Going through my no-hoper pens, the ones unlikely to be saleable or even to be repaired, I came upon an English post-war Waterman with a fine Accounts nib. That might not be to everyone’s taste but it suits me very well. The pen was in a sad state with a broken lever box among other faults – not worth repairing I scrapped the pen and salvaged the nib.
I needed a pen body to put the nib in and found an old, faded black hard rubber Mentmore button filler. Despite being aesthetically unattractive due to the discolouration the pen was complete apart from the absence of a nib. The Waterman nib fitted perfectly. I took the pen apart, fitted a new sac and left it to cure. Meanwhile I used a jeweller’s cloth and a Sunshine cloth to brighten it up a little. I screwed the section in, inserted the pressure bar, replaced the button – and I have a splendid everyday Frankenpen.
Between all the savings they’ve made shutting thousands of Post Offices and the profits they make delivering packages for Amazon and other online sellers you would think Royal Mail could deliver our paltry few pens for free but no, the price rises every year.
I’ve kept the overseas shipping charge at £12.00 for a long time but I’m taking a hit with almost every package now. Anything over £50.00 in value needs additional insurance and that’s not cheap. The average pen going to the U.S. these days costs me – wait for it – £16.35!!!
You knew where this preamble was going, didn’t you? Well, you were right, sadly. I’ll have to push the overseas shipping price up to £14.00. It comes with my apologies and I hate to do it but – Royal Mail!
I was beginning to despair of finding anything good. All Perfect Pens and 81s which I don’t want. There’s even one of those hide-covered things on eBay at the moment if anyone wants one. Then a Big Ben came along, complete with price sticker and I nabbed that. So pictures will follow in a few days when it gets here.
for all the Wyvern suggestions. I’ll just have to see what turns up. I would dearly love a Redwing but it’s unlikely one will just happen along while I wait. And I have little patience, in this regard at least. In any case, I have much to think about.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I would like to have a good example of each of the main British brands. This isn’t to form a collection in the usual sense of the word. Rather, I want to have each as a good, dependable writer that suits my hand. So far I have Swans, as you would expect, Conway Stewarts, Parkers, a Summit and a Mentmore. I don’t really want a Burnham so that leaves me looking for a Wyvern. I’m not really sure which model to go for. The post-war oddities don’t especially appeal to me. The “Perfect Pen” is perhaps nearest to what I want and the nibs are very good but they have not always aged well. I wouldn’t want one of the famous 30s/40s hide-covered pens – too expensive and not at all to my taste.
Wyvern was a great and long-lived company, one of the older British fountain pen firms. It surprises me that I’m having so much difficulty getting one of their pens for my everyday use.
This one’s a bit special! It’s an American-made Swan 127/53 ring-top in the pattern known as Scarlet. To me it appears to be a rich russet with small paler flecks. There are black bands around the single cap band and three more at the top of the cap below the ring.
The pen was made in 1927, part of a range of black-banded pens in various sizes and colours. The pen’s a rarity here and perhaps not all that common in the US either. It isn’t only beautiful; it has an exceptional nib, a broad, flexible stub, finely shaped and precise. It lays down a lot of ink with lovely line variation.
Because it needed some special work Eric Wilson restored it for me. Outstanding work as always.
Le Merle Blanc was part of Mabie Todd’s export drive beginning in the mid-twenties and it was aimed at Belgium, France and Switzerland. This MHR vest pocket pen was part of the earliest range. Later pens were in marbled celluloid.
At 11.2cm capped but with the girth of a full-size pen, this was a neat and convenient note-taker for the man on the move. I expect that there would also have been a a ring-top.
I understand that the export pens had 18ct nibs. If that is so, this 14ct Blackbird nib is a replacement but it isn’t entirely inappropriate as the Merle Blanc was based on the Blackbird.
The barrel imprint explains it all: Le Merle Blanc Made by “Swan” Pen People Fabrique en Angleterre. This handsome little pen is very uncommon nowadays, especially in mottled hard rubber.
The White Blackbird? Nope. It doesn’t make any sense to me either.
The other day I was clearing out a drawer to use it for something else and I came upon this pen. It was one of my early ventures into US vintage pens and I often wondered what had happened to it. It must have been during one of our many house-moves that it was put away safely and subsequently forgotten. I am informed by someone much more knowledgeable about Sheaffer’s many Balance-shaped models than I am that it is a Triumph of 1942 onwards. After all those years of neglect it filled perfectly and it’s a splendid writer, a Western fine.