April 30, 2014

Waterman’s First RHR Pens

[Posted on L&P on Mar 14, 2013.] 
        On May 18, 2012, I wrote that the red hard rubber Waterman’s pens probably made their first appearance sometime between 1898 and 1907, and as an apology for that large span I cited the lack of evidence caused by the unfortunate gap in the volumes of The American Stationer online.  But then finally the following ad made its appearance in Am. Stat., Mar 23, 1907, p.29, and I used that date as the end-limit for the span of years.
        I cited the ad again on Mar 14, 2013, calling it the first Waterman’s red hard rubber pen ad, and narrowed the introduction down further, saying that the pens were probably introduced sometime around late 1906 and early 1907.  The #14 pen is curiously said to be, “This colored pen used largely for red ink”.  This phrase about the red ink is used in similar ads up until the ad on Aug 28, 1909, p.20.  Also notice that the #12 Plain pen, the #16 Filigree pen, and the over-sized #18 pen were also advertized as being available in Cardinal.  And beneath each nib there is a note that says “Also made in sizes listed”, which means that the whole range of pen sizes was available in Cardinal.  But why is it the only one to be used with red ink?
        The clue that gives it away as amongst the first of the RHR pens is this strange limitation of the pen’s use with a certain color of ink, as a type of color coding for the ink contained within, sort of like the Parker Nurse Pen with its BHR holder and RHR ends.  All of which makes it sound like the creation of the marketing and design departments at the time of the first introduction of the color.  Little did they realize that the color would take off and find a life of its own.  The customers will always tell the marketers what they think, and the buyers told the sellers that they would use whatever color of ink they pleased, and put the pen to whatever use they chose.
        There is a comparable ad aimed at the stationery trade in Am. Stat., Mar 24, 1906, p.11, that shows all the pen models and styles, but it mentions only “Plain and Mottled” colors.  Well, that’s a start, at least, because the mottled rod stock back then was almost half Cardinal.  The exact same ad appears again on Aug 18, 1906, p.42, so no new Cardinal yet.  The big new feature that the other ads from this period were touting was the new “Clip-Cap”.  Even the “Stock Assortment Blank” order form pictured in the cover ad on Feb 23, 1907 mentions the “Clip-Cap”, but doesn’t acknowledge the new Cardinal pens, yet.  It even lists two models of the Remex pen, the No. 100 and No. 101, but no Cardinal, not before the ad on Mar 23, 1907.  Unless or until someone finds an earlier ad, I remain adamantly resolved on a late-1906 or early-1907 introduction date.
        In reference to what I called a “strange limitation of the pen’s use with a certain color of ink”, it might be argued by some that cardinal hard rubber pens were chiefly marketed to bookkeepers and business people who wanted a visual cue for which pen held red ink for underlinings and rubrications in ledger entries. 
Now, it might seem like a strange limitation to me only with the benefit of hind sight, but if the red pens are just for bookkeepers and secretaries, why offer them in the larger and more expensive range of sizes and filigrees?  We might have been able to get access to better evidence, but the Google Books Am. Stat. time machine is on the fritz, and seems to work only in fits and starts, one gap at a time.  In any case, by 1909, within a couple of years, Watermans did stop using that ad line about red ink altogether.
         On July 17, 2013, I found a way to partially fill in the missing gap of Am. Stat. issues from 1898 to 1905 by substituting issues of another magazine found in the Internet Archive “Wayback Machine”.  It’s a monthly Canadian stationery magazine that went under a few different names over the years, including Bookseller & Stationer.  I searched for all the Waterman’s ads, and so far I’ve found around 150 ads and articles and mentions of Waterman’s in Canada in the period 1884 to 1922.  Some unique ads showed up, but here are the relevant ones for our purposes.
        In September 1901, this gorgeous ad showed up, but then nothing else until 1904, when Waterman’s opened up their first factory and offices in Montreal at different addresses.  Notice that the address in this ad is still the New York head office.  Five ads, articles, and mentions of Waterman’s show up in 1904, including an announcement that they were becoming the agent for Koh-I-Noor pencils in Canada, and in August 1905, the first ad with a line-up of pens shows up, but with no Cardinal pens mentioned, yet, only mottled ones.  Now, and hereafter, the address in the ads is the Montreal address.  A Christmas ad shows up in November 1905 with a group of pens bunched together, but no Cardinals.  One of those split-half-and-half ads shared with Koh-I-Noor shows up in December 1905 and January 1906, and there’s a line-up of pens in the Waterman’s portion, but still no Cardinals.  Most of the ads in 1906, including this June ad, were concerned with the newly introduced “Clip-Cap” clip, so if there were any Cardinals that year, they would have been a distraction and would not have been mentioned.  In March and April, this same small pen-line-up ad shows up without any Cardinals.  In October and November, the same large pen-line-up ad shows up, and it’s the last chance before Christmas, but still no Cardinals, only mottles.  The December ad is a Santa ad with room for only the plain pen from the line-up, and with one last chance for a “Last Minute Order”, and still no Cardinal.
        So here we are, back in 1907 again, and finally the Cardinals start to appear in the line-up ads, but this time we get to move the time frame back a little.  In my previous assessment, I said that the Cardinals first appeared in the Mar 23, 1907 ad in Am. Stat., but now we have to move that date back to
February 1907 with the first appearance of that same ad in Book. & Stat.  The same ad is repeated in October, and two new line-up ads with Cardinals show up in November and December.
        I wonder whether anything will show up somewhere else to help move the date back even further into 1906, or more.  What we really need are all the issues of
The American Stationer and The Pen Prophet online.  The nice thing about almost all of those ads geared toward the stationery trade is that they include a line such as, “Write us and we will send you a catalogue”, which means that they probably published a new stationers’ catalogue almost every year, and there is still a lot more out there to be found.

