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             The Mill
May 20, 2015;
  Of late, I have been posting some very
handsome Dunhill Shell pipes from the 30's,
40's & 50's.  I have no idea if my prices are high,
low or right-on.  I don't investigate or research
other sites or eBay.  I use my intuition for most
of my pricing and am amused when other
sellers ask me for advice on pricing pipes.  Yes,
I have been around this hobby for almost 40
years as a seller, but I never understood where
prices came from.  If they come from me, well,
we are all being taken for a bit of a ride.
 My point in bringing up the Dunhills, though, is
not the pricing aspect, but the part that pipes
like these play in my love for this hobby.  They
are the pipes that were brought to my attention
by my betters when I first began acquiring pipes
to clean and then re-sell (and occasionally to
keep and smoke.)  
  If there were more expensive, more eagerly
sought pipes in my formative years, I was
barely aware of them.  They would have been
way out of my price range, and they would have
been seen so infrequently that I would not have
known how to recognize and/or properly
respect them.  
  It was the Dunhill Shell, with all those "L"s
that captured my imagination.  One of the
postings I did, just before typing this, is of a
1938 Shell in a shape #56, which is a 1/2 Bent
Billiard.  By 1939, London was taking cover due
to German blitz bombing, so the 1938
represents the end of an era.  By the time
production had ramped up after WWII, we were
in the Atomic Age and the world had changed
   Perhaps the message is false at its core, but
the imagery that 1938 pipe conveys could be
represented in an advertisement containing the
picture of a genteel boulevardier, in a
meticulously constructed Savile Row suit
standing next to his 1936 Rolls Royce (or
should we put him beside an
Armstrong-Siddeley Hurricane drophead
coupé?) holding or puffing on his Dunhill
  The pipe signifies taste, quality, durability,
reserve.  Character traits we all, I think, would
like to have and would like to project.   
  Talking about taste, I think there's room for
one story on that subject.  Having the G.I. Bill
available to me, and having knocked down a
solid $99 per month for most of my Army stay, I
decided not to leave that money on the table, as
the current saying goes, and went to grad
school at S.F. State.  In the very early 1970's,
schools were still in that hippie mode, and some
of the seminars I took were not all that
academic by the most rigorous standards.  Or
maybe I'm remembering incorrectly.  I do
remember that one of the seminars, taught by a
venerated teacher, was on Taste.  You know, on
how Taste is sold to the public, who the Taste
Makers are, etc.  One assignment for each of us
was to bring in 3 objects of the same product,
but one of them had to be of low taste, one of
middle-brow quality and one of high-brow
merit.  We would then show our objects to the
other students (we sat at one long table, as I
recall) and see if they could guess which was
  Despite my impecunious status, I did have a
Dunhill Shell, I also owned a Comoy's sandblast
of some grade and had somehow acquired a
truly garish pipe finished in an almost day-glow
red leather or fuzzy finish.  Certainly, it was not
a pipe I would consider smoking, but it was in
my possession.  Even if I could recall how I
came to own it, I would not admit to you that it
was by volition.  
 Boy, was I set up perfectly to complete that
 The Seminar was small...say about a dozen of
us, and when it was my turn, I simply put the 3
pipes on the table and let the great unwashed
(which, for us, means all those who are not pipe
knowledgeable, right?) try to distinguish
between them.
  Suckers!  Many, maybe most, maybe all (this
was 45 years ago, remember) actually chose
that garish red, Longchamps imitation as the
high-brow pipe.  Not a single one of my
classmates was able to discern that the
unpretentious black pipe with the simple white
dot on the stem represented high-brow tastes.  
  How should this all be retired?  With a
"there's no accounting for taste?" or a
somewhat higher toned
De gustibus non est

P.S.  I promised, so here is what is most recent.
An Ingo Garbe and a Rainer Barbi on the  
German page (god, I bet those two obdurate,
eccentric, iconoclastic
characters would have made for fabulous
entertainment were they in the same room...just
not a room that contained anything valuable
that could be picked up and heaved) and a
Bjarne Signature and an Anne Julie on the
Danish page.  Also a Pat. # Dunhill Root and a
1967 LBS on the English page.  How's that?  
But wait, there's more!  Soon to arrive on these
very pages (the word 'very' is superfluous here,
but in hucksterism, it has its place, so I'll keep it
right where it is) are a Dunhill EK Root, a Panel,
and a Tanshell with bamboo shank.  And then a
1953 Billiard and a 1938 1/2 Bent Billiard. Do we
keep 'em coming?  Or What?
Quotes & anecdotes from "The Portable Curmudgeon"

The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its
diseases is called man.    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Man is a puny, slow, awkward, unarmed animal.
Jacob Bronowski

I love mankind.  It's people I can't stand.  Charles Schulz

To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid, you
must also be well mannered.   Voltaire.

