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Making Gold Flex Nibs; From A Victorian Pen Catalogue

gold vintage flex nib dip pen foley victorian antique

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#1 Lunoxmos

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 04:25

Credit given to David Armstrong from The Restorers Art 

 

Original article found here

 

Copy of the catalogue found here

 

Recently I came across a Victorian Era pen catalogue called the:

 

"History of the invention and illustrated process of making Foley's diamond pointed gold pens"

 

It starts off with a catalogue of the various products that the company offered, such as gold dip pens, and mechanical pencils, along with other bizarre combinations such as an instrument with a toothpick on one end and an ear spoon on the other.

 

The main interest of the document, however, is that in the second half it details the history of the development of the Gold pen (or nib, as we would say these days), as well as the process in how these pens were made.

 

After reading the catalogue myself, I along with David Armstrong and probably many other people as well, have concluded that the level of modern nib manufacturing is, though in my opinion, not exactly plagued by poor workmanship (a good nail nib is still a good nail nib), but has instead become complacent, perhaps unaware of the potential profits which could be obtained from the enthusiastic, albeit rather niche consumer group.

(have a look at some of the prices that vintage flex fetches on eBay!)

 

We have not really lost the technology or the method of producing flexible gold nibs. If you read the below copy-and-paste of the text, you can see that the only thing that was required to make the gold "flexible" was to hammer it; something that I believe with a little bit of will and determination we can replicate in a mechanical form, using machinery instead of a blacksmith, to make each one as precisely and accurately manufactured as the one before.

 

"The nib of each Pen, as shown above, is hammered on a small anvil or stake, of

curved surface, until the required spring or elasticity is secured, so that the nib of the
Pen will bend almost double and again return to its proper position." 

 

Of course there are many things in the detailed process which can be automated due to our large advances in technology. For example, I believe that we have improved our tipping process, compared to when the Victorians were still figuring it out. Much of the tipping of the period was liable to falling out. In addition, we have automated much of the process of making nibs, the only part requiring human expertise being possibly the grinding, smoothing and inspecting, making the process faster and more consistent.

 

I believe that if those high end companies, which probably have the money to invest in these sorts of things, decide to produce machinery which can hammer the nibs (tines), and strike upon the certain points with an exact pressure to produce the flexibility, then it is very possible that we will be able to produce modern flex nibs which will rival, or even better the flex nibs of the past. 

 

Here is a copy of the text which you may read at your own leisure. I have linked to the catalogue at the top of the post ( it's a big file so I recommend you look at it on a reasonably powerful device).

 

(note that the use of the word "pens" is the Victorian equivalent of our "nibs", and the word "nibs" is the Victorian equivalent of our "tines")

 

 

FORGE FOR MELTING THE GOLD.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.55 pm.jpg

 

In this the Alloyed Gold is melted. It is fine Bar Gold (see page 43), and the
quantity of alloy added is prepared with much care, and consists of pure Copper
and Silver. A small quantity of each is added to the fine bar of gold. Pure
Gold being too soft, the alloy is added to make it hard and durable and of a uniform
elasticity. The alloyed gold is put into a sand crucible and placed in a charcoal fire,
melted to a liquid and then poured into an iron ingot which produces a bar of the
required width and thickness according to the size of Pen it is intended for, generally
about half inch thick, 20 inches long, 1&1/2 inches in width (see E). After the bar is
cooled it is removed from the ingot, the rough edge is filed smooth and hammered, and
it is then ready for the

 

ROLLING MILL, OR STOCK ROLLS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.56 pm.jpg

This machine rolls or stretches the bar of gold to perhaps ten times its original
length, reducing it to a ribbon about 1/32 of an inch thick. Its width ought to be just
enough to cut out two blank Pens. The machine is propelled by steam or hand power.
It is complicated, very heavy, made and finished in the finest and most expensive
manner, and regulated by two screws on each end. Each time the bar passes through
the screws are turned down, until the required thickness is attained, and it is then
ready for the

 

BLANK PRESS AND DIE.
 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.56 pm (1).jpg

After the bar of gold is rolled into a long thin ribbon, the blank Pen " C " is cut
from it in two rows. One long strip or ribbon will cut from five hundred to a thousand
blanks. The cutter is a lever press — with die set. The blank as it is cut drops through
into a drawer underneath. This blank Pen is now ready for the

 

BURRING MACHINE.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.56 pm (2).jpg

This is used to mill out a recess across the point end of the blank "D" to receive
the " Iridium " which is the celebrated Diamond Point of the Gold Pen. This done,
the blank is now ready to have the Iridium set in, as is shown in the next Engraving.
 

