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Underestimated Fountain Pen Brands


kcwookie

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What brand to you see as underestimated in the marketplace and with collectors?

For me, it's Wearever, I have several and they are great pens. I have three Zenith pens with gold nibs, all are great writers and less than $25. I have a Burgandy colored pen with Parker Brown ink and it writes smooth with just a hint of feedback on some paper. The pen is always ready to write, which is more than I can say for some of my better brand pens. 

 

One of my newest pens is a Pennant. This pen has a unique nib advertised to always be ready to write. It's a medium, but closer to a fine medium. What's cool about the nib is that when you flip it over and reverse write, it does a good job and makes a nice extra fine line. More toothy, but not unusable by any stretch. 

 

Everyone is gaga about Esterbrook, which was in the same market as Wearever, but their pens are more in demand. Few have gold nib and none of those can be bought for a $20. I'm sure there are some Wearevers that aren't vintage, just rubbish, but that goes for all brands. 

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Townsend is one marque that bears looking at, when they come up. I don't know who made them, probably one of those companies that made a lot of differently-branded pens. They seemed to have specialized in flat-tops, some of them fairly large, usually with Warranted 14K nibs that can also be quite nice. They aren't nearly as commonly seen for sale as Wearever pens however. 

 

There are a lot of defunct Italian brands whose pens can be worth having. But I can't really give you any brand names off hand. 

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A decade ago, when I started here, Esterbrooks were still relatively inexpensive -- even ones with 9xxx series nibs.  I think I paid under $20 US for most of mine (even as little as $5).  My first one was a happenstance find in an antiques mall north of Indiana, PA -- a black SJ with a 1555 Gregg nib.  Even that untipped (folded over tines) nib is a good writer, and IIRC I paid under ten buck for it, including sales tax.

For other underestimated pens?  I have a couple of $5 Guanleming pens that I got when I first got started that are well made and good writers (the third one, a demonstrator, I accidentally snapped the finial off when the clip caught on the elastic in a pen case).  

And I really like the two Cross Solos I own (at least one of which is marked "Made in Japan") -- they're both good writers and in fun colors (I'd buy more in a heartbeat -- especially if I could get other nib widths, but I'd buy a purple or yellow one even if I couldn't get different nibs).  OTOH, I haven't been all that impressed with some of the modern Cross pens.  And the Cross Verve?  Uh, well, I paid a buck for mine, and someone in my local pen club gave me a converter for it.  Can't believe the crazy nose-bleed prices I'm seeing on eBay for them....  The guy who runs the mailing list for SCN looked the model up on his tablet and I was going "A THREE FIGURE PRICETAG?  YIKES!  I paid a BUCK for mine!"  And given the twp-piece nib on either side of the feed, I'm glad I didn't pay MORE than that....  I keep meaning to pull the pen back out and ink it up and see if I can teach myself to hold it further up on the section so I don't get ink all over my fingers from the nib/feed design.

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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4 hours ago, inkstainedruth said:

I really like the two Cross Solos I own (at least one of which is marked "Made in Japan") -- they're both good writers and in fun colors (I'd buy more in a heartbeat -- especially if I could get other nib widths, but I'd buy a purple or yellow one even if I couldn't get different nibs).  OTOH, I haven't been all that impressed with some of the modern Cross pens. 

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

I agree with you on the Solo, especially the Japanese model. I think the one I have that is made in Japan is a smoother writer than the American ones. I have several "modern" Cross pens. The way they change models, they are pumping out vintage pens. My favorite is the NYC Peerless 125, it's a non-repairable pen so they give you full credit to rebuy. The Sailor nib is outstanding. I also like my Townsends, especially the old ones and my Rat Sauvage. 

 

Cross has seen better days and I think they finally killed Sheaffer. If I won the lottery, I would by Sheaffer and try to make a go of it. 

