When I saw the first images of meerschaum pipes in my early pipe-smoking days I was mesmerized by all the shapes and sizes they came in. Models I particularly liked were the skull-pipes made by, for example, Sadik Yanik. But… High quality meerschaum pipes are pretty expensive and I don’t know yet what I think of the material. To be honest I never smoked a true meerschaum pipe but one day I will, when I have the funds to buy a stunning piece.
The Lamberthod machine
So I looked if I could find a decent figurine pipe made from briar. Quickly I stumbled upon some old specimens made by Dunhill and Peterson. Well, actually made for Dunhill and Peterson. French carver Jean Sommer produced some for Dunhill and his fellow countryman Louis Lamberthod made several for Peterson. By the way, he did this with the help of a sculpting machine for pipe heads which took him about 3 years from conception to realization. A couple of years ago I saw a similar machine in the Big Ben factory which made (amongst others) the Porsche pipes. Anyway, those old figurine pipes were waaay out of my price-league and further searching on e-bay only revealed low quality carving offerings.
Carro and his skull-pipe
Then I saw on the Dutch/Belgian pipe-smokers forum that fellow member Carro had bought something new: a skull pipe made from briar! Made by one German based fellow called Oguz Simsek. I looked at the pictures he posted and saw that the carving was of superior quality. So I googled mr. Simsek and found out he has a Facebook page and sells his pipes on e-bay. Strangely enough I totally missed him when I first searched for figurine pipes. Unfortunately at that time I did not see any pipes I really liked but I always kept an eye out for updates.
My demon skull pipe
And some time ago I was rewarded for regularly checking the Facebook page because there was a new pipe for sale. One with the bowl shaped as the head of a demon skull and with a pretty long churwarden-style stem. Immediately I fell in love with it and bought the pipe. I really must mention the price, I can’t believe mr. Simsek can make pipes for this amount of money because including shipping costs I only paid just under €100 (± $134). In no time I had the pipe at home where I could marvel at the superb carving details. Incredible that one can do that with such a hard wood as briar. The inside of the bowl was neatly covered with some kind of smoking-paste, ready for some action. So what would I smoke in it.. Aromatics, Virginias/VaPers or latakia-blends? After some thinking I came to the conclusion that latakia would fit nicely. I mean, if you see the pipe would you expect to smell fruits or other sickly sweet stuff coming from it? I loaded the pipe with some Squadron Leader and as I expected it smoked just fine.
I asked mr. Simsek if he was willing to answer some questions and luckily he was. But just as with other handcraft-men I interviewed the answers unfortunately are pretty short. Oh well, I rather have him carving another beautiful pipe.
1. How and where did you learn to carve and shape wood? I simply learned it by doing.
2. When did you begin with the carving of pipes and why? For years I had a collection of antique meerschaum-pipes and from there my interest grew up to the point that I started to carve my own pipes.
3. Why did you not begin with the carving of meerschaum pipes but with the carving of wooden pipes? Turkey has forbidden the export of meerschaum (in the 1970’s, trying to set up a local meerschaum industry). Because of that I can’t get it in Germany.
5. What kind of woods do you use for your pipes? I work with olive-wood and of course briar.
6. What materials do you use for your stems? I make acrylic stems, the material is very good to work with, easy to clean thus being very hygienic.
7. Can you tell something about the equipment you use for the making of the pipes? I use state of the art equipment and a lot of handwork.
8. How do you decide what figurine pipe to make next? What are your inspirations for them? My head (fantasyworld) is overflowing with new ideas and I try to realize as much as possible.
Skulls, skulls, skulls
9. Which figurine pipes do you like to make the most and why? That would be the skull pipes. Why? “Bedenke, dass du sterben musst/sterblich bist!”. (“Remember that youwill die/you are mortal!”) Which is precisely the reason for the smoke-skulls coming out of my pipe in the banner of this blog. It relates back to the Latin phrase “Memento Mori“, the consideration of the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
10. Which figurine pipes do you least like to make and why? Thosearepipes withlongwavy hairorbeards where the process istedious and time consuming.
11. Can you make custom figurine pipes, for example from pictures of a pet that a customer gives you? Custom-madeto customer requirementsis verytricky,because with pipe-wood you can have rubbish or a straight grain.This makes calculating a price very difficult.
Oguz Simsek smoking his “Nude Victory” pipe
12. On which pipe you made are you most proud? That is the “The NudeVictory”,areplica of anantiquemeerschaum pipe.
13. I assume you smoke pipe, when did you begin pipe smoking and why? I seldom smoke..
14. What are your favourite pipe-brands and why? Falcon pipes. Simple butbrilliant.
In the Northwest of the Netherlands the province of Friesland is situated (“Fryslân” in the Frisian language, yes they do have their own language). A lot of Dutch people go there on vacation because of the beautiful nature (lots of lakes and canals) and peace and quiet. Friesland is one of the less-densely populated provinces in the Netherlands. It is also well-known for ice-skating, a lot of champions come from Friesland and if there is a very cold winter the famous Elfstedentocht is organized. And it is in a small village in the heart of “Fryslân” where pipe-maker Meindert lives.
Meindert is 64 years old, a long time pipe-smoker, retired and a Frisian man in heart and soul. That means he is proud, honest, righteous, loves to be on the water, works hard and takes no bullshit from no-one. Working with his hands is also something that is in his blood. His father was a professional carpenter who could make anything out of wood and was not afraid of showing the tricks of the trade to his son. Also for years Meindert was a maintenance mechanic at a local factory and one of his hobbies was being a radio amateur so for that he build small and big antennas. Unfortunately he got problems with his heart and after having seen the gates of Saint Peter twice he was forced to slow things down. But Meindert is not the man to take it easy and do nothing. So through Fred, a member of the Dutch/Belgian pipe smokers forum and Dutch importer of Mr. Brog and Country Pipes he got into pipe making about 8 months ago. That was something which required little physical effort and was perfectly suited for the still recovering Meindert.
One of the early Meindert pipes
On the forum he posted several of his finished pipes and although some of them lacked a certain finesse I could clearly see that Meindert had talent and skills. After making a couple of prince-shaped pipes (my favourite shape) I decided to ask if he could create one of those for me. But I wanted to test the man. I did this by asking if he could make one of the most challenging shapes in my eyes: the 8-side panelled prince. This because it is a combination of symmetry (all corners must be 45 degrees from each other) and flowing elegance. Gracefully Meindert accepted the challenge and got busy.
