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Diving In To Vintage Pens

vintage wallet abuse sheaffer snorkel esterbrook j waterman phileas

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15 replies to this topic

#1 Goldmund

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 05:07

What have you done to me, FPN. 

 

I've only been using fountain pens for around 8 months or so, but I've fallen so deeply in love with them that I simply cannot revert back to writing with any other type of pen. So, what is the next logical step in my mind? Spend all of my money on fountain pens! The two pens that I own are the Lamy Safari and the Kaweco Sport Classic. While they are both very enjoyable to write with, I've been wanting to expand my collection. Since I have recently begun browsing the FPN, this nagging itch has now become an insatiable desire. 

 

I have finally decided that my next purchase is going to be a vintage pen in the lower price range. As easy as it would be to just buy a new pen off of JetPens or something, I feel that vintage pens have a certain charm and look that you will not find on most newer pens <$50. I have been looking at Sheaffer Snorkels, Esterbrook Js, and Waterman Phileases (I saw the thread regarding what the plural of Phileas is, and I'm sticking with this version  :lol: ) on eBay for the past couple of days, waiting to buy one or two of each and bask in the glory of my success. 

 

However, as I am new to buying vintage pens (and the entire eBay auction scene in general), I do have a couple of questions. 

 

  • 1. How much is too much for these pens? As you may have inferred, I try to keep my price range under $50, with a $25 purchase + S&H as an ideal range. However, I see people putting some up for more than double that. Are the cheaper ones simply being sold by people who don't understand the value? I get that the age, condition, model, and packaging all factor in, but some of the highly priced pens don't seem to be much more special than the ones that are much cheaper. ​
  • 2. Since I'm focusing more on using the pens for daily writing as opposed to starting a collection of significant value, should I care if something has been restored or if a bladder has been replaced? I've been trying to scope out pens that have are in good condition and have not had any original parts replaced, but there's a part of my brain that keeps saying, "Why care?". 
  • 3. Should I be concerned if a pen has not been tested (with water or ink) to see if the filling mechanism is working (this doesn't apply to the Phileas, of course)? I don't have the time or money (translation: I don't want to wait 2 weeks) to replace something if I get a broken part. So many descriptions have "has not been tested/I have not tested it/It's in good condition so I assume it's working", and I feel like I have to purchase something that has been confirmed to be in working order. 
  • 4. Are there any other sites where I can get those models at a reasonable price? Preferably older models (which will inevitably cost more money, I suppose). 

 

If you actually managed to read that wall of poorly articulated and very non-concise text (written at 1:07 AM, I might add), I commend you :notworthy1:

Thanks in advance.


“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”-Calvin 


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#2 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 05:48

Look in our sales section....the pen will have been tested and you have some one that must stand behind his sale.

 

A pretty Esterbrook is first. Get one in color, no reason to get a black one or a 1960 and later 'ugly' pastel metal capped one. Had I ever had the pretty one, instead of the "ugly" one as a school kid, I'd still have it.

I have some 7 of the pretty ones.

 

 

After you have 4 pens, think about a German vintage piston filler from 'mid 50's-66....the Pelikan medium small but posts long 140 or the as good but cheaper standard size Geha 790 (only that in I know it's semi-flex) The Pelikan 140 is also semi-flex.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#3 barleycorn

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 06:31

Welcome to FPN.  You have two good picks so far.  I agree with Bo Bo that the prices are usually fair in the classifieds and you are dealing with a person who should stand behind what they are selling.

Try to find a pen club near you and go.  Don't be intimidated that there are people with hundreds of pens or really valuable pens.  Many collect Safaris and that is a good place to start.  Ask about what they collect and likely you will be able to try a few and get an idea of which Esterbrook or whatever you are looking for.

The Safari nib can be removed and changed easily.  Try ordering a few other nibs you want to try and see what you think.  It will give you some idea what an italic nib is like, etc.

Take your time and enjoy what you have.  You may be lucky and meet some one at the pen club who has a user grade Parker 51 or Esterbrook that they  might be willing to sell for a good price.



#4 kkshadow

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 06:39

OK, so now we begin the reeling-in process on the hooked fish.  I'll try to shed some light.  All three pens you mention are excellent in my opinion.

