Friday, October 3, 2014

I Can't Get Over These

I don’t know why weird Waterman Patricians always get to me. Towards the end of the run, in the late 1930s, the company was mixing and matching all sorts of parts, and whenever I see a combination of parts that look like they shouldn’t be together, they usually end up finding a home at my place, "the land of misfit Patricians." Take this one:

It may not look too out of the ordinary at first. Here it is posed next to a "normal" Patrician:

The first thing that stuck out to me was the clip, but then I also noticed that the top is flat, like the "closeout" Patrician pencils I wrote about here a while back (see

Here’s our new oddball, flanked by a Waterman "closeout Patrician" and a Waterman Ink-Vue pencil:

That’s where the clip came from. But notice that this flat cap is a little shorter than on the closeout model:

Unlike my closeout model, the top on this one unscrews and has the usual eraser and lead magazine:

The "Golden Jubilee Celebration 1937" imprint may explain why this one looks a little different. The top of the cap suggest this was more than a custom imprint: this one was part of a custom-ordered run:

It looks to me that the cap was hacked a bit short to make room for the imprint. There was quite a bit of specialized machinery that went into this one: this is the first Patrician I’ve seen with anything engraved on the hard rubber cap.

"BMWE" stands for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, a labor union of workers who inspect, maintain and repair railways. Consistent with the barrel imprint, the organization was founded in 1887. In 2004, the union merged with the Teamsters.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the union’s Golden Jubilee, so I can’t say how many of these were made and to whom they were presented. Even though 1937 was relatively late in the Patrician’s production life, these were no free party favors given away lightly to the rank and file. Regular attendees were more likely to have received commemorative pins, like this one that appeared in a recent online auction:

As for the Ink-Vue clip, my goofy Patrician isn’t the only weird place that one turned up:

Did Waterman sell off an overstock of clips to jobbers after the Ink Vue was discontinued?

Or does this unmarked, low-quality pencil with an Ink-Vue clip suggest that at some point, probably during the 1940s, Waterman actually made a foray into the third-tier cheapie market?


Anonymous said...

I believe they did somewhat venture into the third tier market in pens during that time. They offered a Waterman 56 with a #2 nib at a cheaper price, the Waterman 52X.
Like other third tier companies which offered big pens with small nibs.
If it was done with pens it is reasonable to believe that pencils were also made to compete in this market.

Jon Veley said...

Thanks, Mr. Anonymous ---

In the meantime, I've received an email from a Waterman aficionado who says the clip (and he wasn't clear whether he meant the one on the Patrician or the cheapie at the end) was the clip used on the Canadian version of the Skywriter. I've invited evidence to confirm that and will update when I receive it.