Esterbrook J Double Jewel – Restored – NPI Gregg 1555 Nib

31 05 2013
This page was brought to you in part by the never-drying liquid blood of leprechauns

This page was brought to you in part by the never-drying liquid blood of leprechauns

My first Esterbrook was an impulse purchase, a beat-up and well-loved blue number whose nib had, over time, been worn to its owner’s perfection. When I wrote with it, and the angle was right, it would be smooth as butter—but I wasn’t its original owner, and at times my writing would fall off that sweet spot. I needed to get an Esterbrook all my own, with a refubished body and a brand new nib.

Strap on your two-toned rental shoes, boys and girls

Strap on your two-toned rental shoes, boys and girls

I’m generally not a fan of pen bodies that put me in mind of bowling balls—and this pen is no exception. I have no doubt that this is the sort of design that tickles some people pink, but it’s making me feel toothpastey-green (that’s the scientific opposite color of pink, yeah?). It’s not my style. Nothing so bad that I wouldn’t use it; I’m just never going to take this pen with me and consider it a fashion accessory.

Does anybody name their pens? I'm thinking this one looks like an Ethel.

Does anybody name their pens? I’m thinking this one looks like an Ethel.

The pen I bought came nicely repaired, and with the allegedly easily broken plastic jewel on top replaced with a black metal button, the coating of which will rust off if left soaking in water. Oops.

Pretty sure I have no existing pictures of the nib pre-grind

Pretty sure I have no existing pictures of the nib pre-grind. It’s as though it were meant to be like this all along

I was advised, possibly by wizards, probably more likely by the man who sold it to me—who, if my notes are to be believed, would possibly be one Frank Tedesco— to get a 1555 Gregg nib, and recommended to draw figure 8s on a pane of glass. I didn’t have any spare glass available to draw on that wouldn’t get me in trouble, so I put off the task of personalizing the nib, which was a shame because it was a little scratchy and unsatisfying out of the box. Then one day, feeling inspired with a touch of insomnia, I decided to pull out my little Richard Binder nib smoothing kit to see what I could do.

Decidedly more stabbity than before

Decidedly more stabbity than before

Turns out what I could do was accidentally remove the very tip of the nib, you know, all that tipping material. And it turns out I could still salvage the nib from this disaster. I carefully consulted my Pilot italic nib, and after several tries I’ve ended up with a nice, velvety, fine sort of almost italic nib, perfectly suited to my angle of writing. The ink flow is just right, and the overall experience is one of writing to be savored. I can write fast if needed, but this pen is not intended to be a note-jotter; it shines best at a smooth, contemplative pace.

Everything will be ok. Do not panic. Please remain seated.

Everything will be ok. Do not panic. Please remain seated.

In the end, I’m glad for the mistake, because the pen writes better for me now than it did before, but I’m still a long way off from being paid money and entrusted with other people’s nibs. One day!

Preview: Esterbrook What Have I Done

18 02 2013

I couldn’t sleep, so I made myself a sandwich. I still couldn’t sleep, so I decided to try to do something about an Esterbrook nib that was not satisfyingly smooth enough. Armed with a Richard Binder nib smoothing kit and just enough knowledge to be dangerous, I started out with a Gregg 1555 nib and ended up losing all the tipping material (I went to clean off some debris around the tip; suddenly, no tip). The pen is now nearly italic, but at least it writes smoothly!

Ink Drop Soup: Raleigh Pen Show

7 06 2012

BABY’S FIRST PEN SHOW! (Beautiful pens from the Anderson Pens booth)

My very first pen show, and I made it all three days, even though I worked Saturday and Sunday nights (and was asleep most of the daytime, thank you night shift life), I still brewed up extra coffee, woke up early (for me), and made my way over. The only other kind of major convention I’ve been to before is an anime convention. The main difference is that no one here was dressed up as a pen.

Spoils of war!

