For the last couple of years I’ve been writing with firm-nibbed pens and I have to say I’ve enjoyed them but I thought I would get back to my first love, the flexible nib. I didn’t have anything around that particularly appealed to me, so I went browsing on eBay and found this De La Rue pen. It’s not quite right. The cap and barrel are from different pens but they are roughly the same colour (though a different pattern) and they fit well enough. The mottled hard rubber section is correct – that’s how they were made and it’s part of their charm. Most importantly, the nib is flexible.
I got a good deal on this pen, partly because the parts didn’t quite match but also because De La Rue pens don’t reach the prices of Onotos, despite the fact that they were made by the same craftsmen, using, for the most part, exactly the same materials. It’s a good way to get an exceptionally high quality pen for a moderate price.
Restoring this pen was not quite as straightforward as it should have been. The last person to work on the pen shellacked the section in. The good thing about shellac is that you can easily loosen it but the downside is that it takes a lot of heat. Taking the section out of the barrel is one of the more dangerous manoeuvers in restoration, and anything that makes it unnecessarily more difficult is bad practice. When I put it back together the section fitted the barrel very tightly so there was absolutely no need for the shellac.
It writes beautifully with no pressure at all producing appreciable line variation. If I push it a little harder the tines separate widely giving a very broad line but there is a tendency to tram-track. That’s okay, I don’t go pressing my pens against the page. I’m more than happy with it. It’s a keeper – unless somebody is absolutely desperate to have it.
So there you are. I’m giving you the hint of how to get hold of some of the world’s best writers at a very decent price. I had considered keeping quiet about it and buying them all myself, but I couldn’t do that. What a fine human being I am!
My assistant says that she would be delighted to help me, but it’s mad to be indoors on sunny, warm days like this when they happen in November.