There is always something so fascinating about vintage fountain pens: the aged, yet pristine finish, the beautiful slightly stubby fine points, or the perfect feedback that seduces every single fibre on the paper’s surface. My first “vintage” pen was a light unbranded German pen from the 70’s that my aunt gave me months before I left for Canada. I still have it; it gets cycled with my rotation of J. Herbin inks, typically when I experiment with different ink colours.
My fascination started upon the purchase of my first Esterbrook: a grey J with a 2550 extra-fine nib. I immediately fell in love: the nib wrote with such finesse, its fine point while not being a scratchy quill, wasn’t as smooth as an infant’s arse that hydroplanes through any form of liquid. There was a beautiful feel to that pen, with its perfect size and weight to glide on paper with the slightest pressure. The nib eventually gave wits age, and unfortunately I had to replace it. The grey J now carries a 9556 nib, a sturdier variety of the 2-xxx series nibs apparently tipped with Iridium.
Left: Esterbrook J (9556 nib), Right: Esterbrook SJ (9550 nib)
My second vintage pen is another Esterbrook: a beautiful blue SJ, a short and slim variety of the original J. Although it felt somewhat smaller, posting the cap over the body increased its size, making it more suitable for a lesser angled writing. This one came with an extra-fine 9550 nib: the finest nib I have written on a pen. Although considered a ‘nail’ by fountain pen aficionados, the finest of fine points proved useful for me especially when I wrote annotations on scholarly articles for my research. What drew me to this pen was its vibrant hue of blue: for a pen that is at least 50 years old, a pristine finish as this one’s is quite hard to come with.
The perfect combination: Esterbrook SJ with J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis
My newest vintage pen is apparently just two years younger than my grandfather. A 1939 Sheaffer Imperial with a no. 5 Feather Touch 14K gold nib, this pen is just beautiful. I bought it in a pristine condition from an antique store for fraction of its real value, after a good haggle (something Filipinos are well-known for).
The way the nib wrote immediately made this vintage Sheaffer one of my favourite vintage pens.
Time permitting, I would love to collect more vintage pens; there’s always something profound in these pens, especially how one would imagine the stories behind these pens, and how they could have survived decades of existence.