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William A. Welty Company

  • In 1903, William A. Welty was a blank book salesman and auditor for the firm of Matt Parrott & Sons. He also sold fountain pens for the company.
  • Fountain pens were a fairly new invention at that time.
  • Fountain pens were not like ballpoint pens of today. Fountain pens had to be filled with liquid ink from a bottle. The ink was released from the pen onto the paper as it was used for writing.
  • Mr. Welty heard customers complain often that their fountain pens leaked, blotted and dropped ink where it was not supposed to go.
  • After thinking about the problem, Mr. Welty developed a plan. He invented a new fountain pen design that didn’t leak. It had a small air vent that allowed the ink to flow smoothly onto the paper.
  • In 1905 he patented his new invention. Mr. Welty continued to improve the Welty Fountain Pen and new patents were written in 1906 and 1909.
  • At first, Mr. Welty’s new invention was manufactured in Janesville, Wisconsin. But as he began to sell more and more pens, he decided to manufacture them himself. He made them in the rear of a little office supply store.
  • A firm in Minneapolis gave him his first big order of 500 pens at $2 each.
  • As Mr. Welty sold more and more of his pens he needed more and more help. So he hired an expert pen maker who could manufacture pens much faster.
  • Mr. Welty advertised his products in trade journals and magazines.

    Advertisement from 1910 Black Hawk County Atlas
  • A competing company that produced pens in Toledo, Ohio, didn’t like having Mr. Welty take their sales away. This company tried to buy Mr. Welty’s company. He refused their offer. Then the company in Toledo tried a different plan. They wanted to buy all of his products and be the only distributor. Again Mr. Welty refused their offer.
  • Mr. Welty thought his pens could be sold all over the world. So he took out patents in foreign countries as well as the United States.
  • Because Mr. Welty couldn’t make pens fast enough, he asked William T. Fitzpatrick to be his business partner.
  • This new partnership worked very well. Their business continued to expand and grow rapidly.
  • Mr. Welty’s company was incorporated in 1913.

Source: John C. Hartman's History of Black Hawk County, Iowa, and its people, Volume II, 1915.



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