Corrections from my side
One of the best things about him is that he can accept constructive criticism. Some pipe-makers are headstrong, have a sort of impenetrable ego which holds them back from getting better. I know sh*t about wood-working and all the machinery (I was born with 2 left hands) but I do know something about flowing lines, symmetry and cohesion in a design. And Meindert is very handy but could learn a bit more about flowing pipe shapes and the little details that comes with such. So he was ready to accept criticism from my side when he send the first pictures of the prince-making process. I would look at them, make corrections in Photoshop and tell him why I did that. For example he mailed me a photograph of the unfinished bowl and by putting lines, arrows and digitally reducing excess wood I could let him know what to do. Of course he was not able to always precisely do what I asked but with every correction he made the pipe got better. The devil is in the details and boy, I sometimes was a real demon. But Meindert never did bulge under my pressure, kept eager to learn and continued delivering the goods. And how good he was was proven when Fred made a visit. Meindert showed him my prince and told him that getting every panel to look exactly the same was a tough job. Fred looked amazed at the pipe and told that such pipes normally are made in machines in pipe-factories where the angle of cutting can be programmed. Something I did not know. So in fact I asked Meindert to be as precise as a machine. And he came damn close!
At the beginning of last week Meindert informed me that he had almost finished the pipe. The only thing left to be done was the bending of the cumberland stem but I thought it was a good idea to do that when I was with him. Of course I was going to pick up the pipe myself. I am a bit ashamed to say this, but I have never been in Friesland before. I grew up in Brabant in the South of the Netherlands so for a long time Friesland was almost like an exotic country to me. However, now I live in the province of Overijssel and that is quite a bit closer to the North of my country. Last Friday I took a day off and drove to the heart of “Fryslân”. An enjoyable ride if I may say so. When I drive to Brabant where the head-office of my work is located the roads are always busy and often I get caught up in a traffic jam. The journey North was deliciously quiet with nice far stretched views of the countryside. Suddenly I saw in the distance something that looked like a train slowly passing over a viaduct. When I came closer I noticed to my amazement that it was not a train, but a large river boat which gradually floated above the highway. What I had seen was an aqueduct, something which exists for a long time but was new to my eyes in this form. So strange to see a big ship above you.
At exactly 2 o’clock I arrived at a petrol station in the village where Meindert lives and phoned him up. This because he lives at the waterside where no car can come. Soon he came walking out of a small side-street and gestured me to follow him. We arrived at the back of his home and shook hands. So nice to see him after all our e-mails. He guided me into the renovated shed of his house which was divided in 2 parts: his working room and the computer room. We sat down in the working room and lit up a pipe. *Pheww* “You are smoking latakia right?” Meindert asked. “I like aromatics myself, I never understood why people like the smell of burned rubber.” “Well, the taste is vastly different than the smell, believe me” I said. Luckily we don’t all have the same tobacco preferences. But I knew Meindert liked a sweet smoked so I brought a couple of aromatic tins that he could keep. In return he had some tobaccos for me which included the Mellow Mallard made by DTM. A blend I did not know but after smoking a couple of bowls I now really like!
Remember the 3 golden rules: light, space and warmth
Soon the lovely wife of Meindert boldly defied my latakia fumes and brought a cup of coffee which gave me the opportunity to look around the working space. What really struck me was how tidy and organized it was. All the machines were clean and every hand-tool had a logical place and was neatly attached to a wall or placed in a tray. I complimented him with this because I know that some other pipe makers have pretty chaotic working rooms. “One of the first things I learned when I had a working space were the 3 golden rules: light, space and warmth.” Meindert said. “Light because you have to able to clearly see what you are doing. Space as in not having a big room but having the space to be able to properly do your job. Warmth because you can’t work well with cold muscles.” What I also liked were all the old hand tools that Meindert inherited from his father. Where for example a lot of pipe makers use machinery to make their stems Meindert uses his father’s tools. All handwork.
Heating up the stem for bending
After the second cup of coffee it was time to see what I have came for, my panelled prince. It was smaller than I thought but nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised. It looked better than on the pictures! The acrylic cumberland stem still was straight so Meindert got to work by lighting a candle. Huh? Is he praying for good luck this way or…? I know that pipe-maker Vandaahl uses some kind of industrial blow dryer to heat up the stem for bending. It turned out that Meindert was warming up the stem the old fashioned way. Very tricky and when I nervously looked at him he had to laugh, relax! At bit above the candle-flame he slowly rolled the stem of the pipe around and around with a steady hand. Suddenly I saw that a part of the stem became flexible and Meindert carefully bended it following my directions. I made a comment before that he had a tendency to bend his prince-stems too close to the shank so while I looked over his shoulder he asked if it was ok. Ehhrrr.. Yes?
Checking the bend
When the stem had cooled down I was able to properly examine the pipe. Damn! The bend could be a bit more but worse, the stem was crooked, it had a deviation to the left. So Meindert heated it all up again and made the correction. Hmm, better but there was a tiny bump on top. No problemo, some fine sanding paper took care of that. But still the bend could be more. Heating, bending, arghh! A good bend but once again crooked! Really, if I were Meindert I would have kicked myself out of the door. But he stayed ice-cold and once again bended the stem. Perfect! I breathed a sign of relief while Meindert buffed the pipe to a shiny whole.
Oh wait! I almost forgot, I still had to perform my pipe-cleaner test. That means that when I fold one of my pipe-cleaners it has to pass the smoking channel pretty easy. And it didn’t.. I asked which drilling diameter was used. “The one Peterson uses (Meindert is a huge Peterson fan), 3.0 mm.” Ahh.. That explains.. Fortunately making the drilling wider was no problem. 3.1 mm, 3.2 mm.. “Meindert” I said “please make it 3.5 mm, that should do the trick.” And indeed with 3.5 mm my pipe-cleaner went through the smoking channel effortlessly. I told him that you also get a better draft with 3.5 mm and thus a better smoking experience. Meindert thought that was very interesting and he is going to experiment with it.
The finished prince
The rest of the afternoon went by too fast. Before I knew it it was 6 o’clock and I had to go home. We shook hands again and I hit the road. The next day I smoked the panelled prince for the first time and I was delighted! The bit felt very comfortable between my teeth, not too thick and also not too thin, just perfect. Of course smoking a pipe for the first couple of times is not really fun because a layer of cake still has to form inside the bowl. But nonetheless I was impressed about the smoking qualities. I also kept looking at the pipe form every angle. I am sure almost every pipe-smoker sometimes takes the pipe out of his mouth and admires it. I sure did that with Meindert’s pipe and am still doing it.
