LEGENDS: “The legend of the fountain pen”
The legend says that in 1883, Lewis Waterman was an insurance broker in New York City, getting ready to sign one of the most important business contracts.
In honor of the occasion, Lewis Waterman bought a new fountain pen that he considered far more stylish than a cumbersome dip pen and ink well.
With the contract on the table and the pen in the client’s hand, the pen refused to write, and actually leaked onto the precious document.
In dismay, Lewis Waterman raced back to his office for another contract, but it was already too late, a competing broker had already closed the deal!
Determined to never again suffer such disgrace, Waterman starting making and perfecting fountain pens in his brother’s workshop.
Lewis Waterman used the capillarity principle which allowed air to induce a steady and even flow of ink. He christened his pen “the Regular,” decorated it with wood accents, and obtained a patent for it in 1884.
In his first year of operation, Waterman sold his hand-made pens out of the back of a cigar shop. He guaranteed the pens for five years and advertised in a trendy magazine, The Review of Review. The orders filtered in.
By 1899, Lewis Waterman opened a factory in Montreal and was offering a variety of designs. In 1901, upon Waterman’s death, his nephew, Frank D. Waterman took the business overseas and increased sales to 350,000 pens per year.
It is said that The Treaty of Versailles was signed using a solid gold Waterman pen!
This is an example of innovation and the ability to turn problems into solutions.
Story not verified.
Waterman Paris. 2016. The heritage. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.waterman.com/en/content/9-the-heritage. [Accessed 12 August 2016].
History of pencils. 2016. Lewis Waterman – Inventor of Fountain Pen. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.historyofpencils.com/writing-instruments-inventors/lewis-waterman/. [Accessed 12 August 2016].