Tag Archives: Dunhill Pipes

Reconstructing The Rim And Sprucing Up a 1961 Dunhill Bruyere Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a long while since I have posted any write ups here and the primary reason is my laziness. I know and accept that these are very useful as references and as records of the work done till date and yet I enjoy restoring pipes more than doing the write ups.

One of my friends here is an avid collector of pipes and he expressed a desire to expand his collection restricted only to English made pipes. He wanted a Dunhill with crisp stampings (that is always a challenge!) and so began my hunt for one. I found one on eBay Germany, which had a seriously damaged rim edge but otherwise in great condition for a 61 year old pipe. I discussed this piece with my friend and soon the pipe made its way to India and is now on my work table. It’s a classic Billiard with a fishtail stem and a flat bottom that makes it a sitter. The briar is flawless and without any fills or imperfections as expected from Dunhill. The pipe is stamped on the left near the bowl and shank junction as “59” followed by “F/T” followed by “DUNHILL” over “BRUYERE”, all in capital letters, towards the shank end. The right side of the shank is stamped as “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” with suffix 1 after letter D and followed by an encircled “4” and letter “A”. The upper surface of the stem bears the trademark White Dot of the brand.    The brand Dunhill is well researched and documented and pipedia.eu has reams of information on the same. However, of interest to me here is the dating of this pipe, which is fairly straight forward. The shape code 59 denotes Dunhill’s Billiards shape with tapered stem while F/T denotes fish tail style stem. The suffix numeral 1 after letter D denotes 1961 as the make year because firstly, the numeral is not underscored; secondly, it is the same size as the preceding letter D and finally, the letter ‘A’ denoting the finish is slightly larger than the circle enclosing the group size. The encircled letter 4 denotes the group size as 4 and the letter ‘A’ points to the Bruyere finish on this pipe.

With the dating conclusively established, I moved ahead with the initial inspection of the pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
The first thing that one notices is the damaged rim edge, both aft and at the front. The chamber appears to have been reamed and is sans any cake. There is no lava overflow atop the rim surface. The stummel surface is dull, dirty and lackluster. Being a Bruyere finish, the stummel does not boast of excellent grains but it does prove its quality by being a flawless piece of briar without having a single fill or imperfection. There is a slight ghosting smell and would need to be addressed. The shank bottom is flattened making it a sitter. The stem is in fairly great condition with only a few bite marks over the button edges and some minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. Overall, it’s a very decent pipe and I hope to repair and restore this pipe to its former glory. Detailed Inspection
The chamber appears to have been reamed before the pipe was designated for sale by the previous owner and thus the chamber is devoid of any cake. All that remains is some dust and fine carbon particle accumulation along the walls of the chamber. The rim top is darkened but without any overflowing carbon. However, it’s all together a different ball game when it comes to the rim edges. The most significant damage is to the aft outer rim edge where a large chunk of briar has chipped away, most likely the result of a fall from some height. Similarly, the front of the rim outer edge too has a small chunk of briar missing and appears to be the result of knocking against a hard edge. Both these damages are encircled in yellow. The inner rim edge shows signs of charring in the 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock directions. These areas have been encircled in red. The chamber odor is light but present and would need to be completely eliminated. The stummel feels solid in the hand and the surface is sans any dents and dings. However, the surface is dull and dirty with the finish fading out from over the surface. A nice cleaning and polish of the stummel should make things interesting. The mortise and shank walls are clean. The tapered fishtail vulcanite stem is in good condition. There are some tooth indentations on the button edge on the upper surface with tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The stem surface shows some minor oxidation that would be easily addressed. The stem airway is open but would benefit from a thorough internal cleaning.   The Process
I started the process of restoration by first cleaning the stem internals with anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brushes. I scrubbed the stem surface with the soap using a ScotchBrite pad, firstly to rid the surface of old oils and gunk and secondly to remove the loose surface oxidation.I dunked the stem into the deoxidizer solution overnight for the oxidation to be pulled out to the surface. I generally allow the stem to soak in the deoxidizer solution overnight. While the stem was sat aside in the deoxidizer solution, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. I started with reaming the chamber with a size 1 head of the PipNet reamer and progressed to size 2 head. Using my fabricated knife, I gently scrapped away the cake which could not be reached by the reamer head. I further cleaned the chamber with a folded piece of 180 grits sand paper to sand out the remaining traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there were no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. This also reduced traces of old smells from previous usage. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage.I cleaned the shank walls and mortise with a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol. I used a specifically fabricated scoop to scrape out the gunk from the shank walls and face of the mortise wall. There was not much to clean though!  Prior to moving ahead with the rim repairs, I decided to address the strong ghost smells from the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I used cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge. I soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The chamber now smelled clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. The next day, I fished out the stem and cleaned it under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using ScotchBrite pad. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stems with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stems and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed.  I heated the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and followed it up by sanding with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper. This helps to even out the raised surface, address minor tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. The tooth indentations over the button edge, though greatly reduced, were still prominent and would need to be addressed.    Next I filled these tooth indentations with a mix of organic charcoal and clear superglue and set the stem aside for the fills to cure.   Once the fills had cured nicely, I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file followed by further sanding the repair with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.  To achieve a better blending of the repaired surface with rest of the stem as well as to polish the stem, I dry sanded the entire stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding using 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This progressive use of higher grit sandpapers helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive ones while completely eliminating the oxidation and imparting a clean shine to the stem surface.  To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, and wiped the stem with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The finished stem is shown below.  With the stem repairs and polishing now completed, I turned my attention to the stummel repairs and refurbishment. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap; I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel and the rim top. I also cleaned the mortise and shank internals using anti-oil dish washing soap and shank brush. I rinsed the stummel under warm running water and dried it using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. The original reddish dye was also washed away to some extent, but that was not worrisome as I would be re-staining it after repairs. Next, I filled up the large areas of missing briar from the front and back of the outer rim edges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering method. The only disadvantage of this method is the presence of large number of air pockets which necessitates repeated refilling with glue and briar dust. Once I was satisfied with the repairs, I set the stummel aside for the mix to cure completely.  The next evening, the repairs to the edge had completely cured and I moved ahead by filing and rough shaping with a flat head needle file. I further fine tuned the blending by sanding it down with a 150 grit sand paper. Here is how the repaired area appears at this stage. I am very pleased with the way this repair has progressed.    Thereafter, I took the stummel to the topping board with the aim of making the rim top surface smooth and even as the rim top was also rebuilt along with the edge. I topped the rim surface on 220 grit sandpaper with even circular rotations and frequently checked the progress being made. This step also helped to minimize the charring to the inner rim edge. I shall further mask the damage by creating a slight bevel to the inner edge. I am very pleased with the progress being made thus far. Once the repairs to the stummel were completed, it was time to polish and stain the stummel. I dry sanded the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping the stummel with a moist cloth after every pad. I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buffed it with a microfiber cloth. I had hoped that the balm would work it’s magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, but unfortunately that did not happen. Well, moving on to the staining process after this step… While refreshing my readings about Dunhill lines, I remember having read that Dunhill achieved the trademark Bruyere color by having an undercoat of dark brown stain followed by deep red color stain. And that’s exactly what I decided to follow with a slight modification. I would first stain wash the stummel with DB stain and thereafter stain it deep red.

