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Should I restore my 1937 Dunhill?

(36 posts)
  • Started 2 years ago by bencdavidson
  • Latest reply from ssjones
  1. User has not uploaded an avatar

    bencdavidson

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    I've enjoyed pipes for a few years now, but I don't really know too much about them. This pipe belonged to my great-grandfather and was willed to me when he passed. His name was Desmond and he was an employee at the Dunhill factory. I was told this was his favorite pipe.

    I posted the below on Reddit and was told it is a 1937 Dunhill Root Briar Group 5

    "The pipe is obviously a little worn. Below is what I think is engraved on either side, though it's hard to be sure.
    The left side has the letter R and says Dunhill London.
    The right side says Made in England and the number 5, 50, or 53 and PAT. N9 417574/17"

    Can anyone here give me any additional information? Any ideas on what its value is? I have no intention of selling it, but I'm curious as I've been told it's an impressive piece.

    I'd also like to get it restored but have a few questions about that as well. Does restoring a pipe destroy its value? What would be done to restore a pipe in this condition. I'd also like it to still keep its character and not look brand new. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. theloniousmonkfish

    theloniousmonkfish

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    It's all up to you since it's yours but if I were to clean that one up it would be with the lightest touch possible. The rim and bowl look to have a couple dings but I wouldn't want anyone messing with it if they're going to top it or touch it with any aggressive techniques. The best restorations are the ones no one can tell have been restored, tread lightly, all personal opinion. That said it's a gorgeous pipe and I hope you get it back in proper condition to fully enjoy.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Do nothing!! That is, until you can get it in the hands of a proper restorer. You have a treasure, and quite right, you don't want it refinished, but restored.

    Best of luck, and don't forget to post photos after the cleaning and restoration.

    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 2 years ago #
  4. mayfair70

    mayfair70

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    That is an amazing pipe. Beautiful. If this were my pipe, the only restoration I would do is a cleaning to remove the char from the rim of the bowl and take a little chatter from the mouthpiece near the button. I can't tell if the finish is wearing on the bowl or not. The stamping is quite shallow and any machine buffing would compromise the future ability to read the already faded nomenclature. In short, no refurb, just a simple, expert, cleaning. There are a couple members here who do fantastic work and I would NOT send this pipe to anyone but the most skilled worker. It is too valuable, monetarily and sentimentally, to entrust to any old pipe-cleaning hobbyist such as myself. GeorgeD and others will hopefully chime in on a recommended course of action. Best Wishes!!

    The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. -Groucho Marx
    Mouse-catcher on The Black Frigate
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Dunhill didn't have group 5 back then. It is probably a shape 59, which is a smallish group 4 billiard. Some of us could make the pipe look new, but with that stamping so weak, it should be left alone. I would clean off the bowl rim, and clean up the stem.
    Mike

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    As Mike said, it appears to be shape 59. The dating is correct. In the right hands, it could be cleaned and "restored" to a condition that would make your great-grandfather proud, in the wrong hands...
    Are you in the US? UK?

    Dave
    Duke Street Irregular
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    bencdavidson

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    Hi Dave, I am located in Nashville, TN.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Does the pipe have a Vernon Dunhill fitment? Many of the brindle stems back in the 1930s had the fitment. If you decide to have a pro refinish the pipe, make darn sure they have the correct color stain to put on the pipe. It looks like there is some wood missing, so be aware it might be impossible to remove the defects without changing the bowl proportions. I would just clean it and smoke it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. pagan

    pagan

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    Very nice, get a professional to restore, to much of a treasure to trust just anyone

    Nowhere in the world will such a brotherly feeling of confidence be experienced as amongst those who sit together smoking their pipes
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    jitterbugdude

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    I'm curious as to why you want to get it restored. That char in the bowl is from your Great-Grandfather. The teeth marks on the stem.. from your Great-Grandfather too. If it has sentimental value to you,leave it exactly the way it is. If not, get it restored.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. piffyr

    piffyr

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    On it's own, that is an exceptional pipe. The fact that it has a personal connection to you makes it something even more special. I'd suggest that a very light touch would be the way to go with that one. It has a history with your great-grandfather and you don't want to erase that. Each of those superficial dings is a small story. A good cleaning and a delicate polish that preserves the already compromised stamping is all that it needs.

