What have we here? It’s a small box, like a reduced version of the traditional wooden pencil-case. Though the lid slides into its runner perfectly there’s no end-stop to prevent the it sliding out the other side, hence the elastic band.
Inside lurks a pen. Even at a glance it’s clearly quite a beautiful one.
Here it is in all its glory, a Swan SM1/57. The nib has been replaced or perhaps an unusual choice was made at the time of purchase. The nib it has now (and it fits snugly) is a No 2 stub, gently oblique.
On the underside of the box lid is inscribed “RAF Cottesmore 1948.” Cottesmore in what used to be the county of Rutland opened in 1938 as a training airfield. During World War II it was employed as a US Airbase. It returned to RAF use as a training aerodrome in 1945. It had an illustrious career thereafter and is now in the hands of the army. I can’t say what planes were being trained on there in 1948 but this pen clearly belonged to a trainee or a trainer of that period. More probably a trainer, as these colourful pens appear to have gone out of production during WWII, when the company had to concentrate on making a limited range of pens. This pen, while in excellent condition, is not pristine. It has been used a lot and may well have accompanied its owner long after he left Cottesmore. We can pinpoint it there in 1948, though, and we may be entitled to imagine that it was the possession of a World War II fighter or bomber pilot, now passing his skills on to the Cold War generation. Of course I may be entirely wrong and it belonged to the orderly who cleaned the latrines.
He had good taste in pens, anyway.
Edited to add: John Brindle kindly emailed me to add the following information: R.A.F. Cottesmore : From 1948 to 1954 it became No. 16 Operational Training Unit, later renamed 204 Advanced Flying School, operating Mosquitoes and Oxfords.
And another edit. This one from Paul Martin:
Hi Deb. RAF Cottesmore closed in the early 1970’s, being then manned only by a skelaton staff. I joined that small band of airman as a young LAC in 1977, and was still stationed there when it reopened in 1979 as the Tri-National Training Establishment for the Tornado aircraft. Although those who know me know I now live in Surrey, I still retain a home in Rutland (hence my ebay handle RutlandPenPeople)…. and can assure everyone that Rutland is very much still in existence, even if the RAF camp has now been over-run with pongo’s (thats RAF slang for the Army)