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Hunting For Vintage/antique Flex

vintage antique flex

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#1 Lunoxmos

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 03:51

I'm not really sure where I should put this post, so please let me know if it's supposed to live somewhere else.

 

I have decided that I want to go hunting for vintage flex. 

 

A little background information... (actually it turned out to be more than a little)

I have 2 (useable) vintage fountain pens. A Conway Stewart Universal Pen from the late 1930s, and a Parker 51 Aerometric from the late 1950s. The majority of my 'flex' experience is in using dip pens, and I have been using them for journaling and the occasional attempt at everyday writing with them for the past 3 and a half-ish years, so I would say that I am reasonably experienced in the (?)art(?) of using flexible nibs.

 

So why do I want to get a vintage flex pen?

I have discovered (an odd century or 2 too late) that using dip pens, while extremely versatile, aren't exactly convenient, portable (one accident with a bottle of ink in my bag was enough to let me understand) nor very durable, with the untipped points soon wearing out. As such I believe that what would best suit me is an antique or vintage fountain pen.

 

What I would like in the pen I am looking for:

a very fine point (line variation of sorts needs to start somewhere)

Preferably from the 1920s and earlier? 

I'm not going to be mashing it out to 2mm for every letter and downstroke so you can rest easy regarding spring the nib. If I wanted to mash my nibs I've got plenty of dip pens to do that.

I'm (probably) not going to do calligraphy with them. Again, I have dip pens.

 

Yet I still want a super flex/wet noodle/ whatever name you want to call it.

but not to mash.

 

I fine with doing a little bit of work on them if necessary eg, replacing a sac or a j-bar for lever fillers, oe cleaning them out or whatever)

 

Now my question is: where do you recommend I actually go looking for these? Do I go on eBay? Do I go to antique shops (although to be honest most of the antique shops in my area probably won't have these as we didn't have companies that made these here. Most are probably old imports)?

How much should my cut-off price point be? I don't want to be overcharged by sellers who know what they are doing, so what's a reasonable price?

 

Please let me know your recommendations, tips and thoughts. 



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#2 Honeybadgers

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 04:09

Greg minuskin regularly sells needlepoint flex nib stuff restored meticulously. Expect to pay between $85-300 depending on the pen, and watch his website daily, as his stuff literally sells within hours.

 

I have a no-name sheaffer from the early 20's with a superflex XXXF wet noodle in absolutely mint condition that I got from nathaniel Cerf at thepenmarket.com for about $150, but he doesn't sell flex stuff all that often.

 

Avoid ebay, usually. Wet noodle stuff is usually horrendously overpriced. Semiflex stuff can be found at a bargain. Pelikan in particular, the 140 or 400NN.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 10 August 2019 - 04:11.

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


#3 sidthecat

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 05:30

Mr. Minuskin and I have conspired to create several hybrid fountain pens with dip nibs - gold 19th-Century ones. #3 nibs are approximately the same size as #2 fp nibs, although they’re significantly longer. Get a pen with a lot of headspace in the cap if you try this.

#4 Addertooth

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 06:01

If Flex is what you need, you are correct to consider most pens from the 1920s.  Brand affects price.  You will typically pay more (for example) for a Waterman than a Wahl even with all other features equal.  Keep in mind there are still a fair amount of hard nibbed pens from the 1920s, not every pen from that decade has the flex you crave.   If calligraphy is your focus, remember that desk pens typically have a depressed price (with exceptions), and have a form factor most similar to a classical quill.  Later quills are likely to be very stiff business nibs, but early ones tend to be flexy.  If you live near a major city, pen shows are a good way to try it before you buy it.  Online is fraught with exaggerated claims.  I have sample writings from pens which could not be replicated using the actual pen, unless I was willing to dangerously stress the pen.  I have no idea how the seller was able to get that much flex out of it without damaging the tines.   Also, if you look at enough examples of verified flexy nibs, you will start to get better at guessing how flexy a pen will be, by looking at pictures of the nib.  Best of luck!  The nib pictured as my avatar is one of the most amazing flex nibs I have found for smoothness.  I do have some which flex a bit more, but they are not as smooth.  That nib was resting on a bargain pen, which was being sold at a value price, because it looked so horrible.  


Edited by Addertooth, 10 August 2019 - 22:06.


#5 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 12:06

Mauricio, here on the com deals with '20-30's superflex pens, that are fully restored. He has a good blog that should be pinned...don't know if it is.

