Datum: 2023-11-30
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Eranos Quarterly Pen Review

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Eranos Quarterly Pen Review

Note this article remains (c) Paul Erano. It has been edited from the original article usign OCR software and the design and layout have been changed to fit the web format. It is much nicer in origial -- subscribe


Every vintage pen collector I know loves finding big pens. Who wouldn't love to fill his pen portfolio with big Wahl's and Parkers and fancy Waterman's s and Wirts But rare and oversized pens are few and far between. I'll take them when I can, but I have to admit...I'm also a fan of the ordinary vintage pens that collectors tend to overlook.

Yes, ordinary pens - not the early overlays and oversized Golden Age beauties with huge nibs and colorful celluloid casings. Not the double jeweled Parker 51's with Empire caps and Nassau green barrels and early Waterman's One-Hundred Year pens in ribbed translucent red, blue, or green Lucite. I'm talking about stripped-down standard-sized, pooh-poohed and demonized pens collectors ignore simply because fate has not pointed a finger in their direction. I've chosen the ones I like as my pick for the Top Ten Ignored Quality Vintage Pens. They are the pens at shows and on the Internet that collectors pass by as they search for the superstars of the hobby. Overlooked, under appreciated, and undervalued. How many of them are on your list?

10 Eversharp's Symphony pen is basically a Skyline that was redesigned by Raymond Loewy, one of the most important industrial designers of the time. I like the model with the ridge on top of the chromed cap, which just screams 1960s. Now that we are twenty years further in time from when I began collecting, the pen has revealed a sense of style that I could not discern when I viewed it through younger eyes. A flush gold fill cap band adds class and reminds me of Parker's early 51. Had Eversharp made the barrel available in more striking colors, we would be hunting down this pen and paying two to three times the price for it. As it stands, we are left with a quality pen of historical note that few collectors seem to care for. Something tells me that collectors will wake up and start collecting this one at some point. Expect to pay $35 or less for one of these fine pens. They are available at pen shows and on the Internet.


9 Waterman's C:/F is a thin and elegant pen. My favorite is a difficult to find gold tone moiré model with flame grain cap and barrel. I also like the earlier model with gold fill cap and gold trim by the nib. Though this is pen that. is seriously ignored by collectors, I must admit my surprise as it is a duality pen with generous amounts of precious metal in its construction. Waterman's C/F was first manufactured in the United States in the 1950s, and with the fall of U.S. Waterman, continued production in France into the 1970s. That it remained popular- for about twenty years also makes me wonder why collectors are so reluctant to warm up to this pen. The C/F was the first pen to use plastic ink cartridges. In fact, C:/F stands for cartridge fill, and early advertisements stated that the ink cartridge loaded like a gun. A quirky comparison, perhaps, but the resemblance of the earliest ink cartridges to the shape of a bullet is difficult to deny. The early rubber tipped cartridges can be refilled with some effort and reused. With the exception of the more model, most C/F pens are inexpensive. Collectors hardly care to distinguish between models with gold fill caps and gold inserts by the nib and less expensive models. Look to pay $35 or less for most models. Less expensive two-toned models are interesting period pieces, too.

8 Wahl's all metal pen of the 1920s is a pen that doesn't look like much when it's sitting on a table with its cap on. In fact, the pen is thin and kind of small, giving the sense that it is more suitable to a woman's hand. However, things change quickly when the cap is posted and the pen takes on a longer and more elegant appearance. Ifs a pleasure to write with due to the concentrated weight of its thin profile. Wahl's metal pens were made in a variety of patterns, and in gold - fill, silver, and silver plate. Take note: it is a mistake to think that the silver plated pen is a cheap, inexpensive model to be overlooked. For a special treat, look for a pen in any of these finishes with a flexible #3 nib. See if you can't get a one in good condition for $50 or less. The biggest pen of the series comes with a #6 nib. It's quite an impressive piece and is still reasonably priced. Watch for brassing bottom of the barrel.

7 Parker's Premiere is a top-flight fountain pen that was introduced in the 1980s. It is basically a slightly larger, dressed up Parker 75 with an 18k nib that retailed at a significantly higher price point than 75 models. It is the most expensive pen I've identified for this list, but. still a bargain as the Premiere trades at around the same price as 75s, or maybe just a bit more. I picked up two high-end models recently for about $150 each, including a lacquered pen with gold dust sprinkled in it. I also have a desk set with a black and red urushi lacquered base that I just love. In in my eyes, the sterling silver grid pattern is even more appealing on the Premiere than it is on the standard 75 model.

6 Waterman's 52 was a workhorse in the 1920s and those adorned with precious metal overlays and colorful hard rubber casings still hold collector's interest. But the 52 in chased black hard rubber is about as neglected a pen as I can imagine. One pen magazine article I read even attacked black hard rubber pens! While I don't recall if Waterman's 52 was specifically singled out, I don't know how the author could be so ruthless, even retrospectively, when those who owned the 52 and other black hard rubber pens decades ago thought so highly of them. There are collectors who even find fault with 52s equipped with beautifully engraved barrel bands. "Too bad it's engraved," I'd hear them say. Has the world gone mad? Find a really nice gold banded model and don't be afraid to spend $100 for it. Chances are you'll find one for a whole lot less. You might be lucky enough to find one stamped `752' on the barrel end meaning the trim and barrel band is 14k gold and not gold fill.