Meindert has to take things slowly because of his health. So if you are interested in him making a pipe for you (he makes about 1 pipe per week) please contact me and I will connect you through.
Windmills, tulips, wooden-shoes, cheese, weed and red light districts are all things which are typical Dutch. What is also quintessential Dutch is the clay pipe. In my blogpost Dutch Tobacco Trade I already told that in the 17th century smoking became more and more common in The Netherlands. Since the modern day cigar and cigarette had not been invented yet there was no smoking without pipes.
In the second half of the 16th century pottery makers in England succeeded in making usable pipes from clay. Especially English places like Winchester, Bristol, Chester, Hull and London seemed to have played an important role in the development of the clay pipe as an instrument of smoking. Contacts between England and the Dutch Republic did go over water at the end of the 16th century. That is why the Dutch harbours first came into contact with tobacco. This image is confirmed by archaeological discoveries.
At the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch Republic fought out the 80-years’ war with Roman-Catholic Spain. Many English mercenaries fought in the army of Maurits. When in 1609 the 12 years’ truce was announced a lot of English soldiers became unemployed. Many of them resorted to the profession they executed in England. Also because of James I many English pipe makers fled to my country. This had two reasons, first James I was known for his disgust of tobacco, of which his son was addicted to. In a writing called “A Counter Blast to Tobacco” he pointed out the dangers of tobacco to his subjects (today this is still being done by many governments). Second he prosecuted puritans because of their faith. It were the humble craftsmen like pipe-makers and weavers that belonged to this group. So they fled to the liberal Netherlands and continued their craft here. This way they introduced the smoking of a pipe in the Dutch Republic and more important, they taught the local inhabitants how to make clay pipes.
Around 1610 the first pipe-production slowly starts in Amsterdam and Leiden, nothing more than little companies in the domestic circle. It was necessary that the whole family helped in order to make enough money for a frugal meal. In the next decade the industry will spread to places like Gouda, Enkhuizen, Rotterdam, Delft and Schoonhoven. After this the craft expanses further across the country to Zwolle, Deventer and Middelburg until around 1640 there are also pipe-makers situated in Groningen and Maastricht. But the most well known place was and still is Gouda.
“Achter de vismarkt, Gouda” The place where William Baernelts lived
The first English pipe-maker who arrived in Gouda, having fled England because of his faith, was William Baernelts in 1608. He declared he was born in Bromyard (near Stratford) and that his profession was stonecutter. In 1617 William started with the craft of pipe-maker. Until 1637 it were the English pipe-makers who had the lead. It was not until 1640 that the Gouda pipe-makers surpassed the English. Around 1640 the Gouda pipe-makers filed a permission to establish a guild which excluded their English colleagues. In 1665 this guild had 180 members and in 1666 the first Gouda pipe-market was held. After that the fabrication of pipes in Gouda really took off. In 1749 there were 349 pipe-factories and half of the Gouda inhabitants had a job in those. Also the area of distribution was no longer limited to the region or the country. Today Dutch clay pipes are still found around the world.
Evolution of clay pipes
The shape of the pipes changed during the years. The walls of the bowl and the mouthpiece of the clay pipe became thinner because of better clay and an improved method of fabrication. The bowl also got bigger because the price of tobacco went down. Wished that was still the case! In the early years the pipes were short and pretty hot to smoke. Therefore the mouthpiece became longer and the pipe became more pleasant to smoke. Each pipe had certain trademarks that were registered with the result that today it is still possible to track who made the pipe and when it was made. We can distinguish these trademarks in heel-marks, bowl-marks and mouthpiece-marks.
Playing child heel-mark
Heel-marks: When the skills of the pipe-makers grew and the market appreciated more quality a need rose to label the pipes with an unique trademark. In the first instance it often was a simple figure applied to the bottom of the heel of the pipe. Later real stamps were developed with the initials of the pipe-maker or images of for example a rose or scales. Soon a kind of brand-loyalty arose from pipe-merchants and pipe-smokers. Some wanted trademarks were swiftly rented, sold or counterfeited. Therefore the official guilds (especially in Gouda and Amsterdam) kept a registration of trademarks and the owners of those. A representative of the guild regularly checked if pipe-makers did not make themselves guilty of counterfeiting trademarks that belonged to a colleague.
Crown with boot bowl-mark
Bowl-marks: This way of decoration roughly took place in the period from 1725 to 1825. Especially the rose proved to be very popular during the years. Commonly these decorations were not applied to more expensive pipes because the relief made the polishing very difficult.
Mouthpiece-marks: This kind of decoration is pretty rare. Imagine the price a silversmith would ask for making the moulds! But despite the numbers are small, the variety is surprisingly big. The mouthpiece was used to display names but there are also examples of real commercial messages. Flower and animal figures were also common. A practical advantage of these pipes were that they offered a better grip because they were less smooth . Typical of the in Hoorn produced pipes of this type was the usage of green or brown lead-glaze as an extra decoration.
The manufacturing process of a clay pipe consists of a number of steps:
1. From England, Cologne, Liège or Rouen white-baking clay is imported. This clay undergoes a number of specific treatments (removal of contaminations, grinding, laid to rest (in Dutch this is called “zoken”)) before it is suitable for further processing.
2. By hand the pipe-maker rolls the correct amount of clay to a strand of the right thickness with a kind of lump at the end. In such a way that it fits the pipe-mould. After several days of stiffening the semi-finished product is ready for the next step in the process.
3. The pipe-maker creates the smoking channel in the mouthpiece of the pipe with a so called “weijer” (from the English “wire”), an iron needle or pin. The pin is not stuck in the clay, but the clay is pushed over the pin. Before all this sewing machine oil is applied on the weijer.
4. The roughly shaped pipe is put into an oil-greased pipe-mould which is shut and placed in a bench-vice. Simultaneously with the tightening of the bench-vice the clay of the bowl is pressed.
5. A conical metal shape (“stopper”) is driven again and again in the opening of the pipe-mould to shape the bowl. The stopper is also greased before usage.
6. The pipe-mould is opened and the pipe is lifted out carefully. Excess clay is scraped of the seams of the mouthpiece and the weijer is put out slowly. After the pipes have dried somewhat and feel a little more solid the upper-edges of the bowl and the mouthpiece a trimmed with a sharp knife. If necessary a trademark is applied on the pipe. Luxury pipes are also polished.
