For ease and consistency I use the name "Summit" throughout this site to donate the company's name. However the Summit family tree is quite a complex one, and will be the subject of a detailed article in due course. For those unable to wait, the basic chronology runs thus:
Kay & Co - Liscard, Liverpool
Established in about 1895, The first pen the company was known to have produced was The Queen, a BCHR eye-dropper:
Lang Co Ltd (Established 1899)
Lang Co Ltd, and a newly formed 'sister company' Curzon, Lloyd & MacGregor Ltd moved into premises in Liverpool.
CLM Ltd, changed its name to Curzons Ltd in 1920
Curzon Ltd & Lang Co Ltd form another pen company in 1928 - L.Wilson & Co Ltd. This company was initially based at South Hunter Street, Liverpool, the eventual long term home of Summit Pens Ltd, the name Curzon Ltd adopted immediately after WW2.
It would appear that this name change was a simply ploy to take advantage of the "Summit" name, which had been the model name for Curzon Ltd's best known pens since the1930's, and had been a model name since as early as 1928.
Summit Pens Ltd cease the production of pens in 1955.
THE BIRTH OF THE SUMMIT PEN
An article appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of the WES Journal, written by Andy Russell, and focusing on the pen manufacturers of Southport. He highlights " Back Virgina Street, little more than an alley off Main street, as the location for James Dixon Ltd... who apparently originated the Summit brand of pens".
below is an example from this manufacturer:
It is a well constructed example, with a warranted 14ct nib. The base of the pen carries a small 2 suggesting perhaps that this model came in a range of sizes.
THE USE OF LONDON PLACENAMES
Curzons certainly took a conscious decision to use London place-names for their model identification during the 1930's, with Strand, Savoy, and Regent being reasonably common examples. A less common example is the early "The Whitehall" dating from the late 1920's.
A recent addition to my collection shows this policy probably started in the mid-1920's, with the manufacture of a ink pencil called "The Waterloo":
Circa 1924, the box lid is interesting in that it shows a picture of the factory, the pen emblazoned to the front, and the logo "The Factory Behind The Pen" with a statement underwriting the guarantee.
AN ANCESTOR ?
Steve Hull suggests in his book on the English Fountain Pen Industry that a manufacturer by the name of Kay & Co was the forerunner of Lang, and operated out of Liverpool at the end of the 1800's. Kay & Co produced a pen called "The Victoria". There is nothing to identify the manufacturer of the example below, but its primative design (such taking a loose nib in the same way as a dip pen) might date it to the correct period:
I have recently purchased two pen off ebay, including one from the US, that looked like standard Summit items. On arrival they both carried Osmiroid 35 nibs, and both had 'defaced' pocket clips. Simultaneously Deborah Gibson reported a similar purchase off ebay, and provided some excellent photo's:
The three purchases in question were not all S175 in style, nor were they all lizardskin in colour, the only similarity was the pattern of 0000's defacing the Summit name on the clip, the absence of a barrel stamp, and a cheap Osmiroid 35 nib.
At the current time, my best guess is that these pens were made from leftover stock following the sale of the Summit company. They are probably scarce and thus collectable! Any further details you may have that clarifies the matter would be welcome
It appears that during the 1930's Typhoo produced a series of cards that featured Summit Pens in a promotion on the reverse side:
It looks like they are possibly examples of the Auto-Vac range, again if anyone has boxed examples with documentation I would like to hear from them!
A regular pre-WW2 event was the annual Miss Summit gala, where the prettiest employee was the talk of the day. Here is Betty Sumner with her winners sash:
Betty's daughter recalled her mother mentioning that during WW2 the entire Liverpool production line was given over to "war work". It is believed that this was ammunition production for Lee Enfield Rifle Co
The year that Betty won her award the factory foreman and manager were a Mr Cope & Mr Hill. The remainder of the workforce seem to have been almost entirely female:
above; The staff group outside the South Hunter Street Factory c.1936