 

SELECTING AND PUTTING ON THE DIAMOND POINTS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.57 pm.jpg

This is done by placing a number of blanks in a row on a strip of wood made for
that purpose. The diamond points being carefully selected, a small pencil brush is
dipped into liquid borax and with it the points are picked up and set into the recess.
The workman uses a microscope to enable him to place the points properly. When
this is done, the " blank " is sent to the next man, who fixes the points permanently :


SWEATING ON THE DIAMOND POINTS.
 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.57 pm (1).jpg

A lot of blank Pens are placed in rows as above, on a flat piece of charcoal ; the
blow pipe is then applied to the gas burner and a flame is directed steadily upon the
point of the blank until the gold is thoroughly melted around the diamond or Iridium
point. This is the " sweating" process (no solder being used) in making Foley's Pens.
Hence it is that the points never come off. It requires much care and experience, for
if the heat is applied a moment too long the whole Pen is melted and made useless.

The point is now applied to the copper lathe (see 73) and brought to a square
even face upon both sides and end. It is then ready for the blank rolls.

The fine quality of Gold, over 16-karat fine, used in the manufacture of FOLEY'S
Solid Gold Pens cannot be affected in the slightest degree by the strong acid with
which most of the good inks are now made. Many of the Pens in the market at the
present time are made of 10, 12 and 14-karat Gold and the points are put on with
solder. The acid of the ink will turn the cheap Pens black and separate the points,
which will soon fall off, and make the Pen worthless. Again, many Pens are made so
light, being almost as thin as paper, that they soon wear out. A poorly made Gold
Pen, no matter how cheap, is the most expensive in the end.


THE BLANK ROLLS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.57 pm (2).jpg

With this machine the blank Pen is rolled down or stretched to the length shown
above. This is done by placing the blank between the two rolls. The under roll has
a recess in which the point is protected, and the pen is passed through the rolls several
times until the required length is attained. The blank as shown above is now ready to
have the Springiness or Elasticity hammered into it.


HAMMERING TO PRODUCE THE SPRING OR ELASTICITY.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.57 pm (3).jpg

The nib of each Pen, as shown above, is hammered on a small anvil or stake, of
curved surface, until the required spring or elasticity is secured, so that the nib of the
Pen will bend almost double and again return to its proper position. It is now in a
rough and uneven shape and prepared for the second cut to give the Pen its proper
form; by the


SECOND CUTTING DIE AND PRESS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.57 pm (4).jpg

This operation takes off a narrow strip all around except at the point, and gives
the Pen its proper even form in the flat state as above shown and it is then ready
for the


STAMPING PRESS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.58 pm.jpg

This is a screw press. The name stamp is set, and the pen, still flat, is placed on
a hard steel plate with a guide to slide the pen into, so that every Pen is lettered
uniformly and in exact position. Nearly one thousand Pens can be stamped in an
hour. The Pen as above shown is now ready to have the sides raised up into shape,
which is done in the


RAISING UP MACHINE.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.58 pm (1).jpg

This is a screw press of great power. With this, the Pen from its flat shape is
bent into the round or partially cylindrical form. To insure perfect shape and per-
manent set to the new curve, only a press of great power and dies of extreme exactness
can be used successfully. This press is very heavy and complicated with many parts
and very expensive fittings. The principal parts are the half round bed on which the
flat Pen rests ; and the plunger, half round also, to fit exactly, which is struck down
with great force by the action of the screw. This blow rounds the back and sides of
the Pen. The plunger is brought up by an excentric and lever acting on two jaws, one
on each side of the machine. This completes the perfect shape of the Pen as above
shown in its well known form.

This machine was invented by an ingenious Frenchman, John Countis, a machinist,
while employed in Mr. Foley's factory. It is the most perfect and successful Raising
Machine ever devised for Gold Pen making, and is capable of raising and shaping fifty
Pens an hour.

The next operation is to cut or divide the point in the Point, Cutting Lathe.


