Francis Cashel Brown biography
Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:00 AM
Dave has been posting about the Francis C. Brown biography, "The son of Francis Cashel Brown compiled and edited his father's memoirs and published a biography of his father's life", ever since he first read about it on Ron Dutcher's Kamakura Pens website in 2006. He posted about it again recently in a post on Pentrace, "There may be some information in the biography of Francis Cashel Brown, but I've never been able to locate a copy". He also recently wrote, "I would like to see the bar raised [in] what is put forth as an 'article', either in print, or on websites. Any written article ought to contain a listing of references. The ideal is that every assertion carry a footnote, with appropriate explanation, [or] citation of a document ".
Ron says in his article, "According to Brown in his autobiographical notes later compiled into a biography by his son", but gives no author, and no title. Well, I went onto Ancestry.com and found the son's name in the 1920 US Census, James C. Brown, perhaps James Cashel Brown, but I still haven't found the title of the biography he compiled. Does anyone know the title?
[Edit. Apparently Ron told Dave that the biography is contained in a book with a title something like "Biographies Of Famous New Yorkers".]
Posted 20 August 2010 - 11:25 PM
But I wasn’t finding anything promising, so I got the Reference Dept. of my local library, the Saskatoon Public Library, to try to find the biography. One of the librarians tried a search for "Francis Cashel Brown" as a phrase, and here's what showed up. Thanks, Dawn. Apparently F. C. Brown wrote and published a book titled Walk On Your Head: how I found the pathway to perfect health at sixty-five, a self-help health book. If he was born about 1851, as the census records show, then that would make him about 65 in 1917. He was also listed an Insurance salesman in the 1930 Census, so that's sort of consistent. There are also four advertisements for his book in Google Books, ads in such magazines as New Outlook, Volume 117, 1917, The Independent, Volume 92, 1917, and Life, Volume 70, 1917, all using the ad line "Youth And Better Health", and all using the address 76 Duane St., New York, a known Caw’s Pen And Ink Co. address. So here's a book by F. C. Brown, but not the right one, yet.
But here are two more pertinent items on F. C. Brown, and the first one of these might be the one you're looking for, Dave, Encyclopedia Of American Biography: New Series, Volume 27. It probably contains the James Cashel Brown biography. But the best one of all is this one, Collection Of Material Relating To Francis Cashel Brown at the New-York Historical Society Archives. This file takes up 30 centimeters on the archive shelves. I wonder what kinds of treasures it contains! ;~)
Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:59 AM
Until then, to paraphrase the unknown writer, "Providence accorded him a significant role in industrial history. He served to bring to mankind one of the most necessary and most universally used devices–-the fountain pen". The writer claims for Brown that he only helped to bring to mankind the fountain pen. It's so self-effacing. He must be a Canadian.
Biography of Francis Cashel Brown, Inventor [and An Early History of the Fountain Pen]
The development of a major American industry came about when, in the latter decades of the Nineteenth Century, Francis Cashel Brown introduced the first practical, enduring fountain pen. Inventor, as well as manufacturer and merchandiser, he founded and headed the Caw’s Pen and Ink Company of New York, pioneer firm which gave to the world its first satisfactory fountain pen, thereby laying the foundations of a major mass-production industry.
He was born in Haysville, Ontario, Canada, on April 29, 1851, son of James Major and Eliza Margaret (Crotty) Brown. His father, a native of Londonderry, Ireland, had come to Canada about the year 1835, settling in Haysville where he became a merchant. Head of a large family, he was active in civic affairs and was highly regarded in his community.
After completion of his education in Ontario, Francis C. Brown came to the United States in 1875. During that year, in New York City, he contributed his business acumen and the funds necessary to launch a new enterprise for the promotion of a stylographic pen, freshly invented by a Canadian named MacKinnon. The pen lacked the qualities for permanent success but, under Mr. Brown’s management, the enterprise flourished for a time. Mr. Brown’s outstanding career in the field takes on additional significance when set against the background of that industry’s early development. He himself has provided its historic background which we use to show the developments leading to Francis Cashel Brown's invention of an urgently needed utility and to the creation of a wide-spread American industry.
