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Curious Pen - Early A. Morton / Kaweco ? [Success]


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#1 Phthalo

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:18

A few weeks back I bought a pen, mistakenly thinking the nib marking meant it was from the Morton (sub-brand of Morrison) company, but after finding this Morton-Morrison thread, I realized the Morton connection was actually A Morton - a different Morton entirely. This is Alexander Morton - the A. Morton Pen Company / Morton's Gold Pens, which was founded in the mid-1850's.

This is the pen:
Posted Image

This is the pen's description:
"ANTIQUE TOLEDO FP (PELIKAN, KAWECO). This is an antique toledo fountain pen, sold as is. The pen cap is marked: A MORTON NEW YORK."

I have been reading on FPN about the A Morton / Kaweco connection in this Kaweco history thread, and wonder if this pen is a joint-effort from the two companies? I have seen some images of early Kaweco pens, and they are very fine. The gold-coloured designs of this pen seem quite fine and neat, but otherwise the pen finish seems quite crude... perhaps one day long ago it was a handsome pen, before it was abused.

Posted Image

I can't fathom what the pen is made of... but the condition is very, very poor - the cap has rusted through and the side of the cap seems to have holes. I originally thought the gold design was damascene, but with some help from rhr/George, I now understand that it is much more akin to traditional Toldeo decoration techniques. (Cap/barrel sleeve engraved and inlaid with gold.)

Posted Image

The nib reads:
A
MORTON
NEW-YORK
1st QUALITY
No 2

If anyone can shed some light on this odd lever fill pen, it would be much appreciated. I'm expecting the pen in the mail this week, so when it arrives I wll add some additional pictures and any other findings.

(This is also posted in the Writing Instruments forum.)

Thanks,
Laura/Phthalo.

Edited by Phthalo, 06 September 2006 - 21:20.

Laura / Phthalo
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#2 Kaweco

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:52

Hi Laura/ Phtalo
This is an interessant and rare pen! It seems to be a real hand made Toledo version. Alas it is system immanent that a combination of 2 metals with different nobility in touch with an agressive fluid like ink makes destructive corrosiones. Most of the corrosion at your pen is where the nib touched the cap top inside. For the survive of your pen during the next 100 years it will be better to remove the salts and the dried ink.
I don`t think, that the pen was sold in Germany. Of course there are metal overlaied pens with cylindric barrels but I didn`t find this Toledo version in a catalogue. One of the few exemplars could be found at the cover of the new released CD- ROM of Kaweco. See pic below.
Your pen is a lever filling and this filling method was not very common in Germany. The Kaweco adopted and enhenced the safety method and used it for all their high end fountainpens.
The lever of your pen is a little bit irritating. It looks plain and simple among this gorgeous pen.
My congratulationes. Keep your pen in a safe place ;)
Kind Regards
Thomas.N

#3 Phthalo

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 10:32

Hi Thomas - thank you very much for responding to this, you are a wonderful source of information!

Most of the corrosion at your pen is where the nib touched the cap top inside. For the survive of your pen during the next 100 years it will be better to remove the salts and the dried ink.

Of course - now that you have explained this, the location of the corrosion holes makes perfect sense. What would be the best way to clean the pen safely?

It seems to be a real hand made Toledo version.

Are there any indications of where or when this pen could have been made?

I don`t think, that the pen was sold in Germany.
Your pen is a lever filling and this filling method was not very common in Germany.

I had wondered about the filling system, and did realize it was not a popular German system.
Since we can rule out the manufacturer as Kaweco, I wonder if the pen is a wholly A. Morton creation.
Who else may have been producing Toledo overlays? Is the pen simply unknown, but just happens to have a known nib?

The lever of your pen is a little bit irritating. It looks plain and simple among this gorgeous pen.

It does look a little plain doesn't it? But whoever made it seems to have tried to incorporate the lever into the design...

Thank you Thomas - the information has produced new questions, but I think I am starting to get somewhere with this curious old pen. :)
Laura / Phthalo
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#4 rhr

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 19:57

I think the giveaway clue might be the clip. I've seen that clip with its distinctive spoon tip somewhere else before, but I can't place it just now.