I mixed a small quantity of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with isopropyl alcohol to dilute it and applied it to the stummel with a folded pipe cleaner after heating the stummel with a heat gun. I let this stain wash set for a few minutes and vigorously wiped it down with a clean cotton swab. I repeated this process a couple of times till I was satisfied with coloration of the stummel. The next afternoon, I again heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied Fiebing’s Oxblood stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I painted the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I lit the dye using a lighter which burns the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood. After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours for the stain to set. A few hours later, I wiped the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl alcohol to remove any excess stain from the stummel surface and dry polished the stummel with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The repairs seem to have blended in pretty well to the naked eye, but under a camera, the repairs mark their presence. Yeah, I am pretty happy with the end result. This now gets me to that part of the process where I get to savor the fruits of my labor until this point, that being the final polishing with Blue Diamond and Carnauba wax!

I began the final polishing cycle by mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and applied a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I applied a coat of carnauba wax and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe is as shown below and will soon make it’s way to my friend here for many more years of happy smokes. Thank you for reaching thus far with the write up and really appreciate you being part of my journey in the world of pipe repairs.

Restoring a 1969 Dunhill Shell Briar 60F/T 4S Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another Dunhill Group 4 Shell Briar Billiard with a taper stem that is proportionally well done. It has a two digit the shape number that I will define below. This is another pipe from the group which Jeff and I purchased on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. They had belonged to her husband’s father. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included 28+ pipes along with this one.

This Dunhill Billiard is stamped on the underside and reads 60F/T on the heel of the bowl followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar followed by Made in England9 (two lines with the 9 the same size as the letter D). A circle 4 followed by S is stamped next to that. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Shell Briar and the size is a Group 4. The F/T refers to the Fish Tail style stem. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris stuck on it. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top appeared to have burn on inner edge. It was hard to know what was under the lava at this point. The stem had calcification, oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and rim top and edges. The lava is so thick that is hard to know what the edges and top look like underneath. The sandblast on the rim top is also completely filled in with tar and lava. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Overall the pipe is a real mess. Jeff took a photo of the sandblast finish around the bowl side and heel. It was nice looking if you can see through the grime ground into the blast. He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the bowl, shank and stem. The stamping is readable but filthy. It reads as noted above.Now it was time to begin to work on the stamping on the pipe. Because I had just finished working on another Shell Briar I used the information that I had dug up on that one. I quote below.

Pipedia had some great information on the Root Briar finish and dates and how the finish was made (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Bruyere). The first quote below give the short version of the finish. I quote from both below.

Shell – A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (usually made using Algerian briar) – the color of the stain used has varied over the years. Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill’s Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill’s greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.

The documented history of Dunhill’s inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalog pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.

In 1986 Dunhill released a line of premium Shell finish pipes – “RING GRAIN”. These are high-quality straight grain pipes which are sandblasted. Initially only Ring Grain, but now in two different finishes. In 1995 the “Shilling” was introduced with Cumberland finish – it is an extremely rare series. These pipes exhibit a deeper blast characteristic of that of the 1930’s – mid-1960’s (and the limited ‘deep blast’ pipes of the early 1980s) and show a fine graining pattern. These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.

With that information clear for me I wanted to identify the shape number and try to pin that down (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shape_Chart). I turned to the section on the older 3 digit Shape Numbers and read it. I quote it below.

Early Days – 2 digits/letters – The original skus/model numbers from the 1920’s until the early 1970’s stood for very specific shapes and bowls. For example, the codes 31, 34, 59, 111, 113, 117, 196, LB, LBS… were all different types of Billiard shaped pipes and there were about 50(!), such codes for the Billiard shape alone. On top of those are a large variety of other shapes.

With the information on the 2 digit stamp not making clear enough the meaning of the number I turned to another link on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List) to a shape list that Eric Boehm put together for Dunhills. It is amazing to see the sheer number of variations on the Billiard shape. I copied the four of the two digit numbers in the list as it includes the shape 60 Billiard.

I knew that the pipe shape number locked in a time period between 1920-1970 – a large time span that I needed to narrow down more clearly. I turned to another link on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List) to a shape list that Eric Boehm put together for Dunhills. I copied the two 2 digit numbers on Billiards from the list. The shape 60 was in the list.

59 Billiard, tapered bit 4 5¾” 1928, 50, 69 3

60 Billiard, tapered bit 4 5½” 1928, 50, 60, 69 3 (This is the pipe I am working on. It is a tapered bit Billiard with an F/T or Fish Tail bit.)

I turned next to dating the pipe. There is a 9 following the D in ENGLAND on the underside of the shank. The 9 is the same size as the D in England. I turned to the dating chart on Pipephil to pin down the date on this twin (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I did a screen capture of Part 2 of the Dunhill Dating Key and included it below. I drew a red box around the section dating this pipe. It is clear that the pipe was made after 1954 so that is why I went to Part 2. Once again, because the year suffix is a 9 that is the same size and on line with D in England that tells me that the pipe was made in 1960+9 for a date of 1969.Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. 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. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top was cleaner and the inner and outer edge of the bowl showed some damage. The rim top had smooth spots that would need to be worked on and the sandblast surface had been worn off. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light but visible tooth chatter on either side of the stem.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. It is another great looking Dunhill Shell Briar.I started my portion of the work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to deal with the chipping and cutting on the inner edge. I used a brass bristle wire brush to knock off any residual grime on the rim top. With the bevel and wire brush it looked better but there were still flat spots on the rim top where the blast had worn away. I used a series of burrs on my Dremel to copy the finish that was on the good spots on the rim and sides. I took a photo of the burrs and the rim top once I had finished the rustication process. It looked better and once stained to match the bowl it would look very good.I used a Mahogany and a Walnut Stain Pen to restain the rim top and the inner bevel of the rim edge. Once it dried I buffed it with a cotton cloth and the match was very good. It looked much better with the work on the rim edge.The bowl looked good at this point 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 horse hair 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 my attention to the stem. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 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 and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish it.  This Sandblasted 1969 Dunhill Shell Briar 60F/T Taper Stem 4S is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Shell Briar sandblast finish that highlights the grain and works well with 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 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 Briar 60F/T Billiard is a Group 4 size pipe that will be a great smoker. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ 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 32 grams/1.13 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the British Pipemakers Section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection be sure to let me know. 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.

Restoring a 1967 Dunhill Shell Briar 659F/T 4S Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a Dunhill Group 4 Shell Briar Saddle Stem Billiard that is proportionally well done. It has a three digit the shape number that I will define below. Jeff and I purchased a group of pipes on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. They had belonged to her husband’s father. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included 28+ pipes including this one.

