Friday, February 8, 2013

Stanhope souvenir dip pens

One of the most enjoyable aspects of dealing in old writing instruments is how there is inevitably something new to be learned. The dip pen shown above is a French-made souvenir item that was very popular from the late 19th century into the first few decades of the 20th. Its key feature is a Stanhope viewer set into the turned bone shaft; when held up to the eye, the photograph within becomes visible -- most commonly, an image of an historic site or tourist landmark.
Listing a group of these pens in our catalog a while back, I realized that I needed to know a bit more about Stanhopes. Jean Scott's Stanhopes: A Closer View was very informative about the details of history and production (the link is to the Amazon listing, but I found a copy much cheaper on eBay), but didn't say much about how to photograph Stanhope images. Fortunately, Jean Scott's husband Ken explains the basics here. So now I am keeping an eye out for a good deal on a basic microphotography setup -- yet another of so many projects!

Incidentally, you can still order custom Stanhope views and viewers. Take a look at this site to learn more -- though be warned that their Stanhope pens and pencils are a lot more expensive than ours.

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