Posted in Pens, Stories

Fountain pens “the Stars” of the writing world

“Fountain pens,” conjure the thought of antiquated writing instruments, long forgotten and relegated to the back of cluttered desk drawers, buried under “stuff” or the choice of highbrow NYC lawyers. You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of celebrities & A-listers who own and use fountain pens! I make no claim to doing the research, I found an assortment of lists on this topic which I combined, edited and skinnied down, and adding my own finds.

Literary World

  • Mark TwainConklin Crescent Filler.
    Twain was a prominent influence in the fountain pen industry, helping put an end to the days of the eyedropper filling method by fiercely promoting the newly invented Conklin Crescent Filler.
  • Sir Arthur Conan DoyleParker Duofold.
    Doyle penned four canonized Sherlock Holmes novels and 56 short stories.
  • Ernest HemingwayMontegrappa.
    All he needed as a blue-backed notebook, two pencils and his ELMO pen.
  • Jane Austen – Dip Pen.
    Her writings predate fountain pens but I thought it was a fun fact that she had her own special iron gal ink recipe and used a special type of notebooks, “quarto stationer’s notebook bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marble paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.”
  • Dylan ThomasParker 51.
    Thomas is a Welch poet probably best known for his poem Do Not Go Gentle Into the Good Night made known to the Sci-Fi community for its inclusion in the movie Interstellar.
  • Harper Lee – brand unknown but she explicitly placed one in Atticus Finch’s coat pocket during the famous courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Anne FrankMontblanc Meisterstück.
    In her diary, there is a chapter where she mourns the loss of her pen after it is accidentally burnt in a fire, a gift from her grandmother.
  • Salman Rushdie – Vintage Fountain Pens.
    His primary go-to vintage pen is a Montblanc Meisterstück
  • Stephen KingWaterman Hemisphere.
    King has written 95+ novels including It and Carrie with this instrument claiming, in 2014 he wore out 4 pens writing Dreamcather.
  • Neil GaimanPilot Custom 823 and LAMY 2000.
    Changes his ink color daily to track progress, the first draft of each of his novels is in longhand.
  • Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) – Pilot Metropolitan.
    Hill is the author of comic book series Locke and Key (now a Netflix series) and a handful of novels, of which NOS4A2 is soon to be a AMC series.
  • Christopher PaoliniLAMY and Pilot Decimo.
    Best known for his fantasy & sci-fi books Eragon and To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. Both books I own.

Entertainment World

  • Charlie ChaplinParker Duofold.
    Most of Chaplin’s journal writing and poems remain unpublished, a poem of his about self-appreciation has circulated the internet – “As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is ‘AUTHENTICITY.’”
  • Johnny DeppMontblanc Meisterstück 149.
  • Debra MessingMontegrappa Fortuna Copper Mule.
  • Rick WakemanConway Stewart.
    Wakeman the keyboard player for 70’s super group Yes and an avid journalist. Listing fountain pens as one of his “Top Ten Outsides Family and Music” interests and concocting his own ink blend.
  • Oprah WinfreyViscounti.
    Her pen was fabricated with the tiniest drops of gold and silver using the intricate filigree technique, a traditional Italian art form that has been passed down from jewelry master to jewelry master for generations.
  • Diane KeatonMontblanc.
  • Dustin HoffmanMontblanc.
  • Edward NortonMontblanc.
  • Howard SternVisconti Arte Mudejat Aragones.
    A gift valued at $1,700. Its design is inspired by the Aragon region of Spain and celebrates the harmonious coexistence of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism that occurred there between 1000 and 1600 AD.
  • Diane SawyerWaterman.
  • Alton Brown – unknown.
    When asked what he cannot leave the house without. “Nutmeg, a pocket knife, cash, a small notebook of some type, a fountain pen, and my iPhone.”
  • Kevin Pollack Waterman Edson.
  • Kristen StewartTibaldi Bentley Crewe.
    Avid journalist and owner of an extensive fountain pen collection. She was gifted the TBC valued at $46,000 as a present on her 23rd birthday.
  • Walt DisneySheafer Balanced.
    A well used Balance fountain pen, 1930’s vintage, was found in Walt Disney’s desk in 1970 when his office was being inventoried by the Walt Disney Archives.
  • Carl Banks Esterbrook.
    Used an Esteerbrook 356 Art & Drafting Pen to ink Donald Duck.
  • Sylvestor StalloneMontegrappap Chaos.
    As seen in his film Expendables II.
  • Emma WatsonParker 51
    A Parker fountain pen accompanied her to class at Brown University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

