Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pen tricksters: Pelikan edition

Long, long ago, Cliff and Judy Lawrence ran a few articles in their Pen Fancier's Magazine under the heading, "Pen Tricksters". Even back in the 1980s, people were "improving" pens without disclosing the work to potential buyers. As I recall, one of the "tricks" was cap lip replacement, hiding the seam under the cap band (a perfectly sound restoration method, if duly disclosed); another was reblackening -- though in one reported case it was the Lawrences who were in error, as they concluded that a Black Giant had been blackened since it faded when immersed in hot water (pristine hard rubber will indeed resist fading, but exposure to light will invisibly break down its surface; subsequent exposure to water will then result in instant fading).

I've seen my share of undisclosed repairs in pens purchased both online and face-to-face at shows. One that was completely new to me, though, is shown in the photo above -- the barrel of what looked like a nice clean unrestored Pelikan 100. Getting the filler unit out of one of these pens is delicate work, since the aged celluloid of the barrel is typically fragile. This is one of the few cases where soaking is an essential disassembly method -- which also has the side effect of loosening the barrel oversleeve (the "binde"). Which, once it slid off, revealing a whopping burn hole in the side of the barrel. The damage to the barrel must also have damaged the barrel's original binde. Someone then slid a new one in place over the hole, und Bob ist Dein Onkel.

Leroy W. Fairchild: miscellaneous notes


As I note in a forthcoming article in the PCA's Pennant [now published in vol. 34, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 6-13: "Leroy W. Fairchild: The Little-Known History of a Well-Known Company"], Leroy W. Fairchild was the Lewis Edson Waterman of the gold-nibbed dip pen era. In the last few decades pen historians have uncovered much about Waterman, but Fairchild remains almost completely unstudied. Rather than duplicate the contents of the Pennant article here, I will be using this entry to post additional information (genealogical, in particular), research notes, and source references, with links if available.

It was not easy to find Leroy W. Fairchild's middle name. He always used the "W", but the only way I discovered it stood for "Wilson" was in records where others provided it: for example, his son Leroy C.'s marriage record; a death notice in the New York Tribune on May 9, 1909; and Leroy C.'s obituary in The Suffolk County News, December 1, 1939, p. 4. Fairchild's first name was commonly rendered as LeRoy and Le Roy (ditto for his namesake son). This does affect search results.

It should be possible to find an exact birth date for Leroy W. Fairchild. So far, it can be narrowed down to around 1830, and probably the second half of that year, using the following sources:
  • In the 1840 US census, he is not listed by name, but is checked off in the category of males between ten and fourteen.
  • In the 1855 New York State census, taken in June, he is recorded as 24.
  • In the 1860 US census, taken on July 24, he is recorded as 29.
  • In the 1863 list of men eligible for military service, compiled July 1, he is recorded as 32.
  • In a typed index card, transcribing an entry form of Nov 6, 1867, for the S.S. Java arriving in Boston from Liverpool, Queenstown, and Halifax, he is recorded as 38 (possible that a handwritten "6" was misread as an "8"?)
  • In the 1870 US census, taken on July 29, he is listed as 41.
  • In an 1873 passenger list for the Cuba, signed Sep 10, he is listed as 44 (but ID uncertain)
  • In the 1880 US census, taken on June 10, he is listed as 50.
  • In the 1905 New Jersey State census, he is listed as 75.
  • In his obituaries, which all state that he died on May 8, 1909, in his eightieth year.
All of the sources above (and others) agree that Fairchild was born in New York City, with the sole exception of the 1880 census. There he is listed as Wisconsin-born, with English-born parents, but this must be a recording error, as it is completely at odds with all other documents and records.

