Waterman’s Pencil/Pen Set

(Fig 1.) Two Waterman’s Pen/Pencil Sets, Side by Side (Author’s Collection)

If you’ve read the introduction to nurse’s pens, you’ll remember that Waterman’s made a lovely set in a white celluloid. This pen/mechanical pencil set is seen here with the “military clip” (also seen on other Waterman’s pens, like The Commando.) This clip was designed so it would fit underneath the flap of a military uniform without showing. (fig 2.) I believe that nurses of the 30s through 50s would be able carry a pen in the side pocket of their uniforms, which often had a flap over it like the breast pocket of a soldier (fig. 3.)

(fig. 2) Close-up of Caps, showing “Military Clips” (Author’s Collection)
(fig. 3.) Note the uniform from c 1930s with the pocket flap: nurses could utilize the “military clip” style pen so the clip would not show. (New York Public Library)

You’ll note that the celluloid has aged differently in all of these caps. This may be due to the amount of wear each set has seen, as well as environmental factors in storage. Each of these pens is unique in patina, and that makes it extremely interesting to acquire different examples. They were a marble patterned white when new, but they age–almost like a coin does–and can be quite beautiful in their uniqueness.

These pen sets were marketed specifically to nurses. There is an advertisement in an early 40s edition of The Saturday Evening Post that markets to soldiers, graduates, and nurses–all on the same page (fig. 4).

(fig. 4.) An advertisement marketing this particular pen/pencil to nurses. (Author’s Collection)
Detail: In this particular set illustrated, the caps may have had a red jeweled and black jeweled cap for different colored inks of the shift.

As always, if you have any insight or information on these pens, please reach out and contact me.


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