Saturday, October 28, 2017

Waterman Father Time

Waterman collectors have known for years about a very rare version of the 58 with an extra-long cap with a small rectangular watch set into its side. Thanks to the discovery of the ad shown above, we now know the model's name and date of introduction. The ad first ran in the American Stationer in the December 25, 1920 issue on page 19, appearing again on the same page on January 8 and 22. We surely would have found this ad much sooner if the volume it appears in -- volume 87 -- were more completely digitized. As is, searching the two Google versions and the HathiTrust version for "Waterman" yields only a fraction of the instances that are actually present -- a valuable reminder that while text searches can quickly turn up material, one cannot assume that all has been found unless one has gone through manually, page by page -- which is how I eventually stumbled across the Father Time ads.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tracking the rise of the self-filling fountain pen

Google's Ngram Viewer is a powerful tool for evaluating the popularity of words and phrases over time. Here are the results for "self-filler", which neatly illustrate the triumph of the self-filling fountain pen over the dropper-filler in the English-speaking world in the first decades of the 20th century:

The transition peaks between 1915 and 1920, then rapidly falls off as self-filling pens become the new norm.

The dropoff is more pronounced in the second chart immediately above, which is limited to American English sources. This is not a surprise, inasmuch as British penmakers continued to emphasize self-filling in both model names and advertising later than their American counterparts.