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Waterman's 45 Safety Fountain Pen
Posted 11 April 2012 - 21:49
So I says to myself; angio, me old mucker, you need a Safety pen in your life and not one of those pretend "safety" pens that just have screw-on caps on either end but a proper one an eye-dropper with a knob-actuated, cam-driven retractable nib made by Mr. L.E. Waterman and Company. So off I went to hunt for a Safety pen to sate my cravings for bizarre filling and monsterously over-complicated pens and, Lo and Behold, I stumble across this (not so little) beauty:
Appearance & Design (6 out of 10)
A pen with unusual proportions but quite imposing size
I had done my homework before I started looking so I had seen quite a few pictures of the Waterman's Safety pen range but it didn't prepare me for my first in-the-flesh experience of this pen. At just over 13.6cm long and just under 14mm wide this is not your normal short and thin hard rubber pen and when you hold it whilst writing you are aware of its size which for me is a major positive. The chasing and the imprints are pretty even and a very pleasing pattern. The downsides to this pen in my opinion are twofold; first off is the oxidation of the hard rubber from black to an olive green but that is to be expected in a pen that is as old as this one and the second is the proportions of the pen. The cap is very short in relation to the length of the barrel and for me this just makes it look odd.
Construction & Quality (9 out of10)
A hundred years old pen that could quite easily used everyday
Hard rubber is a notoriously fragile material if not treated well but this pen has, a little discolouration aside, stood the test of time. It feels very sturdy in the hand and when using the mechanism you certainly don't feel concerned that the pen's internal mechanism might break. I took the pen apart to replace the seal and was very impressed with the quality of the internal mechanism the precision of the internal fittings and how well they had survived 100 years of use.
Weight & Dimensions (10 out of 10)
Large but well balanced pen suitable for long periods of writing
At just over 13.6cm long capped, an impressive 16.7cm posted, just under 14mm wide at the cap and completely devoid of any sort of streamlining this is an imposingly proportioned pen. Combine the size of the pen with a filled weight of 21g and it makes writing with the 45 for me a "Goldilocks" experience not too big and heavy, not too small and light; it's just right.
Nib & Performance (10 out of 10)
A smooth point with a great deal of line variation - worthy nib for a 1st tier pen
Again after doing my homework I knew that the #5 New York nib was going to be bigger than the #2 nibs I'm used to in my Waterman's 52s and again reading about it and actually experiencing it are two very different experiences. This nib is a broad 1mm stub that flexes to at least a triple broad line and has the flow to keep up without being too wet. It delivers a very consistent flow of ink and after a week of using it daily has not once misbehaved.
Filling System & Maintenance (7 out of10)
A surprisingly clean and efficient filling system but with the potential for disaster.
I have to admit when I first read the filling instructions I thought I was missing something. You fill the pen with the nib retracted and then once filled you just put the cap on over the exposed ink reservoir? Really? Really. My biggest surprise was that not only does this system work really well but it means that you don't have to wipe excess ink off the pen. The 45 comfortably holds just over 3ml of ink which equivalent to about 3 or 4 large Parker Quink cartridges, i.e. loads. The downside to the filling system on this pen is that you have to remember to unscrew the cap and extend the nib when the nib is pointing up otherwise it will leak the 3ml of ink all over your hands and your desk. Also, you have to remember to retract the nib before re-capping the pen or you'll knacker your nib. Maintenance-wise this pen is great if you want to change inks frequently as the large hole at the front where the nib comes out of means that draining the pen is very easy but as it's an eyedropper flushing the nib and feed is only really an option if you completely dismantle the pen. The restoration was straight forward but very carefully done as every article on the subject repeatedly warned that the internal parts are fragile. For anyone who is even considering having a go at restoring their own safeties I have one piece of priceless advice: forget cutting your own cork seal it's not worth the pain and suffering and the two hours spent making nothing but a horrific mess of cork crumbs that in no way resemble a usable cork seal when you can buy the ubiquitous Nishimura O-rings and have the job done in minutes.
Cost & Value (8 out of 10)
A great value workhorse pen
I honestly don't know whether or not I got a bargain or paid over the odds for this pen as I've not been able to find more than one or two examples of the Waterman's 45 up for sale out there on the internet to compare prices. I justified the £100 or so I spent on it by the fact that it is one of the larger models of the Waterman's Safety pen range and that I was very confident I could do the restoration work myself. The condition of the pen and the way it writes makes me think it's a good deal but to be honest I like the pen and that is good enough for me
Conclusion (Final score 8.3 out of 10)
A great pen with an interesting filler which is an experience worth having
I have to say I'm glad I took the plunge with this pen - it's very different to almost all the pens I have had the pleasure of trying in a lot of positive ways but the only problem is that the Waterman's 48 and 20 pens are suddenly looking mighty appealing...
Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:13
Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:59
Unless someone else has any suggestions, I think we are just going to have up learn to love our oxidised pens as they are!
Posted 12 April 2012 - 13:51
Posted 12 April 2012 - 15:26
Posted 12 April 2012 - 17:05
Posted 12 April 2012 - 22:44
Thanks for a nice review of a lovely vintage pen. I was able to win a Waterman 42 1/2 a while back on eBay, with box and eyedropper. Color and chasing were excellent and the seal even held. I used it briefly, but was afraid that I would eventually do something that would not be good for the pen. I cleaned it and put it in its box. This week, I won another safety pen on eBay, a Waterman 42 with fading and a missing pin. I intend to rebuild it and put it into the rotation with less fear of damaging it.
I hope you continue to enjoy your pen.
Posted 13 April 2012 - 23:03
I don't know if you have seen the original instructions for your pen but here they are:
Thanks for posting your review.
Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:40