Esterbrook 9314F: Fine Stub

Esterbrook 9314F writing sample

Do you ever come across a pen or a nib you think “this is my signature pen?” The one that makes your handwriting look better without doing anything but using it? That’s how I feel about the Esterbrook 9314F Relief Fine Stub. Its from the “higher end” line of nibs from Esterbrook, the Master series and I was lucky enough to borrow a NOS version from Harvey  from the blog, My Antique Pens.

Esterbrook 9314F nib

The 9314F  has a nib that is flat at the tip like a stub but its angled slightly down to the left. I had previously fallen in love with the 2442 Falcon nibs which also have the angled nibs but this was my first opportunity to compare Durachrome (the 2000-series) to Master Points (the 9000-series) Renew nibs in a head-to-head. I guess its almost a head-to-head since there is also a 2314F nib that is labelled a “Fine Stub”. I am not sure what the difference is between the 2442 fine stub and the 2314F fine stub so I guess this is as close as I’ll get at the moment.

Esterbrook 9314F writing and comparison

It became obvious when comparing the three nibs that my original, well-worn 2442 is definitely lost its crispness but it writes very smoothly and consistently. The NOS 2442 writes similarly to the 9314F but I noticed that the finest cross strokes were not quite as fine in the 2442.

Esterbrook nib drawing

I still feel like I’m learning about falcon nibs, this sub-category of nibs. Some say the Falcon (also called Relief) nib is designed for people who write with a backwards slant. Others say it was meant for left-handed writers. For a bit more information about Relief/Falcon-style Esterbrook nibs, this thread on FPN is quite enlightening.

What I discovered with all three of these nibs is that I can easily write with them and get a broader stroke with some pleasing thins without altering my left-handed, overhanded writing position. I often have difficulties with broad nibs entirely and wider stub nibs are a challenge as I can’t always get the nibs to make even contact with the paper. Ah, the challenges of lefties!

Esterbrook 9314F writing close-up

(A huge thank you to Harvey at My Antique Pens for letting me take this little rarity out for a spin)

(UPDATE: Corrected post title and link to Harvey’s blog. Sometimes, I swear I should not be allowed near a keyboard before 10am and a WHOLE pot of coffee!)

Happy Ester(brook) Sunday!

esterbrook-sunday

Spring is the perfect time to pull out the Esterbrooks, dust them off and see which ones need a little spring cleaning. This is my whole Esterbrook collection and I can see a gaping absence of a brown or rootbeer model as well as a need for several more pastel pocket pens to fill out my collection. And I don’t have even one mechanical pencil.

Happy Ester(brook) Sunday!

Of the eight shown, five are in full working order with nibs installed. Two have my favorite stub nib, the Falcon Fine Stub 2442, the gray on the left has the legendary 9128 flex nib, the pastel pink has the 9788, the blue has the 9550.

Of course, while I had the pens out, I felt it necessary to do a little record keeping so I created a little spreadsheet inventory of the nibs I currently have and which pen they are residing in.

nib #

description

box?

in pen?

1550

Firm extra-fine, Bookkeeping

no

2284

Firm Stub, Signature Stub

yes

2442

Fine Stub, Falcon

yes

grey pearl

2442

Fine Stub, Falcon

no

red pearl

2556

Firm fine, Fine Writing

no

2556

Firm fine, Fine Writing

no

2668

Firm medium, General Writing

no

2668

Firm medium, General Writing

no

9128

Flexible Extra Fine, Fine penmanship (Pitman shorthand) 

yes

grey pearl

9550

Firm Extra Fine, Bookkeeping

no

blue pearl

9555

Firm Fine, Shorthand

yes

9555

Firm Fine, Shorthand

no

pink pastel

9556

Firm Fine, Fine Writing, Records and charts

no

9668

Firm medium, General Writing

no

Clearly, I have more nibs than pens but not nearly all the possible nib options that are available:

(image via Rick Binder)

(image via Richard Binder)

I would really like to try the 9314F Master Point version of the Fine Stub, the 2048 or 9048 “Shaded Writing” and several others. Like jelly beans, with Esterbrooks, you can’t have just one!

Happy Ester(brook) Sunday!

Link Love: Puns and Paper

Link Love

(Ironic artwork)

Paper:

Pens and Ink:

Pencils:

Misc:

Esterbrook Pastel Pink Purse Pen

Pink pink pink

If I wasn’t such a fan of the vintage Esterbook pens, I don’t think I ever would have imagined myself as someone who would buy a pink fountain pen. But… I have a secret desire to own an Esterbrook in every color they were ever sold in (maybe not every variation… that would get complicated). I have just about all the major iridescent colors except Root Beer/Copper (if you’re looking to unload one, let me know!) so it was time to start on the hunt for the pastels.

