Dating of Charatans

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Note of the Translator

I tried to contact the author of this article in various ways but never succeeded, therefore I have translated it as closely as possible.

I'd like to thank Alan Chestnutt of Reborn Briar like myself, user of pipesmokerunlimited forum for having helped me by reviewing the translation of this essay.

For the translation I used the words 'stem' or 'mouthpiece' as perfect synonyms.

If you have any question about the translation feel free to email me at mailto:bumperballdub@mail.com , but if you want to point out or clarify any of the details, please contact pipedia.org directly.

I hope you'll enjoy the article.

Mathias Acciai

...

Dating of Charatans by Fabio Ferrara

CHARATAN image002.jpg CHARATAN image004.jpg CHARATAN image006.jpg

I have had the idea for a long time to publish on the web a collection of articles about dating and history of brands of pipes, especially English makes.

Therefore, I finally decided to start the exercise discussing the most difficult brand to date..pardon, one of the easiest to date.

I say difficult and easy at the same time simply because Charatan, during its many mutations, has always left some unmistakable marks on its pipes; so unequivocal that dating does not prove a huge problem. The difficulty, however, lies in the knowledge of the various eras, which are many and often create doubt among collectors. . The various articles that have appeared in journals and around the web cause the rest, because they are often incomplete or contradictory, creating confusion among fans of the pipes. With this article, therefore, I will try to shed light, hoping to provide a useful reference tool for enthusiasts.

I want to dedicate this first article to the newborn forum D:O.W.N., even considering the 'British' print that my friend Claudio wanted for it as a new incarnation of A.U.A.F. (http://claudiorampini.com/pn/index.php).

The sources

In the past I have read many articles about dating Charatan's pipes. I remember seeing years ago a beautiful site on the internet where there were also many examples of photos. Unfortunately I could not find it any more. Then I read the article by Tad Gage appeared in the Pipes and Tobaccos magazine at p. 36-46 of Volume 7, Number 4 - Winter 2003 , the notes and memories of Mrs. Ivy Ryan , the book "The Ultimate Pipe Book" by Richard Carleton Hacker , the book "Twenty Catalogs from 5 English Pipe Makers" by John C. Loring and various private documents.

The spark of inspiration for dating Charatans arrived one day a few years ago, while I met Mario Lubinski who had acquired a very huge stock of Charatan pipes from every era. I spent many days studying the pipes with the goal to acquire a couple of specimen pipes of each era. The study become serious and so I learned to distinguish every small detail between different pipes. I realized early on that the articles listed above were not exhaustive, and also showed inconsistencies and contradictions.

I noticed that there were a lot of particular details (ex. shapes, markings, quality of briar, etc. etc.) that have never been discussed in any of those articles. Moreover I noticed that Charatan has never been a producer similar to other British factories. The very first comparison was represented by Dunhill, that had always produced pipes characterised by a maniacal desire for consistency and quality control. Charatan appeared different. The imprint left by its various managements, until the '80s, was to commission the creation of new pipes to "master carvers" with individual characteristics in their work. The result has been a heterogeneous production, almost like an ensemble of hand made pipes, each one truly different.

As a matter of fact, the year of the Dunhill take over, many of those masters decided to leave the factory in order to establish their own business.

From Kenneth Barnes to Barry Jones who started a new adventure with Tilshead Pipe Co., or like Dennis Marshall who, together with his son John, founded Milville; we can identify a number of amazing carvers, former employees of Charatan, among them the less famous but very important Dan Tennison.

Needless to say that such personalities, even during their time at Charatan, left many distinctive signs on their creations, creating a challenge for later enthusiasts to spot them. At that time I was in touch with many of these carvers in order to learn more about that.

The actual challenge of Charatan collectors or enthusiasts is not really the dating (which as you'll see from this article is fairly easy, once you understand the necessary classification on aspects of the various "eras"), but beyond that the ability to recognize the master's hand that created the Charatan pipe.

For collectors, a Charatan known to be Barry Jones would be gold....

I intend this article to be a work in progress and, you may have noticed, it is often added to. The final goal is to be able to publish photos of the many freehand styles, reporting accurately (as far as you can in a virtual context, as an example of an objective analysis should be done with the original pipe in hand , and not showing the reader a simple photo) how to recognize the work of different "master carvers".

