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Waterman's 52 Fountain Pen


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Malcy

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 16:47

The Waterman's 52 is arguably one of the best known vintage fountain pens. It is said that every collector of vintage pens should own an example.

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The Waterman's 52 was in production from 1915 right into the 1930s. In such a long production life it came in many variants and almost always made from hard rubber, though I believe that a few at the end of the production life may have been made from celluloid. The number (stamped on the barrel end) of 52 indicates the type of pen 5 = lever self filler, 2 = Size 2 nib. This example is just about the simplest variant made from black hard rubber with a chasing pattern and without a clip. The design follows the classic flat top style that most manufacturers in the teens and twenties used. There are no metal adornments except for the nickel plated boxed lever and the 14K gold nib. The lever has Waterman's globe and IDEAL logo on the round end.

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The BCHR construction means that it is lightweight (14g filled with ink) so it will not be tiring to use. It is a pen of medium length, 135mm capped and 167mm posted but it is quite thin with a barrel diameter of 10mm. There is a thinner version, the 52v which must be very thin. This example is in superb condition. Vintage hard rubber pens, especially ebay finds are usually oxidised brown to some degree. This pen is jet black as it would have been new. The finish is original, I can't see signs of blackening and it had a very petrified ink sac inside. The chasing and imprint are crisp and the plating is intact on the lever mechanism.

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The 52 as noted above is a lever filler. Sheaffer held the patent for lever filling but Waterman got around the patent by mounting the lever in a metal box rather than directly in the pen body. This design was used by Waterman into the 1950s. For information, a size 18 sac fitted nicely.

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The nib fitted is a number 2 size. The 52 is often bought by flex nib lovers as many have flexible nibs. This example has such a nib but with a twist. It is a very flexible but is also a left oblique double broad. The nib was a bit sprung when I got the pen and was easy to straighten but after several tries at setting it, I have not got it to work well. The nib skips and catches on pushing strokes like the bottom of an 'S'. I will keep trying and I will get it right eventually.

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Not only was the pen in great condition, it came with a box and documentation. The box shows that it was UK sourced, coming from L. G. Sloan Ltd, "The Pen Corner", 41 Kingsway London. This is now a branch of the Leeds Building Society and can be seen through the link.

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41 Kingsway, London

A set of instructions was in the box and gives an interesting insight in to Waterman's range at the time of purchase, which as probably some time in the 1920s. They can be viewed at large size in the Waterman's folder in my pen albums linked at the bottom of this post.

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Finally a writing sample so that you can see how this nib writes:

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Conclusion

A simple but interesting vintage classic. It is in great condition with a nib that is frustrating but has potential. Good value too for £25 plus the cost of an ink sac.
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#2 watch_art

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 16:50

Beautiful. You're right - I need one now. And a black swan with the hard rubber lever instead of the metal one. :puddle:

fpn_1432247667__cropped-20150427_0641231 sigpic14481_1.gif vanness.jpg?t=1321916122


#3 Uncle Red

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 17:35

I've got a few of the 52 1/2 v pens, the shorter and thinner version of yours, and they are great pens. Congrats on the rare nib, the oblique is listed in the catalogs but you don't see them often. I suspect only the busiest stores stocked the obliques (and other special nibs) and most people in most stores wouldn't bother special ordering them. Yours is quite a score but you may need professional help with the nib.

#4 Malcy

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 18:23

I've got a few of the 52 1/2 v pens, the shorter and thinner version of yours, and they are great pens. Congrats on the rare nib, the oblique is listed in the catalogs but you don't see them often. I suspect only the busiest stores stocked the obliques (and other special nibs) and most people in most stores wouldn't bother special ordering them. Yours is quite a score but you may need professional help with the nib.


I probably need professional help anyway. :roflmho:
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#5 Miami_Marlins_fan

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:31

This review ought to be illegal under the 8th Amendment, because it is really a case of cruel and unusual punishment for all the pen addicts who do not have a Waterman 52. It is not fair for them to see such a wonderful classic such as this pen, and know that they are missing out on one of the best fountain pens ever made. Those poor souls will now be forced to wander aimlessly until they acquire one of these beautiful works of art. That is what the Waterman 52 is...a work of art!

#6 knitknitfrog

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:54

I just bought one of these, much more worn but with promise for the grand sum of NZD $8
This is fantastic to see un unworn one in full glory, mine has the imprint and cap pattern all but worn off so I particularly appreciate your clear photos.

#7 Tom Aquinas

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:24

Of the antique Waterman pens that I have seen downunder, the Waterman 52 is the most common, but in lesser numbers than old Swans, Conklins , Conway Stewarts and Onotos .

best wishes
Tom Aquinas

#8 Malcy

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:25

This review ought to be illegal under the 8th Amendment, because it is really a case of cruel and unusual punishment for all the pen addicts who do not have a Waterman 52. It is not fair for them to see such a wonderful classic such as this pen, and know that they are missing out on one of the best fountain pens ever made. Those poor souls will now be forced to wander aimlessly until they acquire one of these beautiful works of art. That is what the Waterman 52 is...a work of art!


Lol :roflmho:
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#9 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 08:35

thanks for the review of a great waterman :thumbup:
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#10 ssmui

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:40

Yes, I have a similar pen, in flexible medium, and it writes great. :thumbup:

Bought it from FPH 7 years ago and it is still kicking. Wonderful writer. :thumbup:

Much influenced by this Waterman Ideal, my next plan to is to get a Waterman 552 ringtop in the coming weeks. Need to settle down with my other recent acquisition first ( MB WE Dumas)

:roflmho: :roflmho: :roflmho:

#11 breaker

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:07

nice review and pics!
thanks!
Cogito ergo sum

#12 Malcy

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 21:00

I've got a few of the 52 1/2 v pens, the shorter and thinner version of yours, and they are great pens. Congrats on the rare nib, the oblique is listed in the catalogs but you don't see them often. I suspect only the busiest stores stocked the obliques (and other special nibs) and most people in most stores wouldn't bother special ordering them. Yours is quite a score but you may need professional help with the nib.


I showed the pen to a renowned nib expert recently. He examined the nib, reckoned that it was in good order and proceeded to write easily with it. I still can't get the hang of this nib but now I know that it's my writing style that is to blame, not the pen. He also said that this oblique nib is rarer than rocking horse ****.
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#13 Ray-Vigo

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 22:59

These are the Model T of the fountain pen world: old, but basic, usually mechanically reparable and often black. I have a bchr, a bhr, a red ripple and a 12PSF version. They come in a wide variety of nibs that usually write quite nicely. I'm also a big fan of nickel-colored trim, which goes really nicely with black.

#14 Chuasam

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:43

i handled my first Waterman 52 today at a store. O M F G!!!!!

I really want one now. I wish it looked prettier...but it wrote like no pen I have ever held ever



#15 Force

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:12

£25...now that was a sumgai considering this.



#16 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 16:46

What kind of paper is that??


A people can be great withouth a great pen but a people who love great pens is surely a great people too... Pens owned actually: MB 146 EF;Pelikan M200 SE Clear Demonstrator 2012 B;Parker 17 EF;Parker 51 EF;Waterman Expert II M,Waterman Hemisphere M;Waterman Carene F and Stub;Pilot Justus 95 F. Nearly owned: MB 149 B(Circa 2002);Conway Stewart Belliver LE bracket Brown IB.






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