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A Tale Of Luck At The Corner Of The Civilized World


Parjanya
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Hi,

 

Greetings from Brazil. Since this post is my introduction but it will be lengthier than the usual introductions, I post it here.

 

 

1. Of How I Grew to Hate Fountain Pens

 

I've been fond of calligraphy from the time I learnt to read. I remember distictively a recipe notebook my grandmother had, with perfect Spencerian calligraphy, which I tried to imitate for a long time, but I didn't have quite the motor coordination needed when I was 8 years old or so : o ).

 

Anyhow, when I was 10 or thereabouts I got my first fountain pen, which worked quite ok. I don't remember what happened to it, but i don't have it anymore... it was a really cheap one. Some two years after I got a Crown pen as a gift, and for some reason it never wrote properly... way too scratchy and skipped a lot. I got rid of it and gave up on fountain pens for 18 years ; ), until last week.

 

In this short hiatus I've studied calligraphy, on my own and also on a calligraphy school here in São Paulo. It was founded on the beginning of the 1900s, and it had all the overscientific approach one would expect. For instance, this precious image from their manual, self-eulogizing the contraptions the founder of that school invented:

 

post-123490-0-16528400-1434867731_thumb.jpg

 

Here the poor boy is being forced not to incline over the table, and to hold the pen correctly with some wires in his hand. I suspect this might be "inspired" in something from abroad, but I never saw anything like that apart from this book.

 

My teacher was the grandson of the founder of this school, and he said they had hoarded dip pens from 1930 to last for at least a century, and that after they had used everything they wouldn't have any way to continue doing business. He flourished his tales way too much, but indeed he only used old dip pens.

 

 

2. Of How Much Laziness (and Some Learning) Made Me Overcome Hate

 

Now being thirty I grew quite tired of dip pens, and also wished to be able to write decently away from home : o ). I've chased fountain pens that were similar to dip pens in being able to exchange the nibs easily, and so last week I discovered all about the Esterbrook J pens, mostly thanks to members of this forum.

 

It so happens that Esterbrooks were sold in decent quantities here in Brazil in the 1950s and 60s, apparently. I've been able to buy, so far, just one model J, black, that came with one nib 1550 and a 2668. In fact in the afternoon I was to receive it at home, I went foraging for other nibs here in São Paulo, with my father for moral support.

 

In the old downtown there are three small stores dedicated to fountain pens. In the first one I asked if the owner, who works there in the same store since the 1950s, if he had any Esterbrook pens. He said he didn't, and only that, which sounded like "no, just go away". And so I went.

 

In the next one other venerably old gentleman looked at me with some amazement... it seemed he hadn't heard that name in quite some time. He had just some 9460 nibs, curiously with a green but translucid base; is this common?

 

In the last one I got lucky, they had many: 9461, 9550, 9556, 9668, and the 9968. Bought all of them, and a Waterman Inspired Blue.

 

At last, as I had seen some Pilot Parallels in the first store I went, I forgot the way-too-short talk we had and went again to the first store, and asked for the Parallel and if he had Esterbrook nibs, this time. He asked which one I wanted, and I said I wanted an italic nib. He said he might have one, but took a long while to fix a ballpoint pen some lady had asked him to reassemble, and some fifteen minutes (I checked...) later he went in search of the nib, and some ten minutes more or so he emerged with an 2312 nib, the italic one. Lo that the calligraphy gods smiled to me that day. I asked him if he had just that one, and he said it was his "sole son". I paid the equivalent of 10 dollars for it :-O.

 

After one way to spicy acarajé we came home, the pen had arrived. At first I tested it with the nib it came with, the 2668 one. I liked it a lot. I forgot to clean the pen first, so my blue is tainted with black, apparently... but beautifully so, I think. Then I put the italic one and wrote, and I'm quite shocked to see how easy life can be. Oh dear. A very modest sample is here (Where do I edit my signature?):

 

post-123490-0-67306500-1434870229.jpg

 

Now I don't know what exactly to do... if collect every variation of pen and nib, or just get one or two red ones that are really gorgeous, so I can write like normal people too : o ).

Edited by Parjanya
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Hello and Welcome :W2FPN:

 

BEAUTIFUL writing. You have the talent, and I am truly envious.

 

An interesting dilemma. Is your resolve strong enough to be satisfied with just one or two (if you decide to go that route)?

 

But whether or not you go collector, you have an ability with writing that makes ANY pen look good.

 

It would be great if you could post a picture of one of the green translucid base 9460 nibs. I don't think I've seen one.

 

Best Regards
Paul


“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein

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A very interesting background! Thanks for sharing. I don't have the vintage pens you do, but I do have the Pilot Parallel pens and use them occasionally as I don't have much calligraphy experience.

 

Your quest for pens and nibs was so successful, congratulations. No stores with any fountain pens here in my city.

 

I love your handwriting, wonderful. I have several modern pens (TWSBI, Lamy Al-Star) on which I'm keeping a 1.5 mm stub nib which I love to use because I like the way it makes my cursive look. Thanks so much for posting this.

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obfuscation

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Thanks all for the warm reception : ) !

About talent, I think it's much more about being stubborn. My hand is a little shaky, and I can only write like that very very slowly. Thanks for the compliments. If it is of interest I could write a little tutorial about the italic hand.

Most probably I will not be able to resist to have at least one example of each pen... I feel poorer just by writing that : o ).

It would be great if you could post a picture of one of the green translucid base 9460 nibs. I don't think I've seen one.


Here you go:

post-123490-0-81218200-1434913769_thumb.jpg

I hope you can see it... quite tricky to make a good picture of this. Note that you can see the V shaped end of the nib almost at the bottom of the piece. It's funny that the box says it's made in the USA, but in the nib it's written England. Also the box is in a different shade of green, brighter, and it doesn't have the nib number at the lid, its model at the side. I'm guessing this is a newer production from the others I have.

 

I'm actually considering travelling to Rio de Janeiro to check what they have there... they distributed everything from that city, and there must be some stores there too.

 

I could use some help now. How much a bandless pen would be worth, roughly? I'm tempted to buy this one, in part because it's red : o ), in part because of the flexible nib, in part because it's the only bandless one I've seen around here. Do the cap grooves seem damaged to you?

 

post-123490-0-44408000-1434914516_thumb.jpg

 

Also, is it feasible to ask some nibsmith to make any cheap/common nib, like the 1550, into an italic one? I want to be able to write in devanāgarī (देवनागरी) too, but for that the nib must be slanted to the other side, and much more so. I've sanded of a nib pen as a test, and it does work decently...

Edited by Parjanya
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Yes, the nib is a later version, and having been made in England, might be slightly different than the same number point made in US. Seems the British had their own ideas about the specifications on nibs and pens.

 

The Bandless is, IMO, a good buy. Worth a bit more than "regular" Dollar pens and later J-pens, they were a rather short run made circa 1942, in response to US gov't WWII restrictions on commercial use of steel. So they're a bit rare. Your example looks very clean, and the point is correct for the period, although in the US, they came with an 8xxx nib (palladium alloy, not steel). So if you can tolerate the price I'd say buy it. They're hard to find.

 

As to having someone rework the nib for you, I'm not knowledgeable in that area, but others here on the Forum have done it, and hopefully someone will weigh in on the subject.

 

Thanks for the picture. Looks so pretty, it'd almost be a shame to use it. :)

 

* Edited for spellig

Edited by Hobiwan

Best Regards
Paul


“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein

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