7. After a week of drying the pipes go into the oven and are baked by a maximum temperature of 1050ºC. After that they can be glazed and/or painted if wanted after which baking is necessary again. In the past baking primarily took place at potters because they had the knowledge and expensive ovens.
Old Goedewaagen advertisement
One of the big names in the fabrication of clay pipes is the Goedewaagen company. On January 1th 1779 Dirk Goedewaagen passed his master-test for pipe-maker and in February his first assistant came into service. At first the pipe-factory was situated in the Keizerstraat in Gouda but grandson Abraham Goedewaagen relocated the company to the Gouwe, also in Gouda. His sons Pieter and Tobias Goedewaagen took over the “De Star” pottery which dates from 1610. To get more profit and to let the company expand Pieter decided to orientate on the Belgian and French market.
Goedewaagen pipe with a snake around the mouthpiece
Around 1874 and 1882 son Aart persuades his father Pieter to set up a broader, more internationally orientated assortment. Many mould-shapes are took over from Belgian and French pipe factories. After no less then 10 years the company possesses over hundreds of pipe-models. Because of this vast assortment the Goedewaagen pipe-factory surpassed all the other Gouda companies. The P. Goedewaagen & Zoon firm manages to expand and hold its position in The Netherlands. The sales to Belgium and France also went very well. Through English warehouses the company gets lots of orders for the shipping of pipes to countries in Africa. After WWII the demand for pipes declines and the firm concentrates on the manufacturing of pottery. In the beginning of the 1980’s the company comes into financial troubles which leads to their bankruptcy in 1982. Today the name has changed to Royal Goedewaagen and pottery and the occasional souvenir clay pipe is still being made.
Old Van der Want catalogue
Another big name is Zenith. The history of this company starts in 1749 when Pieter van der Want passes his master-test for pipe-maker for the Gouda pipe-guild. Thus starting a line of pipe-manufacturers that from father to son will exist for 8 generations. From the 1950’s Zenith has the oldest, still functioning pipe-factory in the world. Chacom from Saint-Claude stands second with a founding year of 1780. Zenith is well known for a couple of innovations of the clay pipe. Instead of pressing the pipes in metal press-moulds these pipe are being made by pouring clay in moulds made of plaster. The baked pipes were then covered with a glaze layer which gave the pipe a solid, tight and glossy look.
In the 1920’s the product is perfected further. The so called “hollow bowl system” is introduced. The bowl is fit with an inner bowl with a hollow space between both walls. In this space the smoke can circulate, cool off and in the meantime yield its moisture to the ceramic. Thanks to this cooling system the Zenith pipe soon becomes the ultimate dry-smoker. Another innovation is the co called “doorroker”. From its introduction shortly after 1900 it was popular with millions of smokers. After smoking it for a while an image appears on the pipe that stands in contrast with the darkening bowl. That is why the doorroker is also known as the mystery pipe. But also the Zenith Van Der Want company does not survive and closes its doors in 1984.
The decline of the pipe-industry, which began in the 19th century, picks up more speed in the 20th century because of the fashion of the smoking of cigars and cigarettes. When the modern day cigarette was introduced and pipes of briar smoked better and proved to be not so vulnerable it soon was over for the clay pipe. The little simple pipe is now being used by children to blow bubbles with and the beautifully decorated ones stand as an art-object in an antique pipe-rack. The pipes are also being sold as souvenirs and are being used in historical reenactment events.
And still, despite it all, this wonderful craft shall be preserved for future generations. Because on December 2nd 2013 Gouda-inhabitant and parttime pipe maker Patrick Vermeulen received the message that “his” craft was acknowledged as immaterial heritage and will be on the UNESCO “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” list. With this the craft is the first in the province of Zuid-Holland to receive an international status.
The Dutch/Belgian Pipe Smokers Forum (in short: PRF) has had quite a lot of merchandise through the years. Shirts, caps, business cards, mouse-pads, ashtrays, poker-fiches, dice, stone tampers, tobaccos and.. Pipes! Belgian member Shaun took it on to himself to organize the creation of a yearly forum pipe. For 2012 and 2013 we had beautiful pieces from renowned Belgian pipe-makers Elie and Dirk Claessen. My favourite shape is the prince and after years of trying to bribe Shaun with beer, tobacco and beautiful women I finally got what I wanted: a prince shaped forum pipe! And not just that, it was made in Britain by respected pipe-carver Ian Walker.
This is how the process went, written by Shaun himself: Every year, right after Christmas, I start making a list of possible candidates for the forum year pipe. In this period I do a lot of research, mainly checking websites from pipe-carvers and feedback from their customers. After my initial research I start asking for feedback on the forum, this would be around March. Every forum member can send me suggestions of pipe-carvers they would love to make our year-pipe. This year we had a lot of discussions about the budget, because we wanted to create an opportunity for every single member of the forum to own a year-pipe. I knew it was going to be difficult as the goal was set around €90. This would be a nearly impossible task, because not many craftsmen are eager to make a pipe with this low budget while the expectation is that they still do the best they can. Despite everything I felt the need to try it and satisfy the forum members.
The first one I contacted was David Enrique from France. He wasn’t very happy with my proposal, but promised me that he would do the best he could. So he started searching for old briar blocks in closed Saint-Claude factories. But the following of this lead would soon turn out to be a failure. David contacted me back, said this would be impossible thanked me for the honour and pulled back out of the project.. After this call I felt he wasn’t very happy about me wasting his time on this budget matter. And I couldn’t blame the poor guy! I mean, in his place I wouldn’t settle for less than a good quality pipe. A forum is a great thing, but can also become a marketing nightmare for a pipe maker when the order turns out to be not that great.. Bad comments fly around the internet even faster than… You know what I mean.
The second lead brought me to Turkey. After a long search I finally found a guy in a remote village who had a phone.. With a shaky connection.. I tried in my best English, French and German to explain him that I wanted to place a large order. But due to communication problems and a very high telephone bill, this trail also was a dead-end.
Suddenly I had a plan, maybe I could contact Big Ben, the old Dutch pipe factory. A factory would certainly give me a good price. From the beginning I knew the chances were slim because a factory always sells to stores and never to individuals. And if stores found out they sold straight to customers, WWIII certainly would be on our hands. Still I gave it a shot but they never answered my mail. I was very disappointed in them because I always had a good contact with the director, Mr. Gubbels. After them I tried Peterson, Stanwell etc… When I saw it already was July I panicked and started screaming like a little girl..