Addendum, April 24, 2014.
        Well, low and behold, more volumes of some other stationery magazines from the period 1897 to 1906 showed up on Hathi Trust, and they serve to corroborate some of the above dates.  Only three line-up ads from that period showed up, but they’re helpful.  The ad in the New England Stationer,
Dec 1900, p.7, is a line-up ad with nothing but black pens and fancy overlays, but no cardinals and no mottles.  The ad in Walden’s Stationer, Oct 10, 1903, p.13, is another line-up ad with nothing but black pens and fancy overlays, but still no cardinals and no mottles.  The ad in Walden’s Stationer, Nov 10, 1906, p.12, is another line-up ad, but this time, as well as the black pens and fancy overlays, the mottles finally show up, but no cardinals, which makes it highly likely that they showed up sometime between November 1906 and February 1907.

 George Kovalenko.


April 27, 2014

Geyer’s Stationer

Here’s a list of the Geyer’s Stationer links from the Hathi Trust to augment David Nishimura’s 
list from Google.  If you click on this link to three magazines on Hathi, you will see that those magazines are related by “Previous Title” and “New Title”.  New England Stationer was taken over by Waldens Stationer, but I cant figure out why Geyers is also listed with the bunch.

Geyer’s Stationer 
v. 29, Jan-June 1900
v. 30, missing

v. 31, Jan-June 1901
v. 32, missing

v. 33, Jan-June 1902 
v. 34, July-Dec 1902 
v. 35, Jan-June 1903  
v. 36, July-Dec 1903
v. 37, missing

v. 38, July-Dec 1904 
v. 39, Jan-June 1905  
v. 40, July-Dec 1905  
v. 41, Jan-June 1906
v. 42, July-Dec 1906
v. 43, Jan-June 1907
v. 44, July-Dec 1907
v. 45, missing
v. 46, July-Dec 1908
v. 47, Jan-June 1909
v. 48, July-Dec 1909
vols. 49-50, missing

v. 51, Jan-June 1911
v. 52, missing

v. 53, Jan-June 1912
v. 54, July-Dec 1912
v. 55, Jan-June 1913
v. 56, Jul-Dec 1913
v. 57, missing 
v. 58, Jan-June 1915
v. 59, July-Dec 1915
v. 59, Jul-Dec 1915, Google
v. 60, missing
v. 61, Jan-June 1916
v. 62, July-Dec 1916
v. 63, Jan-June 1917
v. 64, July-Dec 1917
v. 65, Jan-June 1918
v. 66, July-Dec 1918
v. 67, Jan-June 1919
v. 68, July-Dec 1919
v. 69, Jan-June 1920
v. 70, July-Dec 1920
v. 71, Jan-June 1921
v. 72, July-Dec 1921 
v. 73, Jan-June 1922
v. 74, July-Dec 1922 

George Kovalenko.


New England, & Walden’s Stationer

Here’s a list of New England Stationer and Walden’s Stationer links from the Hathi Trust.  If you click on this link to three magazines on Hathi, you will see that those magazines are related by “Previous Title” and “New Title”.  New England was taken over by Waldens, but I can't figure out why Geyers Stationer is also listed with the bunch.

New England Stationer
v. 11, Mar 1897-Feb 1898
v. 12, Mar 1898-Feb 1899
v. 13, Mar 1899-Feb 1900
v. 14, Mar 1900-Mar 1901
v. 15, Apr 1901-Mar 1902
v. 16, Apr 1902-Jan 1903
no gap, no vols. missing

Walden’s Stationer
v. 19-20, Jan 1903-1904
v. 21-22, Jan 1904-1905
v. 23-24, missing
v. 25-26, Jan-Dec 1906
v. 27-28, Jan-Dec 1907
v. 29-30, Jan-Dec 1908
v. 31, Jan-June 1909
v. 32, missing
v. 33, Jan-June 1910
v. 33, July-Dec 1910
v. 34, Jan-June 1911
v. 34, July-Dec 1911
v. 35, Jan-June 1912
v. 35, July-Dec 1912

George Kovalenko.


