An eBay ES

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An eBay ES,by John C. Loring
Contributed by Jean-Christophe Bienfait

I suppose first and foremost eBay is a place to acquire pipes, but increasingly for me at least it is a place to learn about pipes. Here’s a case in point:

“This Dunhill Bruyere oval shank billiard measures 6” long with a bowl height of 1-3/4”. Briar is exceptional and carries the “H.W./o” (hand-worked) stamping. Original stem with ivory dot. Nomenclature: left side of shank stamped: “H.W./o” and “Dunhill London”. Right side of shank stamped: “ Made in England Inner Tube Pat. No. 58---/123 ES 6” Condition note: the nomenclature is weak from buffing but is still readable except for some of the numerals in the actual patent number. The /123 at the end of the patent number actually has the 3 at half-size with an underline. Original stem has bite marks on the underside (see photo). Briar is in excellent condition, interior bowl wall is smooth. Original metal inner tube is missing.”


As I write this the eBay auction has yet to close and of course I have not seen the pipe in hand. The written description of the nomenclature makes clear that the pipe is a 1923 ES, i.e. ‘Canadian’. But a glance at the pictures (here in composite) suggests more then a question mark.

I’m into nomenclature, so not untypically for me, at first my eyes are blind to all else and what catches my eyes this time is that the DUNHILL / LONDON appears to be of even length, suggesting a rare late 1918 dating, notwithstanding the written advise of a 1923 date code. Visions of an ‘eBay steal’???

Turning back though to, of all things, the pipe itself, something though seems not quite right. Its suppose to be an ES Canadian. The overall described dimensions for the pipe are correct for ESs of this period but the picture shows a very questionable shank/bit proportion – one would anticipate that the former would be considerably longer and the latter much shorter, at least as compared to the 1920 and 1921 examples in my collection and the one pictured in a 1925 Dunhill catalog. Certainly suspicious although not absolutely dispositive, for instance pictured below is an ODA 850 Canadian from a 1968 Dunhill catalog with an unusually short shank/long bit:


still even with that unusual ODA 850 the short shank is longer then the long bit, while here the short shank is clearly shorter then the long bit. Yet another consideration is that there were some dramatic changes in at least a few early Dunhill shapes, for instance the 151 I have written about previously. On the other hand “ES” likely was meant to signify “Extended Shank” and if so the pipe at hand can hardly be considered representative.

So lets take a closer look: First, its clear that this pipe has been ‘cleaned up’ probably, more then once, note the ‘weak nomenclature’ description: the clean bowl top, a recently reamed bowl interior and probably an earlier slightly off center reaming. This is a well smoked not a lightly smoked pipe. Second, while scans can sometimes be ‘off’, the DUNHILL / LONDON stamp, particularly the DUNHILL, seems to have been stamped with individual letters rather then a single two word block stamp. Third, the DUNHILL / LONDON seems stamped low on the shank, toward the bit, rather then somewhat centered as with my other early ESs. If you mentally adjust the pipe by extending the shank to center the nomenclature and shorten the bit accordingly, you end up with a pipe that begins to be in line my early ES examples. Fourth, note the bit diameter at the shank/bit meeting point – it appears slightly larger then that of the shank. Fifth, while sometimes difficult to judge, the white dot on the bit seems to me to be a bit large for 1918 as opposed to the early 1920s.

Add to this my general observations that during this early period Dunhill (i) datecoded its repairs: (ii) attempted to preserve or replicate original stampings (including the original datecode) as part of the repair; and (iii) (based on a few other examples and the factory stamping log) did not have most of the 1910’s stamping tools in the 1920’s (thus forcing later replications to be stamped by individual letters). My conclusion readily comes to mind, to wit:

It is most likely a 1918 ES, the shank of which was cracked or broken off around 1923 and repaired at the Dunhill factory by amputation and refitting with a new longer bit. The 1923 repair effectively lost the essence of the ES shape, but the pipe still remains marginally collectible because of its early date.

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