 

1.  Your price point will probably put the Snorkels out of range for now, at least what I have been seeing.  They do vary a lot in price depending on color, model, and "first year" with a gold snorkel tube.  You might be able to find one, but figure on about $40 plus shipping both ways to have it restored (see #2).  You should be in price range for the Estie J and the Phileas.  However, the Phileas is not really vintage, it's too new. Snorkels are 1950's, Esterbrook J's are 1940's-50's (I think).  The Phileas is 1990's (again, I think).

 

2.  You do care and you do want the vintage pens restored.  Think of thin rubber that's 50-60 years old.  It needs to be replaced, even if it "works".

 

3.  It hasn't been tested means it needs to be repaired, at least for the Snorkel (especially) and the J.  You will do best to buy one already restored.  Have you checked the FPN classifieds?

 

4. I would have a look at peytonstreetpens.com, and especially at the NOS seconds.  Teri has some Sheaffer Imperials that are older than the Phileas but newer than the others.

 

And as a bonus, if you have read this far, here's my take on the pens you mentioned:

-- Sheaffer Snorkel..  Pros: Lot of points for wow factor and coolness of filling system.  The ones with the Triumph nibs can be some of the sweetest writers you will come across.  Cons: Smallish ink capacity and hard to clean if you change ink a lot.

-- Esterbrook J .. Everyman's pen of its day.  Pros: Inexpensive, built like iron, easily replaceable screw in nibs, dependable as the day is long.  Cons: Lots of colors, but not flash.  The girl/boy next door, not the movie star.

-- Waterman Phileas.., A good solid everyday carry.  Pros: c/c (cartridge/converter) filler (some people love the convenience); good looker (some say) easy to clean, dependable.  Cons: c/c filler (some people hate 'em); ugly as blue mud (some say); I believe only available in Medium nib.  If you're interested in a Phileas, you can PM me.

-- Sheaffer Imperial 330/440 series (my addition to  your list).  Terrific writers.  Pros: Closer to vintage than the Phileas; the inlaid nibs are really nice writers; c/c fillers; still some NOS (new old stock) available.  Cons: c/c fillers, still not  considered "vintage" by most.

 

Feel like I just wrote a book.  Happy hunting!


"If you are going through hell, keep going." - Sir Winston Churchill

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#5 Goldmund

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 14:09

Look in our sales section....the pen will have been tested and you have some one that must stand behind his sale.

 

Welcome to FPN.  You have two good picks so far.  I agree with Bo Bo that the prices are usually fair in the classifieds and you are dealing with a person who should stand behind what they are selling.

 

Thanks. For some reason, I had never really thought of going to the classified section. I'll do some snooping around there for a little while! 

 

 

OK, so now we begin the reeling-in process on the hooked fish.  I'll try to shed some light.  All three pens you mention are excellent in my opinion.

 

1.  Your price point will probably put the Snorkels out of range for now, at least what I have been seeing.  They do vary a lot in price depending on color, model, and "first year" with a gold snorkel tube.  You might be able to find one, but figure on about $40 plus shipping both ways to have it restored (see #2).  You should be in price range for the Estie J and the Phileas.  However, the Phileas is not really vintage, it's too new. Snorkels are 1950's, Esterbrook J's are 1940's-50's (I think).  The Phileas is 1990's (again, I think).

 

2.  You do care and you do want the vintage pens restored.  Think of thin rubber that's 50-60 years old.  It needs to be replaced, even if it "works".

 

3.  It hasn't been tested means it needs to be repaired, at least for the Snorkel (especially) and the J.  You will do best to buy one already restored.  Have you checked the FPN classifieds?

 

4. I would have a look at peytonstreetpens.com, and especially at the NOS seconds.  Teri has some Sheaffer Imperials that are older than the Phileas but newer than the others.

 

And as a bonus, if you have read this far, here's my take on the pens you mentioned:

-- Sheaffer Snorkel..  Pros: Lot of points for wow factor and coolness of filling system.  The ones with the Triumph nibs can be some of the sweetest writers you will come across.  Cons: Smallish ink capacity and hard to clean if you change ink a lot.

-- Esterbrook J .. Everyman's pen of its day.  Pros: Inexpensive, built like iron, easily replaceable screw in nibs, dependable as the day is long.  Cons: Lots of colors, but not flash.  The girl/boy next door, not the movie star.