This Dunhill Billiard is stamped on the underside and reads 659F/T followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar followed by Made in England7 (two lines). A circle 4 followed by S is stamped on the flat underside of the saddle stem. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Shell Briar and the size is a Group 4. The F/T refers to the Fish Tail style stem. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris stuck on it. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top and inner edge appeared to have some damage. The stem had calcification, oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it.He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and rim top and edges. The lava is so thick that is hard to know what the edges and top look like underneath. The sandblast on the rim top is also completely filled in with tar and lava. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Overall the pipe is a real mess. Jeff took photos of the sandblast finish around the bowl sides and heel. It was nice looking if you can see through the grime ground into the rugged, deep blast. He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the bowl, shank and stem. The stamping is readable but filthy. It reads as noted above.Now it was time to begin to work on the stamping on the pipe. Pipedia had some great information on the Shell Briar finish and dates and how the finish was made (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Bruyere). The first quote below give the short version of the finish. I quote from both below.

Shell – A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (usually made using Algerian briar) – the color of the stain used has varied over the years. Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill’s Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill’s greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.

The documented history of Dunhill’s inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalog pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.

In 1986 Dunhill released a line of premium Shell finish pipes – “RING GRAIN”. These are high-quality straight grain pipes which are sandblasted. Initially only Ring Grain, but now in two different finishes. In 1995 the “Shilling” was introduced with Cumberland finish – it is an extremely rare series. These pipes exhibit a deeper blast characteristic of that of the 1930’s – mid-1960’s (and the limited ‘deep blast’ pipes of the early 1980s) and show a fine graining pattern. These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.

With that information clear for me I wanted to identify the shape number and try to pin that down (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shape_Chart). I turned to the section on the older 3 digit Shape Numbers and read it. I quote it below.

3-digit system – A 3-digit system (“Interim”) was developed that showed a logical approach to identify pipes in terms of size, mouthpiece, and shape, with the 1st digit being the size, the 2nd digit the mouthpiece, and the 3rd digit the shape, i.e. the old “85” became a “321” which was a group 3 Apple with taper mouthpiece. This was soon to be replaced by a more detailed, formal 4- and 5-digit system around 1978.

This interim numbering system is a bit confusing as the next paragraph and picture will illustrate. It says that the first digit is the size which in this case should have been a 6 but the pipe is stamped with a size 4 number. The second digit is supposed to point to the mouthpiece which is not clear to me. The third digit refers to the shape but again that is not clear. The paragraph below states that the shape number 577 has no special meaning accept for it being the model for that particular pipe.

The first image on the right, (with the shape number 577)  falls into this system, so 577 has no special meaning apart from describing/ being the model for that particular pipe shape (in this case a specific group 2 Billiard with saddle mouthpiece). Around 1973, with the introduction of computers, new categories were introduced that indicated size, mouthpiece, and shape. As for the “T”, in 1952 a full-size “T” was added after the circled group size stamp to further describe the Tanshell finish (in 1953 the “T” was reduced to about half the size). So this pipe dates from 1952.

With the information on the 3 digit stamp not making clear enough the meaning of the number I turned to another link on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List) to a shape list that Eric Boehm put together for Dunhills. It is amazing to see the sheer number of variations on the Billiard shape. I copied the three of the three digit numbers in the list as it includes the shape 659 Billiard.

Billiards:

659 Billiard, saddle bit 4 5½” 1950, 1969 3

660 Billiard, saddle bit 4 5½” 1950, 1969 3

710 Billiard, tapered bit 4 5½” 1950, 1969 3

659F/T Billiard with a saddle bit. (This is the pipe I am working on. It is a tapered bit Billiard with an F/T or Fish Tail bit.)

I turned next to dating the pipe. There is a 7 following the D in ENGLAND on the right side of the shank. I turned to the dating chart on Pipephil to pin down the date on this twin (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I did a screen capture of Part 2 of the Dunhill Dating Key and included it below. I drew a red box around the section dating this pipe. It is clear that the pipe was made after 1954 so that is why I went to Part 2. Once again, because the year suffix is a 7 that is the same size and on line with D in England that tells me that the pipe was made in 1960+7 for a date of 1967.Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. 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. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top was cleaner and the inner edge of the bowl looked rough. There was burn damage all the way around but heavier on the front and the back of the bowl on the top and inner edge. The bowl was slightly out of round. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light but visible tooth chatter on either side of the stem.  I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the saddle portion of the stem. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The overall look of the pipe is quite nice.I started my portion of the work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to deal with the chipping and cutting on the inner edge. It cleaned up remarkably well. With polishing and buffing it would look even better.I used an Walnut Stain Pen to restain the rim top and the inner bevel of the rim edge. Once it dried I buffed it with a cotton cloth and the match was very good. It looked much better with the work on the rim edge.The bowl looked very good at this point 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 horse hair 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 my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the vulcanite stem with the flame of the lighter. I was able to lift almost all of the tooth marks and chatter except one on the top side that I needed to fill in with drop of clear CA glue. I sanded the repair and the remaining tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 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 and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish it. This Deeply Sandblasted Dunhill Shell Briar 659F/T Saddle Stem 4S is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Shell Briar sandblast finish that highlights the grain and works well with 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 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 Briar Saddle Stem Billiard is a Group 4 size pipe that will be a great smoker. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ 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 34 grams/1.20 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the British Pipemakers Section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection be sure to let me know. 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.

Restoring Another Lovely 1958 Dunhill Root Briar 34F/T 2R Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another Dunhill group 2 sized Billiard. It is a small Root Briar Billiard that is proportionally well done. It has a two digit the shape number that I will define below. It is identical in stamping, shape, size and condition to the previous Root Briar 34F/T I worked on yesterday (https://rebornpipes.com/2022/05/27/168579/). Jeff and I purchased the pipes on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included 28+ pipes along with this one.

This Dunhill Billiard is stamped on the left side and reads 34 F/T followed by Dunhill over Root Briar and on the right side is stamped Made in England8 (two lines) followed by a circle 2 followed by R. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Root Briar and the size is a Group 2. The F/T refers to the Fish Tail style stem. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris stuck on it. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top had burned area on the left front top and inner and outer edges. There was darkening and burn damage on the inner edge all the way around. There were burn marks toward the back of the rim top. The stem had calcification, oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. The pipe came to us in a meerschaum pipe case (just like is twin). The case was not original. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the burn damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. It is the kind of damage that come from repeated lighting in the same place. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Overall the pipe is a real mess. Jeff took photos of the grain and finish around the bowl sides and heel. It was nice looking if you can see through the grime ground into the finish. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. There is no photo of the right side stamping that gives the Made in England date code. The stamping is readable but filthy.Now it was time to begin to work on the stamping on the pipe. Because I had just finished working on a twin to this pipe I used the information that I had dug up on that one. I quote below.

Pipedia had some great information on the Root Briar finish and dates and how the finish was made (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Bruyere). The first quote below give the short version of the finish. I quote from both below.

Root Briar – Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish (usually made using Corsican briar – was made exclusively from that briar into the 60s). The Root Briar finish requires a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or at Principle Pipe Dealers. Straight grained pipes were formerly graded A through H, but are now only “Dr’s” and graded with one to six stars, with the letters G and H still used for the very finest pieces.

