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Archive for November 18th, 2013

National Identity

Posted by Dirck on 18 November, 2013

A little discussion on a forum lately got me thinking down what is almost certainly a cognitive blind alley.  That discussion was aimed at identifying a Sheaffer Imperial which had a collection of very odd features relative to what one expects (in as much as one expects something specific from Imperials).  Something that put various minds somewhat at rest (as much as minds considering Sheaffer Imperials can be) was the imprint, which read MADE IN BRAZIL.  Various different plants go their own way occasionally with designs– Argentine Parker 45s with long 61-style clips, Sheaffer TipDip Craftsmans from Canada and Australia with plastic rather than steel caps– so discovering an anomaly comes from a plant outside the maker’s homeland renders it less anomalous.

My mind didn’t rest, though.  MADE IN BRAZIL.  In English.


I suspect that the question of national identity is one that occurs more to Canadians than to some other peoples, especially those of us who are old enough to clearly remember the last and happily negative referendum Quebec ran regarding separation.  Because we have a little trouble defining what we are other than by plain differentiation (“like Americans with socialized health-care”; “like Australians who don’t have to be so careful about lifting rocks and logs”), I have a notion we notice little things like this a little more quickly.  Say… maybe I’ve hit on a national trait!

In any event, I looked at that impression, which is apparently pretty standard for Brazilian Sheaffers, and I wonder about the motive.  The wondering is made only a little less pressing by the discovery through on-line translation that MADE IN BRAZIL becomes, when swapped into Portugese, MADE IN BRASIL, because it’s not only Sheaffer’s Brazilian offshoot that did it.

Waterman pens all say FRANCE on them, which is fair enough because that’s the same in French… except the ones made in the 1950s said MADE IN FRANCE, and that’s all English.  Pelikan’s pens have said GERMANY on them for a long time, even if my very scanty looking into the matter is correct during the period when the Nationalsozialistische crowd was in charge; caring about export markets during that phase of the country’s history seems pretty unlikely, as general foreign policy was demonstrably “Lernen Sie Deutsch sprechen!”  Pelikan, interestingly enough, conducted some if its turn of the previous century’s advertising using foreign spelling, with British and French ads offering Pelican materials, so they clearly have given the matter some thought over the years.

I don’t have any conclusions to draw here.  It’s not a universal practice– that Parker 45 I mention above is content to say HECHO EN ARGENTINA on it, and Soyuz pens generally appear in Cyrillic only.  It’s mere observation, and a little bit of sharing of bafflement.  If anyone has any suggestions, I’m interested to hear them; speculations, properly labelled, are also welcome.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign
Today’s ink: Pelikan Violet

Odd that some pens AREN’T imprinted in their own language– Pelikans, Brazilian Sheaffers, French Watermans.

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