Writing instruments on this page are part of my personal collection and are not for sale. Click the magnifying-glass symbol () next to any pen to view a zoomed image for more detail.
What pens am I carrying today?
|The Color — and Size — of a Nib||Design Features|
The L. E. Waterman company had been producing pens of red rippled hard rubber for a while when, in 1927, it introduced two new Nº 5 and Nº 7 “Ripple” models. Instead of describing nib tip shapes only with words that might have little meaning for the average purchaser, Waterman assigned “colors” to the six (later ten) nib styles for these models.
The Ideal Nº 7 is one of the most collectible Watermans. I inherited my first Nº 7 from my grandfather, a pictorial photographer and novelist. It has a BLUE (Improved Stub) nib, and it writes wonderfully. This second-model pen (with narrow white bands next to the blue-colored band on the cap) is 55/8" capped, 71/8" posted.
Despite having gone to the 2007 Triangle Pen Show in Raleigh, North Carolina, with absolutely no intention of purchasing a Nº 7, I bought the next pen there. (It really is a Nº 7 despite having a cap that is apparently from a Nº 55.) This pen, which is 519/32" capped and 71/32" posted, is also the second model. It bears a nib marked to indicate that it is the mythic WHITE (Coarse) nib. The magnifying-glass symbol to the left of the image below affords you a close-up view of the nib. Investigation has shown that the nib is not a true WHITE nib; the color imprint was not there when John Mottishaw worked on the nib in 2003. But it’s still a nice pen and a very nice big fat wet stub nib.
With no brassing anywhere and all three barrel imprints so crisp they still show raised edges, this PINK Nº 7 is as close to perfect a specimen as I’ve ever seen. When it was offered to me I really couldn’t turn it down. It’s 521/32" capped and 717/64" posted, and I’m seriously in love with it — the rubber is unusually rich in black, and the dark color is intriguing. I even like the nib!
One of the most exciting items in my collection is this Waterman’s Ideal Nº 7 pen and pencil set in BHR. As you can see from the photo of the pen capped, these are not an ordinary pen and pencil. The set is one of a batch that were made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the the first F. W. Woolworth store. The furniture and the Woolworth Building on the pen’s cap are solid 14K gold, and the gold ring above the peak of the Woolworth Building is the eyepiece for a Stanhope viewer showing a portrait of Woolworth himself. The pen i513/16" capped, 73/8" posted, a skosh longer than the ordinary Nº 7. The pencil also has a Stanhope, this one featuring a view of the Woolworth Building with the date January 23, 1930.
I don’t suppose there’s a law saying that if you have a Nº 7 you also have to have a Nº 5, but when this PURPLE Nº 5 jumped out of another dealer’s case at the 2008 NY/NJ Show and said, “Buy me,” who was I to refuse? The Nº 5 is of course smaller than the Nº 7, at 55/32" capped and 613/32" posted. There is a certain charm about the slight flare at the cap crown of the Nº 5. ¶ What makes this pen even more special (to me, at least) is that it was rather less than “correct” when I bought it. I had examined it and knew most of the flaws, and the first thing I did upon returning to the Nashua Pen Spa was to take the pen into the shop and put it up on the rack. The cap’s color band was, and will remain, a modern replacement. The pen’s original lever box assembly died somewhere along the way, and the assembly in the pen when I brought it home was the more streamlined version, from a 1930s or ’40s celluloid pen; the Waterman pressure bar was also long gone, replaced with a third-tier J-bar. I’ve refitted these parts with correct ones. Now the pen looks and works as it should.
At 41/4" capped and 511/32" posted, this itty-bitty “Ripple” pen is the “other” 51. Its unnumbered flex nib is tiny — about the size of a Wahl Nº 0 — and it’s the smallest (and skinniest) self-filling Waterman pen that did not carry the 1/2V designation. With its nickel-plated furniture, the Waterman’s Ideal Nº 51V is something of a “sport”; most rippled pens featured gold-filled furniture.
So, if nibs have colors, maybe “Ripple” pens do, too. Yup. There were several colors of rippled hard rubber; these Ideal Nº 94 pens are in Ripple Olive and Ripple Bluegreen, respectively. The 94 surprised me by being a delight in the hand despite its somewhat greater-than-52-size girth. Both of these pens have flexible nibs that are wicked fun to write with.
If you’re like me, you associate doctors with syringes. One of the simplest and most reliable filling systems of the early 20th century was the syringe filler, first used by Post and subsequently adopted by several other makers. Here, it is implemented on a pen by Salz Brothers (a company probably best known today for its diminutive Peter Pan pens). This pen is a large one, with a look that would say “eyedropper” were the pen of lesser girth. The one significant disadvantage of the syringe filler is that the plunger, when the pen is full, uses a lot of extra length. capped, this pen is 515/32"; posted, it grows only to 619/32". It’s a little clunky, but the Nº 4 nib is very nice.
The basic syringe filler is simplicity itself, but the Franklin Pen Company of Philadelphia elaborated on it in a very sophisticated way, by providing a mechanism that allows the user to tighten the packing seal as it wears in use. My Franklin Nº 5 is also a large pen, bigger even than the Salz at 511/16" capped and 615/16" posted. The Nº 5 flexible nib is extremely nice.
|Convenience (Mostly) Wins Out Over Economy||Profile|
I’m not really a “metal pen guy,” but when this Waterman C/F in Barleycorn came my way I pretty much had to snap it up. Introduced in 1953, the C/F is a fascinating pen — not only because it was the first widely popular cartridge-filling pen but also because the nib fits into the section in an unusual way: inserted from the front, then pivoted into position and locked in place by the feed (which slides in from the back). This pen is 511/32"capped; posted, it’s 513/16". The nib on this puppy is a fine that I’ve made a little wetter and a lot smoother, and it’s a wonderful nib. A wonderful pen, actually.
To my eye, probably the most attractive of all postwar metal pens is the silver moiré C/F. Waterman also made the moiré pattern in gold, but the silver has a cool sexiness that gold just can’t match. This pen is 511/32"capped and 57/8" posted, and it has a very nice fine 18K nib.
The common man’s C/F was still quite attractive, and it was fitted with a 14K nib, at least on U.S. production, like the red pen below. This pen’s nib is “living proof” that Waterman hadn’t abandoned its longstanding reputation as a maker of pens with great nibs — this pen’s nib, as indicated by the barrel chalkmark, is a flexible fine. A very nice flexible fine, by the way.
And here we have the common man’s C/F in another color — at least that’s what it looks like until you see that lever there in the middle of the barrel. There goes the convenience factor! This pen, apparently relatively uncommon, was conceived by those wacky Canadians, and the only thing I have that resembles a model number or name is the R.D. on the cap band. This genetic sport has a fine Nº 2A 14K nib, and it’s actually a quite nice writing instrument (by which I mean it works very well and feels good in the hand).
In 1920, Sheaffer trumped all of its competition by offering pens with a lifetime warranty (which at the outset applied only to the nibs). Roughly four years later, soon after its introduction of Radite (celluloid) pens, the company created what remains one of the most identifiable brand marks in the industry, the famous White Dot that identified a pen bearing a lifetime warranty. Hard rubber pens didn’t remain in production too long after that time, so hard rubber pens with the White Dot are somewhat uncommon. Inset into the cap crown, the White Dot on this BCHR Senior Lifetime pen can’t be seen here, but I assure you it’s there. This pen, sized at 513/32" capped and 63/4" posted, holds a remarkably smooth fine-tipped “nail” that’s a real pleasure to write with. The furniture is badly brassed, but — at least for the moment — I don’t care. I like the pen too much to send it off for replating.