(This page published December 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.
Most, if not all, collectors of vintage pens know what a Waterman safety is. It’s that cool retractable pen with the knob on the back, like this No 15S:
Many collectors also know that Waterman didn’t invent this design. They licensed it from Francis C. Brown, who patented it in 1898 (U.S. Patent No 612,013) and used it in his own Caw’s pens, like this No 327:
What most of us don’t know, however, is that Brown wasn’t the first, either. In 1895, three years before he received his patent, he had bought from the Horton Pen Company, of New Haven, Connecticut, some machinery on which to make his pen. Horton, having been founded in 1894, was already selling the Horton Nonleakable Fountain pen, built to U.S. Patents Nos 523,234 and 551,895, and working on the same helical-cam principle. This drawing is from the first of the Horton patents.
And this is my drawings of a Waterman safety. Look familiar?
Actually, there is an essential difference, and this is why Brown got his patent. Looking at the Horton drawing, you can see that the nib carrier slides through a closely fitted (but not tight) bore in the gripping section, which is removable for filling. This sliding fit is how inventors Peck and O’Meara kept their pen from leaking during use. In the Waterman version, which is based on Brown’s U.S. Patent No 949,752 (issued in 1910), there is no separate gripping section. The front end of the nib carrier seals by pressing against a conical seat on the inside of the open end of the barrel.
Here are links to the other six articles in this series.
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