Mentmore Supreme


This one just arrived today.  I haven’t even given it a little polish so excuse the dust.
Mentmore – apart from the very last ones – are often hard to date, I find.  I know that the Supreme was introduced in 1940 and was one of the few models still on sale during the war years, but whether it was in quite this form or not I can’t say for sure.
It’s a nice pen and I would have said it was in “New Old Stock” condition had it not been that the clown who sold it to me sent it full of ink which sadly stained the box and papers.  The pen has clearly not been used and still retains its sales sticker for the price of 13 shillings and sixpence (including tax).
It’s a sturdy pen of a good size at 13.6 cm.  It has some rather nice features, like the transparent barrel end and the “stacked coins” cap band.
I sometimes feel that Mentmore is rather overlooked compared with the market leaders like Onoto, Conway Stewart and Swan.  Perhaps this is partly because the quality was variable, but their better models, like this Supreme, are very nice pens indeed.


Nib Straightening Tools

Bent and buckled nibs are a problem.  I can usually get them back into working condition but often they don’t look as good as they once did.  Part of the reason for that is the tools that I’ve been using – a hardwood pen rest with a good concave area and a somewhat spoon-shaped dental pick that I have ground and polished into the shape that I want.  These just aren’t good enough!
I had a look around online for tools and settled on Laurence Oldfield’s (Penpractice) full set of nib straightening tools in a wooden block.  It’s not cheap but it is the business!  It arrived yesterday and I’ve done some work with it already.  It makes a tremendous difference to this difficult task.  Also, I have to say, I spent quite a bit of time just looking at it.  It really is a work of art.  I do love handmade tools!

If you do a search online you’ll find several solutions to the problem of nib straightening.  I have no doubt that they all have their advantages but I must say that I am very satisfied with this one.

What’s Going On, Ebay?

Over the last month or so I’ve noticed something rather strange and disturbing happening in eBay.  Quite often, I will buy several pens from the same seller.  Naturally enough, I expect them to combine postage and I contact them to request that they do so.  That has never been a problem until recently.  What is increasingly happening now is that when I go through the procedure to request a reduced total to allow for combined postage, the dialogue ends with “This seller does not offer combined postage.  Proceed to payment.”  And this is despite the seller stating clearly in his listing that he is happy to provide combined postage for multiple sales.

Of course, I don’t leave it there.  One way or another, I manage to contact the seller directly and in each case the seller has been surprised by what eBay is doing and has willingly combined postage.

If this just happened once I would be prepared to accept that it might be a teething problem in the software but last night was the third time this has happened.  I would contact eBay to raise this question with them but they make contact so deliberately difficult that I lose the will to live trying to get through all the barriers they put in one’s way.

I have a vague recollection that some time ago eBay started to take a percentage of postage as well as selling price.  I could be wrong there but I don’t think I am.  Taking that together with this strange software behaviour, do you think I would be entitled to suspect eBay’s motives?

The “Starling” Box

Do you remember the “Starling” pen?  I wrote about it on August 24, 2013, back here  At that time, I was convinced that it was not a Mabie Todd pen because it didn’t look like that company’s output and didn’t have a barrel imprint that stated Mabie Todd as is invariably the case.
Well, I was wrong and it wasn’t invariable.  Despite not having a Mabie Todd imprint, the pen was made by that company.  I know for sure because a reader of this blog kindly provided me with a “Starling” box.

It doesn’t give much away.  It just states The “Starling” Pen Made in England by Mabie Todd and Co Ltd.

De La Rue Onoto Lever Pen


Here’s a rather gorgeous Onoto Lever Pen.  These were made post-war, from about 1948 on and this pattern is known as Silver and Black.  I’m not quite sure why Onotos began to be produced with levers.  They might have been cheaper to produce than the plunger fillers but in any case, being De La Rue, they did it with style.  I’ve seen several Onoto lever fill designs, and this one has a lever box like a Waterman and internally it has a floating pressure bar like Waterman or Conway Stewart.  That’s a much more efficient system than the cheaper J-bar as it depresses in a plane parallel to the sac.
For some time there had been De La Rue pens of a similar design.  The best of these De La Rue pens are not far short of equal in quality to these Onoto lever fillers.  I’m not sure why they produced the two ranges of pens but they did and the Onotos are more popular and fetch a higher price than the De La Rues.
This is a good sized pen at 13.7 cm.  It has the 3ST nib, which is always a pleasure to use.  It’s medium and semiflexible.

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Is this A Blackbird I see before me,
The barrel towards my hand?
Come, let me buy thee –
Pen fanciers will understand!

(With apologies to Wm Shakespeare)

Swan Ink Jug

I enjoy fountain pen ephemera, especially Swan.
Judging by the shape of the bottle illustrated this dates back to the 1930s.  It’s quite a big jug at 14 cm high.  I think this may have been made by Gray’s of Hanley.  Among other trademarks, they used an image of a clipper ship, and there’s one on this jug.