A Follow Up to my Esterbrook Collection

20 12 2013

This isn’t devoted to Esterbrooks. No, really I mean it. It’s not. But ……while snooping around eBay the other night, I came across this black estie about to end. I needed a black estie in the J size, so I sniped it. Black is easily my least favorite color in the Esterbrook line, but I needed a black one and this fit the bill perfectly. Cheap.

Black Esterbrook JWhat I found when I disassembled the pen is part of what I’ve come to love about these pens. They’re nearly indestructible. The sac was original and pristine. Absolutely pliable. I’m certainly not the most experienced pen guy out there – far from it. But this was the first time I’ve come across a pen that was probably 50 to 60 years old, with a sac that was perfect. I’ve bought other pens (actually, 1, a Sheaffer Sentinel) in the same sort of age range that was supposedly new/old stock. Never inked. But it’s sac had hardened and was useless.

Yes. Esterbrooks are awesome!

Perfect original sac  The next post WILL be about something other than Esterbrooks. I promise.


My Esterbrook Collection

26 09 2013

I hadn’t done anything pen-wise in months, so when I saw this pen on eBay last week, and noticed what the current bid price was with just about 5 minutes left to go ($15.00 at that time) I fired up the trusty eBay Sniper tool and set it for $45. I ended up with it for $36. Happy, happy, happy! It’s an Esterbrook, model LJ in the harder-to-find icicle pattern. Here’s some information on them from Esterbrook.net :

“Esterbrook produced a series of LJ sized pens now commonly called “Icicles” due to the pin striping of the plastic.  These were made later in production, and all seem to have the later spoon style lever.  The Green Icicle departs from Esterbrook’s normal color scheme and is much more vibrant than the marbled green color.”

While I’m very happy with the pen – it was in excellent shape when I got it – the icicles aren’t my favorite of the Esterbrook line. I find their color kind of subdued and boring. And for whatever reason, I can’t get them to polish up with the same level high gloss of their “regular” brothers. But they’re rare and this one was the right price!

These pens were designed to be utilitarian workhorses, and they are. But I also think they are some of the most beautiful pens ever made. And as pens in my collection can’t be just for looks; they must be good writers. These are.




Here are some more pictures of my Esterbrook Collection:

Orange Kaweco in the Mail Today

13 06 2013

I’ve been seeing a lot of mentions and reviews for the Kaweco pens of late, so I decided to try one out for myself. Lot’s of folks are singing the praises of this little German pen as a converted eye dropper (more on that later), so, even though I’m not sure I even want to do that, I chose one of the demonstrator models so I could see the current ink supply. First some notes about the company. I bought my pent through Goldspot Pens (via their eBay auctions); Here is some info from their site:

KAWECO belongs to one of the oldest brands on the market. For more than 125 years Kaweco pens are an integral part of the High-Class assortments. Kaweco insistently focuses on the thin line between tradition and innovation and therewith since 1883 secures the favor of those, who would like to impress their values and esteems on paper. Not without reason, the expert is talking about the unique octagonal shape. The clear-cut shaping stands for individual freedom and maximum precision regarding design and execution.

Kaweco makes several different lines of pens; mine is the “Ice Sport” model, basically the company’s line of translucent demonstrator pens. The Ice Sports come in blue, orange, red, green, pink and yellow. First, this is a small pen. Capped it’s 4″ long and posted, 5 1/8″ . Second – and this is really unique in my opinion – there’s no clip. Well there is a clip you can buy for the pen, separately. It doesn’t come with by default. Third, the cap is faceted (octagon, I think) so that when attached to the body, either posted or capped, it won’t roll around. I have no idea if it was the company’s intention, but this is the first pen I’ve come across that seems made to ride in your pants pocket. Sure it will ride fine in a shirt pocket, but since there’s no included clip, it seems destined for my pants. Because of it’s shortness and the fact that the cap screws onto the body (not a friction fit cap), this has worked well.


Well, the important part, how does it write? Good. Not great, but good. I read a review by Tyler Dahl (very good, by the way: http://tylerdahlpens.blogspot.com/2012/02/pen-review-kaweco-classic-sport.html); my pen didn’t suffer from the same problems writing that his did, but it has skipped a few times, though not consistently. It’s relatively smooth, with just a slight bit of “tooth” or feedback when writing. My nib is a medium and I would call it a true medium (that’s a whole other discussion – fine, medium, broad, etc, I think, are very subjective…).

This is what I think of as a working man’s pen. One big reason for it’s popularity is that it’s easily converted to an eye dropper fill pen, giving more ink capacity than almost anything else you could carry. Out of the box, this pen takes only international size cartridges. It’s too small to allow for an ink converter. But just apply some clear silicon grease to the thread set that connects the pen body to the section, and viola, you have an eye dropper filler. You can see videa instructions for this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMLIIzsXgiI

Final Thoughts…..

I like this pen. For the money ($24 for me), I really like this pen. It has been somewhat of an adjustment for me to not carry a pen in my pocket. But it works. I’m thinking now of getting one from the regular sport line (solid colors) and trying this one out as an eye dropper. If you’ve got one of these pens, leave your thoughts on it in the comments section!


New Lamy In The Mail!

31 01 2013

Once again, it’s been far too long since I’ve updated here. Actually, due to just “life stuff”, I haven’t done much with my pen hobby at all – other than write with them. But today, an internet purchase came in the mail, so, a good time to update with a review.

