June 21, 2014

Some Obscure Waterman’s Designs

, two-part thimble caps & finger guards.

        I can’t believe that Waterman’s actually came up with this pen, let alone produced it.  It’s a pen with two caps, or a two-part cap, or a cap-within-a-cap, depending upon how you look at it.  The idea is to keep your fingers clean by having a secondary, internal cap that keeps the hands clean by “preventing ink from getting…into contact with the fingers”.  The above picture is from the article titled “Waterman’s Thimble Cap” in Geyer’s Stationer,
July 27, 1905, p.20.  This link should work for those of you in the US, at least.  For the rest of us, it will work if we have an IP address blocker such as TunnelBear.
        There were a few precursor patents for two-part, thimble caps.  Here’s one from 1899, patent no. 631,824, but it’s not the one for the above pen.  Patent nos. 682,574 and 682,575 are a couple of other very likely candidates with very complex multi-part caps, but again, they’re not the ones.  There’s even this Waterman’s patent, 698,882 from 1902 with a cap-completely-within-a-cap, although it’s not the one, either.  But if you look closely at the cap in the above picture you’ll just barely be able to make out the patent date Oct 20, 1903 for patent no. 742,036.  It showed up in the above article, though not in any advertisements that I could find, but an example of the pen has been found and appears in the Waterman book by Max Davis & Gary Lehrer, on p.23.
        This pen must have inspired Waterman’s to come up with and market the device in these articles in the American Stationer,
Sept 26, 1908, p.14, and Bookseller and Stationer, Nov 1908, p.47, yet another thimble sleeve to cover the inky section tip, and the sometimes leaky joint between the section and the barrel.  I found one about 15 years ago in red mottled hard rubber that also worked quite well on straight pens, or penholders without a grip.  It almost makes a regular Waterman’s eyedropper into a “Waterman’s Zaner-Bloser” pen.

George Kovalenko.