May 27, 2015 Leave a comment
May 27, 2015 2 Comments
As you will know if you’ve been reading this blog I don’t like today’s Montblancs (mainly because of the awful hype and the ridiculous overpricing) but I do like the older ones. Mostly, the ones that I like are from the 50s or earlier and they are piston fillers. The Generation is not a piston filler; it’s a cartridge/converter pen but a very likeable one. It’s quite a big pen at 14 cm and it has a smooth and pleasing outline without much in the way of bling. It has gold plating (in very good condition) on the clip, at the base of the barrel and on the thin and medium cap rings.
I’ve been unable to find the dates of this pen. I would guess at the 90s but I might be wrong by a fair bit – it might be older. It has a push fit cap which closes the pen with a very satisfying snap. The nib is not what you would think of for Montblanc. I’m much too lazy to attempt to describe it but you can see it in the photograph. It’s actually an absolutely superb nib, such a pleasure to write with. Montblanc may over praise and overprice themselves but they do make splendid nibs. That, and the prestige that many people imagine it confers upon them to have one, is what makes them such big sellers. Now me, I’m not looking for anything to confer prestige upon me and I don’t believe it really would anyway, so I just assess the pen as I would any other and it comes out as a terrific pen. Not as good as the best Swans, of course, but a really excellent example of the best post-war pens.
So there we are – yet another Montblanc that I approve of. Unfortunately, of course, they are very expensive – even the older ones. Otherwise I would buy many more of them. There is obviously quite a lot of “the Emperor’s new clothes” about Montblancs and, indeed, some other modern pens like Visconti. However, it is worth saying that any Montblanc you buy, even the cheapest ones (back when they made cheaper ones), will have a thoroughly splendid nib. By comparison the one Visconti that I had was nothing special in that regard and in fact I might have been writing with a cheap Chinese pen because it was so heavy and the nib so lacking in character.
I never dreamt the day would come when I would be boosting Montblancs in my blog but here it is! I do recommend that you stick to the cheapest ones you can find and please avoid paying thousands for the perishing things!
May 24, 2015 2 Comments
I’ve had a red herringbone, now here’s a blue one. I’ve only got green to go and I’m sure that will turn up one of these days. The difficulty, generally, in acquiring the herringbone colours is price. These are probably the second most popular Conway Stewart patterns, giving way only to Cracked Ice, so they are much sought after.
The ironic thing about it is that Conway Stewart placed no especial value in these patterns that are so esteemed now. The herringbone didn’t cost any more than any of the other patterns or even the black example. They didn’t care enough to give the pattern a name. It was probably Jonathan Donahaye that christened the pattern. The only other example of a herringbone pattern that I can think of is the little-known Rubinette pen that I wrote about some time ago.
The 93 isn’t especially common. It appears only as black and the three herringbone colours, together with bandless examples in green and blue herringbone. The production run of this pen was particularly short, running from about 1961 to 1963, which goes some way towards explaining their present scarcity.
It’s one of Conway Stewart’s “quality” pens, as evidenced by the narrow/medium/narrow cap rings.
May 22, 2015 5 Comments
There’s a lot of people around who don’t see very well. And I’m one of them. The seller of this pen advertised it as a Parker Vac and I accepted it as such. It was only when I got it home that I realised it was something more interesting and unusual.
Clearly Platinum admired and emulated Parker in those post-war days. It’s pretty shameless, really, with an arrow clip that is very like the Parker one and a nib bearing an arrow design like the original. That’s where the resemblance stops, though.
I sent it away for repair because it was a bit beyond me. When I got it back and opened up the blind cap I found a long shaft like a plunger filler. In fact I would have sworn that it was a plunger filler but Eric Wilson who did the restoration assures me that there’s a sac in there and in reality it’s a form of button filler.
I set about researching this pen but beyond the fact that it is distinctly rare I was not able to find out much. I don’t know whether it’s an RK 14 as engraved on the cap band or an R14 as engraved on the clip. Apparently it’s a Platinum 10-Year pen or rather more precisely the nib is warranted for 10 years. It’s gold-plated steel nib and if you ever had any doubt about the flexibility of steel nibs this should answer them. It’s only semi-flexible but it’s also exceedingly soft. Despite being very fine it glides across the paper and is a delight to use.
Two different authorities gave different dates for this pen, one saying that it was immediately post-war and the other saying that it was an early 50s pen.
Anyway, as well as having a unique filling system and being very rare it’s a nice pen to write with and that’s what pens were made to do.
May 11, 2015 5 Comments
I wrote about the Parker 75 Thuya some months ago but recently I managed to win Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver on eBay. It came all the way from Portugal. I think it’s fair to say that it is one of the best fountain pens ever made and it remained very popular during its 30 years of production until it was finally withdrawn in 1994. Prices for second hand Parker 75s today suggest that Parker may have withdrawn it too soon as it is eagerly sought after and expensive.
So what makes it such a great pen? For a start, the fact that it’s sterling silver and it has the very fetching chiselled crosshatch pattern with gold plated trim makes it very visually appealing. I find myself constantly turning it over in my hands and enjoying it. Opening the pen shows a wraparound nib, not dissimilar from the Parker 65 nib I wrote about yesterday. The calibrated dial between the section and the nib allows the user to set the pen to his or her own requirements. The tapered section provides a triangular grip which is comfortable for the user, a feature much copied since. It is a cartridge/converter pen and this one has the converter fitted.
It’s smaller than many more recent pens, but at 13 cm long capped it fits my hand very well. The nib is a nice smooth fine – or at least the feed is stamped with an F. Perhaps I’ve been too long using oriental fines but it appears like somewhere between a fine and a medium to me. I could write with it all day. Not that I’m going to, I have other things to do…
So that’s a Parker 75, one of the finest pens produced post-war. I can only say that the hype is not misplaced. It looks as good in actuality and feels as good as you might have imagined. Apparently there were about 11 million sold, so everyone has a chance of getting one!
On another topic, I’ve been buying in calligraphic material – lots of calligraphy pens and a huge supply of cartridges. I’ll be putting the pens up on the sales site as soon as I get them catalogued, but it’s not worth putting the cartridges up there. If you’re looking for inexpensive cartridges, drop me an email. I have Pilot, both blue and colours, Manuscript, Stypen. Rotring, Lamy in various colours and even some of the old Osmiroid cartridges. There may be some others, so if you have a particular requirement not mentioned, just enquire.
May 10, 2015 3 Comments
Some weeks ago, a very good customer asked me to look out for a Parker 65 for him. To be honest, I’d never really noticed this pen before. During the 60s, at the height of the Parker 61’s popularity, there was a demand for a more open nibbed pen with some flexibility. The Parker 65 was the response. It’s Son of Parker 61, with a distinct similarity to that pen. My customer didn’t want the flighter version, which is much more common, but the plastic barrel version with a gold-filled cap
When I went looking for them I found that they fetched a pretty high price. I bid on several without success but eventually managed to snag this one. There is good gold filling on the cap because it’s still in excellent condition after all these years. It’s very 61-like until you look at the nib, which is beautifully shaped. When I tested it, it was a smooth medium and there is a tiny bit of line variation there. This is the version that has the Parker converter which I always think is a minor work of art itself.
I don’t know how it was that I missed these pens for so long but having examined this one I will be buying more of them. Unlike my customer I like the flighters too and I hope that they will make an appearance in my blog before too long. This period, I think, was the last time that Parkers were producing truly excellent pens. After this the decline set in. I’ve been looking at some of the more modern Parker pens (more of this anon) and I can’t say that I’m impressed. I’m afraid that for good Parkers I must continue to dwell in the 50s and 60s and earlier.