April 26, 2014

The ‘Pen vs. Sword’ Quote

        When someone wrote on the Zoss List on Oct 27, 1997, “The reason I don’t collect swords is, as we all know, ‘The Pen is mightier than the sword’”, Steve Lehman wrote this reply.  “Sorry for the literary nitpicking, but that ‘pen vs. sword’ quote is one of the most misquoted quotes EVER, and turns the original quote on its head, somewhat.  The real quote is, ‘Under the rule of men entirely just, the pen is mightier than the sword’.  Since in most cases, rulers are not ‘entirely just’ and are far from perfect, the pen is not mightier than the sword.  Unless the pen is actually a pistol, in which case the well aimed pen can be mightier than the sword.”  It’s like saying, “In other words, never”, as Janis wrote on the Afrocity blog on June 25, 2009, after she also used the misquoted version of the quote.  I wonder where she got it.  Steve used the quote again in a post on Zoss on May 18, 1999, concerning steel nibs marked Krupp, saying that maybe the giant steel and armament manufacturer was covering all bets”.  But then Steve got the quote wrong as well, both in 1997 and 1999.  He also misquoted the saying, but I liked his version better.  Let me explain in my round about way.
        I had great fun composing the puzzle.  Acrostic puzzles similar to this one appeared in The Atlantic magazine, and I decided to try to make a similar puzzle with a fountain pen theme.  I started one evening, just to see whether it was possible, and was ready to give up the moment I ended up with an excess of unusable vowels or consonants, or not enough letters.  You can see some of the failed attempts in the “Extra bonus clues” section.  I wrote the whole thing out with a fountain pen, and finished it in one manic night, ending up with the completed acrostic at about 4:00 AM.  The sun was just rising, so it must have been a spring or summer night, and you could call it a manic midsummer night’s wet ink dream.
        After my acrostic puzzle was published in the Writing Equipment Society Journal, no.57, Spring 2000, p.52, I got an email message from Arnold Greenwood in Britain on Apr 21, 2000.  He wrote, “Congratulations on your ingenuity in composing the acrostic, although the clues were not entirely of the standard I have become used to from solving The Times puzzle”, and he discussed the puzzle’s “double acrosticity”, a neologism he begged leave to use in light of my quote from Finnegans Wake, but then he went on to ask where I got that new version of the quote, or revision of the quote, or misquote.  “My Oxford Dictionary of Quotations gives ‘Beneath the rule of men entirely great’, not ‘Under the rule of men entirely just’.  Have I missed something?”  I wrote back commending him on his neologism, and to say he was right about the correct phrasing of the Bulwer-Lytton quote from his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, Act II, scene II, but that I didn’t know where I got the misquote.  It should be ‘beneath’ and ‘great’, not ‘under’ and ‘just’.  I also said that I would do some backtracking to try to find the exact textual source, the place where I got that variant of the line, explaining that I might have got it from a corrupted or faulty mention in another book of quotations.
        That’s when I ran across the 1997 email message by Steve Lehman in my private archive of the Zoss List.  I emailed Steve and asked him about his version of the quote.  I complemented him on it, saying that I liked his version better because it was more meaningful than the original.  What exactly is a ruler who is “entirely great”?  It sounds like Valley-Girl talk, totally.  So I asked him where he got this much better variation of the old saw.  He wrote back that he could not remember where he heard or read the misquote, and that it was “entirely possible that I just remembered the spirit of the quote, not the letter, but I do think someone else did the misquoting originally”.  And then he mused, “Is it possible that Bulwer-Lytton is actually quoting Cardinal Richelieu?”.  You mean, “La plume est plus puissante que l’épée”?
        I seem to have found the quote independently around Mar 16, 1999, and when I did a search of the now-defunct Zoss Archives on eScribe, I found Steve’s post on May 18, 1999.  All I have to show for it is a piece of paper with the misquote and the date Mar 16 written on it, but I neglected to write down where I found it, so I don’t know where I heard or read it, either.  Like Steve, I don’t think I did the misquoting originally, either, but I do think it is a much better version of the opening phrase to that sentence.
        And sorry for the further literary nitpicking, but I’m Canadian.

George Kovalenko.


This post is an explanatory footnote to my Acrostic puzzle.  But I didn’t include any links to the Zoss messages I quoted in this post because I couldn’t, since the Zoss Archive on eScribe is dead.]

April 24, 2014

MacKinnon and ‘nirvana’

