Friday, August 23, 2013

Three unusual stylographic pens

A notable recent addition to my stylo collection is shown above. The overlay is English-hallmarked sterling silver, and the pen itself was sold as red hard rubber. On receipt, however, it turned out to be red casein (the section and tip are in fact red/orange hard rubber), explaining the darkening of the cap and forepart of the barrel, as well as the (undisclosed) puckering and cracks in the cap characteristic of casein exposed to too many moistening and drying cycles.
The overlay bears the maker's mark of Charles Westwood and Sons, a Birmingham silversmith who supplied overlays to a number of British penmakers. The date stamp is for 1910/11. Otherwise, the only mark is found on the posting end: "Rd No. 569229/10", which would correspond to 1910 -- unfortunately, the relevant record at the British National Archives is not yet digitized. The posting end also displays the ends of what appears to be a single long metal crosspin, and upon closer inspection this pin would appear to anchor a black hard rubber barrel liner which extends all the way to the barrel mouth. Casein, of course, would not have held up to being used as a reservoir -- this pen is an eyedropper-filler -- so the pen's makers prudently lined the barrel with impermeable hard rubber.

Another newcomer to the collection is this safety. Yes, a stylographic safety: turn the end knob, and the stylograph tip retracts into the barrel. This too is English-made, though this example came from Canada. The triple-C logo that appears twice on the box top is that of the Copp, Clark Company -- a Canadian firm that still exists, though it has now left its original core focus on publishing, stationery, and board games to concentrate on financial services. In the Canadian Almanac and Miscellaneous Directory for the Year 1915 (a 1914 Copp, Clark publication), a full-page ad for the British-made National fountain pens appears on p. 527, listing Copp, Clark in Toronto as the sole agent for Canada. The Security Safety is not illustrated, but receives prominent mention: "THE 'NATIONAL' SECURITY SAFETY FOUNTAIN PENS can be carried in any position, and are non-leakable. Made in 4 Nos., as follows. . . ." Despite this ad, the Security Safety does not appear to have been a popular item on either side of the Atlantic. Neither my Canadian nor my British correspondents have seen another, though perhaps now that this one has been shown around, more eyes will be watching when the next turns up.

Though the first of its brand I've seen, the National is not my first safety stylo. That honor goes to the Moore shown above, which I've owned for quite a few years. I've never seen any mention of it in ads or catalogs, and most collectors are surprised to learn of its existence -- though it is by no means unique, as I have seen at least two other examples.

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