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X - SOLD - "Blue Chip" Estate Pipe: 1921 Delacour Brothers Silvermount Four Pipe Cased Set

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RRP:
$999.95
Your Price:
$699.95 (You save $300.00)
SKU:
DBL1001
Brand:
Condition:
Refurbished
Shipping:
Calculated at checkout
Minimum Purchase:
1 unit(s)
Maximum Purchase:
1 unit(s)
Current Stock:
SOLD OUT

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Product Description

1913/1921 Delacour Brothers DBL London Made Silvermounts - A Four Pipe Cased Set!!

 (PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE TWENTY-ONE PICTURES WITH MULTIPLE SHOTS; PLEASE SCROLL TO SEE THEM ALL!)

Description, Markings, Measurements:

 

First off, I would like to thank my friend Jonathan Guss for his invaluable assistance on the research of this wonderful and obscure brand, including the contribution of the price list and photos of the factory.  I couldn't have done this without you, Jon!

 

The Delacour Brothers, like so many forgotten pipe makers of the early 20th Century, were a small but highly respected pipe factory situated in London.  As the last name might suggest, the roots of the Delacour pipe business were in St. Claude (much like Comoy, GBD and many other well-known and not-so-well-known pipe companies of the time.)  Brothers August and Joseph came to London around 1905 to open a London branch of the family business started by their father, Alix Delacour, in 1862 in St. Claude.  Father Alix had flourished in St. Claude, with a major factory that went through a number of expansions through the 1890s and early 1900s, and as London had become the epicenter of pipe smoking at the turn of the 20th Century, it only made sense for successful St. Claude businesses to, at the very least, have sales offices in London.

 

August had attempted this in 1895, but the plan did not really take off until he was joined by his brother Joseph (and perhaps another brother, Felix) and they opened a pipe factory at 107/9 Salusbury Road on the northwest side of London under the name "Delacour Brothers, Ltd." around 1905.  While never reaching the scope of operations that GBD or Comoy had, they were still quite active and well respected in the London pipe industry, eventually employing around 60 full-time workers.  Due to their close ties with St. Claude (who at the time had the absolute best briar to be had in the world), they produced a number of top quality lines including the Delacour and DBL; later, the DBL line would be expanded to include sub-models including the Selected Grain, De Luxe, Virgin Briar, and many others.  They had a full line of non-DBL-branded "seconds", and August plied their wares all over England, the USA and Canada.  In 1925, their top-graded pieces sold in the 12 to 15 shilling range – higher than anything from Barling, GBD or Comoy at the time, and about on par with Loewe – and many were available with silver adornments, all done in-house.  

Then, in 1935, disaster struck:  The factory on Salusbury Road burned to the ground and was completely gutted (see photos).  By this time, both August and Joseph had passed away, but Joseph’s son Henri – who was by this time the chairman of the company – vowed to rebuild.  Unfortunately, it was not to be, as most of their 60 employees found work with other pipe factories, and the money to rebuild was just not there.   By 1937, Delacour Brothers Ltd. were in liquidation, and the company was no more.  A half-hearted attempt to resurrect the brand was formed under the name Delco Briars Ltd., but Henri could never rebuild the London chapter of his family’s legacy.  Delco Briars disappeared in the early 1950s – the ravages of the war, no doubt, contributing to the slow demise – and by 1955, Delco Briars was liquidated.  By 1960, the Delacour factory in St. Claude was shuttered, and the legacy of the Delacour family came to a sad but inevitable end.

Here we have a very rare Delacour Brothers four-pipe cased travel set.  There is a straight billiard with amber stem, a bent billiard with vulcanite stem, a bent apple with vulcanite stem and military mount, and a straight apple with amber stem and military mount.  I've taken a LOT of photos - 21 to be exact - so it is best to examine all the photos for closeups of the grain, the rim, the stems and buttons and so on, but I will get into conditional issues later on, covering each pipe, and the case.  An interesting note on this set:  Three of the pipes are hallmarked to 1921, while one of the pipes - the bent apple - is hallmarked to 1913.  This is unusual but I do think I have an explanation for this eight year discrepency.  There are basically two explanations, one plausable and the other possible but not likely in my opinion.  The plausable reason is that the owner of the 1913 Apple enjoyed his Delacour pipe - perhaps it was a favorite - and after owning the pipe for a number of years went to the Delacours in 1921 and asked if a four-pipe case could be made, with one of the pipes included in the case being his favorite 1913 bent apple.  As cases like this were made individually for the pipes they held, it would not have been an outlandish request, and indeed if that is what happened then they matched up the shapes well, making it all work together.  It is obvious when looking at the case that the 1913 bent apple belongs in the set; its space is designed for a military mount and the curve of the stem and bowl shape are an exact match.  The other possibility - much less likely - is that a replacement pipe was found to fill in a pipe that had been lost; however, even with a frazing machine there are variances in tolerance even with the same shape, and certainly over the course of eight years of production.  It would be very difficult to find an EXACT match that fits the cut-out shape, especially if you consider that Delacour never had the production numbers of, say, Dunhill or Barling, and went out of business in 1935.  So for someone to find an exact-fit replacement sometime in the 1960s or what-not is HIGHLY unlikely; a much more plausable explanation is the first one offered.  Overall the pipe set is in good to very good condition and deserves a place in your English pipe collection next to other pre-war pieces from BBB, GBD and Loewe. 

