October 24, 2013 1 Comment
I’ve told the story of National Security (so far as I can) in several previous entries. This pretty stud filler probably dates to the thirties and has the look of a Langs pen. I picked up this one because of the brown/black marbled pattern. More than any of the other colours, this modest pattern evokes those years for me. Every manufacturer had a brown/black pen and they seem to have been unfailingly popular.
National Security were a maverick company, probably thoroughly unpopular with the other manufacturers. Those were days when protectionism was gospel with rigidly imposed price fixing making for an unnaturally level playing field for all brands. That only really works if everyone joins in, and doubtless much pressure was brought to bear on National Security, but they persisted in offering discounted deals to retailers. No doubt such sanctions as could be applied were used against National Security – it’s notable that no advertisements from them appeared in the trade press* – but they carried on in their own independent way and appear to have thrived.
Nowadays, of course, National Security would be behaving in conformity with the present economic orthodoxy and the attempts of the rest of the pen industry would be declared illegal. Who was right and who was wrong? From today’s perspective Conway Stewart, De La Rue, Mabie Todd and the rest were restricting trade, an unforgivable sin. However, if you have an empire that you wish to milk to the last drop and economic stability is your top priority, protectionism might appear to be the answer to your prayers. It’s also worth remembering that laissez-faire liberalisation of the financial markets left the developed world tottering on the brink a few short years ago.
*Stephen Hull: The English Fountain Pen Industry 1875 – 1975 p161.