Esterbrook Pastel Pink Purse Pen

They were several solid colored pastels sold in the Esterbrook line: pink (sometimes looked sherbet orange and later a brighter reddish color), blue (pale and then a brighter hue), yellow, green (in a couple hues), grey, lilac and the coveted white “Nurse’s pen”. So I have a ways to go but the pastel pens are often as expensive if not more expensive than the larger J-series icicle/iridescent pens of the same period. I think this is partly because those light colored plastics were often stained by the inks used at the time and their smaller size and narrower barrel may not have withstood the years of abuse as well as their larger cousins.

Original 9668 nib

This particular pen came with a #9668 nib which is the Master Point standard medium “General Writing” nib. It looks to be in good shape but I could hear the dried rubber flakes when I moved the pen so I know it will need a new ink sac… someday. In the meantime, I just dip my nib in an ink bottle and can get anywhere from a few lines to a whole page of writing from one dip.

Esterbrook purse pen vs. standard J Series double jewel

As you can see, the purse pen is quite a bit shorter and a little narrower than a standard J-series double-jewel Esterbrook. It measures just 4.25″ capped compared to the 5″ regular pen. The cap can be posted for writing to give a longer tool but in general, I don’t think the purse pens would be comfortable for most people with large hands to use. Oh, we of the dinky-hand club highly approve! It fits in my small hands as comfortably as the Kaweco Sports do.

Esterbrook Pink Purse Pen

I decided that if I was going to own a pink pen, I might as well own some pink ink so I picked up a bottle of Edelstein Turmaline, the Ink of the Year from 2012 from The Pen Place in Crown Center, Kansas City. They still had it in stock. The bottles for the Edelstein line are so elegant and, to be honest, I kind of like this particular shade of pink. It reminds me raspberries.

At first, I used the #9668 General Writing nib that was in the pen but it was a bit too wide for my taste. The ink did get some nice shading as a result and the nib wrote super smoothly but it was just a bit too wide for me.

Esterbrook 9555 nib

I switched out for a MIB #9555 shorthand nib which has the numbers stamped in a wide vertical line. It seemed appropriate to have a Shorthand nib in a pink purse pen, like something one of the secretaries on Mad Men might have carried.

Edelstein Turmaline Ink

The line width of the #9555 shorthand nib works well for me, I’d compare it to the F or EF nib in my Kaweco Sports. All in all, I am quite happy with this purchase. Ebay auctions can be a gamble and for all the “meh” purchases of the past, this one is a big winner!

Ask The Desk: Buying a Vintage Esterbrook

Ask The Desk Header

My pal Carolee recently emailed me a question and was kind enough to let me post the question and response here.

…do you have any good sources for a vintage esterbrook? I recently got a Parker Vac and I’m starting to fall in love with vintage pens. I don’t know how much to pay for the esterbrook….any tips?

Vintage Esterbrook pen

Let me start by saying I am in no way an expert on Estebrooks though they were some of my first forays into fountain pens and definitely my first foray into vintage pens.

Let me start with a little history about Esterbrooks. When most people get interested in Esterbrooks, they are talking about the plastic pens that started being produced in the 1930s and continued on into the 1950s. There are “Dollar Pens“, transitional, double jeweled and many other sub-classifications with the range. For a detailed history, check out RichardsPens who gives a great overview of the J Series of Esterbrooks.

The big deal with Esterbrooks are the nibs. The nib is a Renew-Point which was the first nib that could be unscrewed from the pen and replaced easily and quickly and was what set the Esterbrook apart. This lead to a huge array of different nib units that could be swapped out on your pen as needed.Nibs were available for just about every need from super fine stiff nibs for accounting and writing on carbon copies to italic and flexible nibs for calligraphy and decorative writing.

This is what lead me to the Esterbrooks. I was in my early days of learning calligraphy and looking for ways to spend more time practicing and less time dipping to re-ink my pen. I heard about the coveted #9128 Fine Flexible nib and loved the look of the marbled plastics of the barrels so I went hunting.

The Esterbrook Collection

Shown in the picture above are three grey marbled LJ models, a black transitional, a red marbled “purse pen”, a large blue LJ and my favorite marbled green “Dollar Pen”. I have also been able to collect an assortment of NOS (new old stock) Renew-Point nibs, including that coveted #9128 flexible nib. All of my pens were purchased on Ebay over several years and I got lucky, they are all in good shape structurally but all need new ink sacs and some needed nib units. For me, though, this wasn’t a big deal.

I use most of my Esterbrooks as dip pens as I am too lazy to send them off to have them re-sac-ed or learn how to do it myself. As I write, I dip the nib into a bottle of ink and can then write for at least a page before I have to dip again. So, if you are looking to try your first Esterbrook, it may not be necessary to get a completely restored pen or even one with a nib unit if you are willing to make the purchases separately. You could easily purchase an Esterbrook pen body on Ebay and then get a nib unit from a reputable vendor like Anderson Pens. If you have the luxury of attending one of the Pen Shows around the US, there are often vendors who sell replacement ink sacs or can fix up your newly acquired Esterbrook.

