My friend, and coworker, Kurtis Kissel of the, “WritersShoppe” on etsy refurbishes, and sells vintage fountain pens in his spare time. We were talking, and the subject of fountain pens came up. I didn’t know that he restored vintage pens, and I hadn’t used one. I was bemoaning the fact that there are no more truly American pen companies making pens in America. He offered to give me a refurbished pen in exchange for a review of his work, and the quality of the pens. I’m not going to turn away a free pen. Sheesh! Who does that?
When Kurt came to visit, he brought me two pens made in America during the 1950’s. One was a maroon colored, hooded nib, vacumatic, Parker pen. The other was a grey colored, Esterbrook, lever filled pen.
The deal was, I review the two pens, and keep the one I liked the most as payment. After using the two pens, I offered to pay him for the other one. I liked both pens. I don’t have beautiful handwriting, but I’ve included a couple of pictures of some writing so you can see how wet/dry the pens write, and how broad/fine the nibs are. The Parker seems to write a bit more wet, and the nib has some flex to it. It has a bit more give to it as you write. The line width can vary with pressure.
The Esterbrook was a finer nib, that is significantly more rigid. They were both pretty light weight, and small compared to some modern pens. It was only a bit scratchy on certain papers. On my Apica notebook it was smooth. I enjoyed the aesthetics of the Esterbrook the most.
Both pens were cleaned, and repaired so that they functioned properly. They reminded me of the era in history when they were made, and most likely used. I thought about the soldiers who came home from WWII using the pen to sign a mortgage, write letters, sign checks for bills, and otherwise communicate in a pre-internet world. Back then a person wouldn’t call long distance unless it was necessary. It cost extra to call long distance. There were no smart phones, no text messaging, no social media. You had to put pen to paper, and use the mail.
Most pens from this era are all scratched us, and dented, or missing the cap, or clip. These pens are complete. The Esterbrook’s hardware shows its age, but is fully functioning, and does add to the history of the pen.
You can see some additional pictures here. If you’d like to shop for your own piece of history go visit my friend’s shop the, “WritersShoppe” “The art of personal expression” If you have never used a fountain pen, and are wondering what all the interest is about lately, ask your question in the comments section. There is something about putting down your own notes, experimenting with expression through handwriting, or connecting with history, that enriches the human experience. I encourage you, if you have the means, to give it a try. There are also many different colors, and types of ink to try.