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Vintage S. Morden & Co Novelty Double Pencil

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    Posted 10 months ago

    (1 item)

    My mum gave this to me, she's loads of interesting pieces she's inherited from various family members. Curiously it has 'Christie' engraved on it in the style of Agatha Christie's signature. I've been trying to do some research to find out if there's any real connection but it still remains a mystery! Does anyone know how to replace the lead or ink so I can actually use it? It's in great condition, but I can find much info about these online. Thanks!

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    1. RCassano, 10 months ago
      My cursory research tells me that the actual inventor of these retractable pencils (called "propelling pencils") was an engineer named John Isaac Hawkins, who developed the mechanism in 1822. He later teamed up with Sampson Morden, who was nowhere near an inventor, but an astute marketer. These were made of either solid gold or solid silver and very much sought after by the elite. The company went belly up after the factory was bombed during WWII.

      "S. Mordan & Co." was used after 1862. Other hallmarks were used prior to that. The nib on the pen part would be steel, instead of the earlier quill. This would be a "dip pen" and not loaded with ink. The nib would slip into the compression chamber, just as the lead (graphite) would be. In other words, loaded from the opening at the end. Many thousands of designs were produced in the 100-plus years of existence.

      Mordan died in 1843, but his sons Sampson (Jr.) and Augustus took over the company and in 1862, renamed it S. Mordan & Co. They continued manufacture until 1941 when the London blitz destroyed the factory.

      The item you have is probably one of the most common and ordinary (no intricate design). "Christie" is a relatively common British surname, so it may or may not be connected to Agatha Christie (my guess would be no).
    2. RCassano, 10 months ago
      I did some more digging on Agatha Christie's signature to see if there is a match on the scribe on your pen/pencil. While it is awfully close, there is one specific distinction that sets them apart. In every example I've found, Agatha Christie signed her name using a printed type "s" in the last name, rather than the cursive style found in your engraving. Also, she always crossed the actual "t". That wasn't over the "i" in any of the examples I studied.

      Disclaimer: I am neither an expert on celebrity signatures, nor a handwriting expert.
    3. carosparro, 10 months ago
      Thank you all very much for your extremely detailed insights and information. I really appreciate it! I agree it doesn't match the signature but it was similar enough that I thought I'd dig a little. Strangely there are no hallmarks, just makers mark, S. Mordan & Co. Sterling Silver. I wonder if this indicates a time frame?

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