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Sampson Mordan Lead Refills for gold & silver pencils

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Posted 4 years ago


(51 items)

As promised; this Collectors Weekly post follows on from my previous items covering Sampson Mordan Gold & Silver propelling pencils in my collection. This time delving a little deeper into the refills:

Someone once said: "If you become a Collector of Antique gold and silver propelling pencils, then eventually you WILL become a Collector of the lead refills in all their various presentations!"

How true that is; now I go round antique and collector fairs, car boot sales (UK)...(US yard sales), Charity Shops (UK)...(US Thrift Shops) etc. etc. on the hunt for refills for all my pencils in my collection!

All pictures are from my Collection:

Photo .1:
A very small (Ladies) gold propelling pencil from my collection, which I actually use (the larger examples), in my work as a professional Artist & Illustrator. This is why it is so important for me to obtain ready supplies of these refills. ( I have now tasked my Studio Technician to MAKE these refills for me (and others)! But that is another story, NOT for Collectors Weekly). Many Collectors also demand refills so they can at least load their collected items, and this is perfectly understandable. You can see an "M" stamped near the writing tip; signifying the type of lead needed. All the different leads have different diameters and degrees of hardness/softness, but were categorised by Mordan for their various uses (see Photo .4: First picture)

Photo .2:
(a) A gold propelling pencil with the REFILL TYPE LETTER "M" hand engraved on the tip (see Photo .4 for the list of various refills as laid down by Sampson Mordan and then taken up by most pencil makers).
(b) A silver propelling pencil with the REFILL TYPE LETTERS "VS" machine stamped on the tip.
(c) The lead refill storage chamber on most Antique Propelling Pencils is situated under the Finial Cap which unscrews.
(d) Most pencils of standard quality have one single lead refill storage chamber.
(e) The higher the quality of the pencil, the more complex is the lead storage chamber. The sign of quality is the "Pepperpot" chamber; here a three section example.
(f) A high quality Sampson Mordan pencil with a five chamber "Pepperpot".
(g) An extremely fine Sampson Mordan example with the "pinnacle of quality"; an eight chamber "Pepperpot" or "Revolver" lead refill storage facility.
(h) Lead Refills as supplied by the Sampson Mordan Company. Each individual lead is often found inserted in a minute glass vial in these cardboard boxes. This example is a box of "VS" refills. (see Photo .4 for the list of various refills).
(i) Other Suppliers and Makers provided Lead refills in wooden "Treen" screw cap pots or even precious metal "tins" or cylinders.

Photo .3:
Just a small selection of my refills gathered around the photo that started my compulsive collecting (and using) of these rare Antique & Collectable lead refills.

Photo .4:
The first picture is one page of the Mordan Patent that started off the Standardisation Process of Propelling Pencil Lead Refills.

The second picture is just one page from a late Victorian catologue offering just a tiny fraction of the many different gold & silver propelling pencils on offer.

The famous saying: "If one collected for a whole lifetime, one would probably not obtain an example of every precious pencil ever made by The Victorians". This is so true, you only have to look up the famous "Loring Collection" online to begin to realise the truth of this statement!

I will continue to post items from my "Collection of Antique Writing & Drawing Equipment", over the coming months, as time allows. Thanks for looking at this CW Post, I hope you found it interesting. I look forward to your comments.


  1. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    To save anyone interested, here is a link to the online record of the vast collection brought together by the late and greatly missed John Loring:

  2. kerry10456 kerry10456, 4 years ago
    Steve, followed your link, WOW, I understand these items were very collecteble, but never realized the "monetary" value. Thanks for the education.
  3. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Firstly thanks for "loves" from AR8Jason, kerry10456 and mustangtony; much appreciated! ....and thanks for kind comments.

    Kerry...these items can be VERY expensive but there are more reasonably priced pens and pencils out there for new collectors to get their collection started with.

    AR8Jason; I focus mainly on the pencils (being an Artist...the pencil is my main tool of trade), I do collect dip pens, or more correctly...pen holders. I don't collect after the Victorian era, and not Fountain Pens...I know there can be stunningly beautiful fountain pens but I think the Victorians produced some fantastically decorative items, often for it's own sake rather than purely for function.
  4. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Some time ago; I did a preliminary sketch of some "badgers" using one of my Victorian antique propelling pencils, in the process; using up approximately £45 worth of vintage lead refills (as shown in Photo .3 above). This was the "final straw" and prompted us to start reproducing these increasingly rare leads, rather than consuming a very finite resource!

    If interested; In the following link...navigate down the page and you will see the pencil sketch in question (Old Friends (badgers) Come Visiting):
  5. petey petey, 4 years ago
    Merry Christmas Hems303.
  6. bratjdd bratjdd, 4 years ago
    Hi Hem303 I Thank you first of all for all your wonderfull posting wich I love and of course I have to thank AR8Jason too because I too have some pencil amd pen. I really do not seek out to go buy them that much, but i just wanted to let you know that you just answer a question i been asking my self for a long time and it has to do with picture 2 letter (i) does are lead tip correct.? either way Thank you so much for all of your information on all your posting. bratjdd
  7. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    petey & bratjdd: Many thanks and Happy Christmas to you and Yours!

    Bratjdd; the lead replacement refills in Photo .2 (i) are an example of typical refills supplied by makers other than Sampson Mordan who did theirs in cardboard boxes as in Photo .2 (h), hope this helps.
  8. bratjdd bratjdd, 4 years ago
    Thanks Hem303
  9. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Thanks & Happy New Year to bratjdd, petey, miKKoChristmas11, PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, BELLIN68, lundy, pw-collector, officialfuel, AR8Jason, kerry10456, mustangtony and all CW Members passing by!

  10. Peterdrury Peterdrury, 3 years ago
    I found one in the dirt in bendigo. Says amp assets 31,000,000 pounds. I wiil put a pic up.

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