collection1b

collection1b

May 30, 2015

Zoss List archives


, what could have been archived.

All that information, lost.  This is all that’s left.
1, Zoss Pens-L Listarch, 1996-2000, 

http://web.archive.org/web/19961230175854/http://www.reference.com/
2, Zoss List Escribe, 2000-2005,

http://web.archive.org/web/20000820063026/http://www.escribe.com/
3, Zoss Pens List, 2005-2012,

http://www.zoss.com/pens.archive/ [the only part that was saved!]
4, 2012-present, not archived.

P. S.

Other pen message boards not archived.
Pentrace, 

http://www.newpentrace.net/ArchiveIndex.html
Penlovers, 

http://web.archive.org/web/19961230022605/http://penlovers.com/
The Ink Spot, 

http://web.archive.org/web/19981206060914/http://www.iswt.com/pen/

George Kovalenko.

.

May 28, 2015

Some Favorite Pen Trademarks


[Posted on L&P and on
FPN on May 1, 2010.]
        While I was preparing the two volumes of my patent book, I collected a group of favorite trademarks and goofy images.  I wrote some articles about these trademarks, and posted them on various pen message boards in a series I titled “Some Of My Favorite Pen Trademarks”, so if you want to see a few examples of the type of research that the book makes possible, take a look at the posts in the following 43 links, and the rest of the posts in this blog.

1,
The Trademark Era, and the Ur-Trademarks
2,
The Carter Company Names
3,
Flurries Of Activity, Pencils
4,
Not On The USPTO Website
5,
Celluloid, Galalith, & Bakelite, the Hard-Rubber-Substitutes
6,
Sanford-Ink & Wirt-Pen Hands
7,
Eagle’s Eagles
8,
“Ne Plus Ultra”, Again
9,
Flurries Of Activity, Steel Nibs, Stylos, And Charm Pencils
10,
Two Crossed Nibs
11,
Esterbrook Nibs
12,
The Easy Writer
13,
Caw’s & Brown
14,
Suns & Centuries
15,
Lionpen
16,
Aluminum Nibs
17,
Ink Blotters & Lightning Bolts
18,
The Pen Moves The World
19,
Pens & Nibs
20,
The Type Writer
21,
The Fasces & The Swastika
22,
Quills & Inkhorns
23,
Ball Pointed Nibs
24,
Pierced By A Pen
25,
The Pyro Writer
26,
Armeny & Marion
27,
The Mercantile
28,
Copiers
29,
Flurries Of Activity, Fountain Pens, & Conklin
30,
Dry Ink
31,
Color Images, At Last
32,
Anthropomorphic Pens & Pencils
33,
Orange Red
34,
The Onoto
35,
Parker Arrows
36,
Waterman’s Mechanical Pencils In 1904
37,
The Combo
38,
The Thomas Ink Cat
39,
The Drop Penknife & Penholder
40,
The Red Band, The Mikado, & The Mirado
41,
The Red & Black
42,
The Black & Red
43,
The Word “Pensmith”, Publisher’s Devices, & Dingbats
 


George Kovalenko.

.
 

May 25, 2015

Some Favorite Pen Patents


[Posted on L&P and on
FPN on July 20, 2006.]
        While I was preparing the two volumes of my patent book, I collected a group of favorite patents and designs and goofy images.  I wrote some articles about these patents and posted them on various pen message boards in a series I titled “Some Of My Favorite Pen Patents”, so if you want to see a few examples of the type of research that the book makes possible, take a look at the posts in the following 43 links, and the rest of the posts in this blog.  I have rearranged and renumbered the threads in this series so that they are now roughly in chronological order.

1,
The X-Patents
2,
The Eyedropper Era
3,
The First Typewriter
4,
The First Pregnant Pen
5,
A Writing Device For The Blind
6,
The First Crescent Filler
7,
The Hand Shaped Pencil Sharpener
8,
The First Ball Pointed Pen
9,
The Telegraphic Pen
10,
A Combined Inkstand, Pistol Case and Burglar Alarm
11,
The Tower of Babel
12,
The Ink Transfusion Fountain Pen
13,
The Over and The Under Feeds
14,
The First Gravity Fillers
15,
The Integral Eyedropper
16,
The Pocket Inkstand, and The Traveling Inkwell
17,
The Pen Cleaner
18,
The Duryea and the Beaver and Eagle Clips
19,
The Teddy Bear Pencil Tip
20,
The Fairchild Nib Sign
21,
The Writing Machine
22,
The Printer’s Dingbats
23,
The Ink Vending Machine
24,
The Pen Branding Machine
25,
The Original Pencil Geek
26,
The Ma and Pa Carter Inx
27,
The Tempoint Nib Chart
28,
Making A Wahl-Eversharp Nib
29,
The Waterman’s Lever-Filler Demonstrator
30,
The Inkograph Demonstrator
31,
The Namiki Lever Filler and Urushi Patents
32,
The Gravity Filler
33,
The Waterman’s Piston and Vacuum Fillers
34,
The Vacumatic Precursors
35,
“Eliminating The Human Hand”
36,
The Modular Parker Fountain Pens
37,
The Name “Stylograph”
38,
The So-Called “Fountain Pen Ballpoints”
39,
One Unproduced Parker “51” Design
40,
The Vanishing Point and Parker “51” Snorkels
41,
The Parker “61” Snorkel
42,
The First Snorkel Filler, Not A Sheaffer
43,
A Parting Shot


George Kovalenko.

.
 

