WELLCOME and WELCOME pens - Two brands still shrouded in mistery (…partially)
During the 1990’s, when I was gathering information on Italian brands and their origin for the History of the Italian Fountain Pen, I was lucky enough to interview a number of former sales agents and pen shop owners who gave me precious information on many brands.
One of the most difficult brands to catalogue was WELCOME/WELLCOME which was found both on celluloid pens and on pens with semi-precious overlay.
At the time the existence of two different denominations such as “WELCOME” and WELLCOME” was considered as a result of the widespread Italian ignorance on the correct spelling of English words. That seemed to be just one of the many cases were and English name was misspelled or spelled in two different ways according to the time of production.
One of the former shop owners I interviewed confirmed that the brand WELCOME/WELLCOME was connected with the activity of the Turin-based Casa della Penna, located in Piazza Carlo Felice.
This shop was one of the many Omas retailers and thus it was legit to suppose that at least a few lines of WELCOME/WELLCOME pens had been produced by Omas for Mr. Celestino Leone, who owned the shop Casa della Penna in Turin.
Many significant details suggested in fact an evident connection betweeen Omas production (mostly Minerva, actually) and WELCOME pens.
This connection was further investigated by me and other collectors and it was finally confirmed in the Omas book where Mr. E. Dolcini included the brand WELCOME in the number of Omas products manufactured on commission.
The presence on WELCOME gold nibs of three initials: C.D.P, which apparently refer to Casa Della Penna, seemed to support this hypothesis…
The gray Welcome pen in the picture seems to evidently confirm the idea.
So far … so good.
At the time, however, many pens had been found which were named “WELLCOME” with a double “L” and these had been catalogued as part of the “WELCOME” family. The mistake about the double “L “being simply ascribed to spelling ignorance.
In the picture: a WELLCOME safety pen with 18 KR overlay.
Over the last few year we have finally had the opportunity to have an online access to the Italian Archive of Trademarks and Patens, which allowed us to verify the reliability of the information which had been empirically gathered that far.
With reference to the WELCOME brand, a trademark registration dated 1934 in Turin connects the WELCOME trademark to Mr. A. Brusciani’s activity in Genoa.
At the time there was no way know who Mr. A. Brusciani was….
The connection between Omas and the WELCOME trademark seems therefore to find a reliable reference thus justifying the assumption that many WELCOME models were produced on commission by Omas for their official retailer in Genoa.
What however remains to be explained is the relationship between mr. A. Brusciani’s WELCOME trademark and the Casa Della Penna in Turin.
A connection between Genoa and Turin can be found bearing in mind that the registration of the WELCOME trademark took place in Turin ( … and not in Genoa) and was signed by a certain Mr. Casetta Dino, who was the official sales agent for the trademark…
So…it is not unlikely that Mr. A. Brusciani and Mr. C. Leone had a sort of business cooperation and that WELCOME pens were retailed in Turin through the Casa della Penna.
But still….this does not explain why we have WELLCOME and WELCOME pens.
The analysis of nibs shows evident differences between WELLCOME and WELCOME nibs.
Wellcome nibs have a capital “N” and a kind of laurel wrath, while WELCOME nibs are very similar in design to Omas nibs and show the three initials C.D.P.
All this seems to highlight the fact that there may be no connection between WELLCOME and WELCOME pens and that they may have different origin…
We will need many more pens before we can make out where the truth is….
In the pictures: a Wellcome nib which is very similar in design to Omas nibs. The presence of the indication “Minchigan - USA” does not mean that the nib is American; there is infact another spelling mistake in the name "MichiNgan" . At the time it was very common to use English/American references on Italian products, just to make them more exotic and easier to be marketed.
The image of the Welcome nib is drawn form E. Dolcinis book.
The nib with the three initials C.D.P. is shown in the picture below.
The production of WELCOME pens cover a very long span of time. Flat top models in celluloid are known with a three line imprint on the barrel which shows the initials C.P. inscribed in a circle, 1930's streamlined models which are very similar to Omas Minervas with a cursive "WELCOME" engraving on the barrel, 1940's torpedo shaped models with lower quality finish and safety pens with rolled gold overlay.
The engraving and the style of the word "Welcome" vary remarkably in time, from capital letters as found on this beautiful early flat top button filler in green jade celluloid to cursive with varying fonts and inclination, suggesting that not all Welome pens came from the same pen maker.