“Give a man a pipe he can smoke,
Give a man a book he can read,
And his home is bright with a calm delight,
Though the room be poor indeed.”
— Alfred Dunhill, 1924
In the early 20th century the “horseless carriage” was all the rage. At the time, Dunhill was known for making harnesses, bridles, and buggy whips. Being the keen inventor, in 1902 Alfred Dunhill opened a shop in London’s Mayfair section offering clothing for motorists and chauffeurs. In 1904 he invented a pipe with a windscreen that allowed people to smoke whilst driving…. In 1907, Dunhill opened their flagship shop on Duke Street in St. James offering custom blended tobaccos and pipes.
But why the white spot?
While out hunting, the Prince of Wales had lost some pipes and wanted to know if anyone had found them. What was their distinguishing feature? A white spot inserted on the upper side of the dark stem. The announcement, which was placed in London newspapers in 1921, did not specify the name of the pipe manufacturer. This was in fact not necessary, as most people were already familiar with the trademark. Now the pipe had an eminent, new testimonial.
Dunhill first had the idea of inserting a white spot on pipe stems in 1912 for practical reasons. The hand-made, vulcanite stems were so perfect that clients often had trouble knowing which way to insert them into the shank. Dunhill solved this problem by placing a mark, a white spot at the end of the stem to show which way was “up”.
Although Dunhill was brilliant at marketing his products, he certainly did not think of this as a possible trademark. Indeed, in 1923 he had to go to court to defend his original creation. At that time, Dunhill’s white spot was a thin, round ivory circle inserted into the stem, but today this is made of high-grade acrylic.
Dunhill’s consistent craftsmanship and classicism are balanced by a history of innovation. For example, Dunhill is widely recognized for introducing the sandblast finish, which combined the grain definition of smooth finishes with the rugged texture offered by rustications. Other patents include their signature inlaid stem logo, the “inner tube” and the Bruyere finish.
Ask any serious pipe smoker to name their dream pipe they would love to have in their collection and 99.9% will say Dunhill.
As we begin celebrating our 59th Anniversary this month, we are fortunate to have a very special selection of Dunhill Quaints which will only be available through the month of March.
Creating a handmade pipe is not a science, it’s an art. Sometimes a particular piece of briar does not align with its intended shape. In these instances, the Dunhill carver’s creativity takes over and “quaints” are born.
Join us in celebrating this milestone. Dunhill…. Because they don’t make buggy whips anymore.