Dickinson Croxley Reprised

 

The best-known Dickinson Croxley is the gently tapering one with an angular clip screw. It’s the typical British pen, strongly reminiscent of the Summits to which it is related and like Mentmores too. It was made at a time – the late forties – when new designs were appearing but the company made the clear decision to stick with a traditional shape – a decision that was amply rewarded, so many Croxleys are there around seventy years later. The small breaks with tradition are in the clip and lever, a fine piece of late Art Deco.

Price may have contributed to the Croxley’s popularity, along with reliability and very good nibs, many with some degree of flexibility. Popular they certainly were, most in plain black, others in a particularly beautiful gold marble, yet others in bright blue marble. There were other Croxleys, the most common among them being one with a debt to the Sheaffer Balance, the Silvern Cap button filler and matching pencils for all these models.

In the midst of plenty, it seems, Dickinson closed down production. Were the sales beginning to fall away, or did Dickinson see the eclipse of the fountain pen by the ballpoint coming?The company continued to prosper as a producer of fine papers and other stationery products. Several take-overs later the Dickinson name continues, associated with a line of envelopes.

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Baoer 388

I buy cheap modern pens – European, Japanese and Chinese – out of curiosity. Most, I have to say, are good writers though not exceptional in any way. Having tried them and perhaps written about them I sell them on or give them away.

I was preparing to get rid of this Baoer 388 and write-tested it to remind myself how it wrote. I haven’t used it, beyond playing with it a little when it arrived. On re-testing it I realised that it wasn’t my usual fine point. It’s an oblique, and thereby hangs a tale.

I remembered that I bought this pen because the seller offered an oblique. Obliques, in the vintage pens I normally use, must have been differentiated from other points at a fairly early stage of manufacture, being a stub ground to either the left or right oblique. This pen is different and I can see how the seller could offer the oblique at the same price (or perhaps a very little more, I don’t remember) as the medium or fine. They have taken a medium point and ground one side down into a slope. This they call an oblique and I cannot argue; it’s an oblique. It’s not a good oblique though. Because of the way the grind is made, it’s hard to find how to hold the pen. It’s not like what I would call a proper oblique where the only way to hold the pen is exactly the way a user of an oblique would want. It also has rather more feedback than I would wish.

It’s quite unsatisfactory as it stands but I believe it has potential. I would like to explore this way of making an oblique to see if with a bit of work it could be brought to an acceptable condition.

The Baoer 388 is, I understand, a shameless copy of one of the modern Parkers. I’m not familiar enough with recent Parkers to say which one. To my mind it’s one of the more old-fashioned Chinese pens, being made of lacquered brass, a construction they seem to be moving away from. Other Chinese pens I have bought in the last year or two are either made from plastic or much lighter metal. This is not a huge pen but it’s heavier than I’m comfortable with and completely unmanageable posted.

The pen closes firmly but without an actual clutch. What I believe happens is that the expanded end of the section slides over the inner cap which then holds the cap in place. Initially the inner cap takes a fearsome hold of the section, requiring the application of much muscle power to remove the cap. This puts unbearable stress on the plastic inner cap which eventually cracks. It’s then much easier to cap and open the pen but eventually it will wear to the point where the cap falls off.

As it has been reshaped I can’t say much more about the nib. There’s no maker’s name on it. The pen came with a converter of the piston type. It works well but I’ve had these converters fall apart before. I will treat it with caution! The pen has a red and black stripe which I don’t find appealing. The furniture is gold-coloured and well finished. There are worse pens around, I have to say. I believe that Baoer pens are rebadged Wing Sungs. There must be a reason for doing that but it escapes me.

Modern Pens

I’m uploading some modern pens to the sales site.

These are pens I bought for testing and writing about and are in as new condition at bargain prices.  Grab ’em if you want ’em.

Ink Disaster!

I hate to get ink on my hands. It’s not ladylike and I sometimes pretend to be a lady rather than just a pen restorer! I wear gloves to repair pens and even to fill them because ink is a pernicious fluid and loves to get where it shouldn’t.

