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Posting Caps On Vintage Pens Can Damage The Cap -- So Don't Post?

pen cap post vintage damage splitting celluloid

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51 replies to this topic

#21 OMASsimo

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 23:45

I think this is a topic loaded with personal partiality. My answer is like usual, it depends. But first I'd like to answer to some of the things here I think are myths. I collect and restore a lot of vintage pens mainly from the 1930s through 1960s and predominantly of European origin (Italy, UK, Germany). My sample size of US pens is considerably smaller, so I can't be sure that my observations can be extended to the other side of the big pond without being very careful.

 

 

much of this debate ingores a very important issue which is that the further back in time we go, the less owners were concerned about the appearance or potential damage to their f.ps. - so they posted with gay abandon, and without the slightest thought as to consequences of damage to the pen.             The cost of a good pen is now out of proportion to values of similar pens back mid C20, and replacing Vacs and Duofolds didn't cost what they might do now.                 

For the vast majority of writers pre 1950/60, a  f.p. was simply an object of utilitarian necessity, since ball points were unreliable anyway, and a f.p. was seen as something essential in most occupations.               That attitude is no longer, and folk who now use f.ps. are either collectors or people who write but not out of the same necessity. 

Some of the terminal barrel constriction damage seen on f.ps. made pre 1950 is staggering  -  it's almost as though posting was achieved with a mallet, and many older pens are now damaged irretrievably due solely to posting.           In view of cap rings, experience appears to show far more damage occurs to barrels than caps.

If you're worried about pens rolling, then use an appropriate holder on the desk, which will add some elegance.

:)

 

I don't know how to phrase this carefully enough but I think this is pretty much the opposite of what I've seen so far. First of all, fountain pens, though a sheer necessity for the better educated, were not cheap at all. For the period of my interest as mentioned above, a good pen cost about the gross income of a week, which nowadays would put it up into the luxury segment. And therefore, people were not sloppy with their pens. But they also were commodities and thus not necessarily kept pristine for the showcase.

 

Second, posting a cap regularly over an extended period of time leaves cap marks on the barrel. This is unavoidable and one could live with it. However, most of the vintage pens I buy don't show significant cap mark, almost regardless of how small the pens are. And the average vintage pen in my collections is about 12 cm long when capped. From that I conclude that our ancestors did not have the habit to post every small pen because they considered them too short or too unbalanced. And honestly, with most of these nimble pens I can write unposted without any problem. It's a matter of getting used to it or what you expect.

 

Ritual and Reverence, i.e. when I sit to write it is almost always at my desk where I am now in the habit of immediately slowing down all my movements the instant I sit. If the pen I select requires posting to achieve the right balance then that procedure is carried out very carefully and deliberately, with gentle micro-adjustments before I start to write. I believe it is a combination of excessive speed and excessive force that leads to damage to the cap or barrel. In some cases, the design of the pen means that even careful posting will lead eventually to a posting ring on the barrel and so I must either use such pens unposted regardless of the balance or not use them at all if I care about the damage. #1 case in point is the Wahl Full GF Coronet where a posting ring significantly reduces the pen's value.

 

This is probably the way to go if you feel that you absolutely have to post your pen. This is close to how I do it. Sometimes I do post a small pen for what I consider better balance because, after all, I want to enjoy the writing. This is why I use fountain pens! But when I post, I do it very carefully for two reasons, first not to crack the cap lip if it's not protected by a proper ring and second, not to leave a mark on the barrel. This said, I do it only for extended writing session to make it worth it. Since I use my pens everyday in the office as well, there are many occasions when I only need to note down something quickly. In that case I basically never post because it would be rather inefficient and also could be harmful to the pen.

