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FrontRunners: Holly Smoke

Richard Carleton Hacker

Pipe Smoking and Christmas became permanently entwined in 1822, when Clement Clarke Moore chronicled Santa Claus smoking a pipe in the classic poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas. In 1980, British tobacconist Alfred Dunhill (212.753.9292, www.whitespot.co.uk) created the first in a series of Christmas pipes to commemorate this connection. The briars since have become coveted collectibles, with many connoisseurs purchasing two of each year’s model–one to smoke, and the other to keep as an investment.

This holiday season, Dunhill is introducing the final installment of its current series, the Twelve Days of Christmas, which the company inaugurated in 1992 with its Partridge in a Pear Tree pipe. Every year since, Dunhill has produced a new pipe, each version limited to 500 pieces and representing the next verse in the popular English Christmas carol. The series’ final pipe ($1,000), a bent billiard group 5, is a black sandblast briar mounted with a sterling silver band engraved with the words “Twelve lords a leaping.” The rim of the bowl is embellished with a sterling silver Gallery Mount band, and a matching sterling tamper depicts the 12 lords. As did its predecessors in the series, Dunhill’s latest Christmas pipe comes with an illustrated, numbered certificate and a leather-bound book presentation case.

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