I had to bite on this one, for a couple of reasons:
First . . . ok, it’s drop dead gorgeous. Good looks aside, I wanted to do an article about what’s imprinted on the top:
"Sterling - F." My theory has been that "F." in this context means Leroy W. Fairchild, the New York manufacturer who was also an early supplier of nibs to the fledgling L.E. Waterman Co. As a corrolary, I believe "Sterling A." signifies Aikin Lambert – but that’s another story.
Here was the kicker: when this one arrived, I couldn’t figure out how to get it open. I twisted the back but nothing happened; when twisted the other way, the finial simply unscrewed to reveal a compartment for spare leads. And then I noticed that the button in the middle of that flower in the middle of the body looked a little bit pronounced . . . I held the tip down and pressed in on the button, and . . .
No way. Fairchild made a dropper?
With the point extended, I was able to make some more detailed comparisons of the Sterling - F. To other examples more clearly marked Fairchild:
The upper example shows that Fairchild used this style of front end, and the machining on the pencil mechanism matches the lower example exactly. Yes, Virginia . . . Fairchild made a dropper.