[Posted on L&P on Feb 16, 2012 and May 31, 2013.]
There’s a lot of snobbery in pen collecting. Some collectors look only for the biggest pens
by the big pen companies, and then only the rarest of these pens. Most of them look down on pencils and other writing instruments, and for their purposes a term such as “pendom” serves quite well. But most of those who use the term are aware only of the use of the term by Parker
in their Jewels of Pendom catalogue from 1941, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the company, and in their “Jewels of Pendom” ads from 1940-41. You can Google the phrase “Jewels of Pendom” in quotes to see several of the ads. The term was first popularized by Dodie Bellamy ca.1996-97 in her article “The Jewels of Pendom”, reprinted on Bruce Marshall’s pen website “Fountain Pen Resources”. Others have latched on to the term, thinking that its first use originates in those 1940’s references. Well, the term goes back much further than that.
As far as I have been able to find, the earliest appearance of the word is in the Waterman’s cover ad in the Apr 17, 1909 issue of The American Stationer. It’s an ad that features the spoon feed, calling it “The Safety Valve of Pendom”. The spoon feed was supposed to catch any ink that overflowed from the fissures, and catch the ink like a safety valve. The later comb feed also served the same purpose, but more effectively. In The Review Of Reviews, vol. 44, 1911, p.405, Frank D. Waterman is described as “the king of Pendom”. In The Jeweler’s Circular, vol. 77, issue 1, 1918, p.38, the Conklin crescent filler is said to be “easily the most talked-of feature in fountain-pendom today”. In Scribner’s, vol. 64, 1918, p.902, and American Review Of Reviews, vol. 58, 1919, p.717, the crescent filler is said to be “Conklin’s badge of distinction--the croix de guerre of pendom”. It’s not intended, but the crescent is, sort of, a cross to bear. In Am. Stat., Apr 2, 1921, p.32, the B.B. Stylo is described as “the self-filling aristocrat of pendom”. In the ad for “The Parker D. Q.”, or Duofold-Quality pen, on p.2 of the Oct 19, 1923 issue of The Tech, the MIT student newspaper, an attempt is made to reassure the students of the quality of these admittedly “lower priced pens” with the ad line, “Masters of Pendom make all Parkers As well as the famous Duofold”. In Everybody’s Magazine, vol. 55, 1926, p.171, and in Munsey’s Magazine, vol. 88, 1926, p.576, the Sheaffer ads for their Lifetime pens say, “They have set new standards in pendom”. In Office Appliance, vol.45, issue 6, 1927, p.115, the Sheaffer jade Radite pen is called “the pioneer of beauty in pendom”. And in Life magazine, Oct 13, 1927, the inside front cover ad for Sheaffer, and in Literary Digest, vol. 95, 1927, p.11, the white dot on the Lifetime pen is said to be “the mark of distinction in pendom”.
And lastly, there is the related word “pencildom” in a Koh-I-Noor pencil ad in Am. Stat., Apr 15, 1911, p.15. The title of the ad is “The Gem Of Pencildom”, and it also beats the Parker Pen Co.’s use of the jewel metaphor by a good thirty years. The word also appears in a short story disguised as an article in Am. Stat., Mar 29, 1913, p.21. It uses the word “pencildom” in the title, “A Carnival In Pencildom”. It’s a story that also serves as a not-very-well-disguised ad for Dixon’s pencils, and it drops, or mentions about 63 of the Dixon brand names for pencils in the story. But as well as fountain pens, there are also mechanical pencils, pen and pencil cases, gold nibs, steel nibs, penholders, ink bottles, and inkwells, and the term “pendom” doesn’t quite cover all of them. A new word such as “pen and pencildom”, perhaps, is required. It certainly covers combos well.
If you know of any other uses of these words, especially earlier ones, please let me know.