Sampson Mordan Collectors Club
Welcome to the Sampson Mordan collectors club, dedicated to all things Mordan. If you are a collector or admirer of Sampson Mordan then this is the place for you. If you want to discover more about Mordan and his work and his company then look no further, this site is dedicated to providing just that. If you want to see examples of his work or maybe purchase a beautiful antique item made by Mordan, then again you will find that here also.
S. Mordan & Co history
The beginning of the propelling pencil
Sampson Mordan was the co inventor of the propelling pencil (ever-pointed pencil), his partner at the time was John Isaac Hawkins and they filed a patent for their invention in 1822. Mordan quickly bought out Hawkins and in 1823 registered his first silver mark. By October of 1823 he had formed another partnership, this time with a wealthy stationer by the name of Gabriel Riddle. Under the name of S. Mordan and Co they carried on business as Mechanists and Manufacturers of Patent and other articles, at 22 Castle street, Finsbury, London.
Together they manufactured the propelling pencils that Mordan is so famous for. During this period their pencils were marked with "S. MORDAN & Cos PATENT" and their silver mark was "SM.GR". The partnership between the two of them was dissolved on the 20th of December 1836, Mordan continued trading as S. Mordan and Co.
Other Mordan items
Although S. Mordan & Co had began primarily manufacturing propelling pencils the company also produced other products of excellent design and quality. By 1842 they were advertising a multitude of products, including: patent pencil cases in various designs, novelty pencils in shapes of pistols and flutes etc, pencil leads, cedar drawing pencils, self-adjusting pen holders, patent oblique pens, portable quill pens, letter copying presses, locks, book edge locks, cash and deed boxes, fireproof merchant chests, medicine chests, smelling bottles, fountain ink stands, travelling ink wells and seal presses for stamping paper. So as can be seen from the aforementioned list the company was diversifying greatly.
Sampson Mordan's death
Sampson Mordan died on 9th April 1843 and the company was passed in to the hands of two of his sons, Sampson Mordan Jnr and Augustus Mordan. At this time the company were listed as having premises at 41 City-Road, Finsbury, in the County of Middlesex and also at 72 Cheapside in the City of London. The company continued to flourish and the two brothers were joined in partnership by Edmund George Johnson and Zachariah Watkins, the later of which reitred on 17th April 1879. In 1881 Sampson Mordan Jnr died in Paris.
Augustus Mordan and Edmund George Johnson were joined in partnership by Horace F Stewart, H L Symonds and James Pulley. However, on the 16th April 1884 the partnership was dissolved, and Augustus Mordan left the partnership. The remaining partners continued with the firm under the name of S. Mordan and Co.
On the 19th of January 1898 Edmund George Johnson died and one of the executors of his will was named as Percy Charles Mordan. Whether this was a hitherto unmentioned brother or possibly son of Sampson Jnr or Augustus is unclear.
Silver and Gold items
In 1898 the company became a limited liability company under the name of S. Mordan and Co Ltd. The company continued to make quality items and are renown the world over for their beautiful silver and gold items. Their pencils and pens varied from being relatively plain fluted or reeded examples to examples that were covered in beautiful swirls and curls. The ends of the pencils often had colourful stones which could be engraved with emblems or initials to be used as a seal with sealing wax, their ends often unscrewing to reveal compartments for spare leads. Other silver and gold items produced by the company included menu holders, seals, cigarette cases, vesta cases, bookmarks, scent bottles, card cases, sovereign holders and much more. These items were often beautifully embellished with colourful stones, enamel or engravings. Probably the most sought after examples of Mordans work are the novelty pencils which came in many different forms, some where made in the shape of weapons like swords,pistols or rifles, others in the shape of animals such as pigs,owls or a ducks head, yet others where in the form of a figure of a person. Some of these designs can be seen in other Mordan items such as seals and menu holders. No matter their form or function all of the products produced by S. Mordan and Co were noted for their quality, design and ingenuity, which is why they are the objects of many collectors desires.
S. Mordan and Co Ltd cease trading
In 1933 S. Mordan and Co Ltd gave the distribution rights for their propelling pencils to S G Sloan Ltd who also distributed pens for Waterman's. Then in 1941 during World War 2 and the Luftwaffe blitz on London, the Mordan factory was destroyed. After which the company ceased trading and finally went into voluntary liquidation in 1952.
These markings are a guide only. The dates are from general consensus derived from observations of pencils, pens and other items from the date spans concerned which had silver hallmarks to give dates. Not all Mordan items carried hallmarks, many do not, so for these items dating is attempted by using the following markings as a guide to approximate manufacture date.
S. MORDAN & Cos PATENT 1823 - 1837 Can also be accompanied by silver hallmarks with SM.GR as the companies registered silvermark.
S. MORDAN & Co MAKERS & PATENTEES 1838 - 1845
S. MORDAN & Co MAKERS 1845 - 1860
S. MORDAN & Co 1860 - 1941
Gold Mordan items usually date from around 1860 - 1941 and are thus marked S. Mordan and Co. Gold items can be marked with the company name only with no indication to gold content, or they may be marked with the company name and also a gold content marking, for example 9ct or 325. It is also widely believed that an arrow marking seen on some gold coloured Mordan items indicates a gold content of 10ct.
The image on the left shows the arrow mark on a gold coloured Mordan pencil.
The hallmarks below are silver marks registered by Sampson Mordan himself and by S. Mordan and Co over a period of 83 years. They are in order of when the marks were registered. The marks below will normally be accompanied by three other marks, the lion passant which denotes Sterling silver, a date letter and also a city mark. The city marks on Mordan pieces are normally either for London or Chester, however there is the odd piece with a Sheffield city mark, but these are rarely seen.
1 Sampson Mordan 1823
2 Sampson Mordan and Gabriel Riddle 1824
3 S. Mordan & Co 1880
4 S. Mordan & Co 1890
5 S. Mordan & Co 1890
6 S. Mordan & Co Ltd 1899
7 S. Mordan & Co Ltd 1904
8 S. Mordan & Co Ltd 1906
|City marks right|
Top: Example of a Chester hallmark, shown in between the lion passant and the date letter.
Middle: Example of a London hallmark, again shown in between the lion passant and the date letter.
Bottom: Example of a Sheffield hallmark, this time to the left of the lion passant and date letter.