        My involvement with MacKinnon’s stylograph started in 1993 when I discovered the then mostly overlooked and unread patents for fountain pens.  It was a revelation of eureka proportions, especially for someone living “due north” of the United States, which was at the time the center of the pen-collecting world, and finding that almost no one “due south” knew the true story of MacKinnon’s stylograph.  So when Bart Grossman wrote on the Zoss List on Feb 19, 1998 that he believed that stylographic pens “were invented by Cross” for the purpose of manifold writing with carbon paper, that really got my goad.  So I posted that “A. T. Cross did not invent the stylograph!  Duncan MacKinnon did.  Take a look at the materials in the information package on Duncan MacKinnon that I submitted to the PCA, and which was published in their newsletter The Pennant, Vol. IX, No. 1/2, Spr-Sum 1995, pp.6-8”.  See my two long posts concerning “MacKinnon v. Cross?” and “MacKinnon v. Cross!”.  Bart replied that he had just sent a post to Zoss “with a quote from Crum-Ewing on this”.  “What’s the contrary evidence?  Can anyone shed additional light?  I would guess it comes down finally to who holds the patent”.  Here is the quote from the Crum-Ewing book, The Fountain Pen: A Collector’s Companion, pp.86-87.
During the 1870s, A. T. Cross had [other] major projects in hand.  However, the stylographic pen is often regarded as A. T.’s greatest achievement.  It revolutionized fountain pens and the art of correspondence as a whole.  It was the first successful writing instrument that could produce an ink-written original with multiple carbon copies.  It delivered wet ink to paper through a strong tubular needle and spindle that served as a writing point in place of the traditional nib.  A writer could therefore bear down hard enough to write through carbons.  Prior to this invention carbon copies could only be made with a pencil because the traditional nib was too short and flexible to bear the necessary pressure without breaking.  The stylographic pen was so important an invention that the U. S. Post Office almost immediately made its use mandatory [by its employees].
        So I wrote, “What can I say?  The Crum-Ewing book is wrong.  Duncan MacKinnon patented his stylographic pen in Canada and the UK in 1875, and in the US in 1876, well before A. T. Cross patented his stylograph in 1877.  Cross in effect copied the basic mechanism and appearance of MacKinnon’s stylograph, and then added one thing to the internal mechanism, a spring, and repatented it.  At about the same time, Livermore, Edward Todd, Ullrich, and others came out with their own stylographs.  It was the first type of fountain pen to be both dependable and successful with the public, preceding Waterman’s famous fountain pen patents of 1884 by almost ten years.
        “Here’s the relevant patent information regarding MacKinnon’s and Cross’s stylographs and Waterman’s fountain pens.
Duncan MacKinnon’s patents for stylographs, Canadian patent 4,809, June 5, 1875, UK patent 2,497, July 12, 1875, and US patent 174,965, Mar 21, 1876. 
A. T. Cross’s patents for stylographs, US patents 189,304, April 10, 1877, and 190,130, May 1, 1877. 
L. E. Waterman’s patents for fountain pens not until 1884!, US patents 293,545, Feb 12, 1884, and 307,735, Nov 4, 1884.
There are two other patents for early precursors to the stylograph previous to MacKinnon’s patents dating from 1849 and 1857, but these came to nothing and didn’t have much influence on the later conception and design of the MacKinnon stylograph.
        “MacKinnon’s pen had a gravity-actuated needle, but Cross patented a pen based on MacKinnon’s invention by substituting a “spring” for the gravity idea, and then challenged MacKinnon for patent infringement when MacKinnon incorporated the “spring” into his own pen.  Despite the MacKinnon pen’s early predominance, this litigation eventually put the MacKinnon pen company out of business a few years later, but one of the owners, Francis Cashel Brown, created another company, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., which continued making stylographs into the 1920s.  Cross also challenged Livermore, but this time he lost.  With the ensuing proliferation of stylograph manufacture, Cross’s early success in the field was lost in the flood.  However, even Barbara Lambert’s book on the Cross pen company grudgingly acknowledged that MacKinnon was first.”
        Then Bart replied, “Thanks, I appreciate it and stand corrected, but who will correct Crum-Ewing?  Anyway it’s nice that there are people on this list with such dedication to the truth.  The confusion about all this is obvious when you consider that the most famous of the drafting or technical fountain pens is the Koh-i-noor “Rapidograph”.  As a long-term user of Radiographs I am now very curious to see what a real stylograph is like.”
        And Rick Conner wrote, “Thanks for the comprehensive info, George.  I checked in the F&S blue book, which shows pics of both Cross and MacKinnon stylographs, and gives a brief version of the history you provided under the section on A. T. Cross.  Lambrou’s smaller book (FPs Vintage & Modern) mentions MacKinnon only briefly (as offering a pen with “a circle of iridium on the nib”[??]), and Cross just as briefly (offering the “Perfected Stylographic Pen” in 1892), no mention of the Cross-MacKinnon battle, or of the earlier history of stylographs.  The 1875 date puts the commercial sale of the stylograph quite a few years before that of the Waterman Ideal”.
        And then Nathan Tardif responded with the funniest and most gratifying message of all.  “YES!  That Canadian fellow is RIGHT!  Great post, George!  Thank God there is somebody out there who has their facts right!  So many believe that Cross and Waterman (and some crazy people even think Mont Blanc) were the “first” in Pendom.  They are all wrong.  I have been collecting early stylos since I can remember, and to read George’s post was pure nirvana!”
*  I truly laugh out loud every time I read that line.  Every time.  He finished his post with screaming all-capital-letters, “THE DUNCAN MACKINNON PEN WAS THE FIRST VIABLE FOUNTAIN PEN!!!!!!”
        Now, with that one word, we are free from the endless cycle of birth-and-death of theories and beliefs and their accompanying suffering.  It’s as if historical research were an idealized state or place that was free of the pain of and the worries about that which was indistinct or unknown, blown about by the wind.  Now, that’s really beginning to sound a little bit like Constable Benton Fraser, Sergeant Bruce, and Dudley Do-Right all rolled up into one great big spliff!