George Kovalenko.

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#5 Phthalo

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 20:57

I've seen that clip with its distinctive spoon tip somewhere else before

Sometime I think I've seen the clip before as well, but then I think I can't be sure, as I've looked at the pictures so much I'm familiar with every detail.

Does anyone want to venture a guess at a year for this pen? Pelikan's first Toledo came out in 1931 (from what I can gather), but by then A. Morton had long closed shop...

I lied when I said I was getting somewhere with this old pen, I think I'm just more confused now!
Laura / Phthalo
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#6 Kaweco

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 21:08

Hi Laura, good morning down under
I`m sorry. I can`t give any advice for cleaning the cap. Its too far away.
Maybe that the cap is rotten and the material is too thin near the holes. Maybe (after cleaning with water) to do nothing is the best, but I think you will have the best feeling what to do, when you hold the pen in your hands. The barrel seems to be ok. clean with water and an old teethbrush. After good dry treat the surface with metal polish. Normally the polish contains a wax, which seals the surface. Remove the dirt near the nib, maybe you can remove the nib and the feed, but no violence.
If there is a Morton imprint at the cap as described ( I can`t see anything), it is a Morton from NY. The nib looks like a genuine Morton nib.
A lot of sellers include names of common pens into their ad, like Pelikan or Kaweco, so the searching programmes mentioned them more often. There are sellers who sell each trashy pen under the name MB.
I am not yet sure about the lever.
Kind Regards
Thomas

#7 Phthalo

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 04:25

Hi Thomas, thanks very much for the cleaning tips. I wasn't even sure I could use water, and I still may not (except around the nib), but as you say, I will know better when the pen is in my hands.

I think the seller meant the nib when they said the cap was marked - I doubt there are any markings anywhere save on the nib...
Laura / Phthalo
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#8 Phthalo

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 10:43

The cap clip is similar to early Wahl-Eversharp clips, except for the two pins which attach the clip... Wahl-Eversharp levers and sections are a different style though.
Laura / Phthalo
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#9 Kaweco

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 13:22

Hi Laura

Does anyone want to venture a guess at a year for this pen? Pelikan's first Toledo came out in 1931 (from what I can gather), but by then A. Morton had long closed shop...

Your Morton pen has really nothing to do with the Pelikan Toledo. When G. Wagner/ Pelikan built the pen, they choosed the name Toledo to take mementory to the fine art and craftsmenship from the workshops of Toledo/ Spain.
Seriously the practise of building the pellicans at the surface of the pen has nothing to do with the classic Toledo- works. The pellicans had been made by engravings or with corrosive acids.
The classic Toledo- work is much more difficult: The craftsmen made engravings or deep surface chasing and hammered afterwards a metalband or a wire with different colors like gold or copper into the groves. You can see the rest of the punces and hammerbeats on your fp.
If it is a genuine pen, it could be made around 1910.
Kind Regards
Thomas

#10 Phthalo

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 21:57

Your Morton pen has really nothing to do with the Pelikan Toledo.

Yes, I see that it would be a bit early for that. All signs point to the pen being before Pelikan's time, not after.

The classic Toledo work is much more difficult: The craftsmen made engravings or deep surface chasing and hammered afterwards a metalband or a wire with different colors like gold or copper into the groves. You can see the rest of the punches and hammerbeats on your fp.

Interesting - I'm happy to know that it does appear to be a form of traditional Toledo work.

If it is a genuine pen, it could be made around 1910.

I was guessing around 1915 to be safe - good to see I was kind of in the ballpark.