CUTTING THE DIAMOND POINT.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.58 pm (2).jpg

With this Point Cutting Lathe, after the Pen is carefully adjusted in a swing
frame, the diamond or Iridium point is brought centrally upon the edge of a thin
copper disk, about three inches in diameter, kept in rapid motion. The edge of the
disk is charged with fine emeiy and oil. The Iridium is soon slit into two points, and
thus is laid the foundation for the slit of the Pen. The Pen is next placed in a pen
holder and passed over to the

 

SLITTING LATHE.

Image 13-7-19 at 3.58 pm (3).jpg

With this the slit is extended from the points to the full length of the nib. A
very fine circular steel saw is used, and the skillful workman uses no guide. He simply
places the Pen in a holder and with both hands and an experienced eye will slit, perfect
and straight, one hundred Pens an hour. A fine hand-saw is used to perfect the end
of the slit, which must end exactly perpendicular to both sides. This prevents the
slit or Pen from cracking further up, and destroying the Pen. After slitting as above,
the Pen is ready for

 

BURNISHING THE NIBS.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.58 pm (4).jpg

This is done with a hammer, burnisher and stake. Slitting the Pen removes more or
less of the gold. The two edges must now be brought together again by hammering
the outer edges of the nibs on the stake. The Pen is burnished on both sides to remove
all unevenness ; and the nibs are set even by the fingers.

After leaving the burnisher the Pen is ready to receive the most important part of
its construction — from the

 

GRINDING LATHE.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.59 pm.jpg

This consists of one large and two or three smaller copper wheels and one
tin slitter fitted on a steel spindle, running on true centers and finely finished.
The tin slitter is charged with fine emery and oil. Now begins the most important
work. After the Pen leaves the hand of the burnisher it goes at once into the hands
of the GRINDER who should be not only an experienced workman and a good mechanic,
but a man of intelligence, for he must understand thoroughly and practically what is
necessary to finish a perfect Pen. The Grinder at once applies the Pen to the slitter so
as to make the inside surfaces of the slit and points exactly flat, and set them easy
together. Unless this is well understood by the workman and carefully done, a perfect
writing Pen is impossible, for he will leave it with a crooked or an uneven slit. The
great object in having the inside edges of the slit square and flat is to prevent the nibs
from crossing or slipping by each other.

The slit being made straight and perfect, the Pen is next fitted into the grinding
holder, made of steel, with the diamond point alone projecting. It is then applied to
the copper wheel (as shown in the cut which gives the exact operation), and the points
are ground on the sides, back and end, while on the small copper wheels the face of the
point is ground until the proper shape is secured. Here the skill and brains of the
grinder are displayed, for if the correct shape is not given to the point it would be
impossible to smooth and make it a good writing Pen. This is the most difficult part
of Gold Pen making. A good workman cannot grind and smooth over two hundred
good Pens in a week, though the men employed by the cheap manufactories claim to do
as many in 7 or 8 hours. There are only a few excellent Pen grinders in the trade, and
during the great demand for Gold Pens at the commencement of the war in 1861, and
to 1865, the supply was not at ail equal to the demand.

While grinding, the Pen is carefully examined with a strong lens, and finally fitted
into a desk-holder and applied to paper and ink and thoroughly tested. Thus every
defect is removed by the judgment and experience of the grinder. When that is done
the Pen goes to

 

THE POLISHING LATHE.

 

Image 13-7-19 at 3.59 pm (1).jpg

This lathe consists of four wheels, two broad ones for polishing and rougeing the
Pen on the back, and two very narrow ones for polishing the Pen on the inside. The
wheels are covered with cloth of felt charged with rotten stone or tripoli ; and for the
rougeing buckskin is used. The Pen is now " nibbed" on the inside of the nibs, with
Scotch stone. This roughens the nibs so as to hold ink and prevent it from flowing
too freely. This done the Pen goes again to the grinder — who re-adjusts and carefully
examines it to see if any injury was done while in the hands of Polisher. The points
are delicately touched up; the nibs carefully adjusted so that they will not cross or lap
over; and the Pens are then placed in strong alcohol which removes the oil and other
polishing materials and makes the Pen perfectly clean.

After drying them in line box-wood sawdust, the Pens are put up in boxes and
sent to the office, where the Manufacturer personally examines every Pen thoroughly,
not only as to its writing qualities, but every part of the work and finish is carefully
examined with the aid of a strong lens. If the slightest imperfection is discovered
the Pen is returned to the Factory. The perfect Pens are finally counted and weighed
and entered upon the stock book and are then ready for sale and delivery.