Very specific dates and parentage are provided for Fairchild's father (Starr Fairchild, b. Mar 14, 1797 Fairfield Co. CT - d. Jan 17, 1838) in one online family tree. Unfortunately, no sources for this information are given, and I have not been able to find any supporting evidence independently. This particular tree was much stronger on earlier generations, it seemed, for while Leroy W. and his mother were listed, their death dates were completely wrong and Leroy's siblings, wife, and children were absent (I have since updated their records, using the information presented here). Partial corroboration for Starr was found, however, in Longworth's New York City directories. "Fairchild Star, tailor" is listed in the edition for 1827-8, p. 190, at 5 York; 1828-9, p. 219, at 76 Reade; 1832-3, p. 284, at 270 William; and 1833-4, p. 251, at 63 Warren. In the edition for 1834-5, p. 276, he is not listed. In Doggett's directories from the 1842-3 edition through that for 1847-8, "Fairchild Eliza M. widow of Starr" appears, each time at a different address: 1842-3, p. 113, 129 Mulberry; 1845-6, p. 124, 194 Hester; 1846-7, p. 134, 26 Grand; 1847-8, p. 142, 116 Laurens. The listing is absent from the 1848-9 edition. Another document, the death record of Leroy W. Fairchild's sister, Mary Jane, gives her (their) father's birthplace as Connecticut. Both this and the death record of another sister, Anna Eliza, appear to list their father's name as Starr, though the transcription available online renders it as "Stan". Note that our Starr Fairchild should not be confused with the contemporary Connecticut inventor of the same name (US patents 4038, 4414, 4990, 5413, et al.)

Fairchild's mother's name was Eliza M., the "M" as yet unidentified. Looking at the same records used to narrow down Leroy W. Fairchild's birthdate, we end up with a birthdate of around 1805:
  • In the 1840 US census, she is listed as Eliza Fairchild, head of household, checked off in the category of females between thirty and thirty-nine.
  • In the 1855 New York State census, taken in June, she is recorded as 50, born in Orange County, New York, widowed head of household, living in New York City 38 years.
  • In the 1860 US census, taken on July 24, she is recorded as 54, living in the household of her eldest daughter Anna Eliza.
  • In the 1870 US census, taken on July 29, she is listed as 65, living with her son Leroy.
  • In the 1880 US census, taken on June 7, she is listed as 80, living with her widowed daughter Mary, close by her daughter Anna Eliza.
Eliza M. Fairchild was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery on Nov 15, 1882 (lot 612, section 107).

Leroy W. Fairchild had three sisters: Anna Eliza, c. 1828 - Feb 14, 1896; Mary Jane, c. 1832 - Apr 10, 1888; and Amelia T., c. 1834 - Jan 1899. Anna Eliza was widowed young: her first husband, Charles H. Dudley, died on Sep 17, 1850 at the age of 27. At the time of the 1855 census she was living with her mother, brother, and youngest sister, along with her two daughters, Ada (born c. 1848) and Anna (c. 1850 - May 23, 1893). Anna Eliza remarried on Dec 29, 1859, to Henry L. Grant, a prosperous banker. By the following July, the 1860 US census records that her mother and her brother Leroy's family were all living in the Grant household. Anna Eliza outlived Grant, dying in Manhattan on Feb 14, 1896, at the age of 68.

Mary Jane married James Cushing not long after the 1850 US census, where he is listed as an 18-year-old banker living in New York City with his parents. In the 1860 US census, the couple were married, both 28, and living on their own with two children, 5 and 7. They were well off, recorded as owning $9000 in real estate and $3000 in other assets. Mary Jane's younger sister Amelia T. was also living with the family, along with her husband, Alexandre Waldron, a plumber. Mary Jane Cushing died in Manhattan on April 10, 1888. James Cushing would become one of Leroy W. Fairchild's first backers, and the namesake for Leroy's youngest son, James Cushing Fairchild. Cushing died on July 5, 1873, only 41, of dysentery. He was on the Board of Education, and was a former School Commissioner, all while "engaged in mercantile pursuits". His death notice in the July 16, 1873 NY Daily Graphiccols. 3-4, specifically mentions his involvement with Fairchild's pen business, as did an 1869 ad for the Homoeopathic Mutual Life Insurance Company, of which he was Vice President, in The United States Insurance Advertiser, bound with The United States Insurance Gazette, vol. 29, May-Nov 1869 (unpaginated).

Amelia T. married Alexandre Waldron on April 5, 1860, in Manhattan; he was 30, she 26. As noted above, they were living with the family of Amelia's older sister Mary Jane as of June 3 that same year, at the time of the 1860 US census. Twenty years later in the 1880 US census they are recorded as living on their own, with two Irish servants but no children (note that given the 20-year gap, there could have been children who grew up and moved out, or who did not survive to adulthood). Amelia Waldron was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery on January 25, 1899 (lot 17753, section H).