The origin of the fountain-pen, he relates, dates back to the mid-Nineteenth Century. The first product of the kind which met with public recognition was the Prince Protean Fountain Pen, invented by a Mr. Prince of New York in 1855. Its sale was considerable for a time; but, as it was made of a base metal easily corroded by ink, it was soon discarded in disappointment by everyone who had bought it. After a few years, Mr. Prince was forced to engage in another business. Encouraged by Mr. Prince’s temporary success with his pen, many tried to imitate it, but their products were soon cast into oblivion by disgruntled purchasers and, for several years thereafter, it seemed as if no further attempt would be made to improve on the steel pen, the goose quill and the lead pencil–the only writing irnplements then in use in the Western Hemisphere. For the select few, a gold pen was being manufactured in a small way at that time and sold only to those Americans able and willing to pay high prices.
This condition of the pen trade continued until 1875 when a Canadian, Duncan MacKinnon, conceived the idea of making a fountain pen with a stiff, round metal point. Having no capital, however, he was unable to manufacture it himself or to interest anyone with capital, in view of his predecessors’ failures. A year of vain seeking had passed when one day Francis Cashel Brown, then residing in New York, had his attention drawn to a newspaper article. Within a short time a business contract was drawn up between Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Brown and a company formed in New York under the name of MacKinnon Pen Company. Its purpose was to manufacture the MacKinnon Stylographic Pen. To use the phrase “fountain pen” was considered inadvisable because it was of ill-repute with the public who had experimented with the fountain pens of the past.
It may be here remarked that the prime obstacle in the manufacture of fountain pens in those days was the high cost of suitable material. Gold was the cheapest known substance that would not corrode or rust upon contact with ink, but a fountain pen of gold would be too prohibitive in cost for the general public, even in America. However, the stylographic was a novelty, sufficient in itself to recommend it to a nation always foremost in adopting a new product. The first stylo pens were also made of base metal. Despite this, they had a large sale from the start. Their life-expectancy was short, however, and they were soon condemned in vigorous language as a delusion and a snare. The memory of the Prince Fountain Pen of twenty years previous was revived and a similar fate was predicted for the MacKinnon Pen.
Up to this time, vulcanized rubber was a product little known in the world. Experiments showed it to be very satisfactory for fountain pen use. It proved to be a nonconductor, light in weight and a sure protection from “writer’s cramp” or “scrivener’s palsy”. But, for fountain pen holders, its chief merit lay in the fact that it is not affected by the chemical properties of ink. The MacKinnon Pen Company grasped at this product as a drowning man grasps at a straw but, happily, it provided the solution to their problem.
The MacKinnon Stylographic Pen held undisputed control of the market for approximately three years. Although the cheapest pen cost four dollars, the demand increased so rapidly that the manufacturers could not keep pace with it. This encouraged numerous imitators and each initiation was offered at successively lower prices until by 1881 the price had fallen to one-fourth of the original cost. Quality and utility had declined with the price so that finally the stylographic pen became a by-word of contempt. Mr. Brown, who had pioneered this pen so successfully for five years, sold his interest in the MacKinnon Pen Company and engaged in the manufacture of writing ink. Its beautiful black color, suggesting a raven’s plumage, inspired the word “Caw”, the cry of the crow signaling a ripe corn field. Mr. Brown registered the word “Caw’s” with a picture of a crow perched on a bottle of ink as the trade-mark for his ink. Later, when he inaugurated the manufacture of his own pens, he adopted for them the same trade-mark. This is the origin of the name “Caw’s”, accompanied by a crow, and stamped on all Caw’s Fountain Pens.
So closely allied are the pen and ink industries that Mr. Brown continued in touch with the writing public. Knowing the stylographic pen to be doomed to oblivion as soon as the novelty had worn off, he began experimenting with pens, using vulcanized rubber for the pen barrel, and for his pens gold nibs which he had tipped with the hard, precious metal, iridium, to assure satisfactory penmanship. This combination enabled every user to retain the individuality of his handwriting, a quality which had been sacrificed to the rigid point of the stylographic pen. Complaints had been widespread that it robbed handwriting of its character. Despite this and many other faults of the stylographic pens of that period they sold in very large quantities, both here and abroad, until after some years, the demand began to decrease with a rapidity that eclipsed the speed of their rise in popularity. But this temporary success of the stylo revealed the-public craving, for a pen that would hold ink for several hours of continuous writing, one that could be carried in the pocket like a pencil, ready for instant use.