Then it suddenly hit me. On our forum I saw some work of British pipe-carver Ian Walker. Forum-member Dewitte (Sven) once bought a pipe from him. Actually a prince model shaped pipe, with a very nice cumberland mouthpiece. EUREKA! I soon contacted him, negotiated a price (€125), got things going and low and behold, at the beginning of this month the 56(!) pipes were delivered at the forum-members homes! Thank you Ian Walker!
Talking about Ian Walker, here is some more info about him: The grandfather of Ian Walker, George Walker, started working for Duncan Briars in England in 1922. After 36 years in 1958 he left Duncan having been head-foreman in charge of production and started Northern Briar Pipe Repair Service, together with his son Peter. Father and son built their business repairing pipes for most of the quality pipe shops in the United Kingdom. When he finished school in 1972, Ian Walker joined the family business. Like everybody else at the factory Ian started as an apprentice, sweeping the floors and making tea (they’re British, duh!). Later he was allowed to polish some pipes and in the evenings he learned how to make silver bands from sheet silver at his Grandfather’s workshop.
A young Ian Walker and his father
In 1983 the parents of Ian bought a local tobacconist shop in Heaton Moor, Stockport. By this time Ian was doing all the repairs and had become one of the foremost pipe-repairmen in the United Kingdom. Wanting to further develop his skills, Ian started making pipes himself in the shop. These pipes sold well and he decided to expand this side of the business and was soon making pipes for other local shops. Further encouraged by several top British pipe makers (like Bill “Ashton” Taylor) to develop his talents, Ian has expanded his business and shortened the name of the company to Northern Briars. Today his pipes are sought after in Europe, North America and the Far East.
Sea Shell pipe
Ian Walker sources his briar from Italy where, according to many pipe-makers, the best stock can be found. Every pipe is totally hand-crafted by Ian himself and all pipes have hand cut stems using the best grade German vulcanite. The rustication of Ian’s Roc Cut pipes is a time consuming process which is done entirely by hand. This unique finish has proved to be extremely popular as well as finishes of Ian’s own imagination like the Sea Urchin and the new Sea Shell. Ian’s skill in silver mounting also enhances many traditional styles of pipes.
FLTR: Martin, myself, Ian Walker and Paul
I met Ian at this year’s Inter Tabac Fair in Dortmund. A very jovial, enthusiastic man who immediately noticed the Dunhill I had dangling from my mouth, “Ah! British made! Just like my pipes!” As much as he talks in real life, as little does he write in e-mails unfortunately. I asked him some questions by mail and got decent answers. Only, not long answers.. But Ian had a good excuse, he was very, very busy finishing our forum pipes. Here is the interview:
Ian Walker and the late Bill “Ashton”Taylor
From who did you learn your craft? I heard somewhere that Bill “Ashton” Taylor was one of your teachers, is this true? I was taught to make pipes from my Grandfather and Father. Whilst the late Bill Taylor was a good friend, I already was a pipe-maker when I met him. The only thing Bill advised me to do in 2005 was to visit the international shows.
You source your briar from Italy because you believe the best briar comes from this country. What makes Italian briar superior? The Italian briar I use continues to give good results, so why change? My supplier supplies many artisan pipe makers.
What kind of curing has your briar and why? I do not cure the pipes as such. Good dry seasoned briar is the secret. However, I do something to the pipes which my Grand father taught me. Alas, this is a secret, I am sorry.
You solely use vulcanite for your stems, why is this and why not acryl? I use vulcanite as this is a English tradition. Dunhill, Les Wood/Ferndown etc. The Cumberland mouthpieces are the best quality German vulcanite available. I make acrylic on order.
Can you tell us something more about your regular pipe-series? I mean the Bruyere Premier, Bruyere Regal, Rox Cut Premier and Rox Cut Regal? The Bruyere Premier’s are made from straight grain plateaux. The Bruyere Regals are made from cross grain blocks. The Rox Cut can be made from plateaux or cross grain.
From your Specials-serie I very much like the sea-urchin, helix and oriental. What was the inspiration for these models? I watch for shapes on the internet and shows and also the odd pipe that comes in for repair. This year I have made a pipe, the Sea Shell, just by looking at a sea shell on the window sill.
Ian’s boat containing his workshop
Can you tell us a bit more about your beautiful signature Roc Cut rustification? This has changed over the years as I tried different techniques of rustication. Last spring I went to a wood festival in Wales and there was a stall selling old tools. I bought a few old gauge switches which proved to be successful. As I work on the boat there is unfortunately is no room for a sandblast machine.
When you have a piece of briar, do you already see a shape in it? Let you dictate the briar which shape is going to come out? When making stock pipes for shows, a block can change shape two or three times for the original idea I started with.
Please describe the whole process from start to finish from having an idea for a pipe (or an order) to the final end-product. 1 briar block. Turn the bowl and drill the tobacco chamber. Turn the shank, bore the shank. Then grind the bottom to marry up with the turned bits. Fit the rod and shape into the stem. Then sand the complete pipe with finer sandpaper wheels and pumice then polishing mops. Stain, stamp and final polish.
When did you began smoking pipe? I started pipe smoking in mid 1970’s.
Northern Briars Uncle Paul
What are your favourite pipe shapes and why? All pipe shapes are interesting to a pipe maker. Whilst I like Uncle Paul and Hungarian shapes they are the most difficult to make.
What are your favourite pipe brands (besides your own brand of course) and why? Any artisan pipe makers pipes. There are so many good young American pipe makers around. I also like Alberto Bonfigliolo and Les Wood/Ferndown. I am always interested when their pipes come in for repair.
What are your favourite tobaccos, what do you like to smoke yourself? It seems that when I find a good tobacco they take it off the market.. I did like Balkan Sobranie flake in a green tin. Then Dunhill Light flake but they changed it and it is not the same.. I smoke Samuel Gawith Full Virginia flake.
On which pipes that you made are you most proud? All the pipes I make. But to make a new shape that I have not made before is always one to be proud of.
Which of your pipes would you recommend for beginning pipe smokers? Any Group 3 size or Group 4 size pipe. Not to big, not to small and straight or with only a slight bend in any finish that suits you best.
Any last words to readers? It has been a pleasure making these pipes for the Dutch/Belgian forum. It would be good whilst on holiday somewhere to see someone smoking one of the forum pipes. All pipe makers know their own work.
