Waterman’s “Ideal” Fountain Pen Ephemera

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Ephemera—the various pieces of paper that are a part of everyday life—are, by definition, disposable. In many cases (thinking of my shopping lists), that is no great loss. However, there are times when it would be more than just idle curiosity to see what is on those old papers.

Waterman's Ideal Fountain Pen

Being the sharing types, when we recently came across a pristine Canadian-production Waterman’s “Ideal” fountain pen in the wild, we were thrilled to find the original paper documentation included with it in it’s box. This pen is typical of many sold in the early part of the 20th century, and such ephemera gives us insight into that world. We get glimpses of such things as: prices, repair practices, intended uses, materials, available ink colours, advertising practices, factory locations, and more. (Interestingly, even one hundred years ago, on page two, pen repair technicians were reminding their customers not to ship pens with ink in them!) While similar ephemera are documented elsewhere, it is also of interest to note the differences between documentation produced by different branches of the same company.

Along with the pen was originally included a four-page pamphlet which lists filling instructions, contemporary repair charges, “Directions and Suggestions for the Use of Waterman’s Pencil” (including a cutaway diagram and reload instructions), and an ink advertisement page (gallon jug of ink, anyone?) This pamphlet is printed in black ink on both sides of a sheet of 22.9 mm x 28.6 mm light newsprint paper, folded once. The printing job is not great, with patchiness to some areas that has nothing to do with age. As well, the clarity of some of the illustrations is not great: the darkness on page three (the pencils) is the actual printing, and not our scanner.

Additionally, there is a small, full-colour, advertisement for ink, fitted to match the bottom of the box. This is 2.5 mm x 14.6 mm, and is printed in four colours on one side of a higher-quality, sized white paper. The paper weight seems to be around 20 lbs., about the same as our modern office paper.

Below are facsimiles of all of these, suitable for printing in the original sizes, or for viewing online. We decided on adding subtle watermarking to each page to discourage any unsavoury types from trying to pass off reproductions as originals (sadly, it does happen.)

Waterman Pen Ephemera, page one

Waterman Pen Ephemera, page two

Waterman Pen Ephemera, page three

Waterman Pen Ephemera, page four

Waterman Pen Ephemera, Ink Insert

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