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Waterman, Sheaffer, Swan, Typhoo
Is there something there for you?
Have a look this day or night;
You might find your heart’s delight!

Mordan Centennial Pencil

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Here’s another Mordan pencil.  It looks and behaves like silver but I suspect that it’s just silver-plated.  It’s a natty little thing of about 9.8 cm.  I’ve checked such information as I have but I find it quite hard to date these things.  I’m guessing that it’s about 1930.  It works well and has a piece of lead loaded.  It also has several spare pieces of lead in the reservoir at the butt end, which is useful because Mordan pencils use 1 mm lead which isn’t always easy to find.
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It’s the simplest of pens.  There is nothing there to be seen that doesn’t add to the way it works.  The function dictates what the form will be.

Osmia 883

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Many pen companies have passed through several hands and as a result have quite a complicated history.  Few if any, however, are as complex as Osmia.  The company was started by George Bowhler in 1919.  Though the company did well initially declining sales left it open to the Parker pen company’s acquisition.  In 1929 Parker sold the company back to Bohler.  He sold the nib manufacturing factory to Degussa.  A W Faber-Castell invested heavily in the company from 1935 on and finally the company over in 1951.
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There is more to it than that but enough’s enough.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  This beauty is an Osmia 883.  It measures 13 cm capped.  The cap and barrel are in a subtle wind green colour and both are semi-transparent.  The gold-plated clip is a little reminiscent of those used by Pelikan and it has a medium gold cap band.  It doesn’t actually say “Osmia” anywhere on the pen, which suggests to me that it’s quite late, after the Faber Castell takeover.  The name Osmia continued to be used for a few years but afterwards these pens were turned out under the Faber Castell name though they are identical to the earlier ones imprinted Osmia.  The large nib has a sun inside a diamond which was Osmia’s trademark from the outset.
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It’s a piston filler, working well and holding a considerable amount of ink which can be seen through the semi-transparent barrel.  The nib is medium and very flexible.  This is a splendid pen both aesthetically and in use.

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Unbranded Small Silver-Plated Pen

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I bought this tiny jewel of a pen out of curiosity, never having seen anything quite like it before.  There is no manufacturer’s name on it, just “800” on the clip and a “D” on the lever.  It isn’t hall-marked so it’s probably silver plate.  It’s quite tiny at 8.8 cm long capped.  Nonetheless, it’s a practical pen.  It took a bit of hunting around in my boxes but eventually I found a sac small enough to fit this pen.  The small warranted nib is semi-flexible.
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I can find no clue as to who made it.  The warranted nib is stamped “14ct” which suggests to me that it was British made, but it has a blue transparent section which I’ve never seen on a British pen, though they are common enough on the continent, particularly in Germany.
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Recently, I have seen people putting forward the opinion that silver pens and pencils have a patina which should be preserved.  The only metal that I am aware of that takes a true patina is bronze, which becomes coated with an oxidised layer which protects the metal underneath and enhances its appearance.  Silver, on the other hand, becomes tarnished.  This is no patina, but an accumulation of dirt and oxidisation which is quite unattractive.  Anyway, I dug out the silver polish and gave it a rub and it looks 10 times the pen it did when I got it.
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If anyone has an idea who manufactured this pen or even what country it came from, let me know.

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Green Lizardskin Swan

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Here’s another snakeskin (or is that lizard skin?  I’m never sure unless I have them side-by-side) Swan.  It’s not the usual type, which is a little more tapered and has a black hard rubber lever.  I suspect that this shape and style is a little later than those ones, perhaps running into and through World War II.

I love to grab these whenever I can because they are so beautiful, but restoring them can be a task fraught with anxiety.  The plastic that these pens are made from has a tendency to shrink – only very slightly – but enough to make removal of the section a protracted business with much heating and reheating.
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It’s always worth the effort, and this one is especially nice.  It has no number on the base of the barrel but it would be an SM1/88.  That reminds me that 88 is “Green Lizard”, so that solves that problem!  There isn’t, so far as I am aware, a green snakeskin though there is a blue/green snakeskin.
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Yes, for once, that pointy nib does indicate flexibility.  I haven’t had time to write test it yet but just pushing against my finger suggests it’s a full flex.

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The sword’s not mighty as the pen
At least that’s what they say,
I think that’s true for cutting wit
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The Lamy Dialog 3

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If the Pilot Capless (Vanishing Point) didn’t exist the Lamy Dialog 3 would be the wonder of our age.  It does, though, and comparisons between the two are inevitable and, to my mind, come out in favour of the Capless in almost every respect.

I bought the Lamy out of curiosity, because I wanted to compare it with the Capless which I have found to be almost indispensable.  It’s worth saying that it’s a fairly expensive way to satisfy one’s curiosity as the Dialog comes in at £159.68, on top of which I had to pay an import VAT duty of £25 and a clearance fee of £13.50.  In my book, that’s serious money!
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Having got it, though, I’m not disappointed.  It’s a great pen.  I won’t go through the rigmarole of describing the packaging to you.  It’s nice packaging but you don’t write with it.  The pen is, I suppose, for want of a better term, minimalistic.  It’s a matte black cylinder with rounded ends. Parallel lines run from the clip to the base and there is the Lamy logo.  Twist the barrel and the shiny nib cover moves aside and the nib is displayed.  I must say I prefer the Capless’s one-handed clicking action to the twist action of the Lamy.  When you retract the nib, if you overshoot in the turn that you make you begin to unscrew the barrel, so it isn’t particularly positive.  I have been told, though I’ve yet to experience it myself, that if you leave it for a couple of days it will dry out.  That’s not true of the Capless.
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Filling it is quite an inconvenient procedure.  First you unscrew the barrel, then you unscrew the entire converter and nib unit out of the pen.  Dip the nib in the ink and fill the piston style converter in the usual way.  That’s a less convenient method of filling than any other pen I can think of.
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When it comes to writing, the Dialog’s nib is wonderfully smooth.  Mine is described as a medium but it seems more like a broad to me. The pen is very heavy – around 50 g – and the grip takes a little getting used to.  I don’t think I could write with this pen for a protracted period.  It’s just too heavy and awkward.  Having said that, the nib is so good that I would wish to try to persist.  It isn’t flexible but it’s springy which makes writing with it pleasurable.
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Of course, the capless pen isn’t a new concept by any manner of means, and the twist action is probably the oldest way of achieving that.  It reminds me of the old safety pens – though only in its action!  In appearance it’s something quite new.  I had a look at some reviews before I wrote this, and most people seemed to like its appearance, some even going so far as to describe it as “very sexy”.  I wouldn’t want to associate myself with those remarks.  People live their lives in their own way and it’s none of my business what they do.  I’ve no wish to be prudish about this but I will restrict myself to saying that it’s a nice pen.  And leave it at that.

Joking aside this pen would be a market winner were it not for the fact that the niche it occupies is already claimed by the Pilot Capless.  The Capless is lighter, its action is one-handed and more convenient, it’s slightly easier to fill, it has a better grip and all in all, it is the better pen.  But I’m very impressed with this pen too.  Such faults as it has are very minor ones with the exception of the filling procedure.  For someone with bigger hands and no arthritis, this might be the pen of their dreams.

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