I hear tell that title to the Wahl-Eversharp brand has been secured and that new versions of old favourites are on the way. I’m no fan of bringing dead old companies back to life, something I’ll explain shortly, but there’s at least a good chance that this will not be the disappointment so many others have been because of the involvement of Syd Saperstein, whose dedication to the Wahl-Eversharp marque is obvious to anyone who has read his writings in FPN and elsewhere over the years. I think that Syd will ensure that the new company’s production is not a travesty.
Would that there had been a Syd Saperstein to oversee the production of the various Conway Stewart companies since it first rose from the grave. Conway Stewart has, I believe, annoyed more people than it has pleased, showing little understanding or respect for the name it uses. Onoto has done rather better, paying more attention to its customers’ wishes and even recreating a plunger filler. The nib is the beating heart of a pen, though, and the present-day Onoto company cannot reproduce the wonderful nibs that were the glory of Onotos, and of course the pens’ price ensures that they will never be more than a passing interest to all but a few.
There were other revivals, or perhaps it is more fitting to say revenants, like the dreadful Mentmore, a rebadged Duke, a concoction of brass tubing and mystery metal that is an insult to the name of one of the most innovative of British pen companies. There was even, horror of horrors, a Chinese-built Swan for a time, but I’m delighted to say that I’ve heard nothing of it for some time and I fervently hope it has died a death.
I think it has to be said that even when the result is not as disastrous as some of the foregoing, wrapping oneself in the long-gone glory of a company that has been dead for longer than most people have been alive doesn’t show much in the way of self-confidence or creative imagination. In none of the above revived companies has the true ethos of the original pen-makers been emulated, partly because it would be hard, if not impossible, to do so in these much-changed times, and partly because many (though by no means all) of those involved don’t care about the history, only the supposed value of the name as expressed in the balance sheet.
It’s good to restore pens. Restoring companies has not been so successful.
The Wahl-Eversharp venture may be different. I hope so. It would be nice to see a new Doric, especially if it actually had a filling system instead of the ubiquitous cartridge, and a nib that was not the usual bland mass-market offering.