I am sad to announce the death of Blots Wooden Penholders. After a valiant struggle to keep these penholders in production I must finally accept defeat.
The penholders are made by boring a fine hole down the end of the
holder. Unfortunately the last drilling bit reached the end of its life
and the toolmakers, who had made several dozen previous cutters, now
seem unable to make a cutter that works. They have tried, tried and
Unless someone can recommend a toolmaker who can produce a short run
fine cutter at an economic cost those of you who bought them previously –
look after them as there will be no more.
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the pens in the late 1920’s. They were originally made in brass but as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 that 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 he visited Mr Dupont
who was by this time elderly. 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
In the new millennium the manufacturing moved to C. Roberson & Co in London who continue to produce these quality pens.
The full range of Automatic Pens can be obtained in our store.
This is as told to John Winstanley of Blots Pen & Ink Supplies by David Ford before his retirement.
Blots have started making a range of wooden dinky dips. There are several designs to fit jars or buddy cups with a choice of caps. The Tiger Stripe Dinky Dip is particularly striking and is made from separate strips of hard and soft wood. It is available pre-drilled to fit screw top jars or push on caps.
View the dinky dip range here.
William Mitchell Reversible Pen holder is a convenient pen holder with a nib unit that can be turned round and stored inside the pen holder to preserve the point from damage. The nib unit appears to be a moulded section but is in fact assembled from 3 parts (see photo). The parts can be separated and a new No.659 Crow Quill inserted in the pen. However, when the pen has been used it is likely that ink and paper have worked their way up the nib shaft and the nib itself has started to corrode.
It may help to soak the nib unit for 24 hours in washing up liquid or air brush cleaner to soften the debris round the nib shaft. Grip the nib unit and nib and twist the nib around the supporting pillar. Bear in mind that the nib unit parts are plastic and breakable. Since the nib needs replacing there is nothing to be lost by gripping the end of it with pliers. A twisting and rotating movement should enable the nib to be pulled out of its socket.
The supporting pin may remain in the socket but may need to be pulled out to enable the socket to be thoroughly cleaned.
Refit a new No.659 Crow Quill and your pen is as good as new. !!
Unpacking a consignment of ink from Ziller in the USA which arrived today I was struck by the beautiful colours. It is almost impossible not to unscrew the lids and load a pen with ink and be amazed at the infinite variety of effects that flow from the blade of the pen. Using a brush it is possible to load a 3a Automatic Pen with three colours and the delightful spectrum of ever-changing colour is truly spectacular. This is possible of course with many inks and paints but the viscosity of the Ziller inks seems to slow the mixing of the ink on the pen so that the mixing takes place as it flows onto the page.
If you haven’t tried colour mixing I would recommend it.
I would recommend Ziller Inks for spectacular colours and amazing
results. Don’t be frightened off by the waterproof label, just rinse
your pens frequently. For even easier cleaning just add a little ammonia
to your rinse water.
Full range of Ziller Inks in stock – I’ve just unpacked them! No one who has tried them has been disappointed and many have fallen in love ❤️!