Manufactured between 1906-1918, the John Holland Saddle Filler is one of my favorite pens.
The John Holland Saddle Filler is a unique pen in an era where manufacturers were trying to either come up with alternatives to an eye drop filling pen or trying to compete with the Sheaffer Lever Filler. Self Filling pens were all the rage and made filling your pen much easier and less messy. No longer did you need to remember where you put that eyedropper, or risk overfilling the barrel, your filling system was included with the pen.
This pen was a Christmas gift to me from Lisa a few years back. Well, ok, I picked the pen and told her that’s what I wanted her to buy. It is one of the cleanest examples of a Saddle Filler I have ever seen. The imprint is crisp and deep and fully readable. The barrel end is also stamped clearly 2 for the size.
The nib is, as to be expected, flexible, and bears the number 12. Holland seems to be the exception to the rule when considering how nibs were marked during this time period. Holland Dip Pen nibs were numbered in single digits, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, etc. Fountain pen nibs got the 1 in the tens place so 12 instead of what normally would be considered a number 2 nib. Not to be confused with larger nibs by other manufacturers like Waterman #10 nib which is extremely large.
The saddle filler saw two distinct designs during its life, one a screw cap design with a very short cap, and this design, the early version, a slip cap design. While saddle fillers are not easy to find, the slip cap version is, in my experience, harder to find.
The pen fills the reverse way a lever filler fills. In a lever filler, the lever presses down on a bar to compress the sac, push out the air, and then releasing the lever fills the pen. With the saddle filler, there is a pin at the end of the barrel (seen in the image above), which a bar attaches too. The saddle, also attached to the bar, then is pulled up and the sac compressed from the back side. Releasing the saddle to position fills the pen. During a time when clip less pens were common, the saddle also acts as a stop for the pen so it does not roll off your writing desk.
The combination of unique filling system, a slip cap on a self filler, and overall condition of this pen make it one of my favorite pens.
Ink it up!
Brian & Lisa