Vintage Pens – Terrific or Terrible?03/21/2009
Years ago I moved into the modern pen camp for reliability and ease of care. Cartridge/converters and piston fillers have been my focus with few exceptions. But the lure of vintage nibs caught me, again, and so a couple of older beauties joined the crew here with the hope that the writing experience would make the imperfections insignificant.
The Eversharp broad nib described in this earlier post was quite simply a mess. Some dope had taken a tool to it and bent the tip upwards. There were gouges in the metal in several places which were not apparent in the seller’s photo and which he failed to mention in his description. He generously permitted me to return the pen to him in Canada at my expense of course.
The second pen, a 1930’s Red Ripple Waterman 52 sporting a very flexible pink nib, worked for less than a week. This morning when I lifted the lever to give it a new fill, the lever and the surrounding metal literally fell out of the pen. The sac isn’t visible and without the frame for the lever, the mechanism lacks sufficient leverage to fill or empty. So my 52 is now a very expensive dip pen, at least until it can be repaired. The Waterman was shaping up to be my top daily user not just for its lovely flex capabilities but it’s delightful performance at everyday writing as well. <insert string of expletives>
Lesson learned again. Vintage pens come with no warranty or guarantee. There can be repair costs as well as long queues for the repair person’s services. Some vintage pens may be very well priced and look like a real bargain. But that assessment might be wishful thinking rather than reality. All totaled I’ve had a 20% success rate with pens manufactured before 1970. Your experience might be significantly better…or not. Caveat emptor applies.