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Jean Esterbrook.


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#1 Truffle Finder

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 14:29

I live in Cornwall [UK], and started going to USA pen shows about 15 years ago. Whilst at one of these shows, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Esterbrook [I think that it was Chicago] anyway we were talking about pens generally [what else!] and then I noticed her name label on her lapel, and so I asked her if she was connected to the Esterbrook family, to which she replied that she was, indeed she told me that she was the last surviving member of the family, I don't know how true that was, but she was in all fairness rather enjoying the attention that she was drawing at the show!
Anyway she then asked me about where in England I came from, I told her that I lived in Cornwall [SW England] to which she asked me if I had heard of a place called Liskeard. I was able to tell her that it was fairly near to my home, she then told me that her family came from there, that they were stationers in the town, and had come to America to set up a factory there making the newly developed 'Fountain pens.' This I assume would have been the late 1890's We concluded the conversation, and exchanged addresses etc: We met and talked some more during the course of the show, but that was about it until I got back to Britain, and decided to pay a visit to the local registry office, which proved to be quite a simple exercise enquiring about the name Esterbrook.
When I got home I telephone the good lady at her home in 'Bronxville' New York. She was thrilled, and I told her that I was going out the following day to see if I could find a Quaker burial ground that the registrar had told me was where the Esterbrooks had been buried.
I also had to find a little 'hamlet' where the original house had been, that the family had lived in before their departure to the USA. I cannot remember the name of the hamlet now, but I do remember that the first syllible was 'Tre' which is very common in Cornwall, this hamlet's name would later become quite significant.
The next morning, I went to Liskeard, and on my approach to the town, on the outskirts, I noticed an ambulance station, so I drove in and asked them if they could help me find where the burial ground was, also the hamlet. They were just the right people to ask, they had to be familiar with all the little places, in case of emergencies! They very kindly gave me directions to both places, and I was off to find them. Luckily I had taken my camera, and not only did I get to both the burial ground and the house, but I managed to find some gravestones, with the family names inscribed on them. The house although still in use, was looking as though it had seen better days, but I managed to get some fairly passable photographs.
When I got back to my home, I phoned Jean to let her know how things had gone. She was thrilled, and she made a promise that the next time I was coming over to a pen show she wanted to pay for my ticket! A very generous gesture,on her part but a promise which I never reminded her of! I remember now the name of the hamlet was Tremedon. She also told me that she would like to invite me to stay with her in New York if I was going to the New Jersey pen show, which I did, for nearly a week, we had great conversations, about what she knew about the history of the family, and how it was that the son {presumably her grandfather] had gone to USA as a 'grand tour' trip, ands had come home with the news that obviously excited both him and his father, the 'invention of the fountain pen.' He had told his father that he had to go and see what was happening in fountain pen manufacture.
While I was staying with her, she showed me the uniform that her grandfather had used when he was flying in the newly formed air services during the 1st World War, in the top pocket was his 'Paybook' which had an address in London written in it, I took a note of the address, and told her that I would find out about it when I got back.
One night while I was there, she brought out a photograph album, and we went through it till we came across a photo of a handsome young man in plus-fours, with his foot resting on the running board of a beautiful 'roadster type' convertable car, he was standing in front of a huge house which she said was in a high class district of New York. Just behind him was the name of the house on the wall, it was called 'Tremedon'.
I stayed with her for the whole week, and most days when I came down in the mornings she would be playing the most beautiful sounding Gershwin tunes on her baby grand piano in the lounge, it was a lovely experience for me to have met her, and definately something that I will not forget for a long time.
I do hope that this story might be of interest to some of you who collect these pens, she did tell me that the 'mission statement' [for want of a better phrase] was apparently that the Esterbrook pen was to be made from the best quality component parts, and to be as robust as was possible, for the cheapest possible price, Allowing for a reasonable profit! The other thing that Jean was proud to remember her grandfather saying with reference to the pens was:- The integrity of a Fountain Pen rests on it's nib. He reckoned that the Esterbrook nibs were the best in the world!
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#2 penspouse

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 15:06

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
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#3 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 15:27

Several months ago there was a lady member of the Estie family who posted here. Now, I recall her being the great-GREAT Granddaughter of Mr. E. I wonder if this was your Jean's daughter?

Great story! Thank you for sharing it.

