Unbranded Pen With Silver Overlay

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While it’s best to go for branded pens, occasionally one will come across a pen with no maker’s name that is nonetheless clearly high quality. This one is such a pen. It’s a 1920s pen with no clip. It has a sterling silver barrel overlay and the cartouche contains the initials E S-B, so its original owner had a double-barrelled name. Sadly, the hallmark is cut in half by a seam, otherwise I would have been able to get the date.

The pen is around 12 cm, and with the long cap posted it’s a more than adequate sized pen. The nib is warranted and has a little flexibility and it’s slightly stubbish too.
It’s a button filler. I suppose that it’s possible that there is a maker’s mark under the overlay but given the presence of a warranted nib that appears to be original, it was probably a product of one of the many factories that turned out unbranded pens. In any case, it is well made. Everything fits together as it should and the blind cap and cap threads are deeply cut. The black hard rubber has faded very little.


11 thoughts on “Unbranded Pen With Silver Overlay

  1. Glad that you are blogging again! The pen looks very interesting! What are its writing characteristics? Is it pleasant in the hand and well balanced?

    1. I’ve only written with it briefly, Bill, but I’ll be doing a more exhaustive test before it goes up on the sales site and I’ll be in a position to talk more comprehensively about its braking characteristics then.

  2. yes, it’s good to see some interesting posts again – I always enjoy reading them.

    Am very envious of this silver overlay example – two precious metals in one pen – can’t be bad.
    I’ve squinted at the partly legible hallmarks, and although always dangerous to stick neck out, I’ll take a slightly educated punt and put head on block and suggest the date letter looks to be an upper case seriffed M. The lion passant can be seen reasonably clearly (at least I think so), although the assay office mark has been obliterated to the point of being unreadable.
    Having looked at all the U.K. date letters for silver for the likely period of manufacture i.e. 1920 – 1940 ish……….the only one that appears to match is Birmingham for 1936 – 37 – the other having either lower case letters or some form of italic or gothic font.
    The assay mark for B’ham silver is an anchor, and if you stretch the imagination a little you might just see the top of the anchor in the pix.

    Of course, could be wildly wrong, but the date letter seems to be the only match, so just a chance I’m right, although appreciate this is at odds with the suggestion of the 1920’s.

    Agree with the comments about Mentmore – I’ve been picking up the odd example recently – they seem to have done masses of variation on Diploma, Auto-Flow etc., it’s surprising the extent of the variation. Hope someone is able to put into print a good resume of their pens – I’m a big fan.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for attempting to decipher the partial hallmark. I suppose the pen could be as late as 1936 but it would be somewhat anachronistic. I don’t think many pens were produced without clips at that date, and the shape appears older too.

      I think Mentmore may be coming into its own as other pens become less common and more expensive.

  3. well, you have the pen in your mits Deb. – do you think the date letter could be an upper case M, or do you think it’s something else?
    I recently bought a gold filled (rolled gold) cased Mentmore from a reputable British dealer (at least he probably knows 100% more than I do), which is a lever fill, and like yours is without a clip, so seems that clipless examples from the 1930’s are not unknown.
    Would like to send you a pic. of my pen, but don’t know if that’s possible or even allowed by this site.
    The pen was sold to me as c. 1933, and I’ve no reason to think otherwise.
    I’ve been told that Steve Hull’s book ‘The British Fountain Pen Industry does provide some info. on Mentmore, but since I don’t have said book am unable to confirm. Anyone here got the book?

    1. I have Steve’s excellent book and there’s some very good information on Mentmore. The point in my post, as you will see, is not about books but about online resources. If you would like to send me a photograph of your pen to goodwriters@btinternet.com I’ll find out what I can for you.

      Dating pens in the absence of firm information verges from difficult to downright impossible and one has to make a best guess on the basis of experience. It’s certainly the case that clips remained an optional extra for quite a while but the point at which this practice ceased in each company is generally not known. Conway Stewart is the one exception. The other aspects of my overlaid pen, such as the long cap, the shape of the section and the material used all suggest an earlier date to me.

      The part letter does look like a capital “M”. It may be misleading, however, as the overlay may not be original, but applied by a jeweller at a later date. This was a not uncommon practice.

  4. you’re right – think I rather overlooked the point being made about the absence of internet – rather than book, info. – on Mentmore. I will get the book tho.

    As you say, dating, especially when there are other decorative features, is unreliable, and the silver on this one may well have been added later – we’ll probably never know.

    many thanks for the offer to do a little sleuthing on my gold filled Mentmore – will send pix as you suggest, and help much appreciated.

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