“Dunhill introduced its third major finish, the Root finish, in 1931. Corsican mountain briar is characteristically beautifully grained and the Root was made exclusively from that briar into the 1960s. The pipe was finished with a light natural stain to allow the beauty of the graining to show through. Although always available with a traditional black vulcanite bit, the Root was introduced in either 1930 or more likely 1931 and fitted with a marble brown dark and light grained vulcanite bit that has since become known as the ‘bowling ball’ bit because of the similarity in appearance between the bit’s finish and that of some bowling balls of the time. With the war, however, the bowling ball bit was dropped from production. Through 1954 (and after) the Root pipe nomenclature (including shape numbers) was identical to that of the Bruyere except that instead of the “A” of the Bruyere, the Root was stamped with an “R”. In 1952 when the finish rather then LONDON was placed under DUNHILL, ROOT BRIAR rather then BRUYERE was used for the Root.” Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

With that information clear for me I wanted to identify the shape number and try to pin that down (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shape_Chart). I turned to the section on the older 2 digit Shape Numbers and read it. I quote it below and added a chart on the numbers.

The original skus/model numbers from the 1920’s until the early 1970’s stood for very specific shapes and bowls. For example, the codes 31, 34, 59, 111, 113, 117, 196, LB, LBS… were all different types of Billiard shaped pipes and there were about 50(!), such codes for the Billiard shape alone.

There was a link there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List) to a shape list that Eric Boehm put together for Dunhills. It is amazing to see the sheer number of variations on the Billiard shape. I copied the first three in the list as it includes the shape 34 Billiard.

Billiards:

31 Billiard, tapered bit 1 4¾” 1928, 1950 3

32 Billiard, tapered bit 1 5″ 1928, 50, 60, 69 3

34 Billiard, tapered bit (Dental) 2 5½” 1928, 50, 60, 69 3. (This is the pipe I am working on. It is a tapered bit Billiard. It does not have a Dental bit as noted above. Rather than the Dental bit it has a F/T or Fish Tail bit.)

I turned next to dating the pipe. There is a superscript 8 following the D in ENGLAND on the right side of the shank. I turned to the dating chart on Pipephil to pin down the date on this twin (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I did a screen capture of Part 2 of the Dunhill Dating Key and included it below. I drew a red box around the section dating this pipe. It is clear that the pipe was made after 1954 so that is why I went to Part 2. Once again, because the year suffix is 8 that tells me that the pipe was made in 1950+8 for a date of 1958.Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. 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. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.  The rim top was cleaner and the inner edge of the bowl looked rough. There was burn damage all the way around but heavier on the front and the back of the bowl on the top and inner and outer edges. There was also darkening on the rim top. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light but visible tooth chatter on either side of the stem. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The overall look of the pipe is quite nice.I started my portion of the work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I topped the bowl on a board with 220 grit sandpaper to take down the damage on the top of the rim and outer edges. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to deal with the chipping and cutting on the inner edge. It cleaned up remarkably well. With polishing and buffing it would look even better. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The rim top looked very good and the bowl began to take on a rich glow. I used an Oak Stain Pen to restain the rim top and the inner bevel of the rim edge. Once it dried I buffed it with a cotton cloth and the match was very good. There was some darkening on the back inner edge of the bowl but it is in far better condition.The bowl looked very good at this point so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips 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 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 and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish it.  This 2nd beautiful 1958 Dunhill Root Briar 34F/T 2R is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Root Briar finish that highlights the grain and works well with 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 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 Root Briar Billiard is a small pipe that will be great for sitting and reading. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. 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 27 grams/.95 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the British Pipemakers Section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection be sure to let me know. 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.

Restoring a lovely 1958 Dunhill Root Briar 34F/T 2R Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another Dunhill that is a group 2 sized Billiard. It is a small Root Briar Billiard that is proportionally well done. It has a two digit the shape number that I will define below. Jeff and I purchased on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included 28+ pipes along with this one.

But now this Dunhill Billiard. On the left side it is stamped 34 F/T followed by Dunhill over Root Briar and on the right side is stamped Made in England8 (two lines) followed by a circle 2 followed by R. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Root Briar and the size is a Group 2. The F/T refers to the Fish Tail style stem. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris stuck on it. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top had burned area on the left front top and inner and outer edges. There was darkening and burn damage on the inner edge all the way around. There were a few burn marks toward the back of the rim top. The stem had calcification, oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. The pipe came to us in a meerschaum pipe case from the owner. It was not original. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the burn damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. It is the kind of damage that come from repeated lighting in the same place. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Overall the pipe is a real mess. Jeff took photos of the grain and finish around the bowl sides and heel. It was nice looking if you can see through the grime ground into the finish. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. There is no photo of the right side stamping that gives the Made in England date code. It is readable but filthy.Now it was time to begin to work on the stamping on the pipe. I turned first to Pipedia as I remembered they had some great information on the Root Briar finish and dates and how the finish was made (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Bruyere). The first quote below give the short version of the finish. The second link goes into more detail. I quote from both below.

Root Briar – Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish (usually made using Corsican briar – was made exclusively from that briar into the 60s). The Root Briar finish requires a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or at Principle Pipe Dealers. Straight grained pipes were formerly graded A through H, but are now only “Dr’s” and graded with one to six stars, with the letters G and H still used for the very finest pieces.

“Dunhill introduced its third major finish, the Root finish, in 1931. Corsican mountain briar is characteristically beautifully grained and the Root was made exclusively from that briar into the 1960s. The pipe was finished with a light natural stain to allow the beauty of the graining to show through. Although always available with a traditional black vulcanite bit, the Root was introduced in either 1930 or more likely 1931 and fitted with a marble brown dark and light grained vulcanite bit that has since become known as the ‘bowling ball’ bit because of the similarity in appearance between the bit’s finish and that of some bowling balls of the time. With the war, however, the bowling ball bit was dropped from production. Through 1954 (and after) the Root pipe nomenclature (including shape numbers) was identical to that of the Bruyere except that instead of the “A” of the Bruyere, the Root was stamped with an “R”. In 1952 when the finish rather then LONDON was placed under DUNHILL, ROOT BRIAR rather then BRUYERE was used for the Root.” Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

With that information clear for me I wanted to identify the shape number and try to pin that down (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shape_Chart). I turned to the section on the older 2 digit Shape Numbers and read it. I quote it below and added a chart on the numbers.

The original skus/model numbers from the 1920’s until the early 1970’s stood for very specific shapes and bowls. For example, the codes 31, 34, 59, 111, 113, 117, 196, LB, LBS… were all different types of Billiard shaped pipes and there were about 50(!), such codes for the Billiard shape alone.

There was a link there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shapes_List) to a shape list that Eric Boehm put together for Dunhills. It is amazing to see the sheer number of variations on the Billiard shape. I copied the first three in the list as it includes the shape 34 Billiard.