Markings on all the pipes read: DBL (in a cartouche), LONDON MADE.  Silver bears the brother's maker's mark:  AD (over) JD, along with hallmarks for Birmingham 1921 (w) except for the bent apple, which bears the hallmark for 1913 (o).  Measurements: The straight billiard is 4 1/2" long, bowl is just over 1 1/4" wide and just under 1 5/8" tall, with a chamber that is .75" wide and 1.34" deep. The pipe weighs 26 grams. The bent billiard is 4 5/8" long, bowl is just over 1 1/4" wide and just under 1 5/8" tall, with a chamber that is .73" wide and 1.32" deep. The pipe weighs 28 grams.  The bent apple is 4 5/8" long, bowl is just under 1 3/8" wide and just over 1 3/8" tall, with a chamber that is .71" wide and 1.25" deep. The pipe weighs 28 grams.  The straight apple is 4 1/4" long, bowl is just under 1 3/8" wide and 1 1/2" tall, with a chamber that is .71" wide and 1.32" deep. The pipe weighs 25 grams.  All the pipes are about a modern Dunhill group 2 in capacity.  The case itself 5 1/4" wide and just under 5" deep, with a thickness of 1 5/8".  Markings on the case are "LONDON MADE" in gold leaf as well as the DBL London Made label on the inside.

Condition:

Overall the set as a whole rates out at 9 out of 10.  I will go about describing conditional issues pipe by pipe, starting with the straight billiard.  Overall the straight billiard rates at 8.5 out of 10.  Conditional issues:  The amber stem has a number of chips on the stem face, where it meets the shank, as well as a small tooth mark on the bottom of the stem that caused a crack on the bottom of the stem button.  There is also a very small tooth 'wave' on the top of the button and a very small tooth wave on the front of the button.  The inner rim edge shows some slight darkening and very slight rounding, with a number of tiny dings or chatter marks from reaming around the inner rim edge.  There is a small ding on the front of the outer rim edge at the 12 o'clock position.  Nomenclature is all there and fully readable, but has been slightly buffed so it has lost its factory crisp edges.  Silver marks are all there, fully intact and readable, but not exceptionally deep.  Otherwise all cleaned up, no other handling marks, dings or scratches.  Next, the bent billiard.  Overall the bent billiard rates at 9.25 out of 10.  Conditional issues:  The vulcanite stem is in very good to excellent condition overall, with only a very slight tooth 'wave' that's hard to see on both the top of the button and the bottom of the button.  The inner rim edge shows some slight darkening and very slight rounding, with a number of tiny dings or chatter marks from reaming around the inner rim edge.  There is a small ding on the front of the outer rim edge at the 11 o'clock position.  Nomenclature is all there and fully readable - deep even, in some spots - but has been slightly buffed so it has lost its factory crisp edges.  Silver marks are all there, fully intact and readable, but not exceptionally deep.  Otherwise all cleaned up, no other handling marks, dings or scratches.  Next, the bent apple.  Overall the bent apple rates at 9 out of 10.  Conditional issues:  The vulcanite stem is in very good to excellent condition overall, with only a small, buffed-down tooth indent on the top of the button.  The inner rim edge shows some slight darkening and very slight rounding, with a few tiny dings or chatter marks from reaming around the inner rim edge.  There are a few small dings on the front of the outer rim edge between the 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock position.  Nomenclature is all there and fully readable - deep even, in some spots - but has been slightly buffed so it has lost its factory crisp edges.  Silver marks are all there, fully intact and readable, but not exceptionally deep.  There are a few light handling marks here and there, and a couple tiny spots that are either sandpits or pinprick dings on the left side of the bowl.   Finally, the straight apple.  Overall the straight apple rates at 9.5 out of 10 and is the nicest of the bunch, obviously not smoked as often as the others.  Conditional issues:  The amber stem is flawless with no toothmarks; this is due to the fact that it is a replacement stem made from another 1910's block amber stem.  The work was done by Mike Billington of Blakemar Briars in England, and the fit and finish it top-notch.  I do know for a fact that the replacement stem was made from a period-correct block amber stem and is not acrylic.  The rest of the pipe is almost as nice; the inner rim edge shows some very, very slight darkening and very, very slight rounding, with but no chatter marks or dings.  Nomenclature is "factory fresh" with no wear.  Silver marks are all there, fully intact and readable, but not exceptionally deep; I'm assuming due to seeing a number of Delacours that this was just the way they stamped the silver.  Otherwise all cleaned up, no other handling marks, dings or scratches.  The case itself rates at 9.5 out of 10; the only issues on the case are a few slight scuffs that are hard to see, and the leather wrap around one of the hinges is missing.  The clasp and hinges all work perfectly, and the gold leaf accent is 95% intact.  All the pipes are fully cleaned up and ready to pack and light.  Delacours are a hidden gem you just don't find very often, and any cased set is a fantastic find.  At this price, the pipes are selling for an average of $225 each and the case for $100; if this were a Loewe or Barling 4 pipe silvermount set from the same timeframe, it would sell for $2400 or more.  That makes this an exceptional value for what you're getting; if you like it, I suggest you act fast, as I don't think this will last long.

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