-- Waterman Phileas.., A good solid everyday carry.  Pros: c/c (cartridge/converter) filler (some people love the convenience); good looker (some say) easy to clean, dependable.  Cons: c/c filler (some people hate 'em); ugly as blue mud (some say); I believe only available in Medium nib.  If you're interested in a Phileas, you can PM me.

-- Sheaffer Imperial 330/440 series (my addition to  your list).  Terrific writers.  Pros: Closer to vintage than the Phileas; the inlaid nibs are really nice writers; c/c fillers; still some NOS (new old stock) available.  Cons: c/c fillers, still not  considered "vintage" by most.

 

Feel like I just wrote a book.  Happy hunting!

 

2. I guess I should have worded that a bit differently. As an owner of a 1958 Slingerland drum kit, I know how important to have original (or even period correct) parts used when restoring or refurbishing the kit, so I didn't know if it was the same for FPs. As I said, I'm looking for function, so I figured getting the refurbished pen was the way to go, but I was just curious about  whether or not that affected possible value. 

 

Thanks for all of your help. I'll definitely be spending some times on the classifieds from now on... 


“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”-Calvin 


#6 sumgaikid

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 16:17

Fleabay is another source for interesting pens.

 

 

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#7 Plume145

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 00:03

I think there are people who can answer your questions way better than I could, but I just wanted to say, love the tags :P


I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage. 


#8 ashbridg

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 00:51

You can buy a Sheaffer Touchdown Admiral for $15 - $20 on ebay. It's an early 1950's pen with a 14k gold nib and an ebonite feed. The Touchdown filling system is the same one the Snorkel uses. You can re-sac it yourself and have a vintage pen that's an excellent daily writer for well under your budget.
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#9 welch

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 02:18

You can buy a Sheaffer Touchdown Admiral for $15 - $20 on ebay. It's an early 1950's pen with a 14k gold nib and an ebonite feed. The Touchdown filling system is the same one the Snorkel uses. You can re-sac it yourself and have a vintage pen that's an excellent daily writer for well under your budget.

 

However, anyone will soon realize that they need a Parker 51: best fountain pen ever made. Avoid my mistakes and get a tested and restored P51 from the FPN marketplace or from one of the people who sell restored pens. Three good ones are Tom "Old Griz" Mullane, David Nishimura, and Ernesto Soler (parker51.com). Make sure the oen has the nib you want, and if you want a fine nib, you are in luck. Most of the US P51s seem to have had fine nibs; the English 51s have chunkier nibs and Parker Newhaven probably made more mediums. Expect to pay $100 - $150. Maybe $75 if you are lucky. 

 

**

 

Touchdown and Snorkel were different filling systems, although similar. If you find either on EBay, you can assume that a skilled pen person will need to restore it. 

 

Richard Binder probably has a good desciptoion of both. In a touchdown, you unscrew the "blind cap" -- so named, I think, because it's the end that sits under the cap when posted. The end opposite the nib. When unscrewed a couple of turns, you pull out a cylinder, then push it back and the mechanism sucks ink through a small hole just beneath the nib.

 

Snorkel was an advance over the touchdown. Ah...consider that Sheaffer and Parker were the biggest pen companies in the world, and that they competed to have the cleanest filling system. The big complaint against the fountain pen was that the user often got splattered with ink while filling from a bottle. 

 

Sheaffer's solution was to have the unsrcewing action extend a thin ink-sucker, just like a mosquito. Once the snorkel was extended, you pulled out the blind cap and pushed it back, drawing ink from the inner lip, or "topwell", of Sheaffer's Skrip bottle. The bottle design is patented, by the way: "1759866" is on the bottom of my bottle of Sheaffer blue-black. All this took "the dunk out of filling", said Sheaffer's advertising.

 

The snorkel system is more complicated than the touchdown.

