January 28, 2016

“An orange-colored waterman’s” in 1887?

Am. Stat., May 22, 1915, p.30.  Wow, look at all that Waterman’s ephemera! 
The only thing that seems to be missing is the Waterman’s globe ink bottle.

[Posted on L&P on Dec 17, 2011.]
        This is not specifically about The American Stationer, but rather a parting shot at all Google Books word searches in general, which can sometimes be quite frustrating and disappointing.  In one recent word search, I stumbled upon the promising phrase “an orange-colored waterman’s” in an 1887 issue of Century magazine.  You can imagine how my heart leapt at the prospect of a RHR Waterman’s pen in 1887, well before they should have existed, but my hopes were quickly dashed when it turned out to be something quite different.  The giveaway clue is the lowercase “w”, which is deliberate and not a typo.  The text was actually about a prize won by the Thames watermen, or rowers in a boat race on the river Thames.  They were competing for the prize of 
“an orange-colored waterman’s coat and a silver medal”.
        The Am. Stat. ads in this blog are just a few drops of water on the tip of an ice cube on the top of the iceberg of all the ads in Am. Stat.  There are many more ads for wooden pencils, mechanical pencils, steel nibs, gold nibs, Conklins, Mabie Todds, Swans, Wirts, Parkers, Onotos, and the pens of countlessly many other obscure pen companies that I haven’t included here.  If you like photos of stationery store interiors and window displays, like the one above, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of them.  And how about articles about the industry?  Well, how many do you want, and from what era?  So go out there and find
        In a letter to Am. Stat. published on Feb 4, 1922, p.20, a stationer from upstate N. Y. wrote that he had been subscribing to the magazine since 1883, and that he had a complete set of back issues for 38½ years.  That’s analogue, not digital.  Those hardcopy volumes would be priceless to a pen researcher, or historian today.  As I read through all the volumes of the magazine, I saved copies of ad pages & articles.  I have about ten binders with around 2500 reproductions of pages.  But it’s not the same as having the real thing.

George Kovalenko.


January 25, 2016

History, and Waterman’s Ads

  , not quite the same thing.

        Here’s the difference between history and advertizing.  Waterman’s had already been making use of the war in its ads during WWI, but the end of the war offered them a unique opportunity.  The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, and in anticipation of the great event, the Waterman’s advertizing department devised a scheme whereby they would beat everyone else to a photo of the signing, or at least the next best thing, a faked illustration of the signing.  The admen created a painting that was rendered as smaller lithographic prints, but also as a billboard-sized, 24-sheet poster.  Here’s the relevant portion of the full official painting of the occasion by William Orpen, “The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles 1919”, which they were trying to anticipate.  Please note that the only writing instruments you can see are the inkwells placed in front of each delegate, and presumably penholders lying flat on the table and out of view.  And the only person who is writing is the German delegate who is caught in the act of signing the treaty, and is shown with his head bowed and his back to the viewer, just a suit and a hairdo, watched over by a fawning, servile, hunch-backed attaché peering over the German delegate’s shoulder and looking very much like a valet.
        Waterman’s had at least once before offered a billboard-sized, 24-sheet poster.  An article in The American Stationer,
Nov 30, 1918, p.21, informed the stationers-readers that they were distributing a 20" x 9" map that illustrated “the war Zone in Europe”.  The map poster offered them one more chance to feature the war in their ads, even though the war was over, but this treaty poster afforded them one last chance to “exploit the historic news” of the war in their ads.  To Waterman’s, it wasn’t the signing that was the news, but rather “This poster was the news”.
        First of all, here’s the American perspective.  The poster was first used in their cover ad in Am. Stat.,
June 28, 1919, p.1, and in an internal ad in Printers’ Ink, Aug 14, 1919, p.13.  The long article in Am. Stat., July 5, 1919, p.30, crows about how they perpetrated their “scoop”, and an even longer illustrated article in Printers’ Ink, July 10, 1919, p.25, lays out “the story of how it was achieved” and the “elaborate preparations” that were required, so that the billposters did not hang the posters until the moment after they heard that the treaty was signed.  You can read all about their self-congratulations in those two articles.
        Now, here’s the Canadian perspective.  The poster was said to “faithfully depict the signing of the treaty…with historic accuracy”, but by their own admission “Uncle Sam is depicted in the act of passing a Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen to John Bull”, characters that are not exactly “historic” personages who attended the signing.  Their excuse was that they didn’t get written permission in time for the use of the likenesses of Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson.  Now, this may not have been noticed much in the US, but great exception was taken to it in Canada.
        The long article in Printers’ Ink relates a story of two English officers in Canada seeing billposters putting up one of the treaty posters in Montreal, and “It was their first inkling that peace was an established fact.  The poster had beat the newspapers to it”.  And then the author of the article, S. C. Lambert, went on to say, “The officers wrote in to Waterman, commending the enterprise of this advertising stunt”.  He also quoted F. D. Waterman as saying, “The poster has made us many, many new friends”.  Not just “many”, but “many, many”.