 

Anyway, since you are new to vintage pens I only can recommend to stay open-minded. It's another world - and there are no rules. But from my own experience I'd suggest to first try a new vintage pen unposted and learn its characteristics. If you really need the extra length or weight in the back then you still can switch to posting the pen. In the latter case you must be aware that it can damage the cap lip and leave marks on the pen's barrel. I do have a few Parker Vacumatics from the 40s with cracked cap lips most likely due to posting. I have an Eversharp Skyline with posting marks and in that case I'd say "fair enough, live with it because it's unavoidable". But most of my pens are free of such deficits and are still used mostly unposted or very carefully posted.



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#22 AlohaJim

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 23:52

I think this is a topic loaded with personal partiality. My answer is like usual, it depends. But first I'd like to answer to some of the things here I think are myths. I collect and restore a lot of vintage pens mainly from the 1930s through 1960s and predominantly of European origin (Italy, UK, Germany). My sample size of US pens is considerably smaller, so I can't be sure that my observations can be extended to the other side of the big pond without being very careful.

 

 

 

I don't know how to phrase this carefully enough but I think this is pretty much the opposite of what I've seen so far. First of all, fountain pens, though a sheer necessity for the better educated, were not cheap at all. For the period of my interest as mentioned above, a good pen cost about the gross income of a week, which nowadays would put it up into the luxury segment. And therefore, people were not sloppy with their pens. But they also were commodities and thus not necessarily kept pristine for the showcase.

 

Second, posting a cap regularly over an extended period of time leaves cap marks on the barrel. This is unavoidable and one could live with it. However, most of the vintage pens I buy don't show significant cap mark, almost regardless of how small the pens are. And the average vintage pen in my collections is about 12 cm long when capped. From that I conclude that our ancestors did not have the habit to post every small pen because they considered them too short or too unbalanced. And honestly, with most of these nimble pens I can write unposted without any problem. It's a matter of getting used to it or what you expect.

 

 

This is probably the way to go if you feel that you absolutely have to post your pen. This is close to how I do it. Sometimes I do post a small pen for what I consider better balance because, after all, I want to enjoy the writing. This is why I use fountain pens! But when I post, I do it very carefully for two reasons, first not to crack the cap lip if it's not protected by a proper ring and second, not to leave a mark on the barrel. This said, I do it only for extended writing session to make it worth it. Since I use my pens everyday in the office as well, there are many occasions when I only need to note down something quickly. In that case I basically never post because it would be rather inefficient and also could be harmful to the pen.

 

Anyway, since you are new to vintage pens I only can recommend to stay open-minded. It's another world - and there are no rules. But from my own experience I'd suggest to first try a new vintage pen unposted and learn its characteristics. If you really need the extra length or weight in the back then you still can switch to posting the pen. In the latter case you must be aware that it can damage the cap lip and leave marks on the pen's barrel. I do have a few Parker Vacumatics from the 40s with cracked cap lips most likely due to posting. I have an Eversharp Skyline with posting marks and in that case I'd say "fair enough, live with it because it's unavoidable". But most of my pens are free of such deficits and are still used mostly unposted or very carefully posted.

 

Outstanding summary.

I will take your advice.

Thanks for taking the time to post that.

aloha,

jim


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#23 Wahl

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 16:42

I do not post any of my pens, never !



#24 PaulS

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 17:52

quote from OMASsimo   ……………….. "posting a cap regularly over an extended period of time leaves cap marks on the barrel. This is unavoidable and one could live with it."           Could they - do we? :D                  Well I guess since you've said so then there is at least one person who doesn't object to the damage, and I suspect there are probably a few others too.                     But, along with many others here I wouldn't want my pens to have constriction rings and scratches on the barrel end if I'd just paid serious money for a f.p., and you're right of course this is a perennial subject that is loaded with partiality.          Whether folk post their pens or not is a very personal approach and I wouldn't seriously criticize anyone, I was simply making the comment that I see barrel terminals that have damage in the way of rings and scratches, which seems a shame to us now, but was just the way the cookie crumbled c. 1935 or whenever.