By the evidence we have, Leroy W. Fairchild grew up poor. The family was at a new address every year, and he was just a boy when his father died, leaving his mother with four small children. It was common for boys to begin apprenticeships around the age of thirteen, so it is quite possible that the foundation date of 1843 later claimed for the Fairchild company actually represents the start of Leroy W. Fairchild's apprenticeship (it is equally possible, however, that it represents the foundation date of the company in which he was employed, and which he eventually rose to own). For now, this is speculation; we do know that around 1850, Fairchild was working for John Rendell, and already making important contributions (under "Pen", in Johnson's Universal Cyclop√¶diavol. 6, 1889, p. 184):
Two other men, Alexander Morton and Leroy W. Fairchild —the latter at first employed by Mr. Rendell, and the former by Mr. Bagley—about 1850 or 1851 added two important particulars toward perfecting this interesting manufacture. Mr. Fairchild bedded the iridium points in the gold instead of soldering them, thereby avoiding the galvanic and corrosive action of the ink on the two metals, the solder and the gold, as well as giving the points a firmer hold on the pen, and modified the form and roundness of the pen . . .
The "at first employed by" above is suggestive, but not entirely clear. Whether Fairchild came to Rendell as an apprentice or as a young journeyman, though, is less important than the fact that by the age of twenty he was more than pulling his weight in the shop of one of the most innovative penmakers of the time, who elevated him to a full partner in the business on Jan 14, 1853. Fairchild would have been all of 22 years old, with little personal capital, so this promotion must have been based entirely on his personal merits and abilities. For more on Rendell & Fairchild and Rendell's demise in 1859, see my post on Rendell here (noting particularly the entry cited in the update, under "Pen" in The New American Cyclopaedia, vol. 13, 1861, p. 101, containing a very early description of the Fairchild factory).

The change in Leroy W. Fairchild's economic status between 1860 and 1870 is striking. At the time of the 1860 US census he was living at the house of his brother-in-law, along with his wife, two small children, and his mother. No assets are listed, neither real estate nor personal. In a list of the taxable incomes of New Yorkers in 1863, however (The Income Record: A List Giving the Taxable Income for the Year 1863 of Every Resident of New York, 1865, p. 138), Fairchild is listed as having earned $5400, putting him in the top 15% of New York City residents with incomes of $600 or more. And by the time of the 1870 US census, he was living in Norwalk, Connecticut, with six children, his mother, and three servants plus a nurse. The census further records no less than $18,000 in real estate and $100,000 in other assets.

Leroy W. Fairchild married Sarah Ann Cholwell on January 23, 1856, in Norwalk, Connecticut (New York Times, Jan 28, 1856, p. 8). She was born in New York or Connecticut around 1837, and died in New York City on January 8, 1890. She was buried three days later at Woodlawn Cemetery.
There were six children from the marriage: Leroy Cholwell (1857 - Nov 30, 1939); Anna (Sep 1, 1859 - 1896); George Winfield (Oct 17, 1861 - Sep 28, 1948); Harry Penton (Feb 18, 1863 - Mar 27, 1947); Charles Ring (May 1865 - May 30, 1902); and James Cushing (Jun 1869 - Dec 7, 1946). All of the children were born in Manhattan save James, who was born in Nemack, Connecticut. Leroy C., Harry, and James all went into the family business. George and Charles did not; George pursued a long and successful business career, but Charles died relatively young and apparently troubled.

