Another Swan Chatelaine.
April 7, 2015 3 Comments
This isn’t the first of these chatelaine pens that I have written about but it’s well worth writing about another one. For once I have an exact date for the pen – it’s 1913 and Ada L Frost was given this pen, probably for a significant birthday – perhaps that’s when she reached the age of 21. A Google search showed up plenty of Ada L Frosts but they were all in America. This pen was made in England and it’s very unlikely that it crossed the Atlantic twice, so we must assume that there is no English record for this particular Ada.
So what can we tell about her? Just about the only thing that we can say with some degree of certainty is that she came of well-to-do stock or perhaps was in a wealthy marriage, because this was a very expensive pen in 1913. From a feminist point of view it would be nice to think that Ada bought this pen from her own earnings but very few women were earning significant sums of money back then, sad to say. In any case, pens like this were usually given as presents.
There is a patent date on the broad cap band but it’s considerably worn so I can’t see what the actual date is. The rest on the of the plating, on the two decorated finials on the end of the barrel and the top of the cap remains very good. The only faults I can see are misaligned nib tines, which I can fix easily and the cap locking mechanism, a form of bayonet, doesn’t work. I’ll have a look at that and see what I can do. The black of the hard rubber remains as intense as when it was new. I unscrewed the section and was rewarded with sight of a very new looking thread. It might have been cut yesterday.
Even though I cannot trace its first owner, it feels like a wonderful privilege to handle this 102 year old pen which may not have been used since it was last held by Ada L Frost. Though it’s not available to me, her biography is tied up in this pen which doubtless followed her throughout much of her life. We cannot know what the personal events of her life were but World War I was looming when she got this pen and all the various events of the first half of the 20th century: coming off the gold standard, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression and the Hunger Marches, the growing threat of yet another war – all these were to come while Ada had her pen.
Something like this, a very high quality pen, becomes even more precious when there’s a name and a date. I know that though it will not remain in my hands for very long I will always remember it. It has a special significance of its own.