The first pen Waterman had applied an actual name to, the Patrician, was followed shortly after its introduction by a smaller ladies’ model; even as early as 1930, the notion of a “vest” pen was being ousted by the idea that a smaller pen is destined for a purse. “Patrician” is, at least by the thinking of ad men in the 1930s, far too manly a name to put on a pen destined for small hands, so they feminized it into “Lady Patricia”. Apart from being smaller, primary difference from the men’s version was the clip, which was attached directly to the flat jewel atop the cap. This pen and the Patrician were both part of Waterman’s initial foray into celluloid plastics, and since Waterman had arrived late to that party, they tried to make up for it by having some fairly pretty patterns based on various semi-precious stones.
In 1936, a separate line of Lady Patricians was introduced fitted with the new Ink-Vue filler which Waterman had developed to contest the Parker Vacumatic’s “this is not at all a bulb filler, honest” market slot, as well as the visible ink supply feature that pretty much every other major pen company of the time offered. Apart from the placement of the filler mechanism, there was also some difference in the decoration of the pen’s furniture, and different plastics were used.
Just when the Lady Patricia was withdrawn is an obscure question. There’s a lack of resources for Waterman models in general during the war years, but it seems that in US production at some point in the 1940s the Lady Patricia was ousted by the Starlet (which was the feminine counterpart to the Stalwart). In British and Canadian production, perhaps supported by stronger monarchist sentiments, the Lady Patricia remained in production until at least 1947, and may well have done until the start of the next decade. The masculine version of the pen at this point, the 555, was not a flagship like the Patrician, but was described as “a real man’s sized pen in the medium price range.” To further the notion that the pen had at this stage in its life come down in the world, it appears in the catalogue in a subservient place to the Garland and the Conquest
The name was revived in 1987, applied to a short, clipless pen meant, like its ancestor, to be carried in a purse. As a point of interest, “Patrician” was also resurrected for some limited editions of the Man line, but not until 1992.
Production Run: 1930 – C. 1950, then 1987 – c. 1990
Cost When New: $5.00 in the 1933 and 1936 catalogues; it didn’t matter, in the latter, which filling mechanism one went for (for modern values, try this calculator). My 1947 English catalogue lacks prices; the US one shows $3.50 for the Starlet in roughly the same niche, but as the 555 was evidently a slightly higher-line item than the Stalwart we should expect the Lady Patricia to go for slightly more than the Starlet. I don’t have any prices on hand for the ’80s revival, but it was clearly meant as an upper-end offering.
Size: 11.1 cm long capped, 13.9 cm posted, 10.0 cm uncapped. (1940s Canadian model)
Point: 14K gold (18K in the cartridge-filler)
Body: Celluloid in the original appearance, brass in the later version..
Filler: Lever, capacity approx. 0.7 ml, or Ink-Vue. capacity unknown. The modern re-introduction used short cartridges.
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