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Pen's in WWII

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17 replies to this topic

#1 Junior


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 01:15


My name is Bryan, i just had one question for you guys. I have a clerk impression in my WWII reenacment group, do you know of the popular pens durring the time period? Where i could find either an original or a reproduction? I did a search on your forum and didnt come up with what i was looking for. Anything you can do to help would be much appreciated.


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#2 southpaw


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 02:13

IIRC, Esterbrooks were used by many soldier in WWII. I'm sure others who are much more qualified will chime in shortly.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#3 JeffTL



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Posted 01 November 2005 - 02:37

An original Esterbrook (a J, SJ, or LJ) would be a good bet when it comes to a cheap, but nice, pen that was popular in the WWII era.

The Parker 51 was also big at the time. I believe Eisenhower signed the European armistice with a 51 Vacumatic, but both then and now, more common is the good ol' Estie.

Pendemonium (http://www.pendemonium.com, no connection, just a happy customer) is a good specialist dealer selling pre-restored pens; they have some Parker Vacumatics right now -- expensive, but the right time. They also have Parker 51 Aerometrics, which are later than the WWII-era 51s with Vacumatic fillers, but the same feel and almost the same look.

Esterbrooks (and Parkers, as well as various other WWII-era pens) can be found in lots of places -- be sure to check antique store, and also dealer websites like Pendemonium.

#4 antoniosz



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Posted 01 November 2005 - 03:50

Not all estebrooks qualify for WWII. In fact it appears that the common double jewel ones are from after 1948. See www.esterbrook.net for chonology.

For parker models see http://www.parker51.com/gpage8.html although I very much doubt that a clerk would have a 51.

For appropriate sheaffers see http://www.penlovers...ions&s=sheaffer
or http://www.penlovers...m?t=collections for other pens images with a date "attached".

My guess is that many clerks would use dip pens or inexpensive 4 tier pens.

Of course my parents were not even teenagers at that time - so what do I know :)

#5 randyholhut



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Posted 01 November 2005 - 16:49

My two cents on the matter...

One of the most popular pens of the era was the Eversharp Skyline. Eversharp was also a major supplier of pens to the miltary.

As for cheaper pens, the Esterbrook Dollar Pen (pre-J, since the earliest version of the J pen came out later in the war) would be a good choice. They were the Bic stic of the 1930s and 1940s.

Sheaffer Balances -- particularly the ones with the military clip, the folded-over-the-cap clip that allowed the pen to ride lower in a shirt pocket -- would be another good choice.

The average footsoldier would not have had a Parker 51, considering how expensive and scarce they were at the time. They might have used Parker Vacumatics, though.

And don't forget, Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the peace treaty with Japan with a Parker Duofold Big Red.

#6 Kaweco



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Posted 01 November 2005 - 18:36


Edited by Kaweco, 06 April 2007 - 12:48.

#7 JeffTL



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Posted 01 November 2005 - 20:04

The reason I suggested the 51 is their ready availability today and, if it's a desired quality, their high degree of usability. It's not impossible that a clerk would have one, though of course less likely than an Estie dollar pen. A J, particularly a single-jewel, is a lot like a Visumaster and would be more accurate than a modern pen, but the dollar pen is probably the better Esterbrook choice.

Really, any pen of a type made before or during the war would be acceptable. MacArthur's Duofold has been mentioned; anything prewar would be great.

#8 tntaylor


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 21:16

This isn't a recommendation, just an FYI:

There's an auction for four Estie dollar pens (dubonnet red, fern green, dawn gray, and black) on ebay. They look to be in quite good condition. Item number: 6575188758.

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#9 Bill D

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 21:36

There's a thread going on over at Pentrace about the body of a WWII airman that was recovered recently. Among his personal effects was mentioned a Sheaffer pen. I don't believe the model was listed, though.


#10 ScottsHighland


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Posted 11 November 2005 - 17:50

Sounds like a fun re-enactment group to be in.

I'm not sure how authentic you're group is trying to be, but I'd guess that pencils would be far more common for a clerk. My grandfather was a clerk in the US Army during the 1930's. He once noted that clerks only used pencils. Only the officers would have a pen - and then only the rich ones.

Good Luck!

Tom Scott

#11 Michael Wright

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 01:58

At another pen message board, a member gave the suggestion: Ban all German and Austrian pens at the age between 1933- 1945.


I am German and I was born after WW2 and the nazi- era. The thoughts made me a little bit sad, because I cannot believe , that the pen should be the guilty for the damn politics of the time.


I agree with you that it would be a bad idea to refuse to deal with pens made during that era. Apart from anything else, we don't know the politics of the pen makers, and anyway that's over now.

Different matter about NSDAP memorabilia, which could well be banned from trading for two reasons -- one is that that has a meaning now, and the other is that most of the stuff around, I hear, is fake.

Best wishes


#12 Chris



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Posted 18 November 2005 - 11:08

I make no comment on politics but simply say that by visiting some sites that offer old pens for sale you can quickly see which ones were around during the 30s and 40s as the sellers usually give the age of the pens.

Although they must be of reasonable quality to have survived so long, as anyone at the time would have been proud to own their own fountain pen and would have had to save quite a lot of money to buy one or wold have been given it as a very nice gift, I'm sure they would have taken good care of it.

I have a Waterman in black from the period - very plain but with a gold nib and it looks exactly like an everyday pen of the time (a bit boring to tell the truth). I suspect any pen in anything other than black might have been looked upon as a bit "flashy" and certainly "not the sort of thing someone in your position as a clerk should be seen using" I can almost hear the office manager saying it!

