Tag Archives: Pipe and tobacco history

A Collection of Brigham Documents


Blog by Bill Tonge & Steve Laug

Bill Tonge, who has written several blogs for rebornpipes has become a big collector and fan of Brigham pipes. He refurbishes them and enjoys their workmanship. Several months ago he talked with Brian Levine, the US Brigham representative and received these brochures and sales flyers for Brigham pipes. When he told me about the collection I asked him to photograph them for me so that I could post them on the blog. What follows is that collection. The text is hard to read in some of the brochures but the photos of the shapes and designs are amazing. There are shapes in there that I have never seen and I have had a lot of Brigham pipes over the years. Enjoy the photos. Thanks Bill for photographing these for us to read. Much appreciated.Brigham 1

Brigham 3

Brigham 2

Brigham 5

Brigham 4

Brigham 6

Brigham 7

Brigham 9

Brigham 8

Brigham 10

Brigham 12

Brigham 13

Brigham 14

Brigham 19

Brigham 15

Brigham 16

Brigham 17

Brigham 18

Brigham 21

Brigham 20

A Book Review – Our Family Business by Mary Dunhill


Blog by Steve Laug

9dca8450e349c2007078376e9fa56ebdI just finished reading Our Family Business by Mary Dunhill (pictured to the left). The book is written in the style of personal reminiscences of the author. It is quite engaging. She starts with her memories of the family from birth and moves through the various business developments as they happened and as she saw them in her growing up years. She gives a brief glimpse at the history of the Dunhill family and their settlement and house building efforts that ran parallel to the family business. It is an inside glimpse of the making of the Dunhill business groups and the people and family behind the development.

After reading the book I believe that the words written on the fly-leaf of the cover summarize the book really well: “At the age of seventeen Mary Dunhill joined her father’s pipe making and tobacco business, starting at the bottom as an assistant cashier. 38 years later she became the chairman of the Dunhill group of companies, a job she held through fourteen years of international expansion. Her book demonstrates the demands that a professional career make on a woman as well as the skill that women can bring to the problems of management. Yet this is more than a career story, more than a history of an enterprise unlikely to be rivalled in the economic conditions of today. It is a candid portrait of the Dunhill family, of their beginnings as harness makers and of the very different personalities that went into the building of a rare quality and character.”

Like most books or reminiscence the book does not have a table of contents. There are no simple headings on the chapters to give the reader an idea of the content of that chapter. It is written in a flowing style that proceeds from the early years to the later years of the writer. It is as if the reader is taken inside the head of the writer and given an intimate glimpse of her life. Mary had done a masterful job in being transparent about what she when through in a way that I have seldom seen in personalities of this ilk.

To help potential readers make a decision on whether to purchase and read the book, I have summarized the content of each chapter below.

41Xh2VfDTLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Preface – pages 5-7 – a note from Mary Dunhill on the flow and content of the book as she tells the story of her life within the Family Business.

Chapter 1 – pages 9-13 – Mary’s birth into the Dunhill family in Edwardian London. The development of her father’s move into the tobacco business is introduced. The opening of the shop in Jermyn and Duke Street stocked with pipes, tobaccos and cigars.

Chapter 2 – pages 14-21 –The early history of the Dunhill family and the related trades and businesses they engaged in. The development of the Dunhill Motorities. The chapter ends with a description of the early work of Mary’s father prior to opening his tobacco shop.

Chapter 3 – pages 22-29 –The life of Mary’s family in Harrow before the WWI. The hard times of the tobacco business on Duke Street. Her father began to make a name as a blender of the My Mixture blends. She also introduces the reader to her mother.

Chapter 4 – pages 30-38 – The life in the new house in Woodlands with a look at her school and social events. She met Rex, the man she married forty years later. Inserted into this chapter are a collection of family photos. Each is labelled and gives a clear picture of life in those times.

Chapter 5 – pages 39-46 – The development of the Dunhill pipe and the rise of that pipe to fill the need for pipes that did justice to Alfred’s blends of tobacco. A brief history of briar pipes and the way Dunhill pipes were made and the number of pipe makers employed to meet the demand.

Chapter 6 – pages 47-54 – The prosperity of the Dunhill’s is explored and their move into a life of maids, cooks and butlers is described.

Chapter 7 – pages 55-61 –Mary’s life in boarding school and how it led her to leave school and enter the family business as a junior clerk.

Chapter 8 – pages 62-72 – Her work at the Notting Hill Gate factory. Notting Hill factory turned out several thousand Dunhill pipes per week. The history of the Dunhill lighter is introduced toward the end of the chapter.

Chapter 9 – pages 73-83 – Another move to another house – the “Barn” is described and detailed. Mary explains the start of her own small cosmetics business that introduced her to customer service and business management (later it became a lucrative part of the Dunhill label).

