Though my work is all about Mabie Todd these days that doesn’t limit the pens that I use. I have several Swans, of course, but I also like older Conway Stewarts, Croxleys, Summits and Mentmores, among our British vintage pens. In fact I’ve never met an old pen I didn’t like. I have a Mentmore Autoflow that is usually either on my desk or in my wrap. It’s a fine, which I like, and a absolute nail which I also like. Autoflows come in both lever and button filling systems. This one’s a button.
There are or have been websites and books about every major British pen manufacturer except Mentmore. No-one has done the work to make us aware of the variety of the company’s output. I know of one Mentmore collector and I’m sure there must be more. It is, after all the London pen.
It may be that the Mentmore name is a little diminished by the constant presence of Platignum looming in the background. I try to be kind about Platignum when I can be; they made a few acceptable pens. Sadly, for the most part the pens bearing the Platignum name were junk. The fact that those pens came from the same factory under the same management may make people think that Mentmore’s quality must also be poor. That’s really not the case. Mentmore made many fine pens. Assuredly they were built to make a profit at a fairly low price but the company didn’t scrimp quality to achieve that price. The late thirties/forties Mentmores will last forever. There’s a lot of gold in a Mentmore nib and most have a very modern-looking lump of tipping material, so much that it will outlast generations of we puny humans. They resemble fifties Parkers in this regard.
Later Mentmores, like Wyverns and some smaller brands, sometimes fell foul of unstable plastics with the result that some have loose cap rings. That’s a fault that needs a lathe to repair properly and it isn’t worth the effort for an inexpensive and common pen. Thankfully it doesn’t affect most of those fifties Mentmores. During those post-war years, as the market for fountain pens shrank because of the ascendancy of the ballpoint Mentmore didn’t sit back and wait for the inevitable end to arrive. Like Wyvern they innovated and brought out a variety of pens in what they took to be the modern taste. It didn’t help, of course, but I admire that they went down fighting to the last.
Mentmore had always been innovative. Years before, they developed bulb fillers that ended up becoming what I think of as a better solution to the ink-in-the-barrel pen than Parker’s Vacumatic. Mentmore was a rightly proud brand and I value their old pens today.