Monthly Archives: September 2013

Does this Old Sheaffer Ad Disturb You?

Vintage fountain pen ads are always entertaining. Often hoaky, and usually too wordy, they wouldn’t hold up in today’s ad campaigns. These days 10 words and an oversized, engaging image is thought of as a solid ad. In the early 1920s, you’d get several paragraphs, if not a complete page of copy, that few people read all the way through.

Sheaffer Lifetime pen set ad

Here is a Sheaffer Christmas ad from the 1920s. Is it romantic or disturbing? Let us know.

Early attempts at more image heavy ads seem to convey odd messages. No doubt this Sheaffer ad was supposed to be highly romantic. The couple sure looks swell in their evening clothes.

However, on closer examination, doesn’t it seem–a generation after the women’s lib movement–highly disturbing that the man is holding the woman’s hand as she writes. First off, who can write with someone holding their hand? Second, isn’t it almost creepy that he could well be trying to control her hand?

With one hand on her hip, it looks as if she has moxie enough to squirt that guy in the eye with her vintage Sheaffer fountain pen. Nevertheless, he’s still there guiding away.

Oddly missing is an obvious price. Only in the fine print can you discover that the rolled gold set is $16 and the solid gold set is $68. Imagine a solid gold pen-pencil set today going for $68. At the time, however, a Model T Ford was going for somewhere in the vicinity of $200. No doubt you could have gotten a used car for less than $68.

In case you can’t read the normal-sized text, the copy is written from the woman’s perspective, thanking the man for the fountain pen and pencil set. She describes the box the set comes in as “cunning.” She also establishes that “all” women hate sharpening pencils and that the companion mechanical pencil is basically making all of her dreams a reality.

To blazes with diamond rings, necklaces, flowers, chocolates and other traditional gifts of love on Christmas. What every woman really wants is a mechanical pencil in a cunning box so she doesn’t have to sharpen any more pencils.

Why didn’t somebody tell me that years ago?! At least I know I won’t be single this Yuletide season.

Comments and responses are welcome.

A Pen for the Highest Office

I like to envision elements of this new blog as a cocktail party for pen collectors. Who else would start a conversation with a total stranger by asking, “Did you know so-and-so writes with a ______ pen?” It can’t be any worse than, “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” (Scorpio)

President Barack Obama signs a bill with a Cross Townsend rollerball pen.

President Barack Obama signs a bill with a Cross Townsend rollerball pen.

Everybody uses a pen, but it is interesting to see who uses what. As this blog grows, I hope to identify the pens used by movie stars, politicians (both parties), athletes and anybody else who has made the news. One of the great pleasures of getting to know pen collectors is discovering many share my interest in random trivia.

I fully encourage readers to send in images and ideas for this series of posts.

To get us started, I figured who best to turn to than the person who has the world’s most powerful autograph.

President Barack Obama is well known for using special Cross Townsend rollerball pens to sign bills into law. The stalwart American-made pens are black with silver trim. Official signing pens are custom made with the commander-in-chief’s signature and a presidential seal. The pen’s inner brass barrel construction gives the writing instrument a nice weight and balance. When I used to sell pens at a store in a mall, Townsends were a popular model that wrote just as smoothly as a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Classique for a third of the price.

Please note in the photo that it does not appear our president is a pen collector, as he posts the distinctive cap on the tail of the pen. Mr. President, that will wear on the pen and ruin its finish. Of course, if any of us were lucky enough to own a signing ceremony pen from any president, it probably wouldn’t matter much that it had a little surface wear.

Parker 21, Parker 45 & Esterbrook Fountain Pens

If you have been visiting our vintage pens pages lately, you might find yourself asking, “Self, what’s with all of the cheap Parkers and Esterbrooks?”

We sell more vintage Esterbrook pens than any other brand. These copper-colored Esterbrooks are my personal favorite of the options available, but our most popular colors are blue, grey and black.

We sell more vintage Esterbrook pens than any other brand. These copper-colored Esterbrooks are my personal favorite of the options available, but our most popular colors are blue, grey and black.

It is simple enough my friends. Esterbrooks are the most popular pens we sell at ThePenMarket.com. We generally can’t keep them in stock. As for the inexpensive Parkers, we had so many expensive pens on the vintage pens pages, we thought it would be nice to offer a high-quality entry pen to the site for people just looking to get into writing with fountain pens.

