Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Greek nib followup

A couple of months back I posted a request for information about an American-made nib with a Greek imprint. I can now reveal that the nib (shown again above) was found on the pen shown below, which came directly from a family house on a Greek island.
Perhaps more useful in tracking down the origin of these nibs, however, is the pen shown below: an eyedropper with an Aikin Lambert nib, and to all appearances of Aikin Lambert manufacture, but with a Greek barrel imprint and a wide band at the top of the cap with a portrait of King Constantine in enamel.
Constantine I reigned from 1913 to 1917, and again from 1920 to 1927. The design of the pen, the presence of a V. V. clip in particular, suggests that it was made to commemorate the accession of 1913.
The barrel imprint is shown above. Between two Greek flags, it reads: "ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΜΕΛΑΝΟΦΟΡΟΣ ΠΕΝΑ/ΑΔΕΛΦWΝ ΚΡΗΤΙΚΑΚΗ NEW YORK" (Greek black-clad [correction: "ink-holding"] pen/of the Brothers Kretikaki, New York). There can be no doubt that the "A. K." on the mystery nib stands for Αδελφων Κρητικακη -- the Kretikaki (or Kritikaki) Brothers.
The same barrel imprint is also found on a pen recently sold on eBay which also bears a fancy enameled band at the top of the cap, this one with the Greek flag. The nib bears the same ΩPAIA/EΛΛAΣ imprint as the snake pen, with the "A. K." below.

To add one more example to the series, yet another nib is shown below. Its imprint is slightly different: the Greek flag is not present, nor is the article "H" in front of "ΩPAIA".

There are no other imprints on the pen that bears this nib, which is shown above. Like the other pens in this group, it once had a V. V. clip (the mounting holes in the cap are distinctive), and while it is of excellent quality, it clearly was made by one of the smaller penmakers: possible candidates would include Aikin Lambert, A. A. Waterman, Carey, Eagle, and Wirt.

As yet I have not been able to find any trace of any Kretikaki or Kritikaki brothers in New York, excepting a record of an 11-year-old Autigony Kritikaki passing through Ellis Island in 1908. There is a Kritikaki Brothers company in Greece that is currently active in tile and other construction materials, and perhaps it would be worth contacting them to inquire about the history of their company.

ADDENDUM: Yet another report of a fancy pen with the same nib, this one a Heath silver filigree over red hard rubber. Although our sample size is still very small, the great variety of pens is striking. No two are alike, and the main commonality is that they are all flashy, of excellent quality, and made using components that were generally available in the greater New York City fountain pen industry. This suggests that the Kritikaki Brothers were not aiming to sell large quantities of a limited selection of designs, but rather to offer a broad range of distinct individual items to a boutique clientele. I would further speculate that this business came to a crashing halt with the start of WW1 -- first with the curtailment of shipping, then with the split of Greece into the Kingdom of Greece and New Greece in 1916 -- and that the pens found to date in the United States were inventory stranded and eventually sold off in New York (there is an interesting report from the US Consul in Thessaloniki, published in February of 1917, about the market for fountain pens in New Greece, but if one looks at contemporary reports from New York, availability of shipping to Greece could not be counted upon).

UPDATE: After seven years, the answer is at hand! Read all about it here.

1 comment:

Iraklis (Alkis) Panagopoulos said...

I own a a snake gold pen with emerald eyes that comes with the same nib, and for a long time i am trying to find the history.

The engravings on the body of the pen “ενθύμιον 1913» translating to “memorabilia 1913 “suggest the year of kings reign.
On the pen top you see the engraving “ ΩΡΑΙΑ ΕΛΛΑΣ“ translating to “ beautiful Greece “
. the Greek flag is engraved on the nib and then the initials A.K. which could be the shortcut for Constantine A aka Α Κωνσταντινος.