We recently came across this vintage tin of Sanford's Ink Eraser and couldn't pass up the opportunity to share some photos. It dates to 1900-1910, and was one of the first products marketed to remove ink.
The bottle lids were numbered 1 and 2. The bottles themselves were imprinted with First and Second, and molded so as to only fit in the tin in the correct order. Directions on the tin:
For Paper - First apply No. 1, rubbing gently until the ink has softened, then blot off and apply No. 2 until the ink has disappeared, then apply No. 1 again until the two fluids are neutralized and dry with a blotter.
For Clothing - Use equal parts of Nos. 1 and 2 and absorb with a clean, damp sponge.
Here's an advertisement for them from the February 24, 1900 issue of The American Stationer. You can read more about Sanford on the Made in Chicago Museum website.
We wouldn't call the Manos a rare pen, but truth is you don't see them very often. Made in Austria after the turn of the century, these hard rubber pens sported a unique curved feed and a piston filler mechanism.
To fill the pen, you turned the screw top all the way to the left till it stopped. Then, you dipped the nib in ink and turned the screw top to the right, drawing ink in. However, the ink did not naturally flow continuously as would be expected. You would simply write for a bit and when more ink was needed, you twisted the screw top a half turn or so to the left again to re-ink the nib. When finished writing, a couple turns to the right would draw any remaining ink on the nib back into the reservoir.
The guts of the pen are quite complicated, moreso than you would guess from outward appearances. A photo on fountainpennetwork.com shows the insides of one laid bare. The Manos could possibly be one of the earliest examples of a disposable fountain pen, in that it was virtually impossible for the average consumer to service it, if needed. When first assembled, the piston filler mechanism was inserted into the barrel, held in place on the section end with a cork sleeve. Once the mechanism was seated, the other end of the barrel was then heat-crimped to seal everything in place, as seen in the above photo. The pen would almost have to be destroyed to reopen it.
Some Manos pens, particularly the BCHR examples, have the Manos imprint on the barrel, but this one has it on the cap, in what is actually a pretty unusual location.
Manos pens were also sold under various trade names, such as Victoria, and Standard, and were still being sold at least until 1924.
Most pen collectors are familiar with Frank Spors & Co., and the wonderful glass-nib pens they imported from Japan. What you might not know is that Spors wholesaled many other items besides pens, everything from broadcloth shirts to the "Wonder Mitten Duster." The collection of correspondence and catalog pages shown here provide a wonderful peek behind the scenes of the company.
Frank Spors never missed an opportunity to be selling. He had special four-page stationery printed that gave him a blank page with a letterhead for correspondence, with the other three pages being a 'mini-catalog' showing an assortment of the goods they offered for sale.
Shown here is a letter from Frank Spors, signed personally, dated June 9, 1928, to the Lamson & Goodnow Mfg. Co. of Shelbourne Falls, MA, inquiring about whether they would be able to provide a stainless steel kitchen knife in bulk at a very low price. As you'll see below, they were not.
What's interesting about this letter is that Mr. Spors chose to send along a complete financial statement for the company, dated January 5, 1928, allowing us an amazing and rare glimpse into the private business financials of the company, and Mr. Spors personally.
The company had assets of $66,000, most of which was inventory, of course. Liabilities totaled $26,000, consisting of outstanding loans and the accounts payable on the warehoused merchandise, which left the net worth of the business at around $40,000. Personally, Mr. Spors owned real estate and his home, with equity valued at approximately $15,000.
The most interesting part, though, is that he then details the phenomenal growth of the company over the last four years. Gross sales in 1924 were around $48,000, which increased to $76,000 in 1925. In the next year sales doubled again, totaling $160,000 for 1926, and finally topping out at $204,000 in 1927.
Below is a small gallery of the inside pages of the catalog mentioned previously, and then another small gallery of additional correspondence between Spors & Co. and the Lamson & Goodnow Mfg. Co. Lastly, a photo of Mr. Spors himself along with his employees, taken around 1921, courtesy of Collectors Weekly.