Watermans, Ideal and Otherwise

Here’s a comment made by Stuart today.  As comments go, it’s rather longer and raises more issues than most of my blog entries.  Rather than italicise which makes it a pain to read, I’m enclosing Stuart’s comment within dotted lines.
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I had gotten so emotionally involved in my earlier comments that I neglected to ask a specific question re: the Waterman ‘Ideal’ pen and how it so easily seems to play into the ‘greasy’ hands of such sellers.  This is a very popular pen on eBay and for very good reason.  Yet I cannot help but notice some things which have been ‘troubling’ me for quite a while.  The question seems to boil down to whether there is anything at all ‘ideal’ about an ‘IDEAL’?  In other words, what, specifically, makes an ‘IDEAL’ pen by Waterman so doggoned ideal?

I ask this question not to be obtuse but to make a sincere observation.  For the life of me, I simply do not see anything unique or ‘ideal’ about a Waterman ‘IDEAL’!  It seems to be designed the same as a non-Waterman IDEAL.  The barrel seems the same, the filling system is the same.  The cap seems the same.  What, exactly, is so doggoned ‘ideal’ about it?  Is it made from a better grade of celluloid or hard rubber? Does the gold-filled or plated lever have a higher percentage of gold in its formulation?  Or are we simply dealing with a marketing concept on the part of the Waterman executives?

I have seen many IDEALS offered on eBay where the barrel has the IDEAL globe on the pen barrel BUT – lo and behold – the nib on this pen does not say IDEAL on it!  Is a fraud being perpretrated upon the unwary buyer in such an instance?   Is a Waterman nib engraved with IDEAL in any way made better or likely to last longer or flex better than a Waterman nib which is not marked IDEAL?  If it is, then every seller marketing his pen as a Waterman IDEAL is committing a fraud (or so it may seem) unless the nib on that pen also has the IDEAL imprint on it.  If there is no real difference in inherent quality or performance between an IDEAL and a Waterman 2A nib, for example, then what is the benefit or real value in having an IDEAL nib?.  Again, are we dealing here with nought but advertising hype?  Or is an IDEAL really and truly ‘ideal’ after all??  Inquiring minds want to know!!
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What is so ideal about a Waterman Ideal (by which I take you to mean the Waterman 52 as you refer later to some of them having replacement 2A nibs)?

I’m no expert on Watermans, I hasten to say, but the Waterman 52 is a very practical and useful pen as was recognised by the huge numbers that sold.  Size, weight, balance, price, quality and performance all came together in the 52.  The Ideal No 2 nib is an exceptionally good one, whether it be firm or flexible and across the range of point sizes.  Are we dealing with a marketing concept of the Waterman executives?  Far from it, we’re dealing with a product that the common writing man found to be the best of its kind for many years.  I confess, Stuart, that I’m at a loss to understand what you mean by a non-Waterman Ideal.

Yes, many Waterman 52s appear in eBay and elsewhere with nibs that don’t say “Ideal” on them.  These are old pens and nibs are their most fragile component.  Particularly for those Canadian 52s imported into Britain, the most commonly available nib of the right size is the English Waterman 2A.  Most 2As are not as good as most Ideal No 2s, admittedly, but they were a serviceable nib fitted to save the pen’s owner having invest in a new pen.  These repairers didn’t know that a few decades later these pens would be collectables and that there would be a premium on originality.

Are sellers committing a fraud by selling a Waterman 52 Ideal with a non-ideal nib in it?  Yes and no.  If it’s on a pen-retailer’s site, I would expect the seller to be knowledgeable enough to realise that he’s selling a slightly inferior product and I would expect him to point out that the nib is a replacement.  In eBay, you can’t expect sellers to be knowledgeable.  Some are, of course, but most know little about pens.  It’s best to ask whether the nib is an Ideal or something else.

It seems to me (if you don’t mind me saying so) that you have a very distrustful attitude to pen sellers and manufacturers.  A certain amount of due caution will serve you well; deep-seated suspicion of those you deal with will, among other things, poison your own enjoyment of pens.

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About goodwriterspens
I restore fountain pens, and used to trade as redripple52 in eBay. I also have my own fountain pen sales website, www.goodwriterssales.com

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