        That was the reception in the US, but a letter was written in ironic seriousness to a Canadian newspaper, and was forwarded to the Waterman Co., who sent it to Am. Stat., July 12, 1919, p.15, although the issue was not who was in the poster, but rather who was handing the pen to whom.  But the Am. Stat. editors treated it lightly and as a curiosity and an object of ridicule.
    Just Fawncy!
      To The Editor, Montreal Daily Star:
      Sir:—Oh, I say, is there nothing to stop the indecent haste of the blooming Yankees?
      Just Fawncy.  Within an hour of the signing of peace, blow me, if there aren't bill board posters and painted pictures, and what is more, lithographs up and out showing the scene, and blawst my eyes, Uncle Sam handing John Bull a blooming Yankee pen, as if to say, “Sign here, old top”.
      Algernon Furgueson.
      The above item was sent to the L. E. Waterman Company by Robert L. Griffith, commercial stationer of Montreal, and applied to the Waterman Company’s peace posters, which “Algernon” had no doubt observed in Montreal.
        But the editors of Printers’ Ink, July 24, 1919, p.146, took the issue a little more seriously, since advertising was their stock in trade.  They printed another more perceptive Canadian letter.
    Keep Uncle Sam Out of Canadian Advertising,
      A Tip Direct From [the Canadas].
       By R. M. Rhodes
      The Waterman poster coup in connection with the Peace Conference, as described in the July 10th issue of Printers’ Ink, has attracted wide interest, and the writer has heard many expressions of admiration for the enterprise of the Waterman company in putting over such a “news beat”.
      Like nearly every other campaign of its nature, it has developed one important lesson for advertising men.  The writer happened to be calling on an advertising agency friend a few days ago, a man who had expressed great admiration for the Waterman campaign, and the agency man handed out a letter.
      “This”, he said, “is a letter to us from the live-wire manager of the Canadian branch of one of our clients.  This man is trying to help us to do more effective Canadian advertising for his house, and he makes a point of writing us whenever he sees any Canadian advertising of American firms which he thinks either particularly good, or particularly unfortunate, from a Dominion standpoint”.
      The letter is such an excellent lesson in Canadian advertising that permission was obtained to print it, not as in any sense a criticism of this particular poster campaign, but as another reminder to the advertising men of the United States as to what to look for in advertising to the folks up above us on the map.  The letter follows:
      “The Waterman Fountain Pen people are making a special advertising campaign to duly emphasize on the minds of everyone the fact that a Waterman’s Fountain Pen was used to sign the Peace Treaty.
      “The one advertisement which they are widely using in Canada is we presume the same advertisement that is being used in the States.  It is a picture of Uncle Sam standing in the middle of a group around the Conference table, around which are gathered the representatives of the other countries.  He is about to hand a Waterman's Fountain Pen to John Bull, with a request to sign.
      “These pictures are about 12 ft. long and about 6 ft. high and they seem to thoroughly cover all the billboards, at least in Montreal City and vicinity.  The picture is in colors and very striking and in itself, of course, is an impressive advertisement, but if you could realize the effect this advertisement has had on the disposition of the people here, you would be surprised.
      “The unfavorable comments heard at every hand regarding this advertisement are a very interesting study in themselves, particularly to an advertising man.  We should hardly be surprised if there was a demand made on the Waterman people that they discontinue and tear down these advertisements.  The objection to them is that the statesman in the centre group should certainly not be Uncle Sam.  If the Waterman people had for their Canadian advertisement put John Bull in the centre, handing the fountain pen to the other statesmen, they would have had the same effective advertisement in Canada that they probably have in the States with Uncle Sam in the centre of the group.
      “Now, a small point like this in the United States would never be noticed, but in Canada this is not a small point in the minds of the people.  It is a very important principle and one that is not ignored.
      “The advertisement as it stands doubly emphasizes the fact before the minds of everyone that the Waterman company is probably a straight American firm and not ‘living’ in Canada, but rather ‘trading’ here.
      “This advertisement has aroused so much antagonism and it is such a study of Canadian thought along this line that we feel it will certainly be interesting and possibly instructive to you.

        The ad line below the poster reads, “Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen signed the Treaty that Ended the War”.  In order to try to ensure this claim, Waterman’s gave every delegate a pen designed for the occasion, with “gold plates for engraving”.  They claimed that “many of these dignitaries agreed to use the pens that were given them”.  They even claimed to have received a cablegram from an unidentified source “verifying the fact that Lloyd George did [in fact] sign the peace document with a Waterman’s pen”, but not necessarily the presentation pen.  A “report” was to be prepared “giving the names of all who did so”, and “This information will be on file in the Company’s main office, in case there are skeptics”.  Uh, that would be me, since probably not 
a single Waterman’s pen was used to sign the treaty.  More likely, they were left as mint, unused souvenirs, kept in their original boxes and wrappings in safety deposit boxes in banks, the original limited edition.  Even more likely, the officials were not allowed to keep these unofficial presents, or gratuities, and the pens ended up in the archives of their respective countries.  And alas, the treaty was probably signed with penholders using the inkwells depicted in the painting.

George Kovalenko.


January 22, 2016

Wirt v. Rivals court cases

  , and the testimony of L. E. Waterman.


