Thursday, March 29, 2018

Charles N. Packard

I recently received a call from an old friend in the estate liquidation business. I hadn't seen him in a few years, and he'd accumulated a number of pens that he thought might be of interest. There were several dip pens in the group, with the largest shown above -- a well-used hard rubber holder, broken and mended, with a #10 Charles N. Packard nib (the small nib, included for scale, is from a Sheaffer Snorkel).

Packard nibs aren't all that common, so it seemed a good excuse to put together some information on their maker. We can start with a couple of obituaries; the one below appeared in the American Stationer, vol. 51, March 29, 1902, p. 27:

Additional details, including Packard's age, were provided by the New England Stationer and Printer, vol. 16, April 1902, p. 82:

According to the official Massachusetts death records, Packard died on March 11, 1902, from "Leucaemia: exhaustion". According to that same entry, he was born in Plainfield, to Royal L. Packard and Mercy Hersey. Packard is recorded in the 1900 census as married and living in Springfield, born in July 1833, and as of June 4, 1900, 66 years old. Other records include that of his marriage to Abbie B. Holmes, 22, on Jan 1, 1857 in Williamsburgh, where Packard is listed as a "Gold Pen Pointer", and of the death of his daughter Helen F. at the age of two months and fifteen days, of cholera, on July 8, 1872.

Despite what some have claimed, I can find no record of Packard ever having lived or worked in New York. There were other Charles Packards living in Massachusetts during our Charles Packard's lifetime, which might explain some of the confusion.

UPDATE: Packard does indeed appear to have spent time in New York. He is listed in volume 78 of Trow's directory for the year ending May 1, 1865 on p. 682, as "Packard Charles N. pens, 4 Maiden ln. h 142 E. 28th". His stay in New York is also mentioned in an article in the Boston Globe (October 27, 1901, p. 33) that is mostly about his astronomical clock. This article also recounts that Packard learned the trade of gold pen making in a Hampshire County factory -- in all likelihood, Dawson, Warren & Hyde. Packard does not appear in Trow's 1862 or 1872 editions; he would appear to have left New York for Springfield around 1871.

1 comment:

lindamller said...

What a monster! I have a couple of #7 nibs that are almost too big for me to use, but what lovely things!