[edited post to add pictures and to change some wording]
 


Edited by Lunoxmos, 14 July 2019 - 01:05.


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#2 hari317

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 05:19

Very informative. Thanks.
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#3 A Smug Dill

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 06:06

After reading the catalogue myself, I along with David Armstrong and probably many other people as well, have concluded that the level of modern nib manufacturing is, though in my opinion, not exactly plagued by poor workmanship, but has instead become lazy, and unwilling to go any further.

 
To my way of thinking, there's an appreciable difference between complacent and lazy.
 
It's difficult to mount a robust argument that those who are in the business of making and offering writing instruments commercially to satisfy market demand are lazy, as supposedly evidenced by being "unwilling to go any further", if it's neither proven nor forecasted that going further will increase profitability — and/or otherwise advance their business objectives and commercial interests — by triggering increased and willing spending on their products by their targeted customer base. Those who have the expertise and resources to go further in the research, development and delivery of accessible solutions to closes the gap between want and have of some minority of enthusiasts and hobbyists aren't necessarily being lazy, if or when the former may well have decided they have reached a local optimum at which their goals have been adequately met; at worst, one could argue they are complacent in forgoing opportunities for even higher profitability or what-not that they're chasing as for-profit enterprise. They aren't implicitly the enthusiast community's comrades-in-arms in pursuit of shared goals, even if they have the potential to be enablers (especially where enthusiasts cannot reasonably be expected to succeed in achieving their goals without a large dose of extrinsic help).
 
If "you" — as the customer of the industry — are only spending $200 on pens a year and pen manufacturers only make 20% net profit from your spending, because the latter's offerings only satisfy you in a limited way and not fully, but you'd be prepare to dig deep and spend $400 on pens annually in a way that allows pen manufacturers to make 25% net profit overall, would they be lazy to not try and squeeze more discretionary spending out of you, or just complacent if the business owners are quite satisfied with just 20% net profit?

We have not really lost the technology or the method of producing flexible gold nibs.

 
Whether a pen manufacturer is lazy must be judged against its goals, values and motivations for being in the business, and not the (current or prospective) customers' goals and wants. Whether something is technically easy, difficult or impossible to deliver and make available in the market is secondary.

Let's give each other due respect, and approach discussion rigorously. I believe we're all peers and equals here as fellow hobbyists, with common interests in the acquisition and use of fountain pens, but no shared values and no obligation to offer each other moral support for one's narrative.

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#4 Lunoxmos

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 06:28

 
To my way of thinking, there's an appreciable difference between complacent and lazy.
 
It's difficult to mount a robust argument that those who are in the business of making and offering writing instruments commercially to satisfy market demand are lazy, as supposedly evidenced by being "unwilling to go any further", if it's neither proven nor forecasted that going further will increase profitability — and/or otherwise advance their business objectives and commercial interests — by triggering increased and willing spending on their products by their targeted customer base. Those who have the expertise and resources to go further in the research, development and delivery of accessible solutions to closes the gap between want and have of some minority of enthusiasts and hobbyists aren't necessarily being lazy, if or when the former may well have decided they have reached a local optimum at which their goals have been adequately met; at worst, one could argue they are complacent in forgoing opportunities for even higher profitability or what-not that they're chasing as for-profit enterprise. They aren't implicitly the enthusiast community's comrades-in-arms in pursuit of shared goals, even if they have the potential to be enablers (especially where enthusiasts cannot reasonably be expected to succeed in achieving their goals without a large dose of extrinsic help).
 
If "you" — as the customer of the industry — are only spending $200 on pens a year and pen manufacturers only make 20% net profit from your spending, because the latter's offerings only satisfy you in a limited way and not fully, but you'd be prepare to dig deep and spend $400 on pens annually in a way that allows pen manufacturers to make 25% net profit overall, would they be lazy to not try and squeeze more discretionary spending out of you, or just complacent if the business owners are quite satisfied with just 20% net profit?

 
Whether a pen manufacturer is lazy must be judged against its goals, values and motivations for being in the business, and not the (current or prospective) customers' goals and wants. Whether something is technically easy, difficult or impossible to deliver and make available in the market is secondary.