It was Mr. Brown’s knowledge of the public’s wants, acquired during his management of the MacKinnon Pen Company, that inspired him with the courage to proceed with his fountain pen experiments. So it was that by 1883 his efforts had been crowned with success, for he placed on the market his latest invention which startled the fountain pen industry. The new pen was called “Caw’s Dashaway Fountain Pen”, and it was so far in advance of anything which had preceded it that it was hailed with delight by the American public. The first “Dashaway” pen had its faults, but they were gradually overcome. Improvements in the manufacturing process, together with extensive advertising, won for the “Dashaway” a worldwide reputation.
During this period, other inventors entered the field. The first to follow in Mr. Brown’s footsteps were P. R. Wirt and L. E. Waterman. Their inventions differed from the Caw’s Pen only in small details of construction. By this time, however, the American public had created such a market for fountain pens that Mr. Wirt and Mr. Waterman received a fair share of patronage. While Mr. Brown and his competitors were struggling for supremacy, many imitators appeared on the scene. With one exception, their products had nothing to recommend them save cheapness. Thus in a short time they were buried under public condemnation. The one exception, known as the “Swan” pen, was made in New York. Naturally, a strong rivalry sprang up among the manufacturers of these pens.
Up to 1896, improvements in the fountain pen were confined chiefly to improved workmanship and careful attention to detail. Until then, a fountain pen had never been made whose ink was immune to evaporation and leakage. The latter defect, especially, was a serious drawback, staining clothing to the point of requiring several changes of linen a day and, in extreme cases, the wearing of gloves at mealtime. Notwithstanding these unpleasant handicaps, a large clientele submitted to them and endeavored to school themselves in the habit of placing the pen in the pocket right side up. Not a few, however, forsook the fountain pen in disgust, confining themselves to borrowing one on occasion.
This, then, was the condition of the fountain pen trade in 1896 when Mr. Brown, who had been the pioneer in every fountain pen improvement for twenty years, astonished the world with an invention which amounted to a revolution in the construction of the product. This invention, named “Caw’s Safety Fountain Pen”, offered the long-desired protection from ink leakage and evaporation, it was so designed that, after retraction of the pen nib, it screwed tight so that ink could neither escape nor dry out under any conditions or in any climate. In consequence, it was always ready for use. Into this pen, Mr. Brown introduced a capillary system of his own device whose action controlled the flow of the ink to the pen nib, permitting fine or heavy penmanship, the flow of ink being regulated by the amount of pressure on the pen point.
Europeans had adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than had Americans. It was not until the advent of “Caw’s Safety Fountain Pen” in 1896 that their faith in it was shown by a large demand which constantly increased. But in Europe, in contrast to America, the ambition to own a fountain pen had not, in Mr. Brown’s time, taken possession of all classes of society.
In 1912, Mr. Brown produced what he regarded as the ultimate in fountain pen achievement, and he accordingly gave it the name “The Limit”. It combined the qualities of both the erect carriage “Dashaway” and the “Safety”. It could be carried upright in the pocket, ready for immediate use, or be quickly converted into a “Safety” when, in any position, it afforded immunity from disaster. Although the new pen won quick popularity, wartime conditions following shortly upon its introduction forced its withdrawal from the market. At the War’s end, with his extensive foreign markets in chaos, with materials scarce and uncertain in supply, Mr. Brown felt that he should not undertake the heavy burden of re-building his organization and gave his attention to other matters until his death in 1939. This marked the close of a distinguished career in the industry he inaugurated. His pens had won him first prize awards at the London Exposition 1905, the Paris World’s Fair Exposition in 1900, the Chicago World’s Fair 1893, and several other Expositions of note where, invariably, he won first honors.
But little interested in clubs or organizational affairs, Mr. Brown preferred to spend his spare hours in the enjoyment of his family and his home. By nature deeply religious, he professed the Episcopalian faith.
