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Writing instruments on this page are part of my personal collection and are not for sale.
|A Midget Among Giants||Profile|
Fountain pens come in all sizes. Although not the smallest pen ever made, the Wahl “Bantam” is among the smaller models. It was produced beginning in about 1933. These pens are about 33∕4" capped and 41∕2" posted. The Bantam is a bulb filler, and most Bantams write very well, albeit not for thousands of words! The Bantam’s nib is a Wahl No. 0, the smallest the company made.
Bantams exist with either steel or gold nibs; the blue and brown pens here have gold. Some Bantam nibs (as on the blue pen here) are flexible. Because it was a novelty item, the Bantam has metal trim that is very thinly gold plated, and the plating is often worn. This blue pen’s furniture has been replated.
This green pen, fitted with a steel nib, has a Lahn barrel (transparent celluloid with metallic threads) and double narrow cap bands.
The next two Bantams bear a cap-band imprint for the Century of Progress exposition of 1933/1934. The blue swirl is the more common type, a round pen, while the burgundy marble (Morocco) faceted pen is quite uncommon.
Here is another burgundy marble faceted pen, this one fitted with a taper as part of a desk set.
|Let Air Do the Work: Sheaffer’s Touchdown||Profile|
In 1949, Sheaffer introduced a filling system that used air pressure to compress the sac. The pen has a “plunger” that isn’t a plunger at all, but rather a pneumatic cylinder, and it fills the pen on the downstroke. The company called this system Sheaffer’s Touchdown, but it really wasn’t a Sheaffer invention. It had been used by the Chilton Pen Company nearly two decades earlier! (There is a technical description of the Touchdown system in my reference page on Fountain Pen Filling Systems.)
My first Touchdown is a 1949 Persian Blue Touchdown Sentinel, 51∕4" capped and 515∕16" posted, with an extra-fine nib. I also have a matching ballpoint pen.
Next is a Touchdown TM (Thin Model) Signature, from 1950 or 1951. Like the Autograph, the Signature features a cap band of solid 14K gold, intended to be engraved with the owner’s signature. This pen is 511∕32" capped and 61∕8" posted. It also writes very well with a very firm medium nib.
The Touchdown TM, introduced in 1950, includes some rather diverse models. The Signature above is the “classic” shape, thin and fitted with metal section threads. The “marketable” Touchdown TM pens lasted only until the 1952 introduction of the Snorkel, but Sheaffer’s low-line models lasted after their higher-end companions disappeared. These less costly pens have a much more typical “pen” shape with a little more thickness and a very ordinary cap band on a plastic cap — all except the Craftsman, which retained its late 1940s wire cap band band and thereby earned the honor of being the last wire-band model in production. Shown here is a Craftsman, 51∕8" capped and 531∕32" posted. This pen has the expected No 33 nib, in a fine grade, and writes well.
|They Dunn It!||Profile|
Founded in 1921, the Dunn-Pen Company, Inc., was out of business before the end of 1924, driven under by a prolonged employees’ strike. The founders, interestingly, did not include Charles Dunn, who had in 1920 patented a pump filler that gave a very large ink capacity for the size of the pen. But in its three-plus years the company produced pens of very high quality, fitting them with Dunn’s filler (U.S. Patent No 1,359,880). The Dunn-Pen is distinctive in appearance because of the “Little Red Pump-Handle” with which the user operates the filler. Many of these pump knobs are made of casein, but some, on early pens, are hard rubber.
My first Dunn-Pen has a hard rubber pump knob. It’s a very small pen, 419∕32" long capped and 57∕16" posted, and it was called the Baby Camel. With its restored pump and its very nice flexible No 2 Dunn-Pen nib, it’s quite a nice pen to use.
Starting where the previous model leaves off at 57∕16" capped — and a big 631∕32" posted — this Dunn-Pen seems rather ordinary but is in fact quite uncommon. What you can’t see in this photo is that the pen has no Little Red Pump-Handle on its barrel. In fact, it has nothing on its barrel except a Dunn-Pen imprint. It’s an eyedropper-filling pen!
In the mid-1930s, as the Vacumatic’s star rose, Parker discontinued the Duofold. But in 1939, the name reappeared on a button filler called the Geometric (“Toothbrush”) Duofold. The Geometric survived only two years before being replaced by a range of “Striped” Duofold models that included both button fillers and Vacumatic fillers. Vacumatic-filling Duofolds, like the Vacumatic itself, had transparent barrel stripes intermixed with the color; button fillers had black stripes.
I’ve had many Stripers over the years, but the only one I’ve kept is this 1941 Senior model in Dusty Red.This pen is 51∕4" capped and 61∕16" posted. It has a Vacumatic filler and is fitted with a firm fine gold “Chevron” (or “V for Victory”) nib.