Waterman Emblem

In the nineteen twenties and thirties Waterman was a market leader with their wonderful ripple hard rubber pens and beautifully patterned celluloid pens. By the forties the company’s tide had begun to ebb and their pens were less attractive with unexciting design and poor gold plating. Their top of the range pens were still good, though. First was the Hundred Year Pen, followed by the Emblem.

This is a pen of an entirely different order from the 512s and the 513s of the same period. Most obviously, the gold plating is much thicker and despite this pen bearing the marks of having been much used there is no brassing. It’s heavier, too, probably partly from the greater amount of gold but also because the Lucite barrel is thick. At 13.7 cm, with a considerable girth, it’s a large pen for the time. When the clutch cap is removed the large Emblem nib is exposed. Though I believe some Emblem nibs are firm, this one is decidedly flexible. It’s a great pen by any standards.
The Emblem is not a common pen in the UK though I believe it sold better in the USA. Its successor, the Medalist, didn’t seem to catch on here at all. The result is that this is almost a forgotten pen here. They don’t run to the prices that they do in the USA, which gives the British collector the chance to obtain a very prestigious pen at a comparatively low cost.



Pen Reviews

There is an interesting debate going on in Fountain Pen Geeks about the comparative value of written and videoed reviews. Speaking for myself, I avoid videoed reviews because I tend to lose the will to live about halfway through. The very worst ones, I believe, are those where a big ego has a part to play (no names, no pack drill). These usually run to quarter of an hour or more. That’s madness – if you can’t describe a pen and its pros and cons in under five minutes there’s something sadly wrong! Others, perhaps, aren’t quite so bad but they often tend to ramble. It’s as if the discipline that one would apply to a written review disappears when the camera is switched on.

There are exceptions, of course.  SBRE Brown, for instance, has a pattern to his videoed reviews and appears to marshal his thoughts well in advance. So it can be done – though it rarely is. That’s not to say that all written reviews are good. Some of them are rambling nonsense as well but the ratio of signal-to-noise is rather better.

What do you think?

Sheaffer Triumph Lifetime Statesman


You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about a Sheaffer Triumph Sovereign that I really liked but was unsuitable for me as I prefer a fine and it was a medium. A very kind and generous correspondent made me a present of a very similar Sheaffer with a fine nib.
This, I believe, is a Sheaffer Triumph Lifetime Statesman. If you know better, please inform me. I’m no expert on Sheaffers and there are very many of them. Anyway, this one dates to about 1945, I understand, and it was made in Canada.
It’s very like the other one, being brown/gold striated with a Lifetime Triumph conical nib. What a splendid concept the Triumph nib is! Several other manufacturers have come up with conical nibs but none of them are a patch on the original.
This pen is a superb writer and it will always be on my desk. It’s one pen that won’t appear on the sales site. Ever.

A Curiosity!


At first glance it’s a Swan SF1 in unusually good condition. Picking it up, it seems a little too heavy – and that’s because it’s solid, machined to the appearance of an SF1 only externally.
This would have been a salesman’s example or, more likely, part of a shop display. I suppose it saved the labour of making an actual pen and, of course, the cost of the nib. It’s just a pity that the actual pens turn up in such good condition so very, very seldom!

These things appear from time to time but they’re by no means common. Most, I suppose, were thrown away long ago when the model ceased to be current.




Usually the company made a clear distinction between Mentmores and Platignums but this pen is the exception. Everything about it, the pattern and the feel of the material, the glittery chrome-plated trim and the tiny nib all say Platignum, but it’s a Mentmore. It has neither model name nor number.
It’s a button filler, 13 cm long. The nib is warranted and so may not be original though I suspect that it is because it fits so well. The nib has considerable flex.
This pattern and style among Platignums dates to the late thirties and doubtless it’s the same when it has a “Mentmore” stamp on the barrel. The material of barrel and cap is quite thick, making for a very robust pen.

Union No 68



The good news is that my assistant seems to be responding well to her insulin injections and change of diet. Here she is after being introduced to a catnip-laced toy. She’s saying, “Man, that’s good weed!” Anyway, to business:

I’m aware of three brands of fountain pen called “Union”. There is a British one made by Langs, an American pen that is a sub-brand of Morrisons and a Dutch company that made pens after World War II. This, I believe, is the latter, purely on the grounds that it is very European in appearance and I’m not aware of any American or British companies that used this “fixed converter” type of filler.
It appears to have been made out of a fairly soft kind of plastic because both barrel and cap have shallow scuffs and scratches. The viewing window is discoloured, probably from the use of red ink. All of this is redeemed by the nib which is quite splendid – a fine with a little line variation.
These pens are not very common – in Britain at least – but they would hardly qualify as rare. Much of their interest arises from the fact that they were one of the few pens that were made entirely in Holland rather than from imported parts. Just one of the many well-made European pens that are well worthy of note.

Pilot Custom Heritage 91



There was much talk in the boards some time back about this Pilot Custom Heritage 91 and I ordered one some weeks ago. I think I paid around £50 for it but I believe you can get it cheaper in eBay these days. Mine came direct from Japan, boxed in the usual way for pens nowadays and with one cartridge and no converter which I thought was a tad stingy of them. That’s really the only criticism of this pen that I will have. I’m really pleased with it. I hear tell that it’s not on sale in the USA – I don’t know why.

At 13.7 cm it’s a medium sized pen by today’s standards. Cap and barrel are made of black resin (what we used to call plastic in days gone by) which makes for quite a light pen at 17 g. The trim is nice, shiny rhodium. When you unscrew the cap, there is the nice, shiny rhodium plated nib. Why take a gold nib and plate it with something that looks quite like stainless steel? That doesn’t apply to this pen alone, of course. It’s the fashion of the day.  The clip is quite Pelikan-like.
Some reviewers have referred to this pen as semiflexible. It isn’t. It’s just a soft nib. With pressure one can wring some line variation out of it but I just enjoy the springiness which makes writing comfortable. I have seen the number five nib described as “small” but that’s just in comparison with today’s huge, spade-like nibs. It’s about the size of a Swan number three. It writes beautifully; adequately wet, no skipping or scratching, just some slight but positive feedback.
The pen is aesthetically understated and it’s hard to wax lyrical about such a subdued pen, yet it’s probably the best modern pen that I’ve tried. In fact, its only possible equal is the Capless by the same company. I’ll be keeping this one.