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Aikin-Lambert pens

Aikin Lambert lever filler in Pearl and Black, c 1927

Aikin Lambert, according to Fischler and Schneider, was a New York City jewelry manufacturer that commenced business in 1864. Part of their production included dip pens and gold points for same (the points were called "pens" in those days), in addition to pencils. It wasn't until 1890, however, that they turned their attentions to the fountain pen, although this of course still makes them pioneers. They seem to have been influenced heavily throughout their run by the products of fellow New Yorker L.E. Waterman; in fact, they enjoyed very close business relations with Waterman and were eventually absorbed by their larger and more famous neighbor.

The Aikin Lambert's thin-gauge, very flexible 14k point is very typical for the period. Try this pen, and any modern pen will feel like a nail by comparison.

Like everyone else in those early years, Aikin-Lambert made eyedropper pens, and these were frequently overlaid or filigreed in silver or gold. These pens look a great deal like contemporary Watermans. Later, Aikin-Lambert tackled safety pens and then latched on to self fillers of different types, including the sleeve filler and (as above) the lever filler.

Tip of a sterling silver Aikin-Lambert drop lead pencil of the late 19th century, showing the ALCo hallmark and decorative chasing.

Aikin Lambert (or ALCo, to use the abbreviation often stamped on its products) was particularly noted for its pencils, and in fact is said to have made pencils for Waterman up through about 1920. Aikin Lambert also maufactured pens under the Mercantile sub-brand among others.

The Aikin Lambert's riveted-on clip resembles Waterman's design, but is more graceful and more tastefully imprinted. This pen also has an extra-wide engraveable cap band.

One respect in which Aikin Lambert did part company with Waterman was its early use of plastic, as with the pen pictured here. This pen would have been made sometime between 1926 and 1932, when the company was absorbed by L.E. Waterman. Waterman continued to manufacture pens under the Aikin Lambert name for several years thereafter.

The Verdict

Aikin Lambert pens are very similar to Watermans, although possibly a half-notch or more better in quality, as befits a company that started in the jewelry trade. The most prized ALCo pens seem to be their 19th and early 20th century overlay pens, which sometimes sell for less than Watermans of equivalent pedigree.

Aikin Lambert sterling silver drop-lead pencil from the late 19th century.