May 22, 2015

And When Did Quills Die Out?


 



[Posted on L&P on May 24 & 31, 2013.]
        Here are some articles and ads concerning the late use of quills.  ​The best evidence that, by 1920, quills were almost in complete disuse generally, that is, by everyone except calligraphers, graphic designers, those studying penmanship and lettering, and old fogeys, is contained in the answer to a question in the “Stationers Information Department” in The American Stationer, Oct 9, 1920, p.16.  In the reply to the request, “Can you please advise where we can get Quill Penholders?”, the answer contains the name of one, and only one supplier of quills, all dutched, and cut, and ready to write.
    ​    The short article “Quill Pens Again Popular In England”, Dec 6, 1919, p.40, says that steel nibs were scarce and high in price because of the steel shortage in the UK after WWI, and that quills, “such as were used a half century ago”, were again “enjoying a vogue in London”.  It goes on to say, “A popular feminine notion is to have the quills dyed to match the color of the stationery, or the correspondent’s dress”.  I don’t know whether that constitutes popular use by the general public though, and certainly not in the US.
    ​    In the article “Origin Of The Word Stationer”, July 3, 1920, p.21, which starts off by saying that it is derived from the stationary locations of their places of businesses, as opposed to street vendors, but it then goes on to talk about quills being discarded.  In the past, it says, “One house alone in London sold on an average six million quills annually”.  And that’s only one quill-making firm.  “In our age of metal”, it goes on, “we have discarded the quill.  Every firm now issues annually at least two million pens and consumes one hundred and twenty tons of steel in making them”.
​        But the article “Says Quill Pen Is Still Much In Use”, Aug 14, 1920, p.21, reports that Am. Stat. received a letter responding to the above article.  The writer of the letter begs to differ about discarding the quill, saying, “In America, yes: in London, no”.  In the UK, it’s easy to sell a man a quill, and in the US, you can sometimes sell a man a quill, “but only to people not native born”.  He says that he is writing his letter with a goose quill, and he mentions the names of two makers of goose quills still supplying the trade in the UK.  He goes on to say, “You will find today the quill is more in use in London, many times over, than the steel pen”.  Every barrister still uses a quill.  But then, quite tellingly, he concedes defeat and goes on to admit, “Personally I have not used a quill for some years past”.  He says that his great grandfather was the captain of the Mayflower and brought over many “loads of adventurers”, and then finally stayed himself.  His grandfather, and his father, and he were all born in the US, so I guess it depends upon where you live, and whether you are “native born”.
​        A National Blank Book Co. ad, Dec 3, 1921, p.11, shows an illustration of a scribe working on “the ledgers of the Darien Scheme, a famous Scotch trading company”.  He is shown using a quill, and that’s quite correct for its period.  But when Whiting & Cook, makers of stationery and writing paper, wanted to include an image of a young woman with strawberry blonde hair writing a love letter in their ad on
Sept 18, 1920, p.7, they also used an image of a big, showy plume in an ink pot on her writing desk.  The quill still has all its vanes and barbs intact, and not only that, it is dyed red, the color of passion, and it sits there like a semaphore of love.
​        The article “‘Red Feather’ Quill Pen Sales Stunt”, Dec 10, 1921, p.22, talks about an advertising stunt in which the stationery company Thorp & Martin sent out 22,000 of “the ‘Red Feather’ quill pens...in a ‘mysterious’ black package”.  They were such a novelty, and such a great demand was made for them that they thought of placing another order.  Notice that again the quill was dyed an unrealistic red color.
​        And here’s an ad from
Aug 28, 1920, p.17, for A. L. Salomon & Co., or ALASCO, a wholesale stationer.  The ad is a collage of pictures with a good representative grouping of items that they sold in 1920, almost everything they dealt in.  It has fountain pens, and clips, and stylographs, and mechanical pencils, and it also has ink, and inkwells, and penholders, and lots of different types of steel nibs, and almost every other type of stationery item imaginable strewn all over the ad, and it’s completely circumscribed and framed by a border of wooden pencils and pens.  But I don’t see a single quill in this ad meant for the US market.  In contrast, the article, “Millions Of Lead Pencils”, Oct 22, 1921, p.26, stated that 1,000,000,000 pencils were made in the US “every year”, a quarter of which were exported to foreign countries.
    ​    Here’s one more use of quill imagery in an ad.  The Glaenzer & Cie. ad in Am. Stat., Oct 26, 1912, p.22, says that they deal in “small fancy novelties”, which “are the goods that sell the best”.  “Our line”, it says, “is one essentially composed of High Class Novelties”, and as the image accompanying the ad shows, their line includes such things as quills, so outmoded, now, that they have been demoted to the status of novelties.  Earlier I quoted the article “What Are Specialties?”, which defined specialties as “articles not sold as staples”, and special things “for which there is a limited demand”.  Well, now the quill is not even a specialty.  It’s just a novelty.

George Kovalenko.

. 

 

May 19, 2015

When Did Fountain Pens First Catch On?





[Posted on L&P on May 10, 2013.]
        Rob Astyk wrote, “Obviously fountain pens had been growing in popularity from the 1870s onward, but I’m not sure that they became truly ubiquitous until the years of World War I, 1914 through 1918.  I would suggest that the primary markets for fountain pens remained people of the more well-to-do classes, and those engaged in business activities such as bookkeeping and activities that required a lot of writing.  A large majority of people wrote with penny pencils, or steel dip pens well into the 1920s.  [What] I’m suggesting [is] that it wasn’t until the post-war boom of the 1920s that fountain pens really supplanted wooden pencils and dip pens as the primary writing instruments in the hands of everyone from the farmer on the plains to the office worker in a big city.  On that point I’m fairly confident”.  Well, here are some items that both corroborate and contradict these beliefs.