I hope the pen arrives soon; I can't wait to examine it. :)
Laura / Phthalo
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#11 rhr

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 01:37

Thomas,

1910 is probably a little too early for the pen. Remember that the Sheaffer lever filler did not go into production until 1912, and the Waterman lever filler did not go into production until 1914-15. Also, A. Morton & Co. was out of business by 1914-15, so the pen would have had to have been made by someone else. Kaweco is the obvious suspect, because they continued to make Morton nibs well into the 20s, and they had to maintain the A. Morton & Co. trademark on those nibs. That's not to say Kaweco made the pen, seeing as a lever filler was not in their tradition, but they may have supplied the nib. The Toledo work, however, was probably done in Germany. From the style of the lever, my guess would be that the pen was made in the 1920s, but perhaps even as late as the 30s.

George Kovalenko.

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#12 Kaweco

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 18:12

Hi George
The Sheaffer patent for the lever filling method dates IIRC from Aug 25, 1908.
Kaweco...

continued to make Morton nibs well into the 20s, and they had to maintain the A. Morton & Co. trademark on those nibs.

Is there any note for this statement? It could be very interesting for me, because I prepare a colloquium about early German nib production.
Interesting discussion, but i think we should wait until we see the cap imprint.
Kind Regards
Thomas

#13 rhr

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 21:58

Hi Thomas,

Actually it was you who told me something like that, and it seemed to be corroborated by a 1922 trademark catalogue. I don't know whether you recall, but you and I corresponded backchannel around Mar 28, 2005. In one message you said that Kaweco started importing A. Morton & Co. nibs and fountain pens from N.Y. around 1899, and that in 1914-15 Kaweco bought the Morton factory and machines and "the rights to produce under Morton's well-reputed trademark for the next few years". Now, it's arguable what is meant by "a few years", and whether it extends as far as the 1920s, but I have also found a reference to the Morton trademark in the 1922 edition of the Trade Marks Of The Jewelry And Kindred Trades catalogue. On page 293, the Morton trademark is still listed, but still under James Morton's name, not even his wife's, and it is annotated with the remark, "No Recent Record". Now, some of the other listed companies are annotated as "Out Of Business", but not Morton, yet. Maybe they hadn't updated their list before publication. In any case, putting the two together, I may have jumped to the conclusion that Kaweco used the trademark into the 1920s. Perhaps some more research still needs to be done on that one. In spite of all of this, there is nothing to prevent anyone, whether a company or an individual, from putting an early Morton nib into a later pen. And by the way, except for the heart-shaped breather hole, the nib on Laura's fountain pen really looks like a long, flexible nib for a dip pen, or penholder.

But you're right, perhaps we should wait until we see the cap imprint, and whether there really is one.

George.


P.S. And by the way, the 1908 Sheaffer patent is for a lever that had a retaining ring similar to the crescent fillers, and it was never put into production, as much as we know so far. That is to say, one hasn't been found, yet. The first pens didn't come out until June 1912, and they more than likely made use of the second Sheaffer patent from December 1912, which was applied for in March 1912.

:ph34r:

Edited by rhr, 05 September 2006 - 22:08.

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#14 Kaweco

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 19:27

Hi George

"the rights to produce under Morton's well-reputed trademark for the next few years".

My source 1,5 years ago was a work for reaching a Doctor`s degree in national economics about the situation of the fountainpenindustry in Southern Germany, it continues with: During the blockade of the first worldwar the Kaweco could deliver nibs to all fountainpen producers. (war ends 1918)
I didn`t expect, that they used the Morton trademark after the war, but now I found the right source:
Kaweco listed A. Morton nibs in their catalogue from 1925 and among some gorgeous overlays they had two kinds of Toledos on display. Some of the Tula, Silver and Gold overlay pens had levers, which look nearly exactly like Laurs`s pen. maybe most of the expensive pens were made for the export, after the monetary crisis the market for luxuries was depressed.
Congratulationes, George, your suspicion was right.

#15 Phthalo

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 20:34

Wow... what great sleuthing - you guys are a wonderful source of help and information!

Thomas, where did you access the 1925 catalogue? Am I able to purchase a scan or photocopy of the section which shows the Toledo? I would love to be able to include that little piece of history in my collection. Is the pen shown in the CD- ROM of Kaweco which you mentioned a few days ago?
Laura / Phthalo
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#16 Kaweco

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 19:30

Hi Laura
The catalogues appear at the Kaweco CD ROM. It is available ( if not sold out) at
www.gutberlet.com/
Kind Regards
Thomas

Edited by Kaweco, 07 September 2006 - 19:32.


