Alfred Dunhill Pipes This is a work in progress. Please feel free to contribute if you are a Dunhill expert, or knowledgeable enthusiast.
- 1 Instroduction
- 2 A Brief Timeline
- 3 Some Rarities
- 4 History
- 4.1 The Man Behind the Curtains
- 4.2 About the Family Business
- 4.3 Just One More Thing
- 4.4 About the Spot
- 4.5 About the Inner Tube
- 4.6 About Sets - Pipe Cases
- 4.7 About Shapes
- 4.8 About Dunhill in France
- 4.9 About Curiosities
- 5 About Rarities
- 6 Finishes
- 7 Dunhill Articles & Catalogs
- 8 Dunhill Collections
- 9 A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide
- 10 Contact information:
- 11 Off site links
- 12 Bibliography
While there are many opinions on who makes, or who made the best pipes, few would argue against Dunhill being the most recognized pipe brand, or that the founder, Alfred Dunhill, was not a marketing genius. In the preface to the second reprint of Dunhill's About Smoke, An Encyclopedia of Smoking", publisher Gary Schrier states the following:
What Alfred Dunhill--son of a leather-harness and canvas-tarpaulin maker--created in 1907 when he opened his first tobacconist shop in Duke Street, London, was something extraordinary: he set a new standard for smoker's products of the finest quality, and he forged a new hallmark for exemplary customer service.
The forward of the original About Smoke includes the following:
Smoking is undoubtedly a pleasure of the senses, primarily of taste and smell, but secondarily of sight and touch. For the highest enjoyment therefore, it is essential to use objects which delight the senses.
All of the many Dunhill inventions prove that practicability is readily allied with artistic design.
Each Dunhill patent has been evolved to meet some expressed or anticipated need, but in the production of the article itself beauty of form and colouring have certainly not been neglected.
In the fashioning of every article the highest possible standard of design and workmanship has been maintained.
As with most any famous persons, articles, or firms, a good deal of lore and myth combine with no little speculation and make it difficult to separate facts from myth. It can also be difficult to separate true quality from the marketing genius behind a famous brand such as Dunhill. In this article we attempt to navigate this, or at least give an indication of the challenges for readers to use their best judgement in discerning the merits of the information.
What follows is our revised and expanded article on the most recognized pipe brand. Many thanks to Yang Forcióri who has done the vast majority of the work on this extensive revision. --sethile (talk) 20:50, 7 August 2019 (CDT)
A Brief Timeline
The genesis of the family business: the Dunhill ancestors were small farmers and shopkeepers in Nottinghamshire, Thomas Dunhill, being the first to make a break from this part of the country. He left Newark-on-Trent early in the last century , at about the time of Waterloo, bringing his young bride to London where, in Oxford Street, on the site now occupied by Debenham's, he opened a dreper's shop. He must have quickly realized that the vast number of horses in the London Streets offered him a better livelihood than the linen trade: possibly, from his country boyhood, horses were something he knew about. At any rate, he transferred his energies to building up a harness-making business in the Euston Road which, before a tablet in Islington Church commemorated his long years enterprise, enable him to support a household of Victorian proportions, including seven sons and five daughters. This was the first Dunhill business of any consequence. Frederick Dunhill inherited it, passing it on to Henry Dunhill.
1861: Frederick Dunhill (1807-1876) was a sacking manufacturer; his youngest son (of 5), Henry (1842-1901) was a commercial clerk. In 1870 at Frederick's death, Henry was in business as a dealer in sacking and he added an extra dimension to his business by selling canvas tarpaulins and shop-blinds. He also later became a dealer in pianos and music. The sacking business was run from Euston Road, which also made, among other things, accessories for horse-drawn vehicles. And this is where Alfred Dunhill begins his historic journey:
1887: The third of Henry's son, Alfred, was apprenticed to his father's harness-making business.
1893: At the age of 21, Alfred Dunhill starts managing the business with his father.
1895: Alfred Dunhill married Alice Mary Stapleton.
1896: Alfred Henry Dunhill born; Locomotives on Highways Act passed.
1897: Henry Dunhill retired. Alfred Dunhill took over his father's business. A harness and motor accessory business opened at 145-147 Euston Road, London. Vernon Dunhill born.
1899: John ("Jack") Dunhill born.
1900: The Discount Motor Car Company (selling motor accessories by mail order) established at 145-147 Euston Road, and then expanded into 108 Euston Road, London.
1901: Henry, Alfred Dunhill's father, died. Motor Mart Employment Agency, which serviced and repaired motor cars then became "Motor Mart Ltd" - established at 108 Euston Road, London.
1902: In July, the first Dunhill's Motorities shop opened at 2 Conduit Street, London.
1902-6: Alfred Dunhill designed and built houses in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
1903: Alfred Dunhill Ltd (the 'predecessor company') incorporated.
1904: Dunhill's Motorities shop opened at 5 Conduit Street. Head office, wholesale and export departments opened in new buildings at 359-361 Euston Road - London. Application for “Windshield Pipe” patent.
1905: Alfred Dunhill's Patent Development Company established at 8 Argyll Place, London. Dunhill's Motorities shops opened in Edinburgh, Manchester, within Hotel Cecil, London.
1906: Mary Dunhill born.
1907: First Dunhill tobacco shop opened on 31a Duke St.
1908: Dunhill's Motorities shop opened in Glasgow. Cigarette manufacturing by hand begins.
1907-1910: Dunhill imported the bulk of his pipes from France. Unsatisfied with the quality of these, he also bought pipes from Charatan (1909/10) reportedly at exorbitant prices, to ensure he had some of the very best pipes for sale in England.
1910: First known Dunhill catalogue produced; Alfred Dunhill enticed Joel Sasieni away from Charatan and opened a small pipe workshop of his own at 28 Duke St. -- two rooms upstairs providing the humble beginning. The focus was to use the finest quality briar, and expert craftsmanship to make pipes that would provide a superior smoke, and last a lifetime. The cost would reflect these principals, which was against the current trend of inexpensive pipes of lessor quality; the Bruyere finish is first introduced.
1912: Alfred Dunhill becames Alfred Dunhill Ltd; Herbert Edward Dunhill (1884-1950) joined his brother in the business; The "White Spot" trademark first appeared on pipes. The famous white spot was introduced so customers would know which way to insert the handmade vulcanite mouthpieces on straight pipes (the spots face up). Pipe-making moved to Mason's Yard, London.
1913: Vernon Dunhill (father of Richard Dunhill) joined the business.
1914: First World War begins; Alfred Henry Dunhill leaves the business and joins the war effort.
1916: Shop address becomes 30 Duke Street; factory and offices purchased in Notting Hill Gate, London (the pipe-making operations are transferred there); Alfred Henry Dunhill won MC during the Battle of the Somme.
1917: Shell Briar pipe patented; Alfred Dunhill created his sandblasted pipe, and first introduced the "Shell" Finish. Dunhill developed the oil curing process at this time, which many feels contributes significantly to Dunhill's excellent smoking qualities.
1919: Alfred Henry Dunhill rejoined the business; factory and offices purchased at 20 Pancras Road, London; fire at Notting Hill Gate pipe factory; Dunhill and Sasieni part after serious conflicts. Dunhill stopped buying bowls turned in France in favor of those turned in London at Notting Hill Gate pipe factory.
1920: Wholesale and export departaments moved to Notting Hill Gate.
1921: Alfred Dunhill of London Inc. formed in New York; First registration of "Alfred Dunhill" signature as a trademark; First Royal Warrant received, as Tobacconist to Eduard, Prince of Wales. 2760,000 pipes were sold in the Duke St. Shop.
1922: Alfred Dunhill of London Inc. formed in Toronto; first New York shop opened; The Parker Pipe Company Limited formed, to become a subsidiary of Alfred Dunhill Limited.
1923: Alfred Dunhill Limited formed, with an initial authorized share capital of £300,000 (Alfred and his brother Herbert served as directors); "White Spot" trademark registered; shop opened at 27b Throgmorton Street, London.
1924: Mary Dunhill joined the company; Société Anonyme Française Alfred Dunhill (SAFAD) formed; shop opened at 15 rue de la Paix, Paris; The Pipe Book by Alfred Dunhill published; Unique lighter introduced.
1926: Shop opened in Toronto; Mary Dunhill Limited Formed (shop opened in Bayswater); new cigar humidor room opened; watch lighter introduced; Richard Dunhill born.
1927: Herbert E. Dunhill last attended a board meeting, but remained managing director until 1950.
1928: Alfred Dunhill retires; Alfred Henry Dunhill succeeds him as chairman; first Dunhill clock introduced; Captive watch and Belt watch introduced.
1930: The Root finish is introduced. 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 the shank; leather factory opened in Notting Hill Gate; agreement signed with Namiki for the introduction of writing instruments.
1931: French and Canadian Dunhill companies purchased.
1932: H. L. Savory & Co. Ltd purchased.
1933: Stationery introduced in USA.
1934: Registered office moved from 137 Notting Hill Gate to 30 Duke Street, St. James.
1935: Duke Street, St. James, shop extension commenced.
