Posted in Pens, Stories

It’s winter time, who doesn’t enjoy a hooded … Pen

Initially, I was not a fan of the Parker 51 and its hooded nib. I thought it was ugly and why would anyone want to hide their nib? I am a lot of things, and being close-minded is not one of them. Hooded nibs are an acquired taste, these simply grew on me, to the point, I thought traditional nibs were ugly. Good news, I got over that as well.

Having a hood over the nib seems like a great idea – the pen becomes much more resistant to drying out while idle, accommodates temperamental inks, and reduces ink loss due to evaporation. Thus pens write longer using the same amount of ink.

Hooded nibs came into being as a necessary extension of a super fast-drying ink called Superchrome, developed in the 1930s by Parker. Superchrome contains isopropyl alcohol and is fairly corrosive. The ink dried so fast it would dry out in a traditional open nib/feed arrangement while the pen was in use.

The solution was simple, invent a pen for the ink, which became known as “51”. The ink was pulled from the shelf when it became evident that long-term use dissolved the stainless steel nibs on Parker pens and corroded the breather tubes in the “51.”

Here we have my two 51s, (1945 & 1941).

Long after the withdrawal of Superchrome ink, hooded Parker pens remained popular. Hooded nibs were not necessary but they performed more like a ballpoint, from rigidity to resistance to drying, thus making them more susceptible to ballpoint competition.

Parker 21 (post-1948)
Parker 61 (post-1956)
Parker 45 (post-1960)

Parker did a good job copying with their own success, no surprise so did others.

I present my hooded Platignum and my sorta hooded Sheaffer Taranis.

Since the hooded pens have been compared to ballpoints, I decided to give the 51 (inked with Waterman Black) a go against a BIC Cristal. Remember, this is a scientific test published on the Internet prior to peer review – Believe at your own risk.

BIC Cristal above, Parker 51 Below

No surprise, the Parker 51 is far superior, and yes it writes like a ballpoint (very stiff), startup favors the Parker, and the overall appearance of the ink.

The Parker did not have that BIC ink smell that I grew up with and harbor the fondest of memories. I wasn’t going to try the “lint” test – carry the pen in my back pocket without a cap. After a long weekend, the 51 required a hard start while the BIC simply worked.

Hooded pens are still made today, primarily by Chinese pen companies and Lamy. While researching this topic I came across a Wing Sung 601 hooded demonstrator (a blatant Parker 51 knock off). Lacking self-control, I bought it ($17 + free shipping!).

Inked up with Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue. I really thought the blue would “pop” in the demonstrator, alas not. Maybe Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki would have been a better choice? Too late now.

With hooded pens, the nib hood protects the nib fins, minimizing evaporation. This model, it also acts to channel the ink to the nib. Examining the pictures note how the ink populates the nib while encapsulated by the hood.

As for the pen, much like the 51, it too writes like a ballpoint. I had no issue with the nib straight out of the box. Actually, I’m rather impressed, considering, but that is a discussion for another day.

Posted in Pens, Stories


Oops, I’m doing it yet again, welp I figured my Doodling post was lame-o, so I decided to supplement my weekly offering. Making amends for spelling and grammar issues may I present a BEAutiful 90-year-old pen with a most unusual nib on an Esterbrook V-Clip. Click the Ping Back to read the full story.

The Esterbrook V-Clip


“The pen is not assigned an official name; however, its popular name comes from the “V” styling of the large open clip. Esterbrook is considered a tier 2 manufacturer but they used stainless steel in the manufacture of their clips while their tier 1 competition still used electroplating. This pen was Esterbrook’s first attempt at a self-filling fountain pen in the U.S. Manufacturing of fountain pens started in 1932, the pens were available in hard rubber and in celluloid (plastic). The clip proved to be a major design disaster, as the flimsy metal often caused sprung clips, or worse, broken clips. Esterbrook designers quickly changed to the more common two-hole clip found on their “Dollar” pens. The V-Clip pen was only manufactured for a little more than a year. It is hard to find V-Clip pens and quite uncommon, even rare to find them in colors other than black.”