Billiards:

31 Billiard, tapered bit 1 4¾” 1928, 1950 3

32 Billiard, tapered bit 1 5″ 1928, 50, 60, 69 3

34 Billiard, tapered bit (Dental) 2 5½” 1928, 50, 60, 69 3. (This is the pipe I am working on. It is a tapered bit Billiard. It does not have a Dental bit as noted above. Rather than the Dental bit it has a F/T or Fish Tail bit.)

I turned next to dating the pipe as it would be more straightforward than the numbering on the shank. There is a superscript 8 following the D in ENGLAND on the right side of the shank. I turned to the dating chart on Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I did a screen capture of Part 2 of the Dunhill Dating Key and included it below. I drew a red box around the section dating this pipe. It is clear that the pipe was made after 1954 so that is why I went to Part 2. Because the year suffix is 8 that tells me that the pipe was made in 1950+8 for a date of 1958. Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. 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. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.   The rim top was cleaner and the inner edge of the bowl looked rough. There was burn damage all the way around but heavier on the front of the bowl on the top and inner and outer edges. There was also darkening on the back rim top and edge. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light but visible tooth chatter on either side of the stem.   I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The overall look of the pipe is quite unique. The stem shorter than the bowl and shank but looks quite good.I started my portion of the work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I topped the bowl on a board with 220 grit sandpaper to take down the damage on the top of the rim and outer edges. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to deal with the chipping and cutting on the inner edge. It cleaned up remarkably well. With polishing and buffing it would look even better. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The rim top looked very good and the bowl began to take on a rich glow. I used an Oak Stain Pen to restain the rim top and the inner bevel of the rim edge. Once it dried I buffed it with a cotton cloth and the match was very good.The bowl looked very good at this point so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips 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 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 and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish it. This beautiful 1958 Dunhill Root Briar 34F/T 2R is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Root Briar finish that highlights the grain and works well with 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 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 Root Briar Billiard is a beauty. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. 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 24 grams/.85 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection be sure to let me know. 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.

What would you call this Dunhill Bruyere 54791 – a Scoop?


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is another Dunhill but one that I am not sure how to identify the shape. It is kind of a scoop with a long oval shank but the shape number is not on any charts that I have looked at. Even though it has five digits the number is the same as a four digit number. The extra digit defines the bowl style. Anyone have any idea what to call this or perhaps can give me a chart that shows the number? Much appreciated. Jeff and I purchased on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included another 28+ pipes with this one.

But now this Dunhill is the question. On the left side it is stamped 54791 followed by Dunhill over Bruyere and on the right side is stamped Made in England19. I know that it is a Bruyere finish but the shape number still is a mystery. It has a long oval shank, scoop like bowl and a ¼ bent taper stem. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris stuck on it. The bowl had a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the top and edges without removing the lava. The stem had calcification, oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflowing onto the rim top. It appears to me that the rim is damaged but I will not know for sure until it is reamed and cleaned. It is also hard to know the condition of the rim top at this point. The outer edge of the bowl looks to be okay. The stem was heavily oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Overall the pipe is a real mess.Jeff took photos of the grain and finish around the bowl sides and heel. It was nice looking if you can see through the grime ground into the finish. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. There is no photo of the right side stamping that gives the Made in England date code. It is readable but filthy.Now it was time to begin to work on the stamping on the pipe. I turned first to Pipedia as I remembered they had some great information on the Bruyere finish and dates and how the finish was made (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Bruyere). The first quote below give the short version of the finish. The second link goes into more detail. I quote from both below.

Bruyere – 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.th

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Bruyere

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.”

With that information clear for me I wanted to identify the shape number and try to pin that down (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Shape_Chart). I turned to the section on the Five Digit Shape Numbers and read it. I quote it below and added a chart on the numbers.

The 5th digit indicated the style of the bowl within the group of a similar classification, each identified by the last digit, which could be any number between 1-9.

While e.g. within the Gp.4 Billiard there were 5 different styles of bowls (5th digit being either 1,2,3,4, or 9), for a Gp.1 Billiard there were only 3 styles used (5th digit being 1, 2, or 9).

Although the 5-digit code was stamped on the pipe and thus was visible to the consumer, it was mostly used for internal production planning purposes and to a lesser extent for retail staff. The system proved to be quite complex.

The elimination of the 5th digit on the pipes (in 1984) resulted in better management of the pipe stock as there were less skus and it also facilitated the work for the sales staff in the retail shops as the complexity and number of skus was considerably reduced.

Notes:

When 5 digits occur, the meaning of the 4 first remain the same. 5 digit shape numbers was added in 1976 and ended in 1984.I turned next to dating the pipe as it would be more straightforward than the numbering on the shank. There is a superscript 19 following the D in ENGLAND on the right side of the shank. I turned to the dating chart on Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). I did a screen capture of Part 2 of the Dunhill Dating Key and included it below. It is clear that the pipe was made after 1954 so that is why I went to Part 2. Because the year suffix is 19 that tells me that the pipe was made in 1960+19 for a date of 1979.Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. 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. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.  The rim top was cleaner and the inner edge of the bowl looked rough. There was burn damage all the way around but heavier on the left half of the bowl. There was also darkening on the edge. The outer edge looked good. The stem surface looked good with the oxidation gone and light but visible tooth marks and chatter on either side of the stem. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The overall look of the pipe is quite unique. The stem shorter than the bowl and shank but looks quite good.I started my portion of the work on this pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to deal with the chipping and cutting on the inner edge. It cleaned up remarkably well. With polishing and buffing it would look even better.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The rim top looked very good and the bowl began to take on a rich glow. The bowl looked very good at this point so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips 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 surface of the stem ahead of the button with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth chatter and marks. It worked exceptionally well and all were lifted enough that sanding what remained removed them. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started 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 and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish it. This beautiful and unique 1979 Dunhill Bruyere 54791 Scoop is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Bruyere finish that highlights the grain 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 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 Bruyere Scoop is a large pipe that will be great for sitting and reading. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 55 grams/1.94 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection be sure to let me know. 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.

Breathing Life into a Beautiful Dunhill London HW R7 Patent Era Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe is one that we picked up from an estate sale on 16 August, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, USA. It has some stunning grain around the bowl and shank and has the appearance of being a beautiful Bruyere or Root Briar but it is not stamped with either of those. The stamping on the left side reads HW with a square stop next to the bowl/shank junction followed by DUNHILL [over] London. On the right side it is stamped R7 next to the bowl/shank union and to the left of that it reads Made In England [over] Pat. No.417574 followed by a superscript 0 . Several things about the stamping were new to me but were also very distinctive. For instance the HW was not a shape designation that I had seen. The Patent number followed by the superscript 0 rather than that 0 by the D in England was different. Those are a few new things for me on this pipe. This was going to a fun pipe to research.

