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Hello y'all!


So I've taken an interest in vintage fountain pens. I've heard a lot about them, especially the Parker 51. What are everyone's favourite vintage pens, and why? Also, where's the best place to find vintage pens?


Thank you all for letting me pick your brains. :)

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  • mitto


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Parker 51s and Vacumatics, Sheaffer Snorkels, and I have a couple of Morrison ringtops with gold-filled filigree overlays. I also like Parker 61s and the Laidtone (striped) Duofolds from the 1940s. And I have a soft spot for Esterbrook J series pens.

The 51s are designed to be superb writing tools. The Vacs (especially the Shadow Wave models), Laidtone Duofolds and Morrisons are pretty (and my first Morrison turned out to have a really juicy nib that's just fun to write with). The Snorkels and 61s? Those have cool fill systems. And the Esties? Interchangable nib units.

Most of my vintage pens I've gotten at pen shows or on eBay. Every now and then I get lucky and find stuff in antiques stores or estate sales, but around the Pittsburgh area you mostly see a lot of Wearevers and Sheaffer school pens (which I don't know enough about, although I have one Wherever that someone at an antiques fair gave me last year, on the grounds he "couldn't sell it"; I don't know why not -- it wasn't all that expensive to get fixed, and has a very nice stub nib on it...).

My favorite pen, a user grade 51 Demi Aerometric (in the uncommon color Plum, which was only made for one model year) I got on eBay. The next favorite, a 1st Generation Red Shadow Wave Junior Vac was from the auction a few years ago at DCSS (I was astounded that I won, and it went for a lot lower than I expected :thumbup:). My best vintage deal? A Parker 41 for 50¢ US at an estate sale a couple of years ago, found in a shoebox full of mostly ballpoints (I could have bought the entire box for $5, but what am I gonna do with a bunch of BPs? :rolleyes:); something made me keep digging through the box till I spotted that Parker arrow clip....

My first semi-vintage pen was a Parker 45, found in a box of pens at a small antiques mall in NW PA several years ago. I didn't even know what it was, other than it being a Parker. But it was a little under $11 with sales tax. Lovely smooth writer.

And yes, I use my pens. The only ones I don't are because I haven't gotten them fixed yet.

My most expensive pens are new (mostly Pelikans) -- but much as I like them, there is just something special about how the vintage ones write. Even when they're nails, like the 51s....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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MB254 with OBB nib.


It has a masive ink capacity and writes really well.


A more modest one is the Parker slimfold - itss a vacumatic, but unlike the P51 comes with a big 14k nib that is nice writer. Condition is vital for these though, as many were - I suspect - used as school pens and can come with bent nibs and more wear and tear than other Parkers.

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Some of the best places to find vintage pens are here in the Classifieds on FPN, or from reputable dealers discussed here, or take your chances on ebay (which can pay off).


My own vintage range covers Waterman, Onoto and Aurora from 1920 - 1960, then semi-vintage from Aurora, S T Dupont, Montblanc and Waterman. Located where you are, there are good British and European options available to you from local web sites.


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Esterbrook Dollar: Love the flat top look, plus the use of a stainless steel final on the cap. Love the diversity of Renew Points (nibs) that can be exchanged. I use their mediums and extra fines the most.


Esterbrook SM Deluxe: Love the streamline appearance of the stainless steel cap and the burgundy color of the barrel and jewels. Fits my hand perfectly.


Esterbrook Relief 2-L: Usually not a huge fan of all black pens, but the slightly faded hard rubber cap top gives it a little different look. The nib on this pen is a dream, a left foot oblique, unfortunately It was damaged, and I got it retipped, it's still a nice writer though.


Sheaffer Imperial II Deluxe: This is my newest vintage pen, and the nib on this is smooooth! I always wanted a conical nibbed pen, and it met my expectations perfectly. I can't put this pen down, and it's been at least a month!


Wahl Eversharp Skyline: I love the look of this pen . This is the only pen I have ever bought at a pen show, and one I was assuming existed but didn't know at the time. It has a gold filled cap with a green top, and a green body. The nib is a medium, somewhat flexible, and super wet, many inks make it into a broad to double broad, even triple broad. I really need to reign in the flow, as it's almost unuseble. I need to dig out one of my drier inks, perhaps Pelikan 4001 Black.