Manners are especially the need of the plain.  The pretty can get away
with anything.                                   Evelyn Waugh

He marries best who puts it off until it is too late.  H.L. Mencken

All tragedies are finished by death.  All comedies are ended by a
marriage.                                               Lord Byron

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most
insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are
required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and
exhausting condition until death do them part.   George Bernard Shaw

A ceremony in which rings are put on the finger of the lady and through
the nose of the gentleman.                Herbert Spencer

A friendship recognized by the police.    Robert Louis Stevenson

The dread of loneliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get
married.       Cyril Connolly

I got married the second time in the way that, when a murder is
committed, crackpots turn up at the police station to confess the
crime.                                 Delmore Schwartz

It is often pleasant to stone a martyr, no matter how mch we admire
him.                                     John Barth

There is a certain impertinence in allowing oneself to be burned for an
opinion.                               Anatole France

Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as
mediocre as possible.                           Margaret Mead

The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics
and women are idiots.                          Rebecca West

Method acting?  There are quite a few methods.  Mine involves a lot of
talent, a glass and some cracked ice.       John Barrymore

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Georges Clemenceau

Make money and the whole nation will conspire to call you a gentleman.
George Bernard Shaw

In the forties, to get a girl you had to be a GI or a jock.  In the Fifties to
get a girl you had to be Jewish.  In the Sixties, to get a girl you had to be
black.  In the Seventies, to get a girl you've got to be a girl.
Mort Sahl

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying--
One of you is lying.                                          Dorothy Parker

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the
whole girl.                                                                       Stephen Leacock

Many a man has fallen love with a girl in a light so dim he would not
have chosen a suit by it.                                         Maurice Chevalier

It is a mistake to speak of a bad choice in love, since as soon as a
choice exists, it can only be bad.                         Marcel Proust

It's possible to love a human being if you don't know them too well.
Charles Bukowski

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve the continuation of the
species.                                                                        W. Somerset Maugham

The only true love is love at first sight; second sight dispels it.
Israel Zangwill

Boy Meets Girl.  So What?                                       Bertolt Brecht
This photo was taken only days before my beloved San Francisco
store, Sherlock's Haven,  was closed for good in June of '06, thereby
diminishing the quality of life on this planet no little and quite some.  
The man to my right was my trusty pipe tobacco and cigar taste-tester,
Johnson, of the sensitive palate.  He is now  plying his trade in
Phoenix.  The tall gent behind him is Jimmy Walker, hand picked to be
my successor until lease negotiations broke down.  The hoodlum
looking character to my left is my good friend and Consigliere, Steve
Brunner.  Among the regulars are a number who are still friends and
with whom I have regular intercourse.  There has never been a more
congenial spot than Sherlock's Haven, the Camelot of tobacco stores.  
As its proprietor is how I'd like to be remembered.
I wanted to caption this photo, "I knew more about pipes when I was
seven than you know now," but my P.R. firm nixed that idea.  So, let's
try, "With the pristine palate that accompanies youth, Marty smokes a
blend without a full complement of Latakia for the first time in his life."
I don't actually know what was going through my mind at the time, but
the photo was taken circa 1950, and probably in Williamsburg, Virginia.
(And no, I did not actually smoke a pipe until I was 18 years old, really.)
Shortly after my mother met my wife, she told Joy that all it took to
keep me happy in the back seat of our 1938 LaSalle during our annual
one week vacations was a pipe in my mouth and a cap on my head.  
Joy responded with the fact that nothing has changed except that now
I'm in the front seat.  
Above is my sister, with whom I contentiously shared that large back
seat, and my father.  The sweater was knitted by my Aunt Rae.  The
site was most probably Niagara Falls and the year 1949.  I'm guessing.
Welcome to Pulvers Briar
This website is devoted to pipes and my enjoyment of talking
about and showing them.  For your part, I hope you derive some
pleasure in seeing and reading about briar and meerschaum
There are plenty of pipe websites and lots of good pipes other
than mine.  What will distinguish my site from most of the others
is the willingness to voice my  opinion in the relatively rare
occurrence when a pipe is not superior, or has a noticeable flaw.
Mostly, I'm pleased with the pipes I choose to offer for sale, both
in pipe quality and price.  But please, look and decide for
You will see new and used pipes for sale, the new often having
been hand picked and the used always having been cleaned
and reconditioned and ready for you to smoke upon arrival.  
Please enjoy your time spent here today, and please come back
I'm almost always happy to hear from you and to field your
questions, concerns, ideas or other input.
Feel free to write.
Marty Pulvers
Pulvers' Prior Briar
P.O. Box 61146
Palo Alto, CA  94306

(650) 965-7403