Less Common British Pens: Selsdon

Not exactly rare but by no means common, Selsdon pens don’t attract a lot of attention when they do appear. They’re not without their points of interest, though.

The most commonly seen Selsdon is a late forties pen, quite large, with a straight barrel and a curved stepped clip. It can appear with either a warranted 14ct nib or a plated one, and I suspect that the company had no nib-making facility of their own, but bought them in.

The other Selsdon that appears quite frequently has a strong resemblance to the Eversharp Skyline, with its tapered barrel and domed cap. Again, this appears to be a nineteen-forties pen.

These designs were not exactly inspired, and the execution was not quite in the first rank either. The pens would be without interest were it not for the plastic they are made from. I can’t identify what it is, except to say that it is heavier and more dense than celluloid, and appears to have been machined from the rod rather than moulded. I haven’t seen anything quite like it elsewhere. It has lasted well, without the barrel distortion one sees on some other economy pens of the period.

Selsdon made a number of commemorative pens for the 1953 coronation, both fountain pens and ballpoints. Unlike the earlier pens, which were invariably black, some of these pens were produced in attractive, colourful patterns. Boxed pen and pencil sets were also on offer.

In 1958 the company faced court action over unpaid copyright fees relating to a mechanical pencil, and later that year the company accounts were questioned, giving rise to another court case which changed the role of company auditors. That, I think, was the end of the production of Selsdon pens.

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6 thoughts on “Less Common British Pens: Selsdon

  1. Hi, i found this very interesting. I am trying to find out about a pen that came into my possession about 20 years ago. It is marked “selsdon rubex” pat ap 015123 made in England. This pen has an ink sac and lever like a fountain pen but has a ballpoint not a nib.

    1. Hi Richard,

      I’ve seen a Selsdon Rubex before, and I believe it’s a stylo, not a ballpoint. These are quite uncommon though probably not at all valuable. Selsdon is an interesting firm which became involved in plastics after it stopped making pens. There is a plastic called Rubex which might be connected.

  2. Very belated reply, sorry, I just came across this post by accident!

    I have a Selsdon Rubex and a 1951 trade advertisement for it. It is indeed a ballpen, refillable with fountain pen ink. It has a ruby ball in a gold retainer at the tip, and it sold for 15/6 – presumably not very well, as there seem to be very few around. The patent number is only an application number, and it doesn’t seem that a full patent was ever granted for this.

    1. That’s very interesting, Andy. Have you tried it? I have a couple of their ballpoints but of the more conventional kind. Judging by the amount of ink left in the refills, they didn’t work very well.

  3. I have tried it, and it is better than you might expect. The experience is like writing with a slightly scratchy rollerball – not surprising, since I understand rollerball inks include lubricants for the ball.

    The whole transparent ‘business end’ unscrews for cleaning, which is easy, and there is a spiral groove cut through the threads which acts as a breather. It is actually a well made solid pen, irrespective of whether it was a good idea or not.

    1. Though their fountain pens are not outstanding the history of Selsdon is interesting. They were evidently quite early in the field with ballpoints and the plastics they used are unlike anything else I’ve come across in pens. Looking through my old posts it appears that I have one of those Selsdon fountain pen ink rollerballs somewhere! I wrote about it some time ago in Fountain Pen Geeks adn then forgot about it (as I do).

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