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My First Vintage Pen - Burnham No. 49

vintage burnham fountain pen old 1951 england

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11 replies to this topic

#1 Kolyd

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 19:51

Hey all!

Hope everyone is having a good day! :)

 

So today, I finally managed to get my first ever vintage fountain pen working!

The pen is a No. 49 from the English company Burnham.

Here's what I have to say about so far:

2wog7c5.jpg

So far the pen is a dream to write with, and I hope it stays that way. Since this is my first repair I know I've made a fair few mistakes :P

Thanks!

 

Edit: Quick correct from the written text, thanks to u/peterg I've realised that Burnham were trading into the 1960s!


Edited by Kolyd, 04 December 2016 - 22:49.


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#2 peterg

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 20:36

I think Burnham's were trading into the 1960's.

 

It is probably a replacement 14 ct. gold nib as Burnham nibs were normally marked as such. Its performance is typical of vintage British pen nibs. They are much softer (more flexible) than later nibs. I always tell people to think that they are painting with the pen, especially if they are only used to using ball points.



#3 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 21:38

It is the steel, not gold plating that gives the nib the flex.....there are of course also gold nibs with some to much flex.

 

CT= gold in Great Brittan and the Commonwealth. K= European, C = US.

Yours is 14 K gold....585 parts gold.

 

Gold plating was for faking bling....and making a nib last longer in no one knew about cleaning a pen back in those days....not by me into the '50-60-70's.

Some of the inks were more acidic than modern. So if a pen got sat in a drawer instead of staying in use the ink could eat at the steel nib....could.

 

A picture of pen and nib would be nice.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 04 December 2016 - 21:39.

Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

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


#4 Kolyd

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 22:44

A picture of pen and nib would be nice.

Ah yes, I completely forgot, sorry!

20z4nm8.jpg

20161204_223403.jpg

Nib_Horizontal.jpg

Nib_Inscription_2.jpg

 

Thank you for the information on the flexing, never really knew about how nibs flexed before. Thanks!



#5 Kolyd

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 22:48

I think Burnham's were trading into the 1960's.

 

It is probably a replacement 14 ct. gold nib as Burnham nibs were normally marked as such. Its performance is typical of vintage British pen nibs. They are much softer (more flexible) than later nibs. I always tell people to think that they are painting with the pen, especially if they are only used to using ball points.

Oh they're were? Sorry, I thought they stopped trading at the end of 1950's, I'll edit the OP!

The nib itself is marked with 'Burnham' on it, and the whole flexibility thing is very nice. Albeit I'm still getting used it, that analogy is very useful. I tend to use a 'lil force so this will definitely stop me, although I must admit I am shocking at art so!



#6 JakobS

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 01:01

It's a 14ct gold nib, not plated, and it is original to the pen. I have two Burnhams and they have great nibs, one like yours with a 14ct nib, and another with a gold plated steel nib. The 14ct nib I had was misaligned too, but it didn't really affect its writing ability, it can be realigned by a nib repairer, or gently through your own efforts by searching the Repair Q&A section here. The one thing to watch out for in these pens is that the body and cap are made of casein which can be sensitive to water exposure and siginificant changes in humidity. These can lead to cracks in the caps, and body possibly. The two I have both have significant cracks to their caps which make them dry out within a few days.
They are really beautiful looking and writing pens and a great first vintage pen. I especially enjoy the screw out sections which makes fixing the sac easier than most other pens!
FP Ink Orphanage-Is an ink not working with your pens, not the color you're looking for, is never to see the light of day again?!! If this is you, and the ink is in fine condition otherwise, don't dump it down the sink, or throw it into the trash, send it to me (payment can be negotiated), and I will provide it a nice safe home with love, and a decent meal of paper! Please PM me!For Sale: TBA

#7 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 01:12

I rant about various stages of flex that a nib can do quite a bit.

As a 'noobie' the first thing we Don't Do, is spread the tines like doing Olympic Splits. :headsmack: :gaah:

 

Richard Binder's com is the bible of nibs, pens and good advice on inks. He wrote an article of how to easily spring your nib...so you need $$$$ to repair it.

 

I don't know that brand....I know a tad about Swan...had a Wyvern that had a very nice superflex nib. I was chasing an English Swan very slowly and after 6 weeks had decided on a '50's lever pen, when I ran into a German no name War pen with a Degussa superflex nib. I had been after a superflex Swan.

Having semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex had no problems with finding the border of how much tine spread that nib had....5 X...so mostly I only go 4 X.

If you read that Article by Richard....it will help you understand maxing a nib is bad for it....good for those few who can repair a sprung nib.

 

 

Let's keep that nib to start with at semi-flex to maxi-semi-flex....3 X tine spread of a light down stroke.

In we don't know if it is superflex or semi/maxi-semi-flex..pressure to 4 X...does the nib seem tight...if so stop.

If not you have a 4 X tine spread.