He says the most time consuming is the fiddling one has to do to get the nib and the feed to fit each other in the perfectly, for best use.

 

After finding out how much trouble it is to get a perfect match....I'd not dream of fiddling with either of the two Waterman 52's I have from him. One wet noodle is a 6X tine spread the other the rarer 7X. (Rare if you don't go to Youtube or Ebay to see just sprung for your convince nibs.)

 

I lucked the hell out, when I took out and put back the nib and feed of a Soennecken, that is my best superflex wet noodle. I will never touch that nib and feed, I fiddled with as a very, very lucky noobie.

 

Mauricio is not cheap, but does offer a number of different very nice superflex pens.

 

I have my own flex ratting, but as Mauricio says about it, is superflex has much more variation, which is true, but for 'noobie's' which you ain't, it's a guide.

Easy Full Flex, Wet Noodle and John Sowoboda an English nib grinder invented the term Weak Kneed Wet Noodle. A nib I don't have and don't want. Or I'd have to learn how to write. I ran into one on a '20's MB Safety Pen. :notworthy1: That was defiantly at least middle of the pack in dip pen nibs.

I have 5 or so Easy Full Flex, 3 Wet Noodles.

 

Compared to a middle flex of a Soennecken /Brause 228 dip pen, a 'Wet Noodle' fountain pen feels uncooked.

I have a few dip pen nibs, including a Hunt 99-100-101 which are real flexible.

I don't do enough writing with my dip pen nibs, so if using my fountain pen wet noodles. I have to sweat to get XXF, think to get EF and scribble at F.


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.

 

 

 


#6 cunim

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 15:41

I tried using various vintage flex as EDC pens.  They leak in hot weather, at least mine do, and the ones that really flex well are too rare and valuable to risk losing.  Fun though.  What I actually use when I want something worry free is any easy-flow pen barrel that takes a #6 nib unit.  Examples are the Edison Menlo draw filler and an Indian eyedropper I use as EDCs.  Both can deliver enough ink to any feed I have tried.  Steer clear of CCs.

 

I have various XF or XXF modern nibs that flex well but, as I also need springback, I tend to settle on a Regalia Crossflex (steel), or a Zebra G (titanium so it will last a month or so).  The key is to house the nib in a #6 feed/collar unit from Flexible Nib Factory.  Grasty at FNF will even supply the G installed in the nib unit.  Screw it into your pen and voila, great flex - better than any of my vintage.  I still love the vintage pens, but dealers will sell you what you pay for - at best.  The established dealers (like Mauricio) are fully aware that good flex is very valuable so caveat emptor.  I have bought some (very) high-priced pens with major issues.

 

If you are set on vintage, auctions are hit or miss but can be worth a punt.  One of my favorite vintage nibs is an unassuming little #2 Wahl.  Paid very little for it as part of an auction lot but refurbished the Oxford it came in and now I have a great vintage writer that was cheap enough to be worry-free.  If I don't mind the odd leak, I'll carry that Oxford while my Waterman ripples sit at home.


Edited by cunim, 10 August 2019 - 15:43.


#7 Charles Rice

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 17:55

Now my question is: where do you recommend I actually go looking for these? Do I go on eBay? Do I go to antique shops (although to be honest most of the antique shops in my area probably won't have these as we didn't have companies that made these here. Most are probably old imports)?

How much should my cut-off price point be? I don't want to be overcharged by sellers who know what they are doing, so what's a reasonable price?

 

Please let me know your recommendations, tips and thoughts. 

 

The best places for vintage pens besides eBay and antique shops is to let all of your friends know that you are into fountain pens.  After that, yard sales and estate sales.  I think that for the most part antique shops are way over priced and eBay is a (bleep) shoot.  Several friends who know I'm a pen nut have found pens at yard sales for me at very low prices (free or nearly so).  That includes a Pelikan 200, a Snorkel, and an Eversharp Skyline.  A few friends have found pens collecting dust in drawers and figured why not GIVE them to someone who would use them.  Inked right now is a Nozak and for the moment out of rotation is a Duofold Senior Delux.  It might take a while to get what you want, but don't stop looking.  

 

Mainly, I think finding pens in the wild is a lot more fun than clicking  your mouse on eBay.

 

Prices?  check eBay to get an idea of what they go for, but be aware that a lot of sellers are overly proud of what they sell.