For about a week and a half I have the 2014 forum-pipe in my possession. Ian did a great job considering he had to make 56 pipes! According to him he never got such a big order from a forum! For a prince the pipe is quite a robust one, I am used to more slender shapes. Also it is “only” a group size 3 which is a bit surprising for such a large pipe. But then again it really is a unique piece in my prince collection. Technically the pipe is flawless. Thick walls and a pipe-cleaner passes easily through the stem and bowl. I like the used briar, it reminds me very much of the old Dunhill Root Briar. Although that was made from Corsican briar and Ian uses Italian.. I must say he took a real risk with the finish, it is smooth without any rustification or sand-blasting. Very hard to find 56 pieces of briar who are all flawless enough to make smooth finishes. So some pipes have fills I heard (and saw) from other forum-member. Not mine, it just has some kind of small flaw on the bowl which does not bother me at all. The most important is that it smokes good, and that the pipe does. I had a “magical fit between a tobacco and a pipe” with it. The tobacco in question was Penzance, absolutely very yummie!
So, if you’re a pipe-maker and you are interested in making an edition of the annual PRF-pipe, please contact Shaun: firstname.lastname@example.org
My love for Dunhill pipes began when I purchased a Dunhill Bruyere pot model from 1976 through a member of the Dutch pipe smokers forum. Before that I had a couple of bent Petersons, a few Winslows and that was it. I was searching for a really good pipe to smoke latakia-blends in, a pipe that would do a fantastic blend justice. And well.. The Petersons did not cut it.. Absolutely beautiful pipes but as far as smoking goes.. Mwah.. I must say, I still have a Peterson from 1923 and that one smokes superb. But the newer ones were just not my thing. My Winslows are superb pipes for aromatic and Virginia/Virginia-Perique blends, but latakia, no. At first I saw a Dunhill pipe as a bit snobbish, not something I like. But when I read something more about the history of Alfred Dunhill (I love history) I began to feel more for the brand. The Dunhill Bruyere pot I bought was a great smoker when filled with the dark leaf. It just tasted better, the draft was better, the mouthpiece felt better etc. But I did not like the look of the pot very much. And then I fell in love with the Prince shape.
Like I said in my “Prince of Pipes” post, for me the epitome of the prince pipe is an army mount Dunhill Shell briar from the patent era. Why a Shell? I guess just personal preference, I like a beautiful sandblast more than a straight grain. But how did the Dunhill Shell pipe came into being? The “marketing” tale is this: Alfred Dunhill went down into his basement during winter. He wanted to make a couple of pipes (as far as I know he was a gifted blender, not a carver, but ok..) and he accidentally left a half finished one by the heating boiler. Sometime next summer he suddenly thought of the pipe. He found it and it looked like some of the grain had “shrunk”, leaving a relief pattern similar to that of a sea-shell. In reality the company experimented since 1914 with Algerian briar (attractive and pretty inexpensive) for a smooth-finished pipe. But without success because of the softness of the briar. So the blocks were simply laid aside the stove. After several months it seemed that the heat from the stove had affected the condition of the Algerian briar blocks. They had shrunk to a mere “shell” with the grain standing out in relief similar to that of a sea-shell (I feel like repeating myself). And so the Shell finish was born. Working together with the London Sandblasting Company to perfect the process of accentuating the briar relief, a patent was finally awarded in late 1918.
Pipe bowls lying in their oil bath
Another invention was the treating of the wood with oil (oil curing), which strengthened it and removed impurities. Here is how Alfred Dunhill explained the process of oil curing and sandblasting in the patent application: This invention relates to the treatment of the surface of the wood of wooden tobacco pipes, for decorative purposes, and refers to a process by which the grain is accentuated or made to stand out in relief, thus giving the wood a very elegant appearance, without interfering with the durability of smoking qualities of the pipes. Although the sand blast has been used previously for the treatment of the surface of wood, to accentuate the grain, I have found in practice that this treatment in itself does not give satisfactory results as there is a tendency for the wood to become cracked and injured, a result that does not occur with my process where it is used as an auxiliary to the treatment by steeping (in oil) and by heat.
In carrying out my invention, I shape the pipe in the ordinary way. I then steep it for a suitable time in a mineral or vegetable oil. For instance, in the case of Algerian briar, a wood very suitable for the production of these new tobacco pipes, the article may be steeped for a long period say for several weeks, in olive oil. After lt has been removed from the oil, I subject the article to the action of heat. This process occupies a number of days, the oil exuded or coming to the surface being wiped off periodically. The result of the treatment is that the grain of the wood is hardened and stands out in relief to a certain degree, but the oil coming to the surface forms an impervious coating.
Sandblasting a pipe
I (then) submit it to the action of the sand jet or sand blast, which removes the hardened coating of oil and also has the effect of cutting away the softer wood between the grain and leaving the harder portion -the hardness of which has been intensified by the process of steeping and heating- in very high relief. If the article is again steeped in oil, it will take up a further amount and the treatment by heat and the sand jet or sand blast may be repeated; and so on for as many times as may be required according to the extent to which it is desired to accentuate the grain or make it stand out in relief. The resulting article is extremely hard and constitutes an admirable tobacco pipe for the smoker.
See the underlying red stain?
The sandblasting techniques were not completely mastered by the Dunhill pipe makers in the beginning of the 1920’s. So the pipes were aggressively, deeply blasted through a “double blast” process. Because of the softness of the Algerian briar especially in the early years the shape of the pipes was often dramatically altered. Sometimes so much that the regular shape number no longer could be used. In the late 1920’s and 1930’s the blast was more controlled, but still deep and craggy. This style continued into the 1960’s and is now considered classic. Since the late 1960’s Algerian briar became unavailable for Dunhill thus much harder briar (Grecian) had to be used for the finish. The consequence of course was that the Shell blast became significantly more shallow. The stain of the Shell is black with an underlying layer of warm red. So especially older Shell pipes reveal a warm shade of red when you hold them in the light. However, I remember reading somewhere (can’t find it now, you always see this..) that Dunhill once decided to make the Shell finish all black. It was not appreciated by Dunhill fans..
My 1927/1928 army mount Shell prince
I now have two Shell prince pipes, both from the patent era. And I LOVE them. The first is an army mount from 1927 or 1928. I saw this one on the English ebay; the mouthpiece was pretty oxidised, the white spot had turned black and the rim was a bit shaved off. It did have a “buy it now” price that was pretty low so without thinking any further I bought it. When I received the package and saw the pipe it looked better than on the pictures. I even could see the registration number on the stem. I send the pipe to the repairman and he did a wonderful job, it was good to go for years to come. Today this Shell prince is my benchmark pipe for latakia blends.
