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Those Esterbrook Pens


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#1 Keith with a capital K

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 19:33

Let me just raise my hand and say, "Hi, my name is Keith and I love Esterbrook pens".

I was irked to hear Esterbrook being described as a maker of third tier pens and thought that a response was warranted so here is the Esterbrook Appreciation thread.

In the past twenty years I have seen a great number of pens and many pens have passed through the doors of my humble little workshop. I am always impressed with these rugged and brightly coloured pens that never seem to need much of anything but a fresh sac and a little cleaning up to get them working.

From a repairer/restorer's point of view it's a good thing that all pens were not made this way or I would have very little to do. I consider the build quality to be first rate on the J series and most of their predecessors. Like every company, they made a few gaffs but for the most part, they were consistent in making a quality product.

On the well known J series pens...

The barrel and cap material is exceptionally resilient and in normal use it's unlikely that a J series pen will develop any significant posting wear or scratches. My copper J has been in constant daily use for 2 years and looks as good as when it arrived as an NOS pen. In comparison, my black Pelikan M200 has only been here for a few months, gets used much less often, and it has already started to show posting marks.

From a writer's standpoint one can install one of a wide variety of nibs into their Esterbrook to make the pen suit your specific needs. The Durachrome nibs are seemingly immune to wear and their tipping is one of the hardest tipping materials I have ever worked on.

Posted Image A copper J (not mine).

I also love that each Esterbrook J series is unique and that no two are exactly alike.

When people ask me what kind of vintage pen they should get started with I almost always say, "Esterbrook" because I know if they get a J series they will get a fountain pen with a classic design, good looks, and steady performance.

If I was to toss a handful of pens on a table that included my copper J, it would probably be the first pen anyone noticed. When I have had a number of pens on my desk (which is often) people stopping there inevitably point out the pretty copper coloured pen.

My son loves his black Esterbrook LJ and I gave it to him knowing it was a pen that could stand up to the rigours that a ten year old boy could put on a pen. He surprised me as has actually taken exceptionally good care of this pen and it even has a special place in his room where it "sleeps".

They simply have a charm that many other pens don't and for many, that first Esterbrook is just the start of many more to follow.

Cheers!
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#2 Gerry

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 22:04

Way to go Keith. Of course, there will be a long list of posts following I am sure, particularly from Brian, Elaine, Gerry, KC (I've undertaken a small campaign to win her over), Hobiwan, Mark, Bernie and others. Not a bad following for a perennial bridesmaid (pen that is).

I think you put it very well, but perhaps we should try not to let this out too far for fear the eBay price rises significantly above the current $10.00 range :)

I'd really hate to have to pay what these baby's are really worth.

Gerry


PS: Let me add to the list: Maja, Kurt (Tytyvyllus), Mr. Inky.

Edited by Gerry, 24 December 2004 - 14:04.


#3 Maja

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 22:28

My little Christmas Estie story.....

Last Christmas, I gave a friend of mine a spare blue Esterbrook fountain pen that I had (I gave her my 'SJ' model and kept the larger 'J' sized-one for myself because she has much smaller hands) along with a bottle of Parker Quink 'Blue-Black' ink. I also gave her some historical background info on Estie pens printed off the Internet and some lever-filler filling instructions, of course (not everyone knows how to fill one, right?).

A couple of months later, I casually asked her how she liked her pen. She said it was lovely, she loved the colour and the size was just right, but.....she was scared to fill it, thinking she would break it! :o

I explained that the Estie was one of the most durable pens vintage fountain pens out there, and she looked rather embarassed.... I totally forgot about this until a few days ago.....

A few days ago, we received a Christmas card from that same friend and her husband. The ink looked very familiar....definitely water-based....from a gel pen, perhaps?....and then I saw the "P.S" on their card: "I love this pen!" She was using the Esterbrook, at last!!! :D

I have several Esties--all in the S/SJ series--and, with the exception of a black one with some drawer wear--all look as new as they did in the 1940's. I love the fact that they have interchangeable nibs; if you want a different nib, you don't have to buy the whole pen....and there are many NOS nibs out there, as well.

Great topic, Keith! Looking forward to hearing from some other "die-hard" Esterbrook fans, too!
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#4 Titivillus

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 22:52

Let me just raise my hand and say, "Hi, my name is Keith and I love Esterbrook pens".

I was irked to hear Esterbrook being described as a maker of third tier pens and thought that a response was warranted so here is the Esterbrook Appreciation thread.

In the past twenty years I have seen a great number of pens and many pens have passed through the doors of my humble little workshop. I am always impressed with these rugged and brightly coloured pens that never seem to need much of anything but a fresh sac and a little cleaning up to get them working.

From a repairer/restorer's point of view it's a good thing that all pens were not made this way or I would have very little to do. I consider the build quality to be first rate on the J series and most of their predecessors. Like every company, they made a few gaffs but for the most part, they were consistent in making a quality product.