       There’s nothing new under the sun.  Just as Ed Fingerman’s “The Trials and Tribulations of Arthur A. Waterman”, in The Pennant, Spring-Summer 1995, pp.1-3, dealt with the court cases between A. A. Waterman and L. E. Waterman before I did on L&P, and then again, here in this blog, so, too, were the court cases between Wirt and his self-perceived rivals.
       There are other court case transcripts floating around, such as the one above for the case of “Wirt v. Francis C. Brown”.  But I recently received a copy of a transcript of the court case “Wirt  

v. Lapham & Bogart”, the makers of the “Rival” fountain pen.  It’s an important case, not just for what it reveals about Wirt and his rivals, but even more importantly, it contains the testimony of L. E. Waterman just five years after he started his own company.  I was considering dissecting the case, but then I realized that it had already been done before, and not just once, but twice before, first by Michael Fultz in his “Lewis Edson Waterman, In His Own Words” on Penbid, [dead link] Nov 28, 2000, then by David Nishimura in “Lewis Edson Waterman Chronology” in his Vintage Pens blog on Mar 15, 2014, and both of them dealt with Waterman’s testimony almost exclusively.
       But given a choice, I would much rather see the transcript of the testimony of F. C. Brown!

George Kovalenko.


January 19, 2016

The Poppy Pen

  , or Clover Leaf, a mystery almost solved.


[Posted on Zoss & Pentrace Nov 1, 2004, and FPN on Feb 28, Mar 9, 2005, and Nov 30, 2011.]
        Can anyone from the UK identify this pen?  It’s a BCHR pen about the size of a Waterman’s #56, although the cap does not interchange with a #56 cap.  The #56 is a hair larger in diameter, but this pen is almost a 1/4” longer when capped.  It has a Warranted #4 nib, but it’s not just any old ordinary Warranted nib because it’s also imprinted with what looks like a hallmark, a symbol that consists of a capital letter “P” within a pentagon-shaped shield.  I’m pretty sure the nib is original.  The pen was found in the “wild”, and the nib doesn’t appear to have ever been disturbed from its original seating, nor has it ever been dipped.  There isn’t a trace of ink on it.  The only clues that give it away as a British pen are the 14Ct mark on the nib and this hallmark.  There is no imprint on the barrel, but the lever box looks a lot like a Waterman’s lever box, and there is a symbol that looks like either a four-petaled Poppy, or a four-leafed Clover, on the lever where the Waterman’s Ideal Globe normally would be, but I’m calling it the “Poppy” pen because of the letter “P” maker’s mark.  The same Poppy symbol appears on the clip, which again looks like a Waterman’s rivet-clip, and it also has the words “Cap-Clip” on it, but with the order of the words reversed compared to what you’d expect to find on the Waterman’s “Clip-Cap”.  The cap has a lip band, so that probably places it in the mid-1920s, or a little after, and it still has its price sticker with a “Medium” nib designation.  All in all, it’s a very well-made pen that’s doing its best to mimic a BCHR Waterman’s #56 pen.  It’s a Waterman’s equivalent of a no-name Parker Duofold look-alike pen.
        I once found a British-made RHR Duofold knockoff that was a perfect replica of the Parker pen, right down to the exact dimensions and the pitch of the thread.  The name on the barrel and the clip was “Capacity”, written in a script similar to the “Duofold” logo in the print ads.  The parts from this pen were completely interchangeable with those from a real Duofold, and they could be swapped back and forth without fear of damage.  Unbelievable nerve, and shameless audacity!
        It was suggested that the pen may have been made for some other secondary company as an own brand, or imprint pen, possibly by Burnham, or De La Rue, or even Waterman’s.  Does someone have access to an encyclopedia of British hallmarks?  Perhaps someone in the UK could do me a favor and look up the mark on the nib.  This specific punch mark is actually a maker’s, or sponsor’s mark, rather than an assay office mark, or a date mark.  The maker’s mark might give us the name of the penmaker, or it might only be the name of the Warranted nib maker.  The “Poppy” pen company was probably very short-lived and may not have out-lasted the life of this particular model.  Until something else turns up, the mystery continues.

[Between July and Nov 2011, I corresponded by email with two British fountain pen historians, Andy Russell and Steve Hull.]
        “Since I posted the above, I also found another pen with a poppy, or four-leaf clover on it’s lever and 14CT on its nib.  This one is only 4 inches capped, and it’s in terrible condition.  It’s a tiny, black-tipped, Mandarin-yellow casein, Duofold-look-alike pen with the name
“Lilliput” in script imprinted on its barrel.”

