(This page published October 8, 2022)
This is one of a series of short articles that I posted on an Internet forum in 2012. The Internet being a graveyard, I’ve exhumed them for preservation on this site. Plase note that “Thursday” refers to February 9, 2012, and that the Glossopedia entries referred to have been corrected and expanded since that time. (Note also that the connection between Arthur Winter and the British Dictator company has since been disproven, and I’ve deleted that sentence from the Glossopedia.)
It’s amazing what you can come up with when you’re not looking for it. This week I learned something really cool (or not, depending on your viewpoint) about Camel pens. In case you’re not familiar with Camel, here’s my glossary entry on the company, as it appeared Thursday morning.
Camel (Camel Pen Company) A pen company located in Orange, New Jersey; founded by Joseph Wustman in 1935. Wustman set out to produce pens that made their own ink when you filled them with water. At the back end of the barrel, built into the button filling mechanism, was a replaceable cartridge that contained an ink pellet (U.S. Patent No 2,024,228, issued December 17, 1935, to Russell B. Kingman and Ralf L. Hartwell). Unlike the ink pellets for trench pens of World War I, the Camel’s pellet was intended to be good for many fillings, up to a year’s worth. The concept was good, but the execution was unsatisfactory, and Camel was out of business by the end of 1938. Shown here is a “junior” sized Camel.
So I was researching Varsity and Wilrite pens, and I stumbled across an item on the Dictator pen. Just for grins, I followed the trail of bread crumbs, and I ended up adding the following entry to my glossary.
Dictator (Dictator Fountain Pen Company, Inc.) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in New York City; founded in 1920 by J. Hendricks, W. B. Burress, and E. A. Paulton to bring to market a fountain pen that was claimed to use a replaceable cartridge containing sufficient ink concentrate in powder form to last a full year, requiring only filling with plain water. (The design was probably based on U.S. Patent No 1,450,398, one of several related patents issued to Arthur Winter.) There was a matching Dictator pencil that had storage for 18 spare leads, and this pencil was also claimed to go a year without refilling. In 1921, ownership of the corporation was transferred to Arthur Winter, who apparently dissolved it and reconstituted the company without incorporating. U.S. records of Dictator do not continue past the end of 1923, from which it can be inferred that the pen design was a failure. Evidence suggests that Winter moved to the United Kingdom and there set up to make button-filling pens under the Dictator name.
[The connection between Winter and the British Dictator pen company has since been debunked.] The net result of this entry, other than the entry itself, was that I had the pleasure of adding the following sentence to the entry on Camel:
Camel was not the first company to have tried to produce a pen of this type; in the early 1920s, the short-lived Dictator company had attempted the same feat, apparently with a similar lack of success.
Are we having fun yet?
Here are links to the other six articles in this series.
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