Leroy Cholwell Fairchild married Julia Louise Moore on Oct 19, 1882 in Manhattan (the digitized record mistranscribes Leroy's middle initial as "J" instead of "C"). Their son, also named Leroy C., was born Jan 20, 1884 in Essex, New Jersey; the birth record lists the father's age as 28, the mother's, 21. Their daughter Adelaide was married on Dec 1, 1909 in Manhattan to John Welles Arnold, age 25. Their daughter Lila, 22, was married on Nov 4, 1915 in Manhattan, to Lucius Porter Janeway, age 23. Leroy C. and Julia L. M. Fairchild were divorced on Jun 4, 1913, in Accomack County, Virginia. On Jun 26, 1913, Leroy C. married Mabel H. Pigot of Brooklyn, herself recently divorced (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jun 26, 1913, p. 1). Leroy C. was described as "of Wachapreague. Va." Leroy C. died on Nov 30, 1939; the following obituary appeared in The Suffolk County News, Dec 1, 1939, p. 4:
Le Roy Cholwell Fairchild, who resided on Seaman avenue, Bayport, died last night in Dr. King's Hospital at Bay Shore. He was in his 83rd year. Mr. Fairchild, who has lived in this vicinity for the last 27 years, was born in 1857, the son of Le Roy Wilson and Sarah Cholwell Fairchild. He had been retired for more than 30 years, having been in the jewelry business. He is survived by his wife, Mabel Hincken Fairchild; two daughters, Mrs. John W Arnold of Chappaqua, N. Y., and Mrs. Lucius P. Janeway of New York City; a step-son. Palmer Nostrand Pigot of Garden City, and three brothers, James C. of Sayville, Harry P. of New York City, and George W. of New York City. Funeral services will be held at the R. M. Harry Isaacson funeral parlors at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon with the Rev. Joseph H. Bond of St. Ann's Episcopal Church officiating. Interment will follow on Monday morning in Woodlawn Cemetery, Brooklyn.
Although the Fairchilds had been active members of local society, it seems Leroy C. had been relying more upon the income from the trust fund set up by his father than from any assets of his own (The Suffolk County News, Dec 22, 1939, p. 2):
Although the will of the late LeRoy C. Fairchild of Bayport, who died on November 30, provides for the establishment of a $60,000 trust fund for his wife, Mable [sic] H. Fairchild, the petition filed in Surrogate's Court at Riverhead states the the testator's estate is valued at less than $2,500 in personal property and "less than $2,500" in real property. The will executed on June 17th, 1938, bequeaths $60,000 in trust to the United States Trust Company.
Leroy C. had declared bankruptcy back in 1905. As reported in the New York Tribune, Sep 2, 1905, p. 10:

It is noteworthy that his largest creditor by far was his own father, Leroy W. Fairchild. The bankruptcy was finalized not long after (New York Times, Sep 25, 1905, p. 11).

With this as background, it is not surprising that Leroy W.'s will, signed on Nov 16, 1906, did not immediately disburse his assets to his four surviving children, but instead set up trusts to provide them with a steady annual income of $3,000 each. The original amount of each of the four trust funds was around $70,000; the will also discharged any unpaid debts between sons and father. The full will can be read via Google Books here. One of its provisions was for Leroy W.'s burial at Woodlawn Cemetery, plot 6858, section 13, stipulating that no others were to be buried there, excepting only his son Leroy C. The will provided for the trust funds to pass down to the next generation upon his sons' deaths, with the assets of each fund being paid out in full upon each grandchild reaching his or her majority. The one exception was the only son of his son Charles Ring, who received only a flat $1,000 -- a stipulation that was contested unsuccessfully in a case heard by the New York Supreme Court in the later 1940s.

Harry Penton Fairchild appears to have been more committed than his elder brother Leroy to the pen business, and more successful in it. Whereas Leroy C. retired on his trust fund income after their father's death (and may have retired, de facto, a few years earlier, at the time of his bankruptcy), Harry P. is still listed in the 1930 US Census as working, occupation "Manufacturer Gold Pens". By the time of the 1940 US census, however, the listing reads "no occupation", so at some point between 1930 and 1940 he had retired. Harry P. Fairchild died on Mar 27, 1947 and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. His last address was 390 West End, New York City. I have not found any evidence of any children; Harry P. was survived by his wife, Fermene G. Ayres (born Dec 1864; in various records one also finds "Fermina" and "Minnie"). According to the 1900 US Census, they were married twelve years before.

James Cushing Fairchild married Clara Porter in Manhattan on Nov 8, 1893. He died in Sayville, New York on Dec 7, 1946. According to his obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mon Dec 9, 1946, p. 13, col. 4, James C. had retired from the family firm in 1920. He too was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, with his wife's family (the Samuel Porter plot).

George Winfield Fairchild did not go into the family business, though in the 1880 US census both he and his brother Leroy C., 18 and 23 years old, are listed as "Clerk in Store". In the 1900 US census, he was living in New Rochelle with his wife, son, daughter, and two servants. His occupation was listed as "Broker (stocks)". He appears to have been active in other business ventures; in 1907 he was appointed receiver for Alexander Typewriter Co, as judgement creditor. George W. was the last surviving son of Leroy W. Fairchild. He died on Sep 28, 1948 in Palisades Park, Bergen, New Jersey.

