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Dunhill Pipes

(34 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by 4nogginsmike
  • Latest reply from settersbrace
  1. 4nogginsmike

    4nogginsmike

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    Is there any justification for the high price of Dunhills. I love the classical shapes, and if I want a better made English pipe, I shop Ashton and Ferndown. Of course I am no stranger to Dunhill aquisivity, but it would seem that being 70%? machine made, how can they rival 100% handmade artisans?

    I know how to evaluate all that is important about a pipe, and I know a lot more than when I started. But I'm guessing that beyond checking the draw and mortise/tenon junction, etc., there are probably many other things that someone with more experience than I would assess. What are these things, the little things. For instance when I bought my Askwith morta, I was assured by the vendor that many of these little things were present in an Askwith pipe than would be present in a Former.

    Getting back to Dunhill how can machine manufacture do as good a job as an artisan could do?

    You see, I'm shooting in the dark, asking questions whose answers can only be answered with experience I don't have. Your patience, please, and then give me your knowledge.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. pruss

    pruss

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    Is there any justification for the high price of Dunhills.

    Simply... Folks will pay the price.

    This is really and truly about branding, market presence, brand loyalty and perceived value. Now let's not kid ourselves, all of those elements are based on the reputation that Dunhill has built over 100+ years of manufacturing excellent pipes. Whether they are spinning off a machine, or being hand made through each stage of the build and finishing, Dunhill has earned their reputation for excellence.

    Some folks are just more comfortable buying a well made widget, from a company they trust, right off the shelf and are happy paying a premium for the knowledge that it will be a damn good widget. That's what's happening here.

    If people stopped paying Dunhill's premium, their prices would come down.

    $0.05 in the bucket.

    -- Pat

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    Novice's reply: They probably cannot justify.

    I would argue that most people cannot tell the difference in smoking quality and that most buy the name. You can spend $50 on a keychain at Tiffany, because it's TIFFANY.

    That and I am sure that if the QC people are doing their job a machine made pipe will smoke fabulously for almost everyone but the purest connoisseur.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. daveinlax

    daveinlax

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    Getting back to Dunhill how can machine manufacture do as good a job as an artisan could do?

    I have a lot of experience with both Dunhill and artisan pipes. The basic shape of most Dunhill pipes are done by a machine and out of the hundreds of bowls the few clean bowls go to London to be finished by hand by an person not a machine. The stems, sanding and finish are done by hand. I've just had way better luck with Dunhill than I've had with artisan pipes but I'm not pay retail even for the new pipes I've bought.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. warren

    warren

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    Economics 101, supply and demand. Dunhill is a prized marque for many collectors and pipe smokers. They will pay for what they want. Very simple really. As for better or worse construction, that's all in the eye of the beholder. Your criteria for a good pipe differs from others the same as mine does. You accept your criteria as the correct one and therefore are bewildered that others do not see the situation the same as you do. Obviously, many people see value where you do not.

    If only one pipe maker made an acceptable pipe, there would only be one pipe maker.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I think it's all about reputation and name recognition at this point. Their pipes were a benchmark for many years in terms of quality decades before artisan pipes existed. They still make great pipes and their prices have kept up with the general rise in pipe prices. Plus, because of their reputation resale value and brand cachet is very strong, which I'm sure attracts many buyers.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. tobyducote

    NOLA Cajun

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    I have 6 Dunhills...all estates...and most in pretty rough condition when I acquired them..a few I've restored myself but most were done professionally...all date back to pre 1960...these are really nice smokers...there is just something comfortable about them...kind if like an old leather shoe that fits just perfectly around your foot...or an old baseball glove that you've had all your life. I have pipes that have and do smoke better, but I always know what to expect from my Dunnies...and sometimes you just want that familiar comfort. I would never pay retail for a new Dunhill, unless I won the lottery, but I do enjoy searching for the Estates...the only 2 Dunhills that I really disliked were more recent..one from late 1970's and one from early 1980's...and those two went to ebay very quickly.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. iamn8

    Nate

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    I'm always mystified when these talks come up when we try to find a practical reason for the Dunhill pricing... Seeking justification in their design. It's not the pipe but the story behind the brand. Take a dozen identical paintings all depicting the exact same scene, but painted by different artists. Would you rather own the one by Van Gogh or the ones by lesser artists? People appreciate history behind a product. Like it or not it's how the world works. Some will love them for it while others will hate them for it.

    Nate @ Moody AL
    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    I have one Dunhill, and I paid more for it than anything else to date. It's a standard billiard, ca. 1968. I justified it as it is a replacement for a similar pipe given me by a dear long departed cousin, and which I lost in my youth. Now my dreams are to find a couple dozen oldies in a yard sale for $10.00.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    Had a Ruby Bark billiard whose draft hole was slightly askew. Traded it for three tins of Mephisto. I wouldn't take ten Dunhill's for one of my Weavers.