 

Finally, if you don't already own one, get a book about pen collecting.  Then you can focus your search.  (some books can get pretty pricy, so check with your local library)


Edited by Charles Rice, 10 August 2019 - 17:56.


#8 Lyric

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 21:05

Mauricio, at www.vintagepen.net



#9 SoulSamurai

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 10:16

I tend to settle on a Regalia Crossflex (steel)

Do you think the Crossflex has better snap-back than other modern "flex" fountain pen nibs? I've only tried the Noodler's and FPR nibs myself, so I don't have a frame of reference, but the lack of "snapback" is the commonly quoted shortcoming for modern flex nibs?

#10 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 13:11

The Pilot/Ahab Mod, grinding half moons in the side of the nib of an Ahab, will take it from very hard to flex...semi-flex rating, two stage up (Jumping maxi-semi-flex) to Easy Full Flex which is a good flex rating for fun and games in Superflex. 

Is not a Wet Noodle, but as said, wet noodles are rather uncooked when comparing to various middle to easy to flex dip pens.

Easy Full Flex is still fun for scribbling. And if one wants to do fancy one can slow down and do it.


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.

 

 

 


#11 cunim

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 17:56

Do you think the Crossflex has better snap-back than other modern "flex" fountain pen nibs? I've only tried the Noodler's and FPR nibs myself, so I don't have a frame of reference, but the lack of "snapback" is the commonly quoted shortcoming for modern flex nibs?

I have had lots of modern steel flex nibs and have not liked any of them - other than that Crossflex.  It is steel, so it takes a bit of pressure to do its thing but it's range is about 0.3 mm to 2.2 mm - and it will do that without feeling like it's about to break and wh ile snapping right back.  Regalia uses a Grasty (FNF) feed with it that keeps right up.  However, the Regalia full flex nibs are really made of unobtanium so it is much easiaer to just order a G set up in a #6 nib unit from FNF.  That actually outperforms the Crossflex and you just dispose of the nib when it gets too scratchy.  Downside is that the G is not really an everyday writer - too scratchy.  It's a tool for drawing and calligraphy.  In contrast, the Crossflex is just an XF nib, until you push it.

 

I don't find modern gold nibs snap all that well, but you can get great range and soft flex from semiflex nibs sold by FPnibs.  'Course, a calligraphic dip nib will outdo any of these but that's not the point (pun intended).

 

In comparison, my much-loved vintage nibs are harder to use, require more care not exceed their limits, and were much more expensive.  Oh yes, and they don't perform as well.  I have also had poor experiences with on-line dealers, so I am now limiting myself to only buying pens that I can try.  Be careful.  High price is not a guarantee of quality.



#12 Addertooth

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 21:04

I am not a fan of modern flex nib pens.  And yes, I bought and tried some.  They (on the average) have inferior feeds which lead to railroading or hard starts.  They (on the average) require more pressure to spread, and are more likely to score the paper (which causes excessive wicking of the ink into the paper, which causes a feathering of ink around your lines).  Watch some YouTube videos of STOCK modern flex nib pens and you will see exactly what I am talking about.  Now if they replace the feed to a higher flow feed, and do some nib work on a Falcon FA, then it can be rather nice (but they don't come from the factory like this). 

 

I would likely disagree that vintage flex nibs are harder to write with than modern versions.   I will say that some are vintage pens are easier than others, but then, tuning the nib is the first thing I do after replacing the sac/piston/etc on a vintage pen.  Some have had a hundred years to get out of alignment, so a little work is forgivable.  I have a few that go over 2mm (2.4mm to be precise), and have a xf relaxed line.  

 

The picture below is a few flex nibs yanked out of my display box, I didn't even pull out some which flex more, rather, I reached for middle of the road flex.  (no nails, no ultra flex or wet noodles.)

I will shamefully admit to not remembering how much any of these flex, except for the 552 1/2v and the Skyline.  They Waterman lady's ring top pens are very difficult to find a non-flex in.  The only variable is how flexy will it be.  

 

 

fpn_1565556244__writing_samples_evershar



#13 cunim

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 15:47

Pictures are the way to go.  Here are two modern (Zebra G and Regalia Crossflex) and two vintage pens.  The green one is my cheap little Wahl Oxford.  The bottom pen is a very interesting and expensive wet noodle Doric from one of the vendors mentioned here.  The other three pens outperform it because they start finer and snap back quicker.  The sun is glaring off the shinier inks in #2 and #4 sample.  They are actually pretty even looking.

