Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chapmans vs Waterman: Notable pens

In the Chapmans vs Waterman case (background here), a number of pens were introduced as evidence. Most were Watermans, many noteworthy. The list of exhibits (pp. v-xiv) records nine with overlays, five in sterling silver, three in 14K gold, and one simply "gold" -- presumably gold filled. The testimony transcript indicates this group included a 424 sterling silver Pineapple (p. 180) and a 512 solid gold sleeve-filler (p. 265), as well as a selection of pens chosen to illustrate the range of Waterman designs then in production, including the coin-filler (pp. 265-66).

Surely the most extraordinary pen mentioned, though, was a Waterman 20 self-filler. Edward Rohlfing, assistant manager in Waterman's retail department at 173 Broadway, recounted on the stand how he sold this pen to a customer who had brought in a #8-size A. A. Waterman/Modern pen -- clearly, a fan of big pens! -- for a nib swap (p. 356). There can be no doubt about the pen's identity, as the model number was mentioned multiple times, and Rohlfing describes the pen as "unusually large". And when asked, "Does that fact that this No. 20 self filler that you sold to him, impress this incident on your mind?", Rohlfing responded, "It does, because it is a very unusual size, and we very seldom sell one of the large 20 self fillers" (p. 357). From the context, this sale likely took place in 1912 or 1913, and the pen was a giant sleeve-filler -- a pen now known in only one surviving example, with this trial transcript the only other record of the model's existence known to date.

Some idea of the relative rarity of such a pen at the time may be gained by considering that Rohlfing had been serving some 200 customers daily for the previous four years (pp. 353, 358). It would take something special indeed to stand out from such a crowd.

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