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How Far We Can Define A Pen As Vintage!



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Some replies continue the assumption that things are in category A or B, rather than allowing A,B,C,D... Also, changing a name from X to Y does nothing if we have yet to define X. There are also some responses which move to at least three tiers, based on the major changes one can see, particularly using somewhere in the region 1940-1950 as a major change point and perhaps somewhere from 1960-1979 as another. It also seems reasonable to treat pre-1920 or maybe 19th C as ancestral or venerable or some similar term, would-be antique but still currently functional. vicpen's term "foundation" works for me.

 

I am still inclined to see the periods as roughly 20-30 years and most importantly not to jumble pens from very widely different eras under one name, maybe:

foundation - pre-1920

vintage - 1920-1949

classic - 1950-1979

modern - 1980-present ("modern classic" if it is deserved).

 

This does not regulate anything, just looks for a common terminology which might make it quicker and easier to convey summary information in the future.

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ParramattaPaul

. . . I am still inclined to see the periods as roughly 20-30 years and most importantly not to jumble pens from very widely different eras under one name, maybe:

foundation - pre-1920

vintage - 1920-1949

classic - 1950-1979

modern - 1980-present ("modern classic" if it is deserved).

 

This does not regulate anything, just looks for a common terminology which might make it quicker and easier to convey summary information in the future.

 

I am not a serious collector, but the above seems a very reasonable classification by era. I assume, 19th Century fountain pens would also be classified "foundational". Or, should they be considered separately?

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Ah hah!

 

It would be far better to use a term like classic.

 

For example, a Waterman 12 is a classic 1920s pen, as is a Criterion. Yet the Waterman would be classed as a Tier 1 pen, and the Criterion as Tier 3. Both are technically vintage pens if going by year.

 

I guess it depends on what one is trying to convey here.

It's nice to hear my $5 Criterion (plus $20 for restoration) considered a classic. This may be one of perhaps a handful of posts that even mention this pen. Thank you David.

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Definition of eras should be a time based and feature based classification, not a quality based. Hence tier 1 and tier 3 pens from the same era with similar features should have same classification.

 

I like praxim's suggestion that there needs to be an extra classification for the 50s, 60s and 70s but I would be happier if there was a defining feature of this era so that anyone can pick up a unknown pen and readily place it in this classification. Perhaps those who know more about the development of fountain pens can identify a defining generic feature for classic era pens from the 50s to the 70s that differentiates them from vintage pens.

 

Is it perhaps the change from filling systems that do not require the removal of the barrel (vacumatic, touchdown etc) to those that have internal reservoirs but require removal of the barrel to fill (eg. aerometric and aerometric style before widespread adoption of cartridges). Some expert help is requested.

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I think the word classic is meaningless in the sense of defining a period, style or age - it's been done to death, and there's lots of pens from the 1950 - 79 period that I'd want to forget, certainly not describe as Classic.

The world is full of classic this, classic that, and ultimately the word becomes debased and lacks any useful meaning, but it occurs to me to wonder for whom it is that we are suggesting a wider system of classification - since this thread has obviously long since thrown away the old time honoured simplicity of antique, vintage and modern?

I agree with the last comment suggesting that pens should be defined in simple terms of age and features, but I can see this terminology getting bogged down with personal interpretations - I see plenty of A, B, C, X and Y - so have to say I'm lost already :D

 

There's a great deal to be said for simplicity, so simple suggestions please.

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From my education at FPN, a fountain is "vintage", when it is older than Pakman. :P

He wouldn't lie about this ! :rolleyes:

That would then define vintage as 60 years old or older!

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The definition of antique is one hundred years or older, as I understand it. Vintage is pretty loose, and I think of it as some kind of New Speak. I think of vintage as a B.S. term for old stuff. I don't see the need to typecast everything in some pigeon hole. Some people can't cope otherwise, I suppose.

 

Most things described as "vintage" are things I have used most of my life and still use.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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By one definition (older than the person), the Parker 45 that I used in college is vintage, to my nephew who was born after I finished college.

So then, I myself am vintage? Maybe, since by some definitions, I am a "senior citizen."

 

I use

  • pre-cartridge = vintage
  • cartridge = modern

Then one wonder if the 1960s (50 years ago) is long enough in the past to be vintage? Because my Sheaffer school/cartridge pen, that I used in grade school, dates back to the 60s. So over time (maybe even now), my definition will break down, because cartridge pens will have been in use for so long.