    RESPECT THE PIPE!
    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Yes, that last sentence says it better than my post above. I would avoid any use of the word 'restoration'. Refurbishing, too, may imply too much that might diminish what you have.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. mso489

    mso489

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    Doing nothing is way better than doing the wrong thing. You want to keep it in collector condition. Don't use any chemicals, abrasives, sandpaper, alcohol, etc. And don't ream. If you must do anything beside buff it with a soft rag and wipe out the bowl with a paper towel after a smoke, and clean it with a pipe cleaner, I'd get the name of a qualified Dunhill repair person recommended by the factory and have them do only a gentle cleaning. Basically, the less done the better. The pipe looks great and is as it should be.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    PM sent.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. papipeguy

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    Send it to georged (George Dibos). He's the finest person to take care of your pipe. I had him restore my grandfather's 1936 Dunhill and it was a miraculous job.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    John-

    Any before and after pix?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. davet

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    The right side says Made in England and the number 5, 50, or 53 and PAT. N9 417574/17"

    That patent number again, same as in the other 1937 Dunhill thread. Does this mean anything? Or is this an example of the correct pipe/pat no. ?

    there appears be a Dunhill stamping tool dating to 1937 that reads: DUNHILL SHELL MADE IN ENGLAND [over] PAT. No 41757417 in the hands of some illiterate who has used it to stamp at least 3 different ‘group 4sh’ fake smooth finished pipes.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. ophiuchus

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    At least this one appears to be the real deal.

    I have to add another recommendation to forget restoration and for doing as little as possible to that pipe to clean it. That's a grand specimen as is.

    (I've smoked the hell out of pipes for years just to get them to look like that!)

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. dmcmtk

    dmcmtk

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    That patent number again, same as in the other 1937 Dunhill thread. Does this mean anything? Or is this an example of the correct pipe/pat no. ?

    The marking on this pipe are correct. Look closely at the first picture.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    bencdavidson

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    Thanks to everyone who commented! It has been really special to learn some more about my great-grandad's favorite pipe! I can't wait to smoke it. I'm definitely leaning towards just getting it cleaned up instead of a restoration. Here's some more pictures - based on these what would you recommend I clean or leave alone?

    Thanks again for all of your help!!

    P.S. I tried to get a clearer shot of the stampings for those of you who were curious about them. Sorry for the quality! Best I could do with an iPhone

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. alexnorth

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    A nice pipe with a nice story. Whatever you choose to do about restoration work i hope you get to smoke it and enjoy for many years to come.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. doctorbob

    doctorbob

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    I wonder if that tenon has been replaced.
    Very nice pipe, in any case.

    Doc

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. papipeguy

    papipeguy

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    jpmcwjr- Here are a few photos of my grandfather's 1936 Dunhill Shell. I found it in one of his old tool boxes. A mouse had chewed it up pretty badly and George Dibos did a wonderful job with a full restoration. George posted a blow by blow of the work on the PM site but I can't find it here. I got the pipe back from him about a year ago.

    Before:

    After:

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. beefeater33

    beefeater33

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    ^^ Here you go papipeguy........... this is an amazing thread: papipeguy's 1936 Dunhill restoration

    "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream..."
    Willy Wonka
    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. kcghost

    kcghost

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    George Dibos is the guy you want to work on this pipe. He loves old English wood, He'll do it right.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. jpmcwjr

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    Whoa! Now I recall the step-by-step lovely work done by George. Great photos, great thread. Thank you.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. davet

    davet

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    The marking on this pipe are correct.

