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Vintage Pen Review 3
Posted 29 November 2006 - 17:29
Burnham ‘The Burnham’
Source: ebay £20.53
Description: Green/black pearly marble, peaked, BHR top, typical styling of the 30s-40s, about 10mm longer than a CS 55, very slightly slimmer in girth. The nib is a ‘Burnham’ 14ct gold with a plain, smooth feed. The body and cap are in excellent condition with no visible damage nor wear apart from a little flaking of the gold plating on the edge of the clip – age rather than wear. The BHR peaked cap top is slightly browning on close inspection. The cap has three gold plated bands, the central being wider. ‘The Burnham’ is clearly imprinted into the barrel in a script style lettering and ‘BRITISH MADE’ imprinted beneath. The pen is filled is by pressing a button which is revealed by unscrewing a black, blind cap on the end. There appears to be a tiny blob of what may be glue on the cap underneath the clip ring which I cannot remove.
There are many aspects of the pen which are very similar to CS products of the time, even to the diamond on the clip, although this pen shows an ornate letter B rather than CS.
Story: My CS Churchill, pressed into regular use, was unfortunately lost leaving me without a day to day pen. I was on the lookout for a large CS, sensitive to anything costing too much having lost such an expensive pen, but willing to fork out a little more than usual. I prefer the older, pre-aerodynamic style pens and would have loved one in red ripple, but these were outside my budget. I spotted this Burnham on the dreaded ebay and, full of admiration kept an eye while I tried to find out more about it. I couldn’t. However it was described as ‘substantial’ and I was looking for a large pen. The triple bands and button filling gave the impression of a pen from the upper reaches of their range and the older, peaked design is preferred. I won it with some opposition and, while not the CS I was originally after, I was very pleased on its arrival, although it was rather slimmer than I expected.
Its condition, colour and pattern make it a very attractive pen indeed and I was very pleased with my win. The sac required replacement and this brought about some fun and games. The section on Burnham pens unscrews, rather than being a tight fit, which is convenient in most respects. However trying to screw it in with a decent sized sac is very difficult as the sac snags on the pressure bar and becomes twisted.
In Use: The nib may be described as on the fine side of medium and is wonderfully flexible. This is a real boon for careful writing and gives the pen a strong character but becomes a little tiresome when writing large amounts or quickly. It is smooth in use, has no particular magic angle but can get a little toothy if held badly.
Enjoying the flex I now have the habit of using very thick downs strokes for initial capitals which gives an attractive effect with little effort. I have yet to master a true italic effect on circular letters but it’s nice to be able to have a go. In time my use of the flex will improve and, I hope, will give an attractive result.
The line is sufficiently wet to be satisfying without smudging (not as wet as the Churchill it replaces) while using my regular mix of Lamy green and Quink black ink.
Although the pen would perform perfectly in regular use I tend to gravitate to a CS45, with a nice Duro nib for quick note taking as it is rather more robust. The Burnham is used for letters and other, less aggressive writing. Additionally the girth of the pen is slightly narrow for me, not that I have particularly large hands, but the CS45 is less tiring in prolonged use.
In replacing the sac I had to reduce its size until it would slide into place and allow the section to screw into place without twisting. It therefore has a limited ink capacity, again a shortcoming for regular use. I intend to have the sac replaced by someone who knows what they are doing in order to improve this. (The remains of the original sac were clearly bigger than their replacement.)
It is a beautifully elegant pen, being quite long when posted and the feel of its non-bulky body suits its character. I am very proud when using it in company, the pearl effect of the marble shimmering brightly.
Faults: Apart from the intial flaking on the edge of the clip, the slight browning of the BHR cap top and the currently small sac there are no other faults.
Conclusion: This is not a valuable pen, Burnhams do not attract the sort of prices of an equivalent CS unless it is the sort with two gold bands on the body which go up to ~£80. I can’t think of a comparison CS as the Burnham is rather longer than usual. I suppose it might be described a large version of a 388.
It is entirely reliable in use, refuses to blob, always writes first time and brings huge pleasure to this beginner with flexible nibs. It generates a great deal of respect as a rather luxurious friend who prefers to be treated with care.
Posted 29 November 2006 - 19:49
When I read the thread title and saw "Burnham" for a sec I thought you were reviewing a lesser-known CS model (à la vintage "Le Tigre" pens), and then I remembered Conway Stewart's British rival...
Edited by Maja, 29 November 2006 - 19:50.