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Dunhill Lighters

After inheriting his father’s saddler trade in 1883, at age 21, Alfred Dunhill developed the business, responding to the growing demand for automobiles. He launched a line of accessories called "Dunhill's Motorities". His first collection included car horns and lamps, leather overcoats, goggles, picnic sets and timepieces. Alfred Dunhill pitched the company under the slogan “Everything But The Motor”.


Time Line


In 1905 Alfred Dunhill patents his Windshield Pipe, designed to allow comfortable smoking while driving or cycling and gets a step closer to the lighter business.


In 1907 Having retired from running the Motorities business, Alfred Dunhill opens a pipe, cigar and tobacco store among the men’s clubs of Duke Street, St. James’s, London SW1. After having opened his own pipe factory in 1910 (trademark White Spot as of 1915), he opens stores in New York (1921) and then Paris (1924).


In 1927 Alfred Dunhill launches the revolutionary Unique Lighter, the first to be operated using just one hand and lighting first-time, which were unique features. The prototype Unique was mounted on a Colman's mustard tin. All models in the 20s had single wheel action.



Highlight of the early years was another Dunhill break-trough: a double wheel to reduce the effort needed to make a spark


In the mid 30s came the Tallboy, the first lighter to have the mechanism concealed, a change with strong feminine appeal. Improved flint action meant less adjustment towards the end of the flint life. If the Tallboy, despite its name, had feminine charm its companion Broadway made no secret of its masculine gender.


A component that has remained virtually unchanged to this day was introduced ;in the late 30s: a new flint action which made screwing up unnecessary. This significant advance was introduced on the Handy and Squareboy models.



The first half spanned the Second World War and Dunhill skills were switched to more vital hardware. Yet, though severely restricted and very utility, lighter manufacture continued.


The austere aftermath of war years prevented any real development in lighter design until 1950. It was a time for improvisation and retrenchment rather than expansion.



1950 really marked the end of austerity and the beginning of the post-war development period. The harsh wheel was replaced by the long roller for effortless operation.


Variation on the Unique theme, the Slim and Sylph, the Rollalite, London Rollalite and a revised Broadway all appeared in the 50s and all incorporated the new, easy-on-the-thumb roller.


The mid-fifties were noted for research into a quite new, revolutionary power source - butane gas. Developing suitable miniaturized valves was a major problem to over-come but in 1958 the first Dunhill gas lighter, the Rollagas and Aldunil, were launched. A new era in lighter design had begun.



By now the Rollagas was not only established, it was famous. Further improvements were made to it; the Sylphide and a small, more compact version of the Aldunil introduced.


The first butane table lighter (Tallboy) was marketed in 1965.


Extensive development of the Rollagas had taken place and a generous choice of engine turnings and lacquered finishes made available.



New models for the 70s include the D70, Dress and the Ultimate"S" lighter, the Wheatsheaf table model and Rulerlite and Longboy desk models.



Dunhill introduced the modern "Unique" lighter. A re-production of the first Unique"lighter that was introduced by Dunhill over 60 years earlier. The modern "Unique" lighter had a butane gas and flint operated mechanism, and like all Dunhill lighters was precision engineered to the highest standards.

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Added by:  Samuel

Date:  30th Jan 09

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