Notes V: Wearever Pens
March 20th, 2012
David Kahn Inc. in Bergen, NJ., was the world’s largest manufacturer of pens for many years, up until probably the mid-1950s or early 1960s. His brands, including “Supreme,” “Wear-ever,” Wearever,” “Treasure” and “Pioneer” (plus others) had two characteristics: First, they were made to sell for a fraction of better known and better made pens. Second, the styles often looked like other models of other pen makers.
To sell them cheaply, Kahn used less expensive metals and plastics. His nibs were “gold plated” over stainless steel, using extremely thin plating. His plastics were among the first to be injection-molded, cutting the cost of rolling, finishing, or pinching the barrels and caps. Kahn’s pens are often derisively called “third tier.”
However, I and others have found that many of his pens are truly beautiful, are good writers, and have stood the test of time as well as most other brands. The almost infinite variety of colors, patterns, styles, and even nib configurations allows for endless picking and choosing, and some of his really cheap pens (e.g., the Pennant pen, made to sell for a dollar) are extremely smooth writers. Some are not particularly good writers, but delightful in their colors and patterns. His “Treasure” pens are artistic minitures, made to sell in the 1930s for 25 cents (about $4-$5 in today’s buying power)–yet still glorious in style and colors.
Good pens can be made cheaply, and expensive pens can go bad. Take a look at the Wearevers in the website, and enjoy!