1936: Large shareholding in Hardcastle Pipes Ltd purchased after a ten-year relationship; the factory was in Walthamstow.
1938: Royal Warrant received from George VI; Vernon Dunhill, Richard Dunhill's father died.
1941: Duke Street shop bombed.
1943: Mary Dunhill appointed director.
1944: Alfred Dunhill Limited purchased Mary Dunhill limited; the business of Wise & Greenwood purchased.
1948: Richard Dunhill joined the company.
1950: Herbert E. Dunhill died, Mary Dunhill succeeded him as managing director.
1951: Shop opened in Beverly Hills, CA.
1952: The Tanshell finish is introduced.
1953: Duke Street shop was finally completely rebuilt after being bombed in 1941.
1954: The Gentle Art of Smoking by Alfred H. Dunhill is published.
1955: Alfred H. Dunhill elected Master of The Worshipful Company of Tobacco, Pipe Makers, and Tobacco Blenders.
1956: Rollagas lighter introduced.
1957: New headquarters and shop opened on Duke Street, St. James, 50 years after the first shop opened; "Bill" Carter completed 50 years of service.
1959: Alfred Dunhill, the founder of Alfred Dunhill Limited, died on January 2. Bill Taylor starts working for Dunhill as a boy
1960: Shop opened in Philadelphia.
1961: Alfred Henry Dunhill retired as chairman; appointed president and succeeded as chairman by Mary Dunhill; Richard Dunhill appointed director; shop opened in San Francisco; Alfred Dunhill Tobacco Ltd formed (factory in Plaistow).
1963: Dunhill Toiletries Ltd formed; Royal Warrant received from Queen Elizabeth.
1965: Interest in company acquired by Carreras Ltd; silk ties introduced.
1966: Shop opened in Hong Kong; Queen's Award for industry received for export achievement.
1968: Hong Kong company formed; shop opened in Sydney; controlling interest in Molyneux purchased (sold in 1970); shop opened in Düsseldorf, West Germany.
1970: Shop opened in Kuala Lumpur
1971: Alfred Henry Dunhill died; shop opened in Singapore.
1972: Carreras renamed Rothmans International; the Redbark finish is introduced. (Pipedia Sysop note: Some sources indicate the Redbark was introduced in 1973 while other sources indicate the Redbark was introduced 1972 See example).
1973: Controlling interested in Richards & Appleby Ltd purchased; first Dunhill International Conference in London.
1974: Mary Dunhill celebrated 50 years of service to the company; shop opened in Dallas, TX; Queen's Award for industry received for export achievement; Anthony Greener appointed managing director.
1975: Mary Dunhill retired as chairman; Richard Dunhill succeeded her; Mary Dunhill appointed president;
1976: H. Simmons Ltd, London, purchased; menswear department opened on lower ground floor at Duke Street, St. James; Brentford Distribution Centre opened; Lane, Ltd., New York, purchased together with subsidiaries F. Charatan, Ben Wade, and Grosvenor Pipe (Lane alone sold in 1987).
1977: Shop opened in Houston, TX; controlling interest in Montblanc-Simplo GmbH, West Germany, purchased; Dunhill pipes Ltd formed; Bill Taylor works as administrator and overseer in the Dunhill Factory.
1978: Shop opened in Atlanta, GA; temporary controlling interest in Collingwood of Conduit ltd; Mary Dunhill retired from board of Dunhill Toiletries Ltd.
1979: Our Family Business by Mary Dunhill published; shop opened in Washington D.C.
1980: First Dunhill Pipe Dealer's World Conference, in London; the Cumberland finish is introduced; shop opened in Dubai; sponsorship of Alfred Dunhill Queen's Cup polo tournament commenced.
1981: Shops-within-shops opened in Selfridges and Harrods, London; shop opened in Munich; tobacco manufacturing moved from Sewell Street to Murray Sons & Co. Ltd, Belfast; Dunhill Tobacco Ltd sold; Alfred Dunhill eyewear introduced.
1982: Dunhill Holdings plc acquired Alfred Dunhill Limited under Scheme of Arrangement; Rothmans International plc controlled new holdings company; pipe manufacturing transferred to Walthamstow; shop opened in Melbourne; Alfred Dunhill Scotch Whisky introduced; shop opened at 14 Poultry, London.
1983: Shop opened in Vancouver.
1984: Edition of men's grooming products introduced; Bill Taylor leaves Dunhill to become Bill Ashton-Taylor
1985: Inauguration of Alfred Dunhill Cup golf tournament; Dunhill Tailored Clothes Inc, New York purchased.
1986: Shop opened in Montreal.
1987: Redbark finish officially retired; shops opened at QE2 in Sloane Street, London; redesigned Duke Street shop opened.
1988: Mary Dunhill died; The Englishman's Companion: Alfred Dunhill Exhibition in London.
1989: Richard Dunhill appointed chairman; Michael Nicholson appointed managing director; shops opened in Costa Mesa, Honolulu, Tokyo, Osaka, and Wall Street.
1990: New York shop relocated to 450 Park Avenue; shop opened in Hamburg; Alfred Dunhill Museum opened in Burlington Arcade, London.
1991: Lord Douro appointed chairman of Dunhill Holdings plc, succeeded Edmund Skepper; shops opened in Boston and Seattle.
1992: Shops opened in Geneva, Madrid, and San Diego; Alfred's Dunhill business completed one hundred years of trading.
1993: Alfred Dunhill celebrated its Centennial worldwide; the Vendôme Luxury Group was created with Alfred Dunhill Ltd and Montblanc-Simplo GmbH as two of its principal subsidiaries; all tobacco interests sold to Rothmans International plc; the centenary watch range was introduced, inspired by Alfred Dunhill's watches of the 1930's; Alfred Dunhill opened its first store in China; the Alfred Dunhill Shooting Season was held in some of Europe's most prestigious locations; Alfred Dunhill Open Golf Championship held in Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium; François Poirel appointed managing director.
1994: New store openings in Europe and Asia brought the total number of Alfred Dunhill stores to 96; Alfred Dunhill collection of humidors launched.
1995: New retail outlets were established in Taiwan and distribution strengthened throughout the rest of the Pacific Region; Namiki lacquer writing instruments which originally appeared in the 1920's were reintroduced as a limited edition to considerable interest from collectors.
1996: First Alfred Dunhill outlet opened in Russia and a new store opened in the city of London; Alfred Dunhill headquarters relocated to 27 Knightsbridge in London.
1997: Flagship store in Duke Street, London, refurbished and relaunched at 48 Jermyn Street incorporating the Alfred Dunhill Museum which is opened to the public for the first time; partnership with Aston Martin to design the limited edition Alfred Dunhill DB7 sports car; Callum Barton appointed chief executive.
1998: Richard Dunhill celebrated 50 years with the company; Alfred Dunhill Museum acquired the last surviving Alfred Dunhill motor car, the "Tweenie", first sold in 1914 by Dunhill Motorities; Alfred Dunhill opened in the Czech Republic with stores in Prague and Carlsbad; 14th Alfred Dunhill store in China opened; Alfred Dunhill's largest store in Asia opened in Osaka, Japan; new stores opened in Bombay and New Delhi, India and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; number of stores stands at 160 in 26 countries.
2016: Richard Dunhill died on Aug. 26, 2016, at the age of 89, having been a Dunhill employee for 68 years.
Note: The vast majority of this information were extracted from Balfour, Michael, Alfred Dunhill, One Hundred Years and More (Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, 1992).
The Man Behind the Curtains
Alfred was born on September 30, 1872 in the Haringey neighborhood, part of the suburban district of Hornsey, north of London. Alfred was the third of five children born to Henry Dunhill (1842-1901) and Jane Styles (1843-1922), his first cousin.
"Grandma always contended that he couldn't go to school until he was about eight because he couldn't talk properly. As she also said that he was too far troublesome a child to be left in anyone care, I conclude that his restless temperament asserted itself at an early age. At any rate, by the time he was fifteen, Father was a tall, thin boy with a quick intelligence, though poor sight (and a late start) prevented him from achieving any distinction at school and from being much of a reader for the rest of his life. Henry spent all his spare money on the education of his younger sons. The truth is that Father, at fifteen, was itching to get down to a practical job of work. The school classroom, he often contended, was simply not for him." Dunhill, Mary, Our Family Business (The Bodley Head - Great Britain, 1979).
Sadly there is a little information on Alfred's early life predating his entrance to the family business. There is sparse information and no reliable references. One, in particular, quoted a column called "Mr. A. Dunhill " In the Times, published on January 5, 1959, and mentioning:
"Alfred Dunhill was educated at a private school in Hampstead and assisted by tutors until age 15. At 16, he becomes an apprentice in his father's horse-drawn business."
Two years after the start of his professional career, in 1895, Alfred marries Alice Mary Stapleton (1874-1945). His first son, Alfred Henry was born a year later, in 1896. Vernon was born in 1897, John in 1899, and Mary in 1906.
With great energy and creativity, Alfred was also involved in building construction in mid-1902, concurrently with the tobacco business. At the end of 1906 he was forced to leave this project to direct his energies to the growing demands of his basilar project, the tobacconary. Alfred was fascinated by architecture and design and submitted his houses (in the city and in the countryside) to frequent changes during his retirement. He also looked into the possibility of investing in the sweets and toys businesses, but did not have a chance to pursue them.