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. ssjones

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    On another thread, we just watched a DR pipe, in mediocre condition bring $2,222. It's all about the mystique and prestige of the brand. MLC posted this on that thread, nuff said

    'm reminded of Milne's old essay from the 20's...

    (excerpt)

    However, it is the pipe rather than the tobacco which marks him as belonging to this particular school. He pins his faith, not so much to its labour-saving devices as to the white spot outside, the white spot of an otherwise aimless life. This tells the world that it is one of THE pipes. Never was an announcement more superfluous. From the moment, shortly after breakfast, when he strikes his first match to the moment, just before bed-time, when he strikes his hundredth, it is obviously THE pipe which he is smoking.

    For whereas men of an older school, like myself, smoke for the pleasure of smoking, men of this school smoke for the pleasure of pipe-owning—of selecting which of their many white-spotted pipes they will fill with their specially-blended tobacco, of filling the one so chosen, of lighting it, of taking it from the mouth to gaze lovingly at the white spot and thus letting it go out, of lighting it again and letting it go out again, of polishing it up with their own special polisher and putting it to bed, and then the pleasure of beginning all over again with another white- spotted one. They are not so much pipe-smokers as pipe-keepers; and to have spoken as I did just now of their owning pipes was wrong, for it is they who are in bondage to the white spot. This school is founded firmly on four years of war. When at the age of eighteen you are suddenly given a cheque-book and called “Sir,” you must do something by way of acknowledgment. A pipe in the mouth makes it clear that there has been no mistake—you are undoubtedly a man. But you may be excused for feeling after the first pipe that the joys of smoking have been rated too high, and for trying to extract your pleasure from the polish on the pipe’s surface, the pride of possessing a special mixture of your own, and such-like matters, rather than from the actual inspiration and expiration of smoke. In the same way a man not fond of reading may find delight in a library of well-bound books. They are pleasant to handle, pleasant to talk about, pleasant to show to friends. But it is the man without the library of well-bound books who generally does most of the reading...

    ...For my young friends are always trying to persuade me to join their school, to become one of the white-spotted ones. I have no desire to be of their company, but I am prepared to make a suggestion to the founder of the school. It is that he should invent a pipe, white spot and all, which smokes itself. His pupils could hang it in the mouth as picturesquely as before, but the incidental bother of keeping it alight would no longer trouble them.

    Al

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. tslex

    tslex

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    "The price of a thing is what it will bring."

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. mso489

    mso489

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    It's a relatively old brand, not as old as some of the French marques, but well established in history. They have an established set of traditional shapes that they adhere to over time. They stamp the pipes so it is possible to determine the years they were made, and why doesn't every pipe maker do this? Most but not all of their pipes are carefully manufactured with mostly higher grade briar, and their quality control is good to excellent. Somewhere between the time they were selling their pipes for somewhat less than U.S.-made Kaywoodies, and today when Kaywoodie is trying to fight its way back into mid-price pipe-making, the Dunhill established its magic so they sell for two or three or more times the prices of similar if not altogether comparable factory made pipes, and Dunhills took off with pipe smokers who wanted a really good pipe and a really strong statement that they could afford something in the luxury category. Some of our seasoned pipe smokers on Forums are devoted to their Dunhills, bought new or as estate pipes, and at least one member owns more than a hundred and purchased a set of six (was it) all in a group, to have some smaller pipes for shorter smokes. I don't have a Dunhill, and I don't plan to buy one unless I happen on a flea market or antique store windfall, but I do not dismiss them as merchandising illusions. They're classy pipes and good smokers, and I work awfully hard to find pipes at more affordable prices that smoke real well, if not just like a Dunhill, though some of mine may -- my Ser Jacopo bought with a windfall publication check, and my Ferdown given to me by an extremely generous Forums member. Dunhill, if you got 'em, smoke 'em.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. seacaptain

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    I have 2 Dunhills and a Savinelli GDO, and I'm new, so I don't really have much wisdom to offer, but I will say that the Dunhill's have much better stem/tenon/mortise fitting than the Savinelli. They "feel" like higher quality in your hand. I'm not knocking the Savinelli though, which I love, I'm just making an observation about quality, perceived or real.

    I will say this, I think Dunhill has done for the pipe world what Cook did for the chess world (Staunton).

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. newbroom

    newbroom

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    mso489, you know you've got an itch.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. georged

    georged

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    Half a MILLION hits and counting:

    https://www.google.com/search?num=100&q=dunhill+pipes+worth+the+price&spell=1&sa=X&ei=JHxvVeG2AczNsAWm44GQBQ&ved=0CBsQBSgA&biw=1858&bih=963

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. cobguy

    Darin

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    EDIT: not worth it!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. jimbo44

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    Back in the days of English pipemakers, Dunhill was only one of many excellent brands (Charatan, Loewe, Barling, Comoy etc.) but by good marketing and a policy of acquisition, became the most famous.