        Andy Russell wrote, “I should first of all say that four leaf clovers and three leaf clovers, or propellors, seem to be very common on some of the more obscure UK brands.  I can’t say whether these were common to a single own brand manufacturer, or whether a number of manufacturers just sourced their levers from the same place.  I can say with certainty that Conway Stewart never used clover leaf levers on any of their pens, but I can see how someone would be confused.  There was a theory for many years that Conway Stewart made Rosemary pens for British Carbon Papers.  A number of these small Rosemary pens fitted with a clover leaf levers were virtually identical to the Dinkie of the period, and this just led people to assume they were made by Conway Stewart.  However, Steve and I are both completely convinced that Rosemary pens of this era were not made by CS but by a company called Henry Stark, Son & Hamilton, who shared the same London address as BCP.  So while there is a clear link of cloverleaf levers to Henry Stark Son & Hamilton, they may be only one of a possible number of candidates.  What I have never seen before is a clover-leaf lever in a lever box, nor have I seen anything with the P symbol on the nib as you describe, so we'll have to talk to Steve about that.
        “Regarding the little yellow pen, Steve has the Lilliput as a model by Unique, from the mid 1920s.  They certainly used a 3-leaf lever on some of their small pens, not sure about the 4-leaf though.  If the yellow material is casein, I think Unique is a very likely candidate, though again they may not actually have made it themselves.  It seems they didn’t start manufacturing their own pens until ca. 1927.  I seem to remember Steve had an article in the WES Journal about Unique not too long ago?  Plain yellow casein seems to be very, very rare in Conway Stewart.  In fact, I’ve probably got the only one!  But I’ve seen a few Duchess pens, another Curzons-Lang brand, in plain yellow casein, so the material was certainly around in England in the mid 1920s.  As for the P-pentagon symbol, it
s really a maker’s mark, or trademark, not a hallmark.”

        And I wrote, “There was a similar pen sold on Ebay in 2011 that was discussed in this
topic on FPN, but the brand name was “Sunbeam”, a company brand and maker not listed in Steve Hull’s English Fountain Pen Industry book.”

        Steve Hull wrote, “The Waterman’s look-alike is unusual, though it is not uncommon to find similar box-lever, rivet-clip pens here.  I think it will be pretty hard to identify who may have made it.  As for the Sunbeam, it is almost definitely not made by the North British Pen Co.”

        And Andy wrote, “I was one of the unlucky under bidders on the
Sunbeam pen.  [The Ebay auction link in the FPN topic, minus the pics, is still active!]  In fact, it will be of interest to you because it has some similarities with your mystery Waterman’s look-alike pen, the same ‘cap-clip’, same boxed lever, and I think the same section shape.  You can also clearly make out the logo on the cap in the auction pictures.  I agree with Steve that there is virtually no chance of the North British Pen Co. being the makers.  It was most likely made for them by others, possibly Curzons-Lang, but I think more likely it would be one of the London competitors of Curzons, such as Henry Stark Son & Hamilton, ‘muscling in’ on Curzons’s own patch.
        “I have done a bit of research and have a theory, but first it is worth setting out a bit of background.  It is not that surprising that the maker doesn’t appear in Steve’s book, as it only contains makers, or names that appeared in the national stationery trade press, and there must have been many smaller makers who did not merit a mention in these journals, so they remain largely unknown.
        “One thing to consider is the name.  ‘North British’ in the last century, and earlier, tended to imply a Scottish company, though the pen barrel stated the company was based in Liverpool, so this was one slight anomaly.  Small companies often marketed pens that were actually made by other companies, while claiming in advertising that they were ‘the actual manufacturers of these pens’, but it is unusual to see a company name implying a manufacturer like this impressed on the barrel.  If they brought the pen in, where was it actually made?  Curzons-Lang in Liverpool would be a likely choice, though any one of a number of companies, such as London-based Henry Stark, Son & Hamilton, could have produced the same pen.  Would Curzons-Lang produce for a small local company apparently setting up in competition with them?  There may be a clue in that they were one of the first UK companies to advertise pens with boxed levers, in 1921, as revealed in Steve’s book, and this Sunbeam pen with a boxed lever that probably dates to the first half of the 1920s.  And why the name Sunbeam?  I’m not sure Sunbeam is a name readily linked to a rather grimy industrial Liverpool in the 1920s!  None of this is conclusive evidence of an actual manufacturer, be it the North British Pen company or one of the more established manufacturers of pens for other companies to retail.  You’ll notice here that I’m trying to avoid use of the term ‘own brand manufacturer’, which has produced tedious and seemingly endless disagreements elsewhere on the message boards!  In the early part of last century in England, if you wanted to set up a business to ultimately manufacture pens, but didn’t have too much capital, or pen making expertise, a ‘marketing-led’ operation, you would buy pens in from an own-name seller and make sure you identified yourself as the ‘actual manufacturer’ of these pens, legislation then being not what it is today!  However, if you wanted to set yourself up in this way as a pen manufacturer in Liverpool, I’m not convinced you would have gone to your local competitor to get these pens made, which is why my preference was for a London maker. 
        “So we are looking for a theory that fits all these facts.  Here are my thoughts, though I stress this is no more than educated speculation, I have no proof of any of this.
        “There was a long established rubber goods company based in Edinburgh called the North British Rubber Co., which made all sorts of rubber goods including small machined vulcanite jewellery, boxes and trinkets.  Vulcanite was a cheaper substitute for the naturally occurring Whitby Jet in a number of these products.  The company was probably most famous for supplying Hunter boots, the Wellingtons of choice for the country set for many years, and they were later to become part of the Uniroyal group.  If you Google the name, you’ll find plenty of information online.  Maybe, fearing the rise of bakelite as competition to vulcanite in the manufacture of many of their small items, they looked to use their expertise in machining vulcanite to move into the pen manufacturing business, in the same way as the Silvertown operation started in London some ten years or more earlier, and in doing so, they hooked up with some Curzons-Lang employees who wanted to set up in business for themselves.  This would have been logical as Liverpool would have been the most northerly of the established pen manufacturing centres at the time, and North British Rubber had warehousing in nearby Manchester.  North British Rubber would have supplied the vulcanite parts, ready machined, while the former Curzons employees would have used their contacts to purchase off the shelf metal parts such as nibs, clips, lever boxes, etc., either from Curzons themselves, or from the companies that supplied these parts to Curzons.  No large investment in machinery would have been required and the pens could have been assembled from these parts at home with just a few tools.  Intriguingly, George pointed out to me that there is a street in the West Derby area of Liverpool called Sunbeam Road.  Could this have been the origin of the name?  On checking the 1911 census, this was a fully residential street, so no pen factory there, and unfortunately there are no likely candidates in the list of residents for the venture in the 1921 census.
        “All this would explain the rather unlikely sounding ‘North British’ name, why the business was set up in Liverpool, why there were similarities with other pens made by Curzons-Lang, and even, possibly, the Sunbeam name, although Steve thinks that it is probably made by Curzons-

