I have a few of these and they are all in my impression a basic and utilitarian pen. Unlike the J models or $1.00 pens these are more “generic” by comparison.
The pen is in very good shape with no damage. The imprint is a little shallow but legible none the less and is the Esterbrook name with trade mark then Made in the U.S.A. underneath.
The design of the pen is as stated above basic by comparison but it is sturdy and of decent weight. The clip very clearly shows the Esterbrook name and the band around the cap is very tight and crisp in regards to depth of ridges. One thing I have noticed on this and a couple other of this style is that the cap when screwed on does not meet with the barrel. There is a small gap of about 1 mm. Not sure if this is by design or manufacture error. It does not cause the nib to dry out while not in use so for me it is more of a cosmetic issue.
The nib is the better part of this combination as it is a older version of the 9556 and very smooth on the paper. It does seem to feel a little dry on the paper but it does not skip and so far has not dried out. The ink put on paper is very generous but not so much that it leaves puddles or excess. It has very clean and crisp imprints as do most I have seen. The design of the nib is prior to the design of the pen so if you wanted a “true” combination you would want nibs that have the number in line with the barrel or ones that just say “Fine”, Medium” or “Broad”.
The filling system so far seems to hold a decent amount of ink. I was at first concerned that when the compression bar was squeezed it would only give me maybe half the ink that the “sac” could hold. I would hazard to say that it will not fill 100% but it does seem to pull enough for my needs. Maybe 60%-70%.
Cost and Value
If you have a nice nib as this one does in the 9xxx series or maybe one of the other higher end nibs then the cost vs value I paid for the pen is very good. This pen with a standard nib (say 2668....which is still a good nib) would still be a good pen in regards to cost vs value but I would say no more than $15.00.
Overall, this pen is what it is. A design done while trying to compete with the new (at that time) ball points and made towards the later years of Esterbrook. There is nothing wrong with the pen what so ever but the style and “class” of the J models or earlier pens has been lost in this design. As stated in my “first impression” it is a utilitarian pen in my opinion. As a collector and user of fountain pens I will seek out other A101 pens but not with the same fervor as the older designs. As for a final conclusion, the pen is fine and overall still seems to have the durability that is associated with the Esterbrook name. If you see one, buy it and enjoy it.
Edited by EventHorizon, 02 February 2009 - 17:18.