Chapter 10 – pages 84-92 – A second photo section. The details of business development in US, Canada, France and England are mentioned and some of the famous clients of Dunhill products. The chapter ends with the birth of her first daughter, Kay.

Chapter 11 – pages 93-102 – Beginning with the birth of her second daughter, Tessa and exploring the development of the Dunhill Company during Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and the war years. She describes the bomb damage to the Jermyn Street frontage of the Duke Street shop and the destruction of much stock. Reflections on how they survived the war years.

Chapter 12 – pages 103-109 – Post war growth of the Dunhill Company. The global developments of the business are detailed. The changes in the family are also noted with the deaths of many of the older Dunhill family members of Mary’s first husband Geoffrey.

Chapter 13 – pages 110-119 – Mary’s growing involvement in the work of the Board. Her responsibility of management of the struggles of the Company in the late 50s is detailed. Her line of Mary Dunhill cosmetics had expanded across the US. The chapter ends with her marriage to Rex.

Chapter 14 – pages 120-126 – Mary’s role as Chairman of the main Dunhill board beginning in 1961. This chapter details her role on the board and the changes and developments that occurred in the early years.

Chapter 15 – pages 127-133 – The Far East marketing of the Company with significant development in the Japanese Market added to a Far East boom period. The company was also in a boom in Europe and the US. As Dunhill continues to develop, Mary’s daughter Tessa killed herself in hospital.

Chapter 16 – pages 134-140 – Summarizes the business of the Dunhill Company from 1912 through 1975 when her nephew, Richard took over the company – pipes, tobacco, lighters and accessories, jewellery, leather goods, watches, writing instruments. A diversified portfolio of products was sold.

Chapter 17 – pages 141-146 – Summarizes some of the lessons learned in her life in the family business. She describes the happiness that she experienced in leading the company during its growth years.

This book is autobiographical in nature but at the same time given the length of Mary Dunhill’s involvement in the family business it gives an intimate picture of the history of the Dunhill Company with all of its constituent parts. The inner workings of the company and the development of the tobacco blending and later pipe making aspects are rich with history for the pipeman who loves to understand the ins and outs of his/her hobby. Well worth the read. The style and manner of the writing is clear, concise and also full of revelations about Mary’s own feelings and struggles both in life and as the head of a large company.

A Book Review – The Pipeman’s Companion by Ogden’s of Liverpool


74522My copy of this book was published by Interfocus Publishing, Bristol, England. It is marked a First Edition and dated 2000. The cover of this of my edition is seen to the left and is the publisher’s original illustrated card wrap cover [softback]. It contains 59 printed pages of text with colour illustrations and photographs throughout.

On the inside cover there is a dedication that reads: To Pipe Men Everywhere from Ogden’s of Liverpool.
Across the page from the dedication is a Welcome from the editors that reads as follows:

“The Pipeman’s Companion is an unashamed celebration of the pleasures of the pipe and pipe smoking. It is brought to you by Ogden’s of Liverpool – Britain’s leading pipe tobacco manufacturer, whose world renowned brands include Gold Block, Amphora and the best-selling St. Bruno. The Pipeman’s Companion is also an invaluable reference work that all discerning pipe men will want to return to time and again. We have attempted to cover every fascinating facet of the history and practice of pipe smoking, with the aim of enhancing every pipe smoker’s understanding and enjoyment of this most satisfying of pastimes – be they experienced by pipe men, or eager new recruits. Ogden’s of Liverpool, with its distinguished past, looks forward to remaining a trusted companion to pipe men for many years to come.”

A brief glance at the table of contents gives a clear idea of what is included in the pages of the book.
Chapter One – pages 2-11 – The Smoking Story, Five Hundred Years of Pipe Smoking
Chapter Two – pages 12-20 – The Tobacco Story, Blended to Perfection
Chapter Three – pages 22-33 – The Pipe Story, Crafted with Devotion
Chapter Four – pages 34-39 – The use and Maintenance Story, A Friend for Life
Chapter Five – pages 40-47 – The Ogden’s Story, Sweet Smell of Success
Chapter Six – pages 48-53 – The Antiques Story, Bringing the Past to Life
Chapter Seven – pages 54-57 – The World Story, Pipe Smoking Across the Globe
The Glossary – pages 58-59 – Pipe Smoking, Tobacco and Pipe Terminology

The book is a beautiful table top sized book filled with highly readable text and many photos of pipes, etchings, artwork and photos of antique pipe and tobacciana. The sidebars of each page are filled with historical pictures and short notes on all things pipe and tobacco related. These side bars run next to the main body of the text and are a pleasure to read by themselves. In Chapter Three there is a great photo spread and short side bar expanded over several pages about Bill Ashton Taylor and his Ashton pipes. It has some great photos of Bill turning bowls, filing stems and flaming stain on newly made pipes. Include are charts of pipe shapes and the anatomy of a pipe etc. The pipe chapter includes not just briar but also Clay and Meerschaum with some great photos of carving and shaping Meerschaum pipes.

