A Burnham Boots Chatsworth

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!


4 thoughts on “A Burnham Boots Chatsworth

  1. I recently picked up a sweet Boots pen, this one is a BCHR eyedropper with a simple imprint “Dorothy” Fountain Pen and the Boots Logo. Sadly with its Warranted nib there’s no clue as to who made it. I keep on meaning to take it apart as the over-under feed configuration is most odd, possibly a makeshift repair. Despite being a ‘Warranted’ nib it is a lovely writer with a lot of flex.
    Sadly Boots are in a slow decline, let’s hope they don’t go the way of Woolworths etc. My childhood urban landscape has all but disappeared.

      1. Hi Deb,
        I’ve sent you a couple of photos for your reference. I’ve seen quite a few ‘Boots’ pens but I think this is the earliest one I’ve come across. I think that I read somewhere that Onoto used to make pens for Boots in the early years, but I’m not sure about this one.
        I’ve opened it up and it looks like someone broke the original O/U feed and put it all back haphazardly to make the nib fit. I’ll have to search through my bits to see if I’ve got anything that will fit.

  2. How silly can one get! I’ve just realised that it was here that I read about the De La Rue / Onoto connection!

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