Monday, November 16, 2009
New Addition To The Collection: An Esterbrook SJ
I've really been interested in acquiring an Esterbrook fountain pen, especially after reading the amazing guest post by Bruce at Brassing Adds Character. I read through a lot of the pages at Esterbrook.net and Richard Binder's great information, then went to eBay.com to look for an Estie. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, as I really didn't know if it mattered whether I had a J, SJ, or LJ pen, or what year it came from. The prices varied from strangely low to extremely high, but I found a seller with an interesting story: his father collected pens, and he was selling them for his mother, who worked at one of the auto companies and had seen her pension go south. The description was simply along the lines of "in good condition" so I decided to take my chances. And about 10 days later I opened the package and studied my first vintage fountain pen.
Comparing the pen to pictures at both sites, it's an SJ double jeweled model in brown, made in the early '50s. Taking a look inside the barrel I found pieces of black stuff, and realized that was all that was left of the original sac. Quite thoughtfully, someone had removed all the debris around the nipple so all I had to do was get a new sac and glue it on (a trip to the Fountain Pen Hospital took care of that, along with a quick lesson from the FPH guys). That was a success, although now I think I should have cut the sac just a little bit more; there is some debris at the bottom of the barrel that I can't get out that's interfering with the sac just a bit. I've tamped it down, and the sac now fits much better.
The only other thing I noticed is that the tines on the nib were very slightly apart; this nib is listed as a "firm medium" so I'm thinking the nib might be slightly mangled due to use. It's a very wet nib, and looks slightly italic; the 9668 nib is for general writing, and it has a wider line than my other medium fountain pens. Cleaned up, I rather like the brown color, but it is definitely a shortie! I think that's taken me more getting used to than the wetness of the nib or the wideness of the line. I like using this pen and can see how the Estie is the workhorse of fountain pens.
One final note: a colleague at work, hearing me talk about winning the bid on the Esterbrook, mentioned that she has a whole drawer of these pens. Hearing my choking noises, she invited me over sometime to take a look and perhaps pick out a pen or two to keep the brown SJ company.