Waterman 20S: Prohibition Era Flask

Aside from interesting ephemera and useful tools like the Signagraph, Waterman created some other handy items. The Waterman 20S was a prohibition era flask from the 1920s. It was supposed to look exactly like a Safety Pen, but was an innovative and sneaky rubber flask! Considering the average size of other vintage pens, the Waterman 20S was comparatively huge.

Below, the Waterman 20S next to a Waterman 420 and Waterman 20.

Waterman: Past and Present Max Davis & Gary Lehrerhttps://www.gopens.com/Vintage_Pen_Parts/WatermanBook.php

Waterman: Past and Present
Max Davis & Gary Lehrer

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  1. Lorraine Feliciano
    Posted July 24, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I have a Waterman 20 S Safety Pen. I have been told by one person bidding on my pen that it appears to be the Prohibition Flask. How do I tell the difference. I do not have a nib for it and acquired it from a person I did not know. It was included with some misc.items. Any information you can provide is appreciated. I could send a picture as well.

    • Gary Lehrer
      Posted July 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Hello Lorraine, the easiest way to tell is whether or not the inside of the pen has any mechanism at all, or is completely empty. Use a flashlight, or just take a pencil and see if it goes all the way to the bottom. If empty, you most certainly have the prohibition flask! Cheers, Gary

      • Lorraine
        Posted July 24, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Hello Gary, Thank you for your response. I believe it is the flask. Would this be more valuable than the pen?

      • Gary Lehrer
        Posted July 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Hello Lorraine, to the right collector, it certainly could be. Many collectors don’t want what we consider “ephemera” but only want the actual pens. But the flask has an aura of its own since it’s a wonderful part of American history. Just think of how risqué the user would have felt with a flask full of booze in his shirt or jacket pocket, fooling the authorities at every step!

      • Lorraine
        Posted July 24, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Hello Gary,

        Well stated. My husband and I enjoyed your comments. I have this listed on ebay and have it listed as a pen. I have added a note clarifying that it is empty and has a flat bottom with 20 S noted on it. There has been a comment noting that it may be the flask and they still bid on it. Can I send you a picture of this item to be absolutely sure that this is the flask. I will then have to resist it and provide a better description. Thank you so much. Lorraine

      • Gary Lehrer
        Posted July 24, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Hi Lorraine, certainly you can send a photo. But the issue is that from the outside the pen and flask look identical. That was the whole idea behind the flask — that it was hidden in plain sight. There is one nore thing you can check. The bottom of the pen has a turning knob which turns to operate the mechanism inside the pen. The flask has a faux-knob; a small lathed indentation into the hard rubber designed to look like a turning knob but in actuality has no seam and does not turn. Gary

      • Lorraine
        Posted July 24, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Hi Gary,

        Thank you so much. You have been very patient in answering all my questions. Your exceptional knowledge has been invaluable to me and very educational as well. I see a small seam at the bottom but it is not a turning knob. So that answers the question.

      • Gary Lehrer
        Posted July 25, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Glad to be of help. Gary

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