Bruce in Ocala, FL

#4 Truffle Finder

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 15:44

Hello again,
Having written such a long story, I was really amazed to see how quickly people read it [or should I say 'viewed' it?] It's quite possible that I might think of other snippets' which I didn't think of at the time of writing, but I'm pleased that someone has 'replied' to my efforts!
Something that I have remembered about my stay with Jean, was that she gave her house to her Chauffeur, a very nice Irish gentleman, who obviously looked after her during her final years. It was a lovely house, in what she called old colonial style, with a veranda, and she showed me the 'illegal' bar/ playroom downstairs in the cellar, it was quite a sizeable room, kitted out with a proper bar for serving alcoholic beverages, during the prohibition years!!!
On the journey back to Bronxville from New Jersey, with Patrick [what other name could he have had?] driving, Jean asked me if there was anything that I wanted to do in New York while I was there. I told her that I wanted to buy some Levi jeans, and that I would like to have a lobster meal. In the following days Patrick took me to an appropriate shop for the jeans, then we went to an island off New york's shoreline, where all the old fishing industry had been conducted many years before, [I don't think that there is much fishing done there today!] I had the lobster meal of my life, I consumed two whole lobsters, hot with melted butter! it was truly delicious!
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#5 Truffle Finder

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 15:56

Hello yet again!
The lady you mentioned 'OscarFiGuy', who had written an article on FPN could not have been her daughter because I remember her saying that she had never been married.A niece maybe, I would be very interested to find out her name, and make contact with her, if you could help in this respect I would be very grateful.
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#6 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 16:18

TF,

Here is the ladies only post that I am aware of.

http://www.fountainp...1

Bruce in Ocala, FL

#7 Ed Ronax

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 16:23

A truley wonderful story and many thank yous for sharing.

Edited by Ed Ronax, 12 May 2010 - 16:41.

And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#8 Lorna Reed

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 16:32

What a fantastic story. thanks so much for sharing it. I dont collect Esterbrooks but even so found it really fascinating. thank you. :thumbup:
Whatever is true,whatever is noble,whatever is right,whatever is pure,whatever is lovely,whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
Philippians 4.8

#9 philm

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 16:39

Truffle Finder ~

What a great story and I thank you for sharing it with us. I look for ward to hearing if you connect with the niece.

Phil

#10 kreinhard

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 16:46

A fine story well told. I have only recently been inducted into the Esterbrook cult, but I enjoyed the portrait you've painted. Thanks for sharing it Truffle Finder.

#11 esterbex

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 18:37

Lovely, simply lovely. Thank you ever so much for sharing that remembrance.
God is seldom early, never late, and always on time. ~~Larry Brown

#12 Brian Anderson

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 19:03

Very nice. Thanks for sharing!
www.esterbrook.net All Esterbrook, All the Time.
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#13 Truffle Finder

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 06:43

Late last night, I looked out an old address book of mine to find the telephone number of Jean's house in Bronxville NY, I dialed the number, and a man answered, but it obviously wasn't Patrick, so I didn't pursue it any further. It was rather sad really, he has either passed away, or possibly he sold the house and moved to smaller accommodation, let's hope that was the case. I have sent a PM to the lady who had previously posted about the Esterbrook family, so hopefully she might add some more information to this story. I would love to talk with her, if only because I am such a nostalgia freak, but also because my visit to Jean was such a memorable experience, and only a few months before she sadly passed away.
I will keep my eye on this thread for a while, just to see if anybody else has got memory-jerking experiences of Jean's visits to American Pen Shows. I do remember her telling me that she really didn't think about the family business, [and for that matter where their fantastic wealth had come from!] until someone telephoned her one day, to ask her if she would be prepared to be interviewed about the family business.She was shocked to find out that not only were the pens still used, but that there were people who collected them, and knew about model numbers, nib sizes and varieties. Then she decided to collect a few herself, and I remember Patrick telling me that he had to drive her all over the place in New York to flea markets and such, to buy them! She told me that she thought that they had "Come Home!"
Sorry to keep coming back in on this subject, but since I wrote the story yesterday it seems to have had a memory-jogging effect on me and I keep remembering things!
Truffle Finder.
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#14 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 17:05

I recall reading an interview with her in Pen World magazine. That would have been about 15 or so years ago. Perhaps that was the call to which she was referring.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#15 Truffle Finder

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 17:53

ANM,
Thank you for your input, it could well be the interview she was refering to, I may well be incorrect about exactly when I met her[I wouldn't like to have to put a date on it!] but I do remember how thrilled she was when she told me about the phone call, she was genuinely amazed that anyone would want to read about her memories about the family. Was it a long article? I would really like to read it, but I doubt if you would be able to find it after all this time, even if you did hoard all those copies of the magazine!!!
She did tell me that as regards to the family's wealth, she was aware that not only had they got huge contracts with supplying State-run schools with Esterbrook pens, but they also supplied the civil services, and the armed forces of the USA! This would explain the huge house behind the very smart car in the picture album!
Incidently, when I mentioned about the integrity of a pen resting on it's nib, she made it clear to me that it was a play on words!!! I do hope that some of you picked up on that. Apparently her grandfather was a great one for word-play. Or maybe it was her great grandfather!
I am so pleased that you seem to have enjoyed the story.
Truffle Finder.
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#16 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 19:12

I did look for it and just now found an article written by D.J.Esterbrook in the March/April 1994 edition of Pen World International. It is entitled Musings to a Friend and starts on page 27 and is about 4 1/2 pages long. There is a picture of her in 1930 at age 8 wearing jodhpurs, so she would have been about 72 in 1994. At the end of the essay is a remark that it was the result of questions from Deb Crosby, a frequent contributor to the Pen World magazine.