Lang.  The lack of any mention in the national stationery trade journals and the rarity of pens marked in this way would indicate that the venture was rather short-lived.  Anyone who fancies spending a few days in the Liverpool library with the local trade directories and other sources would probably be able to dig out some more clues to the company’s origins but meanwhile, it has been fun thinking about it, and I’m still sorry I didn’t win the pen!

        And I wrote, “Thanks for sending the reference to the Sunbeam pen Ebay auction pictures.  In fact, the Sunbeam pen is almost exactly like my “Poppy” pen.  It’s even the same length.  The only difference is that mine has a cap band, thus placing it after 1923.  I tend to agree with Steve that it is probably made by Curzons-Lang.  Here’s a picture of a Curzon’s Summit
S60 I found on Paul M.’s Summit website.  There’s an interesting note on p. 53 of Steve’s book that says that Curzons-
Lang advertized box-lever-fillers in 1921, and that places it just before the cap-band era.  Did Stark Son & Hamilton ever make a box-lever pen?”

        Andy wrote, “I don’t think the lever box is an issue, it was used by a number of makers in the mid 1920s, even on rare occasions by Conway Stewart, for whom it was completely atypical.  However, I suspect the real origin of the Sunbeam pen is one of those issues that will likely remain unsolved, and Curzons, or Henry Stark are only two of a number of companies that could have been responsible.  I have to say that Steve’s reference to the box lever advertised in 1921 may be an extra tick in the Curzons box, though.
        “Steve also pointed out that ‘North British’ is a very strange way to refer to North West England, where Liverpool is situated, and the name sounds much more like a reference to Scotland.  If I had the time, I’m sure I could turn up more information about the company but time, of course, is the problem.
        “I was finishing off an article for the WES Journal when I looked more closely at one of the advertisements I was using, one that is also pictured on p. 178 of Steve’s book.  If you look at the central pen in that advertisement, you’ll see it looks identical to the Sunbeam pen, except that this is clipless, [and has a lever box with a poppy on
its lever!] and is by extension, from the same stable as your Poppy pen.  Despite the claim in the advertisement that the Southport Maxim Pencil Co. Ltd. were the actual manufacturers, it looks virtually certain that the central pen in the advert was bought in and I would say that makes it more likely that Curzons-Lang were the manufacturers of all three of these pens.”

        And I wrote, “That ad on p. 178 of Steve’s book is a nice find.  The pen has a Waterman’s-type lever box, and a poppy on its lever.  And you’re right, it’s in the same family as the Sunbeam pen and my nameless pen that I call the “Poppy” pen.  As for the Waterman’s rivet clip, US patent no.
955,517 shows that Waterman’s wasn’t the only one to have one, except that here the rivets worked from the inside of the cap.  Also notice the title in the patent specifications, “Clip-Cap”!

George Kovalenko.


January 16, 2016

Livermore in Providence

  , and exposition medals received by penmakers.

This picture shows a reconstruction of the intersection where Livermore’s old building stood.
The building on the left was where Livermore’s business was located, 44 Arnold St., corner of Brook St., and
the building on the right was a school, now both gone.  And this was what it looked like on Google Street View in June 2011,
just a block-or-so away from The French-American School of Rhode Island.

[Posted on L&P on June 9, 10, July 13, 2012, and Jan 12, Feb 22, 2013.]
       David Nishimura wrote, “Although Livermore was a tangential player in the conflict discussed in the topic about
MacKinnon and Cross, I’ve taken an interest in his operations after belatedly realizing that his Providence factory stood very close to home–across the street, in fact, from the park where my daughters go during school recesses when the weather is good.  That building was still standing up until at least the 1950s; I hope to find out more next week.  What I’ve found so far, I’ve posted on my blog.  I’ve also posted a picture of the 1879 Medal of Excellence awarded to Livermore by the American Institute.  Oddly enough, I don’t recall seeing it specifically mentioned in Livermore ads, though most every other penmaker prominently trumpeted any medals won.”