Other interesting notes can be added about "micro-details" that can be traced back to changes in the eras. Understanding the differences between pipes built in Mansell Street, Prescott Street and Grosvenor Street is an exciting challenge, as well as being able to spot the difference between a pipe that has the "£" Lane stamp, but belongs to the period 1955-1960 (when Lane was simple importer for the USA) from a pipe that has the "£" but it belongs to the next period (when Lane becomes the owner of the brand).

Another interesting challenge is the study of the latter period. There is virtually no detailed literature on that, even though it encompasses at least 4 distinct eras!

From a first Dunhill era dating 1977-1981 where the pipe production continued in the original factory based in Grosvenor Street. To the second Dunhill era 1982-1987 when the production is entrusted to Parker/Hardcastle in Forest Road – Walthamstow, continuing for the next Russell era 1988-2000 approx., when production is moved to France, and finally the new Dunhill era (since 2000) where a superior quality product seems to be produced again. What is curious about those eras of long and complex vicissitudes, almost everything that has been written about them usually only refer to them as "the French period"!

Nothing is said especially of the revival that started in the year 2000, and the move of production of Charatans to Colin Fromm 's Invicta, recently acquired by Dunhill precisely for this revival project, that involves some of the brands owned. The Invicta factory is located in Chatham.

A bit of history

Charatan was founded by Frederick Charatan in 1863 in London. Mr Charatan was an immigrant full of ambition who immediately attempted to create an elite product. Frederick's production, that should be properly be named 'Charatan's Make' (and not simply Charatan), had an immediate impact. He started in a small workshop in Mansell Street and then moved to Prescott Street, both in London. This first era was from 1863 until 1910, when Frederick decided to leave the factory to his son Rueben.

Reuben continued to produce very high quality pipes for many years, as his father had before him. He characterized the production by ceaselessly improving even the smallest detail of the pipes that were already considered an absolute reference point. In the meantime the production had moved to Grosvenor Street.

In 1960 Reuben died and his wife immediately decided to sell the company and it was purchased by Lane Limited. At the beginning Lane decided to leave everything unchanged concerning production and workers. The famous 'Double Comfort' stem was the only Lane innovation.

Things started to change in 1965 after Lane's acquisition of the Ben Wade brand and related machinery. (Actually Lane acquired only few of Wade's machines and not its entire factory in Leeds, that was destroyed during WW II).

Essentially Charatan acquired a brand, rather than a real pipe manufacturing business. Furthermore Lane commissioned some pipes to Preben Holm and Wilmer, for the Ben Wade brand. Charatan took part in this operation too since some Danish freehands were displayed in its catalogue (while the so called 'seconds' were marked Ben Wade).

In mid 1976 Charatan was acquired from Lane by Dunhill. That obviously resulted in some major changes until 1982, when Dunhill decided to shut down the historical Charatan factory in Grosvenor Street.

From this moment on all Charatan's pipes have been produced by Dunhill in the Parker/Hardcastle factory in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

It is worth noting that the factory was in Forest Road and not in 32 St. Andrew Road, Walthamstow, where the Dunhill factory was located since 1982.

In 1988 Dunhill sold Charatan to J.B. Russell and the production was moved to France. For many this is considered Charatan's dark period.

The last change was in 2000, when Charatan was once again acquired by Dunhill and for a few months, the production was moved again to the Parker /Hardcastle site. This operation has to be viewed as Dunhill's goal to give a new life to an old brand of the past, and the production of Charatans, Invictas, Simmons, and Hardcastles is taken over by Colin Fromm in Invicta's site in Chatham. This information leaked during a recent interview with Marc Burrows, head of Dunhill's shop in London's Jermyn Street, who claimed that recent Charatans (from 2003) seem to be superior to those of the first Lane era!

To all this must be added the story of Barry Jones.

Jones started his apprenticeship with Reuben Charatan during the 50s. After a period in the storage and briar curing division, he was introduced by Reuben, who really appreciated Jones' ideas, to the carving of pipes. In a short period Jones became a 'master carver' responsible for many free hands of this period. He put a 'Danish like' style to many creations and he still remained at Charatan even after Reuben's death. He eventually left the company in 1977 (I believe after the disappointing Dunhill acquisition) and then moved to Upshall, or more correctly, to the Tilshead Pipe Co., together with former Charatan director, Kenneth Barnes.

Many collectors consider Jones's creations as the ultimate thus, for them, the 1955-1977 era is seen as the most expressive time of the brand.
We know for sure that after 1965 (acquisition of Ben Wade) some freehand pipes marked Ben Wade and

Charatan came from Preben Holm. This makes the few Jones freehands even more precious.