Edited by ANM, 13 May 2010 - 19:12.

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#17 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 19:39

Page 1. Moderators, delete if this is a copyright violation.

Posted Image
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#18 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 19:54

Musings page 2
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And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#19 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 20:16

Musings page 3
Posted Image
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#20 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 20:35

Musings page 4
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And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#21 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 20:40

Musings last page
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And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#22 kreinhard

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 22:35

Great article!

#23 ANM

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 23:29

Late last night, I looked out an old address book of mine to find the telephone number of Jean's house in Bronxville NY, I dialed the number, and a man answered, but it obviously wasn't Patrick, so I didn't pursue it any further.
Truffle Finder.


It just occurred to me that the number you called was probably re-assigned after her death and the person you reached probably never lived at that address either.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#24 Truffle Finder

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:30

ANM,
Thank you so much for finding, and posting the article here for everyone to read, you have gone above and beyond the call!!! It really brought home to me so much more about the great lady, and some of the things [that appeared in the article] that she had said to me when I was with her during my week in New York. Her telling of the intrinsic quality and care that went into the manufacture of the pens [right down to the testing of each individual nib before being boxed] reminded me of her telling me exactly those words, which she obviously felt deeply to be true.
I was aware that she had visited the grave in Halbathick in Cornwall, she gave me a photograph which I still have of her sitting on the grave with a key in her hand! The photograph was taken by her driver Patrick!
The only thing that I would like to 're-state' having read Jean's lovely article:- "The value of anything that is bought or sold has NO value unless it contains that which cannot be bought or sold, namely the honour and integrity of it's maker."
She was a really great lady! She quite clearly believed that last sentence, and tried to live by that belief during her life.
Thank you once again for digging out the article, you are a man of integrity and honour, ANM!!!
Truffle Finder.
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#25 Truffle Finder

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 15:32

I just want to say how very pleased I am to see that you have made this 'thread' a permenent message on this forum, I presume that the powers that be felt [as indeed I do that she was an amazing lady,] but the article says so much about the ethos of the Company, and the principals by which they worked, as she stated in the article for Pen World, the family were Quakers, and they obviously believed strongly about those principals which made the practicality of their pens so good. All this of course should be of interest to the collectors and enthusiasts of Esterbrook pens.
I think that gratitude must go to ANM for keeping, and then finding [after all this time!] the PWorld article, which says so much more than my first attempt at reminiscing about Jean Esterbrook.
Truffle Finder.
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#26 WendyNC

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 16:35

This thread and the article by Miss Esterbrook were entirely worth the time it took to read them. Thanks so much to the contributors.
I came here for the pictures and stayed for the conversation.

#27 OneRiotOneRanger

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 18:01

Let me add my voice, as well - a wonderful recollection of a great lady, it seems. Many thanks for sharing it with us.

#28 Truffle Finder

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 06:36

Yesterday evening , I spent some time looking through some 'old things', and found all the letters that Jean had written to me between the time of our first meeting, and ending after my return to UK following my week long visit to her in New York. She had sent me all sorts of information [some printed, others hand written] about family members, the history of the company, even a picture of 'Tremedon' which she visited, and is now an 'old folks home' for ladies who can no longer look after their own homes.
It was a real nostalgia trip looking through the stack of papers. It brought it all back to me.
I did manage to send a PM to Polly Mc Connell, and she responded, I do hope that she has looked at the article that ANM posted on this thread.
I have read it several times since it was put here, and when I do it is almost as though I can hear Jean's voice as I am reading it! By now you will have gathered that I am a 'Card-Carrying Nostalgia Freak'!
Thank you once again ANM.
Truffle Finder.
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#29 ANM

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 18:54

I am very pleased to have been able to find and post her essay. I'm glad that it was deemed satisfactory to post here for all to enjoy.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. TS Eliot

#30 Truffle Finder

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:49

I have a confession to make, [and I do feel very guilty about it] I told you a little while ago that I had 'dug out' a folder with all the letters and photographs that I had received from Jean before she died, well, whilst what I had told you was correct, I had only looked through about half of the sheets of papers and memorabilia, I've just gone through the whole lot, and right down the bottom of the pile was the pages of the Pen World article [in full, with her hand-written note to me on the bottom!
I feel that I must apologise to ANM, if I had been a little more patient I could have saved him a lot of trouble.
Truffle Finder.
P.S. Once I have been given a few more lessons on this machine that is a computer, and learnt how to 'scan and send,' perhaps I will be able to 'post' more information about this subject here!
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