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Thread: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

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    Default The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    I often read the repair section of this and other forums. Last night I read one plea for help with an Esterbrook and it was because the owner had been to rough in trying to restore. The Esterbrook appears to be the height of form and function. The simplicity of a j bar, that is easily replaced, and a ink bladdler we call a sac never fails until disuse and time destroy the latex. The pens just work even if near 90 years old once the simple mechanism is replaced or cleaned.

    Esterbrook plastic has to be the best. It does not crack over time or become brittle from what I've see on the 1940's and '50's pens.

    Is there another brand that offers the ability to change the pen by a simple nib swap? Perhaps??

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Osmiroid.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    ...Is there another brand that offers the ability to change the pen by a simple nib swap? Perhaps??
    Pelikan. Aurora. Some Wahl-Eversharp. & etc.

    But yes, Esterbrooks seem to be indestructible, even their factory sacs.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Deb View Post
    Osmiroid.
    BTW, the older Osmiroid nibs fit Esterbrooks and some of them seem more "expressive" for writing. Are there any truly flexible Esterbrook nibs? The ones I've tried have been rather stiff.
    Last edited by jbb; December 27th, 2019 at 07:27 AM.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    I am a big fan of Esterbrook J series pens for their beautiful and robust plastics and good quality stainless steel hardware.

    Speaking of Esterbrook nibs, their steel dip pen nibs are brilliant as well. The 048 Falcon is a fantastic practical writer with wonderful line variation (the slitted older ones blow the doors off the 2048/9048 and even the un-slitted ones are better). I can see why it was so popular. This nib totally changed my view of writing with dip pens.

    The 442 Jackson Stub is a joy to write with (similar but better than the 9442/2442 medium). I've tried some of the school nibs that are also great.

    And afficionados of Esterbrook know that Charles Schulz used a 914 to ink Peanuts.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Esterbrook made some interesting nibs. The 9128, 9048, are a some of flexible nibs. Not wet noodle, but flexible. 9314 or X314 nibs are relief, or left oblique nibs in fine, medium and broad, 9341B (stub), 9284 is a signature stub.

    Great pens, often overlooked.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    There are numerous German piston fillers that share the common thread type. Esterbrook and Osmiroid differ from other manufacturers in that they both produced a very large range of nibs for use with their fountain pens. Platignum did something similar, though on a lesser scale, with their Quick Change pens and nibs.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Yes, Estebrook pens deserve and should be put in a special place in vintage-pen ratings.

    But there are so many other pens that are interesting and cool, in different criteria.

    For example, no matter how much I like Esterbrook celluloid, I still like woodgrain ebonite looks more.

    Or, no matter how much I like the ease-of-restoration of Esterbrook lever fillers, I still like Conklin Endura lever filler system more.

    Or, no matter how much I like the ability to exchange nibs, I am still happier if I manage to rescue a single nib that writes beautifully that will only fit one pen.

    So that's why even though I like Esterbrook pens, it's not by any means the only one that rank high in my view.
    - Will
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Just a review of my OP, I didn't suggest other more interesting pens did exist. It's just that the beloved Parker 51 or the Shaeffer "snorkel" , while wonderful pens, they appear to be a challenge to restore, get parts for, or that have not broken because of the complexity of their plastic and design. When you can take a 1934 Dollar and turn is into a daily driver for the cost of a new j bar and sac, it's the height or near the height of value.
    Last edited by Chuck Naill; December 27th, 2019 at 01:50 PM.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    On the spectrum of easy vintage pens to find and use with little effort I'd add Parker 45s. I know they're not as old or as pretty as Esterbrooks but they're the kind of pen you can find add a yard sale, fill with water (which re-hydrates years of old, dried ink) and POOF! they work. At least that's how it's happened for me.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    On the spectrum of easy vintage pens to find and use with little effort I'd add Parker 45s. I know they're not as old or as pretty as Esterbrooks but they're the kind of pen you can find add a yard sale, fill with water (which re-hydrates years of old, dried ink) and POOF! they work. At least that's how it's happened for me.
    That's good to know. I'll check them out.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Just a review of my OP, I didn't suggest other more interesting pens did exist. It's just that the beloved Parker 51 or the Shaeffer "snorkel" , while wonderful pens, they appear to be a challenge to restore, get parts for, or that have not broken because of the complexity of their plastic and design. When you can take a 1934 Dollar and turn is into a daily driver for the cost of a new j bar and sac, it's the height or near the height of value.
    But sometimes, the challenge to restore is part of the reward. At least for those who think like I do.

    Sometimes, the figuring out, the aggravating difficulty or the long wait for the right part, and yes, even the anguish of holding two pieces that used to be one, adds to the final sense of satisfaction when the pen, against all odds, function again, and writes beautifully.

    By the way, I am not challenging your conclusion, which is yours to make, I'm simply offering a different perspective.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Just a review of my OP, I didn't suggest other more interesting pens did exist. It's just that the beloved Parker 51 or the Shaeffer "snorkel" , while wonderful pens, they appear to be a challenge to restore, get parts for, or that have not broken because of the complexity of their plastic and design. When you can take a 1934 Dollar and turn is into a daily driver for the cost of a new j bar and sac, it's the height or near the height of value.
    But sometimes, the challenge to restore is part of the reward. At least for those who think like I do.

