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Overcoming Fear Of Vintage

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34 replies to this topic

#21 amk

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 10:43

Start out on third tiers. Don't go straight in and try to repair a Waterman red ripple. A Wearever can be pretty, but if you bust it you haven't destroyed a priceless artefact.

 

There can be an advantage to getting used to one particular type of pen and its issues particularly if you need special tools (eg Parker 51, Vacumatic, Sheaffer Snorkel). Or one particular type of pen (eg lever fillers, pistons) from a given period (materials will tend to be similar).

 

Watch out for ebonite (can be brittle, will fade in warm water) and casein (dissolves in water).

 

Get your copy of Da Book or the Marshall and Oldfield pen repair book.


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#22 proton007

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 13:58

Personally I would suggest as a user never to go about repairing vintage pens yourself. Unless you want to make it a project, and have tons of patience.

 

I guess this is the reason why some of the more simpler and functional designs like the Pelikan M100/400/500 series are among the most popular vintage pens...


In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

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#23 ele

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 15:51

Many vintage pens are actually more sturdy than their modern counterparts. Celluloid and hard rubber absorb shock more effectively, and are less likely to crack than some modern acrylics. (There's a famous Parker Duofold ad which reports that the pen was dropped from a 10 story building onto concrete unharmed. don't try that though!). And I would contest that the most sturdy and reliable pen ever made is a vintage pen: the Parker "51". 

 

A note about repair--I think that's half the fun! There are a number of vintage pens that are easily repaired. One of the easiest is the Parker Duofold. 



#24 Ron Z

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 16:42

Frankly, I prefer vintage to modern.  Vintage pens are just as robust, just as reliable if not more so, than modern pens.  The big difference is that a vintage pen can be repaired if needed.  With many modern pens the assembly method or materials used require that the part, or even the whole pen, will need to be replaced.  I've had many customers who are very disappointed when I tell them that, no, I can not repair their pen. Parts aren't available, and there is no cost effective way to duplicate the defective part.

 

A classic example is a modern pen with a slip cap that uses bumps in the inner cap to act as a "clutch" to hold the cap on.   Waterman Phileas, Rotring 600, Cross Century II are some examples.  These bumps wear or get compressed, and the cap won't stay on.  I can't fix that.  By contrast, a Parker 51, 75, VP,  65, 61 all have a metal clutch, or clutch fingers.  These can be reshaped or replaced fairly easily.  Even the 75 with the long inner cap can be replaced with a short inner cap and clutch fingers.

 

Modern celluloids in some cases have been rather unstable.  A number of pens from Omas  have simply decayed into crumbling, slimy pieces.  Not that it never happens with vintage, but the celluloid in most vintage pens is quite stable by comparison.


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#25 dogpoet

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 17:06

I'm definitely with ele: it's quite possible that you'll find a vintage pen that will work fine straight off without any need for tinkering at all. The aforementioned Parker 51 is a case in point. Apart from the occasional broken breather tube, those are more or less bombproof, and there's nothing much in there that will have rotted or corroded over the years.

 

Even less robust vintage models are often in working condition, sort of. I have several vintage pens that probably need a service, but are in the meantime functional, just less so than they should be. In the three cases that spring to mind (a Sheaffer PFM and a touchdown Imperial of the same vintage, and a rather battered looking Parker vacumatic) all three fill without leaking and write (exceptionally smoothly in two cases, but I think the tipping might have worn off the third nib), but none of them hold anything like as much ink as they should. To fix that, the ink sac (or diaphragm in the case of the Parker) would have to be replaced, but if it's a pen that's going to be living on your desk, rather than going out and about, is refilling it frequently going to be an issue?



#26 Briguy52

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 17:29

As others have mentioned, for a first venture into vintage, it's best to go with a working pen! I recently bought a Pelikan 140 that worked beautifully as soon as I inked it up (I bought from another fountain pen user, not off of eBay or an estate sale). The nib is nice and springy, even more so than my friend's M200 and M400- while writing just as smoothly and being far less in price. It's also a piston filler like its modern counterparts, so it's really not that different to use. 



#27 inkstainedruth

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 18:19

I LOVE vintage pens.  They all have their own character.  And it's like what other people have already said -- they can be fragile, but they can also be a lot more robust than modern pens.  Remember -- they're often from the era where fountain pens were in everyday use, and weren't designed for "planned obsolescence".  You bought the best pen you could afford, and used it daily.

Many modern acrylic pens kinda all look the same to me.  Without looking at details, I couldn't tell a Rosetta from a Bexley from an Edison from a Noodler's acrylic Konrad.  Most vintage pens, OTOH, are very individualistic -- I would have no trouble recognizing the differences between say, a Sheaffer Balance and a Parker Vacumatic and a Esterbrook J pen.  And the pens are often a lot more attractive looking, with really beautiful celluloid colors.  Even on the third and fourth tier junkers.

