I find the history of Unique to be very opaque. I don’t really know when the company began making pens but by the 1930s – perhaps the 1920s – they were making black chased hard rubber pens of decent quality. They seem to have had considerable success in the 50s, judging by the number of pens around today but by the end of that decade it’s likely that they were feeling the pinch like the other fountain pen manufacturers.
Occasionally the clouds part and a brief glimmer of light gives us a view of Unique’s situation. This rather attractive red and black marbled pen was made in France. Perhaps it was cheaper to have the pens manufactured there than in the UK. It’s a well-made pen, machined from the rod rather than wrapped celluloid or the injection moulded plastic which was becoming ever more common at that time. At 12 cm capped it’s quite a small pen. It has a warranted English nib and the barrel is imprinted “Unique” and “Made in France.”
What is most interesting about this pen is that it is an accordion filler. The clear plastic plunger, when pressed, squeezes the concertina sac and when released ink is drawn up into the sac and the hollow plunger itself. A filling system related to the bulb filler, it is unique to France. It never caught on anywhere else. It is, I think, the most under-appreciated filling systems, being efficient, capacious and durable. These accordion sacs are made from some tough material, usually being perfectly usable today, nearly 60 years after they were made.
Unfortunately for Unique, this little pen didn’t catch on. Sales seem to have been poor and the pen is a rarity today.
Thanks to Peter G. for the photos and information.