The c. 1920s habit of threading the last 5 mm of the barrel tail on which the cap screwed, seems to have been a short-lived experiment - perhaps it worked on the flat-ended pens as opposed to those with rounded terminals - so when flat ends died, perhaps the habit of threading barrel ends died too.

 

We're back to much of what I was commenting on earlier in this thread  -  people's perception of f.ps. and their treatment, earlier in the C20, was generally one of indifference since pens were just another utility item that you binned if it failed or didn't function properly, though nib replacement was practiced frequently, though that had nothing to do with posting.       In the main pens were posted - and on the evidence probably because they are older - it appears that BHR has suffered disproportionately.

 

It's very dangerous to generalize, but looking quickly in the Duofold book - the period from c. 1920 to 1935 for example - prices for some very adequate Parker Duofold pens appear to have been in the range of $3 - $7.      How does this compare with an average east coast States wage at that time - anyone know?



#25 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 19:51


It's very dangerous to generalize, but looking quickly in the Duofold book - the period from c. 1920 to 1935 for example - prices for some very adequate Parker Duofold pens appear to have been in the range of $3 - $7.      How does this compare with an average east coast States wage at that time - anyone know?

 

https://www.dol.gov/...nwage/chart.htm

Assume minimum wage, and 8 hour day, 5 day week -- $10/week, so a $5 pen is half a week's pay.

This is in 1938 when minimum wage was first implemented.

 

https://babel.hathit...iew=1up&seq=893

Gas station attendant, 1931... $0.39 per hour.

Intercity bus driver, 1933... $0.54 per hour (male, women were getting $0.38)



#26 PAKMAN

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 19:59

I never post vintage pens. I've seen too many cracked / chipped caps rims. Not worth the chance of destroying wonderful 60-100 year old writing instruments!


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#27 PaulS

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 21:16

thanks for the income versus pen cost figures  -  have to say I'm a little surprised some of those pens would have consumed half a weeks wages, but not questioning those figures.             We read so much blurb from corporate ads. during that period, waxing lyrical as to the cheapness of f.ps., that half a weeks income does seem high.



#28 inkstainedruth

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 00:04

thanks for the income versus pen cost figures  -  have to say I'm a little surprised some of those pens would have consumed half a weeks wages, but not questioning those figures.             We read so much blurb from corporate ads. during that period, waxing lyrical as to the cheapness of f.ps., that half a weeks income does seem high.

 

I found a website awhile back that calculated the rate of inflation difference between now and whatever year you plug into it.  By that site's calculation, a new Parker 51 should (if Parker still made them) be selling for about $150 US these days (or at least a few years ago when I found the site it would have).  We're talking about their flagship pen for 20 years -- so, an expensive but still clearly affordable pen, since Parker sold an estimated 20 *million* of them.  An Esterbrook, by comparison, was about $3; and a a third or fourth tier brand pen, like Rexall or Arnold, about 89¢.

The flip side of that was the story my mother told about when she was out of college and working (probably mid-late 1940s) in Philadelphia (but possibly when she was still in Pittsburgh and working at one of the hospitals as a med-tech.  She couldn't cook where she was living, so she had to eat out all the time.  A dinner was 50¢.  She said the waitresses all hated her because she never tipped -- because a 10¢ tip every day would add up to another meal by the end of the week....  

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#29 Honeybadgers

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 02:11

Depends on the pen. if it's a very fragile pen, maybe not. but my near-mint 1920's ebonite sheaffer? all the time. 

 

If it has a metal cap band that goes all the way to the lip? post away.


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#30 pajaro

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 03:51

Oh it's so dangerous that I post all my pens. 


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#31 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 01:01

thanks for the income versus pen cost figures  -  have to say I'm a little surprised some of those pens would have consumed half a weeks wages, but not questioning those figures.             We read so much blurb from corporate ads. during that period, waxing lyrical as to the cheapness of f.ps., that half a weeks income does seem high.

 

Remember -- that was for a minimum wage job. It was a day and a half for the bus driver (and the bus driver may have had a justification for needing a pen -- paper log book, say? The kid on minimum wage probably lived with pencils).

