Thursday, May 16, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Papa's Fountain Pen

I love it when I pick up a family heirloom, Google a vague description of it, and BAM! there it is, along with some other person's really great research and pictures, a manufacturer's website with history, or a somewhat reliable Wikipedia entry. That happened this week when I dug out this fountain pen that was a treasure from my Mom's family.

The pen is in remarkable condition considering that it was manufactured sometime between 1923-1927. It is a Shaeffer, evident from the markings on the nib and the barrel. Shaeffer, a jeweler turned pen manufacturer, produced the celluloid (early plastic) fountain pen and sold it for about $8.($120 in today's economy.) Fountain pens in those days were notorious for leaking ink, Shaeffer's newly invented lever system (that's the gold lever you see at the bottom of the barrel) helped to reduce ink leakage.

This pen was originally marbled green and highly polished, however, it is believed that many of them turned brownish, as this one did, around the barrel due to a reaction from the sulfur in the rubber that was used for the storage of the ink within the barrel. One more characteristic and a big helper in dating is a white dot on the top of the pen.

My grandmother bought the fountain pen for her father when she was a young lady. I am particularly fond of the small piece of paper with the yellowed tape that was wrapped around the fountain pen. The paper reads: "Papa's pen, I gave it to him." There's no doubt it is my grandmothers handwriting!

John Franklin Silas, Jr., my great grandfather was born in Glascock County, Georgia on February 8, 1872, to Civil War Veteran John Franklin Silas, Sr. and Madelon Braddy. He married Minnie Eucebia Alligood in 1897 and they were the parents of 10 children including Mildred Arlene Silas, my maternal grandmother. John earned his living farming in Rentz, Georgia, and was also a Rural Letter Carrier for the U. S. Postal Service.

John Franklin Silas, Jr.

Mildred Arlene Silas Thomas

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