History of Automatic Pens


 Automatic pens were originally called BOXALL Pens after their manufacturer Mr FWG (Fred) Boxall who was certainly making the pens in the late 1920’s. They were originally made in brass but as this became expensive it was changed to the nickel silver still used today.

The name was changed in the mid 1950’s to Automatic Lettering Pens. At that time most show cards and posters for shops were lettered using a brush and the new pens were designed to replace the brush for large lettering and ‘automatically’ do thick lines. The company was bought in the mid 1950’s by a Geral Dupont (no relation to Dupont pens) and at the time the pens were described as ‘the Wizards of Lettercraft’. The range was more extensive than the current 13 and included an edging pen, a shading pen and a block letter pen. The prices ranged from one shilling to one shilling and three pence! (a shilling became 5 new pence).

The last owner, Mr David Ford, a very amiable and likeable, gentleman, worked for the Parker Pen Company and visited Mr Dupont,  who was by this time an elderly gentleman. Most of the workshop was inhabited by pigeons and the machinery was covered (in polite terms) by guano! He made his own penholders on a lathe and dipped them into highly inflammable paint and hung them to dry, used petrol to degrease the pens AND smoked almost constantly! After a heart attack he sold the company to David Ford in the mid 1980’s but unfortunately died before he could hand over the manufacturing.

The first ‘Ford’ Automatic Pens were produced on a trial and error basis with many ending up in the recycling bin. The pens were manufactured in Sussex, on the south coast of England. All the tooling was updated (and the guano left on the garden !) but every pen was hand made, hand ground and hand finished. The penholder was updated to a single size ABS non slip plastic for easier grip, balance and weight, easier to keep clean and using fewer trees. In the new millennium the manufacturing moved to C. Roberson & Co in London who continue to produce quality pens.

Useful tips – load the pen with a brush, separate brushes if you are using two colours, and stroke the brush across the side of the pen. You will be able to see how much ink is loaded and judge when to refill. If you are using the larger pens or two colours in the pen at the same time – place a small piece of sponge in the jaws and you will find the colour separation lasts much longer and in the larger pens the ink doesn’t fall out (as easily). Washing usually keeps them clean but if all else fails just scrape out the debris with a sharp craft knife and use a very sharp blade to clean the small serrations on the top of the pen – it breathes through here.


Automatic Pens 1990’s

Automatic Pens

The full range of Automatic Pens can always be obtained by mail order from Blot’s Pen & Ink Supplies www.blotspens.co.uk

Blotspens video on YouTube

I am amazed that my video which shows colour mixing with Pilot Parallel Pens and had some distinctly dodgy calligraphy has had 36,000 hits!! It was never intended to demonstrate calligraphy but just to give an idea of what colour mixing was about. Apparently it has earnt 9pence and they don’t pay out less than £10 so I don’t think I will be booking the cruise yet. I suppose that 36,000 as a percentage of the world online community isn’t great but there are lots of videos with much smaller figures. I just wish 36,000 people had bought a Parallel Pen from me!!! If you want to see it – 36,001 – just search for ‘blotspens’ on YouTube. No it’s not the Chocolate Charlie one; it’s the other one.


Blotspens is migrating!

I am trying to get this blog set up on blots website and I grow more confused by the day. (it’s not difficult!)  In order to set it up my hosting has had to move to another server and, to move, it had to migrate, propagate ..(?).  At least the website is now back functioning and I don’t think I lost any orders on the way. Maybe I should try one task at a time. I am trying to set this up, organise a regular mailing using Constant Contact, review all the customer accounts… I think I will go and lie down in a darkened room….

Royal Mail Price DROP!!

Royal Mail’s spring 2013 pricing for small parcels has been revised from November. It looks as though Royal Mail had lost an enormous amount of business to other carriers because of their sizing restrictions. It particularly hit our business in posting A3 pads when the postage was almost as much as the cost of the pad. It wasn’t the weight that caused the problem but the size. With the increase of the allowable size the price of mailing on A3 pad drops from £5.85 to £3. A most welcome price drop!

Copperplate Fountain Pen?

Is it beyond anyone to make a fountain pen with a Copperplate nib? Better still, can anyone make a fountain pen with interchangeable Copperplate nibs to suit different writers. I have always presumed that as such a pen is not made that there is some difficulty making it but no one has ever explained to me why. I think there used to be an Osmiroid Copperplate nib section. Can anyone give me a reason/explanation why this pen is not being made?

Calderdale Calligraphers

Visit with pens to Calderdale Calligraphers AGM today. Next Saturday same thing at North West Calligraphers near to Jodrell Bank. Never know what is going to be hot or sell – usually something I only have three of! Maybe it depends on what the most recent workshop covered. Thankfully the bookings secretary is going to let me know in advance what has been recommended for the next workshop and may be a runner.