Of Canadian origin himself, Francis Cashel Brown married a young lady of French Creole family from New Orleans. She was Marie Francoise Elizabeth Laurie, daughter of Francis and Marie Elizabeth (Pradet) Laurie, the latter of the New Orleans branch of the Lyons, France, lselin family, established in the New World by two Iselin brothers escaping the French Revolution, the elder settling in New Orleans, the younger taking up residence in New York. Miss Laurie lost both her parents in early childhood. Her father, a Scot, was a portrait and landscape artist. She met Mr. Brown in Newport, Rhode Island where she and her aunt, Mrs. Camille Quesnal, were visiting friends. Some months later they were married in the Church of the Heavenly Rest in hew York City, the date being April 23, 1883. When their growing family led Mr. Brown to seek residence in the suburbs, he chose Staten Island and built a home at New Brighton. There they continued to reside until death – Mrs. Brown’s occurring February 18, 1923. The couple had the following children:
Camille, now a resident of Washington, D.C., married George Clinton Miller and is the mother of three daughters, Mrs. William Haig Meyer, Mrs, Malcolm Ross, and Mrs. Bettina Hawthorne; their father, Clinton Miller, who died September 18, 1940, was senior partner of the Wall Street firm of Miller and Lummis, and since 1896 had been a member of the New York Stock Exchange;
James Cashel, insurance broker, deceased, left two sons, James Cashel, Jr. and Owen Guy;
Marie Iselin, a resident of New York City, has been associated with the William Esty Company Advertising Agency;
Francis Owen, an economist, deceased, left no progeny;
Edward Guy, father of two daughters, Mrs. Gordon Craig Ashford and Mrs. Charles Craig Bomont, is an executive of a Federal Savings and Loan Association and has his home in Portland, Oregon.
Mr. Brown’s death occurred in New York City on February 1, 1939. Ever a man of rectitude and probity, he had striven, single-handed, to attain his goals and never resented the competition of which he became the object, although not all of his competitors had his sense of fair play, and legal action often became necessary to prevent encroachments upon his patents. Generosity always distinguished him, as well as a tolerance of the shortcomings inherent in human nature. Of events and persons, were they ever so frustrating, he never complained, but adapted himself to difficulties which he could not overcome. Always unassuming, shunning vain-glory, he was humbly aware of the significant role Providentially accorded him in industrial history by his serving to bring to mankind one of the most necessary and most universally used of devices–the fountain pen.
Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:49 AM
The photocopy of the original typescript in the NYHS is in very poor condition, and almost looks like a carbon copy. It seems to be typed on thin paper, something like the onion skin paper that was used at the time for carbon copies. The single-spaced sheets were folded and refolded, roughly in the middle, and at different points in time, and this has resulted in multi-curled folds with the text obscured for a few lines within the curls of the folds. The archivists did not dare to straighten out the folds during photocopying for fear of further damaging the fragile papers, and where the text loss has occurred, I have taken the liberty of trying to reconstruct the lost lines, which are enclosed within square brackets. At other points in the text, I have inserted comments, suggestions, and interpretations in italics within square brackets.
Though only Brown's point of view, the text is quite telling on the subject of the spread of the popularity of fountain pens before the turn of the 20th century. To paraphrase Brown writing about himself in the third-person, "This was the condition of the fountain pen trade in 1895 when Mr. Brown, who had been the pioneer in every fountain pen improvement for twenty years, introduced what amounted to almost a revolution in the construction of fountain pens, the Caw's Safety Fountain Pen. The Europeans have adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than the Americans, and it was not until the advent of the safety fountain pen in 1895 that their faith in fountain pens was shown by a large demand, which has been on the increase ever since, but the desire to own a fountain pen has not yet taken possession of all classes of society of all ages and both sexes in Europe as it has in America". It's quite the norm for most early penmakers to claim some grandiose achievements, and Brown claims that he was instrumental in helping to popularize the fountain pen in Europe. Not so self-effacing for a Canadian, after all. Although he was only promoting his own agenda in this sketch, what he succeeded in doing instead was to document the state of the popularity of fountain pens in Europe at the time. For as Brown also said, America is "a nation which has always been the foremost in the world in adopting novelties".
"The origin of the fountain-pen"
The origin of the fountain-pen dates back over fifty years. The first which met with public recognition was the Prince Protean Fountain Pen invented by a Mr. Prince of New York in 1855. Its sale was considerable for a short time, but being made of base metal which the ink corroded, it was soon discarded in disappointment by everyone who had bought it, and after a few years Mr. Prince was forced to engage in another business to avoid starvation.