        The first fountain pens from the 1650s to the early 1800s were all of the Bion type.  But if we are talking about the US in the same time frame, all of the fountain pens in the American colonies were imported from the old country, Britain.  Between the years 1742 and 1768, there were 107 issues of The Pennsylvania Gazette with 131 ads from stationers who were selling fountain pens.  The word “fountain pen” is used 16 times, and the word “fountain pens” is used 115 times, so it was not an uncommon writing instrument even during that time.  It just wasn’t that dependable and popular, yet.  The only thing that put a stop to the flow of merchandise from the old country was the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  The back issues of the Gazette can be searched online at these two websites, Genealogy Bank and Accessible Archives.
​        There were a few patents for innovations in fountain pen technology in Britain in the period from the 1800s to the 1830s, and more fountain pen patents in the US and Britain and other European countries in the period from the 1830s to the 1870s, but the first successful and widely popular fountain pen was the MacKinnon stylograph in 1875.  The pens that finally deposed the stylo from prominence, however, were the Wirt overfeed and the Waterman underfeed pens in the early 1880s.  But within 10 years already there were nostalgic articles being written in The American Stationer about the fountain pen industry as if it were an old hat.
​        An article titled “Cheap Fountain Pens”, Jan 31, 1889, p.255, bemoans the fact that fountain pens were being sold for as little as 15 cents by street pedlars who were demonstrating the pens by “making hen tracks across the paper” with them.  It goes on to quote one of them, “Five or six years ago fountain pens, or stylographic pens as they were called, were quite a novelty, and good prices were asked for them; but since then other inventions have come on the market and the price has come down wonderfully”.  The pens he was selling were made to sell for 25 cents, “but they didn’t ‘take’ well”, so they were being blown out, but “Even at this low price they are a drag on the market, for people have been fooled so often by poor pens that have failed them that they are afraid to invest in one of these”.
    ​    The article “The American Inventor”, May 18, 1893, p.1096, states that, “Of all the countries in the world, none is so prolific in inventions as America....Hence everyone is a potential inventor”.  When asking “when” fountain pens became truly ubiquitous, one must also consider “where”.  The article “Fountain Pens Abroad”, Apr 4, 1889, p.768, states that, “The fountain pen is peculiarly a Yankee invention and is much more generally used here than abroad.  Yet there does not seem to be any plausible reason why it could not be made as popular with the Germans, the English, and the French as it is with us.  Then, again, there are no fountain pens of any consequence manufactured outside the US”.  “The foreign market”, it states, “has been rather demoralized.  This is owing to the fact that so many inferior makes have been worked off upon foreign buyers that the latter are now inclined to distrust anything which operates upon the principle of uniting a penholder and inkwell.  Everyone knows that of all bothersome and annoying articles a cheap fountain pen is the most useless.  But a scientifically and accurately constructed pen becomes one of the most valuable of time savers”.  You can also check out Francis Cashel Brown’s
autobiography.  “The Germans [Europeans] have adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than the Americans....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] it proved the most perfect implement”.  The article “Quill Pens”, Dec 26, 1889, p.1562, states that “there are a great number of people who still cling to the use of quill pens, a fact which might astonish the superficial thinker”, even though “soft nibs…with all the advantages of the quill [but] with none of its inconveniences” were being made in steel and gold.  Even on the stage, the prop pen was still always a quill, especially one heavily feathered in order to telegraph well into the upper balcony, like a semaphore.
    ​    The article “A Fountain Pen Letter”,
Apr 16, 1891, p.802, by penmaker Franklin S. Cooley tells the reader “what little I do know” about the fountain pen trade.  But first, in a jab obviously directed at the greedy Wirt Pen Co. for prosecuting any pen company making an overfeed pen, he opens with, “Some day when you want to know about the man who first invented capillary action and other very interesting matters, to some of us, I will be glad to enlarge on this epistle”.  But he didn’t dare do it in print at the time, and then gets back to answering a query about whether “fountain pens have a very large sale”.  At first he mentions the time “some years ago when the stylographic pen fever was rampant and [the stationers] hadn’t quite recovered....That was the way all over; [but] some with extraordinary constitutions got [over it] and were soon hustling “fountains” just as energetically as they had the “stylos”.  Fortunately the fountain pen proved better than was first anticipated, and the relapse [to the stylo] hasn’t come yet, so that these early men in the field have built up a large trade in the new goods.  Others convalescing from the aforesaid fever have...fallen into line”.  But there were still some who said “they didn’t believe there was a fountain pen made [that was] worth a damn”.  In spite of that, “Fountain pens have come to stay, and any stationery man who doesn’t know it now will shortly.  I am told by one of the men who knows, if anyone does, that they have affected the sale of steel pens and ink [and inkwells] enormously among the larger corporations.  Many of them are now furnishing their counting room force with fountain pens, considering it a saving of steel pens and ink, one concern stating that its saving in these two items is over 50 per cent”.  I wish he had dared to name some names instead trying to conserve propriety.  But at least he doesn’t disparage “the cheap 10-to-50 cent varieties”.  They, he goes on to say, “are  all well enough in their place, and if sold for what they are will conduce to the sale of better goods.  They should fill the same place in the fountain pen line that a primer does among your school-book stock--a stepping stone to something better”.