 

(Parker went to ultra-simple: their Parker 61 uses a teflon tube that looks something like an ink cartridge, but seems to have a ribbon of material that soaked up ink and fed ink to the nib. No moving parts. Tough to clean and tough to repair if the inks dries inside the capillary tube. The 61 was intended to replace the P51, but never quite caught on. Parker switched it to a cartridge/converter filler about 1969, but, by then, fewer and fewer people wanted fountain pens)


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#10 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 03:02

My first vintage was an Esterbrook J with the 9550 Extra Fine posting nib. Very nice. I bought it off the classifieds here from pokermon for $39.00 already restored and shipped. That was just in the last month or so.

 

I have two of the Waterman Phileas - one with a fine nib and one with a medium nib. Paid $45 for the medium back in December from a member in the classifieds. If I recall it was NOS. (it is about 2007 vintage; my fine is late 1990's or so. I paid around $50 new back in the day -my second fountain pen)


Edited by Runnin_Ute, 16 August 2013 - 03:02.

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#11 kkshadow

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 05:17

 

 

Thanks. For some reason, I had never really thought of going to the classified section. I'll do some snooping around there for a little while! 

 

 

 

2. I guess I should have worded that a bit differently. As an owner of a 1958 Slingerland drum kit, I know how important to have original (or even period correct) parts used when restoring or refurbishing the kit, so I didn't know if it was the same for FPs. As I said, I'm looking for function, so I figured getting the refurbished pen was the way to go, but I was just curious about  whether or not that affected possible value. 

 

Thanks for all of your help. I'll definitely be spending some times on the classifieds from now on... 

 

For sacs, rubber gaskets and the like, there are no original parts.   Even if you could find an original NOS rubber sac, it would not be usable due to its age.  Replacement sacs are made by 2 or 3 companies, and they are expected. Also, parts that once were replaced by the companies (such as feeds, etc ) also do not exist or scarcley exist, and so repair what you got is the way it goes.  There is also the option of finding a "donor" pen and using it for parts.  There are pens out there with cracked barrels, for instance, but with salvageable other parts.

 

What will hurt the value of the pen is  mismatched parts, giving you a "frankenpen"; or an incorrect nib, although some nibs were swapped out decades ago.  Again, the only source for, say, a 1920's Sheaffer Feathertouch nib is either someone's stash or a donor pen.  Repaired cracks lower the value of a pen, fortunately for me.  That's how I have been able to afford some vintage pens I would not have otherwise.  Some other value lowering conditions, off hand, are a weak (polished out) imprint, an engraved pen (i.e., someone's name), and discoloration.  I am sure others can come up with more.  

 

I don't know drums, but a similar question would be whether a NOS membrane for the 1958 Slingerland would be usable or whether it would have degraded over time.  But otherwise, yes, parts should be of the same period and make where possible.  If, for instance, one repaired a Sheaffer PFM internal spring with one from a Snorkel, assuming it could be done, the value of the pen would be diminished.  It is best to have restorations done by professionals, or to some extent learn to do them yourself.  

 

Happy collecting!


"If you are going through hell, keep going." - Sir Winston Churchill

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#12 Sasha Royale

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 13:05

"Asking Price" is not the value of the vintage pen.  The value is the amount someone paid for the pen.

It's quite often subjective.

While some see the personalized monogram as "defacement" of a pen, I consider the pen to be "pre-named".

In one case, my bid was higher because the pen was inscribed "Property Bell Systems".  I presented the pen

to Mr. Novak, who was a forty-year Bell Systems employee, and had lost his proud pen.  I bought so much

more than an old fountain pen. 

 

(I paid double for a black Esterbrook, but I got to see his face )

His "hot" granddaughter hugged and kissed me, and my wife had to watch.  :wub:

 

Good hunting.


Edited by Sasha Royale, 16 August 2013 - 13:09.

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#13 VAgal

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 18:17

Hi SharkOnWheels456!  You have gotten some really great advice in the previous posts.  I also have a Lamy Safari and Kaweco Sport in addition to vintage pens, mostly Esties and Sheaffers, though I am waiting on my first Parker 51. I must admit that my Safari has dropped out of use, and the Sport gets used in my purse.   I like the writing experience with my vintage pens better than my moderns.  I started off with getting restored pens (or having the ones I inherited restored),  and I would encourage you to have your first be either NOS or restored.  Just get the pen and enjoy.  If you decide you really like vintage, there are plenty of pens out there that you can get to restore. 

