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.