Blog by Steve Laug
Sometimes when you see a pipe you just need to pull the trigger and buy it. We put in a bid and picked up the pipe from an online auction on 02/02/22 in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, USA. It is a petite Dunhill Shell Liverpool. It is stamped on the heal of the bowl and reads 33/4 which is the shape number. Following that Trinidad 1942 scratched in. That is followed by Dunhill Shell Made in England over Pat. No.1341418/20. It is going to be fun figuring out the dating on the pipe as there is no date stamp on the pipe. The Patent No. should help but we shall see. To me what is interesting is the information scratched into the shank – Trinidad 1942. I will need to have a look at what happened there in 1942. Obviously the previous owner was there at that time and either purchased the pipe there or brought it with him to that moment.
Now for the condition of the pipe itself. It is a small pipe with a rugged blast. The finish was very dirty but no damage showed on the sides or shank. The rim top was lightly covered with lava but it did not show damage to the surface of the rim or the outer and inner edges. There was a moderate cake in the bowl with some tobacco debris in the cake. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button. There was an aluminum inner tube in the shank that extended from the tenon to the entry of the airway at the bottom of the bowl. It was dirty and tarry looking. There was an aluminum washer on the tube that sat at the point it entered the tenon. It was a great looking pipe and once it was cleaned and restored it would be quite stunning. Jeff took photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho and before he started his clean up work. He took close up photos of the rim top and stem to give a clear idea of the condition of the pipe. You can see the items I pointed out regarding both in the above paragraphs. He took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the briar and the beautiful sandblast finish on the pipe. It is a beautiful old pipe under the grime and grit of the years. Jeff captured the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. You can also see the Trinidad 1942 stamping between the two.He removed the inner tube from the shank and stem and took photos of it. It extends the length of the shank with the angled end extending into the bottom of the bowl. Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to try and establish the date it was made. I turned to John Loring’s, The Dunhill Briar Pipe – the Patent Years and After to see what I could learn from John’s work. Since there was no date stamp the Patent No. would help me at least give a time frame. I am thinking the Trinidad 1942 mark might also help with that.
On the Back cover there is a summary of the stamping on the shank. The one that applied is shown below 1935-1951 DUNHILL SHELL MADE IN ENGLAND. I have included that in a screen capture below. I drew a red box around the pertinent section below.I turned to Page 59 to follow up on the Patent No. 1341418/20. That points to a time period between 1941-?1943. I have drawn a red box around the section that matches the stamping on this pipe in the screen capture below.That 1941-43 time period fits the scratched Trinidad 1942 date as well. I did some reading on what happened in 1942 in Trinidad. I turned to Google and found several links to what was happening in Trinidad in 1942. The first of these gives an overview of what was happening there (https://ww2db.com/country/trinidad). I quote:
Trinidad, located just off South America, was a British Crown Colony since 1802 through the Treaty of Amiens. It was originally an agricultural colony (sugar cane, cocoa, among other products). In 1889, the nearby island of Tobago was placed within Trinidad’s borders. In 1857, oil was discovered in Trinidad, and major oil drilling operation began in 1907. In 1925, Trinidad held its first elections for the local Legislative Council. In 1941, during WW2, German submarines were detected in waters surrounding Trinidad, which intended on attacking Allied shipping. US Army personnel arrived on the island in Apr 1941 through the US-UK Destroyers for Bases Agreement. In early 1942, plans for establishing major air presence on Trinidad began to take shape, and before long, units on Trinidad and elsewhere in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico regions could effectively stave off most German efforts at disruptions. After WW2, bases on Trinidad were disbanded by 1950. Trinidad and Tobago obtained self-governance in 1958 and independence in 1962.
The second link referred to an article by Annette Palmer entitled “Black American Soldiers in Trinidad, 1942-44: Wartime Politics in a Colonial Society”. The article give a focus on the need of Trinidad in 1942 (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03086538608582720?journalCode=fich20). I quote from that article below.All of that information made me wonder if the pipe had traveled to or been purchased in Trinidad. Could it have traveled there with the Black American 99th Coastal Artillery Regiment who came there in May of 1942? Or perhaps the pipe came with other American soldiers white or black in 1942. We will probably never know for sure but it is an interesting piece of history.
Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual procedure. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and then rinsed it off with warm water. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water. It looked amazing when I took it out of the package of pipes he shipped me. So much so that it is the first of those pipes that I chose to work on. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top and the inner and outer edges of the bowl all look very good. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light tooth marks and chatter on either side of the stem. The stamping on the heel and underside of the shank is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a proportionally pleasing pipe. The bowl looked very good after Jeff’s cleanup work so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface to try and raise the tooth marks on both sides. I was able to raise them a little but the deeper ones remained. I filled them in with Black Super Glue and set them aside to cure. Once the glue cured I used a small file to flatten the repairs and reshape the button edge. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite stem 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 Beautiful, petite Dunhill Shell 33/4 Pat. No.1341418/20 Liverpool is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The deep sandblast that is used around the bowl is highlighted by the dark, rich stains and works well with both the polished vulcanite stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Dunhill Shell 33/4 Liverpool is petite pipe that will be great for enjoying a nice Virginia or Virginia/Perique blend. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 20 grams/.71 ounces. This pipe will stay with me for now as the history of it intrigues me. I hope to enjoy it many times on the front porch over the summer ahead. I take a moment to remind myself and each of us that we are trustees of pipes that will outlive us and the lives of many other pipe men and women who carry on the trust of their care and use. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.