My Fountain Pen Collection
I didn’t plan on becoming a fountain pen collector. I really didn’t. I’ve always had at least one fountain pen since 1976, but I’ve never had more than four at once. Suddenly, in late 2010, I started to acquire more of them. Even though that was very recently, I don’t recall what triggered that sudden interest, but it was certainly helped along by The Fountain Pen Network, an on-line forum for fountain pen afficionados. In the space of two months, I went from four pens to fifteen, and I’ve acquired a few more since then.
This page shows each of the pens in (or formerly in) my collection, describes it in detail, and recounts how it became a part of my collection. The pens are shown in the order that I received them, and I’ll add new pens at the end of this page if my collection grows.
All of the pictures were taken from the same distance and with the same zoom settings, so the pens are shown with their correct relative sizes. Clicking on any of the pictures will display a larger, higher resolution version (generally 1400 pixels wide).
Geha 707 School Pen
1976: The first time I encountered a fountain pen was at the age of twelve during a trip to Germany, where I saw my cousin using one to do her homework. Until then, I had used only pencils and ballpoint pens, so I was fascinated by the fountain pen and how it worked. I just had to have one, and my parents bought me this green Geha 707 school pen.
Unlike here in Canada where ballpoints are the norm, German school children do most of their work with a fountain pen. The two main brands at the time I received this pen were Geha and Pelikan, and their school pens are very similar.
I used this pen in the 7th grade but eventually ran out of Geha ink cartridges, which were not available here in Canada. After that, I misplaced the pen, never to see it again until very recently, when my parents found it upon hearing of my new found interest.
The nib on this pen would be considered Fine by western standards. Like most school pens, it is also very stiff to reduce the likelihood of damage. This particular pen has a few blemishes, including teeth marks on the cap (I used to chew my pens and pencils, a habit I have long since broken), and some pitting of the nib (although the tip is still fine, and the pen writes well).
The biggest drawback to this pen is that it’s an orphan. The Geha company was purchased by Pelikan in the 1980s, and their pen division was shut down. Geha pens use Geha-specific cartridges, which are no longer available. Fortunately, I was able to modify a Cross piston converter to fit into the pen, so it can now be refilled from an ink bottle.
Sheaffer No Nonsense Medium
1984: During high school, I had three Sheaffer cartridge school pens. These were about the same size as the Geha above, but had a clear barrel. Sadly, I don’t know what became of these pens, so when I started university, I bought this bright yellow Sheaffer No Nonsense pen at the campus book store. I used this pen throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies.
This pen’s nib is marked Medium, and it makes a bolder line than the Geha. Ink is supplied by Sheaffer cartridges, although a Sheaffer squeeze converter can also be used (something I didn’t know existed until relatively recently).
1989: Long after I misplaced my orphaned Geha pen and had been using a Sheaffer for years, I discovered these two Pelikan Pelikano school pens in the campus stationery shop at ETH in Zürich. They looked so much like the Geha pen of thirteen years earlier, that I was convinced that my first pen had been a Pelikano. I bought these two pens and several packages of ink cartridges, and wrote with one of them for many years until I ran out of ink (not knowing that Pelikan uses standard international cartridges, readily available in Canada under the Waterman brand).
Both of these pens have identical fine nibs, but I was never happy with the blue one. It always felt somewhat scratchy, so it sat in a drawer until quite recently, when Sean of PenRx adjusted the nib for me while we chatted at a local coffee shop. It turned out that the tines were simply out of alignment. Until that time, I didn’t realize how simple it was to adjust them. I’ve now been using both pens at work for keeping notes, using a Waterman Florida Blue ink cartridge in the blue pen, and Waterman cartridge refilled with a mix of Sheaffer Red and Black in the red pen. I may eventually seek out converters for these pens.