My best advice for looking for vintage pens, is look over the pen, or photos of the pen closely, ask as many questions as make you fell comfortable about the pen, don't be afraid to walk away, and learn how to resac a pen. This will allow you to find the best pens for reasonable prices.

Edited by JakobS

FP Ink Orphanage-Is an ink not working with your pens, not the color you're looking for, is never to see the light of day again?!! If this is you, and the ink is in fine condition otherwise, don't dump it down the sink, or throw it into the trash, send it to me (payment can be negotiated), and I will provide it a nice safe home with love, and a decent meal of paper! Please PM me!<span style='color: #000080'>For Sale:</span> TBA

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I have several Esterbrook J series pens (J/LJ/SJ), Parker 51 Special, a Pelikan 140 from the 50's. In the semi vintage realm several Parker1 45's.


"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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Sheaffer PFM I. I like the thick, easy to hold section, that it's smooth writer, it's not so long that I can't put it in my shirt pocket. The stunning diamond inlaid nib is an added bonus.

Inked: Aurora Optima EF (Pelikan Tanzanite); Franklin Christoph Pocket 20 Needlepoint (Sailor Kiwa Guro); Sheaffers PFM I Reporter/Fine (Diamine Oxblood); Franklin Christoph 02 Medium Stub (Aurora Black); Platinum Plaisir Gunmetal EF (Platinum Brown); Platinum Preppy M (Platinum Blue-Black). Leaded: Palomino Blackwing 602; Lamy Scribble 0.7 (Pentel Ain Stein 2B); Uni Kuru Toga Roulette 0.5 (Uni Kuru Toga HB); Parker 51 Plum 0.9 (Pilot Neox HB)

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I've had a PFM V for a short while and didn't like it. The mechanism was overly complex for no reason whatsoever and the gold cap was too flashy for me.

Lots of great vintage fountain pens though. I love the lever filled Sheaffer's balance oversized and the vaccuum filled full size triumph nibbed balances.

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Hi - if a pen has a great nib - is old and well made then I think it's going to be a favourite of someone, somewhere, whatever the make, but some are timeless, and will be on most people's list - there are so many - as mitto knows all too well, and most of these have already been mentioned above. Don't know your whereabouts in the U.K., but antiques fairs - if you can get there early - can be a good source. If you're not experienced and can't recognize brands from ebay pix, then be careful of on line auctions - they can 'pay off', but you can also get burnt fingers. My suggestion might be that until you have some knowledge and experience then perhaps limit your buying to those pens you can handle before parting with cash.

I don't have experience of buying from the FPN classifieds, but would expect those sellers to be reliable.

Pens from charity shops are too infrequent, and whilst boot sales offer pens in slightly better numbers, you will need to visit the larger ones to do any good, and you'll need to get there early.

Best of luck. :)

Edited by PaulS
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I read for a couple of years here and knew nothing.

I got the '89 Fountain Pens by Andreas Lambrou and suddenly had an idea why the flashlight was with the map.

Yes the book is expensive.......even used when you can find it. How ever you save $100's or much more knowing what is what.

I like a P-75 more than my P-51.....of course one needs a "Touchdown" or a Snorkel...........a '80's-90's 400/200 is needed.


You are not yet ready for German semi-flex of '50's.


Some 5 years ago, I spent some six weeks reading my Fountain pen book on British fountain pens.....looking to see which Swan I wanted. I found the 'flexi' nib I wanted right then, on a No Name German War pen, so never got a Swan. I'd finally picked a Torpedo shaped lever filler from 1950-55 as best nib, easiest to repair.


Swan has complicated filling systems in they had to go around the patents of others. Swan had an assortment of nib flexes you could pick from.


If you look in British Ebay, there are two sellers who repair and sell first class Swan pens. I don't know their names.....they have a real first class sales platform. Well re-sacked, polished, first class goods and a first class price............but you are getting something good, a fair price. Everything is professionally explained.

