Tag Archives: vintage pen

How Do I Write a Love Letter?

The key to every good love letter is making it as personal as you can. Don't be indimidated by writing. Savor the joy it will bring.

The key to every good love letter is making it as personal as you can. Don’t be intimidated by writing. Savor the joy it will bring.

Okay, so now that you have a spiffy pen for writing love letters, how do you go about using it?

Writing a good love letter is an art form, but it is not one you need to be intimidated by. There is no one correct way to write one, as every relationship is different and in different stages.

As with any writing project, you must keep only two simple things in mind: 1.) Who is your audience & 2.) What is your objective.

The letter better not sound that cold, but it helps to take the edge off when you sit down to compose.

You are never too old or too young to write a good love letter. My first one was to a teacher’s aid in first grade. I was madly in love with Miss Mix. Perhaps, that’s where my flame for older women first got lit. I was 6. She was 21. She was pretty and kind and totally understood my inner soul way better than those immature girls my own age. It was ill fated, but I totally got a love letter back from her. She declined my proposal to marry, but she did encourage me to look her up after I grew up. Sadly, she moved away when her student teaching ended that semester and we lost track of one another. C’est la vie. That’s just the way love goes sometimes.

I digress.

First ask yourself what stage of the relationship you are in. What do you hope to achieve by writing this letter. Writing to someone you barely know will be much different than writing to someone you’ve been married to for 50 years.

Let’s say you are just getting to know someone or want to get to know someone. Be your quirky self, humorous and sincere. Don’t overdo it. A light touch is best. Include something about the connection you share.

“Every day it seems I spy you through the sneeze guard of our office cafeteria salad bar. Who is this amazingly hot woman with three and a half noses and 7 dancing arctic blue eyes peering back at me through the plexiglass refraction? I don’t know, but it seems we agree that croutons are the best part of any salad. Is this kismet or just a mutual fondness for crunchy salted carbs? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. How about stepping out from behind the sneeze guard and joining me for a real lunch some time? Potentially yours, _____”

Nothing elaborate. It’s light hearted, flirty and fun without sounding stalkerish or dripping in innuendo. Yet, it leaves open many possibilities.

If you are already in a relationship, understand the difference between intimacy and lust. Both make for fantastic love letters, but it also is the point at which you really need to focus on shared experiences and end goals. Intimacy can lead to lust, but it is that special souls-laid-bare closeness that comes from shareing your lives. Use those close personal experiences to tell your lover why they are so important to you. Put your feelings and your self out there and make sure they know how incredible it is to have them in your life.

If a night of unbridled passion is what you are after, then tap into lust, and use your love letter as foreplay. Get it delivered midday at their home or office with flowers or a gift. Use your words to stir their desire.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKES GUYS MAKE: Unless you met your partner at a renaissance fair, lay off the knightly talk and overtly ardent courting of the 14th century. Methinks it goeth too far, and most fair maidens have second thoughts about a man who pretends he’s living in the realm of “Dungeons & Dragons.”

ALSO: Lay off the lust angle, unless your relationship has already crossed that line or is on the verge of crossing that line. Otherwise, most women will resent being objectified. Mostly, they’ll think you are creepy and/or scary. If it is meant to be, it’ll happen. Be patient.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKES GALS MAKE: Don’t put the proverbial cart before the horse. Guys love love letters, too, but you want to be careful about going too far ahead of where the relationship is really at. If your relationship is still pretty new, you might spook him if you start talking about marriage or seeing your yet unconcieved children in his eyes. It might be obvious that the two of you will be headed down the aisle one day, but don’t spring it on him out of the blue.

ALSO: If you want a more physical relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for it. We live in messed up times. If you’ve got a nice, caring guy who is a little reluctant to go too far at first, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t want you. He was likely raised to respect women and not treat them like sexual play toys who can be easily discarded. Mix that with a lifetime of news reports about rape and sex abuse against women, and he likely doesn’t want to be seen as a predator. A gentleman doesn’t take a lady; she gives herself to him. He likely desperately wants your permission to do all of the things you desperately want him to do. Don’t be afraid to write it out in black and white for him.