 

fpn_1565624484__quick.jpg



#14 SoulSamurai

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 20:00

What a lovely collection of pens and nibs. Very nice handwriting too. What is that first blue-red ink?

#15 sidthecat

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 20:22

I'm always amused by that clip-and-ring-top ensemble: the pen world's equivalent of the belt and suspenders.



#16 Addertooth

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 23:24

SoulSamurai,

 

I am not sure which of us you are speaking to (I am just learning to write), but here is the info on the red ink.

 

The red ink on the 552 1/2V Gold basketweave pen is Diamine Wild Strawberry.  It was an ink I rather surprisingly like a lot. 

 

 

Cunim,

 

   I really like the lines left by the Zebra G, is it stock from the box?  That Doric, with the adjustable flow nib is a rather rare creature, nice find!  I totally understand about the reflection, I got a horrible angle on my bottom lines.

 

 

              Addertooth


Edited by Addertooth, 12 August 2019 - 23:34.


#17 cunim

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 13:53

I get the Zebra nibs in boxes of 10.  Steel nibs last a week or two, depending on ink and frequency of use.  Ti nibs are a bit less responsive, but last a longer time in a fountain pen.  Both are cheap on Amazon.

 

The nib unit is from FNF.  He also has a great write-up on how to clean and use these nibs.

 

https://flexiblenib....-black-ebonite/



#18 Addertooth

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 19:07

I wonder if plating the Zebra nib with gold or nickel would extend its life.


Edited by Addertooth, 13 August 2019 - 19:09.


#19 Dr.X

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 13:16

The titanium coating seems to be sufficient. Mine last months, or longer.

 

Having amassed a good number of all of the flexible nib options mentioned above over the past 6 months I agree with most of the comments above.

 

If I had limited cash and HAD to have a vintage FP with a very flexible nib I would keep an eye on Greg Minuskin's website daily. My favorite (note I did not say "best") vintage FP is a Mabie Todd ringtop I bought from him for $80. It handily outperforms my Doric #7 adjustable, Waterman 52s and 54, etc.

 

For me it's fun experimenting. Messing around with Noodler's and Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) Flex nibs has produced good results. I will post some samples when I get a chance. Fountain Pen Revolution's #6 UltraFlex nib in steel is excellent. I would pair it with a Noodler's Konrad or Ahab because for me the FPR pens have converters that almost always have bad flow issues. The FPR modded ebonite Flex feeds are VERY wet - often too much. So I would use the stock Noodler's feed and widen the middle channel and the fins a bit with an X-Acto knife instead.

 

The #5.5 FPR Ultraflex is nearly as good as the #6 (just much smaller), though the same concerns arise with the feed. It gives you the option of using other FPR pens, however, that are piston-fillers.

 

All of the above assumes you don't mind fiddling with/adjusting nibs and feeds. 

 

Another option (same assumption) is using gold dip nibs in fountain pen bodies. I've done this successfully (as have many others), but it requires trial and error and patience. It can be relatively inexpensive if you get lucky early, but often is not.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Nick


Edited by Dr.X, 17 August 2019 - 13:18.


#20 Lunoxmos

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 13:39

I forgot to mention that I have actually tried out using a dip pen in a fountain pen body, specifically M. Myers & Sons Post Office Pens, in a Noodler’s Konrad, and that actually yielded pretty good results, but my main quip with it being that the cap space was too small, and I had to really make sure I didn’t crush the tip of the nib when I turned the cap. Then the fact that the tip of the nib was often touching the insides of the cap meant that often I would uncap it and find that ink had drooled onto the grip section and into the cap itself. It was a minor nuisance. Perhaps I will have to try it again with a Noodler’s Ahab; apparently that has larger cap space, so the nib should fit in there.

The idea of using dip pens with fountain pen bodies isn’t new though; when the Waterman company was first producing fountain pens they offered the service of adjusting their pen bodies to fit people’s “favourite steel pens”, mentioned in one of their earlier pamphlets in the late 19th century. They also offered to adjust their pen bodies if you wanted to use another maker’s gold pen in your fountain pen body. They claimed that they would do that free of charge.
Hmmmmm. I have a feeling that Noodler’s is very much about the “do what you want with it” in a similar way Waterman was in the late 19th century. Except Noodler’s is more about the user doing the tinkering, not the dealer/maker.
That was a bit of a ramble there lol





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