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4 hours ago, Paul-in-SF said:

Townsend is one marque that bears looking at, when they come up. I don't know who made them, probably one of those companies that made a lot of differently-branded pens. They seemed to have specialized in flat-tops, some of them fairly large, usually with Warranted 14K nibs that can also be quite nice. They aren't nearly as commonly seen for sale as Wearever pens however. 

 

There are a lot of defunct Italian brands whose pens can be worth having. But I can't really give you any brand names off hand. 

Great post, thank you for the brands. I've not seen them before, but I'll be on the lookout. 

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I don't even dare mention Osmiroid.  Sturdy, reliable blue collar pens with threaded nibs that out-write almost anything.  And they come in anything from Cooperplate to broad italics.  I have one that's a piston-filler, but the lever-filling 65 is also great.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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I have an Osmiroid calligraphy set that I picked up a little over 5 years ago.  It's a c/c set with cartridges in different ink colors, and IIRC 3 or 4 different nib units.  I keep meaning to try it but somehow seem to never get around to it....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA: I had first heard of the brand when I was a freshman in college -- my first roommate (who was a sophomore) was taking a calligraphy class and used one and I remember thinking, "A fountain pen!  How cool is that!"  Only the next year, when I took it, I had a different professor and we were using Speedball dip pens.... :(

"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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44 minutes ago, inkstainedruth said:

I have an Osmiroid calligraphy set that I picked up a little over 5 years ago.  It's a c/c set with cartridges in different ink colors, and IIRC 3 or 4 different nib units.  I keep meaning to try it but somehow seem to never get around to it....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA: I had first heard of the brand when I was a freshman in college -- my first roommate (who was a sophomore) was taking a calligraphy class and used one and I remember thinking, "A fountain pen!  How cool is that!"  Only the next year, when I took it, I had a different professor and we were using Speedball dip pens.... :(

 

The cartridge Osmiroids are not even half the same pen.  The piston and lever-fillers are somewhat exchangable with Esterbrook threaded nib units.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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I think I've read that the Osmiroid nibs fit on vintage Esterbrooks.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA: Or is that the Venus nibs I'm thinking of? :huh:

"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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12 hours ago, inkstainedruth said:

I think I've read that the Osmiroid nibs fit on vintage Esterbrooks.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA: Or is that the Venus nibs I'm thinking of? :huh:


Nope, you're right, the Osmiroid nibs fit Esties, thanks.  I remember doing this now.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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I should remember that, too.  There's a local thrift store that specializes in arts & crafts materials (it's the place I found a Cross Verve for a buck a couple of years ago -- was absolutely gobsmacked by the 3-figure prices I was seeing on eBay later on :o) and I stuck my nose in there yesterday afternoon after taking a bunch of paper and cardboard to the recycling bins at Construction Junction, which is around the corner (I think that Creative Reuse may be an offshoot of Construction Junction).  There were some Osmiroid nibs in a draw (they've turned a couple of old library card catalog pieces into storage for small items for sale).  Didn't get them because of course I haven't actually tried the Osmiroid calligraphy set yet :blush: -- but if they fit my Esterbrook J series pens that might be a reason to pick some of them up if they are different widths from the ones in the calligraphy set.

I did pick up a metal ruler in fairly decent shape, and a partial pack of Berol Turquoise leads (the bag of drawing tools are lost in my house someplace because I mostly haven't needed them for a couple of years), so I was off to see about getting replacement tools and figured that that was a good place to try first, before going up to the local Dick Blick location (and I was right -- I paid a buck plus sales tax for the ruler and the leads; dropped nearly $100 US at Dick Blick's for a Staedler Mars lead holder, a decent grade compass, an architect's triangular ruler, a protractor with a pivoting small ruler, a lead pointer, a flexible curve (I never got the hang of using French curves) and a zipper bag to put all of that in (plus the two things I DID manage to find in my house -- a circle template and a longer ruler that has markings in picas on one edge).

But at some point in the near future, I may go back to Creative Reuse and take another look at those Osmiroid nib units....

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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Remington.  Pretty plastic, sturdy build but the nibs are usually the cheap, poor-writing pressed steel.  With a little TLC for the nibs most of mine have become very nice writers.