Chapter Four on pipe maintenance is well written and includes material on pipe lighters, matches, pipe reamers and tampers. This chapter has charts on reaming correctly and on common pipe problems solved. It is interestingly written with a great wealth of information in the space of a few pages generously interspersed with colour photos of pipes and pipe tools.

Chapter Five is a history of Ogden’s of Liverpool from its beginning to the early years of the 2000’s. It is again richly written and there are some amazing photos included of tins from the Ogden Tobacco line as well as great photos of the factory and production floor. The side bars in this section continue the tradition of the previous chapters in including tidbits of information and historic photos and artwork. For instance there is a full page of advertisements and posters for St Bruno. These alone are fascinating.

Chapter Six is on Antique Pipes and gives a collection of photos of all kinds of pipes. There is a front spread of carved Meerschaum pipes that is beautiful. Some of the pipes are huge while others are delicate and unusual. There is for instance a cased set of a Victorian couple lying in bed – two pipe bowls inserted under the “Covers” with stems set in the cover of the pipe case.

Chapter Seven is a quick world tour through word and photographs of the state of pipe smoking. It is well written and captures the universal appeal of the pipe and tobacco.

The book ends with a useful glossary of terminology. It covers pipe shapes, pipe anatomy, pipe repairs and types of tobacco and cuts of tobacco. It also covers pipe accessories and how they are used. It is a helpful list with short definitions.

The Pipeman’s Companion is a well written book that is a great read and visual display of all things pipe related. It is easily a book that could be read as you smoke your favourite bowl of St. Bruno’s or as you sit and read by the fire on a cold winter’s evening. It will provide hours of enjoyment and is a great refresher to the long time pipeman as well as important information to the new pipe smoker. It truly welcomes us into the world of pipemen throughout history. Well done Ogden’s of Liverpool for a well crafted book on the world of the pipe. Thank you for your work in producing this book.

Brochure: Your Guide to Proper Pipe Care


I was clearing out a desk drawer this evening and came across this old pipe care brochure. It is entitled “Your Guide to Proper Pipe Care” and was given out by Smokers’ Haven, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. I do not know the age of the piece but it was fun to read it again. In fact I am not sure where I picked it up as I have never been to Smokers’ Haven nor have I have been to Columbus. I thought that some of you might be interested in reading it.

Pipe 1

Pipe 2

Pipe 3

Pipe 4

A Piece of Tobacciana History – a Bakelite Bowl on a Bakelite Base


This is a new one to me. I have never seen this combination of parts. I have refurbished quite a few of the screw on bowls on Bakelite bases with either metal or vulcanite stems. I even recently completed a Bakelite base with a Bakelite stem on it. But never have I seen a Bakelite bowl. This one is solid Bakelite with no lining whatsoever. The bowl is like a cup. This one was another Chuck Richards gift. I think he takes delight in these surprises. And a surprise it truly is. There is not a single identifying stamp on the pipe so it is a mystery as to its manufacture. It is very unique. The brass ring between the bowl and base was loose and slide around as the pipe was moved. The bowl was lightly coated with tar. The rim had some dings in it and the base/stem unit was not even at the button. Each side of the angle coming down to the button was off and there were tooth marks in the stem. The inside cup of the base was dirty and the inside of the shank and stem unit was also dirty with tars. The end of the button and orific “o” opening was very clean and unstained which is a bonus. Once I get it cleaned up I intend to load a bowl and see what it is like to smoke. The first series of four photos show the pipe as it was when it arrived to my worktable.
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I took it to the work table this morning and took it apart. I cleaned all the parts of the pipe with Everclear and a soft pipe cleaner. I scrubbed out the cup in the Bakelite base with Everclear on a cotton pad. There was darkening to the Bakelite that I could not remove but the slight build up disappeared. I cleaned up the brass ring and then reglued it to the base. I used a white glue to anchor this to the base. The next series of three photos shows that process.
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I sanded out the interior of the bowl with 320 grit sandpaper, wiped it down with Everclear on a cotton pad and then sanded it again with a fine grit sanding sponge. I sanded down the rim of the bowl with the sanding sponge to remove the slight nicks in the edge of the bowl and clean up the rough edges. I followed up with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. The picture below shows the cleaned bowl.
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I reshaped the stem and button area with needle files to repair the angles and remove the tooth marks. I sanded the newly shaped area with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper to remove the file scratches. I followed up with micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000 grit to progressively polish and shine the stem and base. I sanded the entire base with the micromesh sanding pads. There were many small surface scratches in the surface that the micromesh took care of. The next series of eight photos show the reshaping of the button area from the use of the files through the sanding with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads.
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The bowl did not seat well on the base. It seemed to sit at a bit of an angle and did not fit into the bottom of the cup. I sanded down the bottom of the bowl insert to remove a small portion of the material to reduce the depth of the threaded portion of the bowl. I also sanded the thread carefully to remove the nicks and chips to the surface. I used micromesh to sand the threads as I wanted to merely clean them up not damage or reduce them. Once this was completed the bowl threaded on more easily and also was seated well on the base. The next series of three photos show the reseating of the bowl.
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At this point in the process I sanded the entire pipe with micromesh sanding pads. I used all the grits from 1500-12,000 to polish the Bakelite and give it back its luster. This took quite a bit of time as I was trying to remove all of the minute scratches in the base and on roughness on the outer edges of the bowl. The seven photos below show the progress shine developing through the sanding with the micromesh sanding pads.
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When I had finished with the sanding and the bowl and base had a shine to them I hand buffed it with carnauba wax, applying several coats and buffing it with a soft cotton cloth. My only frustration with the finished pipe is that the area around the button that I changed and sanded is a bit lighter than the yellow/amberlike colour of the rest of the base. It shined up nicely but is lighter. Ah well, it is better than it was and it is certainly more comfortable than when I began. The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. Now it is time to load it and fire it up. The experience is about to begin.
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Demuth’s of Lancaster, PA History