Sheaffer Javelin Italic
June 2006: After 18 years of using ballpoint and rollerball pens at work, I decided I needed a fountain pen instead, so I purchased this Sheaffer Javelin in 2006. I used it at work, on and off, depending on the paper that I was using (some of the company-supplied notebooks are very fountain pen unfriendly). For a while, I used it with blue Sheaffer ink cartridges, but I found that the water in the ink would evaporate if I didn’t use the pen for a day or so, and that the concentrated ink remaining in the nib and feed would write well, but never dry. The problem disappeared when I switched to black ink.
My handwriting is very small, and this Medium nibbed pen wrote an even bolder line than my Sheaffer No Nonsense did. I eventually decided to order a Fine nibbed No Nonsense (see below), and to make the Javelin the subject of my first nib grinding attempt. Using 1000 and 4000 grit waterstones, some 2000 grit sandpaper, and a multi-grit fingernail buffing stick, I reshaped the nib into a fairly decent Italic.
Parker Striped Duofold Jr.
January 2011: Shortly after I ordered my first new-old-stock pens from Peyton Street Pens but before I received them, I found this Canadian-made 1942 Parker striped Duofold Jr. in a local antique store for $15. I didn’t really know what it was, so I took some pictures, and asked the folks on the FPN forums who suggested I snatch it up quickly!
This is a Vacumatic filling pen. To fill it, one unscrews a blind cap on the end of the barrel, exposing a plunger. The pen is then dipped into the ink up to the beginning of the section, and the plunger pushed and released a few times. Pushing the plunger forces air out of the pen, and releasing it lets ink be drawn in.
The plunger extends and retracts a diaphragm inside the pen, and like many such pens this old, the diaphragm had disintegrated. Fortunately, Sean at PenRx was able to open the pen, replace the diaphragm, and give the pen a good polishing to remove all the scratches.
Sheaffer No Nonsense Fine
January 2011: This was the pen that started my transition from fountain pen user to collector. Initially, I was just looking for a Fine nibbed replacement for my yellow Sheaffer No Nonsense, and this slightly up-scale marbled blue one came up during an ebaY search. In addition to the fancier marbled finish, this pen also features a gold plated nib and trim.
Like my other No Nonsense, this is a catridge filling pen that can be used with the optional converter to fill it from a bottle. The nib on this pen writes very smoothly, and gives me the line thickness that I’m looking for (a good line thickness for legibility is about one fifth the height of a lowercase “o” in one’s handwriting).
Sheaffer 330 Imperial
January 2011: After finding the Fine No Nonsense above, I noticed that the seller, Peyton Street Pens, had many other Sheaffer pens listed. When I saw this 330 Imperial with its inlaid nib, I had to have it, so I added it to my order.
The inlaid nib gives the pen a completely different look than the traditional nib that protrudes from the front of the pen. The precise fitting of the nib to the section is accomplished by placing the nib into the mold when the section is cast. The one drawback to an inlaid nib is that it’s not readily replaceable if it should get damaged.
Sheaffer made a number of pens in the Imperial line, and technically, this is not one of them (i.e. Sheaffer never called it an “Imperial”), but it similar to all the others, and is commonly referred to as such by collectors.
January 2011: This one was a freebie! When I received the two Sheaffers above, this pen was included as a “thank you” gift.
Some time in the mid 20th century, the Chinese government “nationalized” the manufacture of fountain pens and took over Parker’s pen factory in China. Ever since then, the Hero pen company has been making pens using Parker’s old molds. The Hero 616 is a copy of the Parker 21 (which itself is a low-cost look-alike of the famous Parker 51). These pens can be purchased very cheaply (about a dollar or two each), but they are suprisingly good. So good in fact that there are even cheaper counterfeit versions of it (which often don’t work well)!
To fill this pen, one unscrews the barrel, dips the tip in ink to about half way up the section, and squeezes the filler bar a few times. In practice, it works better to remove the ink sac cover (of which the filler bar is a part) and squeeze the sac directly. The pen writes very smoothly, but the one problem I have with it (and would presumably have with a Parker 21 or 51) is that the hooded nib makes it difficult to see if one is holding the pen correctly.