 

If you don't start with an Estie, you can eventually try one out.  There is the Estie Loaner Program http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/226468-the-esterbrook-forum-estie-loaner-program/ where you can borrow a pen.  You have to be a member for 30 days and have 30 posts.  You don't quite meet the requirements yet, but I would check it out as I am sure that you will meet them soon.  And just to warn you, Esties, while very affordable, are notorious for wallet abuse. :P

 

And I will add my wishes to happy hunting.  I hope that you find a great pen.



#14 Goldmund

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 06:10

Just to update everyone: 

I found great success and was able to purchase a restored Esterbrook J as well as a NOS Sheaffer 440. I will continue my hunt for decently priced restored Sheaffer Snorkels, but I will most likely have to bite the bullet at some point and get it. I'll set aside a bit of money each month so it doesn't seem as bad... 

 

 

 

I don't know drums, but a similar question would be whether a NOS membrane for the 1958 Slingerland would be usable or whether it would have degraded over time.  But otherwise, yes, parts should be of the same period and make where possible.  If, for instance, one repaired a Sheaffer PFM internal spring with one from a Snorkel, assuming it could be done, the value of the pen would be diminished.  It is best to have restorations done by professionals, or to some extent learn to do them yourself.  

 

Happy collecting!

 

Most vintage drums have yet to hit that point, since (as you could imagine) the materials they are made of will stay for much longer than a rubber sac that has been inside a pen for 70 years  :D  Still, there are several accessories, parts, or full kits (such as original jazz kits from the 20's and 30's) that are extremely difficult to find due to scarcity or the fact that pristine objects simply cannot exist because of the length of time. That's bound to happen whenever you attempt to collect vintage objects, so there's are similarities. Once again, thanks for all of your help and information! 

 

 I must admit that my Safari has dropped out of use, and the Sport gets used in my purse.   I like the writing experience with my vintage pens better than my moderns.  I started off with getting restored pens (or having the ones I inherited restored),  and I would encourage you to have your first be either NOS or restored.  Just get the pen and enjoy.  If you decide you really like vintage, there are plenty of pens out there that you can get to restore. 

 

I have a feeling this may happen to me, which is why I'm kicking myself for buying both converters and cartridges for my Kaweco and Lamy right before I caught the vintage bug, but hey, it's not the worst thing in the world :) . If anything, they can be backup pens if I end up going on vacation or hiking and don't want to bring along a preferred pen for fear of loss or damage. 

 

"Asking Price" is not the value of the vintage pen.  The value is the amount someone paid for the pen.

It's quite often subjective.

While some see the personalized monogram as "defacement" of a pen, I consider the pen to be "pre-named".

In one case, my bid was higher because the pen was inscribed "Property Bell Systems".  I presented the pen

to Mr. Novak, who was a forty-year Bell Systems employee, and had lost his proud pen.  I bought so much

more than an old fountain pen. 

 

(I paid double for a black Esterbrook, but I got to see his face )

His "hot" granddaughter hugged and kissed me, and my wife had to watch.  :wub:

 

Good hunting.

Not going to lie, I laughed pretty hard at that  :lticaptd:  


“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”-Calvin 


#15 Christi0469

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 13:01

Parker Super 21s are extremely similar to 51 Specials but generally sell for less money. If you are curious about the iconic Parker 51 you could buy a Super 21 to see if it works for you. The plastic used for the 21s was fragile and prone to cracking but the Supers were made from sturdier plastic. Look for a re-sacced pen from a reputable seller, although I did end up with 3 from a mixed lot with old and inky but usable sacs,

If you decide to tackle refurbishing a pen the Sheaffer Touchdown is a great place to start. In addition to the sac, shellac, and talc you need an O-ring and 100% pure silicone grease.

#16 VAgal

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 15:22

Just to update everyone: 

I found great success and was able to purchase a restored Esterbrook J as well as a NOS Sheaffer 440. I will continue my hunt for decently priced restored Sheaffer Snorkels, but I will most likely have to bite the bullet at some point and get it. I'll set aside a bit of money each month so it doesn't seem as bad... 
 

:bunny01: Congratulations on the new pens!!!  I hope they bring much writing joy. :bunny01:







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: vintage, wallet abuse, sheaffer snorkel, esterbrook j, waterman phileas



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