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Taperite

Maker: Waterman.

The Taperite section undone, showing the deeply conservative innards; the feed is a slightly reshaped “Spoon Feed”, as the company had been using since the turn of the century.

This is not a model of pen, but a range of pens.  When the Parker “51″ appeared and changed the notion of what a pen might look like, a lot of makers sought to at least chase Parker’s bandwagon if not actually clamber up on it.  In Waterman’s case, this pursuit took the form of the Taperite, a new shape of section giving the shape of a hooded point.  Shape only, as it happens, as the interior of the section housed a rather old-school point and feed– the Taperite pens were at best semi-hooded pens. This effort at bandwagon-chasing might also be seen as somewhat belated, as Taperites don’t appear until 1945.

One might contemplate the introduction of the Taperite and the collapse of Waterman a decade or so later.  Rather than commit the sort of engineering feat that Parker had pulled, they chose this tarting up of what was in some ways a throwback to an older set of innards, and even in this they did not commit to the action.  Most, if not all, models of Taperite were accompanied by a standard-sectioned version of the same model, another evidence of the perilous conservatism that gave the company such trouble in the switch from rubber to celluloid bodies.  I may be well off-base on this (Sheaffer got away with running models with vacuum and lever fillers for about twenty years, after all), but is seems if not a cause then at least a symptom of the trouble the company was getting into in the 1940s.

I’m of two minds on the Taperite pens.  They are very pleasant to look at.  The section is actually covertly ergonomic, as it has a tear-drop cross-section, the peak in line with the point’s slit.  The semi-hooded effect allows for some delightful flexible points.  However, the simple feed had the failings of simplicity, primarily a tendency to dripping.  I still like them, but I can’t suggest them without reservation.

Update: Looking at some ads from Waterman-JiF from the late 1940s, it appears that as far as France was concerned, the Taperite was treated as a model, with the variations in caps treated as mere selection of options rather than a diferentiation of models.  It is, therefore, right to speak of a Taperite with a rolled gold cap if it’s a French-made pen, while the same thing made elsewhere would be a Stateleigh Taperite.

Examples of Taperites (click to jump to that pen’s page):

Waterman Citation

Waterman Conquest

Waterman Crusader Taperite

Waterman Garland

Mystery Waterman #240

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