Join the Wearever Pen Bandwagon

Here is the Wearever Deluxe 100 in a grey and red pattern that looks surprisingly close to that of the Parker Parkerette below.

Here is the Wearever Deluxe 100 in a grey and red pattern that looks surprisingly close to that of the Parker Parkerette below.

To the astonishment of many long-time pen collectors, the Wearever brand has been gaining a lot of second looks in recent years.

Although Sheaffer and Parker routinely vied for the title of the biggest and best fountain pen manufacturer from the 1920s through the 1960s, another brand beat them out on sales volume: Wearever.

0639 ParkeretteHonestly. Although a second–and even third–tier pen company, Wearever sold huge quantities of pens, particularly in the 1940s and ’50s. How did they do it? Looks and price. Some of their highest quality pens, such as the Wearever Deluxe 100, only cost one greenback dollar. Their plastics proved very durable, and the company focused a lot of attention on making the pens very attractive…often stealing, I mean, being inspired by the designs of leading pen makers. Just look at the similarity between this Wearever Deluxe 100 and Parker Parkerette.

The cost cutting came on the quality control side of things. While some of their “special alloy” nibs wrote very smoothly, many were scratchy and troublesome.

Many collectors, tired of being priced out of the ultra popular brands, are turning to these handsome vintage pens to beautify their collection while these pens are still affordable.

Overlooked for so long, there appears to be very little information about this company from North Bergen, New Jersey. Reasonable rumors state its history extends back into the late 1800s. We are very curious about this company and would love it if other fans of the brand were able to contact us with more details.

‘Out of Africa’ into the Pen Blog

Last week we had a request from loyal reader Karen P. to identify the pen used by Meryl Streep in her Oscar-winning movie “Out of Africa.”

Finding a picture of the pen was relatively easy. Identifying the pen is a different story.

For those of you who are not familiar with the film, it is based on the true story with the same title by Danish baroness Karen Blixen, who initially wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Autobiographical, it is the saga of Blixen, played by Streep, marrying for convience and title, moving to Danish colonial Kenya, establishing a successful coffee plantation and ultimately having an affair with a big game hunter played by Robert Redford. (As her husband has slept with half of Africa, she’s owed Robert Redford.)

The film was directed by Sydney Pollack and earned 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Most remarkable are the sweeping shots of Africa. Few movies will make you want to book a flight to Africa faster.

Anyhow, after their second encounter, Redford’s character gives Streep’s character a beautiful gold or gold-filled fountain pen. It looks like a clipless lever-filler that looks to be about 13 to 15cm when capped. Sadly, there are no close ups on the pen, as Blixen writes in the film. Therefore, I cannot fully I.D. the pen.

This is the closest vintage pen we currently stock that looks like Streep's pen. It is a lever-filler by Hutcheon.

This is the closest vintage pen we currently stock that looks like Streep’s pen. It is a lever-filler by Hutcheon.

Taking the easy way out, I could recommend that it might be a Waterman or Wahl, as they made plenty of slender gold-fill pens. The closest pen I have for sale is a faux gold Hutcheon lever filler that looks to be from the 1920s. Most likely, it is a Waterman 52 with gold sleeves over the hard rubber cap and barrel.

If anybody has a better idea of what the movie pen is, please write in and help Karen. Thanks.

When Hard Rubber Misbehaves

A Waterman's #15 eyedropper soaks in water to help loosen the old ink sealing its threads.

A Waterman’s #15 eyedropper soaks in water to help loosen the old ink sealing its threads.

Old hard rubber pens, especially eyedroppers, can be a difficult repair because the pens are so old and frail. It is very easy to overtorque them and crack or crush them.

The problem, especially in eyedroppers, is that old ink effectively turns into glue on these old pens. Eyedroppers are so problematic because the ink always seeped into the threads that held the section to the hollow barrel that served as the pen’s ink reservoir. Other pens with ink sacs get ink-glued when the old sac gave out flooding the inner barrel with ink.

