November 11, 2014

The Waterman’s ‘Fasces’ pen

  , another obscure Waterman’s pen.

[Posted on L&P on Dec 26, 2011.]
      Does anyone own, or has anyone ever even seen one of these Waterman’s fountain pens?  It has a
“Fasces” half-overlay on the barrel, and that makes the fountain pen the axe inside the bundle of wooden rods.  It’s from an advertisement in Am. Stat., Nov 9, 1918, p.21, where it is called “The Service Pen, A Convenience, Gift, and Heirloom All in One”.  Two examples of the pen are shown, and between them are illustrations of all the Waterman’s office and factory buildings, in the past and up to 1918.  It looks like it might be a #270-series or #370-series safety-capped eyedropper with a half-overlay, depending upon the size of the nib, and whether the half-overlay is sterling silver or solid gold, and also upon whether there’s a lever box out of view and hidden on the back side of the pen.
      Perhaps there’s a visual pun in there somewhere, something about the pen being mightier than the war, since the axe is missing from the bundle, in which case the design might have something to do with the date and the looming end of hostilities in WWI.  It anticipates the signing of the armistice by only a couple of days.
      David Nishimura wrote that he didn’t think any pun was intended, and posted the above Wikipedia link, which has a list of uses to which the fasces was commonly put.  Two fasces are prominently featured in the front posts of the armchair in which Lincoln sits in his eponymous
statue  Then David added, “In the context of imminent victory, the fasces could have been read simply as celebrating that victory, since fasces was carried in Roman triumphal processions”.
      Well, we don’t know for sure whether the visual metaphor was intended, but the axe blade inside the bundle was definitely replaced with the nib of the pen.  However, the best bet for an interpretation is probably that the pen was intended to celebrate the triumph after the armistice.

George Kovalenko.