It seems one can’t have too many fountain pens after all!

17 06 2020

My very first fountain pen was a plastic bodied Parker 45.

11 year old me thought it was soooo fancy because it had a gold, medium width nib and a stainless steel cap (more properly “Lustraloy”). To this day, it writes with a sublime smoothness, though it has suffered from the slight collapse in the section that stalks the Parker 45 due to the cap’s clutch being a little too aggressive for the plastic section’s softness. Unfortunately my handwriting could never do it justice, but I still love that pen.

My contemporaries at school often had the more modern-looking (late 70’s – all things are relative) Parker 25 with it’s all metal Flighter design.

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Parker 25 Flighters (i.e. steel bodies) – unfortunately not a mating pair

Over the years I’ve come to realise that there were in fact many variations on my basic black Parker 45, and amongst them was indeed an all-metal Flighter. There’s also a Flighter with a black plastic end, but my preference had always been for “the full metal jacket”. Today, The Pen Workshop near Aylesbury, UK delivered my dream pen. Paul Baker there kindly listened to my preferences and found the perfect match. He even located a pen with a section that shows minimal caving, and managed to find me one with a fine nib. The cap has the all important “Made in England” imprint and a lack of letter stamps puts it as likely pre-1980. I think I’ll just gaze a bit longer before inking it up.

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New Old Parker 25 Flighter, c1980

Pen number two started out as simply an “oh, that looks nice” moment whilst perusing for the Parker. It has a gorgeous green marbling which I ultimately found irresistible. Never having heard of the Wyvern brand previously, I did a bit of research and discovered that my parents actually used these Wyvern Perfect Pen Nº 81’s back at high school in the early ’50s, and so with little more than that connection and a desire to own a small bit of British pen history, I added it to my shopping cart at www.penworkshop.co.uk.

Wyvern is long gone now, closing its factory in 1955. Founded in Leicester, the Wyvern Pen Company was named after the mythical creature that appeared in the crest of the borough. According to Wikipedia:

A white (Argent) wyvern formed the crest of the Borough of Leicester as recorded at the heraldic visitation of Leicestershire in 1619: “A wyvern sans legs argent strewed with wounds gules, wings expanded ermine.”

Production of pens began back in the 1890s and Wyvern made several models as well as manufacturing nibs for other pen companies and promotional pens for a variety of campaigns.

The barrel still has the faint imprint of “WYVERN Perfect Pen Nº 81” despite its ~70 year age. I hope I look this good when I’m that old!

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WYVERN Perfect Pen Nº 81 in green marble finish





Fountain (pen) of (my) youth

11 05 2020

Odd day. Can’t remember exactly when “lockdown”, such as it is in BC, began, but I’m into week four of a five week furlough from work, so it’s at least that long. I’m treating it as a dry run for retirement. Love the extra time for reading, gardening, teasing Mrs E. and generally discovering vitally important things I haven’t used in years to fix.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I ended up on a random investigation of fountain pens, inks and associated accoutrements today. Along the way I cleaned and revitalised a cheap fountain pen by “Pen & Ink” which now works great, though the nib is a little broad for my current tastes. The outside of it had become tacky and I read that rubbing alcohol was a good way of removing the tackiness. The brand I used was 70% ethanol (wood alcohol – don’t try using it in cocktails!) but I think some brands are isopropyl alcohol. “Test on a less visible area” being the usual warning in case it melts everything.

Anyway, it worked great on my particular piece of soft plastic. So much so that I also used it on the rubbery grips of the Canon film camera I recently bought second hand. Big fan of alcohol now. (As if I wasn’t already…)

As for the pen innards, I flushed it many times with the rubbing alcohol and then near boiling water to remove residue of old dipping pen ink I’d erroneously filled it with a while ago. (It’s not water-soluble like fountain pen ink is and can contain solids and corrosive chemicals). I have to say the slow, painstaking repetition was quite cathartic. I put a little Lamy Amazonite (kind of teal/turquoise) ink in it to test, and it works lovely and smooth now. Its “medium” nib is a bit broad though for my current tastes.

Flushed (as it were) with this success, I felt nostalgic for the first fountain pen I ever used/owned when I was 11. A present from my parents, it was a Parker 45, as a fountain pen was the required writing instrument at my High School, a traditional grammar school in the UK. I’d looked for this pen several times before but wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t “purged it” a là Maria Kondo. Perhaps the joy I felt sure it would spark now might not have been the case some time previously.

I even perused a UK vintage fountain pen site to see how much a replacement would be. £55 is the answer – though that was an all-metal body with a stainless-steel nib. Mine was black, with a rolled gold nib. I remembered it well!

After looking in all the obvious places, I suddenly felt inspired to look in the desk drawers of my nest-flown “arty” daughter. It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds – she’s lived abroad for several years now, and she does still have quite the stash of art supplies in her old room.

Boy, did I hit the mother lode! Not only did I find my old school pen (we’re talking 1975 vintage here!), but another lovely fountain pen I was given as a thank-you for being my friend’s Best Man back in the UK. This one is a lovely sleek élysée (ironically, despite the Es acute,  a German company – now defunct). There’s a great write-up here.

Looking in my “calligraphy tin” I discovered the bodies of no less than 3 Parker 25’s and a very particular Peugeot edition of a Creeks n Creeks (Stypen – French) “stubby”. This is so short it can only take the short ink cartridges common in schools. No option of a convertor to take ink from a bottle.

Armed with a little collection now of less than clean fountain pens, I spent a very pleasant few hours purging all manner of colours of ink from their crevices with near-boiling water and rubbing alcohol.

Now… if only I could remember how to write!

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Creeks n Creeks Peugeot special élysée – Series 60 Parker 25 Pen & Ink – sketch Parker 45