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πŸ“Œ Expertise needed: Rare antique European dip pen



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Hello everyone 😊, greetings from the Netherlands! Happy to be here in the Fountain Pen Network 😁

 

I need your expertise. I've acquired this striking, antique personalized dip pen made of ivory from a reputable auction house. Aside from certifying the authenticity and legality of the item, they don't have information such as:

 

  • Were pens like these made for military personnel, artists, medical staff at that time, etc?
  • Were these given as an acknowledgement of a notable contribution or because of a special event?
  • Was personalization of pens like these typical back then? 

 

I'm a complete novice on fountain pens and after hours of research, I couldn't find any leads. I just want to know the story behind it.

 

I did find some Frans Peeters during that time period: one was a soldier, one was an artist and another one was a Belgian architect. I don't know if the any of them is the Frans Peeters I'm looking for. Perhaps it's best I approach a Dutch govt. body on public records.

 

Any info would be greatly appreciated 🙏🏻

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Edited by Erika
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I have never before seen a pen like that... Nice catch!

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I didn't get very far on this one.

To my surprise I have visited Harderwyk. It is a pretty Hanseatic town and there are records of Peeters family living there.

The best I can suggest is that you contact the Stads Museum

https://www.stadsmuseum-harderwijk.nl/?lang=en

and ask them if they have records of either a Frans Peeters as a craftsman, manufacturer or stationary shop in the town around 1916.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, peterg said:

I didn't get very far on this one.

To my surprise I have visited Harderwyk. It is a pretty Hanseatic town and there are records of Peeters family living there.

The best I can suggest is that you contact the Stads Museum

https://www.stadsmuseum-harderwijk.nl/?lang=en

and ask them if they have records of either a Frans Peeters as a craftsman, manufacturer or stationary shop in the town around 1916.

Thank you very much, @peterg! That's an excellent suggestion as well as the angle that he might've had established business there. I've never been to Harderwijk but will consider visiting it soon.

 

I've contacted the Stadsmuseum via email and earlier, I've also reached out to genealogical and historical societies in Harderwijk. I'll let you know if I hear more. Thank you very much again for this excellent lead 😁👍🏻🙏🏻

Edited by Erika
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AAAndrew

The style and shape and quality of the part that holds the pen (a simple, folded metal piece), this looks to me like a tourist souvenir.  You find many souvenir pens made out of bone, mother-of- pearl, wood, etc... Many have place names written on them. The fact that this has a place name on it, tells me it's almost certainly in the same category.

 

This is the first I've seen where they cut out someone's name, most likely with a jeweler's saw and files. From what I can see, it looks like bone. If it was ivory, I think it the metal part would be of a higher quality. And ivory would be harder to saw out cleanly. 

 

Most likely, they had the basic pen holder already made. You would tell them your name and they add it along with the location. Then you have a souvenir of your trip to Harderwyk! 

 

I can't see the imprint on the pen itself, but it's obviously a stub and could be from the period. 

 

It's an interesting piece, and unlike other souvenir pens I've seen. Congratulations! 

Β 

β€œWhen 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.Β 

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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Grayspoole

I didn’t get very far either, but I ended up finding other small items carved from ivory and bone in the Netherlands, making me think of sailors and scrimshaw.

 

This pen is not as finely carved as the OP’s but it does have a name carved in it. Sold at auction here:

https://www.catawiki.com/l/10805353-rare-with-name-cut-out-ivory-antique-fountain-pen-and-accessories-with-attached-certificate

C6808952-CF3D-4C02-993E-63500F50C597.jpeg

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AAAndrew

Nice. I'm sure there are others once you know what to look for. Some may even be separated from their original pen holder and so it's not clear how to categorize them. 

 

 

Β 

β€œWhen 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.Β 

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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Erika
Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2021 at 8:46 PM, AAAndrew said:

The style and shape and quality of the part that holds the pen (a simple, folded metal piece), this looks to me like a tourist souvenir.  You find many souvenir pens made out of bone, mother-of- pearl, wood, etc... Many have place names written on them. The fact that this has a place name on it, tells me it's almost certainly in the same category.

 

This is the first I've seen where they cut out someone's name, most likely with a jeweler's saw and files. From what I can see, it looks like bone. If it was ivory, I think it the metal part would be of a higher quality. And ivory would be harder to saw out cleanly. 