"(...) my father having moved from London in order to build houses in what was then a small Buckinghamshire village. Although he knew little about the building trade, this was one of several commercial ventures he packed into the first thirty years of his life. The point behind this one was that the new railway line from Marylebone to Aylesbury had already passed through the village, its hourly trains making it possible for more prosperous commuters to move into deeper country. As they were likely to need better houses than Great Missenden could provide, my father bought a few acres of land close to the station, made a deal with a local builder to put up half a dozen fairly conventional houses to his design, took the first of them for himself and, over the next couple of years, sold the lot. As part of a larger Great Missenden, those houses are still standing. Yet I am fairly sure that, when the profit on the cost of houses at that time had been split, my father made little money from the venture. It was not one of his more imaginative enterprises, though it illustrates his readiness to speculate on an idea he believed in." Dunhill, Mary, Our Family Business (The Bodley Head - Great Britain, 1979).
After much work and dedication, the first version of his book, "The Pipe Book" was published in 1924 (the same year as the 5th edition of "About Smoke"). The Pipe Book contained 262 pages in its first version, it suffered a decrease to 207 pages in the revision of 1969, although with the addition of the preface by Alfred H. Dunhill. It's a real treatise on the history of the pipes. Illustrated with 228 drawings, 30 photographs, and 3 maps containing detailed descriptions.
On November 23 (in the same year of the release), a column in the New York Times entitled "Books and Authors" congratulated Alfred Dunhill for making the pipe "a gentlemanly art". Alfred was also elected a member of the Royal Society of Arts in 1925 as a consequence of this work. The book has been available for several years in several versions. It was printed by several publishers over the years (1924 – 2011), varying between colored or black-and-white versions, simple or sophisticated.
Alfred retired in 1928, at the age of 56, due to health concerns. There are no historical details on his possible afflictions. During his retirement he spent most of his time in his cottage, titled "The Old Barn". He loved the sea, sailing, and fishing on the coast of Sussex on his motor yacht, Poppy, where he enjoyed hours of pleasure and relaxation. He liked music, too, and was reportedly an excellent pianist. Alfred Henry thus turns the protagonist, leaving the Dunhill company to go on without him while enjoying a seemingly private retirement.
Alfred Dunhill died in a nursing home in Worthing on January 2, 1959, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, leaving gross assets worth £74,117 (equivalent to £1,693,744 in 2018), reported in the obituary of the Times on June 22, 1959.
About the Family Business
"The challenge of a Dunhill history is to separate myth and legend from history. This, however, may be impossible. The story of Alfred Dunhill is so tied up with myth that the myths are now part of the history. Alfred Dunhill, being aware of this phenomenon, probably perpetuated many of such myths. Nonetheless, let us try and begin at the beginning in the early 1900’s." Smokingpipes.com
In 1861 Frederick Dunhill (1807-1876) had a coal merchant at 2 Barnsbury Place, in north London, but by 1839 he was also manufacturing sacking (packaging company - manufacture of covers and woven bags) in which to sell it. Henry (1842-1901) The youngest among his five children, worked as an apprentice. In 1870, with Frederick's death, Henry takes over the business. Later he also became a piano merchant. The business was located on Euston Road (a road in central London that goes from Marylebone Road to King's Cross) where he also began to manufacture, gaining emphasis, accessories for carriage and riding, such as saddlery and harness.
In 1896 the automobile revolution began to occupy its space in the streets of London. Henry soon realized that this movement posed a future threat to his business. At 55 years old, he was no longer well in health and considered his retirement. When a fire destroyed a section of his store in 1897, Henry decided it was time for his son to take over the business. Mary reported, on a certain occasion, that her grandfather told that in one night, he came home and said: "So you want to take it over, Alfred?". Astute and already glimpsing the market, Alfred said yes and they shook hands. A few weeks later, Henry retired.
And here is where Alfred Dunhill begins his historic journey. In 1887, Alfred, Henry's third son, became an apprentice in his father's harness business. In mid-1893, then at the age of 21, Alfred emerged as an entrepreneur after taking over the saddlery business of his father, which ends up dying a few years later.
"Father was driving to and from his business in the De Dion motor-car which was his latest infatuation. He claimed that it was the third car to enter the country and, though he never became the sort of enthusiast who was prepared to spend more time under the bonnet than in the driving seat, he soon turned his passion for cars to practical effect by opening, close to the Easton Road premises, another enterprise." Dunhill, Mary, Our Family Business (The Bodley Head - Great Britain, 1979).
In 1897, the harness business is expanding and now has accessories for motor vehicles on Euston Road 145-147, London. In 1900 the business is expanding and extended with the founding of the Discount Motor Car Company, directed to the sale by correspondence of automotive accessories established on the 108 of Euston Road. In 1901, the Motor Mart Employment Agency, specializing in the maintenance of automotive vehicles, starts operating at the same address. Through the Motor Mart Alfred also sold many cars in those days, but the manufacturers supplied him cars without any of the essential accessories, he soon moved out of car trading and began yet another business called Dunhill's Motorities. That same year, Henry, Alfred's father, dies.
In July 1902, seeing beyond car and correspondence sales decides to open the first store fully specialized in automotive accessories. It was the "Dunhill's Motorities" on Conduit Street, N. 2-London. In 1903, Alfred Dunhill LTD (its predecessor company) is incorporated.
Alfred, responding to the growing demand for automotive at that time, developed a line of accessories called "Dunhill's Motorities". His first collection included horns, lamps, car headlights, jackets, leather overcoats, goggles, picnic sets, watches etc. His motto was: "Everything But the Motor ".
In a few years the business has advanced, becoming a reflection in the market of luxury automotive accessories, resulting in the opening of two stores of Dunhill's Motorities in Mayfair, a central area of London, in the district of Westminster. At this point, Dunhill had become known not only for commercializing car parts, but also to provide clothes and other motoring accessories. The catalogue of the "Dunhill's Motorities " presented more than 1,300 items at the time.
In 1904, another Dunhill's Motorities store is open on Conduit Street, N. 5. Also that same year, a department of wholesale and export was opened occupying two buildings on the Euston Road-359-361.
Still in 1904, after careful registration of patent, Alfred launches a pipe with a protective shield that aimed to combat the effects of the wind in open car - was the famous and iconic "Windshield Pipe". The promotion flyer said:
A Joy to Outdoor Smokers.
Is indispensable to the sportsman, the yachtsman, the automobilist, the billiard player. It is, indeed, a boon and comfort to every pipe smoker.
The following catalog pages are from this period:
"(...)hoping to combat some of the difficulties a smoker would face while driving. It was this sort of innovation in response to the customer’s needs that would make Dunhill Pipes the leader in its field. "Smokingpipes.com
It was a tremendous success and had a catalyst effect on young Alfred. In 1905, another company is established for the development of patents, at Argyll Place, N.8 - London. Other stores at Dunhill's Motorities have been opened in Edinburgh, Manchester and the Cecil Hotel in London.
"Since his apprenticeship to the family harness-making business, he had already built up and sold his interest in an enterprise called Dunhill's Motorities which had seized upon a market still in its infancy by selling special clothing and accessories to the earliest motorists." Dunhill, Mary, Our Family Business (The Bodley Head - Great Britain, 1979)
Richard Dunhill reports in the foreword of "Alfred Dunhill - One Hundred Years and More" that his grandfather left the automotive segment aside after some disagreements with his associates. Alfred Dunhill decided to go further and opened his first tobacco shop in London at Duke Street-N.31A in 1907. It was only the beginning of what would become one of the biggest brands of tobacco and pipes in the world.
New Phase - Duke Street Era
Highly innovative, Alfred starts his new journey in 1907, exploring his other interests by opening a cigar and tobacco shop in London on Duke Street-31A. It would take three years for Dunhill to start his pipe manufacturing, in the meantime, he marketed third-party pipes (French and, lastly, Charatan).
Alfred did not know much about the tobacco business, but was learning as he dealt with his clients. Of keen sensitivity, he soon realized that most of the pipes available on the market were of low quality and that he could market better quality products at twice the price. In the early days Alfred faced some financial problems, like most traders at the beginning of their ventures. His tobacco shop wasn't the only one in the area. There was strong competition, but his competitors lacked quality offerings. Alfred exploited this market deficiency, establishing a new standard of quality and service.
At first, the focus was on tobaccos. As he himself defined in his first catalog, published in 1910, called "About Smoke ", he was an expert in making blends, which he exhibited prominently in his entry window: "Tobacco specialist". Alfred Dunhill was a born merchant, and when he opened his first tobacco shop, he knew exactly where he wanted it to go.
In the following images, we have Alfred and his two assistants, with whom he shared the tasks. He used to go to the store every day in the afternoon. The second color image (the third in order), is part of Dunhill's Centennial commemoration Set of 2007.
Each customer could come and create his own recipe, noted in a little book entitled “My Mixture.” This is a prime example of Dunhill’s ability to tailor itself to the customer’s needs. Developed in 1907, the Mixtures guide by Alfred Dunhill, the "My Mixture Book ", came to count 36,700 variations. Always attentive to the details, he talked to all the customers and noted the preferences with precise indications.
