Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sampson Mordan Pencils

Having just compiled the pens and writing equipment section of the new edition of the Miller's Collectables Price Guide (out next Spring), my love for Mordan's marvellous silver propelling pencils has been rekindled.
In 1822, Sampson Mordan patented the propelling pencil with fellow inventor John Hawkins. Mordan bought Hawkins out, and then sold half the rights to a wealthy stationer Gabriel Riddle in 1823. With Riddle's money, the ingenious and commerically minded Mordan was able to build his foundling company into the 19thC success story it was.
Marks matter, and can help with dating, especially when useful hallmarks aren't present. Pencils made from 1823-37, when Riddle and Mordan parted, usually bear an 'SM GR' hallmark and the words 'S.MORDAN & Cos PATENT'. From c1838 until the 1860s, the wording 'S.MORDAN & CO MAKERS & PATENTEES' was used, with 'S.MORDAN & CO MAKERS' dating from the 1850s-60s. After the 1860s, the standard 'S.MORDAN & CO' mark was used.
The silver pencil shown here has hallmarks for 1825, making it a very rare, very early surivor. As such its value will be around £200-300. And you can pretty much double that if it had been even earlier. Standard later examples from the late 19thC to early 20thC can be had for £30-80 or so, but look out for Mordan's late 19thC range of novelty shaped pencils. Forms included owls, pistols, champagne bottles and more, and values generally range from £200-800. Not a bad sum for something only inches in size!


AJLUNN said...


I have just purchased a beautiful "S Mordan & Co makers & patentees" silver propelling pencil, but it doesn't have any hallmarks? just the name mentioned! Its very ornate! engine turned barrel with with lovely ornate shoulders! It has a pale yellow stone inset into the end with Mary written backwards engraved into it. It has a single letter H on the barrel? It works beautifully & is in A1 condition! Could you help with info on its age or on the lack of hallmarks & the letter H??

With kind regards

Andrew J Lunn

Jo said...

I have gold coloured pencil with S.MORDAN&Co stamped on it.I'm a jeweller and years ago a customer came into my shop in sevenoaks with various things she had inherited to meltdown and make into 1 large modern bangle refused to melt this as it was so pretty,anyway made bangle and customer was so happy that she gave me pencil as she could'nt see beauty in it!
Have had it in my work shop ever since.Beautiful workmanship in yellow and red gold leaf detail with turquiose teardrop stones set around bottom and top and at the end a piece of bloodstone.Have know idea about antiques but just loved the work that had gone into it.
I would also like to know more about it if possible??

Andrew said...

Hello Jo!

That sounds lovely, do you have any photo's of the pencil? as a collector i would love to see it!!

With my Sampson pencil i have found out that the stone is a yellow sapphire! its beautiful!

You can send images to



Good Morning Starshine said...

Hi, I found a filigree engraved S. Mordan pencil in the collection of jewelry that my mother left me. The end cap is bloodstone. But I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the pencil to telescope out! It appears to have a slit for a slider, but I don't know what to do to get the pencil out. If it's "stuck," how can I un-stick it without damaging it? Thanks!

Melissa said...

Hi Mark,
I've just bought a silver Sampson Mordan & Co pencil, I think from the 1920s. It's beautiful, and I've worked out how to turn the barrel to propel the lead out, but I can't work out how to seat a new lead inside the pencil so that it is gripped. A 0.9mm seems to fit the point, but just drops out. I don't suppose you have any advice? Thank you!

Val said...

Hi, did Mordan sometimes make gold pencils without his name on and just an arrow sign? I have one and it certainly looks like a Mordan to me but there is just the arrow sign on a small escutcheon on the barrel.Many thanks....Val

JK said...

I have what looks to be a silver Mordan pocket pencil. Its only 3" long with a ring ...for a pocket chain? It has a push button top but that seems to be jammed so I cant get the innards to descend. I can see what looks to be a pencil point inside. It has a Lion .925 hallmark and an S.
Any idea of value? or how to make it work?

G Jeff said...

hello i have a retracting pencil in the shape of a champagne bottle. it has s mordan & co stampted onto it. the label says "MOET & CHANDON" epernay. with a star above. it is in excellent condition. would you be able to tell me how much it will be worth. thank you

Steve Ryder said...

Hi Mark
I have a Mordan's SP Pencil, as stated by others I cannot see any silver hallmark on my pencil, although there is a'H' on the barrel towards the point. My pencil is all silver (I believe)with the whole body is very ornately decorated with an embossed leaf / vine pattern-age with the flat areas finely lined from tail to tip. The pencil is just marked S.Mordan's
I'd be interested to know more if you'd be so kind.
Best Regards

dennisj612 said...

Anyone help with value of a koh I noor 5612 mechanical pencil