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"give Us A Fountain Pen Desk Set In Which The Pens Will Lie Flat"


Mille
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How the world survived until the pens could lie flat is a mystery. I found this ad on Ebay:

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/1926-Parker-Duofold-FOUNTAIN-Pen-Desk-Set-PRINT-AD-/190373332723?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c532286f3

 

I have seen other ads where one feature is lying pens, but I have not thought about it. Although I understand this was major breakthrough in desk set technology, I do not understand why it is important. Until now I have left my pen standing up in its set, which gives me an uneasy feeling I have done something wrong. The resolution of the scan of the ad is not good enough, so if someone could enlighten me I would be grateful.

The pen is mighter than the sword. Support Wikileaks!

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  • Ernst Bitterman

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I am just guessing but the desk sets were used a lot in banks and other places of business for their costumers to use to sign documents etc. They probably locked them up at night and if they lied flat could be locked in a drawer or stacked in a cabinet. Just a guess.

www.stevelightart.com

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Parker was an "early adopter" of marketing research, and the entire practice of marketing as a whole.

 

My guess is that some market research or another, "back when", suggested that customers might perceive this "lying flat" feature as a product advantage... And so Parker communicated about it in their advertising. If you think about it, there were just "so many" sales arguments that pen manufacturers had available at that time to differentiate their products from the competition's that - at least superficially - tended to appear fairly similar to many consumers.

 

BTW, it's interesting to remark that Waterman Canada also manufactured a lying flat desk set for Aiken Lambert in the 1930s known as the Skywriter". A little later Waterman acquired Aiken Lambert and continued to manufacture variants of this lying flat desk set for a while under the same Skywriter model name.

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I quite like the capacity for laying a desk set flat, as I do tuck mine into a desk drawer regularly. I have just missed out (through my unfortunate habit of low-ball bidding) on a very interesting Waterman desk object that appears to lie flat all the time:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v249/takematsu/Watermandesk1.jpg

 

...with the socket swivelling up to receive the pen when empty, it seems:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v249/takematsu/Watermandesk2-1.jpg

Edited by Ernst Bitterman

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

fpn_1465330536__hwabutton.jpg

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Claims that the world has been waiting for a particular new invention are as old as advertising. One always has to ask if this was a solution to a common problem, or a solution in search of a problem.

 

The advantage of a desk-pen that lies flat is that it doesn't have the same potential to leak into the holder as a desk pen that does not lie flat. Was it really a major problem? Dozens of desk-sets were made that did not lie flat, even later, and they seem to have worked. On the other hand, most of the large makers adopted holders where the pen could be held horizontal. One could try searching the magazine and newspaper literature of the time for references to the problem - particularly old magazines aimed at secretaries and clerical workers or stenographers.

 

Edit to add - many desk sets made after this one had a similar solution where the holder simply pivoted down far enough for the pen to be left in a horizontal position. Nothing quite so dramatic as this or EBs Waterman (above). I think it became industry standard after a while, though I note that the 1950s Sheaffer Tip-dip desk set I have does not pivot at all, and seems just fine.

 

John

Edited by Johnny Appleseed

So if you have a lot of ink,

You should get a Yink, I think.

 

- Dr Suess

 

Always looking for pens by Baird-North, Charles Ingersoll, and nibs marked "CHI"

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I have just missed out (through my unfortunate habit of low-ball bidding) on a very interesting Waterman desk object that appears to lie flat all the time:

 

Someone brought one of those to our VPC meeting back in May. So cool.

 

Looking at that ad in the OP, now, I'm wondering if Delta used that pen as a reference for the Dolcevita desk pen or if it's just a coincidence. Quite possibly the latter, since it's also a similar pattern to the non-desk-pen Dolcevitas.

Edited by Silvermink

http://twitter.com/pawcelot

Vancouver Pen Club

 

Currently inked:

 

Montegrappa NeroUno Linea - J. Herbin Poussière de Lune //. Aurora Optima Demonstrator - Aurora Black // Varuna Rajan - Kaweco Green // TWSBI Vac 700R - Visconti Purple

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Thank you very much for your answers. From them my guess is that in those days there might have been a problem with leaking pens. Later the pens became better designed, and there was no need for the pens to lie flat.

The pen is mighter than the sword. Support Wikileaks!

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Actually, in... er... some period Parker resource I was looking at, the stated intent was to make them easy to stow in even a shallow desk drawer. Thus, the cleaners or passing mail boys were not tempted to write with pens above their station.

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

fpn_1465330536__hwabutton.jpg

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Actually, in... er... some period Parker resource I was looking at, the stated intent was to make them easy to stow in even a shallow desk drawer. Thus, the cleaners or passing mail boys were not tempted to write with pens above their station.

 

Which caused the desk pens to be redesigned for the next fourty years? At least that is what I have seen, that in the sixties there where desk sets with the pens pixed. The World of Design is a strange world.

The pen is mighter than the sword. Support Wikileaks!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've always assumed that you would put your desk set in a drawer at night to keep it from being stolen.Good luck,

Don

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