​        The article “What Are Specialties?”, Mar 17, 1892, p.543, quotes Webster’s dictionary as defining a specialty as “an object of special attention”.  It goes on to refine the definition of specialties as “articles not sold as staples”, “something distinctive”, and “a special thing for which there is a limited demand”.  This article doesn’t say explicitly that fountain pens had ceased to be specialties, but Franklin S. Cooley does say so in the article, “Fountain Pens”, Feb 9, 1893, p.289.  The article is an appraisal by Cooley of fountain pens ten years after the fact of their first major introduction to the market.  “It is conceded that the fountain pen has passed the experimental stage with the manufacturers and has become a ‘staple’ with the dealer and a necessity to a large class of writers.  A few years ago it was almost impossible to buy a fountain pen with any degree of assurance that it would prove to be more than a nuisance; but now that [it has become much more dependable], and its price is so low as to place it within the reach of all, its use is becoming quite general among every class of writers, even in the school room and counting house, while previously it was sold almost exclusively to literary people, lawyers, clergymen, and other professional men....Fountain pens are made so simply nowadays that anyone can understand their ‘modus operandi’; for the days of valves, pistons, and air vents have departed, and the terrors of inky fingers and a ruffed temper need trouble no one”.  I think he was referring to the A. T. Cross patent fountain pens.  Of all the crank pens in the US Patent Office, there is little to surpass the Cross patent fountain pen oddities.
​        Here’s a quick succession of throwaway statements in articles on the pen business in general.  On Oct 26, 1893, p.849, many ministers and men of letters still used the stylograph and declared it to be the best for their use.  However, the writer goes on to say, “The fountain pen is ahead, and its merits have been recognized the world over.  Let it not be forgotten...that the old stylographic pen is far from obsolete, although it must of necessity take a back seat”.  On Jan 10, 1895, p.61, “While fountain pens have to some extent succeeded stylographic pens, [their continued] manufacture by J. W. Ullrich & Co., New York, remains unimpaired....The factory of this firm is run exclusively upon stylographic pens, [and] the demand has been equal to the quantity turned out”.  On Feb 21, 1895, p.342, J. W. Ullrich was quoted as saying that he refused to make imprint pens for small-time “concerns”.  Hardly a week passed in his business that he did not receive an application from some “shyster” to manufacture pens for him because he wished to go into the fountain pen trade, and “others seem to come in to take their places when they fail”.  In a description of the Waterman’s exhibit at the Cotton States International Exposition, Sept 26, 1895, p.550, fountain pens in general are praised in these words.  “A reliable fountain pen is now regarded everywhere by progressive people as the most practical and convenient writing instrument--a grateful relief from the drudgery of ‘dip’ pens and untidy inkstands.”
    ​    An untitled article on Jan 30, 1896, p.199, about H. M. Smith’s retirement from his company quotes him as saying, “The fountain pen trade has been so much cut up that there is very little in it for anybody now, and the business has been revolutionized since when in the early eighties I gave a great deal of effort, as the first man, or among the first, to introducing the Wirt pen to the trade.  While many cheap pens are made today the result will be beneficial, for they are educating the people to the use of better pens, and, in fact, the tendency of the times is toward better, more finished, and more expensive pens.  The prejudice which formerly existed in the minds of the public against the innovation of the fountain pen has been gradually overcome, and now only some bookkeepers, who fear that the pen will [leak and ink drops will] smear their books, refuse to adopt them in their work.  On the other hand, many bookkeepers prefer them to any other.  They have gradually almost completely driven out of business offices the [penholders with] large gold pens.  The manufacture of gold pens has also been much improved.  The most of them are now made by machinery, and they are manufactured so scientifically as to suit any hand and meet any degree of fineness or coarseness, elasticity, or stiffness required.  About the only gold pens which have not been superseded by fountain pens are such as are mounted in pearl holders for ladies, and which are used for gift purposes.  The sales of pens are now pretty much all made in four months--from September 1 to January 1.  Dealers then buy, as a usual thing, enough pens to last them all through the rest of the year.  The remainder of the time is devoted to [collecting unpaid bills]”.  And in a short mention of the Laughlin Pen Co. on Aug 13, 1896, p.242, the writer states that “Fountain pens, as every stationer knows, are coming into more and more general use day by day”.
​        The article titled “Fountain Pens” on Nov 20, 1909, p.13, appraises fountain pens after 25 years of service.  “It is the American habit to take things for granted without realizing their full significance.  Mostly every one carries a fountain pen in his waistcoat pocket [or purse] these days....The fountain pen, like the telephone, the telegraph, the typewriter, and other time-saving devices in business and social activities, is so common, so much a part of every-day life, that one forgets it has a history.  It is as though there were always fountain pens.  Yet on February 12 last the fountain pen completed only twenty-five years of life.  [The author is writing from the Waterman’s point of view presumably, although he should have been counting from Wirt’s 1882 patent.]  The earliest fountain [1882] and stylographic [1875] pens only partly met the requirements....Thus it was not until 1884 that the perfect fountain pen as it is now made and used was put on the market”.  At this point in his praise of Waterman, however, the author could finally, openly, and safely also say that “the most satisfactory feed is based on the principle of capillary attraction”, without the fear of prosecution by Wirt.
​        During the First World War, the article “Fountain Pen Trade Grows On The Continent Of Europe”, July 3, 1915, p.6, says that the demand for fountain pens increased their sales in Europe, but only among the soldiers.  “The demand for fountain pens among the French and English troops engaged in the...war has increased the sales of this article in...French cities”.  And in an article on Nov 20, 1915, p.6, about the Sterling Book Shop, a stationery established in 1848 in Watertown, N.Y., its present owner, who began as a clerk in 1871, relates some of his memories.  The article says, “He remembers when the first fountain pen was introduced”, but it doesn’t relate exactly when that was, whether in the 1870s, with MacKinnon, or the 1880s, with Wirt and Waterman.
​        And lastly, there is an interesting article written during the First World War by Lord Northcliffe, Nov 17, 1917, p.26, “The Greatest Business The World Has Ever Known”.  By that he means the “biggest” business, and no, it’s not fountain pens, nor even steel pens, nor quills.  It’s war!  That’s the biggest business ever known.  He says that WWI was “essentially a business man’s war”.  Yeah, that war and every other war since WWI, and maybe even going back as far as the US Civil War.  The pen is not mightier than the gun, and the only thing that’s ubiquitous in the world is war, not pens.
    ​    But getting back to the original question about when fountain pens generally started to catch on, I think we should trust the appraisal of the pensmith Franklin S. Cooley who, writing at the time, stated that it was about ten years after their first major introduction to the market.