Charles Ring Fairchild also did not go into the family business. In the 1892 NY State census, he is recorded in Brooklyn's Ward 22, a 27 year old salesman. He makes a more dramatic appearance in 1896 -- or rather, disappearance (American Stationer, vol. 40, Sep 10, 1896, p. 416):
Charles Ring Fairchild, who is a son of Leroy W. Fairchild, the retired gold pen manufacturer of this city, and is a well-known Western jewelry drummer, is missing. The police of California and neighboring States have been searching for a week for some clue to his whereabouts. He was last seen at Butte City, Mon., where he was at the Hotel McDermott up to September 3, when he disappeared from the hotel. He traveled for several wellknown San Francisco jewelry houses, and left behind him in the hotel safe packages containing $5,000 worth of samples. News of his disappearance was received yesterday in this city by his brothers, Leroy C. and Henry P. Fairchild, who are in business at 220 Fourth avenue. The missing man's father is out of town. The brothers said yesterday afternoon that they could not account for his disappearance. Charles is a muscular six footer. He is thirty-one years old and married. Up to a year ago, when he went West, he lived in Brooklyn with his wife. He was of temperate habits and enjoyed the confidence of his employers to an unusual extent. His brothers received word from Butte City that it was thought at the hotel there that he had become demented suddenly, and that his absence had awakened fears that he might have met with foul play at the hands of persons who knew that he traveled with valuables in his possession. The brothers also learned that the dealers whose goods he carried had put in written claims for the jewels held by the hotel proprietor, and that the latter had refused to give up possession of the samples until they were fully identified by personal representatives of the owners. The brothers had heard nothing from the missing man since he went West. He was not interested in the pen manufacturing business in this city.
The story was also reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Sep 9, 1896, p. 1) and in the New York Times a few days later (Sep 12, 1896). Charles' reappearance was reported the next week (American Stationer, vol. 40, Sep 17 1896, p. 453):
Charles Ring Fairchild, the missing traveling salesman, has been located at Spokane, Wash., where he was seen on September 7 by a traveling salesman. He had been disposing of some of the finest sample jewelry in his possession to raise money to get home. He appeared to be unbalanced mentally.
I have not traced what happened to him thereafter in any detail. In the 1900 US census he is probably to be identified with the Ring Fairchild recorded living in Pigeon Township, Evansville, Indiana, a boarder along with his wife Maude, occupation "Travl. Salesman (books)". He died in Chicago on May 30, 1902, and was buried there at Oakwoods Cemetery. As noted above, Charles' only son was the only grandchild of Leroy W. Fairchild not to receive a trust fund. The son was also named Charles Ring Fairchild, and was born in Brooklyn on Jul 28, 1886. His parents were both 21 and New York-born, his mother named as Gertrude E. Brown. His 1917 draft registration record lists him as a married resident of Jersey City, a mechanical engineer in New York City for the Locomotive Feed Water Heater Co.

Annie Fairchild was Leroy W. Fairchild's only daughter. I have not found much about her, but the Brooklyn Daily Eagle report on Charles Ring Fairchild's disappearance, cited above (Sep 9, 1896, p. 1), also notes that his father Leroy W. Fairchild "is at present out of the city for the benefit of his health. Only a few months ago he lost a daughter."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Taps for inner cap extraction

Pulling inner caps can be tricky work, especially when the cap is celluloid (which shrinks with age) and the inner cap is hard rubber (which does not). I'll eventually get around to explaining the techniques I use, and particularly the ways I apply heat, but for now I'd like to share the chart below. If you decide to use taps as inner cap extractors, you'll want to make sure they are sized correctly. If you use a mix of metric and fractional inch taps, you should virtually always be able to thread a tap into the inner cap without having to cut too deeply into its inner surface, which risks both breakage and loss of inktightness. For the same reason, try to get taps with the finest threads you can for each given diameter.

OD (inches)
Tap size
OD (mm)
12-24 or 12-28
.3125 or .3150
5/16” or M8
7.94 or 8.0
.4375 or .4331
7/16 or M11
11.1 or 11.0

*Special thread – a bit harder to find