    Nice to have an authentic one to compare with the dodgey ones using that stamp, also a happy coincidence that this thread comes along at about the same time. A very nice pipe but the family history makes it an extraordinary pipe for you. The photos of pipes brought back to life by George and a few others on here are truly amazing.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

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    That pipe will definitely clean up nice. It doesn't need much work, just a light polishing and cleaning. A careful ream perhaps. It'll come out gorgeous!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

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    For those curious about the patent:
    Dunhill Patent 417574

    417,574. Tobacco pipes &c. DUNHILL, Ltd., A., and DUNHILL, V., 137, High Street, Notting Hill Gate, London. May 29, 1934, No. 16010. [Class 130.] A metal tube 5 in the bore of a tobacco pipe or cigarette or cigar holder is held in position by a metal ring formed by an annular portion 10, having an inturned rim 11 which is a sliding fit on the tube, and a portion split to provide spring prongs 12 which are bent to grip the tube. The ring may be held between recesses in the mouthpiece and stem, or the tube may rest against a shoulder in the mouthpiece and the ring bear against a shoulder in the stem. Specification 116,989, [Class 130], is referred to.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. georged

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    I wonder if that tenon has been replaced.

    It looks like it might have been.

    Though the tenon of cumberland stems can darken quite a bit over time from contact with the mortise walls, I've not yet seen one that's truly black.

    Also, the "step down" style of tenon was never used in any Dunhill that I know of.

    Here's an original 1930's era cumberland stem from a 472 (LB). The 45-degree bevel where the tenon and stem face meet would be a good way for the OP to check his pipe. It was definitely found on all Dunnies of the period. (Though most tenon replacements show a seam/line there, not always. It's possible to do them without it.)

    .

    .

    Also, thanks for the many kind mentions in this thread, but I'm not taking on any more work at this time. My backlog has grown too large.

    Nice pipe, OP. As has already been said, less is more when dealing with a pipe like yours. Just "clean and straighten". Do NOT re-finish the bowl in any way that involves removing material. If the remaining nomenclature goes away, the pipe dies (only in the collecting sense, of course).

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. papipeguy

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    Thanks for finding that post, beefeater.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    That is a replacement tenon. I have owned many Dunhills with bowling ball stems, and the tenons were all bowling ball. I asked earlier if the pipe had a Vernon Dunhill fitment, and now I am suspecting that it originally did. Perhaps at some time, the owner had that removed and had someone make a new tenon.

    I have never seen a Dunhill with a stepped down tenon.

    Regardless, it's a neat pipe.

    As for restoration, Shell finishes are much easier to restore than Roots or Bruyeres.

    Mike

    Posted 2 years ago #
  33. georged

    georged

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    As for restoration, Shell finishes are much easier to restore than Roots or Bruyeres.

    Never one to pass on a technical point, the me.

    My experience has been the opposite, Mike. Re-doing Roots and Bruyeres is just a matter of knowing the "period correct" color, while getting the two-tone Shells looking just right is a tricky business. There are several ways to go about it (with every restorer having his favorite method, I imagine), but all of them taking a fair amount of experimentation and practice.

    The more recent, virtually all-black Shells are definitely easier than the two-tone ones, though.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    George, I wasn't talking about color, but more about the finish. A rough finish is more tolerant of abuse over the years, and you don't really have to worry about steaming out dents, or marks on the wood.

    I use Fiebing's red dye first, burn it, then Fiebing's USMC black, again burned. It may take a couple applications of each. I then rub down the pipe with a paper towel soaked with denatured alcohol, continuing this till no more color comes off on the towel. A toothbrush wiped across a can of Kiwi black shoe polish, followed by buffing with a shoe brush generally finishes it off.

    Tanshells are a little more tricky, making sure you use the proper dye, followed by denatured alcohol/paper towel process, finished off with Kiwi brown shoe polish.

    Like we have discussed, we have both tried a lot of techniques over the years-some work, some don't.

    Mike

    Posted 2 years ago #
  35. georged

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    I wasn't talking about color, but more about the finish. A rough finish is more tolerant of abuse over the years, and you don't really have to worry about steaming out dents, or marks on the wood.

    Ah. I misunderstood. Raggedy wood indeed makes spotting imperfections a lot more difficult.

    Neh-ver mind.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  36. ssjones

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    Very neat, right from the factory. I wonder if they had to buy them? Do you know what our grandfather did at Dunhill and the time frame of his employment?

    Al

    Posted 2 years ago #

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