The pipe itself was quite dirty. The finish was tired with grime ground into the surface. The bowl was heavily caked with a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. While the inner edge looked good there were nicks around the outer edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and dirty. There were deep tooth marks against the edge of the button on both sides and there was chatter around those marks as well. The surface of the button also had tooth damage on the top side. It was a dirty, intriguing and beautiful pipe! Jeff took photos of it before he started his clean up on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top. You can see how thick the cake is in the bowl and on the top. You can also see the dust that had collected in the cake in the bowl. It was a dirty pipe. His photos of the stem also show the oxidation, calcification and tooth damage to the stem and button on both sides. He took some photos of the side and heel of the bowl to show the grain. It is a very nice looking piece of briar and once the grime it gone it should really look amazing.Jeff took some photos of the stamping on the shank side to capture it. Some portions of the stamp are weak and not as clear but overall it is very readable. Now it was time to try to unravel the stamping on the shank sides of the pipe. I was really interested to understand what the various components of the stamping meant. I turned to a book I always use with Dunhills, John C. Loring’s – The Dunhill Briar Pipe The Patent Years And After. I have found that it is really a definitive work when working dating and understanding Dunhill stamping. I will walk you through my work on the stamping in the paragraphs that follow. The conclusion is at the end!

I decided to start with the left side of the shank – HW followed by Dunhill [over] London. I quote from the above book, page 89-90.

‘OD’ ‘HW’ and ‘ODA’ stampings on the brand side of the shank next to the bowl (where an “A” or “R” would normally be found) usually indicated a special or a premium pipe…

“HW” was another pre-war stamping and meant ‘Hand Worked’. This stamp was used, sometimes in conjunction with superscript square stops, to identify hand carved versions of standard, machine carved, shapes. An “HW” stamping was not necessarily indicative of higher pricing.

Now I knew that the HW with the small square meant that the pipe was a pre-war Hand Worked pipe that was identical to a machine carved Pot. That was a start but now I wanted to understand the Dunhill [over] London stamp that followed it. I was getting excited about the age of this pipe. Again from Loring, page 13-14

From November 1918 through 1951, the brand side of the Bruyere was stamped DUNHILL over LONDON. In addition one to three letter (most generally an A but occasionally DR, OD, or HW) were stamped to the left of the primary brand stamping, near the bowl.

I have included a chart from Loring (inside the back cover). I have drawn a red box around the pertinent portion – 1932-1951 to show the stamping on both sides of the shank.Now I knew that I was dealing with a Dunhill London pipe (possibly a Bruyere) made between 1932-1951 because of the stamping on the left side of the shank. Now it was time to turn to the stamping on the right side of the shank and unravel that. The dates were beginning to solidify and my excitement was growing.

On the right side of the shank it is stamped R7 next to the bowl/shank union and to the left of that it reads Made In England [over] Pat. No.417574 followed by a superscript 0 . I decided to tackle the R7 stamp near the bowl first to see if I could determine what it meant.

From Loring, page 61, I quote the following.

“R”. An “R” signifies the Root finish pipe. From 1931-1954 it was stamped on the brand side of the shank near where the shank meets the bowl. “R” is also the letter code for the classic Dunhill pot shape.

Page 63-64 From inception through 1975 Dunhill generally gave its pipes shape numbers of two or three digits. Beginning with 31 (shape number 1-30 were sold but not made by Dunhill from 1907-1910)… The shape numbers or letters were stamped on the reverse side of the shank near the bowl. Prior to the war special shape modifications, such as churchwarden stem or a flat shank (that would allow the pipe to be rested on a flat surface with the bowl opening facing up) were signified by preceding the shape number with a “C” or “T” respectively. In addition to the shape number, some post-war shapes were stamped with another number following a slash, e.g. ‘shape number’/1, which I speculate probably referenced the bit type…

Page 65… In the case of a letter denoted shape the slash was sometimes omitted, e.g. “R 21”

From this I knew that the R7 stamp signified a Pot shaped designation and the 7 was a reference to the style of the taper stem.

I turned to deal with the pattern number stamped on the right side of the shank – Pat. No.417574. In Loring’s book on page 58 he gives a great summary of the Smooth Finish Patent Nomenclature Usage. I have included that chart below. Once again I have drawn a red box around the portion that applies to this pipe. You will note that there are two listings with the Patent Number I have – one with the /34 and one without it.The /34 dates the pipe to 1942-1954 while the Patent Number without the slash number dates it to 1935-1941. This gives a narrowing of the date to 1935-1954. The patent also refers to an inner tube in the shank with a spring flange (Loring, Page 57). Wow, the date is getting more and more focused for me.

The only remaining piece of the mystery is the stamp 0 (0 as a superscript) which follows the patent number. I am used to finding the date stamp after the letter D in England. But this is the first that I have seen in this location. So once again Loring provided the information I needed on the back cover of his book. I quote from there:

The date code is almost always found immediately after either the “D” of MADE IN ENGLAND, the “E ”of FABRICATION ANGLAISE or the Patent Reference (Red letter and underline emphasis is mine).

That gave me the information I needed regarding the superscript/underlined 0 (0) after the Patent Number. It was definitively the date stamp. Now it was just a matter of identifying the date from that information. Once again the back cover of Loring’s book gave me the answer. I am including a photo of the chart with the area of interest blocked in red.The superscript/underline 0 points to a date that is determined by the above chart in the third If statement in the red boxed photo above. It says –“If there is a patent reference not ending with “/34”, DUNHILL is not possessive and there is no inner tube – 1940”. All of the “nots” fit the pipe in hand. The mystery is solved and a date is set! It is ten years older than I first thought when I saw it.

Thus, thanks to all of John Loring’s hard work, I know that the pipe I am working on is a 1940 Dunhill Hand Worked Bruyere that is a Pot shape with a 7 style stem.

Now it was time to work on this old timer. Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks better and the briar has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the grain. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and oils and then soaked it in Before & After Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it with warm water and ran pipe cleaners through once more. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver it was a great looking pipe with beautiful grain. I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff’s work. The rim top looked quite good and the edges were in decent condition. There was some darkening on the top of the rim and the edges. The photos of the stem showed the tooth damage very clearly on both the stem surface and the button edges.I took some photos of the stamping on the shank sides and they read as noted above. They are faint in spots but still readable.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe taken apart. It really is a beautiful pipe.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the briar down after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The grain really began to shine and stand out. Now it was time for Before & After Restoration Balm to work its magic on the briar. I have come to really love this product. I work it into the briar with my fingertips to clean, restore and enliven the briar. It always leaves the grain really popping on the pipe and this was no exception. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes then buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth. It is a stunning pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem (Shape 7). I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to try and lift the dents at and on the button a bit. It worked to some degree but there were still significant dents left. I filled in what remained and rebuilt the button edges with black Super Glue and set the stem aside as the repairs cured. Once the repairs cured I reshaped the button and flattened out the stem repairs with a small file. I sanded them smooth and continue to reshape the button with 220 grit sandpaper. While I was at it I also sanded the rest of the stem to remove some of the oxidation that remained. I started polishing out the scratches with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I decided to work over the oxidation a bit more with SoftScrub cleanser. I scrubbed the stem with cotton pads and was able to remove all of the oxidation. The stem really was beginning to look good at this point.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This incredibly beautiful HW (Hand Worked) DUNHILL LONDON R7 Pot Made In England Pat. No.4175740 is a special oldtimer. The HW stamped says it was hand worked and it was made before WWII by Dunhill. The R7 is the designation for a Pot shape with a 7 shape stem. I put the stem on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping so as not to damage that). I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe are – Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.13 ounces/33 grams. It is really a gorgeous old timer and one that will reside in my own collection of older Dunhill pipes. I look forward to enjoying it soon.

