Thursday, June 7, 2012

Livermore in Providence

A. T. Cross may be the best-known early pen manufacturer in Rhode Island, but Livermore was another company making large numbers of stylographic fountain pens back in the early 1880s. The die-cut trade card shown above lists a Boston address, while other flyers place the Stylographic Pen Company in New York City; nonetheless, Livermore appears to have been based in Providence, the other addresses being those of agents and distributors.

The bronze Medal of Excellence shown above was awarded in 1879 by the American Institute to Charles W. Livermore "For Stylographic Pens". Pen companies bragged about the prize medals they had won, but surviving examples are rare indeed.

Shortly after beginning working on this post, I ran across the brief notice above. Dating from 1885, it states that Livermore's Providence factory was a four-story brick building at the corner of Arnold and Brook Streets. This really caught my eye, and after a quick look at Google Maps, it seems pretty clear that the factory site can be none other than Brassil Park -- the very same playground that my daughters go to nearly every day from their nearby school!

UPDATE: The most probable site of Livermore's factory appears not to be the park, but immediately across the street to the south. The park was occupied up until 1955 by the Arnold Street Primary School; across the street stood the Hennessey Laundry building -- a four-story brick structure.

UPDATE: ID confirmed as the Laundry Building -- according to the kind reference librarian at the Rhode Island Historical Society, the 1886 and 1887 editions of the Providence City Directory list C. W. Livermore at 44 Arnold St, in the business section under Pen and Pencil Case Manufacturers. The name section of the directory lists Charles W. Livermore, Stylographic Pen Co., at the same address. Livermore died in Warwick in 1889, and it's not clear what happened to his pen business afterwards. In the 1892 directory, 44 Arnold Street was listed as housing a "steam laundry" as well as two other businesses. I will try to get to the Historical Society library next week to see what more I can find, and perhaps to the Providence City Archives as well.

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