Monday, 22 December 2014

Swan Pens for Christmas


During one of my daily strolls up and down Commercial Road, E1 in the late 1980s, I spotted several layers of torn advertising posters tucked away in the recessed area by the front doors of a closed-down building. The top poster promoted Swan Pens for Christmas, and beneath it there was an ad showing the letter V on a pencil with a cracked-green design (the other letters would have been ENUS, spelling the word VENUS.

At this time it was not uncommon to find these kinds of remnants of then decades old signage and street ephemera peppered into the landscape of the area. In fact over a couple of years I built up a photographic record of this material, some of which I have shared in After You've Gone since I started the blog back in April 2013.

So again, just like this time last year, here's a post with a seasonal twist:

Swan Pe s   r Christmas

Swan Pens for Christmas, Commerical Road, London E1. 1988

Swan fountain pens were created in the USA by Mabie, Todd and Bard in 1884, and their first showroom arrived in Cheapside, London the very same year. During their heyday, the Swan Pens were manufactured in a factory in Harlesden, with their stylish head office in Mayfair. Both buildings were destroyed during the Blitz, but what eventually caused the Swan to die was the swift rise in popularity of the ball point pen after WW2. Indeed - it was the famous Biro brand that actually bought out, and then killed off the Swan at the end of the 1950s.

So this advert still stuck to a wall in Commerical Road in the 1980s was for a fountain pen that had already been obsolete for some 30 years! As for Venus - the history of this pencil goes back even further than Swan's having been founded in the Hoboken, US in 1861. The first sales office for Venus pencils in the UK opened up on London's Farringdon Road in 1906, and just over a century on, after several moves and mergers, the Venus brand is still with us today...

Needless to say, this d├ęcollage of those two adverts for writing utensils that I snapped over twenty five years ago is now long gone.

After You've Gone will return in 2015, thanks so much for your support, and Season's Greetings...




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