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Choosing My First Vintage Pen

esterbrook sheaffer 444

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#1 jh120

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 00:30

Trying to decide between two options in the $30-40 range for my first vintage pen. One is an Esterbrook of some variety. My first priority with that would be to get one that's properly restored, which seem to be less common. I know there are tutorials for installing a new sac, but I'm not quite at that point in my fountain pen "career" yet. I know these are super popular here on FPN (which doesn't seem to be helping the eBay prices)!

 

Another option is a Sheaffer 444 NOS "seconds" from Peyton Street Pens. They're going for $30 and I don't think the cosmetic damage will bother me. A vintage pen should have some character, after all. I like the 444 over the similarly-priced 330 and 440 because it's all metal and a bit heavier. 

 

Does anyone have experience with both of these pens? Does one have better fit-and-finish? Which is more beginner-friendly? That is, a reliable writer, durable, and not something I'll feel inclined to put in a glass case for fear of damaging it.

 

Alternatively, would you recommend a completely different vintage pen in that price range? Thanks!



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#2 apkayle

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 00:35

Sheaffers with inlaid nibs write amazingly well. The Sheaffer 440 sounds like a good deal.

 

http://www.ebay.com/...=item3f271e86b8

 

I bought mine from this seller. She's very flexible on price negotiations.

 

I also own an Esterbrook with an oblique nib and I find it to be a wonderful daily writer but...it's a bit leaky (could be the ink I'm using) and requires a willingness to regularly perform maintenance since it's a lever filler.



#3 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 00:43

may be you should look on this site they have a sub 30£ category

 

http://www.penamie.c...n/waterman.html


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.

#4 Kelly G

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 03:00

You will have a hard time going wrong with a NOS Sheaffer with an inlaid nib, if  you can overlook the minor cosmetic damage.  Sheaffer inlaid nibs typically write as well as any nib you will find and in my opinion, better than Esterbrook nibs.  Perhaps if you get into the 9xxx series Estie nibs you might get close to a Sheaffer nib - again, in my opinion.  

 

Some of the 440's are sharp looking as well.

 

Or the best alternative - try both - you will eventually anyway.


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#5 krz

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 05:47

I have a couple Sheaffer 444's and maybe a dozen Esterbrooks. You can't go wrong either way.

 

One advantage for the Esterbrooks though are the interchangeable nibs.


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#6 Sandy1

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 06:24

Hi,

 

I have both pens, and a range of nibs for each. Both are familiar visitors to my writing table.

 

I like the Estie J as a 'vintage' pen simply for its style and the lever fill system. It also has the very practical feature of being able to swap-out nibs with a minimum of fuss. Also, for some nib widths / types that you may not use so often, there is the cost avoidance option of nibs in the 1nnn and 2nnn series without a hardened point. In addition, there are a few other brands of nibs that will fit the Estie. 

 

The 444 strikes me as a more innovative pen for its time, so seems more of a 'classic' than a vintage pen. (Hair splitting!) Given that it has a metal cap & barrel it is great for a casual carry in a satchel, and I appreciate the well-balanced heft. Being a c/c pen, one does have the convenience of cartridges, which is OK for a back-up ink supply. One drawback is the huge increment between the EF and F nibs: the EF nibs are oh so very narrow, and take a bit of getting used to, though the F nibs seem sufficiently narrow for general writing. Should one need to write a dry narrow line on an ad hoc basis for forms etc, the nibs can be used inverted.

:excl: The 444 is a gateway pen to the Targa, and further down that path the Imperials & PFMs sing their Siren songs.

 

I've found no restrictions as to ink compatibility, though the Estie most often sips low dye-load aniline inks.

 

Clean-up with either pen is a breeze, especially as I unscrew the nib+feed from the Estie.

 

I've used the Estie and the 330 / 440 / 444 with a variety of nibs in some of my Ink Reviews, so there are samples of some nib widths in the NIB-ism images and atrocious written samples. Please do not hesitate to send a PM if you feel the need for a sample from a certain nib. (Estie nib numbers are entered so are searchable in the IR Forum.)