On the well known J series pens...

The barrel and cap material is exceptionally resilient and in normal use it's unlikely that a J series pen will develop any significant posting wear or scratches. My copper J has been in constant daily use for 2 years and looks as good as when it arrived as an NOS pen. In comparison, my black Pelikan M200 has only been here for a few months, gets used much less often, and it has already started to show posting marks.

From a writer's standpoint one can install one of a wide variety of nibs into their Esterbrook to make the pen suit your specific needs. The Durachrome nibs are seemingly immune to wear and their tipping is one of the hardest tipping materials I have ever worked on.

Posted Image A copper J (not mine).

I also love that each Esterbrook J series is unique and that no two are exactly alike.

When people ask me what kind of vintage pen they should get started with I almost always say, "Esterbrook" because I know if they get a J series they will get a fountain pen with a classic design, good looks, and steady performance.

If I was to toss a handful of pens on a table that included my copper J, it would probably be the first pen anyone noticed. When I have had a number of pens on my desk (which is often) people stopping there inevitably point out the pretty copper coloured pen.

My son loves his black Esterbrook LJ and I gave it to him knowing it was a pen that could stand up to the rigours that a ten year old boy could put on a pen. He surprised me as has actually taken exceptionally good care of this pen and it even has a special place in his room where it "sleeps".

They simply have a charm that many other pens don't and for many, that first Esterbrook is just the start of many more to follow.

Cheers!

I think I've exhausted all of the good thinks I can say about Esterbrooks in another thread here! :lol: But it's nice to see that it has more proponents than just me.

Kurt H

#5 Maja

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 22:59

What? You mean your little game of "Simon says...", Kurt? :lol:
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#6 KendallJ

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 03:34

All right, I'll chime in. I have 3. 2 are SJ's family pens from the 50's and the 3rd is a J. These are great pens albeit a little small for my hand. even the 2xxx series nibs are smooth and reliable.

Underappreciated, yes.

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#7 mr_inky

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 04:24

I have several Esties and although I don't use them as much as I used to I still love them.

My favorites:
Silver LJ w/ a 9314-M nib - My first FP buy.
Black $1 Pen - w/ an 8440 Superfine nib. (Have another one of these nibs NOS. Paid $3.50 for it!)
Country Green CH - $5 flea market find - excellent condition.

Esties, rugged, dependable and yes, underrated. Third tier? BAH!

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#8 Jestre

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 04:33

I need one of these to play with... I keep seeing them mentioned, so I guess it is time I scrounged one up from one of the sellers.
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#9 Gerry

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 12:56

I have several Esties and although I don't use them as much as I used to I still love them.

My favorites:
Silver LJ w/ a 9314-M nib - My first FP buy.
Black $1 Pen - w/ an 8440 Superfine nib. (Have another one of these nibs NOS. Paid $3.50 for it!)
Country Green CH - $5 flea market find - excellent condition.

Esties, rugged, dependable and yes, underrated. Third tier? BAH!

Wow, a 9314-M nib. On your first FP buy!! Cool. That's a fairly rare nib to find. By itself it's worth more than a 'J' in good condition.

And the 8440 (Sunburst) on a black $1.00 pen for $3.50 - now that's a Sumgai... Hey, I'll give you $7.00 for it :)

And the last - a Country Green for $5.00. Another Sumgai. These appear to run over $25.00 on the bay these days.

Well, congratulations Mr. Inky. A great Estie collection there.

Gerry

#10 Titivillus

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 13:55

What? You mean your little game of "Simon says...", Kurt? :lol:

pretty much so. As someone said "it lost it infinite capacity to amuse me"

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#11 KendallJ

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 14:03

I need one of these to play with... I keep seeing them mentioned, so I guess it is time I scrounged one up from one of the sellers.

Well, finding one is not a problem. They are ubiquitous, and hence come at a reasonable price point.

For the collectors quality doesn't matter, its about rarity... (ok maybe quality matters a bit :P )

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#12 Titivillus

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 14:04

I need one of these to play with...  I keep seeing them mentioned, so I guess it is time I scrounged one up from one of the sellers.

Well, finding one is not a problem. They are ubiquitous, and hence come at a reasonable price point.

For the collectors quality doesn't matter, its about rarity... (ok maybe quality matters a bit :P )

Maybe that's it. There is no snob appeal to the Esterbrook so a quality pen went under the radar and can be purchased for a reasonable price!


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#13 Jestre

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 04:32

Well, finding one is not a problem. They are ubiquitous, and hence come at a reasonable price point.

They may be ubiquitous, and until I actually started looking for them last night, I would have thought so too based solely on the number of times I've seen them mentioned over the years. However, as I made up my mind upon submitting that post that I would actually buy one, I've had a heckuva time trying to track one down. The first three pen sites I visited had none for sale (despite having an Estie section). Since then, I've found a couple (Looking for a 'J' size with [probably] a 2556 or similar nib).

