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Thread: Mark Twain

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Mark Twain

    I love those early black hard rubber Conklin crescent-fillers. Such an anachronism! Of course, it helps that Samuel Clemens (a/k/a Mark Twain) endorsed them. But did you know that for years he sang praises of Wirt pens made in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania before his famous support of the brand from Toledo, Ohio? He was hurting for money at the time, and he did what he had to do...and switched allegiances.


    Last edited by FredRydr; December 31st, 2019 at 09:37 PM.

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Thanks Fred. No I didn't know about this switching of allegiances. (I didn't know his real name either.)
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Funny the ad said "all your hands and ingenuity" I guess that covers all the folks with more than two hands.....LOL!!

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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Could it be that the self-filling mechanism won him over? The Wirt looks like an eyedropper.
    Fountain Pen Sith Lord | Daakusaido | inktronics blog | Twitter | Instagram

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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Perhaps Twain was an opportunist. I judge him not.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    If you don't have the time to read his two-volume autobiography, watch the documentary about him by Ken Burns, and you'll learn about his financial binds in the latter decades of his life. I imagine he would've endorsed whoever paid, no matter which filling system.

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    Senior Member Kaputnik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Quote Originally Posted by KrazyIvan View Post
    Could it be that the self-filling mechanism won him over? The Wirt looks like an eyedropper.
    You'll notice in one of the Conklin ads that he mentions it being a "profanity saver" because it won't roll off a desk. That's a secondary function of the protruding crescent, particularly before pocket clips became common.

    Until a few years ago there was a "TimeExpo" museum in Waterbury, CT, run by the Timex company (it's closed now). There was a letter there from Mark Twain to the Ingersoll watch company, ordering one of their "dollar watches". Ingersoll was one of Timex's corporate ancestors, and like Timex, made cheap watches for the masses. This article gives a bit more information on Mark Twain's interest in watches. Before he bought that Ingersoll, he was involved with another company which proposed to bring out a "Mark Twain movement".

    I have four functional vintage Conklins, all of which write well, as I recall. I keep meaning to ink one again, but it's been well over a year, maybe two. I've never seen a vintage Wirt; how many are still out there? The only Ingersoll watches I've seen were the ones in that now defunct museum.
    "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
    G.K. Chesterton

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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaputnik View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KrazyIvan View Post
    Could it be that the self-filling mechanism won him over? The Wirt looks like an eyedropper.
    You'll notice in one of the Conklin ads that he mentions it being a "profanity saver" because it won't roll off a desk. That's a secondary function of the protruding crescent, particularly before pocket clips became common.

    Until a few years ago there was a "TimeExpo" museum in Waterbury, CT, run by the Timex company (it's closed now). There was a letter there from Mark Twain to the Ingersoll watch company, ordering one of their "dollar watches". Ingersoll was one of Timex's corporate ancestors, and like Timex, made cheap watches for the masses. This article gives a bit more information on Mark Twain's interest in watches. Before he bought that Ingersoll, he was involved with another company which proposed to bring out a "Mark Twain movement".

    I have four functional vintage Conklins, all of which write well, as I recall. I keep meaning to ink one again, but it's been well over a year, maybe two. I've never seen a vintage Wirt; how many are still out there? The only Ingersoll watches I've seen were the ones in that now defunct museum.
    To complete the lore, that same Ingersoll family, a member of the brothers, later started to also produce fountain pens using the same principle (cheap for the masses), and such that their pens was also called "Dollar" pens. Ironically, their nibs were 14k gold, they are thin and a lot of times exhibit excellent flex quality.

    Speaking of Wirt fountain pens, I've encountered a few of them. Mostly eye-droppers with a distinct nib with a wreath engraving, and had no breathing hole.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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  12. #9
    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    Yes, Wirts are findable if not common. My last one had a lovely big flex nib.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain

    I'll have to watch that Ken Burns special. All his video series are good. I really like his series on the Civil War.

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