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Esterbrook “Presidential” Series


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#1 eharriett

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 02:38

I just made my first visit to Fahrneys Pens in DC. Some interesting stuff.

While I admit I really am not too interested in the new Esterbrooks (although I really enjoy using my vintage ones) my attention was caught by a limited edition of an FDR presidential pen they did. I neglected to ask when I was there, but their catalog said it was the third in their line of presidential pens but nowhere can I find anything about the other two pens which came before it. Does anyone have any idea what the two prior pens were and if theyve used them, what they thought of them?

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#2 gregamckinney

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 03:32

I don't know what the second one was, but the first was was a Lincoln abomination released shortly after the "rebirth" of the brand.  It featured clunky metal work and a hamfisted engraving of the president.  It looked like a $50 pen, but they tried to sell it for, IIRC $400+.

 

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#3 Tweel

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 05:06

Apparently the second pen was a Harry Truman model, but I haven't found a picture.


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#4 eharriett

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 13:59

Thats interesting. They say each one is of a president who famously used it. Given Esterbrook began shortly before Lincoln took office, I find his use of the pen bibs highly suspect. And documentation proving he was an Estie nib user?

#5 Tweel

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 18:27

  • First they should provide documentation that their pens are Esterbrooks.
  • They should have gone straight for Kennedy and Johnson, both of whom can be seen in photographs signing bills with racks and rows of Esterbrook pens.
  • Incidentally, Southworth used to bill themselves as the paper brand that Lincoln used, so I guess use the two together if you're a Lincoln-phile.

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#6 FarmBoy

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 05:44

I propose we think of this period of Esterbrook history as a very dark chapter.  Fortunately for us it yielded one hell of a box.


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#7 Barkingpig

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 06:38

I saw the Esterbrook Lincoln pen as a very dark period but am more concerned since Farhney's is now "pleased & proud to exclusively introduce the Franklin D Roosevelt Limited Edition collection from the Esterbrook Pen Company, could suggest MORE to come................



#8 pajaro

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 16:50

Perhaps Esterbrook nouveau will make a sterling silver Presidential pen, or even a gold one. 


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#9 AAAndrew

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 20:02

The only pen I know of that has a solid Lincoln provenance is a pen in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. It was given by Lincoln to the abolitionist George Livermore as the pen he used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Livermore then gave it to Senator Sumner from Massachusetts, who then gave it to the Historical Society. This was all within Lincoln's lifetime. The holder is made by Blanzy/Poure & Cie, and the nib is marked B&P Lawrence, Elastic New York. 

 

In 1856, English-born brothers Benjamin and Phineas Lawrence started their stationery and fancy goods store in New York City. They specialized in imported luxury goods and stationery, mainly from England and France. The pen is almost certainly an imported British pens custom imprinted for the store. Now, how Lincoln ended up with a pen from a rather obscure stationer in NYC rather than from one of the much larger, and closer, stationers in Washington DC is a mystery. 

 

If Lincoln would have used any Esterbrook pen, it would have had to have been in the last few years of his life. Up until 1864, Washington Medallion was better known in Washington DC, and Myer Phineas pens were used more widely in the government offices, including the Senate. But none of these were nearly as common as the British imports, like Gillott and Perry. It's not out of the question, though. There is evidence that Esterbrook began wide distribution of their pens quite early. The earliest mention I have of Esterbrook in print is in a stationer's ad in Detroit in 1862. So, it's possible, but just no evidence. 

 

I'd love to see any evidence that Lincoln used an Esterbrook, as that would have been extremely early in the company's life. (they only opened their first real factory in 1861 in Camden, NJ, though they supposedly made some pens from 1858).  

 

As an interesting side-note to the Emancipation Proclamation pen, in 1863, C.H. Dunks, the successor to the gold pen maker Piquette of Detroit, disputed the claim that the pen used was the steel pen that's now in the Historical Society of Massachusetts. He claims that the pen used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation was one of his gold pens which he presented to the President shortly after his election. Dunks also claims that Lincoln used this gold pen to write his inaugural address, then put it away until needed to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. It is conceivable that when asked by Livermore for the pen used for signing, Lincoln was reluctant to give up his fancy (and very expensive) gold pen, so instead sent the abolitionist an old steel pen and claimed that was the one. But then the claim by Dunks confuses things by saying that Dunk's gold pen was given to Sumner who deposited it in the collection of the Historical Society of Massachusetts, but that pen is the steel one Dunks denies. All very confusing. 

 

Back in 2017 when I corresponded with the Historical Society about the pen to get the details, the pen was actually on loan to the newly-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. I'm not sure if it's still there, but at the time I had to contact the curator there to get some details that were not included in the accession record. The next step to follow up on this mystery is to see if any documents of Lincoln's estate show his possession of a gold pen by Dunks. That would be quite interesting indeed. 



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#10 welch

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 19:26

The only pen I know of that has a solid Lincoln provenance is a pen in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. It was given by Lincoln to the abolitionist George Livermore as the pen he used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Livermore then gave it to Senator Sumner from Massachusetts, who then gave it to the Historical Society. This was all within Lincoln's lifetime. The holder is made by Blanzy/Poure & Cie, and the nib is marked B&P Lawrence, Elastic New York. 

 

In 1856, English-born brothers Benjamin and Phineas Lawrence started their stationery and fancy goods store in New York City. They specialized in imported luxury goods and stationery, mainly from England and France. The pen is almost certainly an imported British pens custom imprinted for the store. Now, how Lincoln ended up with a pen from a rather obscure stationer in NYC rather than from one of the much larger, and closer, stationers in Washington DC is a mystery. 

 

If Lincoln would have used any Esterbrook pen, it would have had to have been in the last few years of his life. Up until 1864, Washington Medallion was better known in Washington DC, and Myer Phineas pens were used more widely in the government offices, including the Senate. But none of these were nearly as common as the British imports, like Gillott and Perry. It's not out of the question, though. There is evidence that Esterbrook began wide distribution of their pens quite early. The earliest mention I have of Esterbrook in print is in a stationer's ad in Detroit in 1862. So, it's possible, but just no evidence. 

 

I'd love to see any evidence that Lincoln used an Esterbrook, as that would have been extremely early in the company's life. (they only opened their first real factory in 1861 in Camden, NJ, though they supposedly made some pens from 1858).  

 

As an interesting side-note to the Emancipation Proclamation pen, in 1863, C.H. Dunks, the successor to the gold pen maker Piquette of Detroit, disputed the claim that the pen used was the steel pen that's now in the Historical Society of Massachusetts. He claims that the pen used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation was one of his gold pens which he presented to the President shortly after his election. Dunks also claims that Lincoln used this gold pen to write his inaugural address, then put it away until needed to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. It is conceivable that when asked by Livermore for the pen used for signing, Lincoln was reluctant to give up his fancy (and very expensive) gold pen, so instead sent the abolitionist an old steel pen and claimed that was the one. But then the claim by Dunks confuses things by saying that Dunk's gold pen was given to Sumner who deposited it in the collection of the Historical Society of Massachusetts, but that pen is the steel one Dunks denies. All very confusing. 

 

Back in 2017 when I corresponded with the Historical Society about the pen to get the details, the pen was actually on loan to the newly-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. I'm not sure if it's still there, but at the time I had to contact the curator there to get some details that were not included in the accession record. The next step to follow up on this mystery is to see if any documents of Lincoln's estate show his possession of a gold pen by Dunks. That would be quite interesting indeed. 

 

Another fine essay about 19th Century pens, Andrew.


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