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Size Matters (Vintage Waterman Question)

52 waterman 52 bchr flex

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39 replies to this topic

#1 comixfan

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 00:43

Recently acquired my first vintage Waterman, a BCHR 52 1/2V, and did a double take when it arrived in the mail.  I knew these were small pens, but I didn't know they were THAT small.  Yowza.  That said, upon inking it up, it writes beautifully and I am absolutely in love with the flex nib.  

 

So I'm sold on vintage Watermans, but which model should I really be looking for?  The obvious answer is a regular 52, but I'm worried that the barrel might still be too thin.  My ideal (no pun intended) pen size is somewhere between a Parker 51 and a Pelikan M600.  Is there a BCHR flex-nibbed Waterman that fits this particular bill? 



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#2 Z-Tab

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 00:55

The 55 is a large pen with a sizable nib. I can't do a side-by-side with a Pelikan M600 or Parker 51, but I would say that it is in the range you're looking for. They tend to go for only marginally more than the 52s.



#3 Force

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 04:52

There is some useful information here



#4 comixfan

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 05:24

There is some useful information here

 

 

Wow... that's brilliant.  Thanks, Force!  My main concern was barrel girth, and after combining your chart with some Google sleuthing, I've found the following:

 

Barrel Diameter (mm)

 

Waterman 52 1/2V = 9.7

Waterman 52 = 11.0

Parker 51 = 11.7

Pelikan M600 = 12.7

 

So Z-Tab's recommendation of a Waterman 55 (with a barrel diameter of 12.0mm) appears to be right on the money of what I'm looking for.

 

Thanks to both of you-- I swear, I've never met a more helpful and wonderful community than fountain pen folk!



#5 BillZ

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 15:14

Man 200 Rhapsody is somewhat small. Measures about 10mm barrel diameter but is still about 140mm long. It will take the standard Waterman

cartridge.


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#6 Mauricio

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 15:31

Your Waterman 52 1/2V pen was designed and manufactured to be a dual purpose pen: (1) The "V" nomenclature stands for "vest pocket" pen, meaning it was intended to fit inside the vest pocket of a 3-piece suit, attire commonly used by gentlemen during the 1920s. (2) Once posted, it becomes a full sized pen and with very nice balance on your hand. 

 

The Waterman 52 is not "too thin" but, for vintage standards, a standard sized pen body in terms of diameter and length. What I see is that a lot of folks get used to modern pens, which tend to be huge and heavy for vintage standards. Folks get used to those large and heavy pens as they got used to apply tons of pressure when writing with ball point pens, and some of these folks have a hard time using standard sized pens.

 

The Waterman 55 is an oversized pen and significantly longer than a Parker 51 or a Pelikan M600.

 

Also for your reference, flexible writing is about proper control of the pen body and the flexible nib. The larger, the longer, and the heavier the pen, the harder it is to control it and to learn to use that flex nib. Also, most vintage fountain pens were made and offered in the standard, slim and short sizes. Vintage oversized pens with the correct vintage 14k flex nibs are not very common. The larger they are and the more flexible their nibs, the higher their prices!


Edited by Mauricio, 15 August 2016 - 15:33.

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#7 pajaro

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:18

Your Waterman 52 1/2V pen was designed and manufactured to be a dual purpose pen: (1) The "V" nomenclature stands for "vest pocket" pen, meaning it was intended to fit inside the vest pocket of a 3-piece suit, attire commonly used by gentlemen during the 1920s. (2) Once posted, it becomes a full sized pen and with very nice balance on your hand. 

 

The Waterman 52 is not "too thin" but, for vintage standards, a standard sized pen body in terms of diameter and length. What I see is that a lot of folks get used to modern pens, which tend to be huge and heavy for vintage standards. Folks get used to those large and heavy pens as they got used to apply tons of pressure when writing with ball point pens, and some of these folks have a hard time using standard sized pens.

 

The Waterman 55 is an oversized pen and significantly longer than a Parker 51 or a Pelikan M600.

