Thursday 25 February 2021

The pen is mightier than the sword - Edward Bulwer-Lytton.


Lot 188 pictured above sold in our 24th February Antique, Interiors and General Sale for £2200 

Considered the gold standard of fountain pens prior to WWII the L.E Waterman Pen Company was founded by Lewis Edson Waterman in 1888. The need for a reliable writing pen drew many customers to the cigar shop that Waterman was selling from in Fulton Street New York, causing him to often sell out of the pens he made.

Waterman designed and created his pen at his brothers farm from a whittled down wooden wheel spoke. The invention was patented by Waterman in 1884, who then went on to sell around 5,000 pens a year, increasing to up to 1000 pens per day by the time he passed away in 1901. However, the pen company continued to maintain its prosperity and designed and manufactured the first rivet clip pen cap to allow pens to be carried easily and safely the correct way up in a pocket in 1905. After the breakthrough rivet clip Watermans continued their climb to pen making history in 1907 by creating the first ‘safety’ fountain pen that could be carried in any position.

The historical writing instruments were respected so much that the Treaty of Versailles was signed in a solid gold Waterman pen by Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of England and on his record-breaking transatlantic flight Lindy even carried a Waterman.

The Waterman pens continued to grow, and the company had many of its best years in the late teens and 1920s when they developed their 52s ripple series with pens resembling exotic woods in addition to the usual black with filigree gold and silver tips.

Sadly, the traditional pens manufactured by the Waterman company became overlooked by the more innovative designs of its competitors and the company seen a decline in sales. Watermans went on to make the Lady Patricia pen which was both as expensive as it was beautiful, but the cost of the pen added to the decline in sales. With one last magnificent design the Waterman company manufactured the first transparent pen ‘The Hundred Year Pen’ in 1939, which are now highly collectable. The company, however, did not succeed in lasting beyond a decade after the Hundred Year pen was made.

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