World Leaders/Events:

  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIParker 51.
  • General Dwight D. EisenhowerParker 51.
    Used to sign the German Instrument of Surrender in Reims, France.
  • General Douglas MacArthurParker Duofold.
    Used a 1928 Duofold to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.
  • Lyndon B JonsonEsterbrook.
    A set of 74 clear Lucite Esterbrooks were used to sign the Civil Rights bill into law in 1964.
  • Theresa MayParker Duofold.
    She used the Parker to sign Article 50 commencing “Brexit.”
  • Vladimir PutinMontblanc Meisterstück 146.
    He used the Montblanc to sign the document “admitting” the Crimea and Sevastopol back into the Russian Federation, after his militia invaded the territories.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Kaweco Sport

Odd man out

  • Albert EinsteinPelkan 100 N and Waterman taper-cap.
    The Waterman was used to write the Theory of Relativity and is on display at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden.

References:

Posted in Pens, Stories

Esterbrook Relief pen by Conway Stewart Co

Since I cannot spend all my time refurbishing pens and the majority of the refurbishment projects are just a good cleaning and installation of a new ink sac I decided to embrace the title and chronicle a pen in my collection.

Esterbrook Relief pens were made in England starting in the mid 1930’s through the 1950’s by the Conway Stewart Company. The “Relief” means these pens come with a left oblique 14kt gold nib. These nibs have a slight angle going upward from left to right. In general, this type of slant is designed for right handed people who hold their pen in a way that makes writing with it favorable.

The Conway Stewart company was founded in 1905 in London. Their objective was to produce elegant, timelessly beautiful, yet functional writing instrument. During the depression years, the company managed to survive by continuing to offer good reliable pens at reasonable prices, hence their partnership with Esterbrook. Conway Stewart pens have always been the preferred choice of the most discerning and famous people from around the world. Winston Churchill used a Conway Stewart pen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was presented two gold pens to Commemorate her Golden Jubilee and Conway Stewart was the official pen of the British Government at the G8 Summit, at which PM Tony Blair presented a Conway Stewart No.58 to each of the world leaders. Conway Stewart is still in operation producing pens today.

I bought a black hard rubber (BHR) Esterbrook Relief 2-L from a dealer in London. This pen was made by Conway Stewart in the late 30’s or early 40’s. It was a little grimy when I got it, other than in need of a cleaning and polishing it was fully functional. Polishing – I don’t use a polish or wax, I use a Sunshine Cloth. The cloth removed the 80+ years of grim, returning a sparkle to the nib and to the body of the pen. The name on the side is well worn and the tip of the feed is broken off, possibly contributing to the nib supplying more ink than it should. The pen was manufactured with one of three nib styles, Fine, Medium, and Broad. I am inclined to say this is a broad nib there appears to be a “B” or it could be an ampersand on the nib. It all depends on how you look at the nib.

I don’t know the provenance, I asked the seller and he doesn’t keep records so it’s road to me is up to the imagination. We know a couple things to be true, it was manufactured in London circa 1940, talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. It survived the Blitz and subsequent rocket attacks on London. Was it used by someone in the War Department, used to sign orders sending men into battle, Imagine what letters it may have written? We’re they happy, were they sad? Was it used by some government official enacting the English Welfare State or an instrument used in the collapse of the British Empire? Guess we will never know what stories it told, but we do know I am writing the story of how it left London via the Royal Post and arrived in America to begin a new story.