 

You make a good point. Complacent is a better word to use in that situation. Opinions and ideas have been changed as they are malleable. I'll quickly edit my original post to make some changes.

 

My main point, however was not to say that modern pen producers should produce flexible nibs (because there is still an investment in regards to machinery as well as the fact that they may not sell as well as their normal range. This is in addition to the observation that often people who start out on flex and splurge on vintage flex without a sort of introduction end up being overenthusiastic and springing them as they are unaware of how much pressure is too much) and the fact that they're not is a sign of laziness, but to show that if we wanted to, we have the knowledge and means of producing gold flex nibs which are similar to the ones we find on vintage and antique pens, and we are perfectly capable of producing them, and that they aren't some long dead alien technology which we can't replicate.  :)


Edited by Lunoxmos, 13 July 2019 - 06:51.


#5 peroride

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 10:40

Thank you @Lunoxmos for the comprehensive beautiful historical journey into David Armstrong exposition.

 

I don't know if my dear Waterman nib was made in such a hammered manner, but 

 

I love that the secret sauce to the magic of flex is/was still the careful crafted application of blood, sweat and tears to precious nibs.

 

It definitely adds to the charm of vintage!

 

I bought into the mythology that only the ancient alloys of alchemists old could not be resurrected and thus rendering a modern wet noodle flex moot. 

 

Turns out there is hope if humans care to venture in this niche. 

 

Notwithstanding if flex/soft nib needs are modest, many have reported fpnibs and Indy Pen Dance offering a satisfying semi-flex experience (myself included! with Linda Kennedy's craft)

 

Here's to highly crafted nibbage!  :thumbup: 



#6 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 13:07

Great links and re-print.

I had been very surprised a few years ago, when I read up on steel dip pen nibs how much work went into them.

Tipping was perfected in WW2. Before that '20-30's and before nibs had lumps and chunks fell off, one of the reasons I tell folks to take extreme care with 'smoothing such nibs....and Butter Smooth is not an option, on ancient nibs.

A good poster had a tread showing highly magnified pictures of pre-WW2 tipping...which was real eye opening.

 

IMO, the return factor of Ham Fisted writers sprung nibs is why companies went over to semi-nails and nails.

As much as I'd want everyone to have nibs with various levels of flex...the crossover Ham Fisted Ball point user still gets :crybaby: :gaah:threads of two second pretzel nibs.....even in nails. (Never lend your pen to a ball point user.)

 

When one compares cost of a better to top of the line pen, to various superflex, or semi-flex pens....they are comparable.........

1902 re0plica Sears Catalog, 10 K nibs were cheaper.

16 K nibs

#1-$0.45

#2 $0. 50, #3 $0.65

Size....cents

4- 75

5- 90

 6-1.00

7-1.20

8-1.45

Stubs

4-.75

5-.90

6-1.00

7-1.20

 

In the age of the nickle beer and free lunch (had to buy three beers----or one got a free oyster with every beer), and even though one could still get a cigar for a nickle, some Senator pined for the day with a nickle cigar was a good one.

A skilled worker made $3.00 a day, day labor $1.00

 

........Of course if one Hunts and don't push the Buy Now Idiot button on German Ebay....Ebay.de semi-flex can be had much cheaper than Stateside. The professional dealer has learned to put his pen in Stateside Ebay and in German Ebay at the same too high price.

 

With ground for flex nibs, one can get nearly what was once available.

 

Once the US company Morton made the best nibs in the world. Kawaco a good once great German company had used Morton nibs until 1914, when they bought machinery from Morton, and imported American workers to train their German workers in April of 1914. Then came August.

With Bunsen burners they anealed and hammered  those nibs on real tiny anvils.....Morton's trick was to stick the point of the tipped nib in a small chunk of potato to keep the 'iridium' tipping from burning off......so I imagine the company canteen had potato soup or potato dumplings every single day. That hammering was woman's work.

With that nib, since 1900 both Soennecken and MB were second class pens.

1929 the company was made bankrupt not because the company failed but the owner was on the margin in the stock market.

1930 the first thing the new owner did was cut out that expensive nib making, falling to only MB and Soennecken level.

Could cut his labor force a lot.....but I don't know if the guy kept the canteen or not, or if now other things were served but potatoes.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 13 July 2019 - 13:37.