 

Also for your reference, flexible writing is about proper control of the pen body and the flexible nib. The larger, the longer, and the heavier the pen, the harder it is to control it and to learn to use that flex nib. Also, most vintage fountain pens were made and offered in the standard, slim and short sizes. Vintage oversized pens with the correct vintage 14k flex nibs are not very common. The larger they are and the more flexible their nibs, the higher their prices!

 

Thanks.  That's a lot of good information.


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#8 Goudy

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 19:14

The vintage Waterman safety pens with the forty-something numbering (e.g. the 42 and the 45) have relatively chunky barrels (if that's what you're looking for), due to the nature of the nib retraction mechanisms.

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#9 terim

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 14:51

The 55 is a large pen with a sizable nib. I can't do a side-by-side with a Pelikan M600 or Parker 51, but I would say that it is in the range you're looking for. They tend to go for only marginally more than the 52s.


Actually, I think you can expect to pay considerably more for a 55...... Possibly double.
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#10 Z-Tab

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 21:26

Actually, I think you can expect to pay considerably more for a 55...... Possibly double.

 

From what I see on eBay, 55s are much less common, so there are more opportunities for bargain 52s, but comparing sold listings show that the floor on 55s is around $120, with a lot of 52s going for more than that. 



#11 Mauricio

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 22:39

 

From what I see on eBay, 55s are much less common, so there are more opportunities for bargain 52s, but comparing sold listings show that the floor on 55s is around $120, with a lot of 52s going for more than that. 

 

eBay is not a good comparison for prices on fountain pens unless you are purchasing brand new pens, never used, in the box and with warranty from the manufacturer. Besides, regardless of the size of the pen, the actual flex attributes of its nib, who has serviced those pens, who has installed the nibs in those pens, whether the have correct, worn or patched parts, the level of expertise of the seller on the subject of flexible nibs will also play a significant role on the actual value of a pen.


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#12 Z-Tab

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Posted 20 August 2016 - 03:25

No doubt, the value question can be complicated for vintage pens. I think checking Sold prices on eBay is a very useful and valid tool for buyers, if only to inform themselves. Some models don't have the sales volume to establish a clear idea of the value, but I think for a basic black 55 there's plenty of market info available. (If you want a specialty nib or the assurance of buying from an expert, things change.)

 

Dealer price is not market price (or value), it's dealer price. Just like eBay price is not value, it's eBay price.



#13 PenBuyer1796

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Posted 20 August 2016 - 21:54

No doubt, the value question can be complicated for vintage pens. I think checking Sold prices on eBay is a very useful and valid tool for buyers, if only to inform themselves. Some models don't have the sales volume to establish a clear idea of the value, but I think for a basic black 55 there's plenty of market info available. (If you want a specialty nib or the assurance of buying from an expert, things change.)

 

Dealer price is not market price (or value), it's dealer price. Just like eBay price is not value, it's eBay price.

 

Dealer pricing from several vendors is an indicator what the pen is worth at retail. eBay is generally a gamble as pictures may not show cracks, wear, and other depreciating factors. The best way to gauge a fair wholesale value is to look at prices on pen classifieds and from dealers that sell on eBay. Also 55's do not go for $120 like you stated above, if the pen has a flex nib and is sold by a dealer the pen would sell for $400+. No nib is created equal, a flex nib can flex at 1.5mm or it can flex at 3.5mm (not always a Pink nib either). 



#14 Z-Tab

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 02:20

I guess I'm assuming that buyers are cautious in choosing what to bid on. That might be too generous when discussing pens with someone relatively new to the hobby. 

 

Anyway... I think we're talking past each other here. My original point was that I think a person can buy a great 55 with a flex nib on eBay for only marginally more than what they would pay for a 52. I know it's possible because I have done it myself and on pens with 20+ bids, so I don't think luck was a huge factor.



