A DUNHILL ERRATA SHEET FOR R. C. HACKER'S "RARE SMOKE"

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Written by John C. Loring
Contributed by Yang Forcióri


Since Richard Hacker's new book "Rare Smoke" has come out I have received a number of inquiries as to the accuracy of what he writes about Dunhill pipes. The following are the errors (in italics with the book page number in parenthesis) that I have spotted in my initial read together with the correction.

  • The 841 ODA is not rare (p.71) - In fact that 841 is one of the rarer and most desirable ODAs easily selling for at least twice the price of a common shape.
  • The 845 ODA is rare & was made only from 1973 - 1976 (p. 70) - In fact while a nice shape the 845 is not rare & it was produced for a great many more years during at least the '60s and throughout the '70s.

Initially Dunhill made three ODA Canadian shapes: the 845 the largest bowl, the 851 a bit smaller bowl, and the 850 the smallest bowl. In terms of the shank length the 851 is the longest. The 845 is a fairly common shape. The 850 is some what rare but usually doesn't command that high a price because of its small bowl size. The 851 is quite rare and quite desirable. In the mid to late 1970s Dunhill also made a variety of Canadian shapes that were stamped ODA without a shape number., generally these pipes had wider shanks of varying lengths with bowls around the size of an 845. In addition to the oval shanked ODA Canadians Dunhill also made a very long pencil shanked billiard, the 841 (a rare and desirable pipe) which while not a Canadian as it is not oval shanked, is sometime referred to as being such because of its long shank.. One can speculate that Hacker's confusion lies in hearing but not fully digesting the above.

  • The Dunhill Classic Series are banded in 23 K gold (p.71) - In fact they are banded in gold plate, the first base metal bands, aka 'junk bands' ever put on a Dunhill pipe.
  • The most complete dating guide (p. 73 et seq) - In fact the chart (& the book) omits an entire decade - the 1920s.
  • The dating guide provides complete patent number coverage (p. 73 et seq) - In fact the chart (& the book) fail to report most patent numbers or their usage.

1951 pipes are identified by a "1" date code (pp. 74 & 76) - In fact effectively "1" was not used as a date code in 1951 and no 1951 pipes are known that bear that stamping. 1951 pipes are principally identified by patent number stamping ending with "/34" together with a "0" date code and a circled group size number.

