Not all high quality pens leap out at you and announce their presence with fanfares and 21-gun salutes; there are hidden gems out there. The Boots Chatsworth is one of these, though you have to be sure of which Chatsworth you’re buying. There’s one made by Burnham for Boots. Though quite an attractive pen, it’s of the quality of the middle-of-the-range post-war Burnhams, i.e. not especially high. The real jewel is the one made by Thomas De La Rue & Co.
It’s easily identified. It’s the one with the sunburst logo on the clip and a warranted nib that has “TDLR & Co Ltd” near the section. (As an aside, a sunburst logo on the clip always identifies De La Rue, but not on the lever. Their ubiquity suggests that these sunburst levers were mass-produced parts available to anyone who wanted to buy them.) This Chatsworth pen is a re-badged and slightly cut down version of the De La Rue pen and the quality is very good despite the slightly smaller size and the smaller nib.
For those who don’t know Boots The Chemist was and is a pharmacy with elements of a chain-store. Back in the day they had a stationery department where they sold their own-branded pens among other items. “Chatsworth” is one of those aggrandising names sometimes chosen by pen sellers for their products. It refers to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. It’s all a bit of an excessive embellishment for a modest if worthy pen. Of course the born-again Conway Stewart company has now taken the name for one of their productions – possibly more suitably as like Chatsworth House it’s an overblown lump of pomposity designed for those with more money than taste.
Be that as it may, it’s well worth looking out for the Boots Chatsworth which appears in eBay not infrequently, usually at a good price. I snap ’em up myself whenever I can.