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.

 

 

 


#7 AAAndrew

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 16:03

Nicely done. It's good to have the steps for making vintage gold pens laid out like this. I did something similar for steel dip pens a while back. 

 

If I were going to try and make these pens today, I'd start by understanding, physically, they were accomplishing by each step. For example, the way they cut the slit made the tine open up. They then hammered the pen back into shape so the tines met again. did this hammering actually accomplish more than bringing the tines back together? Would doing something similar help, or possibly hurt the final product? 

 

Thanks for sharing, it was quite interesting. 



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#8 lysander

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 19:13

Brillant thread, thanks for posting ! Really interesting read.

#9 peroride

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 21:47

...

 

In the age of the nickle beer and free lunch (had to buy three beers----or one got a free oyster with every beer), and even though one could still get a cigar for a nickle, some Senator pined for the day with a nickle cigar was a good one.

 

...

Morton's trick was to stick the point of the tipped nib in a small chunk of potato to keep the 'iridium' tipping from burning off......so I imagine the company canteen had potato soup or potato dumplings every single day. 

Crafted flex nibs, nickel beer, nickel cigars and potato dumplings ...

 

Thank you @Bo Bo Olson, sign me up, sounds like heaven :P



#10 Bibliophage

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 23:20

Nicely done. It's good to have the steps for making vintage gold pens laid out like this. I did something similar for steel dip pens a while back. 

 

If I were going to try and make these pens today, I'd start by understanding, physically, they were accomplishing by each step. For example, the way they cut the slit made the tine open up. They then hammered the pen back into shape so the tines met again. did this hammering actually accomplish more than bringing the tines back together? Would doing something similar help, or possibly hurt the final product? 

 

Thanks for sharing, it was quite interesting. 

 

Imagine using laser cutting, or ultra fine water jet cutting.   You wouldn't need to bring the tines back together at all.  



#11 Beginnersmind0

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 00:00

Fascinating! Though I am curious about the hammering required after already rolling the metal in the rolling mill. Unless they didnt mention an intermediary step of anealing the gold?

#12 Beginnersmind0

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 00:00

Thanks for sharing this!

#13 Beginnersmind0

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 00:01

Thanks for sharing this!

#14 Lunoxmos

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 01:01

 

When one compares cost of a better to top of the line pen, to various superflex, or semi-flex pens....they are comparable.........

1902 re0plica Sears Catalog, 10 K nibs were cheaper.

16 K nibs

#1-$0.45

#2 $0. 50, #3 $0.65

Size....cents

4- 75

5- 90

 6-1.00

7-1.20

8-1.45

Stubs

4-.75

5-.90

6-1.00

7-1.20

 

 

 

 

That's quite interesting, because if you look at the original catalogue, and adjust some of the prices for inflation, you can find that they would be reasonably affordable (but remember, gold pens at the time were still a new and niche market. They were essentially luxury items, while the ordinary folk continued to use steel dip pens). But of course, I assume the price of living in the 1870s was much different to that of today.

No.1 Gold Pen and Holder.....................each, $1.00 ($21.35 after being adjusted for inflation)

No.2 Gold Pen and Holder.....................each, $1.75 ($37.35 after being adjusted for inflation)

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{insert a couple of sizes and a bit of stuff in between}

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No.4 Fine Solid Gold Screw Pen with a Diamond Head and Engraved.....................$100 ($2,134.52 after being adjusted for inflation) (this was the most expensive item on the catalogue, but quite obvious so as you're literally given an entire ROD of SOLID GOLD with a DIAMOND attached to the end.)

Image 14-7-19 at 10.22 am.jpg

 

On the note of prices, I would also like to point out that the revered Waterman 52 was actually one of the cheapest pens in production by Waterman. According to a catalogue from 1925, a Waterman 52 would have cost $2.75, or $40.25 after being adjusted for inflation. The modern rush for Waterman 52s can possibly be attributed to early recommendations, since they were relatively cheap and plentiful. Of course, since everyone who hunts for vintage flex now (I assume) has probably taken a peek at the Waterman 52, online sellers who have caught onto the hype love to make prices soar out into space.  :roller1:

 

Image 14-7-19 at 11.01 am.jpg


Edited by Lunoxmos, 14 July 2019 - 03:04.