       And I wrote, “Thanks for the link to the article on your blog.  It was also nice to see the picture of the 1879 Medal of Excellence from the American Institute.  Here’s the reason you haven’t seen it specifically mentioned in Livermore ads.  It’s almost the same medal that MacKinnon received, except his was the gold medal, and it was inscribed “Medal of Superiority” instead of “Medal of Excellence”.  MacKinnon started featuring his medal in ads in Am. Stat. on Mar 11, 1880, p.5, and continued using it in his ads throughout 1880 and into 1881.  It’s pictured in the ad that I used as the illustration in the above-mentioned
topic.  Livermore received his patents in July 1879 and March 1880, and didn’t start advertizing in Am. Stat. until an article on May 20, 1880, p.6, and an ad on p.9.  Livermore’s and MacKinnon’s ads appeared on the same page, one above the other, starting on July 8, 1880, p.3, and throughout the rest of July and August.  On Sept 2, 1880, p.18, and thereafter MacKinnon’s ads appeared on the same page as an ad for Caw’s ink, and they featured the ad line, “The only pen in the world with a complete circle of solid iridium around the point”.  Not even one Livermore ad in Am. Stat. featured his medal for the reason that he probably didn’t want to advertise his bronze medal on the same page as and in comparison with MacKinnon’s gold medal.  Since Livermore’s pen had a softer tip of platinum alloy, he also didn’t want to draw attention to being third best.  Now, I wonder who got the silver medal?
       “I haven’t been able to find an ad that shows your 1879 medal, but I have found some Livermore ads from 1886 that show their “Grand Prize” medal from the 1885 “International Inventions Exhibition” in London.  By that time, they were probably using iridium tips.  And I wonder who got the silver medal?  There are three ads in Am. Stat. that show this 1885 medal, May 13, 20 and 27, 1886, pp.567, 597, and 629.  There might be some more ads in June, and in the next volume for the second half of the year, but both of those pieces of the puzzle are missing from Google Books.

        “Here’s a short list of the medals won by various penmakers, from articles & ads in Am. Stat.
MacKinnon’s medal, Mar 11, 1880, p.5.
Fairchild’s medals, Mar 25, 1880, p.24.
Fairchild’s medals, Oct 27, 1881, p.623.
Fairchild’s medals, Sept 6, 1883, p.367.
Livermore’s medal in David’s blog, 1879.
Livermore’s London medal, Oct 8, 1885, p.447.
Livermore’s London medal, pic, May 13, 1886, p.567.
Six medals won by the L. E. Waterman Co., Nov 4, 1897, p.750.
And best of all, the Chicago 1893 medal in a full-page ad, in color, Jan 31, 1895, p.215.
       “In an article on Oct 26, 1893, p.848, about the failings of the Chicago Columbian Exposition, the writer says that the expo’s management was very faulty because most of the exhibition spaces and medals were unfairly allotted to Chicago-based companies, and consequently “the awards will not be of much value as a rule”.  The writer goes on to ask the question, “Are such International Expositions beneficial, in a broad sense?”, since “Steam, electricity, and education are making the whole world a common Fair”.  He could just as easily have been describing the Internet.
       “An article on Nov 7, 1914, p.22, shows a picture of the parade float for which L. E. Waterman Co. won 4th prize in the Commercial Tercentenary Celebration of New York City.  They were 4th out of 800 entries.  The float is shaped like an artillery piece, and a 15-20-foot-long fountain pen stands in place of the barrel.  In this version, the pen is a sword, or rather a cannon barrel.  And the article on Nov 28, 1914, p.13, shows a picture of both sides of the
medal awarded to the L. E. Waterman Co. as 4th prize.”

George Kovalenko.


January 13, 2016

Waterman’s Smallest Pens

  , the “Secretary”, “Check Book”, “Baby”, and “Doll” pens.

[Posted on L&P on May 18, 2012.]
        Here are four small Waterman’s pens, and one of them is even tiny.  The first one is the largest, the “Secretary” pen, shown in the ad in The American Stationer, June 27, 1908, p.1.  It’s said to be “adapted particularly as a dainty fountain pen for library and writing desk purposes”, but it’s really just the model #12½.  Later, there was a much-longer, slender pen that was called the “Stenographer’s”, or “Shorthand” pen.
        The next two, the “Check Book” and “Baby” pens, appeared together in the following ad.  The “Check Book” pen was intended “to fill a long-felt want” as “a vest pocket or purse pen”.  When I first saw the “Baby” pen, I thought it was what pen collectors call the “Doll” pen, but it’s much too big to be that pen.  In the Waterman’s ad in Am. Stat., Mar 27, 1909, p.43, both pens are said to be 3½ inches long, and the “Baby” is said to be, “The smallest made”.  Since both the “Check Book” pen and the “Baby” pen are 3½ inches long, they are for all intents and purposes the same pen, except for the flared top on the cap of the “Check Book” pen, and perhaps the barrel of the “Baby” was slightly narrower.  I wonder whether any “Baby” pens have survived still mounted on their celluloid display cards shown in the ad in Am. Stat., Jan 11, 1908, p.1.
        And here’s the so-called “Doll” pen from the article in Am. Stat., June 25, 1910, p.16.  It was given that name by pen collectors, but here in this article it is given its correct, official name, the model number given to it by Waterman’s.  It was called the “No. 000” pen, or the model #000.  Now, how does that fit into the Waterman’s numbering scheme?