George Kovalenko.

.
 

May 15, 2015

Gilliam’s ‘Ezerite’ and ‘Dubel Servis’


 , pencils and combos and fountain pens.
 




[Posted on L&P on Nov 22, 2012.]
        This is why the mechanical pencil collectors absolutely must start studying fountain pen history, even if they don’t collect them, and also why the fountain pen collectors must start studying mechanical pencil history, even if they don’t collect them.
        In Jon Veley’s blog post about “Gilliam’s” on Nov 11, 2012, on his Leadhead pencils blog, he wrote about some Gilliam’s “Ezerite” and “True-Point” mechanical pencils that he found.  “The barrels on both of these have the same [chasing] pattern.  Although I don’t know who Gilliam is, I do think I know who made these.  Barrel [chasing] patterns on early metal pencils are a lot like fingerprints, and this pattern is very distinctive.”  He shows two pencils, and the chasing pattern on the Gilliam’s “Ezerite” is the same as the pattern on the “Superite” pencil made by De Witt
La France.  Although he can’t get the Gilliam’s apart to see how it works, and the same is true of the De WittLa France pencil, he concludes that the chasing design alone is enough to convince him that De WittLa France made the Gilliam’s pencils.
        Well, let’s look at all of this from the point of view of fountain pens.  There is one Gilliam I know of who is involved with fountain pens and mechanical pencils.  Joseph Maynard Gilliam was the owner of the Dubel Servis Corp., which made the Dubel Servis fountain pen and pencil combo.  He applied for a US patent for his combo on Oct 6, 1923, but it was not issued.  He did, however, receive
UK patent no. 222,868, June 18, 1925.  Also click on “Description” at the left.  He lived in Nashville, Tenn., but from 1925 to 1930 the business address of his Dubel Servis Corp. was 130 West 42nd St., Rm 421, New York, N. Y. Well, De WittLa France’s address in 1925 was also in the same building at 130 West 42nd St.  They also made pens for Carter’s and Rexall, and pencils for Samuel Ward Co., so they also could have made Gilliam’s “Ezerite” to look just like their “Superite” mechanical pencils.  The early Dubel Servis combos were hard rubber, and the later ones were celluloid, and some have been found with the airplane clips made for Gilliam by Schnell, whose address was just down the street at 150 West 42nd St.
        In another post on his blog Jon wrote, “Kinda makes me wonder what rock I’ve been living under that I’d never heard of this one before”.  I think all the pencil geeks have been living under the pencil rock, and the fountain-pen geeks have been living under the fountain-pen rock.  Websites like Jon’s help the fountain-pen geeks to switch rocks for a while, but it’s up to the pencil geeks to find some fountain-pen rocks to switch over to, once in a while.  And it’s about time, since the histories of pens and pencils are very closely entwined, if not the same.

George Kovalenko.

.
 

May 11, 2015

The Century Inkstand


, or the “whale” inkstand.

 



[Posted on L&P in Mar 2, and Mar 14, 2008.]
        This goofy patented inkstand is often referred to by collectors as the whale inkstand because of its
reminiscent shape, but the patent numbers imprinted on the inkwell have been confounding collectors for a long time because by themselves they do not seem to refer to any US patents  You have to know how to preface some of the numbers with the correct letters in order to find them.  I had already finished all the patent research on this inkstand while doing the initial research on my patent book in 2001, so I thought I’d collect all the relevant patent and trademark info, and put it in some sort of order, and write it up to clarify the confusions about this inkstand.
        The inkwell portion is made of hard rubber and rests on a stand made of different materials.  The body of the whale is the reservoir and the tail of the whale is the dipping cone, or funnel, or as the old terminology in the patent specifications refer to it, the “mouth-piece”, thereby sort of standing the whale on its tail.  On one side of the reservoir it is marked “Letters Patent No. 11233, 11234”, and the imprint on the other side shows the name under which it was marketed, “The Century Inkstand”, since it was manufactured by the Century Inkstand Co. of Canton, Ohio.  The inkwell, or the whale’s body, sometimes rests on a caste iron stand, and sometimes on an oak base with brass cradle with pivot points.  When the whale-tail funnel is pushed down it fills with ink, thus allowing the pen to be dipped and filled, and when the funnel is released, the ink drains back into the body of the inkwell.
        The numbers on its side do not refer to US utility patents because that would place them in the range of patent numbers from 1854.  To find out whether those numbers were British patent numbers you would also require the year they were issued.  And Canadian patent numbers that low would place the inkwell in 1880.  I have seen a few different versions of this inkwell over the years.  It is typically found with a wooden base and a brass stand with pivot points.  I have seen a wooden-based one on Ebay three times in the last 5-6 years, but there is also a single one on a caste iron base in the second volume of Veldon Badders’s book Collector’s Guide To Inkwells: Identification & Values, on page 143.  The latter one is from the Dixie Rodkey collection, and it is said to be from ca. 1825, which is plainly wrong because it is made of hard rubber.