#15 Mauricio

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 17:54

Z-Tab,

 

It is obvious you are unfamiliar with current prices, the dynamics of how those prices work, and the nuances of high end vintage fountain pens. You speak like if all Waterman 52 and Waterman 55 pens in eBay are basic commodities with a determined price. That's not the case. There are a lot of variances for those pens/nibs in terms of exterior color, trim, clips, country of manufacture, a huge array of nib options, not to mention the actual condition of those pens, how smooth the nibs are, how they write, who serviced them, etc. Each one of those variances affects the value of those pens.

 

Just because you scored a low price in one or more Waterman 55 pens in eBay does not imply that is the ongoing price for all Waterman 55 pens. In general, the Waterman 55 pens that sell in eBay for little are those that have significant issues, worn or incorrect parts, etc. And since sourcing correct parts for those pens is a fairly complicated endeavor, folks who know a thing or two about these pens normally pass on them. The uniformed buy them, thinking they are scoring a bargain, and since they do not know a whole lot about those pens, they cannot even conceive why they got it for such a bargain price. They do not know that, in most cases, they bought a pen with significant flaws!

 

Also for your reference, even the parts in a Waterman 55 pen have a high price as many parts in Waterman 55 red ripple pens are interchangeable with the Waterman 7 red ripple pen, an iconic and highly collectable pen, that if fitted with a Pink nib fetches at least $1k in eBay in unrestored condition and coming from a seller who knows zero about those pens and who cannot guarantee all parts are correct in those pens. Likewise, just the section part alone for a Waterman 55 cardinal red can sell for $150+, its correct feed for $75+. A correct gold plated lever box for a Waterman 55 pen sells for $150+ and it will cost you about another $40-$50 plus two shipping fees to get it professionally installed onto the pen body ... and that is if you know what the correct parts for those pens and are, and are lucky to be able to find one for sale.

 

Some of us have been doing this for a while longer and participate in pen shows, are heavily involved within the fountain pen community, and keep track of prices and trends with a more holistic approach than merely comparing prices from eBay pens from questionable provenance, pens who may be in questionable condition, and perhaps with incorrect or worn parts, etc.

 

 

Comixfan,

 

Vintage Waterman pens are considered some of the best vintage fountain pens. They were so good at making fountain pens and nibs that they became the largest fountain pen manufacturer in the world for several decades at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Since you are looking at flexible nibs, it is important to mention that the Waterman Pen Company perhaps produced the best vintage 14k flexible nibs ever for fountain pens. These two criteria alone makes any oversized vintage Waterman pen with a fairly flexible nib a very valuable and a very desirable pen in the current dynamics of the fountain pen marketplace. You are getting into the cream of the crop, the best of the best, in terms of vintage fountain pens with vintage 14k flexible nibs, and the prices for these rarer specimens fetch high prices, and much higher prices if they have been professionally restored, have correct parts that are not worn or patched, have flexible nibs that have been professionally installed, and come from a seller who knows and stands behind what he or she sells.


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#16 Z-Tab

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 19:45

Again, pretty sure we're talking past each other here.

 

I'll accept that my pens are worth more than I thought and move on.



#17 sidthecat

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 21:22

There's a 52 with God's Own Nib on eBay presently, but I dropped out about 300 dollars ago.

The 52 1/2V ringtop is what I collect, and is great with my tiny hands. It's a bit like writing with a cigarette. And you can find wonderful nibs on them.

#18 PenBuyer1796

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 22:54

Again, pretty sure we're talking past each other here.

 

I'll accept that my pens are worth more than I thought and move on.

 

And to add, a 55 with a Manifold nib is not a flex nib and is why they sold for >$200. 



#19 sidthecat

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 18:16

I've acquired two Model 42s lately, and I can't say they were cheap purchases, but if you're interested in flex nibs, they are worth seeking out.

#20 PenBuyer1796

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 00:39

I've acquired two Model 42s lately, and I can't say they were cheap purchases, but if you're interested in flex nibs, they are worth seeking out.

 

What was the line variation of those 42's out of curiosity? 2mm? 3mm? 







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