Jump to content
Classifieds is broken, please do not submit any new ads ×

An Anachronism From Philadelphia - John H. Simon


Recommended Posts

I picked up an interesting pen last week. It is a steel dip pen from Philadelphia. It is marked "John H. Simon's College Pen Philadelphia" and is in the shape of a barrel nib mounted on a turned, bone holder.










The best I can find is that John H. Simon was a bookseller in Philadelphia from 1846-1856 after which he specialized in the rag and paper business. This was most likely made for him by either his own workshop or a local artisan and imprinted for him. This period is before the Philadelphia area became the center for steel pen production in the US (1870's). It's even before Washington Medallion opened up their factory in NYC, which was the first true pen factory in the US (1857).


What's particularly interesting is that by this time, British pens were flooding the American market. These high-quality British pens looked pretty much just like more modern dip pens, small slips of steel inserted into the end of a holder.


This pen, on the other hand, is reverting to a style which was common a half-century earlier. This looks like the pens of Williamson in the US, or Wise and others in England from the turn of the 19th-century (c1789-1815 or so). These were barrel pens, like this one, generally mounted on turned, bone handles, like this one. They sometimes had bone caps which protected the steel pen during transport. This was particularly critical during this time since pens hadn't been made at an industrial scale (not until 1820's-30's) and so were particularly expensive. One of Peregrine Williamson's pens made in Baltimore in 1809 would cost you $1 a pen. Thirty years later (before even this pen was made), you could by a gross of better-quality pens for less than $0.75.


This pen originally had one of those caps as you can see the screw threads on both the barrel down by the nib, as well as on the tail of the holder for posting the cap to create a full-length pen holder.





Just thought I'd share an interesting anomaly of a pen created out of time by an unknown craftsman.



“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."


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 3
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Bibliophage


  • AAAndrew


  • aalmcc4


  • JotterAddict62


Top Posters In This Topic

Thanks for the post.


After 150 years, this one is in amazing shape. You could polish the nib and go right to using it. Makes you wonder what it went through, and where the cap ended up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Most Contributions

    1. amberleadavis
    2. PAKMAN
    3. Ghost Plane
      Ghost Plane
    4. jar
    5. wimg
  • Upcoming Events

  • Blog Comments

    • Texas42
      Dang. You are a great friend!   One comment as a relative newcomer would be within the cleaning section: issues/differences in cleaning vacuum filler, piston filler in addition to cartridge/converter. I just cleaned out my Pilot 823 and while it wasn't particularly difficult I was a little paranoid about the drops of water that I could not get out. Perhaps this is something you are already including.   Anyway, great project and very thoughtful of you. I know it's a project fo
    • Splat
      Ah Ruaidhri ya wee heid banger, you do indeed have an Irishman’s way wid dose words now. I’ll be from outer Aberdeenshire up in the blizzard riven braes of the Grampians.  Amateur medicine and surgery is it? Well what noble aspirations you do possess, we need to encourage such noble experimentations.  I pondered on leaving my own battered shell to science, but, until I read your pearls of wisdom and lament, I had comedown on the side of leaving my body to Findus frozen foods.  However, your rema
    • austollie
      Hi Smug Dill,   Nice project.  If it were me, I'd cover stuff like: - nib types available, i.e. styles, materials (SS vs gold), flex vs nails; - filling systems (I love the "thingie" comment) and how once can use them in practice (e.g. fill cartridges with a syringe); - pen body materials and their consequences (pen not balanced of too heavy and big for the hand); - and, whilst you've made it clear that you do not like vintage pens, a discussion of these beyond "I d
    • A Smug Dill
      Thanks for your input! Yes, not putting wood in the list of body materials warranting a mention was an oversight. I love pens with wooden bodies, but my main concern, or chagrin, is that I have not come across a wooden-bodied pen with a wooden cap that seals well. Actually, there is one, but it isn't really wood per se: the Pilot Custom Kaede's maple body is resin impregnated. All other wooden pens I have can dry out while capped and undisturbed; that includes several Platinum #3776 models.
    • amk
      That looks pretty good. You might want to add wood as a material (with its weakness of staining) and mention urushi. And under ergonomic considerations, the size of section (slender pens vs chunky pens), and shape of section, and 'disturbances' such as the Lamy 2000 'ears' and Pilot Capless clip getting in the way might be worth mentioning. Also possibly a general section on things you can do yourself with a bit of care, with a bit of practice, and things that are strictly "don't try this a
  • Chatbox

    You don't have permission to chat.
    Load More
  • Files

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. 13R14N
      (55 years old)
    2. ACX
      (65 years old)
    3. Baenlynn
      (38 years old)
    4. beardedpens
      (27 years old)
    5. Behike54

  • Create New...