First, here’s a link to their US web site, http://www.lamyusa.com . Specifically, This review will focus on the Safari and Vista models. They are basically, the same pen, the only difference being that the Vista is a clear demonstrator, while the Safari’s are colored ABS plastic. I already owned two limited edition Safari’s, an orange and a banana yellow one with black appointments.

As I mentioned earlier, the two models (Safari and Vista) are identical. In fact, a third model, the Al-Star, is also the same pen, but manufactured in multiple colors from aluminum. The pens are 5 1/2″ capped, and apx 6 9/16″ posted. All three of these lines use a universally exchangeable nib system. The nibs are simply friction fit, and slide into their respective pen sections. Nibs are offered from the company in a wide variety of widths, mine are fine and medium. Depending on the color scheme of the particular pen, the nib will be steel and either chrome or a black plating. The nibs on my pens are all very smooth, but do offer a bit of feedback as you write. This is hard for me to accurately describe. I have some pens that I refer to as buttery smooth. These pen nibs are so smooth as to almost feel slick. Almost as if you were writing on ice. I would describe the Lamy’s as “toothy”. They are smooth, but not slick. You “feel” the paper (to a degree) as you write. Thumbs up.

Aesthetically, they’re not for everyone. They definitely have a “modern” look and feel to them. The sections are contoured and molded with 2 flat areas at angles on the otherwise round section. This can take some getting used too, and though I know many may not like it, I have come to really like it. The body of the pens also incorporate 2 flat panels onto the opposing sides of the otherwise round bodies. While I don’t know if it was on purpose, practically this is nice because when you lay the pen down, it won’t role off of a table. There is also a small notched window opening allowing you to see when you’re about to run out of ink. Though on the Vista model (the clear demonstrator model), the notch is useless as you see all the internal workings of the pen. Overall, you get a sleek and modern profile. For old school fountain pen purists, these pens may be too modern in appearance. But boy it’s hard to argue about how they write. Lamy has done a fantastic job with the quality of these pens, especially when you consider their price points. All of the models I’ve mentioned can be purchased online from about $20 to $45 depending on the source and the model chosen. The aluminum Al-Star models command the highest prices. All pens can be filled with either a cartridge or converter  These pens may not be for everyone, but they sure are for me.






Sheaffer’s Craftsman

2 04 2012

Here’s an oldie that I’ve been coveting for quite a while. It’s a Sheaffer Craftsman in the carmine red striated color. Although I do really like the Craftsman model, I was more interested in this particular color. As fate would have it, every time I’ve been eBaying, looking for this color, they’ve been few and far between (which for me, translated into expensive). Then a couple of weeks ago, fate smiled, and several showed up, unrestored and at reasonable prices. I picked up two, this one, a lever-fill that I’ve restored, and a plunger-fill that I’ll probably polish up and resell. I haven’t tackled a successful vac-fill restoration yet.

I know from the auction pictures that it looked pretty rough, but I was pleasantly surprised that it had nothing more wrong than needing a new sac and a good cleaning / polishing. Here are some before:

And after….

Richard Binder has a great article on these pens. You can view it HERE!

Another great pen site discovered!

21 03 2012

Just a quick note tonight, here’s a link to another great pen site by Ron Zorn. Ron is one of the “heavy weights” over at The Fountain Pen Network. Super nice guy (has helped me recently with information I couldn’t find elswhere…) and offers a lot of great information on his site. Check it out: http://www.mainstreetpens.com

MAJESTIC – A 3rd Tier Pen Review

20 02 2012

First Impressions (7)
This pen was one of a group of about 20, mostly “junk” pens that my mother gave me a few years ago. There were a couple of descent ones I thought worthy of restoring, the rest were for parts. My first impression with this was mostly favorable – I liked the minimalist appearance of it (no cap bands), and the blue striation of the body was very attractive, to my tastes. However, the clip was a bit of a letdown, primarily due to the fact that the thin gold plating was wearing off.

Appearance (8)
The only detraction in the appearance of this pen, as I mentioned, is the clip. It’s a bit too ornate for an otherwise “minimalist” pen. The clip is reminescent of Parkers arrow clips. It features “fletching” down the sides and an arrow at it’s end. I think the clip would have been much more attractive just plain and smooth with only the company name on it.

Design/Size/Weight (9)
As mentioned, a “minimalist” design, very elegant. The pen features a nice clear visulated section so that you can tell when your ink supply is getting low. The clip is really the only drawback. As with most vintage pens that are all plastic, this one is very light. It is 5 1/16″ Capped and 6 5/16″Posted.

Nib (5)
I’ve definitely seen better, but I’ve seen a lot worse too. I would call it a medium stainless steel, with gold plating that has mostly worn off. The nib has a “sweet spot”. If you hit it, it’s very smooth. Tilt wrong, and you get some scratch.

Filling System (8)
The pen has been resacced with a #16 latex sac. Fills as designed, however, the lever is just ever-so-slightly loose on it’s pivot point and consequently has a very slight rattle.

Cost and Value (10)
You can’t beat free…

Conclusion (7.8)
I really like the looks of this pen, but the nib holds it back from getting in my rotation too very often. I do have an old Levenger stainless nib laying around somewhere. I might just swap it out and have a really nice writer…


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