Blog by Steve Laug
This Dunhill Standing Billiard was one of five Dunhills that came to us in the same lot as the 1922 Dunhill Bruyere Reading Pipe, a cracked shank 1962 Dunhill Shell Briar Pot, a 1928 Dunhill Bruyere EK7 Panel Billiard and the 1905 BBB Calabash Reading Pipe and 1911 BBB Glokar Poker. I have drawn a red box around the pipe in the picture to the left. It is an interesting flat bottom silver banded Standing Billiard. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank DUNHILL [over] Duke St. S.W. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MADE IN ENGLAND [over] “INNER TUBE” [over] PATENTED MARCH 9-15 that is followed by the shape number 66.
It was another filthy pipe with a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The finish was tired and dirty with grime and debris stuck to the surface of the briar. The stem has a small white dot on top and the button on the topside had a deep tooth mark and damage. There was tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his clean up work. He took photos of the bowl and rim to give a picture of the thickness of the cake and lava on the rim top. This must have been a favourite pipe to have that thick of a cake and lava buildup. The stem has tooth chatter and marks on both sides. The top is worse than the underside with deep marks in the top of the button. The pipe is old enough that it had an ivory white spot on the topside. Jeff took photos of the bowl from various angles to give a sense of the dirtiness of the finish but also the unique shape of the billiard sitter. It is going to be a real beauty! Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank . The stamping on the right side is quite faint and could not be captured with a camera. There are some faint spots but over all it is readable as noted above. The second photo shows the band on the shank stamped Sterling Silver.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Root Briar Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:
The original finish produced (usually made using Calabrian briar), and a big part of developing and marketing the brand. It was the only finish from 1910 until 1917. A dark reddish-brown stain. Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red.
There was a link on the above site to a section specifically written regarding the Bruyere finish (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Bruyere). I turned there and have included the information from that short article below.
Initially, made from over century-old briar burls, classified by a “B” (denoted highest quality pipe); “DR” (denoted straight-grained) and an “A” (denoted first quality), until early 1915. After that, they became a high-end subset to the Dunhill ‘Bruyere’. The DR and B pipes, a limited production, they should be distinguished as hand-cut in London from burls as opposed to the Bruyere line which was generally finished from French turned bowls until 1917, when the Calabrian briar started to be used, but not completely. Only in 1920 Dunhill took the final step in its pipe making operation and began sourcing and cutting all of its own bowls, proudly announcing thereafter that “no French briar was employed”.
Bruyere pipes were usually made using Calabrian briar, a very dense and hardy briar that has a modest grain but does very well with the deep red stain.
“Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red. The Shell finish was the original sandblast with a near-black stain (though the degree to which it is truly black has varied over the years). Lastly, the Root finish was smooth also but with a light brown finish. Early Dunhill used different briars with different stains, resulting in more distinct and identifiable creations… Over the years, to these traditional styles were added four new finishes: Cumberland, Dress, Chestnut and Amber Root, plus some now-defunct finishes, such as County, Russet and Red Bark.”
There was also a link to a catalogue page that gave examples and dates that the various finishes were introduced (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Dunnypipescatalog-1.png)I turned to Pipephil’s dating guide to show how I arrived at the date of manufacture for this pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1.html). I am including a chart that is provided there for the dating of a pipe. I have drawn a red box around the pertinent section in the chart. Since the pipe I am working on has no clear patent number but says Patented March 9-15 I take that to clearly show that the pipe was made prior to 1921 and would have been included in the exceptions.I also turned to John Loring’s, The Dunhill Briar Pipe – The Patent Year and After, to work on understanding the DUNHILL [over]DUKE ST. S.W. I found information on page 5 of the book. It read as follows:
The Bruyere pipes were stamped DUNHILL over DUKE ST. S.W. on the shank with an “A” near the bowl to indicate first quality (the reverse side stamping in 1910 is presently unknown) and given shape numbers beginning with 31.
I read earlier sections of the book to do some checking on the Patent Stamping on this pipe. I found what I was looking for on page 58 where he spells out the Smooth Finish Patent Nomenclature Usage. In a very helpful chart he identifies PATENTED MARCH 9-15 that links the pipe to a US Patent for the years between 1915-23.On page 9 it reads:
…Dunhill applied for Canadian and American patents (granted in 1914 and 1915 respectively).
On page 12 it reads:
…From 1910 through October 1918 Dunhill branded its pipes with DUNHILL over DUKE ST. S.W….Inner tube patent numbers or references also serve to denote the earliest the pipe could have been manufactured., e.g. an English patent reference (PAT. No 5861/12) would not have been stamped prior to the 1913 grant, nor a Canadian patent reference (PATENTED 1914) prior to the 1914 grant nor a US patent reference (PATENTED MARCH.9-15 or PAT.AMERICA1915) prior to the 1915 grant.
I now knew that I was working on a Bruyere that came out in between 1915 and 1918 when the Duke St. SW stamp ceased to be used. The shape of the pipe was one of many Billiards that Dunhill put out and that the 66 was a normal Billiard Sitter shape with a taper stem.
I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and scrubbed it down with Soft Scrub All-Purpose cleaner to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the darkening on the rim top. It is roughened and slightly out of round with nicks on the inner edge. The stem had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and on the button itself. The oxidation was gone. The damage on the topside at the button can be seen in the second photo of the stem surface below.I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. It is faint but readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. It had darkening and some damage to the edge. The pipe is almost 100 years old so it is not surprising that there was burn and reaming damage marks on the edge from a previous pipeman. I worked it over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage. When I finished with it, the bowl and the rim top looked much better. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. Even though there were small marks on the briar from the pipe’s journey it began to take on a shine. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and work on the stem. I filled in the tooth marks in the stem surface and rebuilt the edge of the button on the top side. Once the repairs cured I recut the edges of the button with a file and smoothed out the repairs. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Dunhill A Bruyere 66 Patent Standing Billiard from 1915-18 is a beautiful looking piece of briar that has a shape that follows grain. The Bruyere is an early finish that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The red and brown stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The Sterling Silver Band is a great break between the briar and the stem. The polished black vulcanite panel taper stem adds to the mix. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished 1915-18 Dunhill A Bruyere 66 Patent Standing Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31grams/1.09oz. I am still working through what I am going to do with this old timer. I will keep it with me for a while until I decide. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe is classic reminder that we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.