Unique No 1 Pen & Pencil Set

As I’ve said often before, I’m not really a collector.  Nonetheless, I have around thirty pens that I’ve hung onto because I found them especially interesting or attractive.  They don’t have any great value and the next pen fancier along might not think much of them.  One of the first pens I bought with the intention of keeping was a black hard rubber Unique No 51, made some time in the 1920s.  The reason it appealed to me so much is the contrast it made with the last Uniques.  Though still adequate pens, the 1950s Uniques were obviously placed low in the market, whereas the 1920s pens were extremely well made.  They failed a little on the trim, but the design and machining of these early pens was very good, they are a pleasure to use and the nibs – at least on those I’ve acquired so far – are a smooth and flexible delight.
When this very fresh set appeared last week I put in a bid and got it.  It arrived today, and I haven’t had time to restore it yet, so here it is in all its glory.  The pen has been used enough to have acquired the very slightest fading to very dark brown.  The pencil is pristine.
The Guarantee document is dated August 31st 1928, and it is assigned to EF Drury, 16 Chapel Street, Southport.  The slightly tarnished cap band bears the initials WD in a flowing cursive script, so it was bought for a relative, perhaps a son or daughter.  The pen, which is a Unique No 1, bears a strong resemblance to my No 51, with its deeply-cut engine chasing, clipless cap and concave section.  It differs in that the nib is a warranted one rather than the Unique nib in the 51, but it’s a lovely nib with lots of flexibility.
I’m impressed with the smooth, slender pencil in black hard rubber, bearing a single gold plated band.  I wondered if it was still in working order, and a slight twist of the knurled end produced the lead at the business end.  The plush-lined leather (or imitation leather) box is in good order and still retains its gold trim.  As well as the guarantee, the box contains filling instructions and a price-list for replacement parts.  A nib would cost you two shillings and sixpence and a cap was only a shilling.  You are reminded to send fourpence for the return post.  Today, a nib would cost you around £25 if you could find one to fit, and caps are rarer than hen’s teeth.  Oh, and the postage would be more than £4.00!

Edited to add:  Where are all the 1930s Uniques?

9 thoughts on “Unique No 1 Pen & Pencil Set

      1. Wasn’t a good day Deb, I came second on two other items I wanted (but not as much as the Unique set). As said before their factory was a couple of miles away from me.
        Regards, Peter

      2. Buying in ebay is rather more difficult these days. Prices have gone up and the competition for quality unrestored pens is intense.

        Are you building a Unique collection?

      3. Slowly and mostly post war (not my favourite era), although there are some interesting items there too. I didn’t know that they switched to imported pens towards the end.
        Sitting in front of me, next to your Fleet, is a similar wood grain No6. It has been detipped and someone ground it down to be one of the smoothest nibs I have.
        Regards, Peter

      4. Which pens were imported? The last gold-nibbed ones or the steel nibbed?

        Gold is very smooth. I’ve had pens like that. They wear quite quickly, of course.

      5. There was some delivery difficulty with Peter’s next comment which ended up in my inbox. Here it is: “Deborah,

        You must understand that I am very organised, I file my pens in boxes roughly when they were bought. I’ve had a look to no avail but somewhere I have (I think a blue marble) ladies Unique that says Made in France, which is very like the late Unique pens. I have no idea whether it has a gold or steel nib.

        I also have what I believe to be their final pen, an unmarked Parker 51 esque syringe filler with a metal cap which is described as foreign made with a gold(en?) nib. My guess is that it is German in origin. It sold for two shillings which put it firmly in the schools market.

        Regards, Peter

  1. I kept an eye on that set as Southport is my home town and my dear old mum still buys draw tickets to support Queenscourt Hospice who sold it! I know Chapel St well, unfortunately Drury’s is long gone of course.

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