Friday, February 16, 2018

January 2018 meeting photos-Part 1

Many thanks to the 22 VPC members (including five newcomers--Ateef, Carmen, Claire, Jean-Claude, and Ruth-Erin) who came to our meeting at the Vancouver Public Library's Oakridge branch on January 18th. Very special thanks to Stuart and Ray, who did short talks on two "Iconic Pen" models --- the Sheaffer 'Balance' and Montblanc '149'/146' (I also did a talk on the Esterbrook 'J' model).
Here are some photos I took during the meeting (click on images to enlarge):

Three handsome Sheaffer 'Balance' fountain pens Stuart brought in for his excellent presentation. The pen on the far right has a so-called military clip, a design which allowed the pen to fit in a buttoned shirt pocket, thus meeting strict U.S. military regulations regarding their dress code:
The Sheaffer 'Balance' came out in 1929 and was the very first streamlined fountain pen. It came in a wide variety of colours and patterns, as well as two different filling systems--first, the lever-filler and then a plunger-filling system patented by Sheaffer as the Vacuum-Fil®. As you'd expect---based on their name---vintage 'Balance' fountain pens are very comfortable to hold, due to their ergonomics (the pen being weighted towards the nib-end of the barrel), as well as their overall light weight.
The vintage 'Balance' also came in several different sizes, so it was nice to see the largest model in person, for comparison. That's Christopher's oversize Sheaffer 'Balance'--sporting an odd clip seen on some Canadian models--- above my (Maja's) standard version in the photo below:
A better look at the two models; the top one (the oversized version) has a wider diameter....
...and a much larger nib!
I brought in a modern Sheaffer 'Balance II' (which came out in the late 1990s--now discontinued) for comparison. That's it on the left in the photo below, next to Christopher's oversized vintage 'Balance':
After Stuart's presentation, Ray did a great talk on the venerable Montblanc '149', a model whose appearance has remained basically unchanged since 1952. At 14.7 cm in length and 14.8mm in diameter, it is the largest model in Montblanc's Meisterst├╝ck (German for "masterpiece") series, the name given to their flagship line of writing instruments.

Ray also talked about the Montblanc '146', a '149'-lookalike that is smaller in all dimensions.(photo below) Ray's Montblanc '149' (left) and Montblanc '146'. The '149' is a massive fountain pen, so many people-including Ray-prefer the '146'...
From left to right: Montblanc '149', Montblanc '147' (aka the 'Traveler' model) and Montblanc '146'. The 147/Traveler is a cartridge/converter- filler (the '149' and '146' are both piston-fillers) and is slightly longer than the '146' model. Ray also brought in a burgundy M146, but I forgot to photograph it. This particular 146 colour is discontinued, making it now much sought-after by '146' fans.
A handsome Montblanc '146' fountain pen.....??
Nope, it's a highligher! (aka a Montblanc "Document Marker" ;)
For my (Maja's) talk on the Esterbrook 'J' (the earliest members of that "family" were first made ca. 1943), I brought my entire collection:
Photo below: a copper-coloured mechanical pencil, a blue ballpoint (I have yet to find a modern refill which fits in it!) and then three differently-sized fountain pens.

The pen at the very bottom is the "J" model, the largest and widest model in the family. Above it is a red "LJ" model (which is actually the same length as the "J"--I didn't line them up properly!--but thinner). Above the "LJ" is a grey "SJ" model, which is the same thickness as the "LJ", but shorter (confused yet? ;).


Looked at in isolation, it can be difficult to tell the three fountain pen models apart, but here are a couple of tips: (a) the distance between the end of the metal lever and the barrel end of an "SJ" is a bit shorter than the length of the lever itself and (b) the black cap 'jewel' on the "J" model is larger than its barrel jewel, whereas the "LJ" and "SJ"'s cap & barrel jewels are the same size. This is handy to know if you happen to be hunting for pens "in the wild" (antique shops, flea markets) or on eBay, where you might not have have a "comparison" pen.

All of these models, regardless of size, are great "starter" vintage pens because they are very well-made, sturdy, dependable writers that are easy to fill and have lots of nib options. They are also among the easiest lever-filling pens to resac (with a replacement latex ink sac) because they're so durable.

Photo below: Some of Christopher's vintage Esterbrook collection: (bottom to top) Esterbrook "SJ", a later version of the 'Deluxe' (a model that came out in 1955--after the 'J' pens) a rare "Cracked Ice" 'Dollar Pen' (the predecessor of the 'J' models), and the smallest member of the Esterbrook 'J' family---the Esterbrook 'CH' (aka "Purse Pen") with its original packaging.
The small box (in the foreground) holds one of the many (over 60 different types!!) interchangeable Esterbrook Renew-Point® nib units that fit all of the pen models in the photo above. The nibs were very easy to change --- you simply unscrewed the existing nib, and screwed on the replacement nib of your choice.

Christopher's blue Esterbook 'J' set---fountain pen (top) and mechanical pencil. Esterbrook had a clever design for the cap jewels which enabled the user to quickly select---by touch alone (e.g. from a shirt or jacket pocket)--- the desired writing instrument form: the fountain pen has a convex jewel, the pencil sports a concave jewel, and the ballpoint has a pointed jewel!


(photo below) A nice NOS (New Old Stock) Esterbrook 'M2' set, also belonging to Christopher. The M2 was an aerometric-filling fountain pen that came out in the late 1950s :
New VPC member Jean-Claude's lovely modern Wahl-Eversharp 'Skyline' fountain pen...
Jean-Claude's leather pen case, filled with some great fountain pens, and his three-ink Pilot "Iroshizuku" ink sampler set:
Jerred's blue Cross 'Calais', new member Ruth-Erin's Aurora '88 Minerali' in the green "Diopside" colour, and Mindy's Sailor Profit "Nagasawa" demonstrator with black trim (made by Sailor for the Japanese retailer):
New VPCer Claire's red Lamy Safari, a very popular first fountain pen:
Ruth-Erin's Aurora '88' (in a special colour not available to North American retailers), and Ricardo's gorgeous new Visconti 'Opera' rollerball:
A close-up of the lovely blue marbled pattern on the Aurora '88':
Jerred's new PenBBS (model '323') in blue marbled resin, handmade in China:
Christopher's Sheaffer 'Triumph' fountain pen, a recent acquisition:
One of Stuart's newest purchases- a cool Waterman 'Taperite Crusader' triple set---fountain pen, mechanical pencil and ballpoint---in its original box:
Ruth-Erin's leather pen roll made by "Superior Labor" in Japan, filled with various writing instruments:
New member Carmen's pen chest (a repurposed wooden cigar box) and several one-pen cases (which were originally used as comb cases!)
Information about handcrafted pens made by Aaron P. Lau of Honolulu, Hawaii (from Christopher's recent trip there):


Ricardo snapped some photos during the meeting as well, but I'll post them in a separate blog post...

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