 

How many burger flippers at McDonalds do you see spending $200 (assuming they ARE full-time and $10/hour these days) on a pen (how many of them can even write cursive?)



#32 tinta

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 03:17

The only pen I post, out of necessity, is my tiny stainless Kaweco Lilliput.  The rest of my writing is performed "cap in hand".

I lived in Budapest in the mid 50s,  in a large Art Deco apartment house that had a huge lobby.  In its heyday, there were red runner carpets & potted palm trees there, & a doorman, but that was before the War.

 

The doorman's wicket was eventually converted into a small fountain pen repair shop where my friend George's father worked on his customers pens.  My friend & I hung around the shop, looking at the pens & asking a lot of questions about them.  In those days pens were mere tools but still quite interesting to us kids.

 

George's father showed us a good number of pens with cracked cap edges, even expensive German ones,  some with multiple wedding bands on their caps.  He admonished us not to post our cheap Russian or DDR school pen's caps, but to hold the cap in our other hand, if we didn't want the cap damaged.

 

Our parents had to buy all of our school supplies.  Everything then was scarce & expensive.  I was sure that I'd get a good hiding if my pen had to be repaired or even worse, to be replaced.    So,... cap in hand became a habit. 

All of my present small to medium sized pens (sans their caps) balance well in my small hand.  In use, only the Lilliput needs its cap.  


Edited by tinta, 27 July 2019 - 03:23.

*Sailor 1911-M, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *2 Sailor 1911-M Burgundy/gold pens: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Standard sized Brown Marbled Mozaique,(machined acrylic/rhodium),14c. 1.0 mm.CI (JM) *2 Kaweco SPECIAL fountain pens: 14c."M" "B",-0.5 mm & 0.7 mm (BLS) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "B" -0.6 mm. (BLS) *Montblanc 254, 14c. "BB" (1.1 mm?) flügelfeder factory stub

#33 AlohaJim

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 04:23

The only pen I post, out of necessity, is my tiny stainless Kaweco Lilliput.  The rest of my writing is performed "cap in hand".

I lived in Budapest in the mid 50s,  in a large Art Deco apartment house that had a huge lobby.  In its heyday, there were red runner carpets & potted palm trees there, & a doorman, but that was before the War.

 

The doorman's wicket was eventually converted into a small fountain pen repair shop where my friend George's father worked on his customers pens.  My friend & I hung around the shop, looking at the pens & asking a lot of questions about them.  In those days pens were mere tools but still quite interesting to us kids.

 

George's father showed us a good number of pens with cracked cap edges, even expensive German ones,  some with multiple wedding bands on their caps.  He admonished us not to post our cheap Russian or DDR school pen's caps, but to hold the cap in our other hand, if we didn't want the cap damaged.

 

Our parents had to buy all of our school supplies.  Everything then was scarce & expensive.  I was sure that I'd get a good hiding if my pen had to be repaired or even worse, to be replaced.    So,... cap in hand became a habit. 

All of my present small to medium sized pens (sans their caps) balance well in my small hand.  In use, only the Lilliput needs its cap.  

 

This is a terrific story.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

jim


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#34 praxim

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 06:17

Relating to some earlier comments here, there is no evidence that pens in general were designed to demand posting, vintage or modern, although some designs make it easier than others, gave more thought to those who wish to. Sometimes [lack of] length makes it invaluable for writing. Those with alternative views may take up the evidentiary burden in this thread. This has nothing to do with whether you like to post your pens.


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#35 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 10:58

Wahl, you'd post this pictured pen...or sell it.

Do you have a 140?

Or so you only have large and oversized pens?

I want to get where "I Never EVER, EVER post a pen" is coming from.

 

The thin Snorkle is a large pen....IMO has great balance posted, in it is a thin large pen. It IMO don't have as as quite as good a balance un-posted. One could 'live' with it.

