Today’s post is unusual in that pen I’m writing about is an American one and also in that the pen itself is quite technically unusual.
The cap imprint reads, ”US United Service The Middlesex Co Middletown Conn Clipfill”
All but the last word tells you who ordered the pen, not who made it. The US United Service organisation exists to provide morale and recreational services for serving soldiers, sailors and airmen. This may well have been a give-away pen for the organisation. “Clipfill” describes how the pen works but it doesn’t take us very far. Another example of this pen was discussed some time ago in Fountain Pen Network, where George Kovalenko refers to the 1913 patent for this type of filler. He believed that it might have been made by or licensed to Duryea, a company that is little known now but made contributions to various aspects of fountain pen development. George also refers to a discussion on similar pens in Lion & Pen where, on 29 June 2008, Pavlo Shevelo posted a picture of an Aiken Lambert matchstick filler that appears identical in every respect, except for the removable clip. (I believe the picture may have originated here: http://www.pen-site.com/vintagepens1.html ) Both my pen and the pen shown in FPN have an ALCo (Aiken Lambert) nib. Frankly, I believe we need look no further. Whatever the reason for the different name, I think this is an Aiken Lambert pen.
In case you miss the idea behind this pen, you turn the protective cover in the middle of the barrel to expose a hole through which you can see the pressure bar. You detach the clip, which slides off easily yet would hold the pen clipped to a pocket, and use the ball end to depress the pressure bar, to fill the pen. A matchstick filler for the non-smoker, perhaps!
So – flat top, deep-cut chasing, very concave section, tapering barrel? Before 1920, I’d say. In addition, I’d say that this is a very high quality pen, looking at the precision machining and enjoying the feel of the pen. The ALCo nib is a fine semi-flexible one, with enough flex to allow for a swashbuckling flourish, whenever the need or the urge arrives. I’m delighted with this pen. It will join my small collection of keepers.