Again very lightly press the tines into the paper as you draw a line...did it expand with any pressure....even if it didn't stop now at 5 X. Try to keep your use at 4 X and less.

 

One of the odd things one of the good posters linked to a '30's Waterman advertisement. It appears they were interested in max tine bend...and only 3 X tine spread.

We all of us have been spreading tines that might well have only been designed to do 3 X all the way out to 7 X.

 

Now what other pens do you have....it could be possible but I doubt it; on general principals, you could have a semi-vintage 'mid '90's to 60's. That could have a springy 'true' regular flex. The nib that use to be issued much of the time.

 

Most of the new nibs are nails and semi-nails in they bend less and have to be repaired less....mid '90's to now that is normal outside of a few companies the Pelikan 200 is still good, the 400/600 not; being semi-nails.

 

Why is this important? I jury rigged a system to talk about flex.

Nails don't have tine spread....1 X. Semi-nail when pressed by a noobie or a weight lifter gets 2X tine spread over a light down stroke. Noobies are well known to be Ham Fisted or worse...Jack Hammer Handed.

It appears you have a controlled Hand. :thumbup: Very nice script too. 

 

I call the 'true' regular flex, true in most pens are semi-nail or nail nibs when issued. Some have come from that and the first time they run into the old regular flex...think it semi-flex. It is not.

 

Outside the 200 just about any of the 'true' regular flex nibs in semi-vintage....before late-middle '90's....70's- or Vintage '60-50-30's and perhaps even earlier depending on where in the world the company was....most made a regular flex nib.

It if well mashed spreads it's tines 3X a light down stroke......not something to do often....That is a max of it's tine spread. And it take a hell of a lot of pressure to do that...and is not comfortable to write that wide. It is just to set a pressure level for the rest of the nibs that have more flex. 1/1 so to say.

 

Semi-flex was common in the (could well be before) '20-40-60's. It needs half the pressure of a true regular flex (1/2) to spread it's tines 3X....(It is very helpful to have one of those true regular flex nibs....for that and they are a nice ride...and good sometimes better for shading inks...in semi-flex is often a wetter writer due to ease of tine bend.

Maxi-semi-flex takes half of that of a semi-flex or 1/4th the pressure needed to mash a true regular flex to three X.

These three are all 3 X tine spread max.

 

Outside of Osmia...Diamond = semi-flex, Supra = maxi-semi-flex...it's all luck of the draw and I expect the Pelikan 140 to be semi-flex. I have in Semi-flex, three '50-54 '400's; an Ibis ('40's early '50s'), 400nn ('56-65) and a 500 ('51-54) in maxi-semi-flex...and that is just the ones in Pelikan.

I have some 26 semi-flex (1 English Parker) and 16 maxi-semi-flex. Luck of the draw.

 

Superflex spreads it's tines 4, 5 or 6 and seldom 7X a light down stroke.

Superflex is more complicated than my simple system...but is helpful to noobies or folks just getting into the more flexible nibs.

Easy Full Flex....half the pressure needed to spread the tines of a maxi....or 1/8th of a true regular flex nib to spread it's tines 4-5X...I've one, and I've a 5 X that I do not take over 4 X....in I don't want to spring the nib. Read that Bender article.

It's an eye opener.

Those who can write well, are more interested in how quick the nib returns to a narrow line than how fat you can make the nib spread it's tines.

It is very hard for me to tell you what it feels like when pressure of how wide does this nib go, has been reached.

I had worked my way up the flex ladder so had an idea.

Even if you do have a 7 X nib...you are too new to use it well and not spring it. Try to keep it at 5 X or less tine spread. I am not an expert. I do have 5-6 of them.

I'm too lazy to work at learning to draw the letters...just an occasional fancy decendere.

 

Wet Noodle...half the pressure of the Easy Full Flex...or 1/16th the pressure needed to mash a 'true' regular flex. I have two. I don't need any more of them...In I do not work the nib...I do not practice drawing the alphabet from a Calligraphy book.

Weak Kneed Wet Noodle...even less pressure ...I don't have any of them.

 

Many a nib has been ruined by idiots on Youtube making a nib do Olympic splits....I have a nib that I can take to 5X that I only take to 4 X. I have a nib I can take from xxf to BBB....

I sweat to get my Hand so light as to make it draw a line at XXF.....and I stay at a max of BB.

 

My Hand is not as light as it could be that Waterman 52 Wet Noodle . Lots of times I just grab it and scribble normal with out trying fancy strokes. It writes to an F. With the right ink and paper I like making a fancy capitol L. :happyberet: the classic English Handlebar mustache. 

 

I do have some dip pen nibs that make a wet noodle look uncooked.

That is what I suggest you do....buy a holder and a few dip pen nibs to practice with. If you break one....so what.

 

There you have a beautiful pen, with a grand nib, and I'm telling you to put it aside until your skill matches the nib. :angry: :doh: :gaah:

 

You if it is a superflex have to practice drawing letters.