 

The second model P-45 & Large 146 have fairly decent balance posted; IMO better than un-posted. The second model P-45 has a longer shaft than the first so can be used unposted...used, but by god, it lacks balance the cap gives it. The same goes for the new 1970+ 146, it can be used un-posted, but does have a bit better balance posted.

I do prefer the medium-large '50-70 146.

There are large and oversized pens like the Townsend or 1000 that really are ill balanced posted.

 

The Lamy Persona is a thick heavy Large pen, and long when posted, but the cap snaps in posted, so was so designed. It is a pen one has to lay in the pit of the thumb to have balance posted, un-posted has no balance....how can it....it's too short. Looks much like the new Imporium, outside the cap.

 

 

I could see using my Pelikan 381 or Celebry metal pens un-posted, they are thin, and  barely long enough to do so....heavy enough to do so. Often I'll post those out of force of habit and they are not too out of balance whack posted. They sit a tad lower in my grip, but not quite pit of the thumb low.

 

That is the normal '50's size BP. And even posted it is tiny!

iyftakH.jpg


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 27 July 2019 - 11:08.

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.

 

 

 


#36 tinta

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 18:14

 

This is a terrific story.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

jim

Thanks Jim. 

I had to think way back,  to figure out why I always hold my pen cap's in my left hand.  Yet usually I'm not a creature of habit. 

It's funny why we do what we do.

István


*Sailor 1911-M, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *2 Sailor 1911-M Burgundy/gold pens: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Standard sized Brown Marbled Mozaique,(machined acrylic/rhodium),14c. 1.0 mm.CI (JM) *2 Kaweco SPECIAL fountain pens: 14c."M" "B",-0.5 mm & 0.7 mm (BLS) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "B" -0.6 mm. (BLS) *Montblanc 254, 14c. "BB" (1.1 mm?) flügelfeder factory stub

#37 tinta

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 18:17

 

This is a terrific story.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

jim

Thanks Jim. 

I had to think way back,  to figure out why I always hold my pen cap's in my left hand.  Yet usually I'm not a creature of habit. 

It's funny why we do what we do.

István


*Sailor 1911-M, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *2 Sailor 1911-M Burgundy/gold pens: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Standard sized Brown Marbled Mozaique,(machined acrylic/rhodium),14c. 1.0 mm.CI (JM) *2 Kaweco SPECIAL fountain pens: 14c."M" "B",-0.5 mm & 0.7 mm (BLS) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "B" -0.6 mm. (BLS) *Montblanc 254, 14c. "BB" (1.1 mm?) flügelfeder factory stub

#38 tinta

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 18:18

 

This is a terrific story.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

jim

Thanks Jim. 

I had to think way back,  to figure out why I always hold my pen cap's in my left hand.  Yet usually I'm not a creature of habit. 

It's funny why we do what we do.

István


*Sailor 1911-M, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *2 Sailor 1911-M Burgundy/gold pens: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Standard sized Brown Marbled Mozaique,(machined acrylic/rhodium),14c. 1.0 mm.CI (JM) *2 Kaweco SPECIAL fountain pens: 14c."M" "B",-0.5 mm & 0.7 mm (BLS) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "B" -0.6 mm. (BLS) *Montblanc 254, 14c. "BB" (1.1 mm?) flügelfeder factory stub

#39 praxim

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 22:10

@tinta: I noticed the web site was pretty erratic last night, too. :)


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#40 Honeybadgers

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 23:27

Pens that post properly are my jam. I can tolerate ones that don't, but a pen that you can just flip the cap around on and feel like nothing changed is just awesome.

 

 

I really dislike screw to post though. It takes too long to do and undo, and most of them are multi-start, so you can wind up posting with the clip facing down (TWSBI Vac mini does this and I hate it) 

 

Only exception is the Cross spire but that pen really couldn't be a push to post by design.


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






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: pen, cap, post, vintage, damage, splitting, celluloid



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