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Esterbrook Number 444 Dip-Less Pen Desk Set With A 2556 Steel Nib


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#1 Tumbleweedtoo

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 05:23

The Esterbrook Dip-Less pen pictured here may not be the pen originally with this Number 444 Dip-Less ink well, but it is a Dip-Less pen and it fits and works well. All of the text in the photos was written with 1 dip of the Dip-Less pen. The pen has set in the ink well for a few months, so is always wet. If the nib were not completely saturated with Aurora Black Ink, the pen might not write as far as this (which is 1 sentence longer than the first 2 paragraphs of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). I do not believe it possible to “test dip” this pen to see how far it will really write. It does take time for the nib feed to become filled to the maximum capacity.

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After hearing so much about Esterbrook pens, I finally bought this Esterbrook Dip-Less pen set; partly to have a vintage pen that did not use a sac or cartridge. I bought the set on ebay without having done much research, so I had to learn by doing in how to clean and use it. I researched beyond what I found on the Fountain Pen Network; therefore, I thought I would write this review to help others on FPN that might consider buying this pen set and who need to know some of the possible issues involved. I certainly was not and have never been disappointed in this Dip-Less pen and inkwell set.

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First, with regard to how much you can write with one dip of the pen, look at the picture included in this review. The paper is a narrow lined yellow legal pad. Since I have memorized Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, I chose to write it as my text because I did not need to pause in my writing and I wanted to show how much you can write without pausing or needing to re-dip the pen (but there may be a mistake in something I have written, for I did not proofread it). The ink is Aurora Black, which is very wet in this pen. It is certainly possible for me to write a complete thought with 1 dip of the pen, but your thoughts might be longer than mine.

Second, with regard to how to add ink to the well, when I received my Number 444 set, I could not remove the top and really did not know how to do so after my fingers failed to pry off the top. I discovered that dried ink had sealed the top shut; therefore, the ink well required much warm water washing to remove the top. I used Borax and lots of scrubbing to clean the dried ink out of the glass bottom part of the inkwell. Also, after finding directions on the internet, I learned that the top is to be pried off with a coin (I learned not to use a house key, because it can slip and scratch the top). Now that I have a couple more 444 sets, I have learned that even a clean a top can be hard to pry off with a coin on some sets; whereas, the top will almost come off so easily on others that it can be dangerous to have on a desk (if someone tries to pick up the inkwell without proper supervision). The rubber ink seal in the cap may be partly responsible for how tightly the cap fits on the glass ink well. The top on the inkwell I have inked is almost far too easy to remove, so I must be extra careful (but it is convenient when it removes easily). I have not put silicone on the rubber gasket in the inkwell top.

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Third, inside the inkwells I have received there is a red gasket that advises how much ink you should add to the inkwell (do not add ink above the red gasket). From what I have read, a similar gasket the right size (but without instructions) can be bought in a hardware store in the plumbing department.

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Fourth, on the underside of the cap is fitted a small holder or attachment with holes that contains small rods that allows the ink to reach the pen nib and feed. The rods are tightly packed into the attachment and enable the nib to absorb as much ink as possible. It also enables the pen to rest very securely in the ink well and cap. For this reason, if you receive a dip-less pen ink well that contains dried ink, this attachment needs to be removed and thoroughly cleaned (being careful not to lose any rods that can be easily washed down the sink or easily replaced back in the small holder if you catch them in time). The attachment easily pops off of the cap and can be replaced by lining up the notches in the cap and the attachment and pressing it back onto the cap. Look to see how the attachment fits on the lid before your remove it.

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After removing the lid, I have poured ink from the bottle directly into the ink well, but I am so messy I will use an eyedropper next time. Being careful not to overfill, you can also add ink by using an eyedropper and putting ink into the well through the hole that holds the pen. I will not do that again either, but I might add some water if needed by using an eyedropper and putting water into the hole that holds the pen. This Esterbrook Dip-Less pen is one that I use almost everyday for short notes or when I just want to enjoy writing with the pen. It is a nice diameter for me and it comfortably fits my hand (I enjoy using pens the size of the Pelikan M800 or Pilot 823, and it feels slightly smaller in diameter to me). The number 2556 steel nib writes smoothly, and when I write with the nib at different angles I can write with a wet, broad line or with a more narrow line that uses less ink. When the Esterbrook Dip-Less pen and 444 inkwell set are properly cleaned, I can highly recommend both the pen and the inkwell.

All the Best,
T

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#2 JonSzanto

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 06:33

Two things:

1. I believe that is the proper pen. I purchased a NOS 444 last year, and this is the pen that came with the well, and matches the instructions.
2. My well top is somewhat tight also, and I've found that in addition to attempting to lift it off, a slight rotational turning in one direction or the other seems to loosen it up, and it pops right off.

Oh, wait, three things:

3. Very nice write-up on a cool little piece - I keep mine right on the desk as well, with a 2314M nib in it, J. Herbin Perle Noir ink in the well.
"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."
~ Benjamin Franklin

#3 Tumbleweedtoo

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 14:19

Two things:

1. I believe that is the proper pen. I purchased a NOS 444 last year, and this is the pen that came with the well, and matches the instructions.
2. My well top is somewhat tight also, and I've found that in addition to attempting to lift it off, a slight rotational turning in one direction or the other seems to loosen it up, and it pops right off.

Reply: Thank you for the confirmation on the pen being the right one. It does write amazingly well, especially since I had always assumed wrongly, it seems, that gold nibs would always write better than steel nibs. Not so, based on my experience with some pens. I will try your rotation technique next time I try to remove a tight top!

Oh, wait, three things:

3. Very nice write-up on a cool little piece - I keep mine right on the desk as well, with a 2314M nib in it, J. Herbin Perle Noir ink in the well.

Reply: Thanks for the nice comment, and also for recommending the Perle Noir ink as well. I am out of Aurora Black ink in the bottle, so now I know I will put my J. Herbin Perle Noir in the inkwell next. My J. Herbin bottle is so small that putting it in the inkwell is the best use for it.

Again, thanks for your kind reply!

All the best,
T


#4 Uncle Red

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 16:34

Thanks for the review.

#5 tat2drn

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 14:37

Cool review. I just picked up one of these last month at a flea market. Love the way it writes.



#6 rwilsonedn

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 19:43

These are really nice. We have been using one for random notes in the kitchen (to-do lists, grocery lists, addressing mail) for several years, and it's incredibly convenient and always ready to write. Plus if you get in the sweet spot, the nib is as smooth as a Sheaffer.

ron



#7 Ergative

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Posted 02 May 2015 - 02:50

Hmmm; you say it takes time for the feed to become fully saturated enough to write long thoughts. Does this mean that the pen is not suitable for extended use? It sounds like you can get one long thought, but then, if you want to write another paragraph, you either have to do multiple short dips, or else wait again for a second full saturation. That sounds like a great design for a shopping-list and check-writing pen, but not so great for much else.








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