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Dunhill 'Dorothy' Rose Basket Lighter

by Larry Tolkin

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Dunhill 'Dorothy' Rose Basket LighterCopies of a promotional sheet have been known since I started collecting Dunhill in 1980. It shows the Rose Basket lighter design and mentions it was created for one customer and carved from platinum and gold. It contained sixty cabochon rubies to represent roses. The location of the original Dorothy Rose Basket is still unknown.

About 15 years ago, an important New York jewelry and antiques dealer mentioned he had something special in lighters and would show me in due time. After about 2 years of waiting (I thought he was going to show me an enamel Dunhill watch lighter), he finally called me and showed me a second version of the Rose Basket.

Dunhill 'Dorothy' Rose Basket LighterIt was covered with a handful of jewels and came in the original Dunhill box. Unfortunately, the basket was missing the handle and bee. The dealer mentioned it would be easy to correct and add the handle and bee as they could be made by most top jewelers on 47th Street. I decided to leave the basket; if I bought it, I was afraid to leave it anywhere except my bank vault.

Dunhill 'Dorothy' Rose Basket LighterI later showed photos to Richard Dunhill, grandson of Alfred, whose assistant mentioned the workshop that created the rose basket would certainly have tried to utilize the original mold more than once. The original likely had too many rubies and a less difficult to manufacture version was done.

Shown are the photos of the only known platinum and gold Dunhill Rose Basket. It was later examined by two top Dunhill collectors who verified its authenticity. I believe it to be the world's most important lighter with an estimated value of $150,000 - $250,000.

Photos by Larry Tolkin

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