What I forgot with my first Shell I did do with my second: ask more about the pipe. My second Shell I recently bought (also on ebay) from a very nice British fellow named David. On the picture I saw a patent era Dunhill pipe from 1950 in pristine condition. Except for the tenon, which was cleanly broken. I took the gamble and made a bid which was, to my delight, the winning one. I send pictures of the broken tenon to the repairman and he just said: send it over. One and a half week later I received the pipe back and to my relief the repair was immaculately done. The original mouthpiece was saved, only the tenon had been replaced. I also saw a strange “C” stamp on the bottom that I did not not know of. Well, I know that a “C” stamp can stand for Churchwarden. But obviously this was no churchwarden. I kept on mailing with David (who in the past had a lot of informative talks with Richard Dunhill) and asked him if he knew anything more about the pipe. This was his answer:
In answer to your question, I don’t, I’m sorry to say, have all the background to your pipe, but I am able to tell you that I purchased the pipe in Brighton (on the south coast of the UK) in about 1997. I purchased it from the estate sale of the original owner (whose name was not publicly declared at the time) and whom I understand received it from Alfred Dunhill Limited as a “gift” at some point in the early 1950’s. The pipe may have been given to him because of his association with the Dunhill business as a stockist, a valued supplier, a personal friend of the Dunhill family or perhaps even a favoured customer (actors, celebrities of the era and those notably in the public eye were actively courted and encouraged by Dunhill to be seen and photographed with ‘white spot’ pipes between their teeth in the 1940’s & 1950’s) Unfortunately, however, the exact provenance of your pipe we shall never know for sure.
See the “C” stamp on the left?
On the subject of the ‘C’ stamp, the reference you found is quite interesting as it depends on where and how the ‘C’ is used on a Dunhill product. For instance, it may indeed indicate ‘Churchwarden’ if aligned with the ‘style’ stamp, or a large capacity one-off bowl if used after the letters OD on a Dunhill ‘special’ (ODA’s & ODB’s being slightly smaller)… It was even used on top grade straight grain or ‘Dead Root’ pipes at one time to indicate the degree of quality e.g. DRA, then a DRB, DRC etc.. (I’ll stop now!!) – there are so many different subtleties in the stamping. Incidentally, the ‘C’ for complimentary was also used on other products as I had an early Dunhill lighter that had it over-stamped on the base and which I knew had been a retirement gift.
My two patent era Shell briar prince pipes
Pipes, such as yours and that are marked with a ‘C’ were deliberately undated (as there was no need to identify the start of the one-year guarantee period) and were stamped with the ‘C’ to show that they were given free of charge to their original owners. Most of the pipes specifically made for members of the British Royal Family were also, I understand, marked with the ‘with compliments’ ‘C’ stamp. That said, don’t get too excited… King George V, his son The Duke of Windsor and his successor, King George the VI, were famously known for ignoring the ‘royal drawer’ preferring instead, to select pipes for themselves from Dunhill’s standard, year-dated stock as they liked to ‘browse’ through the choice and extensive range on offer to all who visited the Dunhill shop in London.
I love information like this, for me it makes the pipe and history come alive. So I hope to stumble upon many more old Shell briar princes, for a good price of course. After all, I’m Dutch.
We Dutch invented a lot during the centuries. From the microscope in 1590 to modern capitalism in the 1600’s to Wi-Fi in the 1990’s. So you could say that the Dutch people have a history and tradition in inventing and discovery. One of the inventions I am most proud of (although it is an American icon) is the corncob pipe in its current form.
The history of the corncob pipe begins with the native Americans, who showed the European colonists the multiple usages of corn. Then Henry Tibbe, a Dutch wood-turner, emigrated to America from Enschede in 1867. After fire destroyed his home and factory in Holland he brought his family and his skill as a wood-turner to Washington, Missouri. Soon after that, he set up a small woodworking business making spinning wheels, wooden handles, furniture etc.: H. Tibbe & Son Co.
Some time in 1869 a local farmer whittled a pipe out of a corncob. He liked it so much that he asked Henry Tibbe to try turning some on his lathe. Apparently the farmer was pleased with the pipes he got so Henry made a couple more and put them for sale in his shop. They were such a fast-selling item that in no time he was spending most of his working hours making pipes for his customers. Soon Tibbe went into full time production of corncob pipes.
Unfortunately the corncob pipe tended to burn out easily. Luckily Henry Tibbe had an idea for fireproofing it. Tibbe’s 1878 patent describes his process for fireproofing by applying a plaster of paris type substance to the outside of the corncob, then sanding the bowl smooth after it dried. This procedure not only fire proofed the cob but also hardened it, allowing it to be worked on a lathe.
By 1878, with increasing demand for his corncob pipes, Tibbe had moved his business to a new location and increased his production by employing a steam engine to turn the lathes and operate the other machinery. In January 1883 Henry and his son Anton applied for a U.S. patent for a trademark for their pipe, calling it the Missouri Meerschaum. They choose that name because Tibbe compared his light, porous, cool smoking corncob pipes with the more expensive meerschaum pipes. In 1896 Henry Tibbe died. Anton took over and in 1907 the H. Tibbe & Son Co. became the Missouri Meerschaum Company.
The two story brick building
During the years that followed, Missouri Meerschaum pipes became increasingly popular. A large distribution system was established for the sale of Tibbe’s pipes. The wooden building which originally accommodated the H. Tibbe & Son Co. was soon replaced by a two story brick building. Later this building had a third floor added and over the years more additions were built.
The current building.
Ownership changed hands in 1912 when the company was purchased by Edmund Henry Otto. Still Anton Tibbe supervised the company until 1921. He then disposed of his interest in the pipe factory, retired, and moved to California where he died eight years later. The company remained in the Otto family for over fifty years. In 1978 it was acquired by Fendrich Industries Inc. of Indiana. They owned it until 1983 when it was sold to John and Geraldine Brandenburger. In 1988 the company was purchased by the present owners: Michael Lechtenberg, Robert Moore and Larry Horton.
Corncobs waiting to be turned into pipes..
In the early days cobs from an ordinary cornfield served nicely for the pipes. Now the pipes are made from a special white hybrid corn which was developed by the University of Missouri. This variety produces big, thick and tough cobs. The reason why the cheap Chinese-made copies do not work and burn through the bottom after the first smoke. The corn is grown on 140 acres in the Missouri River bottom which is owned by the company. Employees do the corn picking and carry the corn to the crib area. Also located in the river bottom. The corn is shelled using only old, out of production shellers which date back to the 1930’s. This because the newer shellers break up the cobs.. The cobs are then stored in the upper two levels of the factory for about two or three years until they are ready to be processed.