Encouraged by the temporary success of this pen, Mr. Prince had many imitators, but their products were soon cast into oblivion by their dissatisfied victims, and for several years thereafter it seemed as if no further attempt would be made to improve on the steel pen, the goose quill, and the lead pencil, which were the only writing implements then in use in the western hemisphere, with the exception of the gold pen, which was being manufactured in a small way at that time and sold only to a few select Americans at very high prices.
This condition of the pen trade continued until 1875 when a Canadian by name of Duncan MacKinnon conceived the idea of making a fountain pen with a stiff round metal point. But having no capital, he was unable to manufacture it himself, nor to interest anyone with capital in view of past failures in the same line, until a year later when the attention of Francis Cashel Brown of New York was called to his invention by a newspaper article which resulted in a business engagement between Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Brown, and soon after a company was formed in New York under the name of the MacKinnon Pen Co. to manufacture the MacKinnon Stylographic Pen. It was considered inadvisable to use the term “Fountain Pen” because it was in bad odor [repute] with the public who had experimented with the fountain pens of the past.
It may be here remarked that the great obstacle to the manufacture of a satisfactory fountain pen in those days was that the cheapest material known for pens that would not corrode and rust in contact with ink was gold, and to make a fountain pen throughout of gold would make it too expensive even for an American. But the Stylographic Pen was a novelty and that was sufficient to recommend it to a nation which has always been the foremost in the world in adopting novelties.
The first stylo pens were also made of base metal, and although they had a large sale from the start, after a few months use they were condemned in vigorous language as a delusion and a snare. The memory of the Prince fountain pen of twenty years previous was revived and a similar fate was predicted for the MacKinnon Pen.
At this time, vulcanized rubber was a product little known in the world. Experiments were made with this product with very satisfactory results as every one now knows. It was found to be light in the hand, a nonconductor, and a sure preventative of writer’s cramp, or “Scrivener’s palsy”, but its chief merit for fountain pen holders lies in the fact that it is not affected by the chemical properties in ink, which was the most serious objection to the metal heretofore used. The MacKinnon Pen Co. grasped this [substitute for] metal as a drowning man grasps a straw, but unlike the proverbial straw, it [vulcanized rubber] proved a harbor of refuge.
The adoption of vulcanized rubber laid the foundation of the fountain pen business of today, which has spread to every civilized country on the globe, and it is estimated that there were over one million fountain pens sold last year, and the rapidly increasing sales prove that the business is still in its infancy.
The MacKinnon Stylographic Pen held undisputed control of the market for about three years, and although the cheapest pen was $4.00 each, the demand increased so rapidly the manufacturers could not keep pace with it. This encouraged numerous imitators, and each imitation was cheaper than its predecessor, until 1881 when the price had fallen to one quarter the original price. As usual, the quality and utility depreciated with the price, and the Stylographic Pens were again becoming a byword of contempt.
Mr. Brown, who had pioneered the Stylographic Pen so successfully for five years, sold his interest in the MacKinnon Pen Company and engaged in the manufacture of writing ink, which on account of its beautiful black color he named Caw’s Ink. The word “Caw”, as you all know, is the cry of the crow when it espies a ripe field of corn as a signal to his mates to come and share in the feast. Mr. Brown registered the word “Caw’s” and a picture of a crow as the trade mark for his ink, and afterwards, when he re-engaged in the manufacture of fountain pens, he used the same mark on his pens. This is the origin of the name Caw’s accompanied by a crow, which is stamped on all the Caw’s fountain pens.
The ink business is so closely allied to the pen business that Mr. Brown continued in touch with the writing public, and knowing that the Stylographic Pen was doomed to oblivion as soon as the novelty had passed away, he began experimenting with fountain pens, using hard rubber for the pen-holder combined with a gold pen, a combination which would enable every user to retain the individuality of his hand writing which was lost by the use of the stylographic pen. The latter having a round stiff point, it would not make the variations in penmanship taught in the schools, and complaints were made that it gave no character to one’s handwriting.
But despite this and many other faults of the stylographic pens of that period, they were sold in very large quantities, and the demand, which until the year 1881 had been confined almost entirely to America, spread to other countries and continued to increase every year until about ten years ago [1891-93] when the demand in America began to decrease, and since then the decline has been even more rapid than the rise, [a rapidity that eclipsed the speed of their rise in popularity]. In Germany and England the sale of Stylographic Pens reached its zenith about the year 1900, then Germany and England followed America by showing a preference for the fountain pen, which being combined with a gold pen with an indestructible point [of osmiridium] that proved the most perfect implement.
