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Are Dunhills as Good as they look?

(28 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by stanlaurel
  • Latest reply from seacaptain
  1. stanlaurel

    stanlaurel

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    I am a very new pipe smoker. Less than 3 months. I have become slightly obsessed with obtaining a Dunhill or two. They are way beyond my normal sane price range but I am very tempted nonetheless. They are unquestionably beautiful as art objects in the photographs. I have never held one in person. If I bought one would I place it in a shrine to impress my friends? Or are they great smokers in proportion to their price? Although several of the ones I am looking at are Estates, that does not make them cost any less. Are the older ones better?

    I would appreciate some comments and advice along these lines. You should probably try to talk me out of purchasing one at present and tell me to work on my novice pipe smoking skills instead.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. ssjones

    ssjones

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    Some folks swear by the older pipes. While I'm a fan of older British pipes, after smoking Dunhills from the 60's, 70's, 2000 era and a new 2013, I don't find much difference in their smoking characteristics. In fact, I give the nod to my 2013 over my 1963 Dunhill.

    There are certainly other equiptable pipe brands out there that smoke as well as a Dunhill, at a lower cost. But none really have the cache of a Dunhill (and resale value).

    Al

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. newbroom

    newbroom

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    Well, honestly? I haven't smoked my 1956 Shellbriar since I got it back from Howard Shulte, America's only certified Dunhill replacement stem MAKER. He makes the stems from stock he gets from Dunhill. I just have this one, and I guess it was more of a bucket list acquisition. I have a small but burgeoning collection and to say, yes, I have a Dunhill Shellbriar from the 50's in nice condition gives it an essential piece.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    Yes, they are. And they're overpriced. But Al Pascia (in Italy) has great prices right now because of the price of the Euro vs. the Dollar -- roughly half of what you'd pay buying from a U.S. vendor.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. tobyducote

    NOLA Cajun

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    I have 6 Dunhills, all acquired through estate sales or antique shops for about what you would pay for a basket pipe, so it doesn't pain me in the least to say that there is nothing spectacular in the way they smoke. They are good smokers and very beautiful. Had I paid retail for them, I would be very disappointed compared to some of the great smoking artesian pipes that I have purchased over the years. I highly encourage you to attempt to find a Dunhill at flea markets, and antique shops. Antiquing for pipes is like Indiana Jones on a treasure hunt....you never know what little gem you will find...I acquired two Charatans yesterday in an antique shop...one a beautiful Lane Era...and the prices you can usually negotiate to under $25 a pipe...i paid $10 for each of these two pipes yesterday...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    Just about any decent artisan pipe will smoke as well or better, and often have a more comfortable stem. Many of these will be much cheaper than a new Dunhill. But if it's the Dunhill look and shaping that you want, there's only one Dunhill. You could say the same about Castello, I think. In any case, the fit and finish on Dunhills, new or estate, is really, really good.

    Bottom line, there are better smoking pipes out there for a much lower price. The prices of new Dunhills are driven by a whole range of things besides smoking quality.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. mso489

    mso489

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    No Dunhills here. Several Forums members have scores, maybe a hundred or more, Dunhills; and whatever motivates that, beside the ability to afford them, it means a lot to them. foggy' approves some Dunhills, of which he has many, and shuns others adamantly, scorns them. I have no Dunhills, but what I consider to be some fine pipes -- a Ser Jacopo, a Ferndown, a higher-end Sav. These are excellent smokers and earn their upscale smoking honors, but I do not feel negatively about my MM and Old Dominion cobs, my Dr. Grabow, six or seven artisanal pipes (not pricey), Iwan Ries Benton house pipes, a Bari, a Ropp, a Vailliard, Petersons, Savs, and many more. I know it's rewarding to own pipes from the higher end, but I know there is great satisfaction in pipes that are carefully selected that cost much less. My admiration for Dunhills is based on their consistent and careful design and high level of quality manufacture, and their methodical way of stamping and cataloging their pipes so people know the date and series of each and every pipe; I keep pointing out that every pipe maker could do as much.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. tbradsim1

    tbradsim1

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    To each his own, I have Dunhills, a 1943 Birth Year ODA Billard, not too good a smoker, comparing them with the Savorys I have the Savorys have the edge. My best Dunhill smoker was made in 1998, better than the 43,44, yr WWII pipes. Smoke what you like and like what you smoke.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. mso489

    mso489

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    ...just want to add, if I came across one of these mythical antique store/flea market Dunhills for basket pipe prices, I'd buy it faster than the speed of light.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. captpat

    captpat

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    I have one Dunhill that I picked up off of another forum--it's nice but not nice enough to pay retail. Most of their shapes are classics, well executted but I find I don't like their staining, I prefer to have stain the shows off the grain more. That said I'd probably get another for the right price, there are quiite a few other brands higher on the priority list.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. menuhin

    menuhin

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    @stanlaurel

    As you've been enchanted by Dunhill pipes, my advice for you is to get a Dunhill to try it out yourself. Please remember to get a Dunhill that looks good in your eyes and feels good at your hands, this way you are then already getting back what you pay for.
    My opinion is that 3 months for some people can be a period not long enough to adequately understand (via experience) the concept of 'a good performing smoking pipe'. That was 10+ years ago, but it took me 1.5 years plus burning out 2 pipes to get to the point I acquired a decent smoker (a relatively cheap local shop pipe) and got some enlightening smoking experience from it.