Alfred Dunhill, however, was unsatisfied with the current quality of available pipes. The pipes coming in from France were highly varnished and consequently clogged the pores of the briar. They were simply not doing justice to his creative blending." Smokingpipes.com
According to Balfour in: "Alfred Dunhill One Hundred Years And More", initially the Tobaccos were obtained from George Dobie & Sons, a manufacturer of blends located in Paisley, west of the Midland Valley in Scotland and also of some cooperatives producing Tobacco. Creating blends is more than just mixing sheets in different proportions. There are techniques to develop a mixture, for example cooking, roasting, pressing, mattering, etc. and can hardly be made at the shop counter. After five years, in 1912, his youngest brother, Herbert Edward Dunhill (1884-1950), joins the business. He was an insightful merchant and is soon ahead of the company's financial issues (a function he exercises until his death in 1950), allowing Alfred to give his creativity to the development of new products.
Alfred was restless and always wanted to hone his products, taking him (in 1912) to leave the blends tailored in the background. This was when Alfred presented his own mixtures "in-house", they were: the "Royal Yacht" (Virginia), "Cuba" (Cigar Leaf) and "Durbar" (Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia). Products acclaimed up to the present day.
"Alfred opened a small factory of his own in 1910. He set down two principles that would guide the production of Dunhill Pipes. First, pipes would be made of only the finest quality briar, with exacting care by expert craftsmen. Secondly, the pipes would be priced accordingly; the customer would recognize the value of a superior product. This ran counter to the current trend of inexpensive pipes of lessor quality that one simply discarded after a short while. The Dunhill pipe was made to last a lifetime and always with an eye to the utility. It must smoke well and continue to do so with age. To this end, Alfred invented the aluminum ‘inner tube’ to keep the innards of the pipe clean. When the pipe became dirty the tube could simply and easily be replaced. Note, of course, that this innovation predated the widespread use of pipe cleaners.
In 1912, the famous white spot was introduced for very practical concerns. With straight pipes, customers had trouble knowing which way to insert the handmade vulcanite mouthpieces. So Alfred Dunhill ordered white spots to be placed on the upper side of the stem. This very practical solution would become a definitive trademark of Dunhill pipes. The “white spot” soon became known as a symbol of quality." Smokingpipes.com
With the advent of the First Great War in July 1914, many of its customers ended up in the trenches of northern France, where Dunhill sent boxes of tobacco, pipes and hygiene items. Alfred sent the sealed boxes, declared and labeled "castor oil", which smelled strong and penetrating, to avoid miscarriage and ensure that it reached the front. Inside the box, in addition to the courtesies, Alfred suggested in a letter that some items would be shared with other officers. Invariably, these items were part of the parallel trade that existed in the theater of war. In addition to French – obviously, there were Americans, Canadians, and Belgians (among others) in the region. The confluence of these factors favored the diffusion of the brand around the globe.
The company grew exponentially after the war. It is estimated that in 1914 Dunhill had sold 10,000 pipes, jumping to 30,000 in 1916, 134,000 in 1918 and 276,000 in 1921. In 1923 the international demand was gigantic, resulting in the creation of an exclusive export department. Dunhill also initiated numerous partnerships with Cuban cigar manufacturers, selling exclusive brands. With the success of his store in London, he expanded to New York in 1921 and Paris three years later.
"Alfred Dunhill’s most revolutionary innovation was the Shell pipe in 1917. How this technique of sandblasting came about is somewhat of a mystery. The story often told is that Alfred Dunhill went down into his basement in the wintertime to make a couple of pipes and accidentally left one, a half-finished piece, by the heating boiler. He returned sometime next summer, having suddenly thought of the pipe, only to find some of the grain had ‘shrunk’, leaving a relief pattern. Obviously, this is apocryphal, probably resulting from the ‘shrunken’ look that sandblasts (especially the gnarly ones of that era) frequently have. Some say the name “Shell” came from the shriveled look the pipe took on after the sandblasting process. Alfred realized Algerian briar, then considered inferior, could be used in this new process. The softer wood could be ‘blasted away’, leaving behind only the harder briar and the beautiful natural pattern of the wood. Originally, the Shell pipes were not stamped because the sandblasting technique, not yet been refined, made recognizing the standard shape much more difficult. Though the Shell finish certainly did not arise from accidentally forgotten pipes in the cellar, it was definitely an important innovation on Dunhill’s part.
Another new technique ended up ensuring the quality of Dunhill pipes. Before the sandblasting process, Dunhill would have the Algerian briarwood bowls immersed in olive oil for several weeks. Afterward, they were left to dry, with the excess oil being occasionally wiped off. This method was originally developed for aesthetic reasons, but it turned out that the oil caused impurities to be forced out of the wood, resulting in a faster curing process. A further consequence of this process was the briar became incredibly durable, making the occurrence of burnouts much less frequent." Smokingpipes.com
In 1923, a remarkable year, the company opened its capital in the stock exchange authorizing an initial capital injection of 300,000 pounds sterling (GBP). The 1920s and 30s were successful years. Dunhill developed ties with the royalty, supplying George VI with tobacco through the thirties. Later during WWII, the company kept Winston Churchill constantly supplied with the cigars that would become such an essential part of the famous British icon.
"The company expanded, offering specially designed pipes during the 1920s that would be marked OD for ‘own design.’ This concern for marking and always having patent numbers on pipes is what allows for much of the dating process today. The stamping during the twenties was inconsistent and some of the early shell pieces lack marking altogether. In the 1930s there was a desire to standardize. A shape chart was developed that used numbers and letters to signify a specific shape. Each new pipe would be stamped to identify its size and shape." Smokingpipes.com
Alfred retires in 1928 with health problems, leaving his brother Herbert ahead for a few months until his first son, Alfred Henry could take his position. Richard Dunhill (the Firstborn of Vernon), years later, gives the understanding that Herbert was the head of the company until his death in the ages of 1950. He lived in Monte Carlo and participated in the management of the business through correspondence – letters, telegrams, and punctual visits. Alfred Henry, like his uncle Herbert and his brother, Vernon, began his journey in the company as an apprentice in 1912, then at the age of 16. In 1914, with the beginning of the war, he was absent from the business to serve the army. He entered as a private and was discharged at the end of the war with the rank of captain. He was decorated with Military Cross, a third-level military award awarded to officers and squares of the British armed forces. He resumes its position in the company in 1919. Mary, Alfred's youngest daughter, joins 1924, 18 years old. Alfred Henry and Mary begin to have more effective participation in 1929, facing the difficulties of Uncle Herbert with modern commercial practices. Between 1923 and the beginning of 1970, 95% of the company's revenues were related to tobacco consumption, the accessories accounted for only 5%. After expansion and strategic reformulation in the years 70, these numbers changed order.
"World War II presented some problems, the Dunhill shop at Duke Street was destroyed during the Blitz in 1941 and had to be relocated. The supply of briar became more tenuous. Italian briar was restricted by the Italian government to be used only by Italian carvers. The Algerian briar became more difficult to acquire. The war also left Europe in a shambles. Depressed financially, there was no place in Europe for high-end luxury goods. Consequently, the American market grew and American taste determined the direction of Dunhill pipe making. Large pipes and traditional shapes were in demand and so Dunhill created a new line of pipes called the “800” OD series, recycling the old OD stamp." Smokingpipes.com
Dunhill has always been creative in its designs and finishes. It is, however, Dunhill’s principle of absolute quality achieved through unrelenting quality control that has set Dunhill apart from the rest.
The chairman, Richard Dunhill would say later, in 1981:
“It’s easy to make a cheaper product, but the reason we’re here today is that we resisted the temptation. Quality comes first.”
"Dunhill pipes regardless of shape, size, and finish must always smoke well. This principle laid down in the early days of the company continues today. At the Dunhill factory, just outside of London, pipes are made by 15 full-time expert craftsmen who boast a cumulative work experience of 260 years. Knowing a high-quality product must begin with the best possible material, the briar used by Dunhill is from carefully selected burls from bushes a hundred years old. Even with selecting only the highest quality briar with the finest grain, once the briar bowls begin to be carved certain flaws are exposed and many bowls have to be discarded. At every stage of the process, there are mandatory quality checks that ensure a Dunhill pipe will smoke well from the first to last bowl of tobacco, regardless of age. Each step in the six-week process is done by hand. Over 90 different steps are required in a process that has changed very little since the days of Alfred Dunhill almost a century ago.
Dunhill Pipes are now prized collector pieces and the most famous pipes in the world. Alfred envisioned the Dunhill Pipe to be something special, a pipe to be coveted for its quality, sophistication, and refinement. Alfred Dunhill’s vision continues today. To Smoke a Dunhill is to experience this tradition, a tradition of excellence that is perhaps the greatest in the world of pipes." Smokingpipes.com
Parts of this article are courtesy of Smokingpipes , and used by permission
Just One More Thing
About Dunhill Today
Alfred Dunhill is one of the brands of the Richemont group and we, The White Spot division, are one of the product divisions within Alfred Dunhill Limited (like Menswear, Leather Goods, Hard products, etc). The pipes are stamped Alfred Dunhill's THE WHITE SPOT.
