A Celluloid Waterman 52


Waterman updated its long-running 52 in 1934.  It was shortened slightly and the ends of the cap and barrel became a little tapered.  Most importantly, it was now made from celluloid and the trim was redesigned.

These pens were not lathed from rod stock but made from wrapped celluloid sheet and some show signs of delaminating.  Most are stocky, sturdy pens like their hard rubber predecessor and of course they retain the wonderful Ideal nib.

Care should be taken in disassembling these pens as some of them have a two-part feed which can be damaged by injudicious use of the knock-out block.  Not all celluloid 52s have these redesigned feeds.  Perhaps they were tried and withdrawn.
This example was made in Canada.  Back in the bad old protectionist days (considering how well globalisation has worked out they might not have been as bad as all that!) the larger US companies found ways to overcome the tariffs imposed on imports of their pens in Britain.  Parker and Waterman established factories in Canada and Sheaffer did the same in Australia, as these Commonwealth countries had free trade with Britain.  Interestingly for us, some of these factories developed a degree of independence and made models unique to them.

This red and grey marbled celluloid was popular and was used in several other Waterman models of the time.  Despite its face-lift and new material, the 52 began to look dated when compared with pens designed in the thirties.  As demand for it dropped, the pen disappeared from the Waterman catalogues.  Celluloid 52s are far less common than the hard rubber ones.  The 52 appeared in so many different forms that it makes an ideal subject for collecting and it is, of course, the writer’s pen par excellence.


4 thoughts on “A Celluloid Waterman 52

  1. Great post!

    So does this pen retain the 52 name stamp or did it move on to something else (I would guess “3”)? I’ve always like HR more than celluloid, so my knowledge of the newer models isn’t great. I’d heard (from where I’m not sure, maybe R. Binder’s site) that when they redesigned the 52 for celluloid it got the new designation numeral of 3.

    1. It’s still imprinted “52” on the end of the barrel. So far as I remember (no great expert on Watermans) 5 is a lever filler and 2 is the size of the nib, so the change in material didn’t change the number code. That said, it’s by no means the same pen. The lever and box are more rounded and it has a new “coffin” style clip. Designs were changing fast by then, though, and it still looked like Dad’s pen, or even Granddad’s. It’s time was over.

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