Are there pens around today that have real continuity with their predecessors of eighty or one hundred years ago? Though their ownership has changed, Pelikan, Montblanc and Kaweco might be said to have such a relationship with earlier models. Parker, perhaps, too. Cross certainly. Sheaffer was producing models that showed a line of descent from those of the thirties until a few years ago but not so much now. Waterman is still producing some decent pens but the present owners of the company seem to have lost touch with their heritage.
Obviously any company that ceased trading and was revived many years later does not have that continuity, though several have claimed it. Wahl Eversharp, Conway Stewart, Onoto and Conklin come to mind – there are several others.
Does it matter? I think it does. The fountain pen is a traditional writing instrument and many of us must be traditionalists to wish to continue using it rather than a more modern pen, several types of which are quite acceptable writers. It would be nice to feel that the pens we use bear some relationship to those we admire from earlier years. That doesn’t apply to all fountain pen users, of course. Many are content with modern pens and have no interest in the age of the company that made them. I think, however, that most people reading my blog will have an interest in fountain pen history and how we have arrived where we are today.
A couple of years ago I bought a modern Conklin Durograph. When unboxed it looked okay, though it was evident that it was made from very different materials from its namesake and bore little physical resemblance to it. Despite my initial disappointment I kept it for a while and wrote with it often. It was heavy and not well balanced. The gold plated medium oblique steel nib delivered ink adequately well but was slippery and had a tiny sweet spot. I concluded that this was just a characterless Chinese pen, the equivalent of others I have bought for a small fraction of the price. I have a vintage Endura, which is a splendid pen. I felt that the company producing these pens was insulting the name of Conklin.
It’s just an example of how a lack of continuity when the name of a highly regarded old company is used leads to disappointment. There are many ways to view this subject. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.