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Posted in Stories

Doodle Journal

Stress Relief & Memory Recall

What a surprise, it appears doodling offers health benefits, primarily stress release. It is said that our brains work better with the structure of coherent stories, but sometimes there are gaps in these stories. Doodling helps fill these gaps by activating your brain’s “unfocus” synapses, giving your “focus” synapses a break, resulting in increased creativity and problem-solving. Doodling has also been shown to increase memory recall by as much as 29%. Feel free to doodle away during that next “important” conference call, plus it makes you look like you are taking copious notes.

Doodling along the way

Why am I back on the topic of doodling? Welp, my current journal is nearing the end. Once that is reached, the journal will be unceremonially tossed into the recycling bin. With it will go a bunch of doodles. In an effort to avoid thinking too hard (it is December), I’ve decided to share some doodles before they become lost to memory. and the recycle man.

Bright Shiny Objects
Breakfast on the run
There is a theme here
Listening to Sgt Pepper’s
To success
Nothing is free
Need vs Want is always the root of the problem
The famous error ID-10T error
I got the Shingles shot this day
Itsy-Bitsy spider, ok it looks like an ant
Troubled waters?

Don’t worry, I’m not giving up my day job. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my insanity. I am considering starting a journal just for the doodles. I guess we will see what inspiration finds me in the new year.

Don’t forget, if you are feeling “stuck,” can’t concentrate, or your mind is wandering … it’s time to doodle.

Posted in Pens, Stories

The Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre Presents

Welcome to the Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre, where “it may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” Enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and touch but of deduction. In this episode, our hero (Maisie Dobbs) unravels the Secret of the Jade Pen.

“The extraordinary hides behind the camouflage of the ordinary. Assume nothing” Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

Sheaffer began production of “Flattop” pens in 1912, production continuing into the 1930s. In 1924, Sheaffer started making flat-top pens of Jade Green radite (celluloid), which they branded “Jadite.”

What a unique pen! The only reference to such a model indicates it doesn’t exist. How can this be? Why can this be? The pen is a Lifetime model with an inlaid white dot in the plastic of the cap AND another inlaid white dot in the aft end of the barrel. This cannot be.

Sheaffer added a white dot to the center of the cap in Lifetime models, in 1924. I imagine Dr. Maurice Blanche would have something witty to say about the ordinary hiding the extraordinary.

“Stay with the question. The more it troubles you, the more it has to teach you.” Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

The imprint on the clip changed in 1922 to compliment the company logo. While the hump clip was introduced 6 years later.

The black cap crown provides an elegant appearance. This feature is usually not associated with Lifetime models. One sees this with the 3-25 and 5-30 flat-top models.

There is some discoloration at both ends of the barrel. Gases released by rubberized ink sacs discolored the Jadite from the inside out.

“Do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.” Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

What was it Maurice used to say? “Coincidence is a messenger sent by the truth.” I must remember not to rush to conclusions while appreciating the coincidence.

Early flattops have a barrel imprint that included patent dates. After 1927, the patent dates were dropped from the imprint completely.

Two narrow bands appear on the cap beginning in 1928, continuing through its final years of production in the mid-1930s.

Sheaffer imprinted serial numbers on the top and underside of their nibs. The nib imprint was changed to the five-line version in 1926.

Upon inspection, it is evident that a pin retains the filler lever. An internal Sheaffer memo indicates the pin will be replaced with a lever ring in late 1930.

“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions…as soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information.” – Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

“And it occurred to her that she was so used to turning over everything in her mind, as if each thought were an intricate shell found at the beach, that she had never truly known the value of simply accepting things as they were.” Jacqueline Winspear, Elegy for Eddie

What am I to make of the name engraved in the barrel? Should it be considered in light of the clues offered by the pen?

“Maurice’s maxim: “To solve a problem, take it for a walk.” – Maisie Dobbs, Birds of A Feather

Let’s walk through the details and itemize that which has been gleamed of the pen:

  • Nib serialization with 5 lines began in 1926,
  • Jade Radise was released in 1924,
  • The Lifetime White Dot is added in 1924,
  • The 2 Banded cap was introduced in 1928,
  • The Hump Clip was also introduced in 1928,
  • The patent dates and format on the barrel indicate a pre-1927 imprint,
  • The pin action filling lever was replaced started Q4 1930,
  • And I’ve learned Carl Matthews, was born on 15 Apr 1914 and graduated Secondary school (High School) in 1933.

