Just For Fun…

I am in the fortunate position of handling a great many pens – hundreds every year in fact. I take pleasure in most of them with the result that I have no real favourites. Swans, Parker, Onotos, Watermans, Mentmores – the list is endless and they are all a pleasure to work with.

Given unlimited choice, which pen would you particularly like to own?

Waterman 32


During the nineteen thirties Waterman produced some of their finest pens, excellent writers made from beautiful celluloid. This one is in the pattern “Moss Agate”. A 32, this is a more slender pen than the 52 and 92 that were available at the same time and in the same patterns. The box lever has been redesigned and protrudes less from the barrel than its predecessor. The pens Waterman made at this time are very sturdy; this one has been around for about 85 years and is still looking very good.
With a pen like this in your hand, you might wonder what the subsequent “development” was all about. Is any later pen better than this? Does it look any better and does it do the job any better?

On another topic entirely,  the PCI authority will no longer allow the SSL and TLS 1.0 protocols starting in June. Some of the PCI scanning companies are requiring the change to be made now. This creates a problem since some web shops can’t function if they are not PCI compliant but removing the protocols can cause problems.  That doesn’t affect this blog site but it will affect my sales site. The main difference that this will make is that some older browsers will no longer be able to connect to the site. If you still have Vista, which uses Microsoft Internet Explorer v10 or lower you won’t be able to see these upgraded sites.

Parker 17 Deluxe



When the Parker 17 first appeared in 1962 it had an exposed nib. Shortly thereafter it was redesigned to have a hooded nib in the style of the Parker 51. There were various levels of trim from the standard up to this deluxe.  It is evident that they sold very well as there are many around but, strangely enough, they don’t seem to sell very well nowadays. I see them go through eBay and though they sell they often don’t make much money. That’s a mystery to me as they are attractive pens and all those I have handled were great writers.
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This particular example is a bit of an oddity. It has three names engraved around the cap: Allan, Jeff and Jack. There is also the engraved date 3.12.65. The pen has clearly not been used much as the factory chalk marks are still on the barrel. How do we explain this? Did Allan, Jeff and Jack present this pen to someone? Or did someone present this pen to Allan, Jack and Jeff? Did Allan use it on Monday and Tuesday while Jack had it Wednesday and Thursday and Jeff wrote with it Friday and Saturday and no one had it on Sunday? Are you convinced? No. Nor am I.
The lady I bought the pen from said that she had been told it was a demonstrator pen. Clearly, it isn’t in the normal sense, but perhaps it was intended to show the quality of engraving that could be produced.
One thing that puzzles me is the date. The Parker 17 Deluxe is said to be a late introduction in the production run. 1963 seems to me rather early. It may be, of course, that it is simply an example date and not the date the engraving was done.

Waterman Emblem

In the nineteen twenties and thirties Waterman was a market leader with their wonderful ripple hard rubber pens and beautifully patterned celluloid pens. By the forties the company’s tide had begun to ebb and their pens were less attractive with unexciting design and poor gold plating. Their top of the range pens were still good, though. First was the Hundred Year Pen, followed by the Emblem.

This is a pen of an entirely different order from the 512s and the 513s of the same period. Most obviously, the gold plating is much thicker and despite this pen bearing the marks of having been much used there is no brassing. It’s heavier, too, probably partly from the greater amount of gold but also because the Lucite barrel is thick. At 13.7 cm, with a considerable girth, it’s a large pen for the time. When the clutch cap is removed the large Emblem nib is exposed. Though I believe some Emblem nibs are firm, this one is decidedly flexible. It’s a great pen by any standards.
The Emblem is not a common pen in the UK though I believe it sold better in the USA. Its successor, the Medalist, didn’t seem to catch on here at all. The result is that this is almost a forgotten pen here. They don’t run to the prices that they do in the USA, which gives the British collector the chance to obtain a very prestigious pen at a comparatively low cost.


Pen Reviews

There is an interesting debate going on in Fountain Pen Geeks about the comparative value of written and videoed reviews. Speaking for myself, I avoid videoed reviews because I tend to lose the will to live about halfway through. The very worst ones, I believe, are those where a big ego has a part to play (no names, no pack drill). These usually run to quarter of an hour or more. That’s madness – if you can’t describe a pen and its pros and cons in under five minutes there’s something sadly wrong! Others, perhaps, aren’t quite so bad but they often tend to ramble. It’s as if the discipline that one would apply to a written review disappears when the camera is switched on.

There are exceptions, of course.  SBRE Brown, for instance, has a pattern to his videoed reviews and appears to marshal his thoughts well in advance. So it can be done – though it rarely is. That’s not to say that all written reviews are good. Some of them are rambling nonsense as well but the ratio of signal-to-noise is rather better.

What do you think?

Sheaffer Triumph Lifetime Statesman


You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about a Sheaffer Triumph Sovereign that I really liked but was unsuitable for me as I prefer a fine and it was a medium. A very kind and generous correspondent made me a present of a very similar Sheaffer with a fine nib.
This, I believe, is a Sheaffer Triumph Lifetime Statesman. If you know better, please inform me. I’m no expert on Sheaffers and there are very many of them. Anyway, this one dates to about 1945, I understand, and it was made in Canada.
It’s very like the other one, being brown/gold striated with a Lifetime Triumph conical nib. What a splendid concept the Triumph nib is! Several other manufacturers have come up with conical nibs but none of them are a patch on the original.
This pen is a superb writer and it will always be on my desk. It’s one pen that won’t appear on the sales site. Ever.

A Curiosity!


At first glance it’s a Swan SF1 in unusually good condition. Picking it up, it seems a little too heavy – and that’s because it’s solid, machined to the appearance of an SF1 only externally.
This would have been a salesman’s example or, more likely, part of a shop display. I suppose it saved the labour of making an actual pen and, of course, the cost of the nib. It’s just a pity that the actual pens turn up in such good condition so very, very seldom!

These things appear from time to time but they’re by no means common. Most, I suppose, were thrown away long ago when the model ceased to be current.


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