Today in History: Fountain Pen patented 134 years ago

Today in History: Fountain Pen patented 134 years ago

On 12 February 1884, New York insurance salesman Lewis Waterman patented a groundbreaking invention, the fountain pen. Waterman’s instrument was a winner: it did not require constant dipping into the ink well and almost eliminated any ink spills. Writing instruments that contained their own ink supply already existed in the early 18th century. Today’s oldest surviving fountain pen was designed by the Frenchman M. Bion and dates back to 1702. The first American patent for a pen was awarded in 1809 to P. Williamson, a Baltimore shoemaker. After 1850, there was a steady stream of new fountain pen patents and pens in productions. But while early fountain pens were plagued by ink leaks and other failures that left them impractical to use and difficult to sell, it was Waterman’s patent that promoted the fountain pen to a widely popular writing instrument.

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Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

135 years ago today, Southern Pacific Railroad completed its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific.

One of the most powerful railroad companies of the 19th century, the “Espee” (as the railroad was often called) originated in an ambitious plan conceived in 1870 by the “Big Four” western railroad barons: Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins. A year earlier, the Big Four’s western-based Central Pacific had linked up with the eastern-based Union Pacific in Utah, creating the first transcontinental American railway. With that finished, the “Big Four” began to look for ways to increase their control over West Coast shipping, and decided to focus their efforts on extending the California-based Southern Pacific southward.

By 1877, the Southern Pacific controlled 85 percent of California’s railroad mileage. Huntington, who now dominated the company, saw an excellent opportunity to create a transcontinental line through the southern United States. Huntington had to act fast if was to beat the competition. The Texas and Pacific Railroad was already pushing westward toward the Pacific at a fast pace. Marshalling his awesome energy and financial resources, Huntington began driving his Southern Pacific line eastward. He won the race in 1881, when he linked the Southern Pacific to the Santa Fe Railroad at Deming, New Mexico, creating the second American transcontinental railway. Two years later, on February 5, 1883, Huntington gained full control of a number of smaller railroads, creating the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California.

With the “Sunset Route,” Huntington confirmed his domination over California rails. He had taken considerable financial risks to build the Southern Pacific system, and he collected very considerable financial rewards. The Southern Pacific had a near monopoly over rail service to California, and Huntington and his associates took advantage of the situation by charging high shipping rates.

Termed “the Octopus” for its tentacled stranglehold on much of the California economy, the Southern Pacific inspired Californians to create some of the first strong public regulations over railroads in American history. But despite the anger and outrage Huntington’s exploitation inspired, few would deny that the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad played an essential role in fostering the growth of a vibrant California economy for decades to come.

Source: www.history.com.

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Today in History: Stanley Walter Galli born in 1912

Today in History: Stanley Walter Galli born in 1912

Happy Birthday, Stanley Walter Galli. The San Francisco native studied at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the Art Center School in Los Angeles before he launched his illustration career in the late 1930s. Over the decades, his works appeared in McCall’s, Ladies Home Journal, Readers Digest, True Magazine, and the Saturday Evening Post. He also designed 26 postage stamps for the USPO. In the poster world, Galli is well-known for his beautiful travel posters for United Airlines that were commissioned during the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. Galli died in 2009 at the age of 97.

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Today is Polar Bear Swim Day

Today is Polar Bear Swim Day

Since 1920, a group of hardy swimmers has celebrated New Year’s Day by plunging into the frigid waters of Vancouver’s English Bay. As crazy as it sounds, the custom has spread to the United States, where chapters of the American Polar Bear Club have established themselves in a number of states known for their cold winter weather. In Sheboygan, Wisconsin, more than 300 daring swimmers—many of them in costume—brave the ice floes of Lake Michigan to take their New Year’s Day swim. About 3,000 to 4,000 spectators stay bundled up on the beach and watch. The Sheboygan event has gradually expanded into a day-long festival, with a brat-fry, a costume contest, and live entertainment. (Source: thefreedictionary.com)

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Happy New Year !  

Happy New Year !  

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Merry Christmas to you and yours ! 

Merry Christmas to you and yours ! 

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Today in History: Herbert Leupin born in 1919

Today in History: Herbert Leupin born in 1919

98 years ago today, Swiss poster and advertising designer Herbert Leupin was born in Beinwil am See. Leupin studied in Basel (1932-1935) and Paris (1936-1937) before opening his own graphic design studio in 1939. He quickly emerged as one of the most important poster artists in Switzerland winning many awards in the annual “Best Swiss Posters” competition. Leupin is famous for his fresh, original and humorous illustrative style. His poster creations for Coca-Cola, Swissair, Rolex, Eptinger, and Knie – to name a few of his clients – are famous around the world. Many of his posters have become highly collectible items. Leupin created several hundred posters in his lifetime and has received important awards in Switzerland, Germany and the United States. Since 1970, he worked mainly as a painter. He passed away in 1999.

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