And they're often much better writers -- again, they're from an era where pens were tools, not collectors' items.  The nibs are often better made and there's more variety of widths and flexibility.  For instance, I now have four Sheaffer Snorkels -- an EF, a probable F, a probable medium, and what may be a BB that is *also* oblique!  And that was the least expensive of the four!  :sm_cat:  For many modern pens you're lucky if the nib range goes beyond F, M and (maybe) B.  Esterbrooks in particular have a huge range of nibs, from the student grade 1xxx series to the "high end" 9xxx series.  And while some of the more exotic nibs can be pricy, they can often be found -- and on a pen, no less -- for a whole lot less.  I think, not counting repair costs, that the most I ever paid for an Esterbrook was about $35 US -- and that was on a black LJ with a 9284 (signature stub) nib last month at the Ohio Pen Show.  Many, I've gotten on Ebay for under $15.  The most I've paid in the wild was around $20 (although I have seen them for more, I won't pay the prices some places were asking, even for 9xxx nibs).  I actually found an SJ with a 9128 (flexible EF) nib for $20 last summer....  That's less than I paid for for one on Ebay a couple of years before.  (Okay, most of the pens I've gotten probably have F nibs, but I'm okay with that....  B)

Even with repairs, those vintage pens are a lot less expensive, in many cases, than modern pens.  The fill systems are really cool and interesting -- as opposed to modern pens where probably 85% of them are c/c fillers.  I like that I'm not tossing spent cartridges in the trash any more.  I like that I've rescued something  from ending up in a landfill -- something that my parents might have grown up seeing (if not actually using, given that they were both Depression era kids, where one grandfather was a coal miner and the other was a not-always-employed musician).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#28 penrivers

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 18:50

When I think in Parkers 51, I never do it in vintage terms, I think of it as a modern, supermodern, good fountainpen.



#29 dogpoet

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 19:11

When I think in Parkers 51, I never do it in vintage terms, I think of it as a modern, supermodern, good fountainpen.

That's the power of marketing!

(And that's some good marketing as well, if it still sticks even now.)


Edited by dogpoet, 23 December 2015 - 19:12.


#30 corgicoupe

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 19:50

Personally I would suggest as a user never to go about repairing vintage pens yourself. Unless you want to make it a project, and have tons of patience.
 
I guess this is the reason why some of the more simpler and functional designs like the Pelikan M100/400/500 series are among the most popular vintage pens...

I learned very quickly, from experience, that the only repair I will make is to replace the sac on an Esterbrook.

Edit... or perhaps a Sheaffer Balance.

Edited by corgicoupe, 24 December 2015 - 17:15.

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For love of it. And yet not waste time either.

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#31 Anabasis

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 20:00

I was able to get over my concerns about vintage pens last year and now I prefer them to new pens!

 

Maybe I will see you at the Philly Pen Show this year - there are a ton of vendors with vintage pens of all makes who will be more than happy to discuss the ins and outs of maintenance and collecting with you.  It's a great place to find your first vintage pen.



#32 Buzz_130

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 22:28

Like many, I got over my concerns of buying a used fountain pen from another era.  I was fascinated by the technological innovations involved in the Parker "51" and found myself getting hooked very early.  I expanded my sights with Sheaffer and Esterbrook pens as they were also workhorses from the Golden Era of fountain pens.

 

Start by buying a good vintage pen from a restorer.  You'll get the experience you are looking for, and many restorers will help you find the pen that matches your needs.  You'll find these pens to be reliable and rugged.  When you see the prices that you will pay for a very good vintage pen versus a modern pen, you'll understand very quickly why there's a devoted following of new fountain pen users taking a quick plunge into the vintage pool.

 

Buzz



#33 junlon

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 16:42

Like many, I got over my concerns of buying a used fountain pen from another era.  I was fascinated by the technological innovations involved in the Parker "51" and found myself getting hooked very early.  I expanded my sights with Sheaffer and Esterbrook pens as they were also workhorses from the Golden Era of fountain pens.

 

Start by buying a good vintage pen from a restorer.  You'll get the experience you are looking for, and many restorers will help you find the pen that matches your needs.  You'll find these pens to be reliable and rugged.  When you see the prices that you will pay for a very good vintage pen versus a modern pen, you'll understand very quickly why there's a devoted following of new fountain pen users taking a quick plunge into the vintage pool.

 

Buzz

 

 

Totally agreed with you - "start by buying a good vintage pen from a restorer". You get to enjoy the pen immediately. Restoring a vintage pen is not always easy for an inexperienced person.



#34 max dog

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 05:03

My concerns more so fall into the realm of reliability.

 

-How delicate are some vintage pens?

-How common are flow issues in vintage pens?

-How sensitive are older materials to certain chemicals for cleaning?

-What happens when a nib or fill mechanism breaks?

- Will aging deteriorate the pens without use?

 

Perhaps these questions are the signs that I'm not ready to delve into rather unknown realm of vintage pens...

 

Regardless, what might be some suggestions for either a good first affordable vintage pen to look into, or advice on calming the jitters of stepping into the pens of the olden days? :wacko:

 

I got a vintage Waterman's 52V flex pen about 2 years ago for $120 on ebay.  It was advertised as having the sac replaced and the nib and lever box were described as in good condition with a writing sample of the nib's ability to flex.  

 

For the last 2 years I just fill it with ink and write away.  No fuss.

 

The feeds ability to keep up with the nibs flex is far better than any modern flex pen.  I'm hard pressed to get it to railroad.  Haven't had any of the concerns mentioned above so far.  The nib's lasted 90+ years, and with the way the chased pattern is worn away on the black hard rubber barrel and cap, i suspect it was a pen that was well used and did not just sit in it's box for decades.  So I figure as long as I don't abuse and overflex it, it will probably last several more decades without fuss.  


Edited by max dog, 26 December 2015 - 05:13.


#35 pajaro

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 02:23

I like the Sheaffer Touchdown fillers of the 50s and 60s, and I like the Parker 51.  The 51 seems more modern than the old fashiioned open nib pens on the market today, and it always writes unless it runs out of ink.  Most of the late model open nib pens I have tried dry up by the next day.  I have tried a lot of them.  Some work.  Montblanc 144, 146, 149.  Pelikan MXXX pens.  Parker 51 works better than any.

 

Incidentally, not so well the 75, 45, Sonnet and its contemporaries.  A few Sonnet nib and feed combinations work without drying out overnight, but it's chancy.  Very sketchy.

 


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They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .






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