“Never follow a story with a question … not immediately. And remember to acknowledge the storyteller, for in some way even the messenger is affected by the story he brings.” Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

Sheaffer clearly does not consume older stock first. I offer the straight vs hump clips as an example. The catalogs of 1928 to the mid-1930s contain flat-tops with both style clips.

The imprint on the barrel can only be older stock predating 1927. While the dual bands on the cap cannot predate 1928. The 5-line serialization of the nib indicates post-1926.

When was the pen manufactured & Why two white dots?

As we have learned, Sheaffer can and will create a pen from all sources of stock. Carl Matthews is a teenager when the barrel was manufactured. Don’t forget the white dot at the end of the barrel – unheard of. Possibly indicating the pen was reconditioned under a Lifetime warranty and offered for resale?

“The story takes up space as a knot in a piece of wood. If the knot is removed, a hole remains. We must ask ourselves, how will this hole that we have opened be filled? Maurice Blanche, Maisie Dobbs

The answer is more subtle. Yes, the pen was a Lifetime warranty return. A secretary’s pen with a ring top. This model had a removable black band with a white dot over the black crown seen on 3-25s.

The band was lost so a white dot was installed in the aft end of the barrel. A bit hasty as the ring on the cap top was replaced with a white dot.

By 1933, the pen was purchased and given to Carl as a present to commemorate his Secondary School (High School) graduation.

Photo Credits. All images (less the cover image) are taken from the book covers of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I encourage the reader to explore the series. Synopsis; “In 1929 London, former servant Maisie Dobbs starts her own business as a psychologist and investigator in this unique and gripping historical mystery series.”

Posted in Restoration

“Missed by that much” or How I learned I was conceited and needed to appreciate others

I was reviewing my “unpurchases” from the last two years. These are pens I wanted to buy, intended to buy, and thought I was going to buy but did not buy. Not because I feared buyer’s remorse or had a change of heart. Nope, these are unpurchased because I failed to think the unthinkable – that someone wanted these pens more than I did and that I wasn’t entitled to them.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I am not going a rant about missing out, about being disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted. Instead, I am going to offer up a couple pens, with my thoughts, congratulations to the buyer, and a recommendation to others.

Wyvern No. 5 circa 1928 mottled

Wyvern, a now shuttered pen manufacturer located in Leicester, England; was founded in 1896 by Alfred, Alexander, and David Finburgh. Known for its high-quality nibs, the company also manufactured nibs for competing pen companies.

This model is particularly attractive to me. I have a thing for mottled or woodgrain ebonite, plus I prefer pens that resemble a Duofold – it’s all about those flat ends. Torpedo-shaped pens are just not appealing to me. I’ve run into other No. 5s but they have all been black ebonite, which is not mottled. An interesting side note, on the listings of the other 5s, the sellers have specified the pens were calligraphy pens. Nothing on this nib or pen supports the claim of calligraphy.

Spor Crescent

A glass nibbed pen from 1920s Japan (possibly made by Platinum), distributed in the US by Spors of Minnesota. The crescent says “Made In Japan,” thus from the pre-WW2 days when that phrase meant cheap, cheaper, cheapest.

I was looking at glass pens when I stumbled upon Spors. Just look at those colors; however, they are known to be a nightmare to refurbish. The manufacturer used glue to hold their pens together – remember cheap, cheaper, cheapest.

I kept my eyes open and found another. Not quite as colorful but it is in overall better shape. This pen doesn’t have the ink stains that the previous pen had, plus this pen has a slip-on cap clip.

Sheaffer Balance

The Balance was introduced in 1929, heralding a streamlined design that was quite extraordinary at the time. It set a new standard in design plus kicked off a design craze – two tapered ends resulting in a torpedo shape – that continues today. Yeah, nope still not appealing to me.

The model name comes from the balanced design when the cap is posted. The pivot point for the pen is just about midway, making it a comfortable pen to write with.

This pen was personalized with the owner’s name (Roxie Kessler) engraved into the barrel. Feeling confident I had this pen in hand, I spent more time researching the owner than paying attention to the auction. I was prepared to call this “The Ironic Pen.” The owner was involved in a car accident resulting in a fatality, 20 years subsequent he was killed in a car accident.

