Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two unusual Held pens

Held pens are scarce and their background story is not yet clear. I will be posting some new research results shortly, but for now let's take a look at a couple of rather unusual Held designs.
The first is rather roughly made, with a cap and barrel of aluminum decorated with zigzag incisions. The filling mechanism is the characteristic Held "swing-filler", where the lever pivots sideways rather than pulling away from the barrel. The lever is the only place marked "Held", and the marking is crude indeed.
The feed is a conventional wide-finned design, with the addition of a couple of vent holes drilled through. The nib is a contemporary Mabie Todd #2. Overall, the whole thing looks experimental -- a mockup thrown together using conveniently available parts.

The second pen is much more refined, and is fully marked. It was advertised as the Bird Bill Pen; the earliest advertisements I've found appear in 1915. I will discuss the ads and production dates in the upcoming Held post, and will concentrate on the pen itself here.
Capped, it appears conventional enough, though the sharp-eyed will notice the Held swing-filler lever.
Uncapped, one is suddenly confronted with what looks like a Parker 51 but 25 years too early: a hard rubber pen sold in the same year that Waterman introduced its first lever-fillers, equipped with a radically streamlined hooded nib.
The Held's hood might better be described as an integral overfeed. The feed channels are clearly visible with the nib removed. There is no underfeed, only a plug that holds the nib in place.
The nib itself is entirely conventional, though modified with an additional vent hole that immediately recalls the added holes in the other Held's feed. Others had been experimenting with similar vent holes on larger pens around this time, and Wirt had adopted a standard configuration comprising a ventless nib and a vented underfeed. Held's multiplication of vents goes still further.
Even though this was a production pen, it came with a warranted nib. Perhaps Held felt there was no sense in paying for imprinted nibs for a pen design in which the imprint would be covered.

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