The success of the Stylo Pen showed the public craving for a pen that would carry ink in the holder for several hours continuous writing, and that could be carried in the pocket like a pencil, ready for use at any time or place, and Mr. Brown’s knowledge of the wants of the public acquired during his management of the MacKinnon Pen Co. gave him courage to proceed with his experiments with fountain pens, and in 1883 his efforts had been crowned with success. That is to say, his invention, which was soon afterwards put on the market under the name “Caw’s Dashaway Fountain Pen”, was so far in advance of anything that had preceded it that it was hailed with delight by the American public.
The first Dashaway Pens had many faults, but these were gradually eliminated, and after a few years progress in the manufacture, and by extensive advertising, Caw’s Dashaway Fountain Pen won a world wide reputation.
During this period other inventors were engaged in the same line, and the first two to follow Mr. Brown were P. E. Wirt and L. E. Waterman of New York. Their inventions differed from Mr. Brown’s only in details of construction, but by this time the American public was so hungry for fountain pens their appetites were hard to satisfy, and Mr. Wirt and Mr. Waterman got a fair share of patronage. While these three inventors were struggling for supremacy, many imitators appeared on the scene, but with one exception their productions had nothing to recommend them but cheapness, and in a short time they were buried under public condemnation. This exception is known as the “Swan” pen made in New York. [What about Parker, and Lancaster, and Blair?]
It may be here remarked that the four Pens I have just mentioned were first sold at the same price as they are sold today, $2.50, and they have all stood the test of [one missing line]=[what the market will bear, and of the] scores of cheaper Pens put on the market, [almost every] one has succumbed after a precarious existence of from three to five years, which is pretty conclusive evidence that experienced users of fountain pens want only the best, and that the best cannot be made and sold at a profit for less than $2.50.
Naturally, a strong rivalry existed between the manufacturers of the Caw, Wirt, Waterman, [Parker, Lancaster, Blair?], and Swan fountain pens, and instead of vying for cheapness their efforts were addressed toward improvements. Until about eight years ago [1893-5?], the improvements were not noticeable to the average public as they were confined to improved workmanship and careful attention to details. Up to that time [1893-5?], a fountain pen had never been made that could be shut up tight and made secure against the evaporation and leakage of ink. As they were then used almost exclusively by travelers and others as a pocket convenience, and used only occasionally, this was a serious objection because when taken from the pocket the ink had either coagulated and the Pen would not write, or the ink had leaked out on the clothing where it remained instead of remaining in the pen-holder where it was put. Some of the ink adhered to the pen’s holder [section], which made it unclean to handle. But notwithstanding these disagreeable characteristics, a large clientele submitted to them and tried to school themselves into the habit of putting the Pen in the pocket right end up so it would not leak, and changing the ink often so it would not dry up.
A considerable portion of the public, however, after trying several different kinds and always with the same results, that they had to change their linen several times a day and wear gloves at their meals to look respectable, finally eschewed fountain pens except when they could borrow one from a friend.
This was the condition of the fountain pen trade in 1895 when Mr. Brown, who had been the pioneer in every fountain pen improvement for twenty years, astonished the world with an invention which amounted to almost a revolution in the constructions of fountain pens. This invention was immediately offered to the public under the name of “Caw’s Safety Fountain Pen”, and there is probably no pen that [one or two missing lines]=[offered the long-desired protection from ink leakage and evaporation. It was so designed that, after retraction of the pen nib, the cap screwed tight]. This Pen shuts up tight so that the ink cannot escape or dry up under any condition, or in any climate. [In consequence, it is always ready for use, and] it is [always] clean to handle. [The] arrangement of the feed is such that the ink is supplied to the nib in writing fine or heavy lines, the flow of ink being regulated by the amount of pressure on the point of the pen.
The Germans (Europeans) have adopted the use of fountain pens with more caution and discrimination than the Americans, and it was not until the advent of Caw’s Safety fountain pen in 1895 that their faith in it was shown by a large demand, which has been on the increase ever since, but the desire to own a fountain pen has not yet taken possession of all classes of society of all ages and both sexes in this country [Germany, Europe?] as it has in America.