Eclipse.  Many Eclipse pens are beautiful to look at with very nice Warranted 14K nibs. 

Wilrite.  Nice overlays with 14K nibs.

Majestic.  Lots of very nice designs and good to very good nibs.

Morrison's.  Also a lot of nice overlays with some good nibs.

And I agree with @kcwookieabout Wearevers.  I worked on a lot of Wearever junk when I was learning to repair pens and adjust nibs.  Some of them became pens I enjoy using and they created family harmony.  My youngest sister was delighted to discover that some very inexpensive, broken pens from the local antiques barn were great gifts for her strange brother.

Dave Campbell
Retired Science Teacher and Active Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.

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I'll agree with you on the quality of Morrisons, for the most part.  I have one (I think it's a Tourist) that is a scratchy writer, but nearly all the other ones I have (mostly ringtops) are quite nice writers.  And I do have to remember to cant the sterling filigree overlay ringtop slightly, and treat it as if it's an oblique nib, due to the wear on the tipping.  

But my first one (one of the gold-filled filigree overlay ringtops)?  That nib is a JOY to write with (a semi-flex nib -- possibly a B or a stub).  I just have to remember that the pen stays IN the house, because it has a nasty habit of unscrewing itself from the cap while on the lanyard.... :(

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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Can I cheat and mention a model of a pen instead of a brand? Waterman's Taperite line.

 

I got a few of these and I took a liking to them. I know a lot of people aren't a fan. They're not as good as a Parker 51 (kind of a knockoff...), nor are they as flashy as the rest of Waterman's lineup, or even most of their competitors - but they're nice reliable writers and most have a tiny bit of flex. And they're super cheap cause no one likes them. I saw one in perfectly good condition go for like $15 on eBay the other day and I kind of regret not snatching it up myself.

 

And for an actual brand - Diamond Point. Their earlier BCHR pens are bordering on "tier 1" in quality and their later ones are still very very good. Fantastic celluloids I haven't seen on other pens, and they're built very well for a "lower tier" brand. Way more solid than Wearevers, for example (nothing against Wearevers, I have a ton!).

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Grifos from Italy. The make pens in small quantities{I think} nice materials,gold  or gold plated nibs. I have two in Silver and one in corn. Good writers.

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On 7/30/2022 at 6:37 PM, kestrel said:

Eclipse.  Many Eclipse pens are beautiful to look at with very nice Warranted 14K nibs. 

 

Ditto on this one. You can occasionally find one with an Eclipse branded nib, in fact I found such a nib in a no-name pen where it had, I presume, been swapped for something else, and it was better than most of the Warranted nibs I had come across. 

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On 7/27/2022 at 12:56 PM, inkstainedruth said:

 

And I really like the two Cross Solos I own (at least one of which is marked "Made in Japan") -- they're both good writers and in fun colors (I'd buy more in a heartbeat -- especially if I could get other nib widths, but I'd buy a purple or yellow one even if I couldn't get different nibs).

Agreed.  I can take out an old Solo on any day and be sure that it will write and write well.  More companies (including Cross) should make dependable, attractive, affordable pens like them.

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I had a Cross Coventry (I think that was the name) with two Sailor-made nib sections.  Both wrote beautifully, and it was a cool-looking pen, but it didn't post well, and I gave it to someone.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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On 7/27/2022 at 7:55 PM, Sailor Kenshin said:

I don't even dare mention Osmiroid.  Sturdy, reliable blue collar pens with threaded nibs that out-write almost anything.  And they come in anything from Cooperplate to broad italics.  I have one that's a piston-filler, but the lever-filling 65 is also great.

And aren't the threaded Osmiroid nibs compatible with the vintage Esterbrook? 

 

I recall someone mentioning that in my hearing. Is that really possible? I haven't any Osmiroid threaded nibs to try on my Estebrooks. 😁

 

ETA: I caught the answer to this a few minutes after Sailor Kenshins post. Please disregard mine here.

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