Blog by Al Jones
I found this 1963 Dunhill shape 552 on Ebay last week. The auction ended early in the week at an odd time and it went largely unnoticed. It looked to be in pretty decent shape, but with some bite marks on the bottom of the stem. It is a Group 4 pipe in Bruyere finish (A = Bruyere) At first, I thought it was a Rhodesian, then later thought it looked more like a tomato. Neill Archer Roan commented that it had some Diplomat DNA.
The pipe was delivered today. It was pretty much as pictured, but I also discovered it is a 6 mm filter pipe. The briar was in great shape, with a little tar and rim darkening. There were no dings or bruises to deal with. The stem was also in decent shape and only lightly oxidized. There were a few light teeth marks on both sides of the stem, and all but one lifted out with some heat from a lighter flame.
The bowl had a fairly thick cake and I reamed it with my Castleford bit set. The bowl was then soaked with Everclear and sea salt.
I polished the stem with some 800 grit wet paper, followed by 1500 and 2000 grade. Then I moved to the micromesh, 8000 and 12000 grades were used. I gave the stem a light buff (mounted to the briar) with some White Diamond. I have a bar of jewelers “Red” rouge on order and I’m curious to see how it compares to the White Diamond for finish work. The stem has some odd marks in the vulcanite, almost like an imperfection. I could not remove them by sanding or buffing.
I polished briar lightly with some 8000 grade micromesh, keeping away from the weak nomenclature. I then buffed the bowl, again lightly with White diamond and then several coats of carnuba wax.
After searching online for several days, I couldn’t find out much about this shape. I found only one other shape 552, a shell finish pipe sold at an Ebay auction in 2007. The 552 is also not on any Dunhill shape chart (Loring, etc.). On the SmokersForums.uk in the “Streets of London” social group, one member there, dmcmtk (Dave) said he has a shape 556 from 1963. He had heard Dunhill was experimenting with shape variations at this time and perhaps my 552 was part of that experimentation. I have emails out to several Dunhill collectors, but haven’t yet received a reply. If you know anything about this shape number, please comment.
Here’s the finished pipe.