January 2011: This gold filled Cross Townsend was given to me by a colleague. Our employer had purchased a number of these as gifts back in 1995 or so, and there were several left over. They were rediscovered in about 2005, and one was given to my colleague. He considered it a rather cheap feeling pen, so he never used it much. Despite the fact that it’s a very heavy pen, the rather loose fit of the cap, both when capped and posted, makes it feel somewhat wobbly.
Being almost all metal, the Townsend is a substantial pen, weighing in at 41g (1.45oz). It is 150mm (5 29/32″) long capped, 132mm (5 3/16″) long uncapped, and 160mm (6 5/16″) long posted. It’s about the length of a Pelikan M800 when posted, and about the diameter of an M400.
This is a cartridge filled pen, but Cross also makes a converter which I’ve installed in the pen, allowing it to be filled from an ink bottle.
I found this pen to be a very wet writer, its Medium nib putting far more ink on the paper than my Medium-nibbed Sheaffer No-Nonsense. I disassembled the nib and feed and adjusted the tine spacing to reduce the flow a bit, but it’s still a bit too bold for my liking. When I find the time, I will adjust it further, and possibly grind the nib down to a Fine size.
February 2011: The Pelikan M200 was on my must-have list. In addition to their school pens, Pelikan makes a series of pens ranging from the M150 to the M1000, available in a variety of finishes and nib materials. Once past the M400, the pens start to become larger as well. The M200 is probably the most common pen in the series, and features a gold-plated stainless-steel nib, and gold-plated trim.
I found this one in the local on-line classified ads for $50. It was in reasonably good condition, except that about half the gold-plating on the Medium nib had been worn off and the gold colouring within the Pelikan logo engraved on the cap was mostly gone. To give the pen a less worn appearance, I polished the remaining plating off the nib, and refilled the cap engraving with gold paint.
Pelikan M-series nibs are easily replaceable by just unscrewing the existing nib and feed from the section, and screwing in a new one. During a business trip to Berlin, I purchased a new nib for only 16€ (about $21) from Zeichen-Center Ebeling, where I was able to try the nib before buying it. The photo shows the pen with the new nib installed.
This is one of my favourite pens. The nib is on the wide side of Fine, and the size of the pen is just right for my hand (with the cap posted). The design is simple yet elegant, in both function and appearance.
Chrome Targa by Sheaffer
February 2011: After mentioning to my parents that I had started collecting fountain pens, they dug up all the pens in their posession. One was my long-lost Geha school pen described at the top of this page and another was this Targa by Sheaffer, which my father purchased some time between 1981 and 1984. The cap, barrel, and clip are chrome plated, and the Medium nib is stainless steel.
Although not as substantial as the Cross Townsend, this is a hefty pen, weighing 26g (0.9oz). It measures 135mm (5 5/16″) capped, 121mm (4 3/4″) uncapped, and 155mm (6 3/32″) posted. It is a constant 11mm (7/16″) in diameter.
Targa is actually a whole series of pens, named after the Targa Florio car race held in Italy from 1906 to 1977. The pens were made in a wide variety of finishes, ranging from chrome to 18K solid gold. All share the same nearly-cylindrical shape with flat ends, and are fitted with an inlaid nib. Both a regular (like this pen) and slim version were available, although the latter was not made in all the finishes. Sheaffer referred to this pen as “Targa by Sheaffer” in all of its marketing material.
Grey Marbled Lacquer Targa by Sheaffer
February 2011: This Targa, with a hand lacquered and polished marbled grey finish, was another pen belonging to my father, which my parents generously contributed to my collection. The trim and clip on this pen are 23K gold plated, and the Medium nib is 14K solid gold. Capped, this pen and the chrome version above are the same size. When posted, the lacquer version’s cap does not slide as far onto the barrel, resulting in a slightly longer pen.