Many thanks to the gents in chat last night for the brief Estie intro/history lesson, and for the recommendations.

With deerstalker and calabash at the ready, the search continues...
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#14 Titivillus

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 05:27

Well, finding one is not a problem. They are ubiquitous, and hence come at a reasonable price point.

They may be ubiquitous, and until I actually started looking for them last night, I would have thought so too based solely on the number of times I've seen them mentioned over the years. However, as I made up my mind upon submitting that post that I would actually buy one, I've had a heckuva time trying to track one down. The first three pen sites I visited had none for sale (despite having an Estie section). Since then, I've found a couple (Looking for a 'J' size with [probably] a 2556 or similar nib).

Many thanks to the gents in chat last night for the brief Estie intro/history lesson, and for the recommendations.

With deerstalker and calabash at the ready, the search continues...

Hate to say it (because it was so easy) but I put a request for a Estie J on the green market board over at Pentrace and got 3 offers within an hour.

Give it a try. And if you can't get one with the nib you want there are loose nibs availble on ebay and Pendemonium and a few other sites.



Kurt H

#15 Gerry

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 15:26

I'm just putting together one for my brother's Christmas present - talk about last minute huh?

I'm pretty sure I could come up with a J in a few colours - for sure Black. Also should have the 2556.

PM or Email if you want me to look into it.

Gerry

PS: Sorry I missed you last night - just got on, disconnected accidentally, got back on, and was called away. Some chats just weren't meant to be I guess....

#16 Stompy

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 21:59

I must admit that the copper large size fountain pen with a flexible nib is on my immediate list. Nothing on eBay though unfortunately.

#17 Maja

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 09:33

I must admit that the copper large size fountain pen with a flexible nib is on my immediate list. Nothing on eBay though unfortunately.

Hi Stompy, I did a little looking for you on Ebay tonight and I found some copper ones that were described as "brown" but none with a flexy nib. You can either wait for the pen + nib combo that you specifically want.... or you can acquire a copper/brown Estie in nice condition perhaps sooner (but with a different nib) and then get a cheap/parts-pen Estie with a nice flexy nib (check out the Estie nib chart at http://www.snyderfam...t/estienibs.htm ) that you can use in the copper pen....

Sorry, I just remembered something! The Esties I am thinking of--the J/SJ/LJ family---came in copper AND brown! :bonk: There is a difference between those two colours!

Edited by Maja, 29 December 2004 - 09:41.

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#18 Stompy

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 10:20

Thanks for looking for me Maja.
I was looking at the UK site. I should keep an eye on the US site more often. With the GBP - $ rate as it is, it might pay for the extra postage costs.

#19 Brian Anderson

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 14:18

I must admit that the copper large size fountain pen with a flexible nib is on my immediate list. Nothing on eBay though unfortunately.

Hi Stompy, I did a little looking for you on Ebay tonight and I found some copper ones that were described as "brown" but none with a flexy nib. You can either wait for the pen + nib combo that you specifically want.... or you can acquire a copper/brown Estie in nice condition perhaps sooner (but with a different nib) and then get a cheap/parts-pen Estie with a nice flexy nib (check out the Estie nib chart at http://www.snyderfam...t/estienibs.htm ) that you can use in the copper pen....

Sorry, I just remembered something! The Esties I am thinking of--the J/SJ/LJ family---came in copper AND brown! :bonk: There is a difference between those two colours!

If you're going to wait around looking for a flexible Esterbrook nib, you're going to wait a looooong time. The only one that even comes close to being what most vintage collectors feel is flexible is the 9128. Quite popular in England, and you'll notice many of the English made pens you spot on ebay will have them.

Esterbrook only ever advertised and marketed a copper colored pen. I've got quite a stack of Estie catalogs, ads, etc., and don't recall ever seeing an announcement for a brown esterbrook J. Some will call the darker copper, "Root Beer" but I don't go along with that designation. The pen is copper. Plain and simple. While you may find a difference in shading between various copper pens, there was only one color made. You'll find shade variations in the other colors as well, grey, green and blue particulalry, but I'm not going to give them special names to describe the colors like others have. Esterbrook surely received different stocks of plastic in which introduced the different shading. It was not intentional on their part.

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Brian
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#20 Keith with a capital K

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 18:25

The variation between colour stocks on Esterbrook pens is another neat little thing to appreciate.

Although thay may have only marketted pens as being brown, blue, red, grey, green, etc the variations in those colours through the production years means there are just that many more pens to find.

I have seen dark brown and bright copper pens as well as blue pens and pens that are nearly purple (a variation of blue). There are dark and bright greens, silver grey and deep grey pens and many little variations in between.

The difference between brown and copper pens can be like the difference between Havana brown ink and Pelikan Brilliant brown and I do think the brightest copper pens top many people's want list.

It beats having pens that only come in Henry Ford black huh?
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