 

Bye,

S1


Edited by Sandy1, 25 July 2013 - 07:36.

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#7 cedargirl

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 07:22

I use both, but I am more fond of the Sheaffers. I have three with inlaid nibs and they write beautifully.

 

I only have two nibs for my one Esterbrook  and they don't do anything for me. The pen I have is nice, though, I'm just not fussed on the nibs. But there are many nib styles available for the Esties. You might find one that works for you.


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#8 Tresconik

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 12:03

Wouldn't it be better if he goes for an Estie?
How would you change the nib of the Sheaffer inlaid nib?



#9 Sandy1

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 13:04

Wouldn't it be better if he goes for an Estie?
How would you change the nib of the Sheaffer inlaid nib?

 

Hi,

 

The inlaid nibs are permanently affixed to the section. So to change the nib one must change the section.

 

Here's a link to the Peyton Street site that shows sections for the Targa, another Sheaffer pen with inlaid nibs. (I'm really not trying to enable a Targa purchase!) http://www.peytonstr...-old-stock.html

 

Bye,

S1


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#10 Mesu

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 13:10

Wouldn't it be better if he goes for an Estie?
How would you change the nib of the Sheaffer inlaid nib?

 

Sections are interchangeable and saw many listings on ebay for the sections. Shouldn't be difficult finding one.



#11 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 15:57

I just bought my first vintage pen - an Esterbrook J with 9550 EF posting nib. It took me adjusting to it a litle as it is so fine. Currently I have it loaded with Pelikan 4001 Blue Black. Which is very nice in it. This particular nib you have to write a bit more vertical than normal. But is still quite smooth for so fine a nib. 

 

I bought mine in the classifieds here from a fellow FPN member. 


Edited by Runnin_Ute, 25 July 2013 - 16:01.

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#12 jh120

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 21:53

Hello everyone,

 

Thanks so much for all your input! It's encouraging to see that you all have mostly good things to say about both pens. 

 

After posting this, I was contacted by FPN member S. P. Colfer, who graciously offered to send me a restored Esterbrook J free of charge. Thank you so much, Sean! You are too kind! So it looks like an Esterbrook will be my first vintage pen. (With all the praise the Sheaffer inlaid nibs have gotten in this thread, I'll probably end up with one of those someday too  :P ). Now to play the waiting game until the new pen arrives...

 

Thanks again to S. P. Colfer. This is a really great community.



#13 Scycotic

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 23:53

Ooh, that's great to hear! Keep us posted on how the pen writes! I'm also looking for my first vintage pen...trying to keep to a lower budget so for the moment I'm keeping an eye out for a Parker 45. But the Esterbrook J's seem really popular...


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#14 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 00:02

Congrats for your Esterbrook...and the nicest in that is that you still have the money so you can buy the sheaffer or watch the link i gave to you to see if nothing interest you more


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.

#15 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 23:57

 

After posting this, I was contacted by FPN member S. P. Colfer, who graciously offered to send me a restored Esterbrook J free of charge. Thank you so much, Sean! You are too kind! So it looks like an Esterbrook will be my first vintage pen. (With all the praise the Sheaffer inlaid nibs have gotten in this thread, I'll probably end up with one of those someday too  :P ). Now to play the waiting game until the new pen arrives...

 

Thanks again to S. P. Colfer. This is a really great community.

 

<Man AGAIN where is the missing and highly needed clapping hands emoticon?>

 

BRAVO! SPC!  :thumbup: 

 

I'd vote for you getting an Estie Corner Crack Pen Enabler merit badge if we had such a thing.  ;)

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl



#16 pajaro

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 00:05

Back when those Sheaffers came out I bought a broad blue one for the retail at the time.  Five dollars.  It still writes nicely with a Sheaffer piston converter. 

 

Never look a gift pen in the nib.


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