        As it turns out, the inkwell doesn’t have just two patent numbers, but rather five, three utility patent numbers and two re-issue numbers, all granted to Edward S. Raff.  The first number, US patent no. 430,194, was issued on June 17, 1890, and was re-issued on Apr 26, 1892 as no. RE11,234.  The second number, US patent no. 445,200, was issued on Jan 27, 1891, and was re-issued on Apr 26, 1892 as no. RE11,233.  So that’s where those two numbers on the side of the well come from.  They’re re-issue numbers, and you’ll need those two prefacing letters in order to find them in the USPTO, Google, and EPO patent databases.  The third number, US patent no.
445,201, was issued on Jan 27, 1891 and seems to be a variation, or an improvement on some aspect of patent no. 430,194.
        There is one more reference to this company in the patent and trademark record.  US trademark no. 51,014 was issued to the Century Inkstand Co. for “Inkstands”.  This trademark for a stylized version of the word “Century” was said to be in use since 1893, but was applied for on Dec 21, 1905, and was issued only as late as Apr 3, 1906.  It seemed like there was a rush to claim trademark rights and to establish precedence around that time.  In fact, it was almost a flurry of activity.
        In American Stationer, July 26, 1894, p.171, there is an article about the Century inkstand that comes from a time when they were just starting to merchandize the inkstand.  An article on June 18, 1896, p.1067 and an ad on
June 11, 1896, p.1001 are for a later version of the Century inkstand, this time with a “special” caste-iron base with a pen rest on the side, and again made single or double.  The double one has two hard rubber ink horns, one black and one red, for two colors of ink.  A double inkstand with black and red hard rubber funnels on a caste iron base was offered by Cowan’s Historic Americana Auctions.  This one was conjectured to be from around 1901 to 1925, but that’s too late.  Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions.
 

George Kovalenko.

.
 

May 07, 2015

Diamond-Pointed Gold Nibs


 



