Pen Holders of Past Masters: The Don Tate Collection
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From Don Tate:

I purchased the collection about ten years ago, maybe longer from Del Tysdal. He told me a few days ago that the owner of the collection prior to him (Del) didn't know what to do with it and simply asked Del if he would like to have it. I think that must have been at least 30 or so years ago. The owner at that time didn't think anyone would have an interest in this old pen collection and Del was simply in the right place at the right time. I often wonder what would have happened to it if Del had no interest. It might have simply been trashed or forgotten over a period of time and just "lost."

I took it (the pen holder collection) to the Chicago IAMPETH Convention a few years ago, but that was the last time it has been seen publicly. The only exception was about six years ago when I took it to the "Antique Roadshow" that was held in Dallas, TX. Peter Cook, Executive Director, was exceptionally fascinated with it. Having met with him and the other appraisers, he said neither he nor any of the other persons that were there had ever seen anything like that and none of them were able to establish a value (typical of the Antique Roadshow normally does), consequently I do not have a value for it. Mr. Cook said it was the most unusual item he had seen in more than 30 years and thought it was "priceless." He wanted me to go to Boston where the Roadshow's main offices are and look at it in more detail while considering a program for Public TV regarding the collection. Since he traveled a great deal throughout the world, I did not get in touch with him after that. Also, although not seen, the Smithsonian was very interested in it as long as I was willing to "give it to them" for their own collection (this is normal) as they had nothing like this anywhere and only knew a very small amount of information about oblique pen holders, the Master Penmen or Spencerian writing. I did talk with the person who was in charge of early American acquisitions for education. She said that she didn't know much and didn't know anyone who did. I suggested that she talk with the IAMPETH people, but I don't know if she ever did. Also, I did show it to the curator of the Newberry Library in Chicago. He was dumbfounded and wished that I would give it to them for their own collection to be added to the Platt Rogers Spencer collection. He could not place a value on it as they had nothing like this, but thought it was absolutely wonderful and truly an American treasure.

The wooden box that it now resides in is one that Del Tysdal made many years ago. It stays protected inside the box and is not kept in any sunlight to protect the contents and all that is in it, including the name tags associated with many of the pens. Any pens that do not have tags were not there when I received it. They likely fell off over the decades and some are simply "just laying in the box". To my knowledge and to Del's none of the pens have been sold "individually"; therefore, the collection remains pristine to the best of our knowledge just as it was originally collected. As far as being the collection that R.R. Reed had, from all that I have seen, including photographs taken of both collections many years ago and given to me by Art Maier and Del, plus the Business Educator's articles, it is likely the same collection. The pens are no longer in the same order that the Mr. Reed collection maintained. Neither Del nor I know "who changed the pens in the order shown originally". There are now additional oblique holders that were owned by the famous penmen that were not in Reed's collection. I suspect they were added upon by those who held the collection over the previous decades.

*The FL Tower collection has nothing to do with the Reed collection.

I hope this will be of use to you. Please feel free to use/extract any information. It is the best I can do and true in every respect to the best of my knowledge.

Best wishes,

Don Tate
March 21, 2007

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