Good luck with the search. I know deatils are important if re-enactment is to be accurately portrayed.

#13 James Pickering

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:16

On the WW2 British Homefront .....

Handwriting and the associated materials & equipment played a big part in our everyday lives during WW2. In those days before computers, cell phones, hand held PDAs, copying machines, etc., all business notes, forms, documents, receipts, school work, personal correspondence -- and so on -- were rendered on paper using pencils or pen and ink. In school we used steel nibbed dip pens and black ink from inkwells in the desktops. Kids fortunate enough to own fountain pens (I owned a used Mabie Todd "Swan" given to me by an uncle in 1938) were allowed to use them. Ballpoint pens did not come into use until after the war.

In Lancashire housewives, shopkeepers, deliverymen, etc. mostly used indelible pencils which they wetted with their tongues (bitter taste) for important notes, receipts, ledger entries, etc. Teachers also used indelible pencils to grade schoolwork. Fountain pens were used by businessmen for formal correspondence and were used for private letter writing by numerous individuals.

Regular lead pencils, indelible pencils, dip pens, paper and ink were in short supply throughout the war and we saved every pencil stub and scrap of good writing paper we could -- we also drastically diluted the classroom ink. Letter writing to loved ones serving in the armed forces was very important during WW2. Fountain pens were treasured writing instruments, the most popular makes in Britain at that time being Mabie Todd (Swan & Blackbird), Waterman and Parker. It was almost impossible to buy new fountain pens in England during the war (the Mabie Todd manufacturing plant was totally destroyed in the London Blitz).

My WW2 British Homefront memoirs

Edited by James Pickering, 04 February 2006 - 00:12.

#14 marklavar


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Posted 22 November 2005 - 09:53

Hello Junior and other fellows
Maybe this story has nothing to do with your question but let me tell you:
At another pen message board, a member gave the suggestion: Ban all German and Austrian pens at the age between 1933- 1945. It can be, that robbed gold from killed Jews and other occupied folks, is a part of the nib. Also the writing equipment could be produced with slave working.
I am German and I was born after WW2 and the nazi- era. The thoughts made me a little bit sad, because I cannot believe , that the pen should be the guilty for the damn politics of the time.
I made some investigationes and I found some documents at the Hannah- Ahrend - Institute about the robbed nazi gold. Most of the gold was sold in Istanbul, which was the last free gate to the world market for the Germans. In Germany the production of gold nibs was forbidden, Pelikan produced Chrom- Nickel nibs (CN) and MB and Kaweco produced Palladium Silver alloy nibs (Palliag).
And yes, there was slave working during these times within the fountain pen production. I found a photo of three nice young Russian girls in an archive of Osmia. Very interesting and if I could get the pic, I will post it here.
Its 1st of November. Sometimes, and especially in the times, when the days become darker, I think, during I´m writing: It might be, that there is a little bit of robbed gold in the nib of my pen. With each word I write, the millions of killed people write with me. "Write for freedom- write for peace"

This is the most stupid load of (Potty Mouth) I have ever heard! :angry: Only a complete idiot could have said something like this. Mind you, there are no shortage of those in the US - and this worries me greatly.

I couldn't give a bloody damn about whether a pen was owned by a Jew who was sent to Auschwitz or Treblinka. This is irrelevant. Personally, I would delighted and even honoured to be able to own a pen that was used by Hitler, Himmler or Goering. Not because I am a pro-Nazi, but because of the historical value of such an object.

Let's leave the Holocaust out of pen collecting! :angry:

#15 marklavar


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Posted 22 November 2005 - 09:57

By the way, does anybody know what pens were used by WW2 leaders? I assume Roosevelt used a Parker, and I have information that Churchill used a Conway Stewart. No idea about Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Or even Tojo, for that matter.

#16 JeffTL



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Posted 22 November 2005 - 14:47

The only leaders I know about are military leaders -- MacArthur was using a Duofold by the end of the war, I think a Big Red, and Eisenhower was using a 51 Vac. At least that's what the used to sign the armistices.

#17 James Pickering

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 17:56

On the WW2 British Homefront -- at least in my "neck of the woods" -- most ordinary people used indelible pencils for everyday wrting: ink was hard to come by and new fountain pens were generally not available.

I believe indelible pencils were likewise used by most servicemen -- they were easy to carry and could be used in the most difficult circumstances -- also, no ink to worry about.

#18 Len Provisor

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 23:53

War-period fountain pens are part of my pen collecting focus, especilly in aviation. I've learned that pens were not carried to altitude for the simple reason they leaked with the pressure change, solved in 1949 with the introduction of the Parker Flighter with the "airplaneized" feature of pressure control.

During WWII most pen manufacturers were conscripted to produce essential war materials, such as Parker and Sheaffer both making rocket fuses, fasteners and other products. Production of pens was cut more than 50% with 80% of that production going to military and PX stores. I've heard from vets in U.S. and Europe, when a shipment of fountain pens arrived at the PX lines were literally formed in the hope of buying one. Mr. Pickering is correct, he was there, and military personnel used whatever they could get their hands on, I'd thinkless often fountain pens as ink was just as scarce overseas and the old ink tablet pellets were not used since WWI.

Visit my photo album showing some of my collection of WWII fountain pens from Sheaffer and what I find especially interesting a commemorative Morrison pen depicting the RAF rondel on top of cap, and the UK and U.S. flag emblem, perhaps created to depict our war effort unity.

Photo album site :

http://photobucket.c.....20of Britain/

rare photo signed by Jeffrey Quill, Chief Spitfire Test Pilot, don't have, would like, still searching.

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