingly minor differences in the code can mean a difference of years, even decades, in the manufacture of the pipe.

Adding to this is the fact that the firm has used a great many special stampings depending on what part of the world to which their pipes were destined, and that sometimes these stampings or codes were used for only three or four months duration.

Leading to even greater confusion is that many pipes were simply stamped incorrectly; at times one part or another of the code is not to be found on a given pipe.

Taking all this into account it should not be surprising that the original and complete dating code list, in possession of the firm's archivist at 30 Duke Street, is some twenty eight pages long. And even if this list was made available it would be of little use to any but the most expert because it can only be used in conjunction with the most precise knowledge of the Dunhill pipe as it has changed in appearance over the years.

But enough of the complications in dating Dunhill pipes. What follows is a "general guide" as to dating; with it the reader should be able to date the majority of Dunhill pipes with which he/she comes into contact.

Types of finish:

1. Bruyere -introduced in 1910; signified by an "A" (meaning' best quality) on the side of the shank through 1975. "Inner Tube" stamped on shank through 1934.

2. Root - introduced in 1930; signified by an "R" stamped on the shank through 1975.

3. Shell - introduced in 1917.

4. Tanshell -introduced in 1953.

5. Redbark -introduced in 1973. (Pipedia Sysop note: Other sources indicate the Redbark was introduced in 1972 See example).

6. Cumberland -introduced in 1980.

Special series:

H.W. "hand, worked" - A hand-carved (as opposed to machine-carved) pipe of classic design. "H.W." stamped on shank. Not made after 1930's.

D. R. "dead root" - Denotes Dunhill straight grain pipes. The bruyere finish was used on these pipes through 1929; root finish was used thereafter. "D.R." stamped on shank.

O.D. "own design" - Denotes a pipe designed by the customer and carved to order. "O.D." stamped on shank. Not made after late 1920's or early 1930's. In 1950 a special series of "ODA" pipes was begun and continued through 1975. These were not carved to order.

Collector - Denotes hand-turned bowls (as opposed to machine-turned) made from plateau briar. Introduced in 1978.

Dating of Bruyere and Root finishes - 1925 onwards

Pipedia Contributor's note: I am hoping to have actual photos of this nomenclature here. If you have any, and would be willing to contribute them, please E-mail me. Also, if you see any errors here, please E-mail. It is very difficult to tell from the web version I was working from. If you have the original and can scan it and send it to me, that would fantastic!: mailto:sethile.pipes@gmail.com


1925:

1925 root.gif

NOTE: For the years 1925 through 1941 the suffix number (denoting the year of manufacture) is sometimes after the patent number and sometimes after the word ENGLAND.


1926-34: As above but with annual change of suffix number 6(1926) 7(1927) 8(1928) 9(1929) 0(1930) 11(1931) 12(1932) 13(1933) 14(1934).


NOTE: For the years 1925-34 other patent numbers were sometimes used in place of 116989/17. Some examples are: 5861/12 (English); 1343253/20 (U.S.)


1935-41:

1935 41 root.gif


1942-50:

1942 50 root.gif


1951: As above but with the suffix1 after the word ENGLAND; in addition a group number e.g. 4 R or 3 A is introduced for the first time.


1952: As above but with the suffix2 after the word ENGLAND. Also, instead of DUNHILL/LONDON the finish of the pipe is stamped under the word Dunhill e.g. DUNHILL/ROOT BRIAR


1953-54: As above but with 3 or 4 as suffix according to the year made.


1955-60: From 1955 the patent number is no longer shown on the pipe. Examples for this period read:


1955 60 root.gif


1961-70: Same as above but with the line under the suffix number omitted. In addition from 1965-70 the size of the suffix number is the same as the D in ENGLAND.


1971-75: As above but with a double suffix number (sometimes underlined).

1971 75 root.gif


1976-77: During this period the group number and finish code were dropped and the old shape numbers were dropped in favor of a new system. Shape numbers during this period had either 3, 4, or 5 digits.

1976 77 root.gif


1978-82: In 1978 shape numbers all became five digit. Also the double digit suffix number (sometimes underlined) again became smaller than the D in ENGLAND.

1978 82 root.gif


Dating of Shell, Tanshell, Redbark, and Cumberland finishes-1925 onwards:

Pipedia Contributor's note: I am hoping to have actual photos of this nomenclature here. If you have any, and would be willing to contribute them, please E-mail me. Also, if you see any errors here, please E-mail. It is very difficult to tell from the web version I was working from. If you have the original and can scan it and send it to me, that would fantastic!: mailto:sethile.pipes@gmail.com

1925:

1925 shell.gif


1926-34: As above but with annual change of suffix number 6 (1926) 7 (1927) 8 (1928) 9 (1929) 0 (1930) 11 (1931) 12 (1932) 13 (1933) 14 (1934)


1926 34 shell.gif

NOTE: For the years 1925-34 other patent numbers were sometimes used in place of 119708/17 & 116989/17. Some examples are: 5861/12 (English); 1341418/20 (U.S.); 1130806/15 (U.S.); 1343253/20 U.S.); 1861910/32 (U.S. - used only for Vernon Dunhill fitment pipe).


1935-41:

1935 41 shell.gif


1942-50:

1942 50 shell.gif


1951: As above but with the suffix after the word ENGLAND; in addition a group number e.g. 2 S; 4 S is introduced for the first time.


1952:

1952 shell.gif


1953-54: The Tanshell finish is introduced in 1953. As above but with the suffix3 or 4 after the word ENGLAND.


1955-60: From 1955 the patent number is no longer shown on the pipe.

1955 60 shell.gif


1961-70: As above, but with the line under the suffix number omitted. From 1965-70 the size of the suffix number is the same as the D in ENGLAND.

1961 70 shell.gif


1971-75 As above, but with a double digit suffix number (sometimes underlined). The Redbark is introduced in 1973 (Pipedia Sysop note: Other sources indicate the Redbark was introduced 1972 See example).

1971 75 shell.gif


1976-77: During this period the group number and finish code were dropped and the old shape numbers were dropped in favor of a new system. Shape numbers during this period had either 3, 4, or 5 digits.

1976 77 shell.gif


1978-82: In 1978 shape numbers all became five digit. Also the double digit suffix number (sometimes underlined) again became smaller than the D in ENGLAND. The Cumberland finish is introduced in 1980.

1978 72 shell.gif


Pipedia Contributor's note: I am hoping to have actual photos of this nomenclature here. If you have any, and would be willing to contribute them, please E-mail me. Also, if you see any errors here, please E-mail. It is very difficult to tell from the web version I was working from. If you have the original and can scan it and send it to me, that would fantastic!: mailto:sethile.pipes@gmail.com