[Posted on L&P on Feb 11 and 24, 2008, and May 15, 2012.]
        The phrase “diamond-pointed gold pens” was quite common in the 1800s, but what does this actually mean, and which brands were diamond-tipped, and how were diamonds attached to the gold?  These questions keep getting asked over and again, periodically every few years, so let me put it to rest here, once and for all.
        I found a brief and succinct answer to this question a few years ago while I was searching through the “Making Of America”
(MOA) website of the Cornell University Library.  It’s from an old issue of Manufacturer and Builder magazine, July 1874, p.164, so it’s neither something that I wrote, nor my interpretation of the facts.  It was written at a time when diamond-pointed nibs were still relatively new.
From what on former occasions we have mentioned, our readers will know that the so-called diamond-pointed gold pens are only called so by reason of the extreme hardness of the points, which far surpass those of steel.  In fact, a steel pen is soon worn out, while a gold pen, [properly used], will last a lifetime; any alloy of gold would be altogether too soft to stand the friction over the paper made by writing; it may be brought to the proper degree of elasticity, but for the points some harder substance is needed.  Unfortunately, small diamonds not being metallic, can not be soldered to the points of a pen….In this case, metallic points were wanted, harder than steel [and] next in hardness to the diamond, and chemical metallurgy provided them in [a natural] alloy of osmium and iridium, incidentally produced from the ore of platinum, and at first [thought to be] useless, until the discovery of its extreme hardness and special fitness for pen points gave it great value.
        So the answer to the question is that ALL brands of gold nibs are diamond-tipped, but NONE of them actually have diamonds on the “soles of their nibs”.  The adjective “diamond-pointed” is just a metaphor.  There are, however, a few closely related exceptions to this rule.  Gerald Sattin’s booklet Writing Implements And Accessories In Gold And Silver c.1680-1880 (1993), and Michael Finley’s book Western Writing Implements In The Age Of The Quill Pen (1990) both show an ad from ca.1825-30 for William P. Doughty’s “Perpetual Ruby Pens” with points that have tiny “rubies set in gold”, and made on the pattern of Bryan Donkin’s 1808 UK patent.  But in the same ad he also offers his “Improved Rhodium Pens”, tipped with another hard, platinum-group metal, and said to be “made on the same principle, and will write nearly as well”.  Actually, it’s the other way round, since the ruby-tipped pens didn’t write all that well, and the rubies kept falling out of the points, and they didn’t catch on, while the osmiridium-tipped gold nibs did catch on.  At about the same time as Doughty’s nibs, there were also Wollaston’s nibs ca. 1822-25.
        Ron Dutcher wrote on the Zoss List that, “A few early pens were tipped with actual diamonds”, but these were not gold nibs.  They were nibs made of tortoiseshell and horn.  Also take a look at Ron’s webpage titled
“Hawkins 1822 Tortoise Pens”.  The article “Invention Of The Gold Pen”, in The American Stationer, June 16, 1887, p.966, states that it was invented by John Hawkins, circa 1823 to 1834.  At first he tried ruby points, then diamond powder, then rhodium tipping, and then finally osmiridium.  The Finlay book also mentions, but shows no illustrations or photos of John Isaac Hawkins’s tortoiseshell and horn nibs that had “small particles of diamond, ruby, or other very hard substances” impressed into their tips while they were made soft with boiling water.  Apparently there were no surviving examples found at the time to be photographed for Finlay’s book, but the British patent survives as evidence.  UK patent no. 4,742 for “Pencil-Holders, Or Porte-Crayons, And Pens” was issued to Hawkins and Sampson Mordan on Dec 20, 1822.  They were produced by Mordan, albeit not very successfully, before Hawkins successfully solved the process of attaching osmiridium to the points of gold pens in 1834, but those few Mordan nibs that were produced with diamonds were probably part of the source of the confusion with the later osmiridium-tipped gold nibs being called diamond-tipped.  The 1822 Hawkins and Mordan patent was typical of the British multi-purpose patents of the day in that it covered a multitude of variations and different types of unrelated inventions, in this case mechanical pencil holders as well as nibs of horn and tortoiseshell.
        Here are three more British patents for nibs made of horn or tortoiseshell, but without any hard tipping material added.  Henry Stephens’s patent no. 7,333 from Mar 28, 1837 was for a method of hardening nibs made of quill, or horn through a heating process.  Henry Peters’s patent no. 1,856 from Aug 10, 1853 was for nibs and penholders made of tortoiseshell.  William Evans & Edward Concanen’s patent no. 2,112 from Aug 23, 1861 was for nibs made from sheets of horn.  There are also six more British patents for nibs made of hard rubber, and even a Charles Goodyear patent in 1853 for an “India-Rubber And Plumbago” mixture used as a “Writing Lead”.
        As for Jean-Benoît Mallat’s nibs, Pierre Haury and Jean-Pierre Lacroux’s book A Passion For Pens says on pp.112-113, “In 1843, after trying ruby tips, the Frenchman Jean-Benoît Mallat initiated the production of gold nibs with iridium points”.  I have references for two French patents received by Mallat for pens with “Inalterable” tips in 1842 and 1843.  The French patent numbers might be 13,940 from Sept 30, 1842, or 15,253 from 1843.  Perhaps someone in France can look those ones up and tell us whether they concern nibs with ruby tips, or just plain, old osmiridium tips.
        The only quotes I have found concerning these early diamond-tipped nibs not writing all that well are from John Foley’s history of the invention of gold nibs and the process of making his gold nibs.  Foley’s book is truly a revelation.  The full title says it all in this Victorian, mile-long fashion, History Of The Invention And Illustrated Process Of Making Foley’s Diamond Pointed Gold Pens With Complete Illustrated Catalogue Of Fine Gold Pens, Gold,-Silver,-Rubber,-Pearl,-and-Ivory Pen & Pencil Cases, Penholders, &c. Patented & Manufactured By John Foley, Broadway, New York.  Just this, and nothing more.  The book is available online on
Archive.org, the Hathi Trust, and Library of Congress.  Some of the images of the nibs are washed out, but I don’t think it’s a problem with the scans, though.  It might be a problem with the original printing of the book.  It’s okay, it only affects a few images at the beginning of the book.  The book is divided into several parts, and the first half is all advertizing for his gold nibs, penholders, pen cases, pencil cases, and store display cases and other materials.  An advertizing circular reproduced near the beginning says in part, “Any invention that will facilitate our labors is highly worthy of notice as well as extensive patronage”.  The best part is the second half with the history of nib making, where he then goes on to prove his point.
        The book was registered with the Library of Congress in 1875, and all of the nibs illustrated in the book are date-stamped for that year.  Foley was one of the few penmakers who proudly stamped the date of manufacture on his nibs.  This was also done for the purposes of his guarantee to his retailers.  He promised his dealers that he would replace all outdated and undamaged nib stock remaining at the end of each year with new stock from the succeeding, new year.  On the last page of the book, there is also a reprint of an undated review of Foley’s book taken from the New York Mail newspaper.  This review also summarizes Foley’s public-spirited work exposing “Boss Tweed” and the rest of the corrupt Tammany Hall bosses.