A glimpse inside the factory.
These days about 30 to 40 employees work in the same old brick building of Henry Tibbe. They produce, pack and ship around 3,000 (!) pipes per day to nearly every state in the USA and lots of foreign countries. The making of corncob pipe has not changed much since those first pipes were made. It still takes a lot of hand labour. Some operations have been automated by cleverly adapting machines from other uses.
The shaping of a cob during the production process.
The production begins with the cobs being dropped into a chute which sends them down to the lowest level of the building. The remaining husks are removed and then the cobs are put into multiple gang saws. There they are cut into uniform lengths. The corncob pieces then fall onto the conveyor belt of a grader that sorts them by size. Tobacco holes are bored into the cobs and then most go to one of the four turning machines to be shaped. The pipe style is determined by the turning or shaping process. Some larger pipes are still turned by hand. The white plaster of paris type coating is then smeared on the bowls. They are sanded smooth after a day of drying. A boring machine bores the stem hole. The bowls are then varnished either by being tumbled in a cement mixer or run through a lacquer spray booth. Then they go to the finishing room where they have a metal ring attached to the wood stem that has been printed to look like a cob. The plastic or acrylic mouthpieces have a filter inserted and then they are hammered into the stem. The stems are glued into the bowls, a label is placed on the bottom, the pipes are packaged and tadaaaa! Ready for shipment.
Pipes of all sizes are made, but most set you back less than $10!
There are lots of different styles of corn cob pipes being produced today. Most styles also have a variety of bowl shapes and come with either a bent or straight stem.
Here are some corncob pipe facts and tips:
– As I said before Missouri Meerschaum uses plaster of paris and lacquer to finish their pipes. A black stain is applied on a few models. Usually it does not cause a problem on the inside of the bowl but sometimes it can be a nuisance. So if you want to you can lightly use sand paper to remove anything and everything other than cob from the inside of the bowl.
– The wooden shank that extends inside the bowl is sometimes removed by cob smokers. With the models with hardwood bottoms this is no problem. But other versions will become more prone to burnout if the inner shank is removed. Then again, I seldom read someone had a burnout. But to be safe I would not advise Dutch pipe smoker forum-member Jos to buy cobs.. If you still really want to remove the inner shank then please use these inside the bowl.
Cob with some glue residue inside the bowl.
– The glue used in making cobs is non-toxic. So if you see some residue inside the bowl, don’t be alarmed. You can leave it or carefully scrape it out with a small knife.
– Let the cake in the bowl build up a bit. It allows the cob to absorb moisture better and this results in a cooler and drier smoke.
– Because corncobs pipes can absorb a lot of moisture you have to be careful with damp weather. The cob then needs some extra drying time.
– I smoke all kinds of tobacco in my corncob pipes except for latakia. Some way or another there is no match.. However, Semois and other burley based tobaccos taste great in cobs.
And if you (unlike me) are very handy with tools you can read here how to make your own cob.
Last but not least, for the woman pipe smoking fetishists (I know there are a lot of you perverts, I can see it in my website-stats!) here is a *ahum* nice, classy picture of a young woman with a corncob pipe.
Fellow Dutch/Belgian pipe-smoker forum member and friend Shaun is a lucky bastard. Besides having a drop dead gorgeous girlfriend and a model for a sister, the favour of the almighty pipe-smoking God also shines upon him.
Yesterday he was walking with his mother over a flea market in the Belgium city of Leuven, where he lives. Shaun likes to do that because he is always on the search for estate pipes. At a stand he saw 2 unsmoked pipes. Hmm.. Probably Bruyere Garantie, he thought. Until he saw the famous white dot on both pipes. No no no, this is not possible, raced through his mind. He turned over the pipes and read: Dunhill Shell Briar Made in England. *Gasp!!!*
The vendor already saw Shaun looking at the pipes and shouted: “5 euro a piece but because today the sun shines you can have them for 7 euro if you take them both!” Being a bit re-educated by us cheap Dutchmen Shaun managed to close the deal for 6 euro for both pipes! The only thing was, the stem of one of the Dunhills was broken. But nothing an expert craftsman couldn’t fix.
The two estate Dunhills Shaun bought
Enthusiastic Shaun told the story on the forum. But being a Dunhill lover I wanted to know how old the pipes were and asked for some pictures of the downsides and information. Soon I got just that. He posted pictures from the pipes and when I saw them my eyes went wide and my mouth fell open. Both stamps read: Dunhill Shell Briar Made in England Patent No. 417574/34. He actually bought two unsmoked Dunhill patent era pipes for 6 euro! I did some quick research, looked a bit better and discovered that the intact one came from 1948 and the broken one from 1942! A war pipe! Pretty rare!
Alfred Henry Dunhill. sells pipes in the ruins of the bombed store
In 1941 during the London Blitz in WWII Alfred Dunhill’s store, and many other in the surrounding area, was bombed and destroyed. A popular tale tells that when that happened, Dunhill employees called Sir Winston Churchill at four o’ clock in the night. This to assure him his private collection of cigars (which were kept in the store’s humidor) had already been relocated to safety. And with that attitude Dunhill continued to sell pipes from the debris and ruins of the store.
But that was not easy.. During the war briar and vulcanite for the stems were very hard to get. The whole Mediterranean region was swept up in conflict so the Algerian briar (which was used for Dunhill’s Shell Briar pipes) was difficult to get a hand on. The same went for the Italian briar that Dunhill used for the smooth-finished pipes. Vulcanite was either rationed or prohibited. Because of this Dunhill fitted most pipes from this decade with stems made of horn. Of course when vulcanite became more available they could be replaced.
The old Dunhill store on Duke street
During WWII the UK gave permission to make smoking pipes to only six firms. Dunhill was one of them. Briar was divided equally between the six firms. But… Not all of it was of high quality. The rationing plan of the government encouraged the making of so called “utility pipes”. This were low-cost pipes that could be made from poor quality briar. The internal management of Dunhill reported that only about a quarter of the equally divided briar supply was good enough for high-quality pipes. Auwtsch.. That really hindered the export of Dunhill pipes for years to come. It wasn’t until the early 1950s, when the reconstruction of the UK was really on its way, that Dunhill was able to expand once more at home and abroad.
I hope that Shaun can get that pretty unique pipe fixed so he can smoke it with a lot of pleasure until the end of his days.