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Casein


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14 replies to this topic

#1 bbs

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 14:17

Sorry if this is too obvious for words - I have become smitten with vintage CS pens but haven't come across a casein one and am not sure how you tell if a pen is made of this material.

Were particular CS model numbers made of casein? And - I'm presuming there might be a cross-over with brand-owners here - does the same apply to Burnham pens?

Otherwise, what are the distinguishing features of a casein pen? And just how careful do you have to be in handling them?

Many thanks for your help!

Sue

#2 parilla

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 22:59

QUOTE (bbs @ Jan 31 2009, 02:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sorry if this is too obvious for words - I have become smitten with vintage CS pens but haven't come across a casein one and am not sure how you tell if a pen is made of this material.

Were particular CS model numbers made of casein? And - I'm presuming there might be a cross-over with brand-owners here - does the same apply to Burnham pens?

Otherwise, what are the distinguishing features of a casein pen? And just how careful do you have to be in handling them?

Many thanks for your help!

Sue

This is a wonderful question and I am disapointed none of the very knowledgeable vintage specialists who post here have so far commented. I have been collecting vintage Conways for years, but have no knowledge about exactly which models were made in casein. There is a lot of information on Google about how to treat casein pens. Come on Andy and the others, if there is a list of casein models, let us all find out where it is!

#3 bbs

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 23:18

Thanks, Parilla, wonder where all the experts are??!!

Anyhow, I did a bit of googling while waiting, and it seems casein pens are often warm to the touch, and made in bright, un-uniform colours. There are other tests, but they involve chemicals that I don't possess!

But it would be so much easier if there were a list of pens and the numbers that were made in this material ....! hmm1.gif

#4 bgray

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 04:23

Soak your pen in water. If dissolves, then it's casein.

Oh...wait...

smile.gif

#5 dreg

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:12

Hmm... So I apparently don't have a monster that steals everything but the nib & hardware for my pens living in my bathroom!! I knew it!

wink.gif

To answer the question though, there is a certain "warmth" you'll feel with casein that won't be felt with a plastic pen, and there are some colour hints that will help, but they're slipping my mind now... So here's to hoping that some else posts or I think about it tomorrow when I'm more awake! smile.gif

- andrew


QUOTE (bgray @ Feb 1 2009, 10:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Soak your pen in water. If dissolves, then it's casein.

Oh...wait...

smile.gif


-- dreg

#6 Leigh R

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 06:26

I'm sure Andy and the other experts will step in! I think casein has a warmer, less glossy look compared to plastic or celluloid.



(Definitely way larger than actual size, LOL)

#7 Maja

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 19:35

There are some expert answers (from David Nishimura and the late Jonathan Donahaye) in this old Pentrace article by noted Conway Stewart collector David Wells:
The History of Casein Use In Writing Equipment. Part 2 (<click on link to see article)

Check the section entitled "How do I know its casein?".
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#8 jhmclearly

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 12:49

I know Andy doesn't get on here very often nowadays but I'm sure he won't mind we reproducing part of an email he sent to me a couple of months ago regarding a query over a CS542

----------------------

One thing I've never liked about this particular material is the very obvious 'seam' that runs down the length of the cap and barrel which is shown well on your third picture. This seam is always present on the 30s casein pens to some degree but it is generally better hidden on the other materials. The earlier casein pens show no seam at all and so there must have been some change of manufacturing process around 1932 to cause this effect. However, it is a good way to tell if you are unsure of the difference between casein and celluloid CS pens from the 30s - the casein ones will exhibit the seam to a greater or lesser degree while the celluloid pens will instead show evidence of a spiral-wound pattern.

----------------------

I'll try and organise a photo to illustrate what he means.

Cheers

John


#9 bbs

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 19:02

Thanks, John, that's very useful! thumbup.gif

Sue

#10 QM2

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 19:47

It is very difficult to describe in words how to identify casein, and essentially you simply need to have seen lots of casein pens to recognise them. However, even experts can be unsure! What they do in these cases, is take a scraping of some part of the pen where this will be unnoticeable -- for example, the inside of the barrel -- and place the scrapings in a dish of water. Vintage casein should begin to noticeably soften in as little as several hours; within a day it may dissolve altogether. (However, modern casein is more durable and should last a great deal longer.)

Also, contrary to what some have said, casein is not necessarily matte and opaque. I have seen and owned high-gloss pearlescent and shimmery colours as well, like the CS "blue moire" and "peacock" materials. So don't assume that casein needs to have a dull, pasty surface.

Here are some photos of mine, glossy and matte:






Edited by QM2, 11 February 2009 - 19:49.


#11 parilla

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:39

It would be great to have a list of common CS vintage pens that could be/are made from casein and another list of those that definitely aren't. For example, I have a Conway 14 in green and black marbling that feels and smells a little different to my other vintage CS pens...but could it be casein? I dont have the gear to take a tiny sample from inside the cap for a soaking test. Only someone like Andy will know the answers and since this forum has become largely one for owners of the new "Conway Stewart" pens, he seems to have gone elsewhere...by the way, does anyone know where?

#12 QM2

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:48

QUOTE (parilla @ Feb 12 2009, 01:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It would be great to have a list of common CS vintage pens that could be/are made from casein and another list of those that definitely aren't. For example, I have a Conway 14 in green and black marbling that feels and smells a little different to my other vintage CS pens...but could it be casein? I dont have the gear to take a tiny sample from inside the cap for a soaking test. Only someone like Andy will know the answers and since this forum has become largely one for owners of the new "Conway Stewart" pens, he seems to have gone elsewhere...by the way, does anyone know where?



The late Jonathan Donahaye's Conway Stewart Book of Numbers is a near-complete reference of vintage CS pens. Simply look up your model by number and find the pattern.
http://www.ftic.info...sbook/page1.htm

Andy Russell is very active on the vintage CS scene; he just doesn't post on FPN. His account here is still active, so if you have any questions you can always PM him.

#13 Deirdre

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:53

I really like your blue toothpaste Dinkie! It's one of my favorite colors.
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#14 QM2

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:56

Re. my previous post: I could have sworn that Jonathan Donahaye's site stated the material of each pen. But I just went there to check on the No.14, and I see that this is not the case. He mentions when a pen is vulcanite, but not whether it is plastic or casein. That is a pretty crucial bit of missing information and it would be great to somehow add it.




Edited by QM2, 12 February 2009 - 00:04.


#15 QM2

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 00:03

QUOTE (Deirdre @ Feb 12 2009, 01:53 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really like your blue toothpaste Dinkie! It's one of my favorite colors.


Thanks Deirdre! The sad thing is that these striped pastel colours (there is also a nice pale pink version and some others) are the most prone to visible discolouration. There is a lot of white in them, and it becomes pretty noticeable when the white areas begins to yellow. My "toothpaste" blue shows off well in photos, but in real life it looks like the shabbiest of the bunch. So it's especially difficult to judge the quality of these "S" early colours via ebay photos, etc. Just FYI!