September 09, 2015

The Matchstick Filler

  , and a ball-pointed nib on an ex-USSR Ukrainian pen, The Kharkiv “Autopen”.

[Posted on L&P on Sept 20-30, 2008, and on FPN on Aug 20, 2010.]
        Pavlo Shevelo shared some pictures of a Ukrainian pen with “Autopen, Kharkiv” in Russian, on the nib, probably short for “Automatic Pen”.  The reason that it’s written in Russian is that during the tsarist and Soviet eras, there was a failed attempt to Russify the Ukrainian nation and its language, and to revise its history.  Here’s something more about
Russian revisionism written by prominent Ukrainian historian Yaroslav Dashkevych.  And here are some more pictures of this interesting pen, Autopen 1, Autopen 2, Autopen 3.
        It’s a black hard rubber pen that looks like it has a Parker Duofold button-filler
barrel, but what’s interesting is that it’s a matchstick filler. It has threads on the barrel end for secure posting of the cap, and it also has a spring clip like the Conklin clip, but with a very weird clip tip.  The 1930s-40s date range fits the style better than the 20s because of the slight hint of streamlining, both in the section, and in the tapering of the cap top, but it still has the traditional look of the 1920s and 30s button fillers.  The matchstick filler is totally off the wall and unexpected, but it makes sense for a pen from the depression era in a country with technological hardships and challenges.  They would have chosen the easiest filling system with the least number of parts.  And by the way, here’s a filling system very similar to the “Autopen”.  It’s Joseph Lipic’s US patent no. 976,815 from Nov 22, 1910, “The Radium Point Pen”.  It’s also a matchstick filler with a special clip.  On the end of the clip there was a post, or stud, or “projection”, and when the cap was posted on the barrel end, the end of the clip could be rotated and lined up with a hole in the barrel for filling the pen.
        Here’s another precursor to and variation on the clip-as-matchstick-filler idea.  This time it
s a generic, slip-on accommodation clip on a JUCO, or Jacob Ullrich & Co. “Independent”, also called the “E-Z” Self Filler Pen.  This cut is from a 1914 catalogue reprinted in the PFC magazine.
        Using a steel nib is definitely a cost-saving measure.  There isn’t any tipping required 

because the nib is a simple steel nib with a curved tip for smoother writing.  It’s similar to the nib in Hezekiah Hewitt’s US patent no. 295,395 from Mar 18, 1884.  The patent reads in part, “The extreme points of the nibs are bent...into a semicircular provide a smooth and flexible curved writing-[point]”, and these nibs were marketed with the name “Ball-Pointed Pens”.  The UK patent for the Hewitt nib is no. 429 in 1883, and US trademark no. 32,598 by D. Leonardt & Co., issued on Mar 21, 1899 and used since June 1, 1884, is for the name “Ball-Pointed Pens”.  There are also US trademark no. 15,805 for Ormiston & Glass’s “Ball-Pointed Pens”, which I will deal with in another post, and US trademark no. 31,958 by Perry & Co., issued on Sept 13, 1898 and used since Apr 30, 1897, for the words “Dome Pointed Pens”.  And if you want something a little newer that’s still old, how about the Waterman’s #7 Yellow nib?  It is described variously in Waterman’s advertising literature as “Yellow, Rounded Point, an unusual pen point, for left-handed writers”, and “Yellow—Rounded Point.  Writes on any paper in any direction.  For left-handed writers”.  Here’s a picture posted by Ron Dutcher in his post about the Waterman’s Yellow Nib, and here’s another close-up picture of a yellow nib.
        Dennis Lively wrote that the clip in the 1914 catalogue resembled one that he had, except that the imprint on his says “Modern | Pat. 8.22.09”.  I wrote that he had a good pen repairman’s eye for recognizing shapes, but that the patent date on the clip is actually 6.22.09, and it’s actually patent no. 923,055 from May 25, 1909.  These clips are often found with the names “The Modern” and “Good Grip” imprinted on them, along with the date June 22, 1909, the date of US design no. 40,082.  And Dennis wrote that he thought his shape recognition skills had been “honed over the years trying to figure out what the pens are in those really bad Ebay pics we all [hate] so much”.  I love it, the deciphering of bad pictures as an Ebay skill!  Well, the imprint date might be an 8, and not a 6, but if it is, it’s a misprint.  Misprints haven’t been unheard of, and pen collectors just love a good misprint.  But you have to remember that the US patents were issued on a Tuesday, ever since the early 1800s, and if you consult a perpetual calendar for
1909, you’ll see that Aug 22, 1909 is not a Tuesday, but June 22, 1909 is.
        Last of all, here’s another picture of a matchstick filler pen, this one by
Aikin Lambert Co., and here’s an article from Aug 20, 2010 on FPN about this type of matchstick filler.  It’s described as having the imprint “US United Service, The Middlesex Co., Middletown, Conn., Clipfill” on the cap.  I don’t have anything on the company name, but I don’t think it’s a pen company.  The pen may have been used as a promotional giveaway by that company.  The nib is stamped “14 KT ALCo.”.  That makes it an Aikin Lambert Co. nib, but not the whole pen.  The sliding, slip-on, accommodation “Mercantile” clip is a Waterman’s-ALCo. product, but that’s also not the whole pen.  If you look for patents for a matchstick filler with a hole-cover similar to the split retainer rings that Conklin crescent fillers have, you won’t find any because there’s nothing much there to patent.  But then I came back to the word “Clipfill” and had more success.  That single word in the FPN thread was almost like a smoking gun.  It’s William F. Duryea’s US patent no. 1,049,465, and the pen was probably made by the Duryea Co., or Duryea-Hoge Co., or the Hoge Mfg. Co.  There’s also the possibility that the pen was made by ALCo., either for Duryea, or under a license from Duryea, using his patent, and that might explain why it has a Waterman’s-ALCo. clip.  The nib may be original, but the clip might be replaced.  The original clip probably looked like the one in the patent.  The pen in the FPN thread has a slight variation of the protecting or concealing ring, or the “split ring”, as it is called in the patent specifications.

George Kovalenko.