Breathing Life into a 1950 Dunhill Shell Briar R Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is the second one that came to me from a friend up the British Columbia Coast. It is the second of two Dunhill pipes that he found in a shop along the coast. It is a Shell Briar Pot that is worn and has a lot of damage to the rim top. It is the pipe in the front of the photo below. You can see the damage to the rim top and how the rim top is damaged at the back and the front of the rim top and the outer edge of the bowl. The photo was sent to me by Chris. When the pipe arrived I took photos of what it looked like. Chris had done some preliminary cleaning of the pipe before he sent it to me and it look quite clean. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number R followed by Dunhill [over] Shell Briar followed by Made in England with a superscript underlined 0. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by S for Shell. Interpreting that stamp follows: The R is the shape for a straight stem Pot. The Dunhill Shell Briar is the finish which is corroborated the S in the circle. The underlined 0 following the D of England dates the pipe. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some interesting grain shows through the blast finish. There was still a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top had a lot of damage and wear on the top and outer edges.  The top was no longer flat. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the damages. The rim top and edges are a mess with lots of damage caused by beating it against a hard surface. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It has potential to be a great looking pipe.  I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Shell Briar Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Shell

A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (usually made using Algerian briar) – the color of the stain used has varied over the years. Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill’s Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill’s greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.

The documented history of Dunhill’s inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalog pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.

In 1986 Dunhill released a line of premium Shell finish pipes – “RING GRAIN”. These are high-quality straight grain pipes which are sandblasted. Initially only Ring Grain, but now in two different finishes. In 1995 the “Shilling” was introduced with Cumberland finish – it is an extremely rare series. These pipes exhibit a deeper blast characteristic of that of the 1930’s – mid-1960’s (and the limited ‘deep blast’ pipes of the early 1980s) and show a fine graining pattern. These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.

I turned to Pipephil to establish a date for a Dunhill with the stamping that was on this pipe. The date stamp 0  (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1b.html) I have marked the box below with a red box around the part of the date key that is applicable. The pipe dates to 1950.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damaged rim top. I started the process by topping the bowl on a topping board and a piece of 240 grit sandpaper. My main concern was to flatten the top and remove some of the gouges and damages. I then built up the damaged areas on the front and back outer edges of the bowl with briar dust and CA glue. I wanted to raise the profile of the edge in those areas. I would rusticate them so I was not overly concerned with what it looked like at this point. I used various burrs on the Dremel to approximated the sandblast finish on the rim top and bring it back to reflect the sandblast and nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl and shank. I stained the newly shaped rim top with an Oak and a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. I was pretty happy with the newly stained rim. It look a lot better than when I started and worked with the finish.I figured I should clean up the bowl after that work. I reamed it with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took back the remaining cake to briar so I could check out the condition of the bowl walls. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the inner tube at the same time. With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. 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 cleaned out the tooth marks with alcohol and filled them in with black super glue. I set the stem aside to allow the glue to cure. Once it cured I recut the edge of the button with a file and then sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. 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 Shell Briar R Pot is a beautiful sandblast that came out looking very good. The Shell Briar finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Shell Briar R Pot 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 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember 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.

Breathing Life into a Dunhill Tanshell 253 Group 4 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to me from a friend up the British Columbia Coast. It is the first of two Dunhill pipes that he found in a shop along the coast. It is a Tanshell Briar Billiard that is worn and has a lot of damage to the rim top. It is the pipe at the back of the photo below. The second one is a Dunhill Shell Briar. The photo was sent to me by Chris. The second photo shows the damage to the rim top and edges. It was worn and damaged. The sandblast finish was destroyed and a chewed up top and edge was left behind.When the pipe arrived I took photos of what it looked like. Chris had done some preliminary cleaning of the pipe before he sent it to me and it look quite good. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 253 followed by Dunhill [over] Tanshell followed by Made in England. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by T for Tanshell. Interpreting that stamp follows: The 253 is the shape for a straight stem Billiard. The Dunhill Tanshell is the finish which is corroborated the T at the end of the stamping. There is no date stamp following the D of England to date the pipe. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some interesting grain shows through the blast finish. There was still a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top had a lot of damage and wear on the top, the inner and outer edges. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter ahead of the button.  I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The rim top and edges are a mess with lots of damage caused by beating it against a hard surface. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained 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 turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Tanshell Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Tanshell

The first lot was distributed in 1952 (usually made using Sardinian briar). The prototype was called “Root Shell “, produced in 1951. The Tanshell is a light tan sandblast. Sardinian briar was used for this sandblast. There is a distinct contrast in the sandblasts using Sardinian as opposed to Algerian briar. The Sardinian is much denser and much harder. The resulting pattern, when blasted, is far more even and regular both in terms of the surface texture and the finish.

The Tanshell was Dunhill’s fourth finish and its first major post-war line addition. Introduced in 1951/1952 the Tanshell was a naturally stained sandblasted pipe made exclusively from Sardinian briar through the 1960s. The Tanshell apparently was not simply a light stained Shell but rather was also the product of “certain processes [unrevealed] not previously employed.” Initially, it appears that the pipe was to be named the Root Shell and a stamp to that effect was ordered and received by Dunhill in May 1951. Ultimately, however, the name Tanshell was settled upon but the stamp for the Tanshell name was not received by Dunhill until the beginning of December. Thus while the Tanshell was in production in 1951 it appears that most if not all Tanshells made in that year did not enter into retail distribution until 1952 and were given a 1952 date code. Loring, J. C., The Dunhill Briar Pipe, The Patent Years and After (self-published, Chicago, 1998).

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to bring it back into round.  While the finished rim edge is not perfect it is far better. To deal with the damaged rim top I gently topped it on a topping board and a piece of 240 grit sandpaper. My main concern was to flatten the top and remove some of the gouges and damages.I used various burrs on the Dremel to approximate the sandblast finish on the rim top and bring it back to reflect the sandblast and nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl and shank. I stained the newly shaped rim top with an Oak and a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. I was pretty happy with the newly stained rim. It look a lot better than when I started and worked with the finish.I figured I should clean up the bowl after that work. I reamed it with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took back the remaining cake to briar so I could check out the condition of the bowl walls. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the inner tube at the same time. With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. 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 turned my attention to the stem. 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 Tanshell 253 Billiard is a beautiful sandblast that came out looking very good. The Tanshell finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 253 Tanshell 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 ½ 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 36grams/1.27oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember 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.