This is another older pipe booklet that I have a copy of here. I wanted to post it as well to give more data and pipe history to those of us who enjoy reading that kind of thing. Demuth’s must have been an amazing store in its day! Anybody know if it is still with us?

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The Gentle Art of Smoking – Alfred H. Dunhill


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The Gentle Art of Smoking 

Alfred H. Dunhill

This book is quite different from Pipe Book by his father. Here Alfred H. Traces the history of smoking in all of its forms throughout history. He looks at it on the various continents and how it took form among the religious and the ordinary people. He looks at cigars, cigarettes, pipes and even snuff. Each is described from its inception to its ongoing development in the first chapter. In later chapters he develops each of the various smoking methods.

From the history of smoking a chapter is developed on the growing tobacco. There is some great material on the tobacco plant and the various layers of the plant from lugs, cutters to leaf and what each section is used for. He spends time explaining the cultivation of tobacco and the growing seasons in the various regions in which it is grown. Then he takes the reader through the process of harvesting, curing, grading, fermentation and marketing. The book then turns the preparation of tobacco from the harvest to transportation and the methodology used to create the various forms tobacco packaged. He does a great job going through the machinery for processing from the first to the last. The cigarette machines, that roll, pack and cut each cigarette and then package them in cartons or soft packs are described. Throughout the book sketches are used to depict the various sections of development.  He also looks at the way pipe tobacco and cigars are made.

The fourth chapter of the book picks up the history of pipes and to me this chapter is very reminiscent of is father’s book on pipes. He uses different but similar sketches to picture the pipes evolution but the text is very similar in my mind. There is nothing new or added in this section of the book that has not been covered by others.  From the history the author takes us to the making of the pipe. He addresses briar pipes first and of course gives a good picture of the process of making them from briar burl through finished product. In this section as in others there are also black and white plates that are really nicely done and lend illustration to the procedures that are being talked about. The section closes with a brief description of clay pipes and their manufacture and meerschaum and their development.

Chapter 6 looks at cigars and traces the rise and decline of cigar smoking throughout history. It also gives a good concise summary of the process of making, grading and packing cigars. Chapter 7 discusses the manufacture, history and use of snuff. There are some great plates in this section of antique snuff boxes, etc. Chapter 8 looks at the various methods of lighting tobacco products throughout history and gives some great historical development material on the discovery and manufacture of lighters. Again plates and sketches illustrate the variety of lighters used to bring fire to the weed.

The book closes with a section on the practice of smoking. The majority of the section deals with the choice, use and variety of pipes. It goes into the method to use in choosing shapes, stems and sizes. It also goes into a great description of the loading, smoking and after care of a pipe for the beginning smoker. Then the section turns to cigars. Here the choosing of a cigar is discussed with guidance on how to make that choice. Then directions are given for preparing and smoking the cigar you have chosen in order to get the most pleasure from the smoke. This chapter and the book closes with guidelines on the care and keeping of cigars.

Overall this is a great read; nothing new or profound but some very nice summaries of a variety of topics. The section on pipe smoking was by far one of the best sections in the book. It would make a great read for the new pipe smoker and a good review for those of us who have forgotten more than we remember about the great hobby that is ours.