Boots the Chemist provided its customers with very nice fountain pens for many years. It’s still a major presence in the High Street but sadly it no longer sells pens.
Different companies had the contract to supply Boots with pens over the years. I’ve seen very handsome black chased hard rubber pens that have a Langs look about them. Later, perhaps the thirties and forties, De La Rue made the Boots Chatsworth pens and after that Burnham had the contract. Regardless of who made them they always bore the name Chatsworth.
This, rather obviously, is the Burnham version. It has the typical Burnham pressed steel clip with a slight coating of gold plate, now mostly gone. The plating has survived a bit better on the plain, straight, unadorned lever. Like most Burnhams of this period it’s a casein pen, in a glorious red, gold and black marbled pattern. The top of the cap is finished with a domed black clip screw. “Chatsworth” is stamped on the barrel.
Though the nib is stamped “Warranted 14 carat 1st Quality” instead of Burnham, its shape clearly shows it to be of their manufacture. It’s a lovely writer, a semiflexible medium. All in all, it’s a rather delightful pen!
I don’t know whether Boots sold their pens at a lower price than the manufacturers’ versions, but rebadged pens tend to go at a discount nowadays. There are serious bargains to be had when you think about it. The De La Rue version of the Chatsworth sells a little cheaper than De La Rue’s own version, which is identical apart from the rebadging. Considering that the De La Rue pen shares a nib with the Onoto, this means you can get an Onoto in disguise for probably one third of the price or even less.
Of course the Burnham version doesn’t have quite the same prestige and it would be pushing credibility to suggest that it’s comparable pen, but a good Burnham is a very nice writer and this one is made from exceptionally pretty casein. The buyers at Boots had an eye for a good pen!