A bad habit most pen-makers who hang around long enough find themselves falling into is the recycling of names. Sheaffer is possibly the most notable offender in this direction, but Parker does it too and perhaps more culpably for being more subtle about it. “Place Vendôme” was used as a trim designation as well as in a pen’s name, and “Classic” has seen the same variety of application. “Moderne,” prior to this pen’s appearance, was used to indicate a line of marbled colours of the Duofold which lay at quite the opposite end of the line-up from this modest item.
The Moderne was one of several names applied to a line of pens developed as a response to the Great Depression. There was still business to be had at the top of the product range (like the 2008 global economic event, the 1929 crash was not as bad news for the super-rich as it was for the little guys) but the lower end needed to come down a couple of pegs to keep pace with the then-current buying power of the public. The main way in which these pens appear to have been adapted to the low end of the market was in having rather small points, as the rest of the pen seems to have been more or less up to Parker’s standards of manufacture; button-fillers with the complex hanging spring, well-plated fittings, and an actual gold point.
The Moderne is a Canada-specific pen. In the US, the same pen would be a Duette Jr., until about 1934. After 1934, the Duette (in all its sizes) was cancelled in the US, and there may have been a brief hiatus in Moderne production as well. Thereafter, Modernes continue in Canadian production, sharing most components with Challengers. These later Modernes appear in both the slender and standard sizes.
Production Run: 1932 – c.1943
Cost When New: $2.00 until 1934 (which is not cheap but is more achievable than a Duofold; for modern value, try this calculator). This probably increased somewhat in the latter Challengeresque phase of production, but one expect the cost about the same as if not less than contemporary Challengers.
- 1932 – 1934: 11.6 cm capped, 13.4 cm posted, 10.3 cm uncapped.
- Post 1934 version: Standard; 13.0 cm capped, 15.1 cm posted, 11.6 cm uncapped.Slender; 12.0 cm long capped, 14.0 cm posted, 10.7 cm uncapped.
Point: 14k gold.
Filler: Button, capacity approx. 0.8 ml in earlier version and the slender, 1.2 ml in the standard.
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