George Kovalenko.


* nirvana (nir-VAH-nuh), N.
1. Freedom from the endless cycle of birth and death and related suffering. 
2. An idealized state or place free of pain, worries, etc.
[Loanword from Sanskrit, nirvana (blowing out, extinguishing, extinction), from nis- (out) + vati (it blows).  Ultimately from Indo-European root we- (to blow) that is also the source of wind, weather, ventilate, window and wing.]

April 21, 2014

F. C. Brown in New York

[Here are all the Francis C. Brown entries from the volumes of the Trow’s New York business directories and other N. Y. business directories on, and some other sources.]

Apr 29, 1851, born in Haysville, Ontario, Canada.

Feb 10, 1877, arrived in the United States, and contributed the funds to help launch 

D. MacKinnon & Co.

1878, p.165, Frank [sic] C., pens, 21 Park Row, h 349 W. 14th, no MacKinnon or Fountain Ink Co.
1879, p.174, still Frank C., pens, p.946, and Duncan MacKinnon, and D. MacKinnon & Co., all at 21 Park Row.
1880, p.177, Francis C., pens, and p.991, D. MacKinnon & Co., 200 Broadway Ave., and Duncan MacKinnon, h Canada.
[1881, no volume in Ancestry.]
Nov 10, 1881, applied to become a naturalized American citizen.
1882, p.191, Francis C., sec., p. 540, Fountain Ink Co., and p.1060, MacKinnon Pen Co., all at 192 Broadway Ave.

Illustrated ads for the MacKinnon stylograph appear on almost every second or third page of the 1882 volume.

1883, p.193, Francis C., sec., h St Denis, p.543, Fountain Ink Co., and p.1073, MacKinnon Pen Co., all at 75 John St.
Apr 23, 1883, married Marie E. Laurie.
1884, p.205, Francis C., treas., and p.571, Fountain Ink Co. at 62 Cliff St., no more MacKinnon Pen Co.
[1885, no volume in Ancestry.]
1886, p.223, Francis C., pres., h New Brighton, S. I., and p.623, Fountain Ink Co. at 62 Cliff St., no listing for Caw’s.
[1887, no volume in Ancestry.]
1888, no listings, but instead there is a predatory ad on p.642 for “A. S. Barnes & Co. inks, pens” where the Fountain Ink Co. listing should be.  Perhaps he was preoccupied with moving, or with the ligation by Wirt.
1889, no listing for Brown, but a Caw’s Ink And Pen Co. ad appears on p.316, 157 Broadway Ave.
[1890, no volume in Ancestry.]
1891, p.166, Francis C., pens, and p.219, Caw’s Ink And Pen Co., 104 Broadway Ave.
Feb 2, 1892, became a naturalized American citizen.
1892, p.172, Francis C., pens, h New Brighton, S. I., ad on p.226, Caw’s Ink And Pen Co., 104 Broadway Ave.


 The first Caw’s Raven trademark and logo, 1892, p.226.

[1893, no volume in Ancestry.]
1894, p.169, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, S. I., p.222,
ad, Caw’s Pen And Ink Co., 42 Dey St.
[1895, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1896, no volume in Ancestry.]
1897, p.177, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, S. I., ad on p.233, Caw’s Pen And Ink Co., 168 Broadway Ave. & 42 Dey St.
1898, p.162, Francis Cashel, mgr., 168 Broadway Ave. & 42 Dey St. , h New Brighton, S. I., but no listing for Caw’s.
1899, p.162, Francis C., mgr., 168 Broadway Ave. & 42 Dey St. , h New Brighton, S. I., but no listing for Caw’s.
[1900, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1901, no volume in Ancestry.]
1902, pp.658, & 980, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., office & salesroom 227 Broadway Ave., factory 53 Vesey St.
1903, pp.692, & 1033-34, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., office & salesroom 227 Broadway Ave., factory 53 Vesey St.
[1904, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1905, no volume in Ancestry.]
1906, pp.541, 812, & 813, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 46 Vesey St., with a banner ad as well as a name listing.

 The new Caw’s Raven-in-a-capital-letter-C logo, 1906, p.812.

[1907, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1908, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1909, no volume in Ancestry.]
1910, p.181, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, BR, p.234, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 46 Vesey St.
1911, p.185, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, BR, p.237, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 46 Vesey St.
1912, p.194, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, BR, p.249, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 76 Duane St.
1913, p.196, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, BR, p.251, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 76 Duane St., Tel WOR 3366.
1914, p.159, Francis C., mgr., p.161, Marie, ink, 76 Duane St., h New Brighton, BR, but no listing for Caw’s.
1915, p.393, Francis C., br. mgr., h New Brighton, BR, p.396, Marie, p.452, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 77 Duane St.
1916, p.329, Francis C., mgr., h S. I., p.331, Marie, p.384, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 76 Duane, Tel WOR 3366.
1917, p.433, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, S. I., p.435, Marie, p.496, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 76 Duane St.