But then there is one more reason.

ThePenMarket.com recently acquired an amazing collection of rarer, harder to find vintage pens dating back to the turn of the last century. We’re talking hard rubber and silver filigree fountain pens. Think Waterman 12, Waterman 52, Waterman 54 and a beautiful sterling silver Waterman 452. We’ve got Parker Duofolds and Vacs. Sheaffer Lifetimes and Balances. Maybe some Mabie Todd. Perhaps some sterling and gold no names. You’ll quiver with delight at the senior Conklin Enduras with remarkable color clarity.

We’ve got 120 classic vintage pens to catalog, restore and post for sale.

Are you salivating yet? When they arrive online would you rather they be the first things you see or have them buried under 2 dozen steel nib beauties. That’s what we thought. In the coming weeks and months, e-fist fights might breakout over the first daily opportunity to buy these glorious fountain pen wonders of yesteryear.

Pen Tip #1: Why Is My Favorite Nib Starting to Skip?

If you find that your favorite fountain pen won’t write any more or the nib is starting to skip and have trouble writing, it is quite possible your nib and inkfeed are clogging with old dried ink.

Soaking a fountain pen is often one of the fastest ways to help it write better. Just stick the nib in a cup of water, but not too deep--just enough to soak the nib and the inkfeed beneath it. This leaches out the old dried ink and helps to loosen the remaining ink inside the pen. Once the nib is clean, it likely will write as good as new.

Soaking a fountain pen is often one of the fastest ways to help it write better. Just stick the nib in a cup of water, but not too deep–just enough to soak the nib and the inkfeed beneath it. This leaches out the old dried ink and helps to loosen the remaining ink inside the pen. Once the nib is clean, it likely will write as good as new.

Infrequent use where you let your ink dry out inside the pen can often lead to clogged nibs and inkfeeds. Sometimes heavy use also leads to the same problem. If you fill and write your pen dry twice a week for years on end, the ink still builds up over time.

As a repairman, I find this is actually one of the most common problems pen users face. Whenever possible, I try to save my customers money with this simple advice.

Try to never let your pen dry out. If you know you won’t be using it for a while, empty it back into the inkwell or out in the sink. Of course, even constant use or careful emptying can lead to ink build up, eventually.

Always remember that room temperature tap water is your friend. (Hot and cold water can ruin your pen.) I find many repairs are easily avoided with a little H2O. Simply soak your pen overnight in a small cup or baby food jar, as in the photo. Don’t immerse the entire pen. Just soak the nib up to the section. The section is the part by which you most likely grip the pen. It is the black grip on this Parker Vacumatic. You can already see the old ink leaching off the nib.

After you let the pen soak for a few hours, the old ink remaining in the pen is softened. Empty out the container and fill it with more room temperature water. Then fill the pen with water several times, until the water is a uniform ink color. Empty and repeat until the pen starts running clear.

Empty the pen of water, and then shake out the remaining water over the sink. Be careful, that slightly tinted water sprays all over. Try your best to keep it in the sink. Wipe down the nib and inkfeed underneath with a paper towel. This helps drain out the last of the ink. I usually let the pen air dry for the remainder of the day. This way, when I refill the pen, the ink doesn’t seem watered down.

Welcome to The Pen Market.com’s Blog

Hello, and welcome!

It has been a long time coming, but we are very happy to have our very own blog. It is a space dedicated to pen lovers old and new. In it we hope to entertain our readers and customers with pen history, classic–if not somewhat cheesy–pen ads, repair advice and much more.

One of our upcoming favorite features will be trying to identify the pens of famous people. We will also try to identify the pens you see in the movies!

As for further entertainment, we might even add fun musings, short stories, song parodies or more.

Naturally, we’ll keep you up to date on all of the latest and greatest things happening at ThePenMarket.com, to make sure you don’t miss out on great bargains or rare pens.

Last, but not least, we want to learn about you. Ask us questions. Tell us about you. We love better getting to know our customers, and we want to do all we can to make your shopping and reading experience the best one you have online!

Tell your friends, and come back soon.

Yours,
Nathaniel Cerf
President, Repairman
ThePenMarket.com