All Dunhill tobacco-related interests (cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco) were sold a long time ago to Rothmans (who many years later merged with BAT). They still belong to BAT today. Kalmon S. Hener, Product Line Director of The White Spot division. May-2019.
The factory is located in a district in northeastern London, Walthamstow, since 1982. See pictures here: Dunhill Factory
Video Interview with Richard Dunhill
The following video is a wonderful interview of Richard Dunhill from 11-14-1984. Richard is referred to here as "Old Alfred's Grandson".
©Royal BC Museum: Jack Webster and BCTV.
Note: Richard Dunhill, the grandson of the founder of Alfred Dunhill Ltd., died on August 26, 2016, at the age of 89, having been an employee for 68 years. See the full article here: Remembering Richard Dunhill By Ben Rapaport.
About the Spot
Although Alfred Dunhill was brilliant, he certainly did not imagine that this indicative dot would become his trademark. In 1923, Dunhill had to go to the courts to defend his creation, which was being replicated by Vauen. Dunhill was successful, while Vauen had to restrict its use to the German and Austrian borders.
At first, this rounded marking was thinner and made in celluloid, a species of an acrylic predecessor, which was used until the mid-40s, when it was replaced by high-quality acrylic. Because of its appearance, it was defended for years and by many, that the point was made in ivory. However, that is a widespread legend that lasted for years, as evidenced by the information and tests executed in the Pipes Magazine Forum, in a post called "Dunhill White Spot Drama". All the stems were made by hand until 1976, They have since been machine made due to labor costs.
About the Inner Tube
In the early 20th century, many pipes were set aside after a long period of use due to obstruction of the airway when they became clogged for lack of maintenance. In 1911 Alfred Dunhill developed a solution to this problem by inserting an aluminum tube, which could be replaced as soon as there were signs of clogging. In this way the use of the pipe was prolonged. The Inner Tube was heavily produced until the 1930s. With the advent of "Scovillions" (or pipe cleaners) the innertubes gradually fell from use.
- 5861/12 was the first patent registered. However, there are other patents for these same tubes, with records in different countries. Examples: 1130806/15-158709/14-116989/17-1343253/20-197365/20-491232/19.
About Sets - Pipe Cases
The first setup (left) contains 7 pieces for the weekly rotation, where the days of the week related to each of the pipes, and others cases, including the "Book-Case" (with prices from the 1920's).
In the following images (originally published in the United States Tobacco Journal, the most important in the tobacco industry) we have the Set which was presented by Alfred to the 29th president of the United States in 1921. Warren G. Harding was editor and owner of an important newspaper in Ohio, "the Marion Star ", as well as a member of the Senate before occupying the position of President.
Next, a survivor Set - Alfred Era. It is a set of 3 pieces with a case, made from a single block of the best briar available at the time. Shapes: Billiard-60; Billiard-35; Dublin-42. Ao Series (Bruyère) introduced in 1910. It was the best-quality line, directed at the British nobility. On one side of the shank its stamped "Dunhill London", On the other side: "Inner Tube" Pat. No. 5861/12 5. This patent was used between 1913 and 1926. Therefore, these pieces are from 1925. On the stem: Reg. N °: 654638 and in the case: PAt. N °: 141486/19.
The system of codes and acronyms was introduced in the early 1920's and remains to this day, however modifications have occurred over time.
We had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Hener, who is the product line director of The White Spot division (the Dunhill pipe part of the company), who kindly clarified some issues that we present here:
The original skus/model numbers from the 1920’s until the early 1970’s stood for very specific shapes and bowls. For example, the codes 31, 34, 59, 111, 113, 117, 196, LB, LBS... were all different types of Billiard shaped pipes and there were about 50(!), such codes for the Billiard shape alone.
The first image with the shape number 577 falls into this system, so 577 has no special meaning apart from describing / being the model for that particular pipe shape (in this case a specific group 2 Billiard with saddle mouthpiece). Around 1973, with the introduction of computers, new categories were introduced that indicated size, mouthpiece, and shape. As for the “T”, in 1952 a full-size “T” was added after the circled group size stamp to further describe the Tanshell finish (in 1953 the “T” was reduced to about half the size). So this pipe dates from 1952.
A 3-digit system (“Interim”) was developed that showed a logical approach to identify pipes in terms of size, mouthpiece, and shape, with the 1st digit being the size, the 2nd digit the mouthpiece, and the 3rd digit the shape, i.e. the old “85” became a “321” which was a group 3 Apple with taper mouthpiece. This was soon to be replaced by a more detailed, formal 4- and 5-digit system around 1978. The 5th digit indicated the style of bowl within the group of a similar classification, each identified by a last digit, which could be any number between 1-9.
Some sources such as the Pipephil portal, indicate this change in markings occurred in mid-1976, others indicate in was 1974. Either way, we offer the information that comes from an official source as follows in a 4 digit example:
4117 = 4: Group; 1: stem (Tapered bit); 17: Shape (Straight Rhodesian* - Dunhill criteria).
While e.g. within the Gp.4 Billiard there were 5 different styles of bowls (5th digit being either 1,2,3,4, or 9), for a Gp.1 Billiard there were only 3 styles used (5th digit being 1, 2, or 9).
Although the 5-digit code was stamped on the pipe and thus was visible to the consumer, it was mostly used for internal production planning purposes and to a lesser extent for retail staff. The system proved to be quite complex.
The elimination of the 5th digit on the pipes (probably in the early 80’s) resulted in better management of the pipe stock as there were less skus and it also facilitated the work for the sales staff in the retail shops as the complexity and number of skus was considerably reduced.
The current system with 4 digits visible has now been in place for over 30 years, and has proven to work very well for Dunhill, the trade, and for consumers. Dunhill Shapes List offers a list of the principals shapes.
About Dunhill in France
Dunhill had to diversify its offerings in order to enter the market in France due to a monopoly in the French tobacco industry. Alfred circumvented this challenge very cleverly, by diversifying his offerings (something that was previously practiced back with Dunhill's Motorities). Because the tobacco market was restricted, Dunhill positioned its tobacco offerings in the background of its advertising, while featuring male accessories in the foreground (valise, umbrellas, suits, etc.). Thus begins the new phase of Dunhill accessories, and its success entering the tobacco market in France.
Dunhill London Mixture made in Germany
In 1938, Dunhill licensed the production of tobacco to a major company in Germany, the "German Tobacco Company Von Eicken ", in a negotiation that evolved slowly, beginning in 1926.
The curious fact is that this licensing occurred during the Nazi regime and the production continued until mid-1943, when the factory was bombed by the Allied forces in Hamburg. Observe at the bottom of the can: "Hergestellt in Deutschland ", which translated would be: "manufactured in Germany ". See the full article here: Vintage Dunhill tobacco made in… Germany!?
Pipe Dreams at Christie’s, The Private Collection of Pipes, Tobacco Jars & Books of Mr. Alfred Dunhill.
In 2004, Ben Rapaport made a trip to Richard Dunhill office to conduct a formal appraisal of the library that his grandfather had amassed, because it was headed to auction along with the antique pipe collection. The auction took place shortly thereafter on Wednesday 12 May 2004 at 10.30 am. The catalog description:
|Christie’s South Kensington, London||Furniture and Decorative Objects including The Private Collection of Pipes, Tobacco Jars and Books of Mr. Alfred Dunhill (FRN-9840)||May 12, 2004|
On March 8th of the same year, Will Bennett announced the auction in his column in The Telegraph:.
"Mr. Dunhill began buying pipes, tobacco jars and books on smoking to put in a display cabinet in the shop in St James's but what began as a commercial tactic soon turned into a private passion. A pipe smoker himself, Mr. Dunhill collected pipes and tobacco jars from every corner of the world.
The archive is keeping a few pieces but 120 lots will be auctioned, including a Meerschaum pipe bowl dating from 1880 which could fetch up to £1,200. A pair of late-18th century Delft tobacco jars is estimated at £3,000 to £5,000, while a catalogue of books about tobacco published in 1874 could fetch £3,000.
"He was a real entrepreneur," said Peter Tilley, curator of Dunhill's museum and archive. "He started the pipe collection as a way of supporting his nascent business. But I think that they were very much his personal purchases."
The value of the final bid was not revealed. Pipe Dreams at Christie’s (In PDF)
"Kevin writes that "the late Mr. John Loring and I were in his room discussing the cataloging of various stampings on pre-WWII Dunhill mouthpieces when the discussion turned towards the peculiar year of 1924. John and I had several bruyere pipes in our collection that had the even-width DUNHILL over LONDON stampings that are normally dated to 1918. However, four of these pipes were all date-coded to 1924. I remarked that I had only seen one Dunhill pipe that was a definitively-stamped 1918, and this is that pipe. What is more, the <AD> factory hallmarked sterling silver on this pipe is also hallmarked to 1918 (leopard's head, lion passant, date letter of c)."
