Welcome too the wonderful world of Esterbrooks, I think they are the best bang for the buck and definitely my favourite fountain pen.
I am new to the FPN and recently acquired my second and third Esterbrooks from eBay.
My first Essie was over 50 years ago, my 8th grade social studies teacher insisted we write in fountain pen because he hated getting smeared by messy ball point ink when he corrected papers. I remember the colour of the pen (grey), but the nib? No. In retrospect, it was probably an LJ, maybe an SJ with a 1551 or 1555 nib. I now have one in blue with a 1555 nib, which is sort of scratchy but not enough to bother me. I have a regular J in green with a 2668 nib and it writes like butter. I am now on the lookout for a reasonably priced SJ with a fancier nib, possibly one of the italics.
Over the years I have had various inexpensive fountain pens under $50, not being able to afford better, and none of them have even remotely approached the reliability and joy of writing with an Esterbrook, at least for me. The fact that they are still going strong after decades speaks well for their intrinsic quality and reliability. There were no fountain pen hospitals when my original pen finally gave up the ghost after over eight years of note taking in high school and college. Actually, it was hopelessly clogged after being dormant for years when I moved onto felt tip pens and I just didn't use it. I think the sac dried out, too. Sometimes I used to fill it twice a day on especially heavy note taking days. I only had one leak of the ink bottle or pen in all that time.
I contacted Goulet Pens about a Lamy Safari last year, but when I realised (duh!) that I could buy an Esterbrook for the same price and know I would be happy with it, started looking for one that had some writing samples. I knew it would be OK for me, because when I loaned my first one to many people to scribble an address or phone number it would come back just fine. If I did that with my Phileas, it would have been doomed to the garbage heap.
One year when I was in high school a good friend was given a Mont Blanc for Christmas. It was a gorgeous pen, but cost 100 times the price of an Esterbrook. It also was super fat and she let me handle it (not write, it would wreck the nib, HAH!) It felt like a log in my hand and I knew it was not for me. When a skinnier version became available a couple of years later, I was very tempted but just could not justify the $150 for it, especially as a seriously broke college student. I have some basic fountain pen blue ink I got at the art supply store last month, nothing fancy. They had dozens of India inks, but only three made for fountain pens in black, blue and red. I expect I'll be shopping for some nicer inks in fun colours, especially since I have two pens. I love that both my Esterbrooks can be stored with ink for over a week, and they write as soon as I put them to paper, no fooling around.
Sorry to go on and on, can you tell I am excited about re-discovering Esterbrooks?