#15 Bibliophage

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 02:23

A note about inflation.   The prices would actually be even higher now.  There were far fewer things that people considered to be essential, so wages were lower.   For example, people did not pay for any sort of phone plans, anything to do with automobiles, and had limited amount of clothing, which were kept for far longer than today.   Those inflation adjustments are done by basing them on a few staples that haven't changed much, rather than on the wages provided.  

 

To give an example of this - my parent's Ford Maverick, bought in 1971, cost $2104 dollars, if I remember the sale paperwork correctly.  (Yes, my mother _still has that document_, thirty years after it went for scrap)  Today, that same car would be around fifteen times that amount.   If you called it the "Model T", which was 325.00 in 1926 (assembly line price reduction from original $850), that means that the Maverick 'today', would be _ninety two times_ the price in 1926 - rather than the 21 times used in the above calculations.  



#16 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 09:41

IMO the golden age was between 1966-early mid 80's...

 

The good old days of a century before had four days off a year. 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.....and a 6 day a week 12 hour day.

Those socialists wanted the employer to pay for a so called 'vacation'.....and a heath plan. On the Job insurance??????????????

The factory owners of the time who had come up in that branch were often supportive of organized labor.

Others murdered strikers with help of Pinkerton or other similar 'detective' companies. 

 

One bathed on Saturday night if one needed it or not.....that was when one changed ones long underwear.....winter or summer version.............It wasn't until the peddle at home washing machine came in (mid-1890's) that shirts with collars and cuffs came into style. The (well to do)  middle class changed underwear every day.

 

Luckily we have the used fountain pen market............a good solid deal can be had with patience.....a word that is seldom applied any more....in the day of buy now idiot.

 

""""The minimum wage went to $1.00 an hour effective February 1967 for newly covered nonfarm workers, $1.15 in February 1968, $1.30 in February 1969, $1.45 in February 1970, and $1.60 in February 1971..""" ( Missed all that high pay, being in the USAF for that time, in low paid draft days.)

 

Now that is heavy inflation.................but we had the reverse in the '91- 2005's ..$4.25, $4.75 to $5.15 in 2005.....and all the time one had the 'Good Inflation of 3% a year at least............45% of ones wage eaten by inflation over that 15 years..........and now they are talking one needs a $20.00 minimum wage.

I see that inflation in the accepted price of used pen in the States. Vintage Pelikan pens go for $250-285 or higher for a E-100 ($110) pen............of course now the the cartel of Buy Now Bandits in Germany have Stateside prices.....every day millions of idiots get up every morning and all one has to be is lucky once a month to get by quite well.


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.

 

 

 


#17 Lunoxmos

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 08:17

Some useful links to threads about making flexible nibs:

 

Adding Flex to 14K Nibs, Again

 

Annealing a Vintage 14K Nib

 

Flex Manufacturing



#18 Honeybadgers

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 18:21

Just validates my mind that the reason 14k flex was so special back then was that the alloys were custom made, and not just raw commercial 14k sheet stock 

 

I can't wait until I get into my higher order chemistry classes so I can do some X ray spectroscopy on some vintage and modern 14k nibs to see what the alloy contents of each are.


Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#19 SchaumburgSwan

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 21:09

Just validates my mind that the reason 14k flex was so special back then was that the alloys were custom made, and not just raw commercial 14k sheet stock 

 

I can't wait until I get into my higher order chemistry classes so I can do some X ray spectroscopy on some vintage and modern 14k nibs to see what the alloy contents of each are.

 

Hi,

 

some EDX (or other techniques) results would be interesting.

 

Today a 14K yellow gold alloy is made of gold (58.5%) and other metals (silver, copper and a bit of zinc). The harder 14K alloys have 30 to 60% silver in the non-gold part.

 

Do you know this article? https://link.springe...1007/BF03215089

The publication is a jewelers point of view, so they concentrate on surface hardness...

 

Best

Jens


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#20 SoulSamurai

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 20:38

Just validates my mind that the reason 14k flex was so special back then was that the alloys were custom made, and not just raw commercial 14k sheet stock 
 
I can't wait until I get into my higher order chemistry classes so I can do some X ray spectroscopy on some vintage and modern 14k nibs to see what the alloy contents of each are.

Interesting, I look forwards to reading your findings!





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: gold, vintage, flex, nib, dip pen, foley, victorian, antique



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