I shall give you an illustration of the popularity of the Caw’s fountain pens in America, especially in New York City, the home of the manufacturers:
A few years ago, the Caw’s Pen Co. was spending large sums of money in advertising their Pens in the New York daily papers, and not knowing which paper produced the best results, they conceived the idea of making a test of the value of the different papers, and at the same time to test the popularity of their Pens. So one day they inserted an advertisement one column in length in all the New York daily papers [Times-Post-Observer-Tribune-Herald-Mirror-Daily News?] announcing that they would sell one of their celebrated pens at half price to everyone who called at their place of business the next day, between the hours of 9 A.M. and 3 P.M., and deposited in a receptacle prepared for the purpose the name of the paper in which he or she had read the advertisement. The effect of this was phenomenal and is described in a clipping from the New York ......... [Times-Post-Observer-Tribune-Herald-Mirror-Daily News?], which I shall read to you. [Extract missing.] Here is also an enlarged photograph of the crowd in front of their store on that occasion. [Photo also missing.]
Posted 23 October 2011 - 03:26 AM
As for the omission of makers other than Caw's, Waterman, Wirt, and Swan, I read that particular passage as referring to the 1880s more than the 1890s. And if I were to remark on an omission in that list, it would not be Parker, Lancaster, or Blair, but rather John Holland. In any event, if surviving examples give any indication of quantities actually made and sold, the text would appear to be accurate regarding the main rivals, at least in the '80s.
Posted 23 October 2011 - 04:59 AM
As for the omission of John Holland, I also left out all the stylograph manufacturers, about whom Brown has some great things to say in his autobiographical sketch, chiefly that "the Stylographic Pen was a novelty", a flash in the pan. But it's one, I would argue, that really got the fountain-pen-technology explosion going in the late 1870s and early 1880s, so much so that I would call the period from 1875 to 1885 "the stylographic decade".
Posted 24 October 2011 - 05:33 AM
Posted 29 October 2011 - 10:07 PM
Getting back to John Holland, I was not referencing the company's stylographs. Holland was also a very early maker of nibbed fountain pens, as well as supplying the nibs for another early and associated brand, Walke's. Examples of these do survive, though they are far from common.
Another very early maker that advertised extensively was Yale, in New York City. But how many surviving examples are known, and what does this indicate about how successful the company actually was? Having recently found one, I did a bit more poking around into the company history, and it seems that it was a side venture by brothers who already ran a successful publishing business. In this case, I suspect the number of ads is more a function of the money invested in the business than of the money it generated.
Yale_Triumph.b.sm.jpg 34.58K 7 downloads
Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:11 AM
I've seen some pen-company profit comparisons from the 1920s and 30s. Perhaps there are some similar surveys from the 1880s to the 1900s that survive somewhere in some government publication, or in some archive, or in a court case, or in a summary of statistics from census data. That might be the only way to gauge the comparative success of the various pen companies of the day, and we'll just have to wait for the data to be unearthed by someone.
Thanks for the picture of the Yale Triumph. Is your example missing its nib? Or is it, perhaps, one of those pens sold without a nib so that any steel or gold nib could be used in the pen? The Yale Pen Co. in New York also used the names Harvard Pen Co. and the Siphon Pen Co. Were the brothers who ran the publishing business by any chance MacKenzies? That's one surname I have found in connection with that group of pen companies.
Posted 01 November 2011 - 01:57 AM
This particular Yale pen company was run by the Bartrams. I have not found any connection with Harvard or Siphon -- if you have any info about this, I'd be very interested. I did find a later reference that noted that the Yale Fountain Pen Co. of New York was dissolved in 1893.
Posted 02 November 2011 - 03:49 AM
I found the connection between Yale and Harvard and Siphon in the city directories on Ancestry.com. I knew about one of the Bartrams because he held a pen patent, but I wasn't aware of the family of Bartrams who ran the Yale Publishing Co. as well as the pen company. However, I kept running into the name MacKenzie in connection with all three pen companies, each time without a given name.
Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:47 PM
Posted 09 December 2011 - 07:44 AM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:33 AM
Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:39 AM
Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:11 AM
Ron, did you notice the picture of the pen on the first page? It's the Caw's "Dashaway" model No. 130 pen owned by President Harrison. And here's an article about ten Caw's "Dashaway" model No. 130 pens ordered by the Turkish viceroy in Egypt, "for the use of [his] family".
Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:13 AM
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