The Targa series was well made and feels solid in the hand. The cap snaps securely onto the section with a reassuring click, and the joint between the cap and barrel is perfectly smooth. When posted, the inner lining of the cap ensures that its bottom edge does not scratch the barrel.
This lacquered Targa is lighter than its chrome counterpart above, weighing only 22g (0.8oz). Capped and uncapped, it’s dimensions are the same, at 135mm (5 5/16″) and 121mm (4 3/4″) respectively. Posted however, it is 165mm (6 1/2″) long.
More information about the entire Targa series can be found at Gary Ellison’s comprehensive SheafferTarga.com site.
Parker 75 Ciselé
February 2011: The last of the four pens my parents found around the house was this silver Parker 75 Ciselé. I’m not sure exactly when my father purchased this pen, but I do remember seeing it on his desk back in the 1970s, and I may even have used it from time to time.
The cap and barrel of this pen are made of sterling silver, in the form of a fine grid of squares, purportedly based on a similar pattern on silver cigarette case owned by Mr. Parker. The nib is 14K gold, and a gold plated cap top and clip complement it nicely. The black plastic section has molded-in finger rests, and to accomodate different users’ pen angles, the nib assembly can be rotated.
The Ciselé is only one of many fountain pens in the Parker 75 series. Information about the entire series can be found at Lih-Tah Wong’s Parker75.com site.
Parker 50 Falcon
February 2011: This was another pen on my must-have list. It’s a Parker 50 Falcon, and furthermore, it is the all-stainless-steel Flighter model. I purchased this pen from a seller on ebaY, who inherited it from his grandfather and then stored it for almost 30 years.
What makes the Parker 50 unique is the integrated nib. Unlike every other pen you see on this page, where the nib is a separate part, the nib and section on the Falcon are made from a single piece of stainless steel. To give the pen a more futuristic look, the nib area is polished while the rest of the section is frosted. The cap and barrel have a brushed finish. The band at the base of the section, and the clip, are gold plated.
One drawback to an integrated nib is that it cannot be replaced if it is damaged, and of course, mine was damaged when I received it. The last few millimetres of the tines were drooped slightly downward, which brought them too close together and too close to the feed. This made for poor ink flow and a very dry writing pen. Fortunately, I was able to straighten the nib, and the pen now looks good and writes well.
Divine Turnings Amboyna Burl El Grande
March 2011: I won this pen. Divine Turnings, a small on-line business specializing in hand made turned pens and wooden bowls, holds a monthly draw. On a whim, I entered the draw, and a few weeks later, was informed that I had won.
This pen is based on one of the many pen hardware kits available to pen turners, in this case the El Grande design. The kits consist of a metal inner barrel and cap, the plastic end cap and section, the nib, the clip, and all the trim rings. The pen maker drills lengthwise holes through two blocks of wood (known as blanks), mounts them on a shaft (the mandrel), and chucks the assembly in a lathe. This is where the pen maker’s skill comes in, as he or she turns it to shape and polishes it to a glossy sheen. The rest is a matter of assembly.
Like most all of these kits, the gold-plated nib on this pen is a marked “Iridium Point Germany”. It is actually made in China, although many of the kit distributors, and thus the kit buyers, mistakenly believe that it is made in Germany. Unlike some IPG nibs though, this one seems to have a fair amount of tipping (not iridium, but the term is commonly used to refer to the tipping material). As received, the nib is very dry, and I will adjust it when I get a chance.
Divine Turnings did a nice job on this pen. The amboyna wood burl has a lot of natural detail, making this a one-of-a-kind. This particular style is not really intended to be posted (as it is in the picture), as the cap doesn’t really stay put. I find that posting also makes the pen top heavy. Fortunately, this pen is the perfect size for me unposted.
The filling mechanism on this pen is interesting. The pen is designed to accept a standard international cartridge, but it is supplied with a piston converter. What is unusual is that the pen has a blind cap, and unscrewing it reveals the converter’s knob. This means the pen can be filled without unscrewing the whole barrel from the pen (which would leave little to hold onto while dipping the pen in the bottle).
