Dunhill Blends In

Alfred Dunhill's The Pipe Book

The career of Alfred Dunhill reads like that of a hobbyist stumbling from one happy accident into another. He started a business in London selling motoring accessories in 1893 — 'everything for the car except the motor'. A keen pipe smoker, in 1904 he developed a wind-proof pipe for his motorist customers. This lead him to opening a tobacconists in St James's in 1907.

Alfred introduced an ever wider range of smoking requisites and goods for the discerning gentleman. He expanded his range of Dunhill pipes, which are still highly sought after, particularly the early pipes made with Algerian briar that have patent stamps up to 1929. And brought in innovations, like the Unique lighter (1927), the first one-hand operation lighter. A brand was born. Royal warrants were garnered. The Duke of Windsor was a keen visitor to Dunhill's London shop to select a new pipe as his bespoke blend was being prepared.

A buff on the history of the pipe, Alfred wrote The Pipe Book in 1924 (top), a copy of which I have in front of me. And a jolly read it is too, describing the history and development of the pipe all over the world.

From the chapter on Why Men Smoke he offered that the pastime functioned as 'soother and comforter of a troubled spirit, allayer of angry passions, a comfort under the loss of breakfast, and to the roamer in desolate places, the solitary wayfarer through life'.

Famous Flakes

With the vogue for pipes picking up in recent years, some of the famous and much-missed Dunhill blends have been re-introduced.

Dunhill Tobacco is now a distinct entity that is separate from the Alfred Dunhill clothing brand owned by Richemont. The pipe tobacco is produced under license in Denmark by the Scandinavian Tobacco Group to the original secret recipes. I think BAT still owns the Dunhill tobacco brand. I think. If anyone can clarify?

Tweedy's Note: By the way, the famous and fine-looking Dunhill Rollogas lighters introduced in the 1950s are still being made. We need to look into their manufacture. If anyone can start the ball rolling? 

What is important to know is that the reintroduction of the blends has been greeted v. warmly by the pipe community. They say the blends offer something for every moment and taste — from the Early Morning Pipe (above), 'mellow and delicately flavoured'; to the pre-dinner Aperitif (below), 'a pronounced smoke, delivering a robust taste for smoking later in the day'.

The Black Swan Shoppe currently stock the entire range, including the famous BB1938 (from 1938), previously known as the Baby's Bottom blend  — so named, you've guessed it, because of its smoothness.


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