Lucky for you, the solution is really simple. Once again H2O comes to the rescue. Fill a cup with room-temperature water and soak the pen over the line separating the section from the barrel. Let it soak for 12 to 48 hours. This is usually enough time to loosen the old ink and allow the pen to open the way it should.

Sometimes it takes a little heat. Heat is the enemy of your old hard rubber pens. Open flames will melt or burn the pen very quickly. Hot water will discolor the pen, too. If you need the heat, just hold the pen briefly under warm to hot water flowing from your kitchen tap. Don’t expose the pen to the heat for more than a couple seconds, and keep an eye out for discoloration. It doesn’t take a lot of time or heat to start the discoloration process.

Was Mark Twain the First Pen Pitchman?

American author Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain, was the spokesman for the Conklin Pen Company in 1903.

American author Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain, was the spokesman for the Conklin Pen Company in 1903.

Samuel Clemens, better known to lovers of classic American literature as Mark Twain, was possibly the first famous person used to sell a specific make and model of pen.

Twain was the writer of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Life on the Mississippi,” “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and what might be my favorite “new” find of the year “On the Damned Human Race.” (I have yet to read it, but with a title like that it has serious potential.)

His pen of choice…at least when paid to say so…was the Conklin Crescent. In 1903 he was quoted as saying, “I prefer it to ten other fountain pens because it carries its filler in its own stomach, and I cannot mislay it even by art or intention. Also, I prefer it because it is a profanity saver; it cannot roll off the desk.”

You can see on this gold-fill Conklin circa 1900 the crescent that would keep the pen from rolling off Twain's desk.

You can see on this gold-fill Conklin circa 1900 the crescent that would keep the pen from rolling off Twain’s desk.

In addition to being the paid spokesman for Conklin, Clemens was the very first author to start composing novels on a new fangled invention called the typewriter. The novel was “Tom Sawyer.” Can you imagine writing a book that long with a pen? Can you imagine being the poor editors back in the day who had to decifer the handwriting in hundreds of manuscripts?

The Conklin Pen Co. was originally located in Toledo, Ohio. The unique part about it was that instead of an eyedropper or lever filler, it used an ink sac activated by a crescent protruding from the center of the hard rubber pen body. That crescent was connected to a flat metal bar that simply squeezed the ink sac. It was prevented from being accidently activated by a hard rubber ring that served as a safety that had to be spun to a clearing that would allow the crescent to be depressed.

Roughly a decade ago, the Conklin Pen Co. was revived. As part of their revitalization, the company restored the Crescent model to the selves of pen retailers. They even made a special model dedicated to Mr. Clemens.

At ThePenMarket.com we have an original early 20th century black hard rubber crescent filler and a much rarer gold-fill Conklin Crescent.

We Don’t Want No Fountain Pen Drama, Ladies

Despite the beautiful watercolor painting and classic 1930s fashion, this vintage pen ad is loaded with sexism that seems sure to guarantee the Lady Duofold never sold.

Despite the beautiful watercolor painting and classic 1930s fashion, this vintage pen ad is loaded with sexism that seems sure to guarantee the Lady Duofold never sold.

Seriously, how effective was this catty Parker Duofold ad from 1931?!

The ad headline reads like a movie synopsis for a cheap melodrama about a bunch of bitchy women who haven’t got much else to complain about in life. In case it is too small on your computer or mobile device it reads: “She laughingly apologized whenever she borrowed a pen, but she left a trail of ill will.”

It is hilarious for all of the wrong reasons.

The copy block only gets better…I mean worse:

“She had an ‘inexpensive’ pen, but it never seemed to work. In buying it, she thought she was saving money. But she only ran into people’s debt by borrowing pens.

“Because her request always met a courteous smile, she little suspected herself of being a nuisance.”

Is it any wonder Parker stopped making “Lady’s” pens not long after this ad came out in 1931?