Pelikan Souverän M605
March 2011: I never thought I’d buy a pen from Pelikan’s Souverän series. Although Pelikans are less costly than other high end pens, the idea of spending $200 to $800 on a pen didn’t appeal to me. Once you get into the over $200 territory, the pens don’t actually get any better, they just get fancier.
Pelikan’s Souverän (Sovereign) series are of the same structural design as the Pelikan M200, but they are equipped with gold nibs, and come in a variety of styles and sizes. The Souverän M400 is the same size as the M200, while the M600, M800, and M1000 are progressively larger. The most common Souveräns have a barrel made of alternating coloured and transparent lengthwise bands of resin. There are also special- and limited-edition versions, such as the Polar Lights and Indian Summer models.
The M605 is an unusual pen. It does not appear in Pelikan’s catalogs, and was produced only for export. However, the German department store chain, Galeria-Kaufhof carries this pen as a store-exclusive product in Germany. In the last few years, they’ve had this 245€ pen on sale for 99€.
During a recent business trip, I visited the Galeria-Kaufhof in Berlin. Unfortunately, they did not have the pen in stock. After leaving G-K, I headed over to Zeichen-Center Ebeling, an independent store specializing in writing, drawing, and drafting supplies. My goal was to purchase a new gold-plated Fine nib for my M200. Much to my pleasant surprise when I arrived, they had set aside a nib for me based solely on my e-mail that I’d be visiting that day, looking for a nib. To my even greater surprise, they had an M605, and for only 97€ (about $130 on that day)! To top it all off, they were willing to exchange the Medium nib in the pen for a Fine one at no extra charge.
This pen is the same size and shape as other pens in the M600 series. Capped, it is about half a centimetre longer than my M200, and posted it’s about 1cm longer. It is also very slightly larger in diameter. All the resin parts of the pen, including the section, are a rich medium blue. There’s a tinted transparent ink window at the base of the barrel, which shows about half of the ink reservoir. The trim and clip on this pen are palladium plated, whereas the nib is 14K gold, with partial rhodium plating. There’s a black jewel with the Pelikan logo on the top of the cap.
The pen writes beautifully, both with the original Medium nib (which I tried in the store), and the Fine nib (which I also tested in the store). I currently have the pen inked with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue, which in addition to matching the colour of the barrel very well, is completely eraseable using a Pelikan Super-Pirat ink eradicator (of which I bought two).
Sheaffer Cartridge Pens
April 2011: The colleague who gave me the Cross Townsend shown earlier gave me a few more pens this month, after helping his in-laws clean out their attic. Two of them were these Sheaffer cartridge pens, which don’t seem to be known by any other name. These were introduced in the early 1950s, and were produced well into the 1990s, with various minor design changes over the years. According to what I’ve been able to find out, these two pens were from the 1954-1963 period. The cap of the black pen is about 3mm longer than that of the clear pen, which makes me think the two pens were produced a few years apart.
These are very simple but well made pens, much like Sheaffer’s No Nonsense series, but thinner. Like all Sheaffer pens, they use standard Sheaffer catridges, still readily available today. A Sheaffer squeeze converter will also fit. Both pens have a #304 Fine stainless steel nib, which writes much finer than any more modern Fine nibs that I’ve used. The black pen had an empty cartridge in it, there was some ink residue in the nib and feed, and the barrel was mildly scratched. However, the clear pen appeared to have never been inked (a situation which I soon remedied).
Both pens were a little bit scratchy when I first tried them. Inspection with a loupe indicated that the tines were slightly misaligned. After correcting this, they were still a bit scratchy, so I polished them smooth using a 2µm Micro Mesh pad, followed by 0.5µm mylar lapping film. I also spread the tines a bit to about 0.03mm, as the pens initially wrote quite dryly. Now they write very smoothly, putting down a 0.3mm stroke (which is a western XXF by today’s standards, and approximately equivalent to the line width a 0.5mm gel pen will produce). I also buffed and polished the barrel of the black pen to restore it to its original gloss.
