A Stitch in Time

14 10 2020

OK, so that’s not quite right. The axiom really refers to making timely fixes to avoid long-term larger issues. In this case, it’s more a case of my OCD hating broken things that I know even my limited skills could address, if only I had the requisite parts.

Years ago in the UK, a neighbour gifted me a Parker 25, because, he said, I looked like I knew how to use “an ink pen”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I graciously accepted the gift and left him to his pigeon loft. Once home, I was a little disappointed to discover the nib was in fact buggered*.

This was some 25 or so years ago. The pen was already old then, being at its height of popularity in the late 70s and early 80s. Though my interest in fountain pens was waning in those days I kept the pen in the expectation that I’d fix it one day. How hard could it be?

Well, scroll forward a few years and a continental move of the family and here we are in BC in the next century and already a good year or so into a “proper” look for a replacement nib for the iconic English-made Parker 25. It turns out that they’re not so easy to come by. In fact, for ages, the only “lead” I had was for a a rare green-coloured section complete with the nib. This was at the joyfully playfully named Battersea Pen Home. This was new old stock (i.e. old stock but never used), but a complete mismatch for my blue trimmed Parker 25.

I should at this juncture point out that I also have two other Parker 25s with a fine and a medium nib. Thanks to the excellent online resources below, I managed to identify the buggered unit as a Mk II (pre 1980) pen, with my others being Mk IIIs from Q4 1980 and Q1 1985.

After many rabbit holes (some expensive for only vaguely related reasons) I finally came across the Pen Museum in Hornsea, in my home county of Yorkshire, run by Peter Twydle, a very friendly and knowledgeable self-acclaimed “pen wizard”. He not only had a selection of Parker 25 nibs/feeds, but could also offer Esterbrook nibs. So – why not?

A quick email exchange and my credit card was a little lighter and the nibs were on their way via Royal Mail/Canada Post. Today the little beauties showed up in perfect unused condition. (I oped for a B nib for the Parker 25 to compliment the F and M I already had).

Straight out of the envelope -English-made (no sunburst) Esterbrook 3556 and Parker 25 B nib/feed

Even my basic skills could manage the simple friction fitting of the Parker 25 nib/feed and the simple unscrewing of the Esterbrook.

Safely installed in their new homes

I’ve recently been buying a few inks in sample sizes of 2-5ml, and only a couple of hours after getting the nibs one of my trial pens ran dry, offering me the opportunity to see what Noodler’s Ink Black Swan in English Roses could do in the B nib. Pleasantly less pink than the Australian version for sure!

I’m little more cautious with what I put in my vintage pens, so the Esterbrook will likely get a dose of either Quink (boring but reliable) or perhaps the slightly more jaunty Sheaffer Turquoise or “Peacock Blue” as it used to be known. I was recently surprised to discover when using it on Tomoe River (old) 52gsm that this actually showed some red/magenta sheen. Totally unexpected. Seems like a safe but fun way to play with my older pens.

*buggered: Technical term, meaning unusable in its current form.



3 responses

14 10 2020

The Parker 25 is a nice pen – glad you’ve “un-buggered” yours! Thanks also for the heads up about Peter. I have my mum’s old Parker 51 and it needs at least a clean and service. I’ll contact him about having a look at it.

15 10 2020
Quieter Elephant

Glad you found the links useful. The web site at Pen Museum is a little basic, but Peter definitely knows his stuff and was glad to share details via email. I recently came into possession of a 1942 English-made Parker 51 with a medium+ nib. Lovely writer. I see why they’re so popular even now.

22 10 2020
Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – October 18, 2020 | Fountain Pen Quest

[…] A Stitch in Time | Quieter Elephant […]

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