Burnham B 48

I usually don’t buy Burnhams because of the problem with surface cracking or worse affecting the casein. However, if you get a good Burnham you get a good pen. This blue marbled Burnham arrived as part of a lot I had bought. I struck lucky – it was a good one!
Though they had more expensive pens, by the mid-50s Burnham was beginning to develop its economy and school range, of which the B 48 is an example. It has a screw in nib which can be changed for any one of a range of nib styles. At 13.1 cm it is a full-sized pen which feels quite solid. Its major fault is the quality of the gold plating which is little more than a gold wash. Though it has survived on the lever and the cap ring, it has almost completely disappeared from the clip.
The best point about Burnhams of this period is the plastic from which they are made. The colour patterns are glorious, rivalled only by the best of Conway Stewart. This one is completely free of the deterioration which so often affects casein. Having survived so long in good condition this pen is unlikely to deteriorate unless it’s soaked.
The nib is a plated steel one with a folded tip. One of the cheaper ways of making a nib, it is generally assumed that such a nib is deficient in some way. While it has a shorter life than a tipped nib, it will last for a considerable time particularly at today’s rate of usage. It would take a great deal of writing to wear this nib out and in the meantime it will write as well as any tipped nib. There is also the advantage that other styles of Burnham nib may be fitted. In addition Osmiroid and Esterbrook nibs will fit this pen

This raises an interesting issue about nibs: traditionally there were gold nibs, plated nibs, steel nibs and, off to one side screw in nib and feed units like this one. Gold obviously was the most costly, followed by plated and steel. Nowadays even very expensive pens often have steel nibs plated or not and the price does not seem to be determined by the value of the materials any more.

In parenthesis, perhaps the best aid for the arthritic is Dragon NaturallySpeaking with which this was done. It only took me about four times as long to write this as it would have done on the keyboard, but doubtless Dragon and I will get faster in time.


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