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Omas Cracked Ice vs. Conway Stewart Cracked Ice


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I like celluloid, Omas, vintage (and of course modern too)... For a long time I resisted getting a vintage Omas Cracked Ice. The combination of the rare pattern and vintage Omas makes it quite expensive to acquire a senior sized or even a mid sized Omas Cracked Ice. I also have a vintage Conway Stewart Cracked Ice, which is considered one of the most attractive Conway Stewart patterns (along with Herringbone, Tiger Eye etc). So I convinced myself that I didn't need an Omas Cracked Ice. That is until the right moment came. Recently I was able to acquire a vintage Omas Cracked Ice in the lady/ring-top size. As I understand, the Omas is made of celluloid (cellulose nitrate) and Conway Stewart of cellulose acetate. Here I made some photographic comparisons.


Some background notes: The Omas Cracked Ice pattern is known for discolouration. Most of the pens in this pattern are found in various discolouration on the barrel. Zero discolouration is extremely rare, as this celluloid (and indeed any "trasparente" patterns) is very sensitive to acidic ink. So my Omas is no exception, though I consider the discolouration here modest. I have seen better and some worse.


1. Both pens capped. Omas ring-top, 10cm long. Conway Stewart No. 24, 13.2cm long.



2. Nib side pattern comparison. 




3. Feed side pattern comparison.




4. Omas nib side discolouration.




5. Omas feed side discolouration comparison.




6. Conway Stewart Cracked Ice cap and barrel, in cellulose acetate, no discolouration.




7. The "dark sides" of Omas Cracked Ice: Similar to the Arco pattern, the Omas Cracked Ice also has two "dark sides". This is what I love about this Omas version, that you can see that the Cracked Ice is revealed through cross-cutting the pearl like flakes in the celluloid, much like leaves in a pond! These "dark sides" are more intriquing than those of Arco in this aspect.




I hope you find the above informative! I've always enjoyed handling a vintage 🙂


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Interesting demonstration of the “cracking.”  I’ve seen so many pens whose materials carry that moniker, but instead of ice cracking, they often look more like the grain in rock like granite.  The “dark sides” in picture #7 do resemble the cracks seen in a chunk of ice viewed from the side, and I can see why the name was chosen.  Thank you for the post.

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@CarrauYou are welcome! True there are quite a few "cracked ice" patterns by various vintage and modern pen makes. Conway Stewart even has a "reversed cracked ice". I like those that look like lightning. These shown in my photos above also remind me of the Omas Wild celluloid, very electrifying!

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beautiful pens como - have you any issues with celluloid degradation in this particular finish?

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2 hours ago, lionelc said:

beautiful pens como - have you any issues with celluloid degradation in this particular finish?

No, I haven't had bad luck with that, or any of my Omas pens yet. What I've seen is that this finish (and other somewhat transparent pens from this era of Omas) has various degrees of discolouration (darkening or ambering on the barrel). If it's been properly cared for (safe ink and proper storage), it should be stable. After all, it has survived 80 years, and hopefully it doesn't just all of a sudden die on me. There are few of the very light and transparent coloured celluloid that survived in near perfect condition. You see more of them just discoloured but still are very beautiful pens. Once in a while you see one, light and transparent just like the day it was born, really amazing.

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Striking specimens! Congratulations!

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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Yes: gorgeous, both of them, como!  😊

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