This an extremely rare Victorian mechanical propelling pencil, dip pen, stamp dispenser and seal combination marked ‘Dawson’s Patent’. It dates to the 1850s and I’ve not seen another. Similar in construction and design to the John Sheldon pencils of the time that incorporated scales into the same top section of pencil. It is also made from the same ‘German Silver’ that Sheldon pencils were made from. The Writing Equipment Society wrote an article on Stamp Boxes in 2013 and summarized Dawson’s Patent as follows : “UK Patent No 1113 granted to Thomas Dawson for a combination piece which incorporated a dip pen and an Everpoint pencil, with reservoirs for both ink and leads and a compartment for storing one or more postage stamps (ie coiled within the barrel of the pen/pencil).” A search for this patent shows up in a number of places. It is describerd as Patent #1113 – May 17, 1855 – Cases for containing pen, ink, and stamps.
The top section holds the roll of stamps and there is a slot where they dispense from when this section is turned. Rolls (or coils) of stamps only started to become available in the 1850’s and roadside post-boxes first appeared in 1853, making this invention a timely item. The pencil slides out on the sliding button and works in the usual way, to propel the lead you turn the nozzle. The dip pen extends on an independent ring slider. It is nickel silver with a carnelian stone seal matrix set in the terminal. The seal unscrews and once you have unscrewed the little screw, you can replace the stamp roll.
Dawson was a Civil Engineer and had a number of patent items in the 1850’s. However, the London Gazette of January 2, 1857 includes Dawson in its list of those due in Court on January 16 for Relief of Insolvent Debtors. I have not found any reference to what became of Dawson but his bankruptcy might explain the scarcity of his writing implements. Another entry in the London Gazette in 1858 lists Dawson as invented (patent #1702) furniture that could be used to create a fire escape. “Thomas Dawson, formerly of No. 14, Melton-street, Euston- square, not in business, but perfecting certain inventions hereinafter mentioned, then of No. 18, Coles-terrace, and then and late of No. 23, Goulden-terrace, both in Barns-bury-road, Islington, all in Middlesex, Civil Engineer, carrying on business under the style of Thomas Dawson and Co., No. 9, King’s Arms-yard, Moorgate-street, in the city of London, and Inventor and Patentee of improvements in cutting out clothing by machinery, improvements in waterproof umbrellas, improvements in umbrella and parasol handles, improvements in pencil cases, and improvements in articles of furniture, and as Proprietor thereof, manufacturing for sale,- the articles as enumerated.”
This is a really nice clean example of Dawson’s only patented writing implement. It is all fully working as it should, with only very light wear and crisp engine turning and markings.
For more information – Thomas Dawson