Unblinking Eye
My Fountain Pens
Sterling Wahl Pencil from the 20's
Modern Sheaffer's Nib

Parker 75
I grew up in a world where the fountain pen was still the prevalent writing instrument, though ball-points were beginning to catch on.  Today, fountain pens are much more common in Europe than in the U.S., where they have almost disappeared from everyday use.  When Clinton was in Russia giving an interview, I saw on the table behind Sheaffer's No. 3 Nibhim an old fashioned ink blotter.

Sheaffers Logo from ClipTwelve years ago I was given a Parker for Christmas, which I carried every day for eight years.  Then one day I was in an antique store and saw a display of pens.  There was an old green Sheaffer’s Balance from approximately 1937 that caught my eye.  I seem to recall paying about $45 for it, and soon I was looking for more information about pens.  It did not take long to discover there are over a hundred pen sites on the net, and in a few weeks I had educated myself pretty thoroughly on what was collectible, what writes well, and what I could or could not afford.

Sheaffer's Balance from 1937
The green Sheaffer’s Balance has a number 3 nib, which is reasonably fine and well-suited to many of today’s cheap papers, though after I bought some other pens I realized it was a bit scratchy.  Eventually I found another old Balance pen in exactly the same size and style, except it is a plunger-filler in solid black.  The black pen (not shown) writes much better than the green one and is the pen I most often carry.  I paid about $40 for it.

Eversharp SkylinerWahl Pen from the 20'sWhen I went to Upstate New York a couple of years ago I looked in some antique stores--I mostly found cheap, broken junk-pens that were way over-priced.  The antique dealers all know that pens are collectible, but few are really experts, so they often put a high price on them in the hope some fool like me will buy them.

I found a brown Eversharp Skyliner from the 40’s at the antique mall in Elgin and talked the lady down to $32.50.  I did not expect it to work, but it did, and it turned out to be one of the smoothest-writing pens I have ever encountered.  It has a medium nib, which is a bit thick for me, but I carry it a lot anyway because it holds a lot of ink and writes so smoothly.

There is an antique mall in Round Rock that has a lot of old pens, but most of them are junk.  I did find a short gold plated Wahl from the 20’s with a flexible nib.  I paid $35 for it, intending to put a new sac in it myself, but I couldn’t get it apart and didn’t want to break it so I sent it off and had it repaired for $16.

Flexible nibs are hard to find-- they write more like quills than most modern pens, giving your handwriting much more character.  The greater the pressure on the nib, the wider the line it writes.  But in practice the line width changes continuously with the swirls and movements of the pen and hand.  It is a very different writing experience, allowing you to “feel” your way across the paper.  If you’ve never written with a flexible nib, you owe yourself the experience.  Unfortunately, my Wahl lays down a lot of ink, and most cheap modern papers don’t take it very well.  I use it for signing my photographs, which are mounted on 100% rag museum board.

Conklin CapThe most I have paid for a pen is $100--for a red and black hard rubber Conklin Endura from the 20’s.  This pen has a nib that lays down a lot of ink, but it writes pretty smoothly for being over 70 years old.  I love the crescent on the nib.

 Conklin EnduraI have a Sheaffer’s from the 50’s, and a Watermans from the 40’s, but neither one writes particularly well.  I think both suffer from nib damage, and neither of them is worth spending much money on.

When I was in NYC I stopped at a flea market and found a sterling silver Wahl pencil from the 20’s, which I acquired for $20.
Waterman's Nib
I recently found a shop in New York City that repairs shavers, cigarette  lighters, and fountain pens.  Authorized Sales & Service, 30 West 57th  Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10019, (212) 586-0947.  Though their primary  business seems to be shaver repair, they have a nice selection of used pens at  reasonable prices.  They're a bit hard to find, but they have the best prices in  NYC.  When I was there I bought a Parker Duofold from about 1935 that has become  my favorite carry pen.  It is not fancy at all, but quite functional.

Fountain Pen Links

Authorized Sales & Service - My favorite place to buy pens in New York City--they repair and sell shavers, lighters, and fountain pens.
Bill Acker’s Fountain Pen Page - Huge collection of pens, with photos.
Vintage Pens - David Nishimura’s site has some of the best information for fountain pen collectors.
The Fountain Pen Page - Excellent information, with photos.
Fountain Pen Resources - Photos, information, links.
The Pen Mechanic - Bill Enderlin buys, sells, trades, and repairs fountain pens.


Travelocity.com Homepage


[Home] [Articles] [Photographs] [Poetry] [Patterns] [Pens] [Motorcycle] [Travel] [Books] [Links]

E-mail Webmaster