Thursday, December 6, 2012

William Wrigley Jr.'s golden Wahl

This handsome little ringtop Wahl just joined our collection. It's solid 14K gold and nicely hand engraved, and it's also an eyedropper -- a design Wahl dropped from their line shortly after taking it over from the Boston Fountain Pen Company.

Even more notable, however, is the name engraved on the barrel: "Wm.Wrigley Jr./Chicago". Although the pen has no documentation of provenance, it was sold largely at gold value and there is no reason to think that the inscription was added falsely in order to enhance the pen's value.

William Wrigley Jr. (1861-1932) was a prominent figure, the founder of the Wrigley chewing gum company, owner of the Chicago Cubs, and namesake of Chicago's Wrigley Field. Wrigley was also the benevolent developer of California's Catalina Island, which he owned outright.

It was only appropriate that Wrigley owned a Chicago-made pen, and it would be interesting to find out if there were any business connections between him and the Wahl company, of the sort that have already been documented, for example, between Wahl and Montgomery Ward. The sharp-eyed may notice that the pen currently bears a Mabie Todd nib. A later replacement, to be sure, but perhaps still for the original owner. The pen itself must date to the late 'teens, and most likely was worn in a vest pocket at the end of a watch fob.


Patte said...

Yesterday, I impulsively bought a pen exactly like this, but a lever-filler, with a gold-overlaid section.

There are no maker's marks on it, and the nib (a Waterman's Ideal flexible fine) was a replacement, so its actual brand was a mystery---though the shape looked a lot like a Wahl to me. The seller and I both presumed it was gold-filled, though there are no hallmarks on to confirm its gold-content.

Today, I googled "antique hand engraved gold fountain pen", and found your blog about William Wrigley Jr.'s pen. Mystery solved! And I discovered that my new pen isn't gold-filled, but solid gold!

David said...

Sorry to disappoint you, but if a pen of this type isn't clearly marked "14K", it is gold filled, not solid gold. The Wrigley pen bears full gold content marks.

Patte said...

That's what I thought too. But when I checked the vintage Wahl-Eversharp catalogues, I found that this pattern, and indeed all of their hand-engraved patterns, were only made in solid gold or solid silver. This is very strange.

Only one thing to do: take it to a jeweller and have it tested.

David said...

Be careful. Most jewelers will damage the surface of the article being tested. And as stated before, solid gold Wahls are *always* clearly stamped with the gold content. Hand engraved Eversharp pencils in gold fill are not uncommon, though they are early.