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1825 Sampson Mordan Dip Pen & Pencil:

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Pencils72 of 111Rare Silver Pencil by Gabriel Riddle ~ SilversmithUltra Rare Sampson Mordan writing set
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Posted 5 years ago


(51 items)

This Sampson Mordan Sterling Silver Dip Pen & Pencil is rare as it has the "Bramah" clip that holds the nib (As invented by Joseph Bramah the famous maker who also made the famous and signature "Bramah Lock" that adorns high quality Victorian boxes and writing slopes). See the photos for how this elegant nib holder works: If you see this unique device elsewhere it is the "Bramah Clip".

This pen & Pencil Combination ("Combo") measures approximately 4 1/4 inches or 107 mm in length when it is closed by just under 1/2 an inch or 12 mm across the widest part of its body.

The pencil is 5 1/8 inches or 131 mm in length from the top of the body to the end of the pencil when it is fully extended

The dip pen is just under 5 1/2 inches or 139 mm in length from the end of the body to the end of the nib holder when it is fully extended and overall; it is 6 3/8 inches or 162 mm in total length when both the dip pen and pencil are fully extended (which they wouldn't have been).

It is made from solid sterling silver in a round tubular shape with a relief reed decorated outer body that has two sliding toggles, one of the toggles extends and retracts the internal mechanical pencil that is marked on the end with the letter "H" (which is the type of lead to be used with this particular pencil) and the other sliding toggle extends and retracts the internal ink dip pen that has a later gold nib that is held in place by the "Bramah" hinged nib clamp or holder that is in turn held in place by a smaller sliding ring. The pen and pencil has not been engraved with a previous owners initials or family monogram, which some people think reduces value; personally I see it as part of the items history.
It has been impressed with the makers mark of Mordan & Co Patent on one end of the body along with the London makers mark SM of Sampson Mordan who registered this mark in 1823, it also has a very faint Lion Passant mark of English solid sterling silver along with the King George Head duty mark of the reigning monarch and the London assay office letter "k" for 1825, the silver hallmarks and makers marks are partially rubbed due to their location but still legible. The condition is used but good, genuine and comensurate with its age.
The Combo has no damage or repairs that I can find, the body is straight, the decoration is crisp, it extends and retracts perfectly, the mechanical twist mechanism of the pencil is in Full Working Order and the inner lead push rod extends and retracts as it should, the Bramah Clip is also working perfectly.

PHOTO.4: This is the central "Mordan Patent": This promulgated a "standard" for leads used in Victorian Propelling Pencils, by and large; most (but not all) makers of metal propelling pencils used this standard "specification" and standardisation as laid down by Mordan i.e . VH, H, M, S & VS. These required lead refill markings are always to be found somewhere on the propelling tips of most quality propelling pencils of the age.

Some Historical Background:


Sampson Mordan, (Senior) was born in England in 1790. He apprenticed and then was assistant to Joseph Bramah (1748-1814), famous inventor of patent locks*, and an associate of Michael Faraday. *The world famous Bramah Lock
Mordan established his own business in partnership with John Isaac Hawkins at City Rd. London in 1815. 20th December 1822, they patented a metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite lead shaft forward during use so that it was "ever-pointed". Most of these pencils are operated by a mechanism that allows the pencil to be propelled out of the casing by pulling on the opposite end. When closed, only the case could be seen. They entered, at the assay office; the first silver mark (S.MORDAN) for sterling silver pencils: 20th June 1823.
Mordan then bought out Hawkins and entered into a business partnership with Gabriel Riddle, a wealthy stationer, in late 1823. Mordan entered another silver mark (S.MORDAN & COS PATENT and SMGR) for pencils with his partner Gabriel Riddle 30th April 1824. Mordan and Riddle set up business at 22 City Road, London, England. It was here that S. Mordan & Co. were first listed as "patent ever-pointed” pencil and portable pen manufacturers. The partnership between S. Mordan and G. Riddle was dissolved on 20th December 1836. The Company continued to be run solely by Mordan until his death in 1843. After his death, his two sons; Sampson (Junior) and Augustus continued the business, building on their fathers success and reputation; excelling in quality silver and gold pencils, pens, novelties and other exquisite items; supplying silver articles to fine retailers including Asprey & Sons, The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Ltd, Mappin & Webb, Leuchars, Thornhill etc.