It was great meeting other pen enthusiasts in person—usually I am otherwise skeptical when someone in person shows interest in the office supply world. I make a very good attempt at raising one eyebrow, and ask in my most dubious voice, “Are you sure you really want me to go on about this? Don’t lie, because I will go on at great length. The full wrath of my pen-ADD will be unleashed upon you.” But here was a whole room full of nice people who also like to talk about pens! It was like living inside the internet.

The majority of the goods

The pen holder/binder/whatever this is called, along with a pack of purple Sheaffer cartridges (not pictured, except for the one inside the wee Sheaffer pen) I picked up from the booth of  Bertram’s Inkwell. The Lamy Pur EF nib fountain pen to the far left (and the Clairefontaine notebook in the previous picture) both came from the booth of my local pen store, Office Supplies and More (I’m still trying to convince him to have an online presence, still to no avail). The two tiny coral-pink items are a lead pencil and fountain pen set by Arnold’s of Petersburg, VA. They are alleged to be from 1825…which I’m going to have to call horsefeathers on, as I’m pretty sure either the plastics or whatever material these two are made of weren’t available in 1825, OR (/and) lever-fill fountain pens didn’t even EXIST in 1825. It’s very clearly written on the price tag, but maybe whoever did this meant to write 1925 and had a moment. Alas, I forget the name of the booth where I got the Arnold’s mini set, but it was only $25 for the both of them (and I don’t know a blasted thing about antique pens, so that sounded good enough to me, especially considering they are both in working order).

Beautifully overwhelming quantities of pens everywhere. I wonder if my pens would look this awesome with dramatic lighting and majestic-colored resting spots in wooden trays.

The little iridescent-purplish Sheaffer pen and the blue Esterbrook (and the Sheaffer converter, which I apparently decided was worth including in the picture) all came from the above collection of one Arthur D. (Dan) Reppert. I’m thrilled with both of those pens, and I’m especially happy with my very first Esterbrook. Clearly I will have to look into Esterbrook more.

Me: “Oh, you need paper? I have some—“
Martin (rummaging for Rhodia notebook): “But this is good paper—“
Me (waving a spiralbound Clairefontaine): “Yeah, so is this!”

I finally got to see some Snorkel pens in person! And even though I didn’t buy one (it’s going on the long-term want list), I did pick up a Hero 616 from Martin‘s booth. He’s a cool guy who understands the importance of good paper and the dangers of Private Reserve fountain pen ink. Like talking to a brain mirror.

So many tempting colors….

Being still almost completely clueless about how things work in the vintage fountain pen market, I tried to keep myself from getting sucked in too deep (read: buying too many / too expensive pens), so I was thrilled to see TWSBI pens and accessories. My TWSBI up there is still the same ole Diamond 530, but thanks to Anderson Pens it now has a brand-new fine nib, and an ink buddy.

The silver will match any ink color I decide to put in there. Pen accessory and ink coordination is a fine art.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a terribly big ink presence, so someone like me looking for the rarer/stranger/more out there colors of bottled ink was a little boxed in. Aside from the Sheaffer cartridges, I didn’t buy any ink (not that I really REALLY need more ink…)

Pen wizardry

You may recall my early vexation with my otherwise lovely Pilot Vanishing Point—so it was no contest as to which pen I’d pick for my very first customization of a nib. What was once finicky now freely flows, and it’s incredible! Richard Binder is truly a god among pens.

Pens yet to come…

And finally, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Alan Shaw, and explain to him the as-yet-fruitless grail quest I’m on for the perfect, dark-purple-bodied fountain pen. Since he is a maker of custom pens, and I am in search of a custom color, well….let’s just say…there’s a good chance I might be getting into my first custom fountain pen here in the future! He’s got a lot of custom pens with really creative materials. If I made business money, there was a pen of his there with huge bird feathers in clear resin that I would’ve snatched right up. Why I didn’t take a picture of it, I don’t know. To instill regret in myself, I suppose.

All in all, a very fun and exciting first pen show! Now I need to start plotting out when the other East Coast pen shows are, see if I’ll be off. I’m hooked now.