    Sometimes, the figuring out, the aggravating difficulty or the long wait for the right part, and yes, even the anguish of holding two pieces that used to be one, adds to the final sense of satisfaction when the pen, against all odds, function again, and writes beautifully.

    By the way, I am not challenging your conclusion, which is yours to make, I'm simply offering a different perspective.
    Yes, I can appreciate the challenge of doing a restoration on a 51 or snorkel and the user satisfaction that ensues. My OP was just to highlight how well a simple design the Esterbrook or similar type are and the quality of how the parts are made in contrast to other more complicated designs that do not tend to hold up well over time.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quite so, Chuck, but remember that there are a host of other lever fillers out there, equally straightforward to repair and equally well made. To my mind, that's not why the Esterbrook is unique but in the combination of these excellent qualities with the huge array of different nib types. No other manufacturer produces anything truly comparable. Osmiroid nibs are excellent. The same cannot really be said of the pens.
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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Esterbrook plastic has to be the best. It does not crack over time or become brittle from what I've see on the 1940's and '50's pens.
    tough plastic, good cap seals, and (you forgot one) bomb-proof hardware. I have seen really super sweet minty vintage pens with brassed up clips and bands. Not a problem with Esterbrook. Gotta love them. And if you do clean it up (polish), they clean up real nice. Great pens.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by stub View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Esterbrook plastic has to be the best. It does not crack over time or become brittle from what I've see on the 1940's and '50's pens.
    tough plastic, good cap seals, and (you forgot one) bomb-proof hardware. I have seen really super sweet minty vintage pens with brassed up clips and bands. Not a problem with Esterbrook. Gotta love them. And if you do clean it up (polish), they clean up real nice. Great pens.
    Excellent point about the hardware. I've only had to replace one rusted and broken j bar. That I could use long nose tweezers to extract the old one and shove a replacement back and have the mechanism fully functional was a pleasant surprise.

    We are fortunate to have suppliers that can supply us with new sacs and j bars. It was another forum that gave me the idea of using a mandolin or guitar string to unclog a nib feed.
    Last edited by Chuck Naill; December 29th, 2019 at 04:39 AM.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    On the spectrum of easy vintage pens to find and use with little effort I'd add Parker 45s. I know they're not as old or as pretty as Esterbrooks but they're the kind of pen you can find add a yard sale, fill with water (which re-hydrates years of old, dried ink) and POOF! they work. At least that's how it's happened for me.
    I'm laughing. My first full-time pen was a Parker 45, Christmas, 1960, which replaced a scratchy Sheaffer school pen I had used the previous year or two. Vintage??? No! Not yet!

    And, half-seriously, I call the P-45 the first modern pen, because it was the first pen that did not depend on the Parker counter at a department store, and Parker Repair, to keep it running. Dislike the nib? You could buy another for a dollar or so, and then "install" it yourself. The 45 nib unit unscrews, just like the Estie. All the parts of the P-45 unscrew down to some low-level components. Consider the Parker 51, and the various bits that make up the filling system or the feed. The 51 implies -- requires -- much more of a company support system. With the 45, and nearly all pens that followed, you could pick one off a rack and never need to deal with Parker again, unless you wanted to buy some of their ink cartridges.

    So, not my idea of a vintage pen, but the Parker 45 is still anyone's best first pen. Still inexpensive. The company made them for about 45 or 50 years, and the parts are interchangeable so they should write for a long time.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    I have replaced a few of the Esterbrook J and M2 sacs with PVC sacs like the ones in Parker 51s. I am not expecting anyone will have to replace those again. In the M2 pens I used Parker 51 sacs. I think I used P51 sacs in the J pens as well.

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Be aware that some of the best nibs that fit your Esterbrook fountain pen are certain Osmiroid nibs. I sold a boxed set with pen at the Baltimore show. There's a box of Osmiroid music nibs compatible with Esterbrook that I've located in the wild and need to pick up, once the travel restrictions are lifted.

    Box fourth from the top contains Esterbrook compatible nibs:

    IMG_2870.jpeg

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    Default Re: The Height of Form and Function aka Esterbrook?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Just a review of my OP, I didn't suggest other more interesting pens did exist. It's just that the beloved Parker 51 or the Shaeffer "snorkel" , while wonderful pens, they appear to be a challenge to restore, get parts for, or that have not broken because of the complexity of their plastic and design. When you can take a 1934 Dollar and turn is into a daily driver for the cost of a new j bar and sac, it's the height or near the height of value.
    Interestingly enough, I don't really care for either of those pens, despite their following and desirability. The 51 is fine, but kinda boring. I'll give them a +1 for the pliglass sac in the aerometrics though: that badboy is a marvel.

    Snorkels are interesting if you like over engineered, but I'll take the regular Touchdown system over the snorkel every time.

    I always appreciated the brilliant simplicity of the Conklin Crescent, but rarely use them. I will always fall back on the good old tried-and-true German piston filler.

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