"This pipe helped to confirm Loring's work in dating these pipes, and my cataloging of five PROV. PRO stamped mouthpieces. The PROV. PRO mouthpiece stampings (also on this pipe, but faint) were on the earliest Dunhill pipes. I have only seen this stamp on Duke St. stamped pipes and this particular pipe here."
"So, what you are looking at is a very rare 1918 Dunhill shape 60 of solid proportions (a group 4+) in extraordinarily fine condition. This is the mate to my 1917 shell of the same shape (a "notched shell", as John called them), and will be a fine and very important addition to the Dunhill collector. These 1918 stamped pipes are much rarer than the arched DUNHILL-stamped pipes of 1919."
"Our bands always carry at least an AD mark (in a diamond frame) and “925” for Sterling silver. Sometimes may not have the full Assay office hallmarks (which are not required if the silver weight does not exceed 7 grams).” Kalmon S. Hener. Product Line Director - The White Spot Smoker's Accessory Division and Walthamstow site.
The Bent-Rhodesian in Root finish was made in 1984 and of course it shows the white dot on the Vulcanite stem. It's 7 millimeters (!) long and weighs 0.005 Gramm (!) but theoretically it is absolutely functional. On display in Dunhill's London showroom. - Space Shuttle was inspired by the space shuttles riding atop a Boing 747 en route back to Florida from Edwards airbase. - Cologne Cathedral was a special order made for Cologne pipe-trader Peter Heinrichs in 2005. It is a rare Dunhill Freehand Straight Grain 4 stars pipe in oversize (XL). The lid is worked – like the Cologne cathedral itself – out of 925 sterling silver. The smoke can escape through several holes in the lid as well as through the head portal of the cathedral. The pipe is therefore fully operable, but will hardly ever be smoked. The pipe (value: Euro 10,000) was blessed by the Cologne Cardinal Meißner (!!!) and received a display place in the Cologne City Museum.
About Special Series
The White Spot Eiffel Tower Pipe
On 15th March 2007, Kalmon S. Hener began to sketch a pipe based on the Eiffel Tower. This project has taken more than six years to complete. the Smokers Division of Alfred Dunhill Ltd., the London luxury-goods maker, set out to create a pipe that would embody elegant living, high art, and fine craftsmanship. Kalmon Hener, the brand’s product line director, designed a singular piece based on the Eiffel Tower, and like the structure itself, it is a marvel of intricacy and engineering. The project was completed in 2013, as Dunhill renamed its Smokers Division the White Spot .
With a bowl carved from a single piece of flawless briarwood and a tower hand-cut from sheets of 18-karat gold and embellished with 492 diamonds, 140 sapphires, 20 rubies, and a cornflower-blue 3.75-carat Sri Lankan sapphire. A cabinet decorated with an inlaid image of workers building the Eiffel Tower holds the pipe and five rare books about the Paris landmark, including volumes commissioned by Gustave Eiffel in 1900. The entire piece is valued at $3.5 million. “This is not a pipe,” Hener says, unintentionally alluding to René Magritte’s surrealist painting The Treachery of Images. “It is a symbol.” By Richard Carleton - Robb Report, on November 1, 2013 
Note: See more examples here: Dunhill Special Series
Dunhill's most prestigious line, the "Dead-Root", is filled with many controversies, but certainly has its place in the sun.
Among the connoisseurs of the brand, this is a very desired series. In addition to the pieces that were made under the management of Alfred Dunhill (until mid-1928) and limited in number, the D.R. has a special place in the heart and collections of nearly all Dunhill collectors.
The Dead Root idea was conceived at the end of the 1920's and then realized in the early 1930 years. The Dead-Root brought a stronger grain feature to the the already well established "Bruyère" (from 1932 on it received the same finish). The D.R. models are perfect. Made with the best Briar available and that is – compulsorily – "Straight Grain". They are rare models of considerable value, which vary according to the graduation of the grain, and can fetch 4k USD on the Estate market. Over the years, Dunhill has established a classification system based on the aesthetic aspect of this product, using alphabet letters and a variable number of stars.
The criticism emphasizes that it is only a question of marketing. However, it is interesting to know the minutiae of this model and to understand what earns a Dunhill the "Dead-Root" designation.
The Dead-Root designation is tied to the type of Briar, which was reportedly "naturally cured" for hundreds of years while it was "dead." They speculated that the maturation process would begin shortly after the death of the tree, where the briar would sit undisturbed for decades--that only this way is it possible to obtain the exceptional grain that is required by the series. However, experts oppose this idea by arguing that as soon as the tree dies it immediately begins to decompose, and therefore would be completely unusable in a short period of time. Furthermore, grain is developed in the briar as the tree grows through the seasons. It is certainly not developing additional grain character when it is "dead", although it is likely changing in other ways as it cures.
So, while it is clear there are some doubts as to what makes "Deed-Root" briar exceptional, there is little doubt about it being extremely special in both beauty and smoking characteristics. The mystery and uncertainty makes these exceptional pieces even more interesting to enthusiastic collectors of the series.
In his poster, Dunhill advertised the product with the following:
"Cured by nature for hundreds of years, which results in a dry and dense wood, providing a unique flavor to tobacco."
The "D.R." is stamped on the left side of the shank. Up to 1948, they were classed with stars that indicated the quality of the grain. In mid-1949, they began to be sorted with letters from the alphabet (ascending) from "A" to "J". According to some sources, in the decade of the 1970's, the star was dissociated from the classification and began to indicate the size, but soon this classification was discontinued. There are cases in which the "A" was printed and, shortly after, was reconsidered and printed a "B" to improve the classification, getting both printed on the shank (A 2 B). They say that the qualification of the grain depends on the mood of the person doing the evaluation, because there are cases in which a classification "a" has more personality than a classification "D", for example. The easiest classifications to find are between "A" and "E", with from "F" to "J" becoming much more difficult to find.
In 2000, a new D.R. series was launched with stronger grains, called "Flames", and they follow the same criteria, but classified with "flames" instead of stars. Photos for easier understanding:
From 1997 to 2000, PipeSMOKE was published as a printed supplement to Lockwood Publication's SMOKE Magazine. There was also a PipeSMOKE website. The magazine stopped printing over ten years ago, and the website no longer exists. PipesMagazine.com is pleased to bring you the archives of PipeSMOKE in cooperation with Alan Schwartz, the former Associate Publisher & Editorial Director of the magazine. In this case, we have an article about the Dead Root selection, made especially by Richard Dunhill. Here Dunhill’s Natural Selection, Pipes Magazine - September 18th, 2014 it's possible to understand better the criteria of the selection process.
The original finish produced, and a big part of developing and marketing the brand. It was the only finish from 1910 until 1917. A dark reddish-brown stain. Bruyere pipes were usually made using Calabrian briar, a very dense and hardy briar that has a mediocre grain but does very well with the deep red stain.
"Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red. The Shell finish was the original sandblast with a near-black stain (though the degree to which it is truly black has varied over the years). Lastly, the Root finish was smooth also but with a light brown finish. Early Dunhill used different briars with different stains, resulting in more distinct and identifiable creations... Over the years, to these traditional styles were added four new finishes: Cumberland, Dress, Chestnut and Amber Root, plus some now-defunct finishes, such as County, Russet and Red Bark."
A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (the color of stain used has varied over the years). Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill's Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill's greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.
The documented history of Dunhill's inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalogue pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.
The American patent application (No. 1,341,418) was prepared and filed before the English patent was granted, between September 19 and October 14, 1918. The American patent was granted more than a year later, on May 25, 1920. Canadian documents were behind the U.S. a year, with application in 1919 and granted in 1921.
The numerical code system for indicating date of manufacture started in 1922, but occasionally we find pipes that can be dated before 1922, specifically, those that were Stamped: "DUNHILL'S SHELL" - "MADE IN ENGLAND", followed by "PAT. MAR. 9.15" with "PAT. APP FOR" and "AT. 1914" with "PAT. APP FOR". These patent references are for the U.S. and Canada respectively. These impressions possibly date from the patent application, not the granting. It is hard to say with certainty, but it is speculated that the Shell was first marketed in mid-1917 while the patent process was underway. The blasting tests were run and improved starting in 1914 with support of the London Sandblasting Company, which specialized in glass blasting.
Jonathan Guss and Jesse Silver, important members of our community, point out inconsistencies in the main story that is widespread, which states that the blasting of pipes was invented by Dunhill. The blasting technique was invented in 1870, and patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman, 47 years before Dunhill used it in his pipes. There is no way to say for sure who was the first to apply the concept in pipes. There are clues and theories that point to sandblasting of pipes before Dunhill, by Barling, for example, in a model called "Niblick" in mid-1917. Guss points out that the patent is more related to the process Dunhill used than the blasting itself. Alfred Dunhill explained the process of oil curing and sandblasting in his patent application as follows:
"This invention refers to the treatment of the surface of the pipe, for decorative purposes. This is the process by which the grain is accentuated in relief, thus giving the wood a very elegant appearance, without interfering in the durability and quality of the pipe. Although sand blasting has been used previously for the treatment of wood surface and grain accentuation, I have found in practice that this treatment alone did not give satisfactory results, as there is a tendency for wood to fissure, Result that does not occur with my auxiliary process of treatment by maceration in oil and heat.