As bad as the marketing was, the Lady Duofolds were and still are remarkably good pens. They write smoothly and are easy to maintain. We have a very nice one for sale, if you don’t mind a little discoloration. It still works perfectly. CLICK HERE to see this fully restored vintage pen.

The Pens of Presidents Kennedy & Johnson

This collection of pens signed 50 iconic American laws into effect by President John F Kennedy and President Lyndon Baines Johnson from 1961 to 1967. It appears Esterbrooks and Parker 45 were the go-to pens of choice.

This collection of pens signed 50 iconic American laws into effect by President John F Kennedy and President Lyndon Baines Johnson from 1961 to 1967. It appears Esterbrooks and Parker 45 were the go-to pens of choice.

How’s this for the ultimate pen auction? 50 pens used by presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to sign bills into law from 1961 to 1967!

Attentive reader Linda Greenstein sent me the link to this amazing pen collection.

The auction catalog descripes the pens thusly:
“A Golden Era in Legislative Achievement 1961-1967” (50) Pens that “were used to sign into law (50) landmark Bills enacted during the administrations of President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson and were presented to Henry H. Wilson, Jr. in recognition of his efforts as their assistant for Congressional relations for the House of Representatives during these years.” Included are pens used to sign the 1961 Area Redevelopment Act, 1961 Expanded Space Program-Man on the Moon, 1961 Peace Corps, 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1965 Establishment of Housing and Urban Development, 1965 Immigration Act, 1966 Establishment of the Department of Transportation etc.,etc.,etc. (1) 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch photograph of Henry H. Wilson, Jr., President of the Board of Trade with his collection of Presidential pens taken by Bob Kotalik on July 5, 1967 for the Chicago Sun Times which was printed on July 9, 1967. (Presented in toto within a framed shadow box annotating each pen)

Can you imagine owning one of the pens that signed the Civil Rights Act? Or NASA’s Moon Shot program? Or started the Peace Corps?

The starting bid is only $20,000.

What the catalog copy doesn’t mention are the fact Kennedy’s pens are Esterbrook dip writers, and that Johnson’s pens appear to be mostly Parker 45s with his signature imprinted on them. Both seem curiously economical choices.

The Esterbrook nib Kennedy used on the majority of these pens was the 2668. That is the firm-medium steel nib.

In the meantime, here’s the link to this auction.

Learn from Vintage Pen Ads

Vintage pen ads tell us so much. They help us catalog what a company once offered, introduce us to new pens we want to collect and provide insights to the culture and economics of the past.

Vintage pen ads tell us so much. They help us catalog what a company once offered, introduce us to new pens we want to collect and provide insights to the culture and economics of the past.

I love old catalog ads such as this one because they go far to help me identify old pens, their sizes and their design alternatives.

I am forever stumbling upon hard rubber Waterman’s from the 19-teens and 1920s, and I am never quite certain which ones were given sterling silver or gold filigree by the factory or by a local jeweler plying his artistic talents to a basic black pen–as was a frequent occurance during that time.

These ads also help to establish various sizes of pen models and their original pricing. For example: The top pen in the ad comes with the exact same gold mounts in sizes 12 (small) through 16 (large). I now know how many pens I will have to hunt down and find if I want that same model in all sizes with those gold mounts.

After daydreaming for a minute, wishing I had a time machine to go back to the early 1920s to buy gold and silver pens for less than the price of a cocktail in downtown Chicago today, I have fun with the advertising copy.

This ad was very challenging to make in 1924ish. There were no computers or Indesign programs to pop it together. Intricate artwork, cutting, pasting and more went into this very expensive ad for its time. However, you can’t help but wonder who the copy editor was.

“Prices vary according to size of gold pen contained”…???

Even then wouldn’t it have been easier to say, “Prices vary by the amount of gold in each pen”?

I guess I can see why Sheaffer always beat out Waterman. According to our last ad post, Sheaffer pens come with a “cunning” box. Waterman’s pens only came with a “neat” box. Who wouldn’t prefer a pen box that can play chess and carry a conversation with wit?