Early Days: Part The Second

My husband was not unduly put out by being restricted to using a pencil.  After all, it was much easier to control than that horrible dip pen.  Anyway, it was soon after that that he moved to another school, one that was more liberal in every way.  Pupils could write with whatever they wanted.  In those days, ballpoints (or Biros as they were known here, regardless of who made them) were notable mostly for unreliability.  Usually, they stopped writing while the refill was still full.  Others developed the infuriating habit of skipping, but only intermittently, so that you hung on to it a little bit longer in the futile hope that it had cleared itself.  The ones that wrote best tended to deliver a little too much ink.  It gathered around the point and left a sticky blob every sentence or so.

My husband opted for the fountain pen, and his first one was an Osmiroid 65.  It was a great pen and it lasted a whole week before he lost it, as was his way.  The next one was the first of many rock-bottom Platignums, the kind that had a plastic body and a gold-alike plastic cap.  It blobbed and blotted and sometimes refused to write.  It was almost as bad as a ballpoint.  The years went by and he grew out of losing things.  His mother’s Conway Stewart was passed down to him and he began to really enjoy the pleasure of a good fountain pen.  Ballpoints were much improved by this time and most of his classmates used one but they didn’t win him over.  They were characterless, required a vertical grip and downward pressure.  They hurt the hand after a page or two.

Those were just about the last of the days when you could get your pen resacced.  You left it at the newsagents and picked it up a few days later for a very reasonable payment.  A sac lasted a long time, and by time he needed another new sac, the service had disappeared.  It seemed to be the end of the sac-fill pen.  But was it?

(Further thrilling episodes to follow)


Early Days

Long, long ago and not terribly far away my husband began school and among other things he learned to write.  In those days, the kiddiwinks were seated at double desks and each desk had a hole for an inkwell.  Splashes and trails of blue-black ink had stained the dark wood.  Getting to play with that stuff seemed like a most attractive proposition but it was only pencils that were allowed for the first couple of years.  But even for a youngster, the days roll by, the weeks accumulate and lo and behold the day arrived when the teacher inserted brown bakelite inkwells in the holes in the desks, applied the huge bottle of Stephens ink – strong both of colour and of odour –  and issued each pupil with a dip pen.  Seemingly endless instruction was given while the children quivered in anticipation of deploying the pen at last.  Finally, finally, the teacher wrote a sentence on the board and left the children to write it in their copybooks.  He dipped his pen, noticed that a quantity of ink had magically attached itself to the underside of the nib, and carefully applied it to the paper.  On the very first upstroke, the gimlet-pointed nib dug into the paper and splattered blots across the paper and the desk.  That was a bit disconcerting.  Try again.  Same result.  He knew that this was unlikely to meet with approval, and he could hear the teacher approaching, studying each child’s work and offering praise or advice as required.

His efforts were met with neither praise nor advice but with a screech of outrage at the inkblots all over his copybook and the desk, followed by a good crack over the knuckles with the ruler, as those were the days when it was believed the children learned by pain and fear.  Now a simple lack of dexterity was compounded by the shaking of the beaten hand.  More blots were added to the total and the nib became bent, with tines pointing to different points of the compass.  Further knuckle-thrashing ensued, together with a loud public announcement that henceforward he would be confined to using a pencil as he was too stupid to use a pen.

It was not an auspicious start.  The surprising thing is that he went on to write, moderately legibly, with a variety of writing instruments.  But not dip pens…

Ingersoll Continued

Please see the very informative update to the Ingersoll post.

Christmas Over

I think that’s Christmas over at last.  There has been a succession of visitors, some from very far away.  Good times – and huge meals, some cooked by me, others in restaurants.  I need to get back to normal meals.  And to pens, which I have been missing badly.  So I’m gathering my energies for the New Year and a new burst of pen repair, pen sales and pen blogging. Watch this space!

