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Washington Medallion Pen Company History


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#1 AAAndrew

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 13:49

I've started to post my series on the history of one of the most important steel (dip) pen companies whose history has been mostly lost to us. The Washington Medallion Pen Company was founded only a few years before Esterbrook, but they set several precedents, including that of bringing experienced British pen makers to the US to start a new company. Washington Medallion was also the first company to sue Esterbrook for trademark infringement, a suit that is still mentioned in trademark law books as setting the model for what constitutes trademark-able characteristics. 

 

In my first post, I give an overview of the company's history. I will be delving in more detail in their story in future posts, but for now, you can read a summary of what's to come. 

 

Here's an excerpt. 

 

 


 

In 1855 some merchants from the City of New York, including Albert Granger, former owner of a dry goods establishment, and Albert L. Eastman, an importer of silks and fancy goods merchant, formed the American Steel Pen Manufacturing Company. Eastman was the President and Granger was the Secretary.

 
On April 15, 1856, Albert Granger is granted a design patent for a steel pen that includes an embossed medallion showing the head of George Washington. The Washington Medallion Pen Company was incorporated in New York on 10 February 1857. The Washington Medallion Pen was popular, and was sold into the 1880’s. This was the first long-term, successful, pen company in the US with a national market.
 
In 1856 we are also introduced for the first time to two important figures in the history of American steel pens: George Harrison and George Bradford. In the NYC directory for 1856/57, these two young men are listed as toolmakers and live in the same boarding house on 141 W. 36th ST., just blocks from where their employer, The American Steel Pen Manufacturing Company was located.

 

 

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“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928



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#2 AAAndrew

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 14:44

I've added the second installment of the Washington Medallion Pen Company history. In this one I show the company starting out and making a drive for a national market. I also mention the nativist tone of their advertisements. ("Let American Children learn the art of Writing - and American Letters be written - and American Commerce - and all the vast Business of the land, be recorded with American Made Pens." )

 

I also have a few pictures of what I believe is an American Steel Pen Manufacturing Company pen from 1855. This would have been one of the pens they made their first year before the invention of the Washington Medallion Pen. 

 

Next posting will cover the outsourcing to Harrison and Bradford and the lawsuits which ensued. 

 

You can read it here



“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928



Check out my Steel Pen Blog


"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne


#3 AAAndrew

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 15:20

The third installment of the Washington Medallion Pen company history is up on my blog

 

This is the longest entry yet for any maker. It includes the interesting history of the company through the various lawsuits from the Harrison & Bradford phase, to their lawsuit with Esterbrook. It finally attempts an answer to the question of why would the Washington Medallion Pen Company sell all of their equipment and tools for making Washington Medallion Pens. 

 

This is an important period that lays the foundation for how the US pen industry will market their pens, and for the beginnings of several of the important pen makers of the 19th and 20th-centuries. 

 

This really is another lost chapter in the history of the industry. Washington Medallion is almost never mentioned in later histories, yet they were the first truly successful, national steel pen company in the US. Two major figures, Harrison and Bradford, started their US lives there, and eventually went on to bigger and better companies, eventually helping to found Turner & Harrison, and to start up the pen operations for Miller Brothers Cutlery. 

 

We're starting to move out of the misty dark ages of the workshop and small-scale factory, and enter into the age of the industrialized pen manufacturer. 

 

You can find the entry here



“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928



Check out my Steel Pen Blog


"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne







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