April 2011: This was another pen given to me by the same colleague who gave me the two Sheaffers above. I have more questions than answers about this pen. The clip is stamped “USA” and “Bankers Pen”, but I have found no information about any pen company with that name. The pen was originally a promotional item, since there was a company name silkscreened on the side (“Canadian S+S Enterprises”). It was very cheaply made and had molding flash and defects in the plastic.
This pen is also the first I’ve seen with a rolled-under nib. Instead of the typical steel nib, which has a small ball of iridium or other hard material welded to the tip, this nib simply has the steel tines folded under and then ground into a spherical shape. After aligning and polishing the nib, it writes just as smoothly as any iridium-tipped nib, but it will not be as durable.
The filling mechanism on this pen is a squeeze filler, which is accessed by unscrewing the barrel. There is a rubber sac (still intact) about 5.5cm long. The half closest to the section is enclosed in a metal tube, but the second half is exposed. A flexible metal bar goes up and over the sac, with the word “PRESS” embossed in it. The mechanism is basically that of a lever filler, but without the external lever.
Because of the farily low quality of this pen, I decided that it wasn’t particularly valuable, and set about improving it. I cleaned off the molding flash, and then sanded the entire pen (starting with 4000 grit Micro Mesh) to remove scratches. This also removed the silkscreened text. I worked my way up to 12000 grit Micro Mesh, then switched to 0.5µm lapping film, and finally Silvo silver polish. It now actually looks like a fairly nice pen.
Nibmeister Richard Binder was intrigued when I posted a picture of this pen on the The Fountain Pen Network, and asked to borrow it (and the Eversharp below) to examine and photograph it. While he had it, he also tuned up the nib a bit. Upon returning it, he wrote,
… an example of several companies’ third-tier stuff that played on the “Banker” name. The “real” Bankers Pen Company was located in New York during the early 20th century, probably defunct before 1920.
Eversharp ??? Pen
April 2011: Another pen from my colleague, this lever-filling Eversharp pen is also a bit of a mystery. I have been unable to find any matching model despite extensive on-line searching. While Richard Binder had the pen for photographing, he also put in a new ink sac (the old one was crumbling), tuned up the nib, and repaired the section threads so that the cap would stay on. Richard wrote,
… clearly one of the company’s last-gasp pens before Parker bought the company. It’s cheaply made, with a nondescript steel nib (which is at least tipped). But it writes decently, and that’s what a pen is for …
Capped, this pen is about 13mm longer than the Pelikan M205 below, although uncapped or posted, they are almost exactly the same length. But that is where the similarity ends. The nib on this pen is very short, and half of the engraving on the nib is hidden within the section, making me think that this is perhaps not the original nib (the cap could accomodate a much longer nib). The grip part of the section is so close to the tip of the nib that one needs very tiny hands to use this pen comfortably. Despite these drawbacks and flaws, the pen actually fills and writes quite well.
Pelikan M205 Demonstrator
April 2011: When I first started collecting fountain pens, I knew I wanted either a clear blue TWSBI Diamond 530, or Pelikan M205 demonstrator. When I found out how huge the TWSBI is, I set my sights on the Pelikan, only to find out it had been discontinued. I had the opportunity to buy one for 76€ (about $102 at the time) when I recently visited Zeichen-Center Ebeling in Berlin, but I bought a Pelikan M605 instead, along with a new gold-plated nib to replace the one in my M200 whose plating had worn off.
When I returned home, I was browsing Richard Binder’s site and noticed that he still had these in stock, and was selling the body-only for $58 at that time. Since I had a spare gold-less nib, I decided to order the M205 body. When I installed the nib, I used a very small amount of pure silicone grease on the threads so that no ink would seep into the threads and spoil the pen’s apperance (a problem with transparent pens), or make it difficult to unscrew later due to dried ink.