Sampson Mordan & Co. products can be approximately dated by the following marks:

S MORDAN & COS PATENT and SM GR - 1823 to 1837
S MORDAN & CO MAKERS - 1845 to 1860s
S MORDAN & CO - 1860s - 1941.

The Mordan London factory was destroyed in a German Luftwaffe air raid in 1941 and never reopened. The Sampson Mordan name is continued under the aegis of the Yard-O-Lead Company that still make exquisite handmade pencils today, in Birmingham, England.


Joseph Bramah (13 April 1748 – 9 December 1814), born Stainborough Lane Farm, Stainborough, Barnsley Yorkshire, England, was an inventor and locksmith. He is best known for having invented the hydraulic press. Along with William George Armstrong, he can be considered one of the two fathers of hydraulic engineering. In the case of this posted "Combo" his is the inventor of the nib "holding" device. It is believed that Sampson Mordan Snr. had close dealings with Joseph Bramah.

He was the second son in the family of three sons and two daughters of Joseph Bramma a farmer. He was educated at the local school in Silkstone and on leaving school he was apprenticed to a local carpenter. On completing his apprenticeship he moved to London, where he started work as a cabinet-maker. In London, Bramah worked for a Mr. Allen and in 1778 patented a design for an improved WC. of all things!
Bramah then designed the "Bramah Lock", receiving a patent for it in 1784. In the same year he started the Bramah Locks company at 124 Piccadilly, which is today based in Marylebone, London and Romford, Essex. Bramah received a second patent for a lock design in 1798.

Partly due to the precision requirements of his locks, Bramah spent much time developing machine tools to assist manufacturing processes. He relied heavily on the expertise of Henry Maudslay whom he employed in his workshop from the age of 18. Between them they created a number of innovative machines that made the production of Bramah's locks more efficient, and were applicable to other fields of manufacture such as pens and pencils etc.

Bramah's most important invention was the hydraulic press. The hydraulic press depends on Pascal's principle, that pressure throughout a closed system is constant. The press had two cylinders and pistons of different cross-sectional areas. If a force was exerted on the smaller piston, this would be translated into a larger force on the larger piston. The difference in the two forces would be proportional to the difference in area of the two pistons. In effect the cylinders act in a similar way that a lever is used to increase the force exerted. Bramah was granted a patent for his hydraulic press in 1795.

Bramah's hydraulic press had many industrial applications and still does today. Bramah together with William George Armstrong were the two pioneers in this field.

The hydraulic press is still known as the Bramah Press after its inventor. So we have the Bramah "Press", "Lock" and more importantly from the perspective of my collecting interest in Victorian Writing Equipment: The "Bramah Clip"

Bramah was a prolific inventor, and obtained 18 patents for his designs between 1778 and 1812, and of interest to me; in 1809 he obtained and secured one for Pens (Pat. No. 3260)


  1. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Thanks to AR8Jason (the man who's collection of vintage pens & pencils got me interested in CW in the first place!), and thanks to officialfuel (the man who's love of motorcycles kept me here) ;)
  2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 5 years ago
    Superb and wonderful!
  3. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    miKKoChristmas11, thanks for the very kind comment and "love it"! Very much appreciated my friend. :)
  4. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Thanks vetraio50, BHock45, officialfuel and AR8Jason
  5. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Many thank to blunderbuss2, ttomtucker, BELLIN68 and walksoftly for the loves.
  6. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    inky..cheers for the "love it" mate! :)
  7. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Here is a link to my CW Post dealing with Lead Refills for Antique propelling pencils, especially Mordan examples:
  8. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Kerry; Thanks for the "love", very kind of you!
  9. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    With regard to my comment .2 above: It is with regret that I point out that AR8Jason has deleted all his Collectors Weekly posts showcasing his beautiful and extensive collection of antique gold, silver pens and pencils.
  10. terry121art, 3 years ago
    What would the 2 under S.Mordan & Co Stand for on an Propelling pencil, also a VS or SA? on the nib section? Any Suggestions welcome Thanks
  11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    *°·`*~~ SEASON'S GREETINGS - HEMS!~~*`.°*
  12. Hems303 Hems303, 3 years ago
    terry121art, sorry for the delay in answering your posted question. Regarding the "2" I have not come across this. The "VS" on the writing tip means the type of lead refill required by the pencil. In this case "VS" means "Very Soft" and corresponds to Mordans Specifications laid down in his Patent shown above in Photograph 4. Hope this helps!
  13. terry121art, 3 years ago
    Thanks Hems Thats really helpful advice and love your write ups.... Keep them coming

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