 

Most likely, they had the basic pen holder already made. You would tell them your name and they add it along with the location. Then you have a souvenir of your trip to Harderwyk! 

 

I can't see the imprint on the pen itself, but it's obviously a stub and could be from the period. 

 

It's an interesting piece, and unlike other souvenir pens I've seen. Congratulations! 

 

@AAAndrew Thank you very much for the input and yes it's an interesting piece indeed! You could be right that it might've been a souvenir.

 

I've approached a conservator at the Stadsmuseum Harderwijk (thanks to @peterg's advice) and the conservator stated this was made from the Belgian refugee camp in Harderwijk (old name Harderwyk) during WWI. She said that Frans Peeters could be the maker or the recipient of the pen. Checking the records of the refugees in that camp, I found 2 men with the same name and both have been in the camp since 1914. One was a soldier and the other a brigadier. So either could be the maker or the recipient. ☺️

 

The pen is indeed ivory. Upon closer inspection, it does not possess markings that bone has, and it has a certificate. Indeed, the maker must've been very skilled to have carved the ivory so intricately. 

 

The metal part could've been a better quality but perhaps given the circumstances at the refugee camp, it could be that it was all he had to work with. Either way, such an interesting item. I'm captivated 🥰

Edited by Erika
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Erika
On 5/3/2021 at 9:40 PM, Grayspoole said:

I didn’t get very far either, but I ended up finding other small items carved from ivory and bone in the Netherlands, making me think of sailors and scrimshaw.

 

This pen is not as finely carved as the OP’s but it does have a name carved in it. Sold at auction here:

https://www.catawiki.com/l/10805353-rare-with-name-cut-out-ivory-antique-fountain-pen-and-accessories-with-attached-certificate

C6808952-CF3D-4C02-993E-63500F50C597.jpeg

 

Thank you for helping me search for info, @Grayspoole! I saw this item online, too! There was also a similar-looking artifact (letter opener) at the Stadsmuseum Harderwijk with pretty much the same font type. It came from the Belgian refugee camp in Harderwijk. 😊

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AAAndrew
2 hours ago, Erika said:

 

@AAAndrew Thank you very much for the input and yes it's an interesting piece indeed! You could be right that it might've been a souvenir.

 

I've approached a conservator at the Stadsmuseum Harderwijk and she stated this is made from the Belgian refugee camp in Harderwijk (old name Harderwyk) during WWI. She said that Frans Peeters could be the maker or de recipient of the pen. Checking the records of the refugees in that camp, I found 2 men with the same name and both have been in the camp since 1914. One was a soldier and the other a brigadier. So either could be the maker or the recipient. ☺️

 

The pen is indeed ivory. Upon closer inspection, it does not possess markings that bone has, and it has a certificate. Indeed, the maker must've been very skilled to have carved the ivory so intricately. 

 

The metal part could've been a better quality but perhaps given the circumstances at the refugee camp, it could be that it was all he had to work with. Either way, such an interesting item. I'm captivated 🥰

 

Very interesting!  I wonder where they would have gotten the ivory? So, did Harerwijk hold military or civilian refugees?  It would make more sense for a civilian craftsman who had brought some of their stock of ivory with them. 

 

Even though it wasn't a traditional travel souvenir, I would still classify this as a type of souvenir, made as a memento of a place and time.

 

I have a memento also from WWI. These were often made by local craftsmen using the discarded shells and sold to the soldiers. This one says "Lorraine 1918."  

trench_art_whole open and closed smaller.jpg

Β 

β€œWhen 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.Β 

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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Erika
1 hour ago, AAAndrew said:

 

Very interesting!  I wonder where they would have gotten the ivory? So, did Harerwijk hold military or civilian refugees?  It would make more sense for a civilian craftsman who had brought some of their stock of ivory with them. 

 

Even though it wasn't a traditional travel souvenir, I would still classify this as a type of souvenir, made as a memento of a place and time.

 

I have a memento also from WWI. These were often made by local craftsmen using the discarded shells and sold to the soldiers. This one says "Lorraine 1918."  

trench_art_whole open and closed smaller.jpg

 

What extraordinary and unique items you have! Who was Lorraine? Do you know? Or is it a brand, an acronym or something else? May I ask how did you come across such items?

