A Hypothetical WWII Pipe: I have just written about how on rare occasion a single numeric datecode on a pipe can be confusing, that is when it was intended to indicate a repair on a pipe carved before the numeric datecode system was introduced in 1922. While I’m not sure I have seen an actual example, there is likely a similar situation involving post war repairs of some pipes carved during World War II.
World War II was a sharp contrast, sea lanes were much contested, briar fields for Dunhill pipes were part of the front lines, as was the Duke Street shop itself which was bombed during the 1941 blitz, and war time rationing was both draconian and continued post war into the early 1950s. To wit: Dunhill published pipe catalogs for every year of World War I, each progressively more elegant, but none at all from 1940 through 1950 (there was one ‘gift’ catalog independently published in America circa 1943, and two ‘gift’ catalogs published at the end of the 1940s in Britain).
Few, and for the most part uninteresting, Dunhill pipes were produced during the 1940s. It would appear that during World War II and for a good bit afterwards the Italian briar necessary for Dunhill smooth finished pipes was in extremely short supply while the situation for Algerian briar necessary for the Shell finish was only somewhat better. Likewise vulcanite for bits was either a rationed or prohibited material, so that many, if not most, and perhaps all war time pipes were fitted with horn bits, (Horn is a very comfortable bit material but begins to crack almost immediately and to the best of my information it was never used or offered by Dunhill other then in World War II. My suspicion is that most likely a war time pipe found today fitted with a vulcanite bit probably has a replacement bit and indeed I would not be surprised to learn that after the war Dunhill routinely replaced horn bits with vulcanite at little or no charge.)
All that lengthy aside is to explain that the Second World War also limited Dunhill’s ability to have new nomenclature stamping tools made up. Dunhill nomenclature was (and is) stamped by blocks of words, numbers and symbols rather then individual letters etc. and prior to the war new stamping tools were ordered at the end of each year to reflect the pending datecode change. While this continued to a limited extent during the war, a great many Shells between 1941 and 1943/1945 were stamped without a datecode with a tool that read:
DUNHILL SHELL MADE IN
PATENT No 1341418/20
Since the usage of this particular stamping tool was only during the war, the stamp in and of itself serves to date a pipe to the handful of war years (this may also be true of smooth finished pipes stamped MADE IN ENGLAND [/] PAT No 1343253/20 without either a datecode or an INNERTUBE stamping.)
Thus should you run across a Shell with the exact above stamping and a datecode, it is most likely that you are looking at a war time carved pipe with a datecode that indicates the year of a repair (perhaps bit replacement) and not the year of manufacture.
A PostScript To My LC Paper: In a previous Ephemeras I wrote at length
about the LC so I add this postscript here.
It appears that pipes stamped LC and 128 were never fitted with an inner
tube, while pipes stamped 120 including what I term ‘120LC’s always were. Length per se can not be the reason for