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X - SOLD - "Blue Chip" Estate Pipe: Exceptional 1906 BBB Cased Dublin "Fireside" Pipe - Over 9" Long!

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Product Description

1906 Silver Hallmarked BBB Dublin Fireside Short Churchwarden in Hard Case; Amber is over 6" long Alone!!


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 an exceptionally rare, exceedingly beautiful 1906 BBB that is almost as stunning as the 1895 Churchwarden I listed out last month.  It is, as you can see from the pictures, a cased BBB "Fireside" Churchwarden with a "Modern" sized Dublin bowl, hallmarked silver band, and superb one-piece block amber stem.  The pipe is in near-mint condition, with hardly any cleanup needed when I got it in.  The pipe bowl itself is in really spectacular condition, with super-sharp, deep stampings, only the slightest of tiny handling marks on the bowl and a couple scratches on the shank proper.  The wood is clean, with no fills of course, but also very few sandspots of any kind.  The grain is a classic crosscut, with birdseye left and right, and side-running flame front and back.  Stampings are simple, with "BBB" in a diamond, and of course the AF&Co silver stamping with solid, but slightly buffed hallmarks for Birmingham 1906.  The case, too, is in great shape, a rich red leather that, outside some random darker spots (likely water stains), is in impressive condition with some very slight fraying along the edges of the seams and some slight scuffing on the right side, but a solid clasp, great hinges and a re-assuring 'click' when closed.  The inside of the case is luxurious tan chamois, and sports the "BBB" logo prominently in gold leaf.  During this time, case-making was an art form in and of itself, and the early directories are filled with both pipe fitters (silversmiths fitting only pipes) and case makers.  It must have been a grand time to be alive in London, if you were a man of means.

The solid amber stem is absolutely gorgeous.  I know amber; I've seen a lot of it.  This is yet another exceptional piece of amber, an even honey tone with orange swirls and caramel-toned wisps.  The color is very even and does not vary much over the entire length of the stem; only the finest examples of amber stone would exhibit this level of consistency in such a long piece (the stem is a full 6 1/8" in length).  Overall the stem is in gorgeous shape, with only a few MINISCULE chips out of the screw end, and tiniest of marks right around the airway in the button.  The stem is in near-perfect order, was never damaged or repaired, and in many ways makes this pipe even more of a treasure.  In addition, this pipe is not a delicate little thing that looks like it might break in half at any moment; no, this has a fully usable group 4-sized bowl with a generous chamber.  The shank and stem are as thick as a modern pipe, so while care should be given with the amber, it can still be smoked and enjoyed.  It isn't the largest BBB I've ever seen, but it certainly is one of the best.  

There is one thing I need to note, not because it is an issue but because it could be perceived as something it is not.  When you look at the bowl in the case, there is a slight "gap" in the fit of the top front of the rim as it sits in the case.  Normally this leads one to believe that a pipe has been "topped" and part of the bowl has been taken down because it is not "snug" in the case.  This is not what is going on here; when I received the pipe, it was like this, and it was apparent both from the condition of the pipe unrestored as well as the 'wear' markings on the inside of the case - particularly the top hinged side, where it would meet the rim - that this was just a matter of the case being slightly "off" in the fitting process, and it has always been like this.  I have topped pipes before; to take off a rim at an angle like this would completely change the lines and thickness of the walls, and this pipe exhibits none of these symptoms.  I took pictures of the pipe when first received, so if any of this is a concern, I would be happy to send corroborating photographs to illustrate what I am talking about.  The pipe was simply in too good a shape (but with the proper normal wear to the rim) to have ever been topped.  We are talking about a slight gap of maybe no more than 1/8" at the front of the bowl as it sits in the case, while the back of the bowl fits "normally" with probably a 1/16" gap between the top of the rim and the case.  As you know, I am thorough in my descriptions and to omit this small detail would raise questions later; better to address my observations now than have to do so through email or over the phone because it had not been addressed in the first place.

Markings read: BBB (in diamond).  Silverwork is marked: AF&Co, and 3 hallmarks for Birmingham with the letter code lowercase "G", indicating 1906 production. These are shown in a closeup shot, so you can determine for yourself. Measurements:  9 1/4" long with the amber at 6 1/8" not including the bone screw.  The bowl is a touch over 1 1/4" wide and just over 1 7/8" tall. The pipe weighs 43 grams.  This one is about a Dunhill large group 4 in capacity, with a chamber that is .82" across and 1.66" deep.



9.5 out of 10.  As described above, as it sits, the pipe is in excellent condition, with sharp stampings, very little wear to the amber and only a few light handling marks on the wood.  The silver is outstanding, and the case is in great shape, not perfect on the outside but very solid, with a lovely interior.  Issues are all minor:  The rim exhibits some slight darkening and slight rounding, especially at the 3 o'clock position.  And as described above, there are a couple very tiny chips out of the amber, right around where it meets the shank (I've seen much worse!!).  And also described above, there are a few very slight handling marks and some very light scratches on the shank.  That's really it!  This is yet another magnificent example from the very beginnings of the "Golden Age", and it could very easily stand alone as a centerpiece of your BBB collection.  You will never see another quite like it, and if this hits all the right notes, I suggest you jump on it.  These old BBB's simply do not last long.  


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