The M205 series is a small step up from the M200. The design is identical, but instead of a gold-plated nib and trim, the M205 has a polished stainless steel nib and rhodium plated trim. It is available in black, white, red, transparent yellow (with a broad nib and a bottle of highlighter ink), and transparent blue. The inner workings of the pen are easy to see under good light, and the entire ink supply is always visible, although the blue tint obscures the ink’s colour.
Needless to say, this pen writes every bit as well as my M200 did when I first got it, since it’s using that pen’s original nib. I first inked this pen with a 6:1 mixture of Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue and Sheaffer black, a combination that gives a dark-yet-still-blue line.
May 2011: My parents found this 1997 matte black Parker Sonnet at a flea market in Vienna during a recent trip to Austria and Germany. It’s in excellent cosmetic condition. At first I thought that the tipping on the gold plated steel nib seemed a bit worn, but found that it writes smoothly and make a nice medium line. Upon closer inspection, I think the tips of the tines are intentionally turned upward, giving a wider “sweet spot” for easier writing.
With a metal barrel, it has a bit more heft than the similar length Pelikan M605, but not so much as to feel heavy like my Cross Townsend. This Sonnet can be distinguished from a 1998 or later model by the cap band, which has become much wider on the newer models. Personally, I find the understated look of this older version more appealing.
May 2011: During the aforementioned trip to Germany, my parents visited some friends and happened to mention my interest in fountain pens. They immediately went looking for their old schools pens, and found this Lamy 25P and the ST below. They graciously gave them to my parents to pass on to me for my collection. Danke schön, Frau und Herr Stein!
I had never seen a 25P before, but a quick post to the The Fountain Pen Network resulted in a positive identification. The 25P was introduced in the 1970s as a school pen, and looks somewhat like what you’d get if you crossed a similar vintage Pelikano with a Lamy 2000. The pen body is brushed stainless steel, while the cap is “Makrolon”, the same black fibre-glass that the Lamy 2000 is made from.
The “P” in 25P stands for “patronen”, which is German for “cartridges”. For those only familiar with more recent Lamy pens, this one is unusual in that it accepts standard international cartridges, like those used by Pelikan and Waterman. Lamy’s proprietary cartridges do not fit. There were two short cartridges in the pen, one still sealed but only half full. I rinsed out the other one and filled it with a 1:1 mixture of Pelikan Royal Blue and Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue, and the pen still writes beautifully. Now I’m using this pen with Sheaffer Skrip Red for marking up drawings and schematics.
May 2011: This is the second of the two pens my parents’ friends contributed to my collection, a matte stainless steel Lamy ST, with a Fine (or maybe Extra Fine) nib. The stainless steel is only a shell over plastic however, so the pen is not as heavy as it might look. The section is made of plastic, with a ribbed texture for better grip.
In addition to being quite light, the ST is a very slim pen, ideal for small hands. Capped, it is almost a perfect cylinder, flat at both ends. The end of the barrel behind the black trim ring is slightly smaller in diameter than the rest of the pen, and is designed to accept the cap (which clicks in place on the ring). This makes the pen quite long when posted, and I suspect that those users with hands small enough to comfortably hold the pen wouldn’t use it that way.
The ST accepts Lamy cartridges or a Lamy Z26 converter (the Z24 converter will not fit). Like many of the Lamy pens, the nib is readily replaceable, and the ST uses the same nibs as the Safari and Studio.
This particular pen is in excellent cosmetic condition, although the original owner’s name is neatly and lightly engraved in the barrel. Under most lighting conditions, this is barely noticeable. I had a bit of trouble getting it to write without skipping, even after cleaning and adjusting the nib, so I ordered a new Extra Fine nib and a Z26 converter from Goulet Pens. The pen is now good as new.
Pelikan M640 Polar Lights Special Edition
July 2011: This is it. The end of the line. The last pen I’ll ever want (except maybe a nice Parker “51″). Not long after I started collecting fountain pens, I discovered Pelikan’s Polar Lights special edition, part of their Beauties of Nature series. When I first saw it on Pelikan’s web site, I knew it was my “grail” pen.