 

What if it's only a semi-flex..... :thumbup: :bunny01: . Then it should if you don't go pressing it all the time only take you three months to lighten your Hand to worry about buying some dip pens.

 

I like that flowing capitol L. :happyberet:


Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

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


#8 peterg

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 11:55

Having seen the photos was going to mention casein. Is there anyway to stop/ control the surface cracking of casein pens? wax/ oil?



#9 PaulS

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 15:33

making sure they're kept in a warm and dry environment is probably all that you can do - although it's possible that having silica gel in the cabinet might be an additional safeguard.          The days before central heating when houses were damp and cold, were more harmful I'd have thought, and I wouldn't leave casein pens in a damp garage, and a casein pen is the very last sort of pen that should be immersed in water if you're trying to take one apart - dry heat only.                            It's a good looking pen Kolyd, and that nib will look much better after a good clean.

 

Some of the Burnham marbled colours are very attractive, but generally the brand never seemed to make it in the same way as CS or some of the other smaller British pen companies  -  and according to Stephen Hull's book they 'finally called it a day in 1966'. 

I've no idea if in fact Burnham's numbering system had any more of a common sense sequence than the rather meaningless CS system  -  the Burnham Nos. went as high as No. 90, apparently - with bf and levers pre WW II, and afterwards levers only.

I could be very wrong, but their later 'plated' nibs look as though they're brass plated  -  with some carrying a No. matching that of the pen itself, plus the word Fine or whatever the nib was.

In the attached picture you can see a Burnham own clip (green marble) and the identical design of clip showing Boots, (The Chemist), for which Burnham made the entire pen, and which had a barrel imprint of 'CHATSWORTH' - whatever that meant.

Some of Burnham's own earlier pens show classy adornment, with large spoon ended levers sporting gothic script upper case B, and with the same style of B in a CS-style lozenge on tear-drop clips.

 

In my half dozen or so B's there's nothing with anything more than a semi-flex nib, but many other British pen makers did supply nibs with far greater flex, and these are collected far more keenly by British collectors than pens with nail-like nibs.

If you read some of the forums populated by collectors of British pens, their comments are very pointed insofar as they prefer a nib with flex rather than the unresponsive 'nails' found on modern pens and, of course, they blame Parker for the demise in the flexible nib  -  the P51 in particular :D

 

P.S.    meant to add..........    if you use the Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax polish, this does leave a residue on the pen which presumably will give some sort of protection against moisture actually contacting the casein.

Attached Images

  • Burnham and Boots clips..jpg

Edited by PaulS, 05 December 2016 - 15:36.


#10 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 20:29

"""In my half dozen or so B's there's nothing with anything more than a semi-flex nib,""""

 

Wonderful, :notworthy1: :thumbup: the guy can disregard 2/3s of what I said. :headsmack:

 

When one is coming from nail/semi-nail.....semi-flex can seem to be the fabled Superflex.

My thinking it superflex is better safe than sorry.

 

It is as semi-flex sturdy enough, if one don't press it all the time to 3X. As I said, it took me three months to go from Heavy Handed with a semi-flex Pelikan 140  to slightly heavy handed. ;)

 

It does give you some of that 'old fashioned' fountain pen script with out having to do anything at all, but write regular. :thumbup:


Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

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


#11 PaulS

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 22:17

being a simple country lad Bo Bo, your erudite and academic essay on nib variation has probably gone over my head :lticaptd: -  I regret to say.

Seriously though - I do have one or two wonderfully fully flex nibs - but none of them is a Burnham  -  some so flexible that they can be problematic with which to create useful writing where you need to see the thicks and thins.         Having said that I can't create beautiful writing anyway because I lack the patience to learn to go slowly or to remember instantaneously when to press more heavily to give a thicker line  -  and then equally quickly to come off the pressure for the thins.

My handwriting is joined up cursive, naturally, since I'm old and come from a time when at age 7 - 8 years we wrote with dip pens at school, but the need to write quickly and my hesitancy, because in early adult hood I couldn't spell, has ruined my handwriting, and now I'm without friends and have no one to write to anyway. :lol: 

 

Actually, now I've forgotten what started me writing all this..................... :huh:            



#12 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 22:56

To scribble or not to scribble...that is not even a question.......the question is what paper? With what pen&nib? Filled with what ink?

 

My hand printing was so bad I could hardly read it. Then I got back to fountain pens. My handwriting improved enough that a retired English teacher could read my chicken scratch.

Now it's Rooster Scratch...and if I write slow...I too can read it. :vbg:

 

What counts is putting pretty colored marks on a good paper....and the proper nib will make those marks prettier than the wrong nib.

 

I have an old spell check dictionary...which of course came out a decade or so too late!!!! :angry:

 

It is said the intelligent can read the can read and understand the word as long as the first three letters are spelled right...... :happyberet:  We are all intelligent people here.

 

With spell check. :thumbup:


Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

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






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: vintage, burnham, fountain pen, old, 1951, england



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