Jones has also given some detailed information about how to recognize his creations establishing a lot of interest among collectors.

Era identification

For a proper dating of Charatan's pipes we need to target the various 'eras' and see if they are recognizable in the details of particular pipes.

The company history and a precise study of the pipes, lead us to the following eras:

1) Frederick's era 1863-1910

2) Reuben era 1910-1960

3) first Lane era 1961-1965

4) second Lane era 1965-1976

5) first Dunhill era 1977-1981

6) second Dunhill era 1982-1987

7) Russell era 1988-2000 (approx.)

8) new Dunhill era from 2000 (approx.) onward

9) extra, Barry Jones era (approx.) 1955 - 1977

With regard to the different production, and thus quality, these distinctions have to be taken into account:

1) From 1863 to 1981 the production sites are in Mansell Street, then in Prescott Street and finally in Grosvenor Street.

2) From 1965 to 1976 it is possible to come across some Preben Holm pipes made in Denmark (freehands only) or some Willmer (only some bent bulldogs).

3) From 1982 to 1987 Charatans are made in the Parker/Hardcastle site.

4) From 1988 to 2000 (approx.) Charatans are made in the French factory in St. Claude by J.B. Russell.

5) From 2000 (approx.) onward Charatans are made in the Invicta factory in Chatham under the direction of Colin Fromm.

It is worth noting that during the second Lane era, after Ben Wade's acquisition, its machines were installed in the Charatan factory, revolutionizing the production of pipes, especially lower grades. Other were commissioned to outside factories. Most of these pipes went out with the Ben Wade brand but is possible to find some pipes marked Charatan that have been produced by someone else. For sure Preben Holm was involved but there are some suspicions on other factories such as Willmer.

Dating

It is important that the dating operation is carried out on an original pipe. If the mouthpiece/stem has been replaced, this process becomes much more complicated.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

a) Shape of the mouthpiece

b) marking on the mouthpiece

c) engraving on the shank

d)shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the 'Double Comfort' style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by a X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved.
Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others, however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.
From 1961 to 1977 the CP logo is more pronounced and the C penetrates the P.
From 1980 (approx.) the C does not penetrate the P any more, even though the two letters are joined.
The CP of Dunhill era has a different shape than the one of the French Russell era.

c)Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving 'CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND' in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960.
The engraving 'MADE BY HAND (in caps) -IN-City of London' in three lines identifies pipes made between 1965 and 1966. The engraving in script font 'Made by Hand -In-City of London' on three lines identifies pipes made between 1966 and 1979. The circled £ (Lane) characterizes pipes produced from 1955 to 1980 (approx.)

d) engravings are different in both size and shape, depending on eras.

Identification of a first era pipe (Frederick's era, 1863-1910)

Example of a Frederick's era pipe

I immediately point out that pipes of this era are very rare and it is very unlikely to come across a pipe from this time.

Moreover these pipes are indiscernible from those of the second era, the only clue is that pipes of this era are, in 99% of the cases, are quite small in size.

1) Pipes are no larger than a Dunhill group 1 or max group 2

2) Saddle or tapered mouthpiece

3) No double comfort stems

4) The CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P (not always present)

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank

6) Absence of the letter X on the pipe shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

11) The stems are usually made by different material than ebonite (mostly amber, if they have not been replaced)

Identification of a second era pipe (Rueben's era, 1910-1960)

Pipes belonging to this period are rare, however is it possible to come across one. They can be distinguished from a pipe of the first era mainly because their larger size.

Their characteristics are similar to the ones of the previous era.

1) Pipes can be larger, up to the dimension of a Dunhill group 5

2) The mouthpiece is tapered or saddle.

3) No double comfort

4) the CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era).

6) Absence of the letter X on the shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

In this period the Underboar series was introduced too. It was a line of pipes made from 1920 to 1930 (approx.) with its own catalogue, its own brand and logo, and a peculiar 'metal stinger' device in the shank in order to, according to the company, produce a cooler and drier smoke.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4)Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker then in previous eras

Identification of a fourth era pipe (Second Lane era, 1965-76)

Pipes belonging to this period are quite common. Their characteristics are close to the one of the previous era, the distinctive element is that the writing on the shank changes from 2 to 3 lines.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ logo on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipes imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence of the writing “MADE BY HAND – IN – City of London” on 3 lines with the fist line all capitals (only for 6 months in 1965 and so, it makes those pipes quite rare) then, from 1966 to 1979 the 'Made by Hand' as been converted on a lower case script font “Made by Hand -In- City of London”.

