The Pento Sydney Eyedropper

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This rather ordinary-looking eyedropper filler has a bit more to it than meets the eye – at least at first glance.  It seems that you have the choice of filling it in the usual way, by unscrewing the section, or, in this case, by removing a screw-in plug at the end of the barrel and filling from there.  I’m not sure what the benefit is in that or even if there’s a benefit at all.  It may be just another place that has the potential to leak ink.  That aside, it’s quite a conventional eyedropper pen, slender, with an over and under feed and engine chasing on the barrel but not on the tight fitting cap.
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Stamped at a slight angle on the barrel is “Pento Sydney”.  Stephen Hull,in his The English Fountain Pen Industry 1875 – 1975 records the Pento pen but his various references to it are all in the 1920s.  This would seem to me to be quite a bit earlier than that, which is really all I can say about it.  It may well be that the company began rather earlier.
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Pento was one of those companies allied to Langs of Liverpool.  The company was set up by WJ May at the Maypen Works in Twickenham.  It went on to produce lever fillers and later a capless pen which does not appear to have been a success.  The company was wound up with a considerable loss in 1927.(ibid).

Sales Site Update

It looks like I may have to take the sales website down for a few days while testing and completing of updates goes on, so don’t be surprised if it suddenly isn’t there!  It will be back.

The site will certainly be there for the remainder of this week.  It will probably disappear on Monday and I’m not sure at the moment how long that will last but I’ll keep you informed.

Uranus 621

 

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This is another of my Moments of Madness – yet another cheap Chinese pen!  This one is a Uranus, and yes, I’ve heard all the jokes.  This is a household where no pun, no matter how tiresome is allowed to pass without being commented upon to death.
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Uranus, I am told, is a sub-brand of Duke.  This is by no means a good recommendation so far as I am concerned.  I’ve had Duke pens before – ugly, massively overweight, none too willing to write and with some of the worst casting I’ve ever seen in a pen.  They tell me that the more expensive Duke pens are much better.  Well, so they should be!  I won’t be buying any to find out.

However, Uranus does seem to be rather better.  For a start they weigh something within the range of what is acceptable for a fountain pen.  Secondly, the clips are quite plain and without the extra decoration that falls foul of Duke’s poor casting methods.  Anyway, I had to have this pen.  The cap is decorated with a copy of Fernand Leger’s Leisure and I’m very fond of Leger who appears to have enjoyed life and was always more upbeat than many of his contemporaries.  You can see one version of the painting here – he made several.  There’s the option of several other artists including Picasso, if I remember correctly.
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Okay so we’ve got this pretty pen that’s really nice to look at.  Is it any good for writing with?  Well, yes, actually it is!  It’s a sensible size at 13.6 cm.  It will post but not very securely.  The nib which I’m told is medium is a European fine but not one of those hairline jobs.  It takes the standard European small cartridges and it has a piston-type converter.  I note for those of you who like to turn all pens into eyedroppers (horrible habit) that it has a very long barrel thread and seals well.  The cap snaps into place very well by means of a projecting ring in the cap and a groove in the barrel.  This means that the cap may continue to fit properly rather longer than is the case with many Chinese pens.  The ink flow’s good and the nib is quite smooth.  My only difficulty with it is that being a hooded nib pen I have to consciously line it up for writing in a way I don’t have to do with open nib pens.
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I don’t remember exactly what I paid for it, nor even where I got it – they are available all over the place – but it was certainly less than the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Sheaffer Targa Gold Plated Chequered Classic

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I had some general things to say about the Targa back here.  This one’s the goldplated number 1007 Chequered Classic which was made between 1976 and 1979.  Despite its name, the pattern isn’t quite one of chequers; rather it is (when the pen is held upright) a series of three vertical incised lines joined by wider spaced horizontal ones.  It makes a very nice finish.
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This pen has been well looked after and the gold plating is in very good order.  Indeed, like most Targas, it has survived to the present day with very little sign of its 35 year existence.
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I have found Targas to be eminently practical pens, well-balanced, robust and always ready to write.  They are more than that, though.  Walter Sheaffer was a jeweller and until recent times Sheaffer pens have always reflected that.  Though it is by no means delicate and easily damaged, the pattern on this pen does make it a form of jewellery – though a useful form.  The famous Sheaffer inlaid nib, often firm but never a nail, is also a thing of beauty in its own right.
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This one’s a medium with a hint of flex.  It has a Sheaffer squeeze converter fitted.