    ... They are unquestionably beautiful as art objects in the photographs. ... Or are they great smokers in proportion to their price? ...

    Having fewer than 10 Dunhill pipes myself, I can say only a little but not too much. I believe photographs on pipe-selling websites and auction sites can be a bit misleading - the lighting and the skills. As a high-end pipe brand, most of the Dunhill pipes look certainly beautiful but they do not look so perfect in person, in terms of the craftsmanship, at least to me not as near to perfect as some of the artisan pipes, many of them can cost less than a new Dunhill.
    It is certainly possible to find estate pipes (e.g. old French > old English > old Danish or new old stock pipes) out there at less than $100 that smoke as good as or even better than a good average Dunhill pipe. So it is probably not so possible to say the smoking performance of Dunhill pipes is "in proportion to their price" when Dunhill pipes are at $500 and up while other forgotten brands can be obtained at around $50 nowadays.

    ... Are the older ones better?

    Similar to Cajun, my personal experience will let me answer negative. I have one oil-cured era super craggy Dunhill Shell Briar pipe, certainly looking impressive. But that probably smokes worse than many other Dunhill pipes of mine. But there are a lot of enthusiasm in the discussions about oil-curing process of earlier Dunhill.

    Given all these, one biggest advantages of purchasing a good Dunhill pipe is its resale value. Dunhill pipes have possibly one of the most stable and reliable estate pipes prices, with a solid buyers and resellers base. So if you do not like a Dunhill pipe and you want to sell it out again, you can still get back some money, provided that you know how to maintain your pipes in good shape.

    Having said that, one needs to plan to get one or a few idolized pipes at a certain point, to fulfill the wish of holding that dream in one's hand. Here is my $0.02 as a relatively junior pipe smokers.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. buckaroo

    buckaroo

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    I stayed away for many years as there were so many other makers/ brands and opinions on Dhill's going both ways. I now have 11 because I enjoy the stems, the smoking qualities, and the shapes. Most are smooth and from the 70's on up too, so not from the golden era.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I had a ruby bark, and traded it for a couple of tins of G.L. Pease Mephisto if that tells you anything. I would take one of my Weavers over ten Dunhills.

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. stanlaurel

    stanlaurel

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    Thanks all for the comments and advice putting it all in perspective. I think that I will put any ideas of a Dunhill purchase on ice for the time being.

    @menuhin

    Thank you. I need to be reminded that after only 3 months, I am asking too much of myself to think that I can differentiate between good and bad pipes and good and bad tobacco. I am getting the impression that I just need to relax, be patient and pay my dues.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. menuhin

    menuhin

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    @stanlaurel

    I am myself continuously learning to be a better pipe smoker from all of the members new and veteran here and pipe smokers elsewhere. Whenever I do not smoke well a pipe, I would also question if there is actually problem in my way of prepping tobacco, packing it into the pipe, lighting or puffing, or the cadence, because my pipe does not smoke well can possibly and simply mean I am myself not practicing an effective way of smoking it with certain tobacco. It does take a lot of time and practice, plus trial and error.
    I also want to clarify that I do not mean older Dunhill pipes are worse, I mean they are not necessarily better smokers than their newer counterparts. And Dunhill is after all a high end pipe brand: I have two of them that look exceptionally gorgeous but the rest are a bit ordinary and crafted to look somewhat asymmetrical when I look closer at them. So I would suggest, it it good to continue to check them out as you are smoking better and better, and plan to acquire only nicer pipes that you really like, be they Dunhills, Charatan, or S. Bang.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. pepesdad1

    pepesdad1

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    Personally, I prefer the style, stain, workmanship, stem and beauty of the old Comoy pipes (pre-Cadagon. What passes as a Comoy these days should be forbidden. They have destroyed the name of Comoy with that trash they put out today.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. foggymountain

    foggymountain

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    Yes. They are as good as they look, maybe better. There is a misconception that Dunhills were better years ago. That is not my experience. I prefer the 21st century Dunhills.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. jackswilling

    jackswilling

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    So I was looking at this Dunhill 1955 Zulu Shape 83 and I went to $183 and it was way out of my league. It went for $282 plus shipping. Seems like a lot, but I do not have enough perspective. Would have liked to get it, but it seems like a $300 proposition to get something along these lines.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/361261090352?ssPageName=STRK:MEDWX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1435.l2649

    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson
    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. ssjones

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    @jackswilling - that is a Mike Reschke ad, a top Ebay pipe seller (four digit Ebay rating!) Even with the damage on that bowl top, because that pipe is a Root Briar grade and a 1955 all add up to a big sale. A 1970's pipe in better shape in a lesser grade would be a less pricey proposition (and more prolific).