1917, Francis Cashel Browns 56-page book, Walk on Your Head: How I Found the Pathway to Perfect Health at Sixty-five, was published this year.  [It should actually be titled “Stand on Your Head, or Walk on Your Hands”.  Also see his 1917 photo here.]
1918, p.407, Francis C., mgr., h New Brighton, S. I., p.409, Marie, p.471, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., 76 Duane St.

Two Waterman’s predatory ads, 1912, p.194, and 1918, p.471, the ads were placed on the same pages as the listings for Caw’s, 
so if someone were to try to look up Caw’s, they would find the larger Waterman’s ad in close proximity.

[1919, no volume in Ancestry.]
1920, no listings for Francis C. and Marie, p.444, Caw’s Pen & Ink Co. (Francis C. Brown) 78 Reade St.
[1921, no volume in Ancestry.]
1922, Francis Cashel Brown, Insurance, also Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., both at 30 Church St.
Feb 18, 1923, Marie Brown, his wife, died.
[1923, no volume in Ancestry.]
[1924, no volume in Ancestry.]
1925, Francis C. Brown and Caw’s Pen & Ink Co., both at 30 Church St.
[1926, no more listings for the pen company in this volume, and in the volumes hereafter.  He became an insurance underwriter in his last years.]
Feb 1, 1939, after a long career in the pen business as the head of “the old, long-established firm Caw’s Pen & Ink Co.”, one that spanned the years 1877-1925, Francis C. Brown died.

George Kovalenko.


April 19, 2014

Francis Cashel Brown, Pt. 2

[Posted on L&P on Aug 19, 2010.]

        [And heres the Francis Cashel Brown autobiography, also housed at the New York Historical Society Archives.  It survives as a 3-page typescript that has been amended, or altered, in pen, perhaps in Brown’s own hand, perhaps in someone else’s.  It does not have a typewritten title, but is given the title “The origin of the fountain-pen” by the archive, in the long-standing tradition, when a text has no title, of using the first few words of the text as the title.  At the top, where the title should be, the words “By Francis Cashel Brown” are written within square brackets, and the date “1906” in the upper right corner, both written in a different, more-modern hand, possibly that of an archivist at the NYHS.  From internal evidence, the text seems to have been written ca. 1901-06(?) as a third-person autobiographical sketch to be presented by someone else as a speech, or lecture, or press release, possibly at an exposition or world’s fair, somewhere in Europe, maybe in England, or Germany(?).  It also appears to have been used, in part, by someone else as the basis for the biographical article that appeared in the Encyclopedia of American Biography in 1957.
        The photocopy of the original typescript in the NYHS is in very poor condition, and almost looks like a carbon copy.  It seems to be typed on thin paper, something like the onion skin paper that was used at the time for carbon copies.  The single-spaced sheets were folded and refolded, roughly in the middle, and at different points in time, and this has resulted in multi-curled folds with the text obscured for a few lines within the curls of the folds.  The archivists did not dare to straighten out the folds during photocopying for fear of further damaging the fragile papers, and where the text loss has occurred, I have taken the liberty of trying to reconstruct the lost lines, which are enclosed within square brackets.  The biography in Pt. 1 acts as a parallel text that helps to reconstruct the missing portions.  At other points in the text, I have inserted comments, suggestions, and interpretations in italics within square brackets.

        Though it only represents Brown’s point of view, the text is quite telling on the subject of the spread of the popularity of fountain pens before the turn of the 20th century.  To paraphrase Brown writing about himself in the third-person, “This was the condition of the fountain pen trade in 1895 when Mr. Brown, who had been the pioneer in every fountain pen improvement for twenty years, introduced what amounted to almost a revolution in the construction of fountain pens, the Caw’s Safety Fountain Pen.  The Europeans have adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than the Americans, and it was not until the advent of the safety fountain pen in 1895 that their faith in fountain pens was shown by a large demand, which has been on the increase ever since, but the desire to own a fountain pen has not yet taken possession of all classes of society of all ages and both sexes in Europe as it has in America”.  It’s quite the norm for most early penmakers to claim some grandiose achievements, and Brown claims that he was instrumental in helping to popularize the fountain pen in Europe.  Not so self-effacing for a Canadian, after all.  Although he was only promoting his own agenda in this sketch, what he succeeded in doing instead was to document the state of the popularity of fountain pens in Europe at the time.  For as Brown also said, America is “a nation which has always been the foremost in the world in adopting novelties”.]

