Nadir Of Dunhills?

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Winnipeger

Lifer
Sep 9, 2022
1,288
9,676
Winnipeg
I'm not-hell bent on acquiring an estate Dunhill. I've never owned one, but I could see myself purchasing an old shell briar from the early 50s or a pre-war specimen, from back when they used that great craggy Algerian briar.

In terms of purchasing a birth-year pipe one day though...I was born in 1977; and it seems to me, in terms of design quality, staining, stem construction, etc., that my birth year was the lowest point in terms of Dunhill production quality. I don't expect there to be any consensus on exactly which year was the low point for Dunhill. But am I generally correct?

By contrast, some of the early 80's Dunhills I've seen look really sleek and clean with nice stem work. I'm only going on pictures. Anybody own a 1977 Dunhill and care to comment? What about the 80's Dunhills? Was there a renaissance in the 80's? Or am I wrong?
 
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georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
5,586
14,509
Generalities are only that.

Excellent specimens were produced after the 1960's, they were just fewer and more-er far-er in betweener.

Some of the best Dunhills I've ever seen were made in the 80's.

That said, the "clunky" bar was also lowered after the 60's. Stuff that wouldn't have been let out the door before, suddenly was.

The take-away is that you 1977-ers have to look harder.
 

Winnipeger

Lifer
Sep 9, 2022
1,288
9,676
Winnipeg
Some of the best Dunhills I've ever seen were made in the 80's.
That was my intuition. I've seen a bunch from '81,'82,'83 that looked spectacular (and very reasonably priced.) I've just seen very few from '77,'78 I'd even consider sneezing at...which led me to believe that production quality increased in the early eighties. Generalities are just that, of course, and perceived "quality" is generally subjective, but general impressions from those in the know are not without value.
 
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HawkeyeLinus

Lifer
Oct 16, 2020
5,612
41,216
Iowa
I'm not-hell bent on acquiring an estate Dunhill. I've never owned one, but I could see myself purchasing an old shell briar from the early 50s or a pre-war specimen, from back when they used that great craggy Algerian briar.

In terms of purchasing a birth-year pipe one day though...I was born in 1977; and it seems to me, in terms of design quality, staining, stem construction, etc., that my birth year was the lowest point in terms of Dunhill production quality. I don't expect there to be any consensus on exactly which year was the low point for Dunhill. But am I generally correct?

By contrast, some of the early 80's Dunhills I've seen look really sleek and clean with nice stem work. I'm only going on pictures. Anybody own a 1977 Dunhill and care to comment? What about the 80's Dunhills? Was there a renaissance in the 80's? Or am I wrong?
I have a ‘76 Tanshell (my only one now) and it’s a fantastic little pipe! No qualms about the quality in the one I have whatsoever. Not my birth year, lol, and was lucky not to have produced any kin that year!
 
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simong

Lifer
Oct 13, 2015
2,677
15,937
UK
Apart from being your birth year, 1977 was also the year of our late queen's jubilee. You could always buy a commerative tea pot or plate & spend the rest of your money on booze? I was born in 72 but have never been interested in a birth year pipe, I do have a dunhill zulu from 75 though, excellent on all counts.
 

PaulRVA

Lifer
May 29, 2023
3,226
51,854
“Tobacco Row “Richmond Virginia USA
I'm not-hell bent on acquiring an estate Dunhill. I've never owned one, but I could see myself purchasing an old shell briar from the early 50s or a pre-war specimen, from back when they used that great craggy Algerian briar.

In terms of purchasing a birth-year pipe one day though...I was born in 1977; and it seems to me, in terms of design quality, staining, stem construction, etc., that my birth year was the lowest point in terms of Dunhill production quality. I don't expect there to be any consensus on exactly which year was the low point for Dunhill. But am I generally correct?

By contrast, some of the early 80's Dunhills I've seen look really sleek and clean with nice stem work. I'm only going on pictures. Anybody own a 1977 Dunhill and care to comment? What about the 80's Dunhills? Was there a renaissance in the 80's? Or am I wrong?
I have an Unsmoked 1977 Shell Briar. It looks great And as good as mine from the 60s . Thats not common though from what Ive run across most of the 70’s blast are terrible.65172A2D-5562-45B2-A611-0425A2E2C438.jpeg
 
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Cloozoe

Part of the Furniture Now
Sep 1, 2023
981
19,448
The only purely objective issue I've ever read about is from a 1983 R. D. Fields piece I found reproduced on pipedia:

"In 1976, faced with rising labor costs, the firm used a mouthpiece-cutting machine. The machined mouthpieces had a very thick lip (much like the pre "comfy" lip); complaints poured in and the machine was scrapped."

Unfortunately he doesn't say *when* the machine was scrapped.

Here's a link to the complete article:

 

Winnipeger

Lifer
Sep 9, 2022
1,288
9,676
Winnipeg
The only purely objective issue I've ever read about is from a 1983 R. D. Fields piece I found reproduced on pipedia:

"In 1976, faced with rising labor costs, the firm used a mouthpiece-cutting machine. The machined mouthpieces had a very thick lip (much like the pre "comfy" lip); complaints poured in and the machine was scrapped."

Unfortunately he doesn't say *when* the machine was scrapped.

Here's a link to the complete article:

That explains some things. Thanks.

There's also the fact that they changed the colour of the stain they used on their Bruyeres for a while. So a lot of the 70s pipes have an ugly red-orange stain rather than deep and dark...AND shitty mouthpieces. There you go.
 
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guylesss

Can't Leave
May 13, 2020
322
1,155
Brooklyn, NY
Of course if you have your heart set on a birth year pipe, and with an otherwise attractive example of a classic shape in decent nick, you might be able to convince Georged to recut the stem and restain the pipe. . . .
 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
5,586
14,509

Cloozoe

Part of the Furniture Now
Sep 1, 2023
981
19,448
That explains some things. Thanks.

There's also the fact that they changed the colour of the stain they used on their Bruyeres for a while. So a lot of the 70s pipes have an ugly red-orange stain rather than deep and dark...AND shitty mouthpieces. There you go.
That explains some things. Thanks.

There's also the fact that they changed the colour of the stain they used on their Bruyeres for a while. So a lot of the 70s pipes have an ugly red-orange stain rather than deep and dark...AND shitty mouthpieces. There you go.

Yeah, in the same piece he speaks about the Bruyere stain and also states the shells went to black stain as opposed to that nice multi toned (or whatever proper terminology is) one they'd always used.
 
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