Monday, 23 July 2018

A Special Pencil My Way Came - Carpe Diem

As collectors, we are always on the hunt for that next special item that will enhance our existing collection. It may be for something rarer than anything we currently have; it may be for something to fill a specific gap in our collection, or it may just be to find a better example of an item we already possess.

But sometimes that special item finds us first ...

During a recent visit to the U.K. I attended my first pen show and I was quite impressed with the range of writing equipment on display. While I have a fondness for fountain pens, my collecting interests are in other writing related areas and I was unsure as to whether a "pen show" would provide  me with much opportunity to find anything other than fountain pens; I was wrong.

In the weeks leading up to my trip, I was encouraged to attend the show by couple of UK collectors. One of them was also going to have a table at the show and he was kind enough to bring a variety of writing related items for me to view. As a pen show novice my intent was to just look, listen, & learn; don't touch anything without invitation; and especially try to avoid buying anything this first time round!

Arriving at the show just after it opened, I spent the first half hour or so wandering the hall and checking out the wide range of fountain pens on offer; everything from early vintage pens to the most modern; some with price tags that were quite affordable, and some that were simply hard to believe could be that expensive. A few vendors had a smattering of pencils, dip pens, or other writing related items that caught my eye but I kept moving until I eventually arrived at the table of the vendor that I had corresponded with.

His offerings included a range of books on collecting writing equipment (I purchased two), a variety of fountain pens, some incredible early dip pens, and a variety of early mechanical pencils. Thankfully (for me) the show was somewhat quiet at that point so the two of us were able to chat for quite some time and I learned a lot from him as I was shown (and allowed to hold) some of the rarer pencils that he had available. Several of them were of interest to me but they were each well outside what I felt I could afford to spend. I eventually thanked him for his generosity in sharing some of his wealth of knowledge with me and I left with just the two books.

But thoughts of two of his pencils kept spinning through my head all afternoon and soon my good intentions and I were well on our way down that proverbial paved road. Within a few hours of leaving the show I was back in touch with the vendor; we worked out an agreeable package deal for the pair and about a week later they arrived.

Both pencils are exceptional and both quite rare, but in very different ways. An earlier blog entry described the first one - "And Here's To You Mr. Robertson".

The second pencil lacks the provenance of the Robertson "traveller", but it more than makes up for that with its shear beauty.

This is an 18CT gold enamelled pencil by S. Mordan; adorned around the finial, slider, and base, with a total of 20 seed pearls. It is not hallmarked, but it is believed to date to about 1840 (the custom fitted case that the pencil resides in is from the retailer "Halstaff & Co."; that name and the accompanying London Regent Street address in the box were only used between 1838 & 1842).

The intricate enamel work on the solid gold casing, along with the seed pearls, also fit nicely into that timeframe as it matches with some styles of jewellery that were fashionable during the early "Romantic Period" of Queen Victoria's reign (1837 until Albert's death in 1861).
I went to the show intentionally not seeking to expand my collection and failed miserably...carpe diem!  

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