Posted by Dirck on 22 January, 2013
Part of my week off which didn’t involve household excavation was devoted to getting some more pages underway for my site. While I fell slightly short of having something I could throw up (so to speak), I did find some extremely unexpected stuff while ferreting after the history of Kaweco. That history is quite interestingly convoluted (multiple bankruptcies, name changes, and similar), and the current holder of the name is remarkably willing to admit to most of it. They also offer a vast trove of antique advertising materials to the seeker, and it is in that trove that I found befuddlement.
Shortly before the First World War, the company offered from adverts on a theme of Kaweco Appell! which we might bring into English as “Kaweco roll-call!” The first one I want to refer to is the less baffling one:
There’s nothing so disturbing about a pen-company roll-call which includes a bunch of office workers of diverse sizes and ages. The fountain pen is a natural tool to be found in a bureaucrat’s hand, and the only real head-scratcher to be offered by this delightful image is why Kaweco chose not to indicate how diverse their pens were. That poor little chap I’ve made fun of could have found something more suitable in the 1911 catalogue.
Now, for something that really knocks one’s notions of how to advertise pens askew, have a gander at this oddity, in which uniformity of pen length is just about the only thing that makes sense:
Um…. Er…. What? Is the God of War himself come to underline the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword? If so, then is the lesson meant to be taking place in the aftermath of the Siege of the Legations? Perhaps the notion is that all soldiers are united in their love of the more scholarly pursuits in the new and peaceful century… or at least soldiers of sufficiently modern world powers (hajimemashite, you there on the end, and good job jumping on the steam’n’iron bandwagon!). If so, the chap in the foreground might was to spend a little time with a mirror, moderating his blood-curdling snarl. A darker possibility is the underlying message that if you really want to kill lots of people, you have to get a grip on the written work of warfare. I really don’t have any insights to offer on the matter. I just thought I might draw others into my state of confusion, so as to not be so lonely.