The briar is soaked in mineral or vegetable oil. For example, in the case of the Algerian briar (a wood very suitable for the production of these new pipes). The piece can be soaked for a long period, say, for several weeks. After it has been removed from the oil, subject to heat action. This process takes many days. The exudate oil rests on the surface and is being removed periodically. The result of the treatment is that the grain of the wood is hardened and stands out in a certain degree, while the oil forms a waterproof coating.
After that, the wood is subjected to the action of the sandblasting, which removes the hardened oil coating and also infers the cutting effect. If the result is not satisfactory, it will be soaked again in oil, treated with heat and sandblasting; And so on, as many times as necessary, according to the extent to which you want to accentuate the grain or highlight it in relief. The resulting piece is extremely beautiful and constitutes an admirable smoking tobacco pipe."
Alfred's invention therefore concerns treatment and curing of the Briar in oils, strengthening it as it removes impurities:
The conception of sandblasting is reported in the book "About Smoke", released in mid-1920. Algeria had become an important source of briar, and Alfred Dunhill bought his first shipment in early 1914. Impressed with the beauty and richness of the grain of his new briar stock, he tried to put it into production, but soon found that the results were not satisfactory on account of the softness of the material. Unused briar blocks were subsequently put aside and forgotten for months near the furnace. At random, sometime the next summer, he decided to re-examine these blocks and realized that some of the grains had shrunk, highlighting the grain and leaving a pattern of relief similar to that of a seashell--clearly the result of its prolonged exposure to Heat. The once voluminous wood was reduced to a mere shell of its former self, assuming a new and fascinating appearance while also becoming much lighter. These two factors combined created the perfect quality for both beautiful unique pieces and excellent smoking properties. The classic and iconic "Dunhill Shell Briar" is born!
In addition to the registered patents, we have the mark between parentheses below the "Briar"-(REGD). There were two records, one for "The Briar Shell ", requested at the English Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on February 19, 1921, published on March 30 of the same year, and expired on February 20, 2015, without renewal. The other record went to "Dunhill's Shell Briar", requested on May 19, 1921, published on June 29 of the same year and renewed on February 04, 2015.
Dunhill did not fully develop the sandblasting techniques until the mid-1920's. The first specimens were deeply marked, drastically altering the shape of the pipe by double blasting. By the end of the 1920's the technique was perfected, the results were blasts with more personality and beauty, while also retaining the shape of the pipe. The pieces of this era are the highest regarded by collectors. This blasting style was practiced until the early 1960's.
In the 1960's, the Italian government restricted the use of the Briar to Italian manufacturers and the Algerian briar became scarce (consequence of the Algerian War of Independence. 1954-1962), which forced Dunhill to use the somewhat harder Greek briar. This compromised the sandblasted finish and explains why the blast is superficial in the models from this time period. Between the end of the 1960's and the beginning of the 1970's, it was possible to perform a deeper blast on this briar, but the market did not embrace it. Dunhill responded by preserving the smoother blasting. It is said that Richard Dunhill took one of the Shells that were rejected and asked:
— Why is this in the rejection bin?
— Because the sandblasting is very deep and irregular.
— That pipe has a personality. Send it to America. The Americans know good pipes! "
See The Art of Sandblasting, and by R.D. Field, for an in depth look at Dunhill's revolutionary new finish. Concluding, the deepest and craggiest finishes were from Algerian briar, which is softer and yields more to the blasting. These are found in circa 1920's, 1940's, and 1960's Shells. The pipes were double blasted until the 1960's, and then the double blast technique resumed in the 1980's calling it the "Deep Shell" finish. During the 1960’s and 70’s Dunhill could not acquire the Algerian briar. Consequently, the company’s sandblast pipes were much shallower and less distinct. Once again Dunhill showed itself to be innovative, inventing the “double blast” technique to bring about a deeper blast even with harder briar. The black shell sandblast finish uses a stain the was developed for the color, not the taste. Some enthusiasts experience them having a more bitter taste, even when judiciously smoked.
In the 1990's there was a return to the first blasting techniques. These blasts had more personality, but nothing compared to the pipes of the past. The dyeing of this line was a dark wine color, which exposed to light presented a reddish tone to this series. At some point in the 1960's, the color was altered to black, but this too was rejected, and the original coloration was restored. Here we have some examples of the variations the process has undergone through the years:
Two very early examples. The top piece is from 1918, and carries the #24 stamp (the size of the “Inner Tube,” not the shape). This pipe would later be referred to as the “O” in the catalogue. The bottom pipe is a 1925 PO shape in exquisite condition. From the G.L. Pease Collection 
A 1927 Dunhill Shell Patent Pipe 120 Shape Bottom: A 1965 Dunhill Shell 120 Shape - Note how the size, depth of sandblast, and overall design changed over time. It should be noted that the 1927 model has a replacement mouthpiece, and has had a shank repair. Early 120 shape pipes are notorious for having thin and elegant shanks that are prone to breakage - Courtesy of Mike Ahmadi
Ring Grain (RG)
Introduced in 1996, the "Ring Grain" (RG) was created by blasting a straight grain bowl. Ring grain pipes in the Cumberland finish are designated "Shilling". It is an interesting variation on the original sandblasts which were mostly cross-grain sandblasts. The straighter grain plays a much more prominent role, giving the pipe a very distinct look and feel.
These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today, and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.
Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish. The Root Briar finish requires a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish, since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or at Principle Pipe Dealers.
Straight grained pipes were formerly graded A through H, but are now graded with one to six stars, with the letters G and H still used for the very finest pieces.
The first lot was manufactured in 1952. The prototype was called "Root Shell ", produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.
Introduced in 1972, the Redbark is a reddish stained sandblast, and is the most famous of Dunhill’s retired finishes. Originally, the stain was a medium red. A couple years later the stain was changed to a brighter red, almost pinkish in color. The almost pink color caused pipe sales to plummet. In 1976, the stain was changed back to the original darker medium red finish. The Redbark finish was officially retired in 1987. The County and Russet finishes have also been retired.
Introduced in 1973, the Dress is a black smooth finish designed to look elegant with a tux or other formal ware--refined and sophisticated. A smooth jet-black stain with black bit gives this line of pipes the distinctive elegance that has come to be associated with the Dunhill name.
Introduced in 1979. Cumberland is another sandblast with a brown stain and a brindle stem (the material is more commonly called ‘cumberland’ these days, thanks to Dunhill’s influence and the success of the finish over the past quarter-century). Originally, the Cumberland always featured a smooth brown rim, but in the current production the rim is sometimes smooth, sometimes sandblasted. Occasionally, a straight grain blast is finished with a Cumberland stain and a “Shilling Grain,” similar to the “Ring Grain,” resulting in a new variation on the traditional sandblast. The Shilling series is named for the British coin: the sandblast looks like a stack of shillings. Named after the warehouse on Cumberland Road. The old pipes that inspired this finish were found there.
Introduced in 1983 to commemorate the closing of the Cumberland Road warehouse. The same stain and stem material as used on the Cumberland, but on a smooth bowl.
Introduced in 1986. A tan sandblast with a Cumberland mouthpiece. It has since been discontinued.
A limited reissue of 150 pieces was made available in 2006.
Many enthusiasts find the County to be an excellent smoking finish
Having been introduced in December of 1988 and retired sometime in 2000. A medium reddish-brown stain and smooth finish that has since been retired.
"The Russet finish was introduced in the year 1988 and, according to our files, we used the Russet stamp last time in the year 2000. The Russet finish was discontinued as it was commercially not as successful as other finishes that existed at the time, so it was decided to be rationalized. Kalmon S. Hener. Product Line Director - The White Spot Smoker's Accessory Division and Walthamstow site."
Introduced in 1995. A warm yellow orange stain, reminicent of the original Root Briar finish. Cumberland stems were used, although recently, Amber Root pipes have appeared with black stems. This is also a limited production pipe that is found in mainly Company stores and Principle Pipe Dealers.
Straight grained pipes are made available in this finish under the name Amberflame, and are graded from one to three flames.
Dunhill manufactured a Gourd Calabash starting in the 1970's and up to the late 1990’s.
"We made Gourd Calabash pipes from the 1970’s up to late 1990’s. As we could in the last years not obtain suitable Gourds in the quality required, we have not made them since. Kalmon S. Hener. Product Line Director - The White Spot Smoker's Accessory Division and Walthamstow site."
"In some of its catalogs in the sixties and seventies, Dunhill did some promoting of the "DriWay". Essentially its an embedded clay filter that was referred to as "Kaoloid". The DriWay was only utilized in the Shell Briar series. If you collect Dunhill "Gadget" pipes, this would be a great novelty to consider. It's amazing that the briar cap screws off and the ceramic filter is in fine shape. --Bear Graves
Apparently Dunhill made Meerschaum pipes in the late 1960's, or had them made for them. Richard Esserman reports the NYC Dunhill store carried them.