[Autobiography of Francis Cashel Brown]

       The origin of the fountain-pen dates back over fifty years.  The first which met with public recognition was the Prince Protean Fountain Pen invented by a Mr. Prince of New York in 1855.  Its sale was considerable for a short time, but being made of base metal which the ink corroded, it was soon discarded in disappointment by everyone who had bought it, and after a few years Mr. Prince was forced to engage in another business to avoid starvation.
       “Encouraged by the temporary success of this pen, Mr. Prince had many imitators, but their products were soon cast into oblivion by their dissatisfied victims, and for several years thereafter it seemed as if no further attempt would be made to improve on the steel pen, the goose quill, and the lead pencil, which were the only writing implements then in use in the western hemisphere, with the exception of the gold pen, which was being manufactured in a small way at that time and sold only to a few select Americans at very high prices.
       “This condition of the pen trade continued until 1875 when a Canadian by name of Duncan MacKinnon conceived the idea of making a fountain pen with a stiff round metal point.  But having no capital, he was unable to manufacture it himself, nor to interest anyone with capital in view of past failures in the same line, until a year later when the attention of Francis Cashel Brown of New York was called to his invention by a newspaper article which resulted in a business engagement between Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Brown, and soon after a company was formed in New York under the name of the MacKinnon Pen Co. to manufacture the MacKinnon Stylographic Pen.  It was considered inadvisable to use the term “Fountain Pen” because it was in bad odor [repute] with the public who had experimented with the fountain pens of the past. 
       “It may be here remarked that the great obstacle to the manufacture of a satisfactory fountain pen in those days was that the cheapest material known for pens that would not corrode and rust in contact with ink was gold, and to make a fountain pen throughout of gold would make it too expensive even for an American.  But the Stylographic Pen was a novelty and that was sufficient to recommend it to a nation which has always been the foremost in the world in adopting novelties.
       “The first stylo pens were also made of base metal, and although they had a large sale from the start, after a few months use they were condemned in vigorous language as a delusion and a snare.  The memory of the Prince fountain pen of twenty years previous was revived and a similar fate was predicted for the MacKinnon Pen. 
       “At this time, vulcanized rubber was a product little known in the world.  Experiments were made with this product with very satisfactory results as every one now knows.  It was found to be light in the hand, a nonconductor, and a sure preventative of writer’s cramp, or “Scrivener’s palsy”, but its chief merit for fountain pen holders lies in the fact that it is not affected by the chemical properties in ink, which was the most serious objection to the metal heretofore used.  The MacKinnon Pen Co. grasped this [substitute for] metal as a drowning man grasps a straw, but unlike the proverbial straw, it [vulcanized rubber] proved a harbor of refuge.
       “The adoption of vulcanized rubber laid the foundation of the fountain pen business of today, which has spread to every civilized country on the globe, and it is estimated that there were over one million fountain pens sold last year, and the rapidly increasing sales prove that the business is still in its infancy.
       “The MacKinnon Stylographic Pen held undisputed control of the market for about three years, and although the cheapest pen was $4.00 each, the demand increased so rapidly the manufacturers could not keep pace with it.  This encouraged numerous imitators, and each imitation was cheaper than its predecessor, until 1881 when the price had fallen to one quarter the original price.  As usual, the quality and utility depreciated with the price, and the Stylographic Pens were again becoming a byword of contempt.
       “Mr. Brown, who had pioneered the Stylographic Pen so successfully for five years, sold his interest in the MacKinnon Pen Company and engaged in the manufacture of writing ink, which on account of its beautiful black color he named Caw’s Ink.  The word “Caw”, as you all know, is the cry of the crow when it espies a ripe field of corn as a signal to his mates to come and share in the feast.  Mr. Brown registered the word “Caw’s” and a picture of a crow as the trade mark for his ink, and afterwards, when he re-engaged in the manufacture of fountain pens, he used the same mark on his pens.  This is the origin of the name Caw’s accompanied by a crow, which is stamped on all the Caw’s fountain pens.
       “The ink business is so closely allied to the pen business that Mr. Brown continued in touch with the writing public, and knowing that the Stylographic Pen was doomed to oblivion as soon as the novelty had passed away, he began experimenting with fountain pens, using hard rubber for the pen-holder combined with a gold pen, a combination which would enable every user to retain the individuality of his hand writing which was lost by the use of the stylographic pen.  The latter having a round stiff point, it would not make the variations in penmanship taught in the schools, and complaints were made that it gave no character to one’s handwriting.
       “But despite this and many other faults of the stylographic pens of that period, they were sold in very large quantities, and the demand, which until the year 1881 had been confined almost entirely to America, spread to other countries and continued to increase every year until about ten years ago [1891-93] when the demand in America began to decrease, and since then the decline has been even more rapid than the rise, [a rapidity that eclipsed the speed of their rise in popularity].  In Germany and England the sale of Stylographic Pens reached its zenith about the year 1900, then Germany and England followed America by showing a preference for the fountain pen, which being combined with a gold pen with an indestructible point [of osmiridium] that proved the most perfect implement.
