Weekend Musings – The Pen is Mightier …

There are far weightier issues on the minds of readers. IEDs, the exclusion of women from combat specialties, the bizarre and semi-public ponderings of the much-anticipated U.S. Afghan strategy are but a sampling.

National security aside, we’d like to highlight vintage fountain pens. Actually, if you are involved with this nation’s security (or follow it) you probably need a pen. Why not a military vintage fountain pen? World War II pens? They are hipper than a Mac and far less expensive.

We discovered the Morrison “Patriot.” Toss the government-issue Skilcraft and grab a hold of another era, another war, a more genteel time. In the early 1940s the Morrison Pen Company produced a fountain pen (and pencil) for those serving in the Army, Navy, and Army Air Force. The “Patriot” was not the best quality, but showcased crests for the services including the Army seal, a Navy fouled anchor with “USN” emblazoned on the cap, and the winged-propeller symbol of the Army Air Force.

The pen and pencil set added that je new sais quoi to any Jack or Jill in uniform and their millions of supporters on the home front, something Morrison may have banked on. The set ran a whopping $6.25, and was purchased through Morrison. They were not military issue. The pen has an unusual syringe filling system and the much-coveted 14K gold nib. Though somewhat rare, they can still be found today.

Fountain pen use and production reached its peak in the 1920s and 30s, and ironically advances in writing instruments made in World War II, soon sounded the death knell for the fountain pen. 

But these classic writers are enjoying resurgence in appeal. We have the Navy version; a friend has a working Army model. Google “Morrison Patriot” and you’ll find at least one for sale. But vintage fountain pens are better bought in person. Few shops handle these vintage gems and even fewer know much about them. There is a pen meister in Annapolis, Md., inside an antique store owned by a ’76 grad out of the Naval Academy.

We met the pen meister at one of a handful of pen shows (who knew?) held around the country. We saw a few Patriots at the largest gathering of the pen clans held just outside Washington, DC. Far from the size of an antique show or gun show, this niche market attracts a specialized but devoted crew. Ask any of the vintage dealers about the Morrison pen and they can tell volumes.

We are fascinated by the Patriot and it can make putting pen to paper a joy whether one is in uniform or past those military days. Though not a true piece of militaria, it is one vintage artifact that one can use without worry.

Weightier issues to follow.


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