Back in the beginning of April, I saw a small job lot in Ebay that took my interest. There was a virtually worthless Platignum Silverline, a black chased hard rubber Blackbird and a strange pen with no nib that was evidently quite old. At first glance, because it had a prominent barrel ring, I took it to be a crescent filler that had lost its crescent. When it arrived and I was able to examine it properly it clearly was not a damaged crescent filler. I toyed with the idea that it might be a coin filler, but after sliding the barrel ring back and forth a few times I concluded that it was a primitive form of piston filler.
Apart from the missing nib the pen was in remarkably good condition and the clear barrel imprint told me that this pen was The President, made (or sold) by Thos. Fattorini Skipton Ltd. A quick search online showed that the Fattorini company still existed, and there’s a wonderful PDF file of the history of this entrepreneurial family here:
I found an email for the company’s Birmingham sales team and wrote including a couple of photos to enquire whether they knew anything about this long-ago product. I had little hope of a reply so it was a pleasant surprise when an email arrived from Greg Fattorini, Managing Director. He informed me that though they had no record of this pen, they had outsourced manufacture of pens that they sold in the their jewellery shops, some from De La Rue, the makers of the Onoto pen, and others from Switzerland and the USA. If I was pushed into a corner I think I might opt for the USA as the most likely source of this pen, given its resemblance to other American pens of the period. Given that Thos.Fattorini (Skipton) Ltd. was incorporated in 1919, I’m forced to put the pen’s date at that year or very soon after, though the style of the pen would suggest a few years earlier.
The use of the barrel ring to operate what is, essentially, a syringe filler is quite ingenious. I’ve never seen anything quite like it elsewhere.
The whole filling assembly is held together by a tiny brass pin which would have to be drifted out for the pen to be serviced. I was fairly certain that if I tried to remove the pin I’d break the whole thing, so I sent the pen to the estimable Eric Wilson, who fitted a cork seal and returned the pen to working condition. He notes, “I would imagine there was quite a risk when putting the pen in your pocket of catching the barrel ring, pulling it up and squirting ink on yourself!”
That risk aside, the pen is a very handsome rarity. It’s in remarkably good condition for its years. The black hard rubber has not faded at all and the chasing is crisp and sharp. It’s an innovative and high quality instrument and a credit to the house of Fattorini.