Derek Green Collection
A selection of "Smokers" (pictured left)
Top Row 1998 Amber Root 4 1993 Shell 5108 1984 Cumberland 3103 1972 Bruyere 57 Date Obscured. Shell Pat. Weak Bottom Row 1979 Red Bark 31031 1999 Shell 4103 1958 ES Tanshell No Date ES Shell Pat.No.1341418/20 Date Obscured Bruyere EC 4A 1957 Root 713
More "Smokers" (pictured right)
Top Row 1963 Root 40 1937 Root Pat.1343253/20 472 1971 Bruyere EO 4A 1988 Russet 5112 Middle Row 1990 Tanshell 4103 1992 Shell 5124 1956 Shell 252 1964 Shell 6 LBS 1979 Cumberland 41022 1988 Russet 4114 Bottom Left Date? Root 48 4A
1990 Shell 5601 Church Warden 1964 Shell 519 Feather Bone 1935 Shell Feather Bone 1986 4107 Dress 1967 Shell Cavalier on left
Dunhill Articles & Catalogs
- Here is a complete 1966-67 Dunhill Catalog, courtesy of Václav Blahovec Dunhill 1966-67 Catalog. It was printed in the UK so the prices are mostly in Shillings, with the exception of the Dunhill DR pipes, which are in pounds. The catalog includes lighters, accessories, pouches, smokers´furniture, tobaccos, cigars and cigar cabinets, cigarette holders and even matches. Very interesting! Here are a couple of pages, but you'll want to see the entire catalog:
- And here is a complete 1969-70 Dunhill Catalog, courtesy of Radek Jůza. Dunhill 1969-70 Catalog. When we compare these two catalogs we can see that the price has changed from shillings to pounds. The value of the pipes is similar, but DR pipes are much more expensive than in 1967. And there are many more accessories, including jewelry, clocks, silver, crystal glass, drinking accessories, dunhill toiletries, and gifts from Alfred´s bar and novelties.
A Tail of Two Briars
Abstract: R.D. Fields writes, "As a pipe collector, a pipe hobbyist, and as a Dunhill principal pipe dealer, I hear comments over and over again about the comparative merits of the older pipes versus the newer models. Most discussion centers on the quality of the briar and the sweetness of the smoke. I hear comments such as "I love my old Dunhill pipes, but these new ones ... I don't know."
People I consider to be very knowledgeable on the subject of 20th Century briar swear that, by far, the sweetest smoke comes from those Dunhill pipes bearing a patent number (pre-1955); they will not even smoke those made after 1968, believed to be of substandard quality.
The used pipe trade has followed the same trend - patent number Dunhills are commanding a higher price than those made from 1955-1968, and a still higher price than those made after 1968.
Due to the mystique surrounding the older Dunhill pipe, there is, indeed, a need to explore any factual basis behind the "myth". This, reader, is the purpose of this article." Read A Tail of Two Briars, by R.D. Fields.
The Art of Sandblasting is another excellent R.D. Fields article on what may very well be Alfred Dunhill's greatest contribution to the world of pipes.
John C. Loring Articles
John Loring, now a "broken pipe", was a leading authority on Dunhill pipes. His excellent book, "The Dunhill Briar Pipe - the patent years and after", is an essential addition to any Dunhill collector's library. Sadly, John Loring's website is down. His son, Michael Loring had hoped to get the site back up, but that appears unlikely at this point. In addition to the Dunhill Briar Pipe, Loring wrote several important articles, which he had graciously allowed Pipedia to publish. Some made it here before his website disappeared. Very thankfully, several others were contributed by Jean-Christophe Bienfait, who has also translated them into French, and the rest have recently been added by Yang Forcióri, who also had all the photos. We think we have all them here now. If you know of anything we're missing, and have it, please add it here, or send it to email@example.com , and we can add it for you.
- Loring's Pipe Collection
- THE DUNHILL WHITE SPOT GUARANTEE -- Dunhill's guarantee is generally credited as the impetus for implementing the date codes, as well as establishing its reputation. Dunhill expert, John C. Loring has written an excellent article on its establishment and refinement.
- Musing On Bits: "Dunhill’s ‘push’ bit while not invented by Dunhill may well have been an important reason for its early success."
- The Earliest Dunhill?
- THE POST WWII “ODA/800” SERIES
- Dunhill Carved Heads
- DATING ENGLISH TINNED TOBACCO
- A DUNHILL ODA SHAPE CHART
- A DUNHILL DATING CORRECTION
- DUNHILL PIPE TOBACCO: 1907 – 1990
- A Hypothetical WWII Pipe
- In Search of the First Shell
- Grading the Pre World War II Dunhill Bruyere DR
- Some 1979 Dunhill: About the unfortunate episode of the 1979 "Sale" Pipes.
- The Early Dunhill OD
- Two Early Dunhills
- The 1980s Fake Dunhill
- Dunhill's Blends
- On Dunhill Tinned Tobacco
- The Dunhill 482 Billiard
- Dunhill Large Billiard Variations
- Deciphering an ODB 831
- The Extra Long Shank Dunill Canadian
- An eBay ES
- A Duke Street 'DR'
- The Poor Man's Dunhill Mini-Magnum -- The 1976 Jumbo (By John Loring with Richard Esserman)
- The Atypical LC (in PDF), French Translation, by Jean-Christophe Bienfait
- Dunhill Blends Appearing in its Catalogs from 1910 - 1990 (in PDF)
- The Pre-'25 Dunhill Pipe (In PDF, written 9/1997), French Translation, by Jean-Christophe Bienfait
We hope to uncover find more Loring articles. If you know where we can find any we're missing, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Dunhill "gimmicks and oddities"
Old Dunhill Tobacco Brochure, courtesy of John A. Gioannetti
John C. Loring - Perhaps the greatest collection that ever existed. Remembering Loring's Pipe Collection
G.L. Pease has a nice collection of Dunhills: The Mystery of the White Spot - Pipes from Dunhill (on Pipedia). On Greg's Website
Foggymountain has a collection of 100, 21st century Dunhill smokers. He may be reached through pipesmagazine.com (Nov 2014)
Here Dunhill Collections we have a list of collectors and their collections around the world.
A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide
Dunhill is the only factory made pipe that can be accurately dated. This contributes to it's popularity with collectors, but it can be difficult to accurately date any given pipe. We have imported R.D. Fields A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide to Pipedia, by permission of the author. This guide is very helpful, but there are discrepancies in both the literature regarding the nomenclature, and anomalies in the nomenclature itself. We highly recommend the book by Dunhill expert, John C. Loring called, "The Dunhill Briar Pipe - 'the patent years and after'. Unfortunately, John passed away several years ago, and his website has recently disappeared. Fortunately, the following article was saved by Doug Valitchka, who has made it available here on Pipedia: File:DunhillbyLoring.pdf. Unfortunately, the links within the article to the graphics and photographs are no longer active. Hopefully we can find them and make them available here soon. --sethile (talk) 16:59, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
If you have something to add or suggest, please contact us:
S.E.THILE Handmade Pipes E-mail: mailto:email@example.com
Yang Forcióri Brasília, Distrito Federal - Brazil E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Alfred Dunhill Manufacturing Limited Official site: http://www.whitespot.co.uk/ 32 St Andrews Road, London E17 6BQ; Telephone: +44 (0)20 8498 4000; Fax: +44 (020) 8498 4077; Email: mailto:email@example.com
- Dunhill markings : Stampings pics from 1918 to now.
- Dunhill dating Your pipe in one hand and the mouse in the other
- https://patents.google.com/patent/US1341418A/en?inventor=Alfred+Dunhill&page=1 U.S. Patent No. 1341418 (1920).
- : Grace's Guide - Alfred Dunhill.
- :Trompeter, Barbara. Dunhill, Alfred (1872–1959). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
Thanks to Ben Rapaport, who sent us the taking off point for this Dunhill bibliography he titled The Dunhill Legacy. Ben is an excellent source of rare and out of print tobacco related titles and can be reached by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Balfour, Michael, Alfred Dunhill, One Hundred Years and More (Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, 1992)
- Blei, Davide, and Bottoni, Luciano, The Dunhill Petrol Lighter: A Unique Story (2004)
- Dunhill, Alfred
- The Pipe Book (1924; 1969 and later reprints)
- The Gentle Art of Smoking (1954 and later reprints)
- The Story of Dunhill's, 1907-1957
- The Story of Dunhill’s, 1907–1970
- Dunhill Ltd., Pleasures of the Pipe (1967)
- Dunhill Ltd., 1928 catalog, about Smoke, An Encyclopedia of Smoking. A facsimile is available through BriarBooks Press
- Dunhill, Mary, Our Family Business (1979)
- Foulkes, Nick, Dunhill by Design: A Very English Story (Flammarion, Paris, 2005)
- Hutt, Julia, and Overbury, Stephen, Namiki: Alfred Dunhill Namiki. The Art of Japanese Lacquer Pens (Pens Unlimited, 2000)
- Loring, J. C.,
- The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998)
- Dunhill Catalogs.
- Vol. I. The Early Years, 1910–1926
- Vol. II. The Elegant Years, 1927–1935
- Vol. III. The Later Years, 1936–1962
- Vol. IV. Dunhill Catalogs & Patents. An Addendum (self-published, Chicago, 1999)
Note: If you know of Dunhill related publications that should be included, please add them here, or send them to email@example.com, and we can add them for you.