You can go cheap buy what ever Swan is cheap on Ebay.....try to repair .... resac the pen.....after 30 or more years the rubber sac dies. Some of that due to the attempts to get around patents are very difficult for noobies.



:angry: Be aware there was....hopefully ain't there any more, someone with a similar sales platform, :gaah: selling bent nib, chewed, brassed ....normal Swan pens for the same price as the good ones.

I have no reason to take even as a gift a bent nibbed, chewed, brassed Swan needing a new sac.....much less pay more than good money for it. :wallbash:



I had a British Wyvern :thumbup: supereflex...that walked. :(


Swan, Conway Stewart and there are English Parker and English Sheaffer with nibs with more flex than US Parker and Sheaffer in they competed with Swan.

One of the top three pretty pens I've ever seen here was a Blackbird, the second tier of Swan. Jackdaw is third tier Swan.



What do you want the nib to do????????????? Vintage pens have nibs that do things...have various grades of flex....the '50-65 German Obliques are worth getting when you are ready for semi-flex.........modern pens have stiff nibs. They can be made into Stubs or CI....and you can fake vintage. :happyberet:


Then you can say I want a Vac, P-51, P-75, Various fine Sheaffer pens or semi-vintage Pelikans.


I don't think you are ready for semi-flex '50-6's era Pelikans, MB(not as expensive as you might think) Geha 790's, Osmia or Kaweco, pens with semi-flex nibs. Those are down the road three or so pens.

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.



The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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The vintage pens I most enjoy are the Moores and Watermans from the 20's and 30's. Great nibs.


My sources have been FPN classifieds, Peyton Street Pens, Northwest Penworks, Ross Pens, and Mainstreet Pens. I am sure there are others I am missing but those are the ones I have dealt with.

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I have 4 different pens inked at any one time, all for different purposes. The 2 vintage I have inked are a Parker 51 (date code 51) with a nice fine nib and also a Sheaffer early Touchdown (1949-50) with the 2-tone Triumph nib that writes a smooth fine-xf line. I like the early Touchdown because it is a wider pen than the later touchdowns. Note: My other 2 inked pens are a Franklin-Christoph 02 with the music nib and a Cross Townsend with an XF gold nib. Each pen has it's purpose :)

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well now - I understand this guy confesses to having a lot of pens - so he must have many, many favourites :D



Now the you chose the indirect route. :)

Khan M. Ilyas

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Parker Vacumatic. Far and away the best place to find a nice vintage pen is a pen show!


Truth be told I've got about a dozen vintage pens but don't use them often. I change inks frequently and they're, generally speaking, more of a PIA to clean out than your modern C/C pen.

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For me, the older the better. And, I love hard rubber pens - there's a warmth to the material that lacks in resin or even celluloid. Waterman's has kept me busy collecting based on these two criteria alone. The oldest pen I have is a 512 with silver filigree from c. 1907. It's not that rare, but its the oldest pen I have.

And then I appreciate MBs, especially their pre-war designs, and especially the safeties before that (but those are very expensive, and I don't own any).

Pelikans... something about these pens. Every single one of them I have from the 50s and 60s, bought from different dealers, just write fantastically! I don't know what it is. My MBs often struggle and need quite a bit of tuning from me before they are 100%. But, these Pelikans are just perfect right out the postal envelope!


I have bought only a few pens from FPN classifieds. I think this is worth checking out. But, I use eBay in general. Sure, I have been sold pens that were not as described. But, I was able to send them back every time for a full refund. You need to know your pens if you are going to buy from eBay. And, in a way, this process itself is fun. For me, the joy in collecting vintage pens is the study and research that goes into identifying a list of pens you might be interested in, and then the hunt to find them at a great (or so you will have yourself believe) price. What was the history of the pen? Why are you intrigued by it? How did it impact pen design for generations after? Such questions will help build a story around the pen, and make hunting for it and acquiring it more pleasurable. This preparation is as much fun as having the pen in my hand and writing with it or restoring it. It is precisely why I stopped buying modern pens after my first vintage purchase a year ago.



My Vintage Montblanc Website--> link

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