Help for what looked like a hopeless 1956 Dunhill Shell Briar LBS Long Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A friend of mine, Scott picked up this deeply sandblasted Dunhill LBS in a shape I would call a Liverpool but Dunhill called a long billiard. He bought it off eBay and when it arrived it had a lot of surprises for him under the thick build up of cake and grime. He has purchased enough estate pipes know what he was getting into but this one had even more issues than he reckoned it would have. He sent me the eBay sellers photos and I have included them below. This is what he saw and honestly if I had seen the pipe I would have sprung for it immediately. The sandblast though dirty, is quite rugged and stunning. The seller dated the pipe as a 1956 based on the following stamping. On the heel of the bowl it was stamped with the shape designation – LBS followed by DUNHILL [over] SHELL BRIAR (Sandblast finish) on the shank. That was followed by MADE IN ENGLAND6 . Next to the shank/stem junction it was stamped with a Circle 4S – the group 4 size designation and the S for Shell Briar.  I turned to PipePhil’s Site and looked up the shape letters that Dunhill used on the helpful chart that is included there (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes-l.html). I did a screen capture of the pertinent part of the chart to show the shape letters noted above.   I have included that below.The bowl had a very thick cake and the rim top had a heavy lava  buildup. The bowl had a crack running down the back side of the bowl. It was hard to know how bad it was because of the filth of the dirty pipe. It was a good bet that it would be messy inside the bowl under the cake! The stem was oxidized, calcified and had deep tooth dents on both sides at the button as well as wear on the button surface itself. It would be a challenge.When the pipe arrived at Scott’s place it was in rougher condition than he had expected. Nonetheless he went to work on it. He knew that he needed to ream the cake back to bare briar and clean up the exterior of the bowl to know for sure how bad the damage was on the inside and outside of the bowl. He did a great job cleaning up the exterior and reaming and cleaning out the bowl so the damage on the inside and out were incredibly visible. This pipe was in serious trouble. Scott and I share and affinity for these older craggy Dunhills so he sent me an email. I have included that below.

Hi Steve, Great job on that 1936 Dunhill.  Are you going to be putting it up for sale?  If so, I’m interested.  Also, I have a large 1956 shell briar Dunhill billiard that has a great blast and good stem, but has a crack in the front and a bad interior.  It’s out of my comfort zone – will you do such work for pay?

Thanks,  Scott

We sent several emails back and forth regarding the pipe discussing what needed to be done. I asked him to send me some pics of the pipe after his clean up. He did so along with the email below.

Hi  Steve, Here are pics of the Dunhill.  The crack is on the shank side, straight above the shank – it’s splits to form two cracks (hard to see).  I cleaned the bowl (inside and out) then put a clamp around the bowl to see if it would push together, and it moved a lot, but not all the way, so the next step would have been to use compressed air to get any slivers/dust out  of the crack.  That’s where I stopped, figuring it had waited for 30 or so years, so it would be okay.

There also seems to be some rot on the rim of the bowl and there is a small chunk out at the top of the crack.  My plan had been to sand down the top after the repair was done.

Thanks, Scott When I saw the pipe in his pictures I fell in love with the shape and the rich, rugged looking blast. I could see at once why Scott had been drawn to it. We chatted back and forth and the long and short of it is that it is now on my work desk to see what I can do with it. I will give it a shot and then send it back to Scott once it is finished. I took photos of when I received it. The rim top looked rough. It was beat up and missing a chunk over the crack on the back of the bowl. The finish was pretty much removed. The bowl was clean and the damage on the inside was extensive. The stem had cleaned up well. The tooth marks are visible in the photos of the stem that I have included below.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is faint in spots but is still very readable.I removed the stem from the shank to prepare to work on the bowl. I put the stem aside and took pictures of the bowl to just savor the rugged sandblast. Even the rim top, as damaged as it was still has a bit of the sandblast finish that I thought would be redeemable. I cleaned out the cracks on the exterior with alcohol to remove the remaining debris. I checked the entire bowl with a bright light and lens to make sure I could see all the cracks and not be surprised with ones I had missed. Sure enough they were all around the back side of the bowl. They ran from the rim down and then turned to the left and then down once again. I layered briar dust and clear CA glue in the cracks. I repaired the chip out of the back side of the rim top at the same time in the same manner. Before it completely dried I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the repairs and blend them into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. I find that if you do not do this you end up with flat spots where the repair occurredOnce the repair cured I wiped the areas down with alcohol on a cotton pad and stained the areas with a walnut stain pen. I would use a combination of stains later to further blend them in. I just wanted to see what the repair looked like and be able to send photos to Scott.With the exterior finished it was time to work on the inside of the bowl and deal with all of the spidering cracks and large cracks around the interior walls. They were not just confined to the back of the bowl but covered the majority of the bowl and heel surface. I mixed a batch of JB Weld with a dental spatula and applied it to the walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner to act like a paint brush. I pushed the JB Weld into the cracks in the bowl walls and gave the entire interior a coat of the product. I have checked out the research on the product and find that it dries inert and does not gas off when heated. I have used it on my own pipes and smoked them for over 10 or more years with no issues. With that finished I called it a night and set the bowl aside for the repairs on the interior to cure overnight. In the morning I sanded inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out that area. I wrapped a dowel with 220 grit sandpaper extending it just below the dowel so that it would form a cone on the end and allow me to sand the bottom of the bowl. I worked on it to smooth the repairs and remove as much of the JB Weld as possible while leaving it in the cracks and fissures of the walls. With the bowl repair finished I stained the bowl and rim with Mahogany, Walnut and Black stain pens to match the combination of stains used on the bowl that was not repaired. I was happy with the overall look of the pipe. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the blast. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth  and shoe brush to raise the shine.      I cleaned the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove my sanding debris and residual tars and oils in the mortise and airway. I cleaned the internals of the stem the same way. Once finished the pipe was clean and repaired inside and out.Now it was time to mix a bowl coating. Different folks used different things for this. I use a mix of sour cream and charcoal powder. I learned this from a pipe maker friend. I use it on a bowl that I have repaired with JB Weld because when I sand the bowl it is very smooth and I want to facilitate the building of a carbon cake. The bowl coating does that. Surprisingly it cures neutral in taste and imparts no flavour to the tobacco when smoked. Within a few bowls it is basically covered with the developing cake. It works for me!I applied the mixture to the bottom and walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. I paint it on and smooth it out with the pipe cleaner. I am not looking for a thick coating of the product but merely a top coat. Too thick a coat will just peel off when the pipe is smoked. I want it to stay put for a few bowls anyway! I set the bowl aside for the bowl coating to cure and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. The method worked extremely well and I was able to lift the majority of them. There were two marks – one on each side that lifted but needed to be filled. I filled them in with clear CA glue. Once it cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button edges. I started the polishing 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 really is a beautiful Dunhill Shell Briar LBS Long Billiard.  The relatively short vulcanite taper stem just adds to an already great looking pipe. If you did not know where the cracks were you would never be able to find them now. The rich combination of Mahogany, Black and Walnut stains on the bowl give depth and dimension to the sandblast. It came alive with the polishing and waxing. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax as I did not want to fill in the valleys. I gave 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 Briar LBS Group 4 pipe is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. . The weight of the pipe is 40grams/1.41oz. Once the bowl coating completely cures I will be packing it up and sending it back to Scott. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of it when he has it in hand. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.