While it’s not made of steel, I felt a pen I recently acquired was interesting enough to add to the blog. It is a gold dip pen (just the nib and collar, the wood or MOP handle is gone) with what looks like the original box.
Let’s start with what can be known before we move into speculation.
The easy part is that this is a gold pen made/sold by Piquette of Detroit.
Charles Piquette was a jeweler who was in business from 1845 until 1860 or so.
I know Piquette is no long in the business because by 1861 Charles Dunks was calling himself “successor to C. Piquette” and listing the same Jefferson Ave. address. It seems he took over Piquette’s business.
The nib may well have been made by Dunks as there’s some evidence that Dunks was Piquette’s pen maker. This comes from a claim that the pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation was made and donated by Dunks right after Lincoln’s election. Lincoln also used it to write his first inaugural address.
Piquette made gold pens and ran a re-tipping service ($0.50 for pointed pens, $0.75 for engrossing, i.e. stub or italic, nibs) out of his jewelry store in Detroit.
My pen is an oblique nib very similar in design to the 1831 Mordan patent for the first oblique nib. It is well-tipped and in great shape. Those are not cracks, but dried ink.
This imprint “Spencerian Pen” is the main puzzle about this pen.
During the time when this pen was most likely made, 1845-1860, Platt Rogers Spencer was actively getting his idea for business colleges off the ground, and publishing his first books of penmanship, explaining his methods and style (1848).
Most of the Spencerian pens we know of today were made by The Spencerian Steel Pen Co. which was founded by NY publisher and bookseller Ivison Phinney around 1858. Their pens were made by Josiah Mason, as provided by Perry, until very late in their production. I don’t see this nib as having any relationship to that company at all.
The fact that it’s marked “Spencerian Pen“, singular, not “Pens” plural, makes me think this was an imprint to indicate that this pen was good for Spencerian writing, rather than any officially marketed pen. It’s like the later steel pens which were marked as appropriate for Vertical or Modified Slant styles of penmanship, but this one is for Spencerian, the popular style at the time.
I don’t know a lot about gold pens, but it is my understanding that oblique gold pens are fairly rare, and Piquette pens are not too common, and then to find on top of those aspects, a pen marked as good for Spencerian penmanship from the time when Platt Rogers Spencer Sr. was still active, makes this a rather special pen after all.
I’d love to hear if others have seen anything like this, or have pens from this time, gold or otherwise, marked for Spencerian writing.