- May 8, 2019
DittoI've been shaking my head with some disbelief at this one's astonishing final price. The 1937 coronation was by equal measures a big deal and something of a fiasco for English luxury good makers. This because of the unexpected abdication of Edward VIII on 10-11 December 1936 with ceremonies scheduled for 12 May. Every imaginable kind of souvenir for every budget were in the works--mugs with royal portraits and coats of arms, etched crystal decanters, porcelain tea sets, beautiful wrought sterling silver objects for desk and table, medals.
Unfortunately for many of Englands most famous brands and retailers quite a lot of Edward VIII merchandise had already been manufactured, one infers, it was already in stores and being sold when the shocking announcement came.
I am a big fan of an art deco London silversmith called "R.E. Stone" who sold to retailers like Asprey, and own quite a number of his surprising large range of handsome coronation pieces variously celebrating either Edward or George (indeed, my impression is he may not have had time to make anything for at least a year that wasn't).
As for the pipe--it's certainly nice enough but definitely presents a few riddles. It appears to be unsmoked and has a lovely "bowling ball" vulcanite stem, but the crown looks to me fairly generic (ie it finesses altogether the awkward question of whether it is honoring the company's long time champion and patron, Edward, or his younger brother).
Nothing about it suggests it was anything other than the sort of luxury souvenir that other retailers were hawking. And that Dunhill had actual made it for one of them personally (which might have justified its regal price). What is curious--if I am reading the blurry scan of its nomenclature is that the pipe appears to date (with a "13") to 1933--which is to say, even if one assumes the nicely executed crown was Dunhill's own work, there's a three-four year gap between the making of the stummel and the addition of this carving. Usually (but not always) completed Dunhill pipes that remained in stock unsold for more than a year received an additional updated stamp (to extend their warranty). But this pipe appears to lack any.