February 12, 2016

Morton, and Kaweco

[From Mar 28, and Aug 31, 2005, and posted on L&P on Nov 13, 2005.]
        Here’s a bit of information on A. Morton & Co., an early gold nib maker in the US, but please allow the dates a little leeway.  Wherever there is a tilde sign, please read “approximately”, or “about”.  A little more research still needs to be done to fine-tune the time frames.
        A. Morton & Co. made gold pens, and gold & silver pen & pencil cases, and was in business since ~1848.  It was listed at 25 Maiden Lane, New York, since 1859.  Alexander Morton was in charge from ~1848-90.  Persons P. Allen joined the company about 1860.  And James Morton became the successor to Alexander Morton ~1890 till 1910.  Victorine C. Morton inherited the company from her deceased husband James Morton in 1910, and ran the business till ~1920-22.  The 1910 trademark that was listed under her name was said to have been in use since 1848, and the company was out of business by ~1920-22.
        Thomas Neureither was feeling a little burnt out and a bit tired of the short half-life of the chat on other pen message boards, and wrote to me backchannel on Mar 28, 2005 about Kaweco.  Thomas is trying to collect the history of fountain-pen production in his hometown, Heidelberg, and the most important firm there in the first quarter of the 1900s is Kaweco.  Our conversation touched upon his area of collecting, and he gave me permission to post the following for him.
        Kaweco started importing Morton nibs and fountain pens from NY around 1899.  In 1913, Kaweco bought the Morton factory and the rights to produce under the trademark.  In March 1914, the engineers and representatives of Morton came to Heidelberg with production machines and taught the Kaweco workers how to produce their own gold nibs with Morton’s know-how, or penknowledgy, and Kaweco changed over to the Morton nib-producing system.  When WW1 began, the Americans returned to NY, but Kaweco bought the machines and the rights to produce under Morton’s well-reputed trademark for the next few years.  By the time they left in 1915, they were enthusiastic that the quality of the Heidelberg gold nibs imprinted with Kaweco or Morton was as good as the American Morton nibs.  The first nib craftsmen for Kaweco were Hermann Böhler and Peter Rupp.  Hermann Böhler together with his brother Georg founded their own writing equipment factory, Osmia, in the same neighborhood, and after the first bankruptcy of Kaweco, Peter Rupp founded a gold nib factory, the nibs with the lion head.  It all makes for a very nice story from the first times when they still had good co-operations across the big pond.
        Jürgen Kuhse added the following information on Aug 31, 2005.  Kaweco started in 1883 as Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik, but in 1921 they changed the name to Koch, Weber & Co.  Around 1925 a company with the name Knust, Woringen & Grube with the logo KWG also existed in Heidelberg, and they produced models like Aurumia and Colleg.  In the year 1929, these two companies joined together under the name Kaweco Badische Füllhalterfabrik, Worringen & Grube.  Joseph Knust built his own factory and named the company IKA, but the company was not successful.

George Kovalenko.