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I take vintage as any pen made before the mid-60's. This is time when the ballpoint pretty much took over the writing instrument business. In 1960 the fountain pen was still an everyday staple and by the 1970 the ballpoint was.

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Maybe one approach to this question might be to ask not what the word "vintage" should mean, but what people are trying to convey when they say it. Setting aside the mercantile meaning of "This pen is priced at twice actual market value" I think what I, and maybe others, often mean is something like "This pen is in some important way different from pens being made today."

That meaning would save us from debates about numbers of years and from the need to remember jar's birth date, and I think it might be a useful test. An original Sheaffer Balance vintage? Yes, in both physical and qualitative ways. A Safari? No--you can buy one that was made this year, and it's almost exactly like the ones made years ago. How about a Kaweco Sport? The new ones are pretty much like the ones from years ago, until you get back to the days when they were piston-fillers with semi-flex nibs. Now those are vintage.

ron

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If you decide to break it down by number of years, this is one version that could work (as are many that have been suggested so far)

 

1996-Present - Modern

1971-1995 - Semi vintage (after all this is 40 years ago)

1960-1975 - vintage - this feels to "new" on the late end

 

I don't know what I like best.....

 

Like ac12, one I have used in the past was pre 1960 for vintage and from 1960-1986 (?) for semi vintage (have always done this one by gut feel) and after that for modern.

 

I have a M200 with the "old style" (derby) cap top and W. Germany. So probably around 1990-1991 Where does this fit? Semi Vintage? or Modern? My Parker 45's certainly fit there. As some date to the 1960's. Certainly my Esterbrooks and P51 are vintage.

 

I don't know.

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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Definition of eras should be a time based and feature based classification, not a quality based. Hence tier 1 and tier 3 pens from the same era with similar features should have same classification.

 

I like praxim's suggestion that there needs to be an extra classification for the 50s, 60s and 70s but I would be happier if there was a defining feature of this era so that anyone can pick up a unknown pen and readily place it in this classification. Perhaps those who know more about the development of fountain pens can identify a defining generic feature for classic era pens from the 50s to the 70s that differentiates them from vintage pens.

I think this is a pretty good summary except I omitted the comments about major filling systems because I am not sure that would work and, ultimately, we go back to your first comment about year as the arbitrary criterion, picking the year(s) by other major changes identified. It goes without saying that no conclusion will be neat; it is more about useable broad classifications so that information is conveyed when someone talks about a new pen, especially for those less familiar with pen history and where (in general) pens novel to that person fit.

 

 

I think the word classic is meaningless in the sense of defining a period, style or age - it's been done to death, and there's lots of pens from the 1950 - 79 period that I'd want to forget, certainly not describe as

There's a great deal to be said for simplicity, so simple suggestions please.

Good point. I abandon use of Classic and am trying to think of something other than "Old but not too bad" ;)

 

That would then define vintage as 60 years old or older!

As with jar's use of the same criterion, it actually defines a year, not an age, because you get older with the pens (perhaps not in Pakman's case :) )

 

 

By one definition (older than the person), the Parker 45 that I used in college is vintage, to my nephew who was born after I finished college.

So then, I myself am vintage? Maybe, since by some definitions, I am a "senior citizen."

 

I use

  • pre-cartridge = vintage
  • cartridge = modern

Then one wonder if the 1960s (50 years ago) is long enough in the past to be vintage? Because my Sheaffer school/cartridge pen, that I used in grade school, dates back to the 60s. So over time (maybe even now), my definition will break down, because cartridge pens will have been in use for so long.

Your first comment shows the problem with using age rather than year. Other than that, I am looking for a move from binary division to three or four divisions. Pre-cartridge encompassed lever-and-sac, basic plunge fill, eyedropper, and changes in typical construction materials from hard rubber to celluloid to more modern plastics, and the Parker introduced a marked change in style as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am still inclined to see the periods as roughly 20-30 years and most importantly not to jumble pens from very widely different eras under one name, maybe:

foundation - pre-1920

vintage - 1920-1949

classic - 1950-1979

modern - 1980-present ("modern classic" if it is deserved).

 

This does not regulate anything, just looks for a common terminology which might make it quicker and easier to convey summary information in the future.

 

The trouble with creating one's own categories is that, to the uninitiated, one must explain them with each use.

 

How about just saying the decade or approximate decade and scrapping the whole antique/vintage/modern thing altogether? I realize as I write this that that's what I've been doing all along, usually not volunteered but in response to a question about the pen's age.

 

I think the word classic is meaningless in the sense of defining a period, style or age - it's been done to death, and there's lots of pens from the 1950 - 79 period that I'd want to forget, certainly not describe as Classic.