Yesterday I selected a German piston filler that I haven’t used for a while. It has a lovely Merz & Krell nib, fine and with a touch of flexibility and I was looking forward to using it. I filled it with Diamine Grape and wrote a few practice lines. It was every bit as pleasing as I remembered. I capped it and set it aside for a while. I came back later and opened it to take some notes. The nib was completely covered in ink. I wondered what was going on and wiped the ink off. The pen continued to write well. Again I set it aside until I needed to take notes again. The nib was covered in ink once more. I held the cap in my left hand while I examined the nib. I felt something wet! The cap was full of ink and it was escaping onto my hand. My palm and fingers were purple.

That Diamine Grape is pretty resistant to soap and water. Indeed they seem to make no difference to the purple staining my hand. I tried a nail brush. That didn’t help much either. Was I to have to go around with a purple hand forever? Would I have to wear one glove (like Michael Jackson) to conceal it, or keep my hand in my pocket?

Thankfully, between dishwashing and showering, the purple has paled somewhat. It might not be entirely permanent and perhaps I will be rid of it by July or August! By the way, the pen is not deficient. I had forgotten the most basic role of inking a piston filler. Fill it, then pour out a drop or two. That’s all I had needed to do to save myself from the shame of the ink-stained hand.

Another Upload

Loading a few more items to the pensales website today.

Uploads To Sales Site

I uploaded a few pens and odds and ends to the sales site.

Jinhao 992 (Reprise)

I think I mentioned the Jinhao 992 some time ago when I bought a packet of five of them.  They worked out about £1.50 each, perhaps the cheapest pens of all.  I decided to use them for the inks I didn’t want to put in a more expensive pen.  The first one was filled with red ink which famously stains pens.  I don’t use red ink a lot but I’ve used up that first fill.

Another one was filled with Baystate Blue.  It has been used a lot and has been refilled several times.  I think I still have a couple of these pens unused in my desk drawer.

I’ve always taken an interest in Chinese pens.  I think it’s fair to say that the interest was not well rewarded in the early days, ten to fifteen years ago.  The pens cost very little but were still a bad deal because most of them didn’t work well at all, or fell apart within a few weeks.  That began to change a few years ago and I have some good Chinese pens, though as long as they were made out of brass tubing they were a bit too heavy for me.

The 992, however, is the first Chinese pen I’ve had that can actually challenge much more expensive Japanese and European pens.  It wrote, and wrote beautifully from the first fill without any flushing.  It weighs nothing which suits me very well.  The nib is very good – perhaps a little on the bland side, like a Pelikan, if that’s a fair criticism.  I’ve never been especially fond of ‘demonstrator’ pens – they’re lacking in aesthetic quality and all look pretty much the same but I’m forced to admit it’s useful to see how much ink is left in the converter.

The shape is pretty much a small cigar, quite similar to various models made by Pilot, Platinum and Sailor.  The white metal clip is unremarkable and it seems likely that it would do its job perfectly well.  I don’t clip pens to my clothes so I can’t speak from experience.  The broad cap ring covering the lip of the cap is what you see on many pens at the moment.

Several reviewers have commented on the little blob at the end of the barrel.  To be sure, they could have made a smoother outline but it’s hardly a big deal!

The most serious criticism people have made is that cracks appear in the barrel end.  I haven’t seen this in either of the 992s I use.  I don’t know how serious this cracking is – whether it leads to the ultimate disintegration of the pen.  On the other hand I don’t know what other people are doing with those pens.  I’ve been carrying mine in my pen case several times a week but I haven’t dropped either of them.  They seem quite robust to me and the fit and finish is adequate.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and I have found these pens to be absolutely faultless, something I can’t always say about pens costing 100 times as much and more.  Neither pen has ever failed to start instantly and neither has ever skipped.  How many pens can you say that about?  In terms of durability, time will obviously tell but at the price they are currently offered, I wouldn’t mind having to replace one every few years!