The Dunhill 482 Billiard
Written by John C. Loring
Contributed by Jean-Christophe Bienfait
Over the past couple years four examples have surfaced of a heretofore of a little known but quite important Dunhill shape: the Dunhill Shell ‘482’.
With one exception the 482 is known only in the Shell finish. It is a straight sided 2 3/8” tall billiard, an 1/8” taller and about a ¼” shorter then the ODA 835. As such it is the largest of all the traditional standard shape number/letter Dunhill billiards, i.e. it is to the 2” tall LB what the LC is to the 2” tall 120. In shape and proportion it is somewhat reminiscent of some rare ‘tall boy’ LBs dating to the 1920’s as well as to one of Richard Esserman’s Magnums dating to the same period. While it is most similar, at least in size, to the ODA 835, the differences are enough to give the 482 a distinctive, and to my tastes, more comfortable smoking ‘feel’. In short, like the LC, it is a pipe that one would anticipate Dunhill collectors to at least have heard about.
That this is not the case is likely because the 482 appears to have been offered for only a year or two and in small quantity. One of the four recently found 482s bears an English patent stamping and a 1935 datecode. The other three bear US patent stampings and 1931 and 1935 datecodes. Almost invariably double datecodes with that separation of years is indicative of a factory repair, but in this case I think not. The placement of the second datecode on all three pipes is identical, as if the pipe were stamped with the second datecode one after the other, and the three pipes do not evidence factory repair. Further regardless of date code all four pipes are near identical, suggesting a single manufacturing run. (Note, only three of the four referenced 482s are pictured above.)
I have never seen the shape in a Dunhill catalog. I have spoken to a number of prominent collectors who were also active in the 1980’s and save for two exceptions the shape was similarly unknown. The most important memory was that of Bob Noble who recalled a handful of examples known in the 1980s including those of a West Coast collector (name unknown) who had a Bruyere and Shell pair dating to the early 1930s.
All of this leads me to speculate that the 482 was designed and the bowls carved in 1930/1931, perhaps with the American market in mind since we tend to prefer larger pipes. But times being what they were, shops were not about to take in new inventory. So, continuing the speculation, faced with only a few sales the production run was suspended, and most of the finished and unfinished 482s alike set aside until times improved, i.e. 1935, when the run was completed and sold. There things stood until the late 1940s when once again Dunhill was in a position to target the American market, which it did with a revised 482, a bit shorter and longer, and known as the ODA 835.
Three of the four recently sited 482s were found in non-collector estates (Canada, deep South & the Plains), i.e. no prior collector circulation, and while certainly more were made, with just a couple years production, apparently not enough were made to heretofore reach collectors sufficient to effectively spread the knowledge of their existence. However, I would not be surprised to find that in fact some other examples are in the hands of collectors who just haven’t said anything about them or who don’t recognize the importance of their find. In all events keep an eye out for the 482, its more then an interesting pipe, it’s an important pipe, a great smoking pipe, IMHO as fine a shape as Dunhill has ever produced and well worth having.
note: A fifth 482 has recently shown up on eBay presenting the same 1931/1935 date code stamping, together with dates codes from 1936 & 1937:
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