January 17, 2015

The First Crescent Fillers

[Posted on L&P on June 23, 2007.]
        Here’s a patent for an early precursor to the crescent filler, or rather the first patent for a crescent filler, US patent no. 125,291, and another interesting George F. Hawkes pen. 

Take a look at part H and try to deny that it’s a crescent filler before its time.  And here are another couple of early US crescent filler precursors, 397,053, and 442,644.  They surely are crescent fillers in everything but name.  At least, they certainly seem like steps on the way to the crescent filler.  There’s also John Raynald’s US patent 438,895 and the patent that Roy Conklin later purchased, John Oliphant’s US patent 448,360.
        How can you tell that I’m not that crazy about crescent fillers?  In Mark Twain’s endorsement of the Conklin crescent filler pen in the January 1904 ad in Century Magazine, he joked about preferring the pen because it was “a profanity saver; it cannot roll off the desk”.  It’s such a beautiful pen, except for that silly, “anti-swearing” filling mechanism.  Even Parker ridiculed the pen in its ads that introduced its new button fillers.  In Cliff & Judy Lawrence’s An Illustrated Fountain Pen History, on p.84, there is an unidentified Parker ad from June 1914 that reads, “A New Idea In Self-Filling Fountain Pens.  No humps, bumps, or outside projections to interfere with your grip or writing”.  And in a couple of Parker ads in The American Stationer leading up to the introduction of the Duofold, you’ll find more ad lines about unsightly and unwieldy humps by claiming that their own pens had, “No slots in the barrel. No projections of self-filling devices”, May 14, 1921, p.6, and “No ‘do-jigger’ on barrel”, July 9, 1921, p. 6.  Well, the Parker “do-jigger” was well-hidden under an unsightly black hard rubber blind cap.
        And did you notice that the borders of those two ads were made up of little button-filler pens?

George Kovalenko.