  • Group size numbers began in 1950 (pp. 74, 76 & 51) - In fact they began in 1951, RH is simply confused by the 1951 pipe stampings.
  • TanShells were first produced at the end of 1952 . (p. 74) - In fact TanShells were first produced in 1951 but withheld from retail distribution until early in 1952 due to the lack of an appropriate stamping tool.
  • The "INNER TUBE" stamping on smooth finishes ended in 1935 (p. 75) - In fact the stamping ended during 1932.
  • 1930 & 1931 Shells were stamped "SHELL" MADE IN ENGLAND (p. 74) - In fact they were stamped either that way or alternatively "SHELL BRIAR" without a 'made in england' stamping.
  • Size is not a factor in pricing DRs (p.68) - In fact at least during a portion of the past three decades large DRs were stamped and up priced as such.
  • DRs bore no grade stamps until the 'letter grade' system (of the 1950's) (p. 67) - In fact almost from inception in the 1910s DRs were graded and stamped with a square (or diamond) 'stop' system on the brand side of the pipe.
  • In 1951 Dunhill adopted a three number system for all of its existing pipes (p. 66) - In fact it did not, the pre War shape identification system (which included letter, letter & number, and two digit number codes) continued into the 1970s.
  • Multi date coded stamps are the result of delayed retail distribution ( p. 66) - In fact into at least the 1950s the Dunhill factory also would sometimes stamp an additional date code on used pipes returned to the factory for repair. Also it appears that when a pipe already at the retail shop was returned to the factory for special order custom work (e.g. banding) the pipe received an additional date code stamp. I suspect that upwards of half or more of the multi date code stamped pipes I have seen fall into these latter two catagories.
  • Double patent numbers appear on a few Shells, mainly on pipes sold in the US during the 1920's (p. 65) - In fact double patent numbers were normally stamped on all Shells from the late 1910s to the early 1930s and are found as late as 1936.
  • The 75th Anno Set replicated two of the first Dunhill shapes (p. 62) - In fact the set replicated two shapes made for Dunhill by a third party pipe maker, Nathan's. The shapes were discarded from the Dunhill line shortly after it began making its own pipes.
  • Shape 472 pre dates the LB (p. 61) - In fact it is the reverse, the LB shape designation goes back to at least 1920. In the the mid/late 1930s the same shape was stamped 472 if it had a smooth finish and LB if it had a Shell finish.
  • Until later years the black sandblast finish has almost always been stamped "Shell" (p. 60) - In fact until the 1930s the practice was to stamp pipes intended for sale in England with "Shell Briar".
  • (p. 60) - In listing the Inner Tube patents RH omits the 417574/34 spring flange inner tube patent, which patent number was stamped on most all Dunhill pipes from 1942 to 1954.
  • The Inner Tube is a "filter" (p. 59) - In fact the Inner Tube was not a filter at all but rather a device to aid in keeping the pipe clean. Although not mentioned by RH Dunhill did have an Absorbal pipe filter system.
  • From 1911 all Dunhill pipes were fitted with an Inner Tube (p. 59) - In fact through the 1920s most bent shapes were not fitted with an Inner Tube. Further, it is very doubtful that the Inner Tube began in 1911 as opposed to 1912 the year of the initial patent application.
  • RH knows of 30 post war ODA shapes (p. 56) - In fact 39 post war ODA shapes have been reported in the various issues of The Pipe Smoker's Ephemeris.
  • The initial post war ODA shapes were large pre war shapes that had been popular (p. 56) - In fact the initial post war ODA shapes were new Dunhill shapes that had not been produced prior to the war.
  • The pictured pipe, an ODA 834, dates to 1943 (p. 56) - In fact a review of the nomenclature of that pipe (it recently came up for sale on eBay demonstrates without question that the pipe dates to 1953 (it nonetheless remains a very desirable and rare pipe).
  • The letter following the post war OD stamping is a size designation (p. 53) - In fact the letter following the post war OD stamping is a price designation that could involve a number of factors, not necessarily size related, for instance when ODA 803, 804 818, and 831 were given five digit shape numbers they were size graded as group 4s and in one instance a group 5 and most, if not all known, ODBs and higher are actually smaller then the typical ODA.
  • The post war OD pipes are larger then group 6 pipes (p. 51) - In fact a great many group 6 pipes are larger then the largest post war OD pipe and a number of post war OD shapes, e.g 803, 804, 818, 813 and 850, are significantly smaller then a group 6 pipe.
  • There was an attempt prior to the War to classify large pipes (p. 51) - In fact this was not the case. Pre war OD pipes were letter graded on a number of factors and it appears that size was a relatively minor factor. The pre war shape system simply assigned pipes of the same design but different sizes different shape numbers and all such standard shapes were priced the same, e.g. an LB/472 sold for the same price as a 126.
  • The Root is Dunhills most expensive finish (p. 49) - True only for recent years, for in fact prior to the war all finishes were priced the same and after the war into the 1970s, the Root and the Bruyere were both priced the same (and higher then the Shell and TanShell).
  • The Shells of the '20s, '40s, and '60s were the craggiest (p. 49) - The omission of the '50s which many collectors consider the best years for Shells is a puzzlement. In fact the Shells of the '20s are easily the craggiest with those of the '30s, '40s and '50s next in line (and considered 'classic'), and those of the '60s comparatively, the smoothest and often smoother then in later years.
  • Up until 1960 Dunhill had a Double Sandblast finish, wherein they would sandblast their Shell pipes twice (p. 49) - In fact according to the original Shell patent application, double sandblasting was part and parcel of the Shell finish and prior to 1960 there was simply the Shell finish (as opposed to a Shell and Double Sandblast finish). In the latter part of the 1950s Dunhill determined that pipe smokers wanted a smoother Shell finish and began to adjust its production according. This change was dramatically reinforced during the 1960's when it was no longer able to obtain the soft Algerian briar it has always used for the Shell and was forced to produce the Shell using much harder briar which necessarily resulted in a much smoother finish.
  • The earliest "Shell" pipes bear a Patent Pending stamp (p. 48) - In fact the earliest Shells bear a double English patent number (119708/17 . 5861/12) without a date code. The problem is that because the date code system was not yet implemented these pipes can be dated only to a range of year, 1917 - 1921. The 'Patent Pending' Shells bear a "PAT.APP" stamp in conjunction with a reference to either the 1915 American or 1914 Canadian Inner Tube patent. These PAT. APP pipes date to either 1918 - 1920 if the Inner Tube patent reference is to the American patent or to 1919 - 1921 if the Inner Tube patent reference is to the Canadian patent. Thus a PAT APP American pipe is the earliest datable Shell since it cannot date to later then 1920 while the Canadian PAT APP or the English '/17 . /12' patent can both date to as late as 1921. It should also be noted that there is no known PAT APP Shell in conjunction with an English Inner Tube patent but if one were found it would be the earliest datable Shell, dating to 1917 - 1918. Lastly, it should also be noted that the two digit number following the "/": for an English patent refers to the patent application date and for an American or Canadian patent refers to the patent grant date.
  • The Shell finish was produced as early as 1912 (p. 48) - In fact the 'finish' described as being produced in 1912 is not a Shell finish as it does not include any sandblasting, nor is there a suggestion that a smokable pipe was in fact actually produced. More to the point, the true error is in failing to distinguish an accident or an experiment from the conscience effort to produce for sale a pipe with a sandblast finish. That did not occur until 1917.
  • Dunhill offered horn bits (p. 47) - This needs to be clarified, during the war Dunhill made pipes with horn bits because of war time material restriction but neither prior to nor after the war did Dunhill advertise horn as a bit material. This is because horn bits crack quite easily.
  • Dunhill may have produced 'black spot' bits (p. 45) - In fact this is extremely doubtful, the truth of the matter no doubt lies in the fact that ivory can be easily stained at any time either accidentally or intentionally. Thus with some black ink, shoe polish or whatever, one can stain an ivory dot black in an instant and no one will be able to tell whether the that 'black dot' was original or not.
  • Beginning in 1920 Dunhill turned its bowls from St. Claude briar (p. 40) - In fact Dunhill publicly despised French briar and used Calabrian briar for the Bruyere and Algerian briar for the Shell. As Dunhill advised in its 1921 About Smoke catalog "[A Dunhill pipe will] never become saturated as do pipes cut from the more porous French Briar." That Dunhill did not use French briar was a fundamental Dunhill selling point through out the 1920's.
  • When Dunhill began making pipes in 1910 it initially offered 30 shapes (p. 40) - In fact this appears to be a confusion with the 30 pipe shapes made for Dunhill beginning in 1907 by Nathan's and sold by Dunhill until Dunhill began making its own pipes. Once Dunhill began to make its own pipes it ceased offering shapes #s 1 - 30.
  • The windshield pipe was an immediate success (p.39) - In fact as Dunhill itself put it in 1979, the windshield pipe "was a flop". Indeed shortly after the Dunhill shop was opened in 1907 it had the shields cut off the dead inventory and sold the amputated pipes off at sale prices.


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