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"Blue Chip": 1911 BBB Diamond Shank Bent Billiard - Lovely!

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Product Description

1911 Silver Hallmarked BBB Diamond Shank Bent Billiard - Great Condition


Description, Markings, Measurements:

BBB (Blumfeld's Best Briars, and later, Best British Briar) has a long and distinguished history in English pipes. Created in 1847, they are one of the oldest pipe companies from England.  Though never gaining the "status" of Dunhill in the 20th century, BBB did what they did best, making affordable quality pipes at a fair price. It is rumored that Dunhill actually purchased bowls from BBB in the early years, which wouldn't surprise me, as BBB utilized from some of the finest Algerian briar to be had at the time.  But it is really from the "golden age" of pipe making that BBB really shines; from the 1880s through about 1920, there really wasn't a manufacturer that could touch BBB when it came to just sheer volume, exceptional beauty, and top-quality craftsmanship.  Loewe came close and in some ways did meet or beat BBB, but just the massive numbers of shapes, finishes, innovations, and options available at the time puts BBB squarely in the drivers seat.  You could order a particular pipe shape with a vulcanite stem (round button) with screw mount or push mount, a vulcanite "Glokar" bit (think of a Peterson "P" lip, only refined and elegant) or could get it fitted with a horn stem, black amber (actually "jet"), pressed amber, block amber, bone, or ivory.  You could get it mounted with or without sterling silver band or silver spigot or army "push" mount.  You could get it without a case, or have it fitted to a case.  The case options were just as staggering, with your choice of hides from a whole zoo-full of animals including gazelle, antelope, and alligator.  The interiors could be lined with your choice of velvets in red, blue, purple... or you could get it fitted with suede chamois.  You could get the pipe in standard quality or in the top "Own Make" quality, or one of the lower qualities.  The bowl could be made out of briar, or meerschaum. You could get your chosen shape in small, medium, or large.  Now take all those options and multiply it by probably close to a thousand different shapes.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to walk into a well-stocked tobacconist in 1910 and see the dizzying array of pipes just from BBB alone.

Here we have a beautiful diamond-shanked BBB bent billiard, hallmarked to 1911.  Typical of pipes of this era, it is smaller in dimension but still has a decent size chamber - .72" wide by 1.33" deep - giving it the capacity of about a small Dunhill group 3.  This pipe is in excellent condition with only the slightest of conditional issues.  The finish is exquisite, shining like glass, with no handling marks or scratches on the bowl, and only a few small sandpits here and there.  The rim is clean with no real darkening and some slight but even rounding.  The stem is the original "round hole, oval button" style with a push tenon (not screw), with only a few small tooth "scratches" (no indentations).  Nomenclature on the pipe is good, buffed but readable, and that includes the BBB logo on the stem.  There are no fills (of course), and only a few tiny sandspots here and there.  The graining is a mixed-grain crosscut, loaded with swirling birdseye and crossgrain (as well as a bit of washout on the left side; grain was not nearly as important on the base BBB line as it was on the "Own Make").  The silver band has a few small dings here and there (mainly on the top edge of the shank), but all silver markings (including the date code) are deep and readable.  It's a beautiful example and overall ranks a 9.25 out of 10; it's sure to be a lovely addition to your early English hallmarked pipe collection.

Markings read: BBB (in diamond), ENGLAND (on bottom of shank). Silverwork is marked: BBB (in diamond), and Birmingham hallmarks for 1911 (lower case "m"). The stem is impressed with the same BBB (in diamond) logo as the pipe.


Length: 4.92"
Bowl width: 1.32"
Bowl Height: 1.65"
Chamber dimensions: .72" across, 1.33" deep
Weight: 35 grams



9.25 out of 10.  Issues:  Not much to complain about; the finish is great, the stem is original with only a few tiny tooth 'scratches' (no indentations), all stampings are there and mainly deep.  The chamber is in great shape with some lighter wood near the bottom; I don't think the pipe was smoked all that much.  The biggest issue is that the nomenclature - while mainly deep and readable - has been buffed and is nowhere near crisp.  The BBB logo on the stem in in good shape for its age, and the silver markings are still quite good.  The silverwork has some slight rippling and tiny dings along the edges of the diamond, but nothing serious.  Finally, there is even slight-to-moderate rounding on the inner rim all around the chamber (it actually looks like it was made this way, although I don't think BBBs came with slightly chamfered rims).  That's it; all cleaned up and ready to pack and light.  A lovely piece overall and sure to be a fine addition to your early silvermount collection.


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