Dunhill Additional Stamps

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I’m not sure whether it was Barry Levin or Bob Hamlin who first recounted the story of a visit to a famous pipe maker who explained that some nomenclature changes were simply the result of mislaying the right stamping tool and then later finding it again, but the point is not all pipe nomenclature is consistent or lends itself to ‘logical’ explanation. Similarly Michael Friedberg in his ’89 article on early Dunhill dating advised that "In the early years, Dunhill was not always consistent in its stampings." quoting for support Dunhill archivist Gomersall’s letter to the effect that:

"We hope you can appreciate that it is only with some trepidation we issue information on this subject especially in reference form, for from our experience, the interpretation of such data, can be and often is, much adrift. The markings have to be taken as points of evidence and weighed in the balance of experience and ‘feel’, for at times all the factors do not add up for the uninitiated to make a positive judgment."

Alfred Dunhill was very much a perfectionist, and while inconsistency and inadvertent omission are a necessary part of the human condition, I interpret Mr. Gomersall’s comments differently, for I have found that with respect to Dunhill nomenclature, seeming inconsistencies when viewed with sufficient nomenclature examples or given thought do in fact reveal a fairly consistent logic. So rather, I interpret Mr. Gomersall as simply saying that early Dunhill nomenclature is not without it’s complexities, that the factory records are incomplete for this time period, and the time increasingly distant. Thus when faced with seeming inconsistencies (e.g. the circled and uncircled "A") I believe it is most probably the result of having not yet developed a sufficient universe of pipe nomenclature examples to allow for an understanding of the underlying logic or alternatively simply not having thought the complexities through.

Loring, J. C., THE PRE ’25 DUNHILL PIPE - INCONSISTENT NOMENCLATURE (self-published, Chicago, 1997).



Prior to 1922 Dunhill marketed some 'seconds' or as termed by the company "faIlings" under the Dunhill brand name. Final examination in the Dunhill production process came after stamping and finishing and it appears from one example seen that pipes failing that examination were stamped with a large distinctive "X" over the DUNHILL stamping and then sold in the shop at a discount. From another example seen it appears that pipes 'dinged' at the Duke Street shop or otherwise selected for price reduction were stamped "DAMAGED PRICE [followed by the reduced price]" on an otherwise empty unstamped area of the pipe, i.e. the bottom of the shank on a Bruyere. In fact the very pipe that is often considered the first Dunhill ultimately became a 'second'. This was the 'windshield' pipe that Alfred Dunhill had manufactured in 1905. When that pipe proved less then a success Dunhill had the distinctive 'windshield' cut off and sold the recut pieces at a discounted price.

Up to 1920 Dunhill had it's bowls cut for it in St. Claude France. The grading after the bowl turning process is where many a flaw is spotted and as long as the bowl turning was done in St. Claude Dunhill was able to leave the 'failings' behind and had only to deal with those flawed pieces that cropped up in the oil treatment, carving, and finishing process. Thus while as late as 1919 Dunhill considered introducing a 'seconds' line that would have been called the Red Spot pipe, the 'failings' were not significant enough to warrant such a course. However, when Dunhill began turning it's own bowls in 1920 with the consequent substantial 'failings' it had little choice but to form, as it did Alfred Dunhill did not believe in waste and similar to the above, during it's first decade Dunhill also offered a reduced price, ever-changing My Mixture blend #75 which consisted of all the left over tobacco from custom blending mixed together. in 1922, the Parker Pipe Company to finish and market those 'failings'.· It appears that with the formation of Parker Dunhill ended the marketing of any seconds, as such, bearing the Dunhill brand.
Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

About the C

Here we have many variables, we need to observe the whole scenario, because it depends on where it is graphed. For example, the "C" can indicate the model, in this case, a "Churchwarden" - if it is aligned with the pipe style. It also can be the "C" for classification of the series "OD" or the series "D.R". It can be a courtesy used in cases of replacements covered by the warranty period or complimentary, used as retirement gifts (were over-stamped "not for sale" in addition to the letter). In other cases, because it was a courtesy, they were not dated not to delimit the warranty period. There is also, the "C" of "Greetings" (with compliments) destined to British royalty.

From the 1920's through the 1960's a "C" was usedin the shape stamping preceding the shape number to signify a churchwarden. Pipes of that period with churchwarden stems but no "C" in the shape nomenclature can be suspected of having a churchwarden bit later fitted to a pipe not initially intended to be a churchwarden. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

Let's see some examples:

About the Little Square

Another atypical marking, a small square that denotes that the pipe was manufactured on demand, with details and proportions defined by the customer. At the beginning of the 20s there was a marking with that same purpose, which was recycled years later in the post-war, was the "O.D", that means "Own Design", which turned into "Oversized Dunhill" decades later, during the WWII. See one example:

pic by ©Nate Allen

Early days
I have seen subscript square stops on DRs dating from the 1910's to 1922 stamped either before or after DUKE ST S.W. or LONDON. Other then the subscript stop noted with respect to a Root DR I have seen no such markings in connection with the root finish. However I have seen a subscript square on 1931 and 1937 Shells following the shape/category stampings. Likewise a square subscript stop has been found on a late '30s DR immediately following the "DRR" stamping (which is stamped where the "A" would normally be found on a Bruyere). I have found no information as to the rationale for these seemingly random circles, stops and numbers, but since there is nothing else random about the Dunhill nomenclature I strongly suspect that these ancillary stamps in fact began as uptick work/quality/pricing codes. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

On Pipephil we have this information: The little squares are typical to older DR stampings. Their meaning is not established but may be related to pricing categories. But Loring considered this in one of his articles:

Information not reported here strongly indicates that while stop stampings continued after the early 1930s for Root DRs and into the post WWII period, both the placement of stops and grade system changed dramatically. In light of some inquiries and loose remarks on eBay it should also be noted that while one often sees stop stampings with standard Bruyeres (i.e. non DRs) of the 1910s and 1920s before either an A or a circled (A) there is no indication from the catalogs that these stops were value indicators. Undoubtedly whether a standard Bruyere pipe during this period was stamped with a circled or uncircled A or followed by a stop was meaningful, but that meaning most probably related to production or distribution concerns as opposed to grading or value. Loring, Grading the Pre World War II Dunhill Bruyere DR.


About H.Wo / HT

From the beginning of the 20s (perhaps 1923, when - according to some, Dunhill began to fully fabricate its pieces) by the end of the 30s, some pipes were completely manufactured, i.e, without any kind of automation. These pieces received the following marking on the shank: "H.Wo", referring to Hand Worked. The Carved Heads and D.Rs, which were also hand-crafted, however, were within another classification and did not receive this marking. In Carved Heads case, they were "OD " from pre-WWII.

"H.W" was another pre-war stamping and meant 'Hand Worked'. This stamp was used, sometimes in conjunction with subscript square stops, to identify hand carved versions of standard, machine carved, shapes. An "HW" stamping was not necessarily indicative of higher pricing. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

  • Note: HT(Hand-Turned) is currently used instead of H.Wo, but the concept is the same.

Contributed by Yang Forcióri Yang (talk) 09:17, 4 November 2019 (CST)