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A Very Flexible Waterman 52

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I’ve outlined the history of the Waterman 52 before so there is no point in going over that again.
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This very fine example of a US-made Waterman 52 in black chased hard rubber didn’t look quite so good when it arrived.  It had accrued many years of dirt, mostly, I think, from being in a drawer somewhere.  I say that because it doesn’t show the signs of long, continuous use.  The chasing is crisp and the black hard rubber shows very little fading.  A little cleaning and polishing returned it to something very close to what it looked like on that long ago day that it was bought and became someone’s pride and joy.
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The pen bears a patented clip of a type that I see now and again.  Though it has a patent number, there is no maker’s name on the clip, but it’s a clever little device that takes a firm grip of the cloth and can be released by pressing the tiny trigger.
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As is so often the case with Waterman 52s, the high point of the pen is the nib.  It’s the most flexible nib I have had in quite a while and it snaps back to medium the instant the pressure is released – not that it takes very much pressure to produce a double-broad line.
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Pens like this are truly precious.  There is no pen made today – or in the last few decades – that can compare with a really great Waterman 52 like this one, or for that matter, a flexible Swan or Onoto.  We are very fortunate that these pens were made so well and have lasted to our day in such splendid condition.

A Conway Stewart 759 Set in Plum With Black Lines

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The 759 is a wartime pen.  It’s a step down in price from the ever-popular 286.  They are the same length but it might be that the 759 is a little narrower – believe it or not, for once I don’t have a 286 to hand to make the comparison.  I think the 286 nib is bigger and the cap has a less pointed top to the clip screw.  Also, whereas the later 286s had a diamond shield on the lever, the 759 has a round one.  The major difference between the two pens, however, is that whereas the 286 is a celluloid pen, the 759 is made from casein, which is shown in the glowing colours with a depth to them, like looking into a placid stream.

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In this set the 759 is paired with the “Nippy” pencil, which is correct.  They make a handsome pair in their “plum with black lines” livery with gold plated trim.  The box is a little discoloured and shows signs of age but the pink leaf pattern can be clearly seen.
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As the years go by it becomes ever more difficult to find Conway Stewart boxed sets in really good condition.  This one is very good indeed, and I think I struck it lucky!

The Parker 25

Usually I like workhorse pens but the Parker 25 Flighter will have to be the exception that proves the rule golden.

In the 70s Parker thought they had spotted a niche in the market that needed filling: an inexpensive pen that would appeal to the 18 to 30 age group.  They engaged the services of Kenneth Grange, a successful industrial designer, already well known for such things as the Kodak Instamatic camera, Wilkinson Sword razors and the InterCity 125 high-speed train.
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His intention was to create a pen of functional simplicity, inexpensive to produce and well-nigh indestructible.  I think he probably succeeded on all counts but he also managed to make one of the uglier pens there is, especially when capped, showing the barrel that descends rapidly from one diameter to a smaller one.  It can be said that this ensures secure posting of the cap on the barrel, but that problem had been solved rather more elegantly many decades earlier.  Posted, it looks a little better, especially if you don’t look at that stubby piece of metal that passes for an nib.
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On the example I have, and probably on all the rest, the tipping material is almost spherical with the result that the line is exactly the same in all directions and tends towards a soft edge.  In its favour, it can be said that it writes reliably at all times.  After all with as simple a shell for an ink cartridge as this, there’s very little that can go wrong.

Priced low, it sold moderately well until it was discontinued in 1990.  Surprisingly, it has generated some interest among collectors.  The blue and black trim colours are the most common; rarer and more in demand are orange, green and the quite rare white.
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This is one of the few pens I cannot enjoy writing with.  The line is too vague and unvarying.  Grange’s design seems to have removed almost all the attributes that make a pen a pleasure to use and to look at – it has been reduced to a basic writing stick.

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