Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oh, patents! Alonzo T. Cross fountain pens, stylographs and mechanical pencils

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

In 2016, and since 1971, the Cross Company [ATX], specializing in fine instruments of writing, is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ  stock exchange.

150 years ago, circa the 1880s, Alonzo T. Cross, son of the founder of the Cross Company, incorporated in Providence, Rhode Island in 1846, applied for a series of US Letters Patent. The Letters patent were awarded for the invention of fountain pens, also called stylographic pens, mechanical pencils or crayon holders using endless screws, and the enameling or “japanning” of hollow articles such as pencil or crayon holder tubes. Two fountain pen patents were also filed and granted in Canada. The Canadian patents are handwritten documents with annotated drawings.

The French titles given to the Canadian Cross patents are respectively: Perfectionnements aux plumes-fontaines for Improvements on fountain pens (1879 CA10682) and Plume-fontaine for Fountain or reservoir pen (1883 CA17448), thereby adding yet another quilled French term for “fountain pen” and the English variation “reservoir pen”.

The term “japan” for “enamel” and corresponding verb form “japanning” in US303817 is also noteworthy!  The patent disclosed improvements to the art of enameling small hollow surfaces such as crayon or pencil tubes.

The following is a list of the Alonzo T. Cross fountain pen, mechanical pencil and japanning patents, awarded in the US and Canada:

1873 US140477 Pencil cases
1877 US189304 Fountain pen
1878 US199621 Fountain pen
1878 US209959 Fountain pen
1879 CA10682  Inprovements on fountain pens / Perfectionnements aux plumes-fontaines [Handwritten document]
1880 US225691 Stylographic fountain pen
1880 US227416 Stylographic fountain pen
1880 US229305 Fountain pen 
1880 US232804 Stylographic Pen
1881 US244194A Stylographic pen
1882 US263392 Lead and crayon holder
1883 CA17448 - Fountain or reservoir pen / Plume-fontaine [Handwritten document]
1894 US29653Crayon holder
1884 US296539 Crayon holder
1884 US303624 Stylographic fountain Pen
1884 US303817 Method of enameling or Japanning hollow articles
1897 US595373 Fountain Pen
1900 US657483 Fountain pen
1901 US714283 Fountain pen
1908 US900833 Fountain Pen

Click on the hyperlinked patent numbers to see the ornate and beautiful technical drawings of the Cross™ fountain pens, mechanical pencils and crayon holders! 

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