The world is full of classic this, classic that, and ultimately the word becomes debased and lacks any useful meaning...

 

How about "iconic"? That word NEVER gets used. :rolleyes:

Edited by Manalto

James

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The trouble with creating one's own categories is that, to the uninitiated, one must explain them with each use.

 

How about just saying the decade or approximate decade and scrapping the whole antique/vintage/modern thing altogether? I realize as I write this that that's what I've been doing all along, usually not volunteered but in response to a question about the pen's age.

 

Quite right on the first point. That is why I poked this thread, to see whether any [non-universal] consensus arose. I have quietly adopted for my own use the following: anything before 1940 is reasonably called vintage (although pre-1900 could be ancient). The latter-year pens, which are usually quite different hence a different broad category, I am calling semi-vintage from 1940 to 1970 and neo-vintage to 2000, after which it is modern.

 

There does seem to be some acceptance that it depends on period, not a constantly shifting number of years of age. If asked specifically about a pen then I will say its year if I know it, prefixing with "about" if it is +/- a couple of years, or else its probable decade.

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When it involves the sale or valuation of a pen the word is used with _no_ regard to the age of the pen.

If the seller thinks it will allow for a higher price it will be used.

 

I've seen pens released two years ago listed with the adjective "vintage". I'd say sellers are more dishonest about "vintage" than the word "flex".

 

There's a seller of pelikan pens that lists the recent pelikan reissue pens as vintage. He defended this label by saying that the pens were of a vintage style and thus it was up to the seller to know the difference between a pen that was truly manufactured in the 1930s vs the reissue released this year.

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  • 2 months later...

With resurrection of the "ten favourite vintage pens" thread I thought we could kick this one up the ladder as well. This arose because I saw a 1980s pen included as vintage, where I would consider such a pen a modern classic. In any case, surely a 30 year old pen still in production in the same form is not the same class as a 90 year-old pen which uses technologies no longer current, other than both being fountain pens?

 

Basically, I go with a system based on that for cars, which defines mostly and quite arbitrarily by year of manufacture, which at least saves on classification arguments. So, I would use:

antique or veteran - pre-1920

vintage - 1920-1940

classic - 1940-1960

modern classic - 1960+ (remember, the Lamy 2000 emerged in that decade).

 

The method's main defect is that, as time passes, you need new categories as more modern pens get older.

 

The alternative is by age rather than date. The problem with that it does not offer distinction, and to the extent it does (e.g. 25+, 50+, 100+, or even a simple single 75 break point) then pens are constantly changing label so the term is almost instantly meaningless. One day, the Lamy Studio will be old. Should it be described with the same term as a Waterman 12?

 

Any of us can choose what we please of course. Alternatively, we could run a poll on some labels and cutoffs then see whether it gradually embeds.

 

Edited by H1N
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Categories by age rather than date makes more sense, of course, because you avoid the obligation to shift dates every year.

 

You'll end up explaining anyway, since the terms aren't universally accepted, but I appreciate your optimism in the notion that they would eventually embed.

James

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Categories by age rather than date makes more sense, of course, because you avoid the obligation to shift dates every year.

 

Sorry, I don't get that, (self-contradiction), unless some words are being used conversely?

Fixed dates rather than variable ages avoid the obligation to shift dates every year. Basically the choice comes down to fixed categorisations with names which may not age gracefully, versus a sliding categorisation with constant name, so things change category and are de-grouped and re-grouped somewhat arbitrarily.

 

I recollect that "Hypermodern" is the name still used correctly today for chess theory which emerged and remains rooted in the 1920s. If we moved by age we would have to keep renaming* the body of ideas rather than leaving them under one name in a known place in chess chronology.

 

* or else mix up with different ideas

You'll end up explaining anyway, since the terms aren't universally accepted, but I appreciate your optimism in the notion that they would eventually embed.

:D

After I found Einstein had invented the general theory of relativity then "What's next?", I asked myself......

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Sorry, I don't get that, (self-contradiction), unless some words are being used conversely?

 

 

Simply that something newer than, for example, 30 years old would fit into Category A; between 30-60 years old Category B, etc. [Rather than Category A (newer than 1980), Category B (1950-1980), etc.] Because time marches on.

 

I was agreeing that the method is simpler but I maintain assigning names to any category is just a minefield of misinterpretation because either people will insist on their own designations or won't bother to learn the "official" ones, whatever those are - or, more likely, hope to be.

Edited by Manalto

James

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