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Maker: Byers & Hayes

This is an interesting little example of a lesser pen-maker’s output.  If you look at the picture of it anatomized below, it illustrates some of the diversities from later “norms” that appear in pens during their first great flush.

The filler is technically lever-operated, but the lever presses against a simple bar, unlike Sheaffer’s sprung (and patented) mechanism.  The bar is kept more or less in place by a trough which slightly interacts with the lever, rather than the more complex (and patented) Waterman way of suspending a bar on the lever, which means that any attempt at repair leads to a pretty complete dismantling.  The lever is fixed in the barrel by a pin rather than a ring, with the stress dangers to the barrel that implies.  The reliance upon the resilience of the sac to return the bar leaves the lever a little slack at rest (likely exacerbated by the lever becoming slightly bent), which then forces the owner to be very careful to avoid snagging it on the top of a pocket when putting it away, lest it shoot a jet of ink into the cap.

The point is just a step or two above foil in thickness, the sort of thing that inspired Sheaffer’s “Lifetime” points though promoting a reputation for flimisness in fountain pens.  It is supported above and below by the feed, and for all that it is very thin it thus has no flex whatever.

The feed is possibly the most interesting aspect of this pen.  A simple rod of hard rubber, it has a hole drilled into its long axis which does not extend the full length, but interacts with the slit in which the point is settled.  There is also a trench cut into its underside, into which several small perpendicular holes are drilled to communicate with the axial hole, which serve to allow the necessary air exchange as ink comes out of the sac.  This is interesting because it is so profoundly unlike the Waterman pattern of feed which is more or less the standard.

Production Run: Somewhere between 1910 and 1925 or so (ah, precision!).

Size: 12.9 cm long capped, 17.5 cm posted, 12.4 cm uncapped.

Point: Gold

Body: Hard rubber

Filler: Lever, capacity approx. 0.5 ml

Byers & Hayes Pencil Quill

Pulled to bits for your edification (click for full size)

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