       “The success of the Stylo Pen showed the public craving for a pen that would carry ink in the holder for several hours continuous writing, and that could be carried in the pocket like a pencil, ready for use at any time or place, and Mr. Brown’s knowledge of the wants of the public acquired during his management of the MacKinnon Pen Co. gave him courage to proceed with his experiments with fountain pens, and in 1883 his efforts had been crowned with success.  That is to say, his invention, which was soon afterwards put on the market under the name “Caw’s Dashaway Fountain Pen”, was so far in advance of anything that had preceded it that it was hailed with delight by the American public.
       “The first Dashaway Pens had many faults, but these were gradually eliminated, and after a few years progress in the manufacture, and by extensive advertising, Caw’s Dashaway Fountain Pen won a world wide reputation.
       “During this period other inventors were engaged in the same line, and the first two to follow Mr. Brown were P. E. Wirt and L. E. Waterman of New York.  Their inventions differed from Mr. Brown’s only in details of construction, but by this time the American public was so hungry for fountain pens their appetites were hard to satisfy, and Mr. Wirt and Mr. Waterman got a fair share of patronage.  While these three inventors were struggling for supremacy, many imitators appeared on the scene, but with one exception their productions had nothing to recommend them but cheapness, and in a short time they were buried under public condemnation.  This exception is known as the “Swan” pen made in New York. [What about Parker, and Lancaster, and Blair?] 
       “It may be here remarked that the four Pens I have just mentioned were first sold at the same price as they are sold today, $2.50, and they have all stood the test of [one missing line]=[what the market will bear, and of the] scores of cheaper Pens put on the market, [almost every] one has succumbed after a precarious existence of from three to five years, which is pretty conclusive evidence that experienced users of fountain pens want only the best, and that the best cannot be made and sold at a profit for less than $2.50.
       “Naturally, a strong rivalry existed between the manufacturers of the Caw, Wirt, Waterman, [Parker, Lancaster, Blair?], and Swan fountain pens, and instead of vying for cheapness their efforts were addressed toward improvements.  Until about eight years ago [1893-5?], the improvements were not noticeable to the average public as they were confined to improved workmanship and careful attention to details.  Up to that time [1893-5?], a fountain pen had never been made that could be shut up tight and made secure against the evaporation and leakage of ink.  As they were then used almost exclusively by travelers and others as a pocket convenience, and used only occasionally, this was a serious objection because when taken from the pocket the ink had either coagulated and the Pen would not write, or the ink had leaked out on the clothing where it remained instead of remaining in the pen-holder where it was put.  Some of the ink adhered to the pen’s holder [section], which made it unclean to handle.  But notwithstanding these disagreeable characteristics, a large clientele submitted to them and tried to school themselves into the habit of putting the Pen in the pocket right end up so it would not leak, and changing the ink often so it would not dry up.
       “A considerable portion of the public, however, after trying several different kinds and always with the same results, that they had to change their linen several times a day and wear gloves at their meals to look respectable, finally eschewed fountain pens except when they could borrow one from a friend.
       “This was the condition of the fountain pen trade in 1895 when Mr. Brown, who had been the pioneer in every fountain pen improvement for twenty years, astonished the world with an invention which amounted to almost a revolution in the constructions of fountain pens.  This invention was immediately offered to the public under the name of “Caw’s Safety Fountain Pen”, and there is probably no pen that [one or two missing lines]=[offered the long-desired protection from ink leakage and evaporation.  It was so designed that, after retraction of the pen nib, the cap screwed tight].  This Pen shuts up tight so that the ink cannot escape or dry up under any condition, or in any climate.  [In consequence, it is always ready for use, and] it is [always] clean to handle.  [The] arrangement of the feed is such that the ink is supplied to the nib in writing fine or heavy lines, the flow of ink being regulated by the amount of pressure on the point of the pen. 
       “The Germans [Europeans] have adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than the Americans, and it was not until the advent of Caw’s Safety fountain pen in 1895 that their faith in it was shown by a large demand, which has been on the increase ever since, but the desire to own a fountain pen has not yet taken possession of all classes of society of all ages and both sexes in this country [England, Germany, some other European country?] as it has in America.
       “I shall give you an illustration of the popularity of the Caw’s fountain pens in America, especially in New York City, the home of the manufacturers:
       “A few years ago, the Caw’s Pen Co. was spending large sums of money in advertising their Pens in the New York daily papers, and not knowing which paper produced the best results, they conceived the idea of making a test of the value of the different papers, and at the same time to test the popularity of their Pens.  So one day they inserted an advertisement one column in length in all the New York daily papers [Times-Post-Observer-Tribune-Herald-Mirror-Daily News-Sun?] announcing that they would sell one of their celebrated pens at half price to everyone who called at their place of business the next day, between the hours of 9 A.M. and 3 P.M., and deposited in a receptacle prepared for the purpose the name of the paper in which he or she had read the advertisement.  The effect of this was phenomenal and is described in a clipping from the New York [Times-Post-Observer-Tribune-Herald-Mirror-Daily News-Sun?], which I shall read to you.  [Extract missing.]  Here is also an enlarged photograph of the crowd in front of their store on that occasion.  [Photo also missing, but it was used in this ad.]

[This Jan 5, 1896 New York Sun ad was posted by Antonios Zavaliangos in a thread on FPN.  Thanks, Antonios.  The stunt depicted in this ad is the same one that’s mentioned at the end of the F. C. Brown autobiography.  Another version of the picture of the crowd was used in this Apr 2, 1896 Caw’s cover ad in The American Stationer.]

George Kovalenko.