 

About the ivory acquisition, I read somewhere that harvesting ivory was part of the colonial exploitation of the Congo by Léopold II, the king of Belgium who ruled the country until the early 1900s. Perhaps that could explain things. I mean those were different times. I mean I just found a photo of a man wrestling a bear in that Harderwijk camp (see https://www.europeana.eu/en/blog/the-belgian-exodus-of-world-war-one).

 

The refugee camp in Harderwijk had mainly military personnel. The civilian refugees were placed in other camps. Perhaps the one who carved the pen was a multi-talented military man. 

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Absolutely fascinating! Though I have nothing to contribute, I would like to thank you all for sharing your research, inputs and enthusiasm. 👏

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AAAndrew
3 hours ago, Erika said:

 

What extraordinary and unique items you have! Who was Lorraine? Do you know? Or is it a brand, an acronym or something else? May I ask how did you come across such items?

 

About the ivory acquisition, I read somewhere that harvesting ivory was part of the colonial exploitation of the Congo by Léopold II, the king of Belgium who ruled the country until the early 1900s. Perhaps that could explain things. I mean those were different times. I mean I just found a photo of a man wrestling a bear in that Harderwijk camp (see https://www.europeana.eu/en/blog/the-belgian-exodus-of-world-war-one).

 

The refugee camp in Harderwijk had mainly military personnel. The civilian refugees were placed in other camps. Perhaps the one who carved the pen was a multi-talented military man. 

 

Lorraine is a region in France where a lot of fighting went on in WWI. A lot of the American Expeditionary Force (the American soldiers) were stationed there. Some local artisan made up a double-ended pen and pencil holder from large bullets, decorated it with the name and date, and poppies, and sold it to one of the soldiers there. It then made its way back to the US, where I bought it. It could also have been made for sale to tourists who came to tour the battle fields at a later time. This is suggested by the use of 1918, when the war ended, and poppies, which became significant symbols of remembrance. 

trench_art_back.jpg

Β 

β€œWhen 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.Β 

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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Erika
14 hours ago, AAAndrew said:

 

Lorraine is a region in France where a lot of fighting went on in WWI. A lot of the American Expeditionary Force (the American soldiers) were stationed there. Some local artisan made up a double-ended pen and pencil holder from large bullets, decorated it with the name and date, and poppies, and sold it to one of the soldiers there. It then made its way back to the US, where I bought it. It could also have been made for sale to tourists who came to tour the battle fields at a later time. This is suggested by the use of 1918, when the war ended, and poppies, which became significant symbols of remembrance. 

trench_art_back.jpg

 

Thank you for the info about this lovely pen. Such a unique, eye-catching piece 🥰

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Erika
16 hours ago, como said:

Absolutely fascinating! Though I have nothing to contribute, I would like to thank you all for sharing your research, inputs and enthusiasm. 👏

 

Thank you, @como. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about our items here 😊

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Mr Bill
On 5/5/2021 at 8:43 AM, Erika said:

Either way, such an interesting item. I'm captivated

I can see why, it is really a bit of a treasure.

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peterg
On 5/5/2021 at 1:43 PM, Erika said:

 

@AAAndrew Thank you very much for the input and yes it's an interesting piece indeed! You could be right that it might've been a souvenir.

 

I've approached a conservator at the Stadsmuseum Harderwijk (thanks to @peterg's advice) and the conservator stated this was made from the Belgian refugee camp in Harderwijk (old name Harderwyk) during WWI. She said that Frans Peeters could be the maker or the recipient of the pen. Checking the records of the refugees in that camp, I found 2 men with the same name and both have been in the camp since 1914. One was a soldier and the other a brigadier. So either could be the maker or the recipient. ☺️

 

The pen is indeed ivory. Upon closer inspection, it does not possess markings that bone has, and it has a certificate. Indeed, the maker must've been very skilled to have carved the ivory so intricately. 

 

The metal part could've been a better quality but perhaps given the circumstances at the refugee camp, it could be that it was all he had to work with. Either way, such an interesting item. I'm captivated 🥰

I'm so pleased for you, Erika.

Very few of us are able to get such a complete history for our treasures.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, peterg said:

I'm so pleased for you, Erika.

Very few of us are able to get such a complete history for our treasures.

Thank you so much @peterg! Your advice brought me a LOT closer to finding Frans. You saved me so much time and effort. I was quite overwhelmed on which path to go to next. So thank you 🙏🏻☺️

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3 hours ago, Mr Bill said:

I can see why, it is really a bit of a treasure.

@Mr BillThank you. I'll cherish this pen for always.

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