The Auctions

During each auction, I was 100% convinced I would own the pen when time expired. In each case, I was outbid at the final second. Yes, the winner was lurking in the shadows watching the last seconds tick by so they could pounce. If I had been paying attention, making note of other bidders, the number of watchers, etc. I would have realized it was prudent to up my bid just in case. But Noooooo. I assumed I had each pen and that my bid was solid, even though the difference between the next highest bid and my own was often only a couple dollars different.

Congratulations winners, enjoy your purchases. If by chance you have a change of heart….. you know where you can find me.

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

Last month I reviewed the Benu Skull pen. I really enjoyed the pen. I liked the feel, how it writes, and how it sounds (yes the plastic and the textured surface makes a sound when you run your fingers along it). I used the pen for the entire month and got over my issue about not knowing the cap from the barrel. The nib did not let me down, and who doesn’t like happy skulls?

I’ve mixed up the usual suspects again. The Pilot Prera is still inked but I am rotating in the Kaweco Student and the Conway Stewart No. 15. The Benu Skull pen is also in the rotation subject to the remaining ink.

Gotta like choices

In November I inked the Conway Stewart No. 15 for a review. The review is listed below which includes how I was able to determine the pen was made of casein, not celluloid. Welp can’t let good ink go to waste. The pen is in rotation for December.

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started November with a review of October. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how the pens from last month fared and recap the month’s postings.
  • Fountain Pen Day 2022 Fountain Pen Day 11 has arrived. Don’t be shy, pull out your favorite pens, and shout to the world “it’s fountain pen day, these pens are not extinct, they are popular and I used them.” BTW I tried this last year and my wife told me I was a weirdo.
  • A little wine with your ink? One of my absolute favorite things about having fountain pens is the options when it comes to inks. Inks can be pigment or dye-based. Let’s discuss a couple inks made from wine by de Artamentis of Germany.
  • Waterman Laureat I The Waterman Laureat was introduced circa 1985, enjoying a 15-year production as a midline pen, not a top-shelf model. Don’t off-handedly dismiss this pen. If you notice this model at your local flea market or antique store, do not pass it by.
  • Fountain Pen Day 11 Haul Gullible “losers” should not be allowed on the Internet as they may go shopping on Foutain Pen Day
  • Dippity-Do-Da PEN? Dip pens are pens you dip into a bottle of ink. As you write it is necessary to dip the nib every few words or sentences. So why would anyone still use these old things?
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling uninspired (or lazy). Today it is lazy, let’s dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. This time I am presenting a pen made with a woman in mind. I know it sounds sexist but they wrote the sales pitch in the 1950s.
  • Not For The Lactose Intolerant – Conway Stewart No. 15 The production of Conway Stewart No. 15 spanned a decade beginning in 1952. As with many vintage Conway Stewarts, this model is a fairly small pen and often made of Casein (aka cheese).

In the News

Vladimir Putin is known to favor a Montblanc Meisterstück 146, watch him toss his pen to the table (the Montblanc?) during a meeting at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Armenia – when he didn’t get his way. He used the Montblanc when “admitting” Crimea and Sevastopol back into the Russian Federation – after his military invaded those territories.

If you are looking for that special Christmas present for the music fan in your life, think twice about autographed books by Bob Dylan. The 81-year-old singer-songwriter issued a rare public apology after fans found out that the $600 autographed books weren’t hand-signed by Bob (or anyone). Spoiler alert – he blamed Covid and vertigo.


During this holiday season of unbridled shopping madness, I came across a challenge I feel will help balance the desire for more stuff with the realization that there is only so much room for stuff. I don’t want to sound like I am talking outta both sides of my mouth – I am guilty of buying stuff because I lack control. I’m just saying, give those books pilled up gathering dust a chance. Worse case, you might just enjoy one.

Try a Chapter Challenge (won’t find this on TikTok). Select a handful (4 or 5) of unread books, then read a chapter or two. Afterward, decide if you are going to keep the book or be rid of it. Isn’t this simple plus you can do this from the comfort of your home while between the latest Amazon deals.