    Coupled with the fact that they can be accurately dated, they have achieved cult status and most collectors of them seek good nomenclature (as opposed to Charatan collectors seeking shape, grade and grain).

    Sure they smoke well to excellently and I've got quite a few of the older pieces but I doubt that I'd buy a new one today.

    Ashton was the successor to Dunhill, as was Upshall to Charatan, once big business took over and I believe they more equate with the original brands.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    Ashton was the successor to Dunhill, as was Upshall to Charatan, once big business took over and I believe they more equate with the original brands.

    In the golden age Pipes were big business. It's a modern phenomenon to attach shoddy workmanship to factories and revere cottage craftsman. Barling, Dunhill, GBD, Comoy's...these weren't guys in their garages, these were enormous factories employing ground breaking technology to make the pipes to a very high standard. Made for smokers that smoked...a lot...

    People buy Dunhills now, I think, because they like the look, they can reasonably certain of a certain level of quality, and they're collectible. How much that is worth is for the buyer to decide.

    The bugaboo with buying pipes is that the most important aspect, how well they smoke, is something that is unique to each pipe. This is why every pipe shop needs professional pipe smokers to grade stock prior to sale. Everything else is just for show.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. jimbo44

    jimbo44

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    "In the golden age Pipes were big business. It's a modern phenomenon to attach shoddy workmanship to factories and revere cottage craftsman. Barling, Dunhill, GBD, Comoy's...these weren't guys in their garages, these were enormous factories employing ground breaking technology to make the pipes to a very high standard. Made for smokers that smoked...a lot..."

    Can't argue with that; what perhaps I should have said is when the business became more about accountancy than standards.

    "The bugaboo with buying pipes is that the most important aspect, how well they smoke, is something that is unique to each pipe. This is why every pipe shop needs professional pipe smokers to grade stock prior to sale. Everything else is just for show."

    Again, no argument; I'm firmly with Fred Hanna in believing that it's the pipe rather than the brand - and the main bit of that is the briar.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. mso489

    mso489

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    newbroom, sure I have an itch. I wouldn't be a (hopeless) enthusiast if I didn't. I also have an itch for an original Sixten Iversson, but I think I'll make do with the Stanwell shape 86 (pot) he designed for Stanwell, sold by P&C in the brushed brown series for $49.99, which incidentally Sixten would find a quite satisfactory (or better) smoker.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Getting back to Dunhill how can machine manufacture do as good a job as an artisan could do?

    Well, from a purely technical point of view, there's nothing innately superior to making a pipe by hand than machining it. BTW, artisans use plenty of machinery in making their pipes. The difference is that a purely machine made production line will generate less "firsts" as the cut down stage has been eliminated. It's that cut down stage, where hand shaping is employed to remove natural defects that crop up in the bowl shaping, that provide a higher number of "firsts".

    Dunhill has never been purely a pipe making concern. Their focus was always on supplying quality goods to the high end market. What Dunhill did that was brilliant was to promote the IDEA of Dunhill as the symbol of success, the good life, the very finest quality that could be obtained. To own Dunhill was to show the world that you had arrived and that you were discerning and had taste. And, they did this not just with pipes but with all of their various goods, leather, silver, gold, etc. Dunhill isn't a pipe, it's a status symbol

    Ask a non smoking person to name a pipe brand and they're far more likely to know the name, Dunhill, than any other.

    Are they a good value for the buck? That's for you to decide. I own a bunch, and I rarely smoke them anymore. I've found other pipes that perform much better for me that most of my Dunhills. I do have a couple that stay in the rotation. I wouldn't part with them.

    As for their history, it's a rich history, though not without some telling controversy, and it's certainly not the longest, oldest, or most fabled. You can look to Charatan, Loewe, Barling, Comoy, BBB, amongst others, for that. Dunhill is just the best known and most promoted.

    The three tier one Dunhill dealers with whom I've discussed the brand and their history all say the same thing. At their best, a Dunhill is as good as any pipe made by anybody. But their output over the years is uneven, and their focus has always been on making the finest stems with excellent fit and finish, rather than providing the best briar. And that's because most smokers don't know briar, but they do know stems. Two of the three said, mediocre briar, world class stems.

    For those who love status symbols, Dunhill will always be The One.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. mso489

    mso489

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    I love French pipes, which started the briar pipe industry, and pre-dated the English pipes which, in a large part, imitated them. Many Dunhill shapes are direct lineage from the French pipes -- maybe not the classical cylindrical pot or panels, but most. You can get a wonderful smoker from St. Claude or other French pipe center that has many of the best traits of the English pipes for a tenth the price.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I love French pipes, which started the briar pipe industry, and pre-dated the English pipes which, in a large part, imitated them. Many Dunhill shapes are direct lineage from the French pipes -- maybe not the classical cylindrical pot or panels, but most. You can get a wonderful smoker from St. Claude or other French pipe center that has many of the best traits of the English pipes for a tenth the price.

