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Joffe Redux


DanDeM
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It is my high honor and privilege to present the latest addition to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Joffe writing instruments…

and with that stentorian introduction, this noisy but modest little golf set.

fpn_1569787903__joffe_red_pp_-_4.jpg

This sturdy specimen carries a Warranted 14K, fine nib. The only identification being a Joffe imprint on the lever and the brand’s logo, the letter “J” in an inverted delta, on the lever spoon. Remarkably well made right down to the JBar which is solid brass, rather than the usual, flimsy stainless steel.

Another indication of design thoughtfulness is its screw cap. A common annoyance when carrying a pen on a chatelaine is that, as the pen is jostled and swings about, the barrel can become undone, and the pen drops out of the cap. To mitigate that event, this barrel requires nine halve-turns to become completely free of the cap. You don’t put this pen to paper in a hurry.

The pen arrived in its original box complete with instructions and, of all things, a spare pencil lead. You can see it lying behind the pen in the lower left to this photo,

fpn_1569787962__joffe_red_golf_set_-_5.j

but what has become a time-sink for me is the address printed on that little 3x4 inch instruction sheet

In the late 19th and early 20th century successful pen makers lived very comfortably. This post card of Paul Wirt’s home in Petersburg, Pa. shows a handsome, canopied home with a broad front porch. I can just hear a Packard humming as it glides to the front steps.

fpn_1569788070__wirt_home.jpg

George Safford Parker lived pretty well too. This nearly 6000 square-foot pile, built in 1929, sports a slate roof, stone window sills, copper gutters and down spouts, 13 rooms, seven baths and what appears to be either four or six fireplaces. This might have had a Duesenburg purring out front. Located in Janesville, Wisconsin, it is currently the home of Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of our House of Representatives.

fpn_1569788119__parker_house.jpg

Which bring us to 829 E.15th Street, Brooklyn, New York, a building in the Ditmas Park area of Flatbush. On lot #0076 of block #06699 (eyes glazed yet???) it was built in 1931. A three story building with 4,950 sq. ft, plus a 1,650 sq. ft. basement, it has one living unit and is zoned for light manufacturing. This photo shows that it is the last building on a rather shabby dead-end street and as the instruction sheet tells us, home of the Joffe pen company…and possibly the home of the Joffe family. It was not uncommon at that time, for European immigrant trades-people to “live above the shop”.

fpn_1569788189__joffe_plant_winter.jpeg

Another photo, this taken during a greener season, provides some additional information. Note that the car barely fits into that “common”, or shared driveway. (It is considered “common” because both the Joffe lot and the adjacent building’s lot relinquished land to create the space so that the occupants of both buildings could share its use.) In 1931 a contemporary automobile would not fare much better. You would still not be able to open a door and exit the vehicle; that was because the lane was not created for automobiles. Notice way down at the end of the lane. There appears to be a carriage house. A place where one would stable your horse and a dray, and where your stable master, who lived above the stable, would see to their care.

fpn_1569788250__joffe_plant_copy.jpeg

A broad front porch in Pennsylvania.

 

Seven bath rooms in Wisconsin.

 

A three-story walk-up with a snorting horse and dray in Brooklyn.

I don’t collect Parkers.
I do collect Wirts.

But.
The time and speculation dedicated to chasing all this down makes me appreciate these Joffes all the more.

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Very interesting post!

 

While Mr. Wirt made attractive pens, I believe he was also not very ethical.

 

fpn_1575787656__wirt_cap_off_2_1_of_1_3x

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting. Do you have approx. dates for Joffe as a company?

 

“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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