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Summit pens

Summit gray lizard lever filler, c 1939

According to Lambrou's FPOTW, the Liverpool firm of Curzon, Lloyd, and MacGregor began making pens shortly after the turn of the century. This was probably quite a long handle to stamp onto the side of a short pen, so in the 1920s, the firm settled on the Curzon name. In the mid-1930s their products became known as Summit pens (using a "twin peaks" trademark), and would remain in production until just after the Second World War. Summit pens occupied much the same niche in the middle of the market as Burnham and Conway Stewart.

Although Mr. Lambrou writes that the Summit pens were "more conservative in style" than the above-named competitors, the samples on this page do show a certain genius. Summit pens all used reliable lever-fillers, and had (typically for English pens) nice-writing and flexy 14k points.

Summit apparently favored "lizard" plastics rolled on the bias for an unusual helical effect, as in this pen from the late 1930s. You can also see from this pen that Summit was a few years ahead in style, and a notch or two better in quality, than contemporary Conway Stewarts. The lever and "stepped" clip are quite formidable looking compared to the rather dainty (and sometimes fragile) items found on the Conways (the clip assembly on this model gone a bit wobbly, but is otherwise still quite serviceable). Summit's use of a Vacumatic-style clip and jewel assembly is several years ahead of its adoption by Conway Stewart, and the profile is also a bit more modern and well-proportioned than the typical straight-sided Conway of the day.

Summit black chased hard rubber w/ "over-the-top" clip, c 1939 (?)

Yet more modern in shape (if not in execution) is this Summit model, made from what looks to be black hard rubber with a rather traditional wavy-line chasing. However, it has a very unusual "over-the-top" clip design reminiscent of the Eversharp Skyline. Since I can't date this pen very accurately, it is difficult to tell which came first. This pen came from a new-old-stock lot of pens found in Australia, and still has its gold-foil price stickers intact (as you can see at the top left of the page).

The Verdict

Midcentury English pens have a charm all their own. They are very well-made and excellent writers, with a lot of style and a frequent dash of color, even if they are not particularly adventurous technically (Onoto apart). When new, they were never distributed in the US (we had plenty of our own pens, and besides we were net exporters to the world), so these didn't figure in the accumulations of most early U.S. collectors. Thanks, however, to the Internet (particularly to online auctions), these pens are now much more widely available in the U.S. than in years past. Yet, while some brands (like Conway Stewart and Onoto) have developed collector cults, others (like Summit, Burnham, Wyvern, etc.) have not attracted the same level of interest. That's OK, though, since it gives you a chance to get in on some very nice and fairly rare vintage pens for not a lot of money.

All the Summit pens I've seen are basic lever-fillers, and should be no trouble to refurbish provided none of the parts are broken or missing.

Maker Summit
Origin UK (Liverpool)
Production c1937 - c1946
Type Lever filler
Point 14k
Construction Plastic and hard rubber in various styles.