Monday, July 22, 2013

Earliest known Waterman 18

Despite what you read, dating of "firsts" is very much work in progress, even for major makers such as Waterman. In a recent post I shared my attempts to figure out when Waterman's "Clip-Cap" clip was introduced, and showed the first "PAT. APL'D FOR" clip I had been able to find. And here I can now show the second -- whose presence on an 18 makes it the earliest 8-size Waterman that I know of, given that the Clip-Cap patent was issued on September 26, 1905.
The cap is cracked, reinforced by a piece of nickel silver wire added as an ad hoc cap band. The pen is otherwise sound, worn and faded but intact, and to all appearances entirely original. The clip has been attached directly over the patent imprint found on Waterman cone caps from 1898 on. How late this imprint continued to be applied is another mystery, but this pen suggests that it was used at least into 1905.
The barrel imprint is the standard two-line imprint with globe, with the 1884 patent dates but not the 1903. Note the deeply domed ends of both barrel and cap, another early characteristic. The number 18 is imprinted at the end of the barrel in standard fashion.
The #8 nib has a commensurately early form of imprint; the spoon feed does not seem to bear any patent imprints, but I have not cleaned it and given it a thorough examination as yet.

The earliest printed reference to an 8-size Waterman pen I've found so far is an August 1905 ad in the Bookseller and Stationer, p. 287 (the same ad, shown above, also appeared in Meyer Brothers Druggist, vol. 26, no. 11, Nov 1905, p. 13). The only model listed in that size is a smooth cone cap; the largest size for any other model is 7. There are also references from a few years later to an 18 having been used to sign the Portsmouth Treaty in September 1905 (National Magazine, vol. 28, Aug 1908, unpaginated).

In my previous post I toyed with the idea that the rarity of the Clip-Caps with the "PAT. APL'D FOR" imprint might indicate that the clips weren't put into production until some time after the patent application was filed on April 7, 1905. Since then, I've found a reference from July 1905 indicating that the clips were being actively marketed by that time (Bookseller and Stationer, p. 273). Nonetheless, the paucity of advertising for the clips prior to 1906 is striking -- though perhaps the picture will get rounded out once more periodicals from 1905 become available online.

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