#17 Phthalo

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 20:26

Thanks Thomas - I really appreciate all your help. :)
Laura / Phthalo
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#18 Phthalo

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 14:05

I was surprised and delighted to get to my PO Box today and find that my curious A.Morton/Kaweco vintage Toledo pen had arrived! I had been tracking it online, but hadn't thought it had even reached AU.

The packing box was quite large for a pen, and when I opened it, I found a very small package inside. At this point I got nervous - the package seemed far too small, and I wondered if I'd been sent the wrong pen.

From the pictures I'd posted, I had formed the impression in my mind that the pen would be a regular-sized pen, if not a little larger, and have quite a crude look. I was completely surprised when the pen turned out to be a very exquisite little pen indeed, and the moment I held it, I could feel its quality and how carefully it had been made. The condition is still appalling, of course, but the pen displays very well, and the Toledo detail is quite fine, with different coloured shades of gold(?) inlay. It would have been a very beautiful object when it was new.

Here are some pictures I took this afternoon:

Posted Image
The surprisingly small Toledo pen beside a Sheaffer Snorkel.

Posted Image

Posted Image
The grip section nib removed easily, and cleaned up reasonably well.

The brass(?) section has pliers-grip marks on it, and someone has fiddled the tip of the section with some hard black material, maybe to secure a replacement nib or feed. The feed seemed very long, and if you look at the photos on Pg1 of this thread, you can see a shiny dot through the hole in the cap-end - that's the tip of the nib! I have no idea why the nib and feed were set so high, but the nib seems quite large for the size of the pen. When I set the nib and feed again, I set it about 5mm lower than it had been originally.

Posted Image

Despite its condition, I think this pen is the jewel of my modest fountain pen collection - it's a lovely little pen!
Laura / Phthalo
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#19 Kaweco

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 20:16

Hi Laura
Absolutely outstanding! Thanks for sharing the pics.
Some more questions: Is there a hard rubber inlay or is it a total- metal barrel?
Is there any imprint? The old Kaweco made their imprints across the cap top and along the barrel.
Are there any noble- metal imprints?
Can the pen be used as a dip pen? (I think there is no sac)
TIA, Thomas

#20 Phthalo

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:50

Hi Thomas,

There is no rubber - the cap and barrel are solid metal. The pen cap has no inner cap, just inner threads, and the thickness of the cap metal is about 0.8mm - quite thick, I thought. The barrel sleeve is the same, with a brass section and brass end-cap. We suspected the pen cap may be rotten, but it isn't - luckily it's solid and sturdy, not fragile.

There are no imprints of any kind. Nothing on the barrel, and although the cap top has a small hole, I doubt an imprint was present there.

There are no noble-metal markings either. I have examined the pen with a 10x loupe, and there is nothing marked anywhere at all. :( There seem to be winged dragons in the Toledo work - it's quite interesting.

The pen can certainly be used as a dip pen. The tines were aligned when I received it, and the tipping material is still good. It is actually a left oblique nib and is only mildly-flexible, although it looks as though it would be a full flex nib. As a right-hander, I can't dip the pen and enjoy it, but that's probably for the best. :)

Laura.
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#21 Kaweco

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 18:43

Hi Laura
Thank you for the informationes. There is absolutely no worry that no marking can be found. This fountainpen is a treasure for the pen history.
I think it was made to do a couple of document signatures tomorrow :rolleyes:
Good luck and have a nice day.
Thomas

#22 rhr

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 20:00

Here's a somewhat-related pen.
Egyptian Overlay Safety.

You can read more about it here.
Stylophiles message.

George.

:ph34r:

Edited by rhr, 14 September 2006 - 20:19.

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#23 Phthalo

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 21:42

Thanks Thomas. :)

Thanks for the link also George - it's quite interesting to see these little oddities that the pen world turns up.
Laura / Phthalo
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