If you hoping to get a pristine Esterbrook that has been restored with a new sac, then I would recommend checking in with a high-quality reseller like Anderson Pens. They specialize in Esterbrooks and have a really great reputation in the community.

Vintage Esterbrooks

(from the Rob Latimer collection)

Do you have a color preference with the Esterbrook pens? The black or marbled pearl colors are usually easier to come by. The pastels get pricey if you are hoping to find one that’s not stained or discolored from age.

With all this said, Esterbrooks from the J Series can be found on Ebay starting in the range of $20 to $45 depending on the gamble you take in buying the pen. Fountain Pen Network’s classifieds section is also a great place to research and shop for Esterbrooks. Often times, the smaller ladies “purse pens” are a little less expensive for the marbled plastic or black plastic models but the pastel models do tend to be more expensive. If you are looking for the rare or more unique plastic finishes like the aqua cracked ice Esterbrook in the middle of Rob’s case shown above, you may need to save up your pennies for awhile.

If you are interested in an Esterbrook specifically for calligraphic nibs, I also recommend looking for Osmiroid pens. Osmiroid used the same threading for their nib units as Esterbrook though I don’t think the nibs were as of high a quality as the original Masterpoint collection from Esterbrook. Its pretty easy to find reasonably priced sets of unused or lightly used Osmiroid calligraphy sets on Ebay. Just stick to the “65” and “75” series of Osmiroids to be able to swap out nibs with Esterbrooks.

Pen comparison

Shown here for scale from top to bottom, a modern Kaweco Classic, a vintage Esterbrook transitional and a modern Kaweco Student pen.

If you decide to hunt around Ebay for your first Esterbrook, just remember to check the sellers reviews and if something looks to good to be true, it usually is. Good luck and please let me know if you venture into vintage Esterbrooks.

Rare and unusual species of Esterbrooks spotted in the wild

Esterbrook secret stash

All you vintage Esterbrook fountain pen fans might want to take a close look at this collection. See anything unusual? These pens all belong to my friend Rob L. He has been squirreling away vintage fountain pens for as long as I’ve known him. This week, he brought his rare and unusual Esterbrooks to share with me — and as a result, with you as well!

If you’re not familiar with Esterbrooks, I’ll fill you in on what makes these so special. The first pen on the left is a lovely root beer color and is considered the early-1940s bandless $1.00 pen. What makes this one unusual is the lack of a chrome ring around the cap opening. The turquoise pen is a $1.50 super-rare cracked ice model that is difficult to find, and when you do, the auction prices get ridiculous. Rob wouldn’t tell me what he paid for it simply saying he got “a really good deal on it”. The middle pen is a early model J-series Visumaster (circa 1941 or so) which is so unique because of the striping pattern and a small clear plastic band around the grip to see your ink flow. The black pen is an early 30s V-Clip. The last pen is a hard rubber pen in the $1.00 style. According to the information I could find online, by the time the $1.00 pens were introduced, Esterbrook had switched to plastic. This one remains a bit of a mystery.

With Esterbrooks, you can easily collect the pen bodies separate from your nib preference. The nibs can easily be swapped out so that’s why I didn’t bother to show the actual nibs of these Esterbrooks. Rob squirrels away NOS Esterbrook nib units too, so as long as he finds a pen body he likes, he can put in his favorite nib unit. He kindly provided me with my 9128 flexible nib, mint in the box, so I say, “Keep squirreling those Esterbrook parts, Rob!”

Esterbrook Nib Chart Esterbrook Ad

If you’ve seen my Esterbrook collection, you’ll know that I have mostly J-Series Transitionals and Double Jewels which date from the 1940s to the early 50s so seeing Rob’s rare vintage gems was quite a treat. Sadly, he made me give them back.

Esterbrook Ad #2

(shoutout to Esterbrook.net for all the handy information, and to Rick Conner’s Penspotters, Anderson Pens and Ward-o-Matic for the vintage ads!)

My Vintage Esterbrook Fountain Pens

The Esterbrook Collection

For sometime now, I’ve been collecting vintage Esterbrook fountain pens. They were my introduction to budget fountain pens and the wide array of nibs that were available for them. Not to mention that those celluloid colors really are lovely.

If you’re not familiar with Esterbrooks, they were fountain pens sold from 1948 through the early 70s and had replaceable nibs that could be purchased for $0.60-$1.15 depending on if you wanted the standard Renew-Point or the Durachromes. A large portion of these plastic-bodied pens were considered “dollar pens” so even in the 1950s, these were not expensive pens.

My Esterbrooks

I’ve also collected quite a few different nibs over the years. The holy grail was the 9128 Flexible Nib NIB which works beautifully. But in the end, my favorite has become the Fine Stub nib. I am now on the hunt for more of the stub nibs that were available and, of course, a few more body colors to fill out my collection.