        For most collectors, the advertizing first half would be enough, but it’s the second half that concerns us here.  At mid-point, after the advertizing first half, there is another title page, a mid-term title page, but this time there are three separate titles, and all three are mile-long again.  One title deals with “Diamond (Iridium) Points”, what they are, and how they are applied.  Another title deals with “Foley’s Diamond Pointed Gold Pens” and how they are made.  But best of all is this title, An Interesting History. Gold Pens: Who Invented Them; When And Where.  And it’s this part of the second half that concerns us here most of all.
        The illustration of the 61 oz. bottle of “Diamond Points” with its ca. 1875 valuation printed beneath it leads off the second half.  It acts as a stand-alone frontispiece illustration, since it’s on the recto, the right-hand side of the open book, and facing a blank page on the verso, the left-hand side, where it should have been.  Why this is so becomes quite clear once you turn the page.  The rest of the second half is equally divided between two concurrently running texts printed on opposite pages of the book, on recto and verso pages facing one another, like some post-modernist, fragmented, interspersed, and deconstructed text before its time.  On the recto is a cross-hatched, engraved illustration and a textual explanation of “the principal operations appertaining to Gold Pen making”, that is, attaching “the ‘Iridium’ which is the celebrated Diamond Point of the Gold Pen”.  Throughout the series of explanations Foley uses the word “pen” for the whole nib, and the word “point” for the iridium tips, and the word “nib”, or “nibs” for the tines straddling the slit, and for that part of the pen only.  And finally, at long last, on the verso is the text that purports to be that Interesting History [of] Gold Pens [and their invention].
        “The Pen is an instrument for writing with a fluid”, it begins, quite obviously.  But it soon gets to the point.  When talking about the gold pen as opposed to the quill, or the steel pen, he says, “Its point is everlasting”.  He runs through the history of how John Isaac Hawkins “hit upon” the “native alloy of Osmium and Iridium”, and how “from this hard substance he succeeded in making the so-called Diamond Point, which is the great characteristic feature of the Gold Pen”.  He talks of Hawkins searching for thirty years for a suitable material for tipping gold nibs.  He even tried cementing diamond powder to the points of quill pens.  This is where Foley says, “But the particles of diamond were by degrees dragged out of the cement by the paper, and thus caused a feeling of roughness while writing”.  And this is what Foley says about gold nibs tipped with ruby and diamond.  “He had, during these years, made many specimens of durable Pens, which, however, on trial proved deficient in some quality or other.  Some of his points were made of rubies set in sockets; but these nibs [tines] were clumsy and could not be wiped clean, and all the elasticity that could be given to the Pens was too far from the point, so that the best of them felt hard in the hand while writing.  This seemed a difficulty not to be overcome”.  David Nishimura posted that he owned a few examples, and could testify from personal experience that what Foley said about the shortcomings of the Doughty ruby-tipped gold nibs tipped was, indeed, a fair description, that is, they were clumsy, lacked smoothness, were difficult to wipe clean, had insufficient flexibility, and felt hard in the hand while writing.
        But after thirty years of “labor and fruitless experiments”, Hawkins finally succeeded.  He tried cutting some iridium particles with diamond dust applied with oil to a copper disc on a high speed lathe, and was satisfied that he could cut and abrade and shape the iridium points.  But the first nib was made of two separate small pieces of iridium soldered to the tip of a silver nib.  It soon lost one of its iridium tips, and was said by Foley to still be in existence somewhere, minus one of its points, but he didn’t say where.  The second nib was made in the same way, but of gold, and was a complete success.  “[It] had all the pleasant elasticity of the quill, and completely realized all his hopes on the subject, satisfying him that he had a Pen for his lifetime, with fair usage.”  He then made his third nib, which he sold on April 26, 1834.  And by the time Foley wrote this story of Hawkins in 1875, it could be said, in the review in the New York Mail, “This little instrument…is now in universal use”.  And as Foley himself writes, “The use of the Gold Pen in America is almost universal, for the reason that it is…the best and most perfect writing instrument….The noble goose quill has been superseded successfully by the superior Gold Pen”.
        There are also some ads and articles between 1845 and 1848 in The Scientific American, which can be found in
Hathi Trust and MOA, that refer to these nibs as both diamond-pointed and ever-pointed.  Most of these ads and articles are for “A. G. Bagley’s Celebrated Improved Ever-Pointed Gold Pen”, but Joseph Hayden’s gold nibs were also called “diamond-pointed”.   The article titled “Gold Pens”, on Nov 20, 1847, p.67, uses the dismissive phrase “the manufacture of such a trifling article as pens”.
    In an interesting side issue, the earliest patents for mechanical pencils, or “pencil cases”, as they were referred to at the time, also described them as “ever-pointed”.  In both the US patents between 1829 and 1846, and the UK patents between 1844 and 1850, “ever-pointed” is the descriptive adjective of choice for pencil cases.  It looks like the adjective “ever-pointed” originated in pencil cases and was borrowed and adopted and moved over to describe the points of gold nibs.
        Stan Klemanowicz of Ryojusen-pens.com posted, “I happen to have a 1950s Nagaoka Hooseki Japanese fountain pen with a Sapphire nib”.  Some pics of Stan’s sapphire-tipped fountain pen were posted by Ricky Chau in this
thread on FPN.  There are two pics in the post, but there are more in his Flickr photo stream.  Here is one of the other pics of Stan’s sapphire-tipped nib.  I think the pen is a bit of an anomaly, and an exception to the rule.  It might be the only model with a nib with this type of tipping.  The nib is actually imprinted with the word “Sapphire”.  The only other time I have seen sapphire, or ruby used as a tipping material in the 1900s was in the Rollekuli ballpoint by Rotring, like a watch jewel.
        David Moak posted that an article about A. K. Watts of Mabie, Todd & Co. stated that he had a sapphire tipped pen, though not a Mabie Todd.  He also said that the New Diamond Point Pen Co. was apparently sued by a woman because her Diamond Point pen did not have a diamond point.  The New Diamond Point Pen Company story was from the last owner of the company whose memoir was published in
The Pennant in five installments between 2007 and 2009.
        There’s an article in Am. Stat., Apr 3, 1909, p.13, with a picture of a bottle of iridium used by Waterman’s for tipping nibs in their nibmaking department.  It’s called “pure iridium” in the article, but pure iridium almost never exists in nature.  What is called, or known as iridium is found as a natural alloy with osmium called osmiridium, or iridosmine.  The cut of a Waterman’s nib blank that was said to be “accompanying” the article was left out inadvertently, or for lack of space, probably bumped by an ad.

George Kovalenko.

.