         David Nishimura wrote that, “The No. 000 pen was more commonly called in Waterman literature the ‘World’s Smallest’, but was never called the ‘Doll’s Pen’.  Reportedly, one of these found a place in Queen Mary’s doll house, so perhaps that was how collectors began calling it by that name.  The ‘Baby’ appears in the US Waterman catalogs of 1908 and 1914, but not those of 1902 or 1918.  The 1902 catalog does show the #32, however, which may be the same pen.  In the 1908 catalog only the long straight-cap pens appear, the ‘Baby’ being the only exception.”

George Kovalenko.


January 10, 2016

Early pen collectors

[Mentioned on L&P on May 12, 2012, and by David Nishimura in his blog on Jan 27, 2014.]
        “If it should ever become a fad to collect pens, what a collection could be made from ancient and modern writing instruments.”  So, prophetically, begins The American Stationer article on Sept 24, 1896, p.517.  By “pen” the writer doesn’t mean just fountain pens.  He lists all of these as possible candidates for collecting,
brush, stylus, reed pen, quill, and steel pen, but he also includes the more recent stylographic pen as progenitor and predecessor to the fountain pen.  “What a wide field the collector would have to investigate!”  By the way, the article also shows a pen for the presidential fountain pen collectors.
        The article is both prophetic and unknowing, because the author is unaware of the Am. Stat. article from Aug 13, 1896, p.248, which states that already in 1896 there was at least one known collector of nibs.  “There are pens and pens”, it says, and then states that, “A British manufacturer has collected 1,608 styles, and he declares that most ailments in penmanship can be cured by certain pens”.
       But here’s an earlier collector still, and in Denver, of all places. This intriguing, one-paragraph article appeared in the Scientific American,
July 7, 1888, p.5, where it was indexed under the category “A collector of pens”.  Too bad that no specific pen companies are named.

Queer Fancy Of A Collector

      A man in Denver, Colorado, named Lyon, is said to have a collection of over seven hundred pens, no two alike.  Some are of steel, some gold, some amalgam, and so on.  There are pens pointed fine enough to make lines of microscopic delicacy, and others intended for men who use the first person pronoun a great deal in their correspondence.  The collection embraces specimens from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and other European countries besides America and Canada.  Some are in shapes like shovels, others resemble a section of stove pipe, and others are delicate and diminutive.

George Kovalenko.

January 07, 2016

Waterman’s F. P. Seymour

  , another Waterman’s war in 1918.

