The Perry Duragold
June 22, 2014 3 Comments
Now that, I dare say, is as plain a pen as you could wish to see. No inessentials, no furbelows and fol-de-rols there! It has a simple straight lever and a pressed metal clip because these things are essential and not from any wish to show off! Perhaps the only concession to appearance is the thin coating of gold but that’s it. Thus far and no further. The nib is a plated one.
Why am I writing about this clearly inexpensive and visually dull pen? Well, for a start, it’s a pen you probably haven’t seen before as these are far from common. Beyond that it’s a Perry’s Duragold, and thereby hangs a tale.
Without the work of James Perry we wouldn’t have any of the dip pens or even fountain pens that are so familiar. A teacher, Perry was frustrated by the amount of time wasted in re-pointing students’ quills. This was around 1819 and though steel nibs did exist they were not popular because they were so rigid. Perry developed a way of slitting the nib to encourage ink flow and allow flexibility. He later developed a nib with the central hole at the top of the slit. That was really the basis of everything that followed in the pen industry. By the 1830s, Perry’s nibs were being mass produced and supplied to schools and industry. By the mid-1870s Perry’s was the largest manufacturer of steel nibs in the world.
In 1918, Edmund, the second son of James Perry, set up his own factory in London, producing a variety of office supplies and other items including even a motor car. It was this company, ES Perry, that eventually produced the famous Osmiroid fountain pen. I suspect, though I can’t say with certainty, that they also produced the Duragold.
If you think that the similarity of sounds between Duragold and Duofold can hardly be an accident, you’re probably right! I have no doubt that the name was intended to cash in on the popularity of the more expensive American pen. I believe that the Duragold was produced at several different prices; I used to have a Duragold with a gold nib and a single cap ring. The present example is a sturdy, well-made pen and despite the plated nib being of the cheap, folded tip kind, it writes very well. I confess to a fondness for it in its unpretentious utility. I might hang onto it for a while.