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!

[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.