[Posted on L&P on May 17, 2013.]
        Here’s another possible internal struggle, or mini-war within Waterman’s, and it’s all played out as a tempest in the American-Stationer teapot.
        Frederick P. Seymour was with the Waterman’s company from July 1907 to August 1918, but he started off and ended up elsewhere.  He was born in Baltimore, Md., and was with Dennison Mfg. Co. from about 1894 to February 1907.  Shortly after, in April 1907, he was vice-president of the Vechtin Waring Co., and in July 1907, he became the advertising and sales manager for L. E. Waterman Co.  He also became a member of the Stationers’ Board of Trade of New York in 1907, and one of the incorporating directors of the Boost Club of New York in September 1907.  As an advertising director, he wrote many advertizing articles and letters to the editors in various trade journals on behalf of Waterman’s.  He was also the editor of The Pen Prophet between 1907 and 1918, and wrote many editorials and articles for the house organ.  And between 1908 and 1918, he prepared and gave many slide lectures*, and lectures accompanied by moving pictures about the process of making Waterman’s pens.  On June 8, 1914, he married Ivy Louise Horder of the Horder’s Stationery family, and bought a house in Westfield, N. J.
        But then he resigned abruptly and severed his connection with the company.  An article in The American Stationer, “Seymour Resigns From L. E. Waterman Co.”, July 27, 1918, p.13, states simply, but also quite cryptically, that “Frederick P. Seymour, advertising manager of the L. E. Waterman Company of New York, has tendered his resignation and is severing his connection with the company on August 1”.  Those are strong terms, and it comes quite suddenly.  It goes on to say, “Mr. Seymour plans to take a short rest at his home in Westfield, N. J., during which time he expects to decide on his future business activities”.  It’s not as revealing and forthright as the magazine’s articles were in the past, but I guess the magazine was deferring to one of its major clients, the L. E. Waterman Co., which, after all, was also one of their most lucrative advertising accounts.  This time, however, you have to be able to read between the lines.
        Edward T. Howard was the publicist for the Waterman’s company from 1884 till 1918.  But before that, E. T. Howard was a jeweler in the 1870s.  Later, E. T. Howard was an advertising solicitor for Century magazine, when he convinced Lewis E. Waterman to place an ad in Century in the November 1884 issue.  That single ad grew into an ad campaign that was so successful that
E. T. Howard was rewarded by being promoted to the board of directors, and by being made the L. E. Waterman Co.’s advertising department manager from 1885 to 1918.  The L. E. Waterman Co. placed an ad in Century every month throughout those decades, and all the while E. T. Howard continued to receive his commissions for the ads.  E. T. Howard also advised L. E. Waterman to form a stock company, and became a share holder and director.
        Mark Twain knew E. T. Howard, and wrote “glowingly” about him in a letter from 1870,
“I don’t think an enormous deal of Howard”.  He said that they talked when they met, but he wouldn’t dream of embracing him.  He added, “I would as soon think of embracing a fish, or an icicle, or any other particularly cold and unemotional thing, say a dead stranger, for instance”.  He was as cold as a dead stranger.  And as we all know from L. E. Waterman’s underhanded dealings with Frank Holland and A. A. Waterman, L. E. was as low as a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.  So they were well suited to one another.  Or as Charles Dickens said, “They were well met”.  This was the corporate culture, and this the man that F. P. Seymour had to work with as his direct superior.
The problem was that, in his later years, E. T. Howard was the head of the ad department in name only, but he continued to receive all the commissions while another person, F. P. Seymour, did all the work.  From 1907 to 1918, F. P. Seymour was also called the “advertising manager”, but he was only the acting head who didn’t get any of the glory.
        Curiously, just a few days after F. P. Seymour quit and severed all ties with the company, E. T. Howard died on Aug 6, 1918.  He was an old man, and he was going to go soon, any way, either into retirement, or into his final just deserts.  But F. P. Seymour must have gotten the feeling that he wasn’t going to be promoted when E. T. Howard retired, or died, so in a preemptive strike, he quit his job instead.  He left quite abruptly, and before the old man was even in his grave.  Perhaps he, like A. A. Waterman before him, was feeling a bit under-appreciated when he realized he was never going to be promoted to the head position in his department when E. T. Howard left, and he was never going to get all the advertising commissions that E. T. Howard got, nor was he ever going to be promoted to the board of directors, so instead he took a month off, and then drove west to Chicago and started on Aug 31, 1918 as secretary of Horder’s Stationery Stores, a large stationery company based in Chicago, Ill.  It certainly helped that he was married to the boss’s daughter.  He was also vice-president of the Associated Stationery Supply Co., a Horder’s subsidiary.

        But at the same time that they lost F. P. Seymour, the Waterman’s company was writing “humble” things about E. T. Howard, their former publicist.  In the same issue of The American Stationer, Aug 31, 1918, that they printed Frank D. Waterman’s “Appreciation” of his fellow board member, p. 12, they also had an article about F. P. Seymour, p. 18.  F. D. Waterman relates the full story of how E. T. Howard helped his uncle out with an advertising campaign in the Century magazine, and for which his uncle “owed him a debt of gratitude” that was repaid by making him a director in the company “from the start”.  E. T. Howard was also rewarded with being given “the account for the advertising agency”.  F. D. Waterman goes on to say, “We never forgot the early years of Howard’s steadfast devotion to our interests, during which time his commissions were small because our investment in advertising was not large, [but] when...our account grew to pretty large proportions, we felt that he was entitled to continue to place it and to make the commissions paid by publishers”.  The article titled “Seymour Begins Work At Horder’s Stores” is much shorter.  Its one, single sentence reads, “Fred Seymour, after a trip to Chicago from the East, has taken up duties at Horder’s Stationery Stores”.  That’s it.  That’s all they wrote.  And they called him “Fred” this time as well.  And lastly, to put a final seal on the move, he also became a member of the Chicago Stationers’ Association.  F. P. Seymour was finally gone from New York.
        That was the best revenge, to disappear into the corporate anonymity of another big stationery company, or two, and make a pile of money, and never be heard of again, at least not in Am. Stat., except for one last time.  They reported on May 10, 1919, p.17, that F. P. Seymour was honored in New York with a dinner tendered by the Joseph Dixon pencil company, and attended by many New York notables in the stationery field, but Waterman’s was conspicuously absent.  There’s a sense that their corporate feelings were somehow hurt by him, and that he was being slighted by them, but not by the others.  There’s also a sense of deference to the large corporation, and not daring to say the truth openly, but still siding with F. P. Seymour on this one privately.  They were merely afraid of angering the large elephant.

George Kovalenko.


        *In an article in The American Stationer, Mar 18, 1911, p.22, F. P. Seymour’s slide lecture in Philadelphia is reported on and summarized.  He showed “a slide of the birthplace of the great Waterman industry at 136 Fulton Street”, or rather, the site of the great Waterman’s rip-off.  It goes on to say, “Three dozens a year were made and primarily only for insurance men who found it advantageous to have a fountain pen in order to close on policies which otherwise might be lost if the prospect had to wait until pen and ink could be secured”.  There’s no ink blot, but it’s still a part of the genesis of that myth, although a more practical and less fanciful version.  It’s not the blatant fantasy perpetuated by such stories as the one in Printers’ Ink Monthly,
Dec 1921, p.62.