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A Little Chicken And Egg Pen Mystery C. 1860's

esterbrook steel pen warrington

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#1 AAAndrew

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 23:26

I came upon an interesting discovery the other day in a mixed lot of steel pen nibs. These two innocuous-looking nibs actually raise an interesting, if obscure, question about which came first. 

 

At first glance the pen

 

fpn_1535064097__warrington_and_co_colora

 

 

looks a lot like a whole series of pens made by Esterbrook in its early years (they first appear in 1876 catalog and aren't seen again after 1888). 

 

fpn_1535066082__esterbrook-2-colorado.jp

 

(Image courtesy of The Esterbrook Project)

 

 

The main difference, of course, is that this one is marked "Warrington & Co's"

 

Where it gets interesting is that Warrington & Co. was founded in 1865 by Samuel Warrington, a maker of whalebone, rattan and steel umbrellas and small metallic fittings, in Philadelphia. Warrington patented a pen design and hired John Turner from across the river in Camden, New Jersey to head up the new pen company to make this as well as other designs of metallic pens. 

 

John Turner had some good credentials as he was one of the skilled Birmingham pen makers that Richard Esterbrook had brought over to help found Esterbrook in Camden. He was convinced to leave Esterbrook by the promise of running a whole pen company rather than just being an employee. 

 

Warrington & Co. was in business from 1865 until 1875 when, after two devastating fires, the partners pulled out and Turner joined with George Harrison of Harrison and Bradford (and formerly of Washington Medallion Pen Company), to buy the equipment from Warrington, and form Turner & Harrison, which flourished until it closed in 1952. 

 

We have very little evidence of what pens Esterbrook made prior to 1876, the earliest catalog we have. We do know they were sued for violating Gillott and Washington Medallion's designs, so they were not averse to using others' designs, at least in the early years. Could Turner have brought an Esterbrook design with him to Warrington? Or did Esterbrook start producing a whole line of Colorado Pens (#'s 1, 2, 3, 304...) after Warrington stopped making them? 

 

Not sure if we'll ever have the answer, but it makes for a fun little puzzle, and a very cool, very early metal pen. 



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#2 Brianm_14

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 18:12

An interesting little puzzle, well-told, and now part of "all things Esterbrook"
Brian

#3 sidthecat

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 18:36

Are these gilded nibs? They resemble the gold nibs of similar date and may have been made as a cheaper, less friable alternative.

#4 AAAndrew

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 18:56

Some are gilt, most are just gold-colored brass. I’m sure looking like a gold pen is part of the original intent.

“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."

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: esterbrook, steel pen, warrington



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