Ingersoll No 30S

I wrote about English-made Ingersoll pens once before, back here: http://wp.me/p17T6K-3T.  That post gives some of the background to these mysterious pens.
This pen appears to have been made later, perhaps the nineteen-fifties, or maybe it’s just the superb condition that makes it appear later than it is. It has the curious mid-cap fitting for the clip, but that gives no clue as it appears from time to time from the nineteen-twenties on.  The chunky section with a decided step harks back to that earlier model.
The rather splendid warranted nib is unusual.  I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that some later Ingersolls were made by Wyvern.  Wyvern had their own nib-making capability and may have made such a nib.
In any case, it’s an attractive and very unusual pen.


Edit:  With thanks to Simon (Waudok)


This picture shows why I think Ingersoll’s were made by Wyvern. The 3 on the left are Ingersolls, the other 5 are all Wyverns. I have quite a few of this model Wyvern in these 5 colours but with different cap band configurations, and also shorter pens. I also have this model as a Kenbar (store pen for Barkers of Kensington), The City Pen from Spooners of Plymouth and some other advertising pens such as Earle’s Cement. I think I also saw one called a Regent pen on the Melbourne Pens site a few years ago.

The model names change over the years, I think the earliest is the Wyvern No 60, Clutch Selfil-Safety, Pat151753, WP Co, London (e.g. the Orange one); the Jade one is a Wyvern No 7N; and the Lapis one is a Wyvern Perfect Pen, No 81. There is also a shorter No 5, and shorter pens with an S instead of the N suffix.

The patent was applied for in 1919 (http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=17&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19201007&CC=GB&NR=151753A&KC=A) and judging from the shape, I would have thought this pen dates to late 20s or 30s.

By the way, the section of your other Ingersoll looks like a Wyvern section to me as well.

Happy new year



Yesterday I fixed up five pens.  Today it was eight.  These are not large numbers, at least not in comparison with what I was doing before I became ill.  The limitation is my legs which get a bit shaky all too soon.  Not surprising, I suppose, as between hospital and gradual recovery at home I wasn’t very active, probably for long enough to lose quite a bit of muscle tone and it will take some time and gradual increase in effort to get that back.  Nothing particularly spectacular among the pens I’ve been fixing – the usual Swans, Conway Stewarts, Watermans, Parkers and the like that people expect from me.  Nice ones among them are a Swan eyedropper (either a 200 or a 1500, memory fails me at the moment) with a flexible broad stub.  There’s a lapis lazuli Parker Junior too, and a splendid rose-marbled Kingswood.

Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.

The Chatelaine


This is a chatelaine.  No, not a chatelaine pen; it’s a receptacle that you put your pen in.  Does that seem a little redundant to you?  It did for me, at first, then I had a bit of a think about it.  The later ringtops, the ones with a screw on cap, they were more or less all right, though I believe it was not entirely unknown for them to unscrew themselves in a treacherous way, allowing the delicate pen to fall to the flagstone floor.  Like cats which always land on their paws, pens dropped on a hard surface mostly manage to twist themselves into the nib-down position.  If they were liable to self-destruction, so much more so must the cone-cap pens of an earlier time have been.  I’d be amazed if any of them lasted the week.  Swan turned out a few with a bayonet-type cap fitting, but they didn’t seem to catch on to any great degree.  All this does make the chatelaine look more practical, if a bit tiring.  Pull the cap off the chatelaine, take the pen out.  Pull the cap off the pen, post it on the back of the pen.  Write note.  Take cap off back of pen, slide it back onto the front.  Put pen in chatelaine.  Put cap back on chatelaine.  Do that a couple of times and I’d be done for the day.  Makes the pencil behind the ear seem more of a practical solution…
Though it’s made from some base metal it’s quite a stylish and well made thing.  Quite plain, though the equally spaced bands with the attachments for the chain give it dignity.  I confess to being quite taken with it.  If you have to hang something off your clothing for writing purposes, this might as well be it.  It could be quite versatile, too.  You could stir your tea with it or if any person in the company was becoming irritating you could use it poke them in the eye.

I’m sure they had great fun with all their accoutrements back in those Edwardian times.