I also knew I’d probably never buy one, since the list price is well beyond what I would consider reasonable to spend on a pen. Then one day, a well known and respected on-line pen retailer began a clearance sale, and had listed, among many other great deals, a fine-nibbed Polar Lights for about one third of the list price. I pounced.
The entire Beauties of Nature special edition series is referred to by the model number M640. This is part of the same M600 series that includes the blue and silver M605 in my collection. As such, it is approximately the same length, and has the same sized nib and same diameter gripping section.
The visible differences are in the cap and barrel. The cap of the M640 is about 4mm shorter than an M600 cap, and about 1mm larger in diameter. The barrel starts to widen gradually right behind the section, reaching about 14mm diameter at its widest point. Surprisingly, this extra thickness is not noticeable when holding the pen because it is in an area that is not in contact with the writer’s hand. The M640 series sports a rather wide straight clip, instead of Pelikan’s traditional pelican beak clip.
The most noticeable difference when handling the Polar Lights is the weight, which is about twice that of my M605. This is due to the metal barrel and brass filling mechanism, as opposed to the plastic used for both in the M605.
Polar Lights’ barrel is lacquered, beginning in black (or perhaps a very dark green) at the section, transitioning to a luminous green, and fading gradually to white just before the filler knob. This smoothly shaded background is inlaid with platinum accents intended to evoke the shimmering curtain-like striations visible in the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. Having seen the northern lights myself several times now, I can say that Pelikan’s artist has done a great job at recreating them abstractly in a static object.
The nib on this pen (and many modern gold-nibbed pens) is made from 18K gold, instead of the more traditional 14K. This serves no useful purpose other than to satisfy the laws of countries where you can’t call something “gold” if it’s less than 18K (75% pure gold content). Structurally, 14K gold is a better nib material. The nib is completely rhodium plated so as to match the platinum inlays and silver-coloured trim of the rest of the pen.
Parker "51" Special
August 2011: Well, I couldn’t resist any longer and decided to find myself a Parker “51″, the pen originally advertised with the slogan, “Like a Pen from another Planet”. Parker produced the “51″ from 1948 until 1972, with several variations along the way. This example dates from about 1952, and is a “51″ Special, which I purchased through the The Fountain Pen Network classified ads.
The distinguishing feature of the entire “51″ series is of couse the hooded nib and feed. The intention of this design was to allow the use of a very fast-drying ink without having the ink dry out in the nib or feed. The result was a pen that looks really cool.
The Special was introduced as a lower cost alternative to the regular “51″. It is fitted with a stainless steel nib (of an alloy Parker called “Octanium”). The cap is frosted steel (“Lustraloy”) fitted with a shiny chrome plated clip, instead of the gold-plated or gold-filled versions of the regular “51″.
Early “51″s used the Vacumatic filling system just like that of my 1942 Parker Duofold. In 1950, Parker introduced the Aerometric filler, which is what my “51″ Special has. To fill the pen, one unscrews the barrel, dips the nib in ink, and squeezes the filler sac four times, counting to five between squeezes. Each squeeze expels the air at the top of the sac through a breather tube, and then slowly draws in ink.
Had I known how nice a writer this pen would be, I would have bought a “51″ much sooner. However, my experience with the Hero “616″ led me to believe that it would be difficult to determine if one is holding the pen correctly, since the nib is almost completely obscured by the hood. Much to my surprise, this seems to be less of an issue with the Parker than with the Hero, perhaps because of the Parker’s more accurate alignment of the nib with the point of the hood.
This “51″ has a fairly wet nib, an attribute that seems to be common to most pens in this series. I’ve found that I need to use a fairly dry ink, like Parker Quink or Pelikan Brilliant Black, to get the flow characteristics that I prefer. Having found the right ink, this pen has quickly become my favourite non-Pelikan fountain pen.
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