    +1

    Many of the English makers imported their bowls from France and did the final assembly and finishing in England. Even after English makers established factories they continued to buy French briar and stamp it with an English name. After 1906, Barling stopped importing and made all of their own bowls, but others continued to make some and import some. Dunhill was an importer of French made bowls, continuing to do so throughout their history, putting their stamp on the finished pipe. When Barling attempted, in 1928, to have a law passed that would require pipes stamped "Made In England" or "Made In London" to actually be made in England, Dunhill led the charge to block passage of that bill. They declared that the law would be a "disaster" for the British pipe making industry.

    Trever Talbert's Ligne Bretagne pipes are largely French bowls that he finishes.

    French pipes can be great smokers and are great values.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    elpfeife

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    I think Sable hit a high note with the stems. I have a few Dunhills (and have had others) and I've always thought the outstanding quality of all of them were the stems. I have to say that if I could combine a Dunhill stem with a Castello bowl I would be in pipe heaven.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. layinpipe

    layinpipe

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    I have to say that if I could combine a Dunhill stem with a Castello bowl I would be in pipe heaven.

    + 1 million.

    I couldn't agree more with you pfeife, i'm not a fan of any variations of hardened plastic used for stems, Castello included. It's not a deal breaker for me or anything, but if i had the choice it's vulcanite/ebonite/ashtonite every time (preferably brindle colored).

    The Castello/Dunhill combo would be a hell of a combination, indeed. I'd be the first in line!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. georged

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    I have a few Dunhills (and have had others) and I've always thought the outstanding quality of all of them were the stems. I have to say that if I could combine a Dunhill stem with a Castello bowl I would be in pipe heaven.

    If you mean combine them in a wishful, Perfect World sort of way where there was a brand of pipes that fit your description, you're out of luck, of course. (Magic wands are very hard to come by.)

    If you mean as an after-the-fact thing, by replacing an existing Castello's stem with a Dunhill-esque vulcanite one, that's not a problem. I do it all the time. (Though more often the other way around, duplicating Dunhill stems in acrylic for oxidation haters.)

    I posted some pics a few weeks ago of a conceptually similar "hybrid" project---putting a Danish-style stem on an old system Peterson:

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/blending-the-old-and-new

    Gimme a shout if I can help transport you to pipe heaven

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. ssjones

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    I have a new (2013) White Spot bulldog that is better built than either of my two older pipes. I'd buy another in a heart-beat, as long as the price stays reasonable.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    elpfeife

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    I was simply dreaming, Geo. I do know I could have a vulcanite stem made for a Castello but it isn't quite the same. If I ever do go for a replacement stem I'll give you a ring. Thanks for the offer.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. stickframer

    stickframer

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    ssjones thanks for sharing that excerpt. I enjoyed reading it.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  31. foggymountain

    foggymountain

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    I think they are worth the price, which is no longer high if you get them from Europe and pay Euros. I was recently looking at a $900 pipe by an established carver that I have. It is useless because the stem keeps falling out. What I was thinking, was that I could have gotten 2 Dunhills for that price. Dunhills are consistent. If you have a Dunhill of a certain shape and finish, there is a 99% chance that another with the same shape and finish will smoke the same. I get Dunhills because it eliminates the risk in pipe buying.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  32. foggymountain

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    I just read the Milne Essay and find it inaccurate and rather silly.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  33. stickframer

    stickframer

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    I have nothing against Dunhill pipes or their owners. (I don't own any.)

    foggy, The essay does seem a bit silly, hence the enjoyment. I get a lot of pleasure from reading things from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. I like the writing styles and find the bluntness used in getting ones opinion across to be entertaining.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  34. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    To each his own, thanks to foggy I now own a terrific smoking group 6 panel chestnut, the bit comfort was worth the price of admission on its own. Do I have pipes that smoke as well or better? Yes, but I'm still happy to own a "white spot" as well as some other great British pipes. It's my opinion that without Alfred Dunhill and his marketing genius the pipe world would've suffered greatly. The fierce competition that sprung up in the early 20th century between the various makers like GBD, Barling and others led to a period of pipe craftsmanship not seen before or since. Whether it be an old patent era or a newer incarnation of Dunhill I still believe it to be a superior brand and despite all the bashing the name sometimes recieves, they still remain near or at the top of the heap.

    De gustibus et cloribus non disputandum.
    'There is no arguing about tastes and colours.'
    Posted 4 years ago #

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