The pen seems very long, slender and amazingly light. It is a BHR pen, and the material feels like no other material I've come across. The feel is warm, silky and soft, despite the fact it's hard. It is quite gorgeous to touch. I have had this pen since Nov 2008, and get the same impression every time I pick it up.
This 90 year old pen (give or take a bit) is showing signs of wear. In bright sunlight it's possible to discern the remains of a chevron pattern on the barrel, but out of the sun it looks completely smooth. There is a barrel imprint visible in the sun of:-
Patent Self Filling Pen
De La Rue, London
When the pen warms up, you can smell the rubber.
It is important to remember the pen's age when writing with the pen. It comes from an era of flex nibs. Ball point pressure will destroy this nib. Parker 51 pressure will damage the nib too. This pen has a #3 nib, which is a little on the fine side for my taste, but I'm not complaining much as it's broader than the Hero 616 I use.
I mentioned that the pen is long and slender, so here are the dimensions:-
Length Capped = 160mm (6.3")
Length Uncapped = 145mm (5.71")
Length Posted = 197mm (7.75")
Barrel Diameter = 10.34mm (0.41")
Section Diameter = 9.20mm (0.362") max and 7.20mm (0.283") min.
Weight = 11.5g
Writing With The Pen
This is what it's all about. The pen is so slender that it's no trouble to hold at all. The weight is almost nothing too, so all day writing is not only possible, it's a joy. The nib writes with the pen resting on the paper. To avoid excessive flex I have not used much pressure at all, so I've not actually seen much line variation - this pen is history made solid, so I don't want to damage it. However, there is no effort whatsoever to writing with this pen.
The dangers of overloading the nib are evident in the nib, at some time in the past it has been bent and a blunt instrument (hammer?) has been used to get it roughly back to its proper shape - so it's a little scratchy in one direction, but not enough to be a pain - in fact it seems to make the pen more 'authentic' in some way.
When writing with the pen, it warms up slowly and the ink starts to flow more & more until the ink is about to blob. This is due to the lack of a collector or fins on the feed. It is a pen that pre-dates many of the technological improvements of the last 70 years. Anyway, after this stage is over, the pen will keep working without fuss until you have to stop.
This is the most unusual & interesting point of the pen. It's also the bit that I have had most trouble with to date. The pen is a plunger filler, with the fill stroke being on the down stroke - creating a vacuum that is filled when the plunger reaches the bottom of the stroke (invented by a transvestite, roller skating magician called George Sweetster in 1905). It didn't work at all when I got the pen, and after making a cutter etc I dismantled the pen and replaced the inner plunger seal - and renovated the outer seal with silicone grease. Anyway, the pen fills a bit (the upper seal needs total replacement - I'll get around to it eventually) and.. Oh dear. Let's just say I have managed to spray my face with ink having thought the pen was empty and then operating the plunger.
The filler is a little more complicated to operate than a squeeze filler, and shouldn't be operated until you are absolutely, totally & utterly 100% sure the pen is empty.
Live & learn.
Restored pens can be £60 upwards (say $90+). This one was £10 ($15), but most with ossified seals go for £20+.
If you need to do work on the pen, the restoration must be factored into the price you're willing to pay, so unless you do the work yourself, it's possibly worth getting a restored pen.
I like this pen. I like it a lot. I can see why my grandmother loved hers.
The feel of the pen is totally different from any modern pen I've tried. That is both a benefit and a drawback. It feels elegant and well thought out, but also fragile and vulnerable. It's been designed for a different era, and as a result it doesn't feel right for a modern knock-about pen. I'd recommend that every fp user tries a pen of this vintage, so that you can get an appreciation of the origin of fp's, as this comes from a time that was only very soon after fp's became practical. It's got a slightly 'raw' and 'rough edged' feel to it, it's obvious that this is a pen that's close to the start of everything FPN'ers enjoy, and this hasn't been overlaid with 100 years of technology and improvements. It's naive in a strange sort of way, but wonderful for all that.
I use this pen, but it's for special occasions, when I have time to consider what I'm writing and time to think about how I'm writing it.
I hope this review of such an elderly pen will be of interest to someone.
Ah. The picture.
The picture below is off my scanner - I've given up on cameras for taking pictures of pens.
When I made the scan, there was ink in the pen, so I couldn't extend the plunger - see, I do learn. Eventually.
Edited by MYU, 31 August 2009 - 13:31.