6) The CP logo is thicker than the previous era

It is worth mentioning that this period is characterized by many inconsistencies as a consequence of the acquiring of Ben Wade's machines and even the Preben Holm and Wilmer involvement (to whom Lane commissioned a part of the pipes production)

Consequently we can find some Danish style freehands but, on closer inspection, it is possible to see that this era is characterised by inconstancy. Despite what the majority of small collectors and enthusiasts think, maybe attracted by the presence of the £ or of the CP logo with the C penetrating the P.

Honestly this period has not been a good one for the brand, at least for concerning the characteristic 'British style' of the marque.

This chaotic period that lead Dunhill to acquire Lane (in mid 1976) is well detailed in many documents. I want to show of curiosity a letter of the 26th of March, 1973, where it is difficult to understand the situation (and where the real origin of all Charatans of this era as coming from the Charatan's London Factory, is already a source of doubt):

CHARATAN image029.jpg

Identification of a fifth era pipe (First Dunhill era, 1977-1981)

Examples of Chippendale pipes

Dunhill finally acquired Lane Ltd. in April 1976. To be honest this era should begin that year, however to clarify matters, knowing that during the first months everything changed in the production, I assume the beginning of this era to be 1977.

The characteristics of this era are close to the previous one, except for the absence of the LANE symbol (approx. ending of 1980).

In this very first period Dunhill didn't change the production site and the original methods, making plans for the future, and the real revolution took place in 1982.

You may come across a pipe of the 'old generation', It is important to note that if the DC has been added later, it is often out of line with the shape code.
The Belvedere series is sold as a special, named the Chippendale brand, exclusively for Tinderbox.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P (until approx. 1980)

3) Absence of £ on the shank (from the end of 1980 approx., this is because during the first period Dunhill kept the £, as Lane Ltd was property of Dunhill that could use its trademark)

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence of the writing “Made by Hand – In – City of London” (until 1979)

6) The pipes marked Chippendale are just a Belevedere series, On the mouthpiece, instead of the CP they display CD.

Identification of a sixth era pipe (Second Dunhill era, 1982-1987)

Here's how the CP logo changes
Extract from 'Tobacco' magazine, February 1982

This period is characterised by the first great revolution

Dunhill decides to close down the Grosvenor Street plant and to move the production to the Parker/Hardcastle factory in East London.

These are the characteristics:

1) Mouthpiece is double comfort, rarely a saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C does not penetrate the P any more

3) Absence of £ on the shank

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) The markings that sing the praise of a 'London' production are displayed. Though these will disappear when the brand is be passed to Russell, who will move the production to France.

It is worth pointing out:

I perfectly understand that my breakdown of the various eras could cause some 'resistance' from those who are used to thinking about Charatan in a more synthetic way (but even a rough way of doing it).

Therefore I decided to debate my choice with some documents of these last periods, too often badly treated and not studied at all, frequently labelled in a wrong way as 'French periods'.
For a greater awareness of what you are going to buy (if you are interested in Charatan pipe) it is good to take into account this complex division. I am also very proud because I believe this s the first time this has been written about on an international level.

For this reason I attached a little extract from specialized magazine of that time (1982) where is naturally mentioned the Dunhill decision to move Charatan's production towards Hardcastle/Parker channels. Worthless to say how important, for the Charatan brand, this event has been (I would say one of the most important). This caused my decision to split the so known Dunhill era into two different periods.
Generalization is never exhaustive.



Identification of a seventh era pipe (Russell era, 1988-2000 approx.)

This period is characterised by a second revolution.

Dunhill sells the Charatan to J.B. Russell who moves the production from England to France.

The characteristics are:

1) Stem is double comfort

2) In the CP logo, the C does not penetrate the P

3) Absence of £ in the shank

4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC)

5) The markings that sing the praise of a 'London' production are no longer displayed.

6) For the first time, the marking 'CHARATAN of London' appears

7) Sometime is possible to note on the shank or in the mouthpiece the marking 'France'

Continue

As you may have noticed, I decided to update the article and to republish it with every small change. Of course I am still working to add pictures and soon I will finish the missing sections.

I hope that it finally would became an interesting and exhaustive work.

See you soon!

Fabio Ferrara