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VICTORIAN GEMS

For those who are uninitiated with the delightful art of Victorian silver pencils / dip pens, the pictures on our website tell all. These beautiful objects are a joy to behold and demonstrate the finesse of the silversmith’s trade.

These pencils / dip pens were made using hand operated jigs and soldered. The foliate sliders and the finials were cast. Much of the decoration to the outer tube was hand-chased.

Whilst many collectors enjoy them for their aesthetic beauty, some still use their pencils today. There are a myriad of makers, designs, sizes and shapes. All of which make collecting these gems fascinating and challenging. The most prominent maker being Sampson Mordan.

If you wish to use the pencil it is essential that the propel mechanism works properly. Some dealers just force a bit of lead into the nozzle and plead ignorance. Others will tell you that leads are easy to obtain, which is not entirely true. You won’t be able to nip down to your local stationers and buy them. Today we use the Metric system, back then we used Imperial measurements.

If, of course, the pencil is purely for display then I suppose it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work properly. However, this will affect its value!

The majority of Victorian silver pencils will have no hallmark – this was general practice in those days.
The same applies to gold pencils and dip pens.

LEADS

Available for purchase are all the Sampson Mordan Patent lead types “VH”, “H”, “M”, “S” and “VS”, please email shirestudios@virginmedia.com for more information. These are all handmade in Shropshire and Dorset by the Shire Studios. Another very popular line is their brass ferruled / threaded cedar pencil refills for Sampson Mordan cedar pencil holders.

If a lead size cannot be found it is possible to take an oversized lead and with fine emery paper and a plastic ruler reduce the lead to fit by rolling. Not very time consuming, slightly messy, but it does work.

Victorian silver pencils are now over 110 years old plus and the majority of these still work perfectly. Handled gently and with respect these works of art will last another 100 years or so.

Enjoy!

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