"During the early 1990s Edward Eldred, a member of the Writing Equipment Society (WES), produced a photocopied, spirally-bound compilation, entitled Waterman In England, of 120 advertisements and items of editorial contained in the Stationery Trades Journal during the years 1881 to 1938. The volume covered not only Waterman's, but many of the other pen manufacturers, including Conway Stewart, De La Rue and Mabie Todd, that made and sold fountain pens in great numbers in England.
Eldred's work was the inspiration for me to research further into the English fountain pen industry and, during the mid-1990s, I spend a great deal of time, effort and money tracking down and arranging photocopies of extracts from more than a dozen different British stationery trade magazines. My search took me (on at least 15 occasions) to the superb St Bride Printing Library, just off Fleet Street, where Nigel Roche and his staff could not have been more helpful. The BOSS (British Offices Supplies & Services) Federation, the successor organization to the Stationers' Association, were also most helpful, allowing me to borrow the bound copies of their trade journals, covering 1905-1980; they kindly let me collect (in a suitcase), every couple of weeks, a batch of the 75+ bound volumes from their then HQ in Wimpole Street, to take home to sort through, then to my office to copy the relevant pages and return for some more! I also spent many fruitful hours at the UK and US Patent Offices, then a Southampton Buildings (with its massive, beautiful atrium), off Holborn; I was even allowed to delve in the musty basements seeking the full patent description that I was researching.
Consequently, by 1998, I ended up with a huge archive, made up of copies (spirally-bound, by date, manufacturer etc. – well-organized!) from these journals, and elsewhere, which numbered over 2,000 pages! But, what to do with it? [The 10 years or so from 1984 were also the years when I rose, on virtually every Friday, at 4.30am to visit south-east London's Bermondsey market in search of pens – a round trip of about 70 miles through the middle of town – and get to the office, not far from my home in Marlow, for an 8:30am start!].
I had already been writing articles for the WES Journal (my particular favorite being The History of Mabie Todd, over nearly 50 pages in all) since 1986 and I decided, in early 1999, to write definitive histories of the fountain pens were sold here. [England, rather than the United Kingdom of Great Britain, because, apart from one company (with a London HQ) who manufactured in England, everything was 'happening' in England – primarily London, of course, but also Liverpool, Birmingham, Newhaven and Leicester, as well as a few other outposts, such as Southport]. The book was to be entitled Fountain Pens for the Million (subsequently used as the main title for my 2010 History of Conway Stewart) and, in anticipation of its completion, my wife, Kate, made a super cake to celebrate my 50th birthday at the end of December 2000.
My main purpose in writing the book was to put the English fountain pen industry on the map. Apart from WES Journals and Andy Lambrou's excellent books, there was really nothing, at the time, to identify the many significant English pen makers and to confirm that the English pen industry ranked second only, in terms of total output and domestic sales to that of the United States."