5 The only non-American pen I included in my list is a German pen that's difficult for me to distinguish from another German pen available at a much higher price. Faber-Castell's pen is an impeccably constructed, high quality pen manufactured in the 1950s with a two-toned 14k gold nib and a visualated ink view barrel. After making my comparisons, I couldn't understand why collectors make a beeline for the other German pen but ignore the Faber-Castell. Another point of comparison - Fin sure the Faber wasn't cheap when it was originally sold at a retail price comparable to the other brand. I remember asking one collector who's up on values how much he thought the Faber pen was worth today. He s hrugged his shoulders. "Oh, about sixty bucks?" he said, seemingly unsure of the answer he gave me. I say pick up as many as you can at that price.

4 Don't let the name Junior fool won. The only thing "junior" about Parker's Duofold junior is its size compared to the oversized Senior Duofold. If I could only pick one. I'd choose the streamline Junior in burgundy and black plastic, which is available in the $75 to $125 price category, unless I could find a perfect jade green junior or one of the Modern Pearl models. Then I might even fork over a little more money. The Duofold junior is everything a Duofuld Senior is on a smaller, less expensive scale. I love that the pen disassembles into its parts so that it can be easily restored with original parts and put into pristine condition. Duofolds in red Permanite are available for about $40-$60.

3 My choice for this spot is Waterman's Taperite, a semi-hooded lever fill pen that was made in the 1940s to compete with Parker's 51. The Taperite's profile is close to the 51s, but that's where the similarity ends. Inside, its old technology is no match to what's going on inside a Parker 51, but, the pen works well and I'm inclined to think a comparison between the two is unnecessary. Most of the ones I own have lively; semi-hooded nibs that write beautifully and differently from the stiffer writing 51. The Taperite was made in a variety of finishes to meet just about any price point, and that so many Taperite pens have survive suggest that it was popular during the 1940s. Sadly, it is perhaps the most neglected and disparaged pen out of the ten I've listed. So what, I say. My favorite is a pen and pencil set with gold caps that carries the autograph of the original owner on the barrel. Easier to obtain are models with gold fill caps and trim and Lucite barrels. Top line models were expensive when new and I don't understand how collectors can fail to acknowledge the qualities inherent to this pen. Their loss is your gain. Expect to pay about $50-$100 for a very good set and less for models with non-precious metal caps. One note of caution - on occasion I've found pens with sections that won't budge and pencils with barrels that break just above the nozzle. Something to keep in mind when you look over this particular model pen.

2 This is the pen that gave the Parker 51 a run for its money. So many of them were manufactured that the remain plentiful wherever vintage fountain pens at found. My money is on the all gold fill TM model, the formal name for the pen better know as Sheaffer's Snorkel. TM stands for Thin Model, because Sheaffer, Waterman, and Parker had a tendency to use initials to name pens during the 50s and 60s. ( Think VP for Very Personal, VS for Very Special, PFM for Pen For Men, C/F for cartridge fill and the T 1.) The all gold fill TM was an expensive pen when new. For some reason, gold fill pens are not always regarded as highly by collectors as the original cost would indicate making them a bargain. The same holds true for models with gold fill caps and plastic barrels. Don't pass by models wit white, metal alloy nibs, either Collectors mistakenly associate the with inexpensive steel nibbed pens, but they are far from it. I've seen all gold-f Snorkels sell for around $100 and those with gold-fill caps sell for between $` and $50. You can imagine how inexpensive most other models are. Certain hard to find barrel colors can be expensive amongst savvy collectors and the demonstrator model is a pricey jewel in anyone's collection.

1 Sheaffer's Streamline Balance pen is my choice for the number one pen that is overlooked and under appreciated by collectors. Incredibly, a black oversized Streamline Balance pen can be acquired for somewhere between $70 and $150, or even less. Commonly found oversized striped plunger-fill models fall into the same price range. That they require restoration for about one-third to half that price again still makes them a bargain. Imagine the value in standard sized models! Certain oversized and even standard sized Balance pens can be pricey, but not the brown, green, or gray striped pens even though few pens are more attractive to my eye than gray striped models with perfect, gleaming trim. Black models are so inexpensive that some collectors will almost consider paying you to take them off their hands. Seeing how we all belong to the quarterly, I'll pass along a little secret. Some of those black pens have extraordinarv patterns built into their celluloid barrels, a feature that is revealed only when the pen is cleaned and the collector bother's to take the time to look.

For collectors who follow their own tastes and instincts, plenty of quality vintage pens are out there to collect and enjoy writing with. The ones I listed are my top ten, but others could easily take their place. Did I mention the early eye dropper pens made by Paul Wirt? I guess I must have forgot. What's on your list?