Alfred Dunhill opened up his tobacco shop in 1906 and a pipe making factory in 1910. Seven years later, he made one of the most significant innovations of his career. The Dunhill Shell Briar tobacco pipe has been a mainstay in production ever since its development in 1917. It was created using a revolutionary and proprietary practice, leaving them unique to the Dunhill company.
The story of how the Shell Briar was created has passed almost into myth at this point. We might never know the actual truth, but the popular story goes that during the winter, Alfred was working in his basement, making new tobacco pipes. Finishing up at the end of the day, he forgot a half finished pipe near the heating boiler. Later on, during the summer, he found the lost pipe, and he noticed some of the grain appeared to have shrunk, leaving a relief pattern that was similar to a seashell. Considering the era, many marketers tended to go to the fantastical for their stories, so we can never be sure if this is a true story or something made up to sound good.
These pipes were originally made out of Algerian briar, which was mistakenly assumed to be of lower quality at the time. Instead, the softer wood proved to be perfect for the sandblasting process that Dunhill patented, creating steady and lovely pipes that looked amazing. Sandblasted tobacco pipes are common today, but they took the smoking pipe world by storm back then.
The Dunhill Shell Briar tobacco pipes are dark in color, stained with deep hues that come together to form an almost black appearance. We offer you five different shapes for this finish, two traditional in a Dublin and a Bulldog, while three others were specially created for the limited run Zodiac 2021 Year of the Ox. This finish shares the Year of the Ox with the Dunhill County finish, and they are prized by collectors for their rarity.