January 01, 2016

The word ‘ink pencil’

  , and the word “nib”.


[Posted on L&P on Oct 23, Nov 26, 28, Dec 11, 12, 2011.]
        Larry Allin mentioned an article in The American Stationer,
May 26, 1917, pp. 26, 28, with a beautiful sectional view of an early Inkograph stylo.  It looks like they did produce an stylo based on that 1914 patent of theirs.  But it’s funny that this late in the game the author of this article still calls the pen an “ink pencil” as well as a “stylograph”.  Most stationers, as well as the editors of  Am. Stat. magazine, were stuffed shirts and very old fashioned and resistant to change and sticks in the mud.  They held some very conservative views about the use of the word “nib”, as witnessed by this article from Aug 31, 1912, p.30, which tries to hold back the tide of time.  The word “nib”, however, caught on quite early in the 1800s in the UK, and was well established by the late 1800s.  You can see the same resistance to the word “nib” in the stodgy USPTO patent specifications, where the only uses of the word occur in the patents of Brits and Canucks and Aussies.  But it looks like the word “nib” finally won out in the end in the US as well.
        The name “ink pencil” persisted a lot longer in the UK, but only the old fogeys in the US continued to use the term.  In the years 1917-21, there was one issue of Am. Stat. per year with an index of all the manufacturers of stationery supplies, and in the 1921 list they still had a listing for “PENCILS, Ink (See Stylographic Pens)”.  Well, at least “PENS, Stylographic” was the main entry.
        Here’s another telling quote from Am. Stat., Oct 21, 1922, p.16.  “Fountain pens and propelling pencils are primarily stationery articles, yet it is remarkable how small a percentage are sold through the stationery dealers.  Stationers [should] study the windows and store displays of jewelers and druggists and department stores....More people visit them than visit the stationery stores.”  Here’s a photograph in Am. Stat.,
Feb 25, 1911 of a stationery store that was so big that it required a panoramic photo.  Now, wouldn’t you like to time travel to visit this store?

        David Nishimura posted the Inkograph article in
Google for those in the US.  He also wrote, “Note, too, that “ink pencil” seems to have remained current quite late in the UK, in particular”.

        And I wrote, “David, you’re right about “Ink Pencil” remaining current in the UK.  I also noticed instances of this late usage in Steve Hull’s book on The English Fountain Pen Industry.
        “And Larry, by way of thanks, here’s what I have on the Wallace family and the Inkograph Co.  Joseph Wallace was listed as president of the Inkograph Co. in New York in 1915.  Joseph was president and treasurer of the company in 1917 and into the 1920s, and he held the 1914 “Inkograph” and 1922 “Leado Graph” trademarks, and various patents from 1914-48.  William F. Wallace was the vice-president in 1920-21, and much later was president of Aladdin Fountain Pen Mfg., Inc., in Brooklyn, 1948-57.  There was a James M. Wallace who had a pen patent in 1924, but he was not in the company.  The James M. Wallace patent from 1924 is for a pen, but has nothing to do with the Inkograph.  Thanks for the update, Larry.  This kind of thing is why I’m glad that I haven’t rushed to publish my Penmakers book, yet.  I have to get all the bugs out first.”

George Kovalenko.