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. ssjones

    ssjones

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  21. jackswilling

    jackswilling

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    Yes, those would work. That is the shape I want. Thank you for taking the time to educate me on this.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. ericusrex

    ericusrex

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    I have a Dunhill Cumberland from the early 80s. I like that it's quite light but other than that I'm not particularly fond of it. I think it's a $75 pipe that sells for over $400. That's OK since I bought it at a flea market for $3. I've often thought about selling it and getting something I thought was actually worth the money but then I wouldn't have a Dunhill to show my friends and then watch their faces when I tell them what I paid for it. My honest opinion is; unless you find one at an antique store or flea market for under $100 buy something else. Dunhill tobaccy is worth the price though...except maybe the Navy Rolls.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. neverbend

    neverbend

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    Hi Stanlaurel,

    I've smoked a lot of Dunhills, mostly from the 1930s through the 1960s. Now I have only one that I don't smoke but my preferences are only relevant to me. I agree with others here that you'll have to make this determination for yourself.

    Please send regards to Ollie.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. fluffie666

    fluffie666

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    I'm fairly new to the pipe as well. I've only smoked one Dunhill and it wasn't the life changing experience I was hoping for. I have an old Parker that I restored myself and I choose it over the Dunhill more often. I've come to the realization that no matter what name is on it... it's like a friend. I just get along well with some and others not so much.

    Great info in this thread! Thanx so much!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. beefeater33

    beefeater33

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    I have Dunhills from the 1920's to the 1980's. Some are great smokers and some are not. Just like Artisan pipes......not every one is fantastic. Just because its HANDMADE and one of a kind does not guarantee a great smoker-- its always a bit hit or miss. I just bought a little Dunhill bent from 1922. I normally don't smoke bents but this one called to me.........Gaslight was made for this pipe, it practically smokes itself. Yes, they are expensive, but in my experience, they also hold their value. If one doesn't work for you, sell it for what you paid, and someone else may think its the pipe of a lifetime...........

    "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream..."
    Willy Wonka
    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. jimbo44

    jimbo44

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    As a Brit. smoker, it was only through Forums that I became aware of the culture of pipe collecting originating in US; we just smoked them!

    Dunhills were always regarded as the first among equals in UK - Barlings, Comoys, Loewes etc, were just as good and, in particular, Charatans were thought of as excellent pipes (the straight grain on a "dead root" Dunhill would make a Charatan owner chuckle). Many blue collar Brits managed to acquire a Dunhill as a one-off present for a special birthday or retirement but they were not thought of as giving "bragging rights".

    For collectors, I'm sure it's the ability to date them accurately that encouraged their popularity above some other old Brit. brands.

    Of course they are good pipes, but as for a "life changing experience" I don't believe any brand of pipe can guarantee that; it's more the individual pipe than the name of the maker. I have Dunhills from 1944 through to 1982 and some are excellent (a '44, a '54 and a '81), others are very good, a couple are just "OK" and there is one "magic pipe" (a '62).

    I'm not able to comment much on the difference between these good "factory pipes" and artisan pipes as there is little culture of individual carvers in UK [OK, Ashton (ex Dunhill), Upshall (ex Charatan), Ferndown (ex Dunhill) and now Northern Briars and Askwith pipes (which are excellent BTW)].

    So, yes, they are as good as they look - but there are others and none are guaranteed to be magical (although they may shorten the odds).

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. foggymountain

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    MSO: I do not scorn other pipes. I have about 76 pipes that are not Dunhills, most of them are very good to excellent. They include Lasse Skovgaards, Benni Jorgensens, Savinelli Giubileo D'oros, Radices, Petersons, Hilsons, meerschaums, cobs and one pipe each from Rad, Ascorti, Wilke.
    I do prefer the Dunhills though. It is not the name or the finish or even the resale value. It is the taste and the shapes that I like. Last count is 104, but I did agree to sell one that I rarely smoked.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. seacaptain

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    I'm just getting back into the hobby and it seems like 75% of the pipes I looked at and said "wow, that's a nice looking pipe", we're Dunhill's. I just bought my 3rd Bruyere. That's going to be the last one for quite a while though. I burned through most of my hobby money for the year.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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