Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 428

...and here it is, as promised -- Christopher's review of the antique fountain pen he showed us at the last meeting, a Waterman Number 6!

Christopher writes:"With the early Waterman fountain pens, you are often looking at a rather Plain Jane Black Chased Hard Rubber item, unless you are lucky enough to score one of their also early metal overlays or precious finish pens. Still, there is a lot to be said for those Plain Janes, because what they lack in sparkle, they definitely make up for in quality. Waterman, in its early days, seemed to realize that the real strength of a pen was the nib. In fact, prior to if you were in need of a pen, you would visit your local jeweller, who would, on your request, show you a collection of Gold (in a lot of cases) nibs. Nibs at the time were considered pens. Then, on your selection, the jeweller would bring out a collection of nib holders (or tapers) to support the nib and to complete your pen. These holders would be finished by the jeweller in ivory, mother of pearl, or precious metal(s) and sometimes for the more well-heeled, decorated with jewels. The so-called pens completed in those days were also considered jewellery and, subsequently, a mark of distinction.

But back to the Waterman Plain Jane. These pens often had an engraved or chased finish on their vulcanized hard rubber make-up because plastic, as we know, was still a good number of years away. In fact, Waterman was --unlike its competitors-- slow to move on from hard rubber to embrace plastic, which became the norm moving forward in fountain pen finishes. Still, the black hard chased rubber of these Waterman pens had a certain smart elegance. In that very early period, Waterman had not added a lot of the features common to the pens that followed. For example, the clip was not added to the Waterman cap until 1905 and branded the ‘Waterman Ideal Cap Clip’, unmistakably set in place on Waterman caps with two distinctive nickel plated rivets. Also, the idea of a screw on pen cap was not thought of or patented until 1907 by the Waterman company. Plus, the idea of any type of filler other than an eyedropper was, in most cases, just wishful thinking. Of course, history in the pen industry had Waterman adding a lever filler to their pens, even though they had a bit of s struggle to get it approved, with Sheaffer having patented the first lever filler. Waterman further improved on this lever filler by boxing it on the surface of the barrels with matching metal. This made for a stronger and better- protected filling mechanism."

(photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)

"Now, we get down to the Waterman fountain pen which I ran across and took home the other day. It is one of those early Black Hard Vulcanized rubber pens which I have just described. And add the overall embellishment on the cap and barrel with the attractive chasing which I also mentioned to round out its exterior appearance. The size is 6 ¾ inches posted to sit well balanced in the hand and 5 ¼ inches capped, which is not by any means too long to stow in a pocket or purse . There is not any evidence of a filler on the exterior of the barrel, so it is an early eyedropper and at the flat end of the barrel is imprinted the number 6. The cap is quite long, but void of any clip, and underneath it is a fine quality Waterman, solid 14K Gold Ideal number 2A nib, in a smooth jet black finished section. The 2A, just in case you are wondering, refers to an accountant’s nib, but this nib has enough flex in it to satisfy even the most creative writer.

Ok, I have given all the prerequisites of this Waterman pen, but what about dating it? Well, Waterman placed its Ideal ‘Globe’ logo branding on its writing instruments post-1903, but this pen does not have the Waterman Ideal cap clip, which was patented in 1905. So my educated guess, for what it is worth, in dating this pen would be 1903. I do have another Waterman Black Chased Hard Rubber fountain pen dated 1904, but it seems to have more detail even though it is much the same pen.

To sum up, I am just thrilled to have scored this nice trooper, and will be adding it to my collection and using it often."

Many thanks to Christopher for this informative review!

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