Rosemary, that’s for remembrance. (The Rosemary pen by National Security.)

Good pens can come by way of good pen friends, and this set would not be here without the kindness of Andy Russell. In my little pen world, he’s the Conway Stewart-and-other-English-pens encyclopedia.

Students who struggled through Shakespeare might catch the allusion. Ophelia said, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” in Hamlet. My Rosemary set came in a presentation box, whose colors make me think of Van Gogh’s sunflowers caught in the rain. Then, as now, pens were popular gifts. According to, Rosemary pens were established in the early to mid 1920s.

Rosemary Pen box

The golden-colored foil lining is mostly intact. Inside the box is a product leaflet and a black reticule. (I love that word. Reticule. Mmm. So much better than purse.)

Box, open

Rosemary seems to have been a sub-brand of National Security, which in turn was a mark owned by British Carbon Papers, Ltd. British Carbon outsourced the manufacture of these pens to other English pen makers, including Conway Stewart.

National Security and Rosemary Pen insert

Inside the reticule (made flirty with a swinging tassel!), everything a bright young lady zipping around the city needs. A pencil to dash off a grocery list, a powder puff in crushed silk to freshen up between appointments, a ringtop fountain pen for thank-you notes, and a pocket comb to smooth adventurous ringlets before rushing home.

Rosemary pen and pencil set

Here’s another shot of the set.

Another shot of the set

Whoever owned this set took it out once in a while to admire it, and used the pen and pencil sparingly.

Rosemary pen and pencil

I have many RMHR (red mottled hard rubber) pens in my collection. These are very fine examples. I’m lucky they were kept in their reticule, away from sunlight. And the imprints are stunning. I love how the y descender in Rosemary loops up and becomes a sprig of what else, rosemary.

Rosemary imprint, tight shot

The nib is smooth and firm. I wasn’t able to take pictures of writing samples; I’ll do that next week.

Rosemary pen, nib

Thanks, Andy, for paving the way for me to have this sweet piece of history.