Posted in Pens, Reviews

Waterman Laureat I

In February I asked if you have heard the fountain pen myth “don’t lend out your fountain pen to others because the way a person writes can cause changes to the nib.” At the time I was referring to my Waterman Laureat. The pen wrote well with one exception – the sweet spot. Unless I held the pen at a 45-degree angle to the writing surface followed by a half-turned to the left, the pen tended to skip. Must be some truth to the myth.

The Waterman Laureat was introduced circa 1985, enjoying a 15-year production as a midline pen, not a top-shelf model but not a pen to off-handedly dismiss. The pen is reasonably close in looks to their Le Man series – a top-shelf model from the same era.

My Pen

Is a sleek thin, brass body pen in black lacquer with gold-plated trim. There are 4 equal-sized gold bands on the pen, one at the top. The typical era-specific Waterman clip is attached to the cap just below this ring. Another at the bottom of the cap, one at the end of the section with the phrase “Waterman Made in France,” etched into it, and another at the bottom of the barrel. Returning to the cap, it has a plain gold plate flat top. The clip and the jewel at the post end of the barrel are embossed with the signature “W” logo.

The section is black plastic with a unique design of tapered concentric rings creating a grip that fits well in hand. I was skeptical when I saw the section. After writing with the pen, I was surprised that my fingers did not feel like they were slipping.

The nib is a gold-plated steel nib, writing MEDIUM. An interesting feature is the lack of a breather hole, welp there is a faux breather hole imprinted as a circle on the nib. A breather hole has two purposes, 1) to improve airflow and 2) to relieve pressure at the base of the slit. Be sure to review my post detailing nib mechanics for more information.

Breather holes are sometimes dispensed with firm nibs stiff enough to resist the bending forces imposed during use. Resulting in finer written lines lacking some variation (sounds like a future topic). Anyway, this nib is stiff, just add fins and use it in a game of darts.

Let’s ink it up and give it a go. I spent some time with the nib and a micromesh cloth, trying to smooth the writing surface. I can happily say I was successful.

Final Thoughts

The Waterman Lauteat is a fantastic pen, an equal to the Hemisphere. I know fountain pen users either love or hate the Hemisphere – I love it. It fits very well in my hand and is a lovely writer. If you notice this model at your local flea market or antique store, don’t pass it by.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped Length, 130 mm
  • Uncapped Length, 124 mm
  • Barrel Diameter, 10.5 mm
  • Cap Diameter, 10.5 mm
  • Weighs in at 26g

Reference Material

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Refurbish

#ThrowbackThursday

Oops, I’m doing it again. I had a different topic planned but I’m not feeling inspired (or maybe it is lazy). I’ve dug up and am sharing an original post from yesteryear. Don’t worry, I’ve corrected the spelling and grammar issues, plus I polished up the story a bit but only just a bit.

This Throwback Thursday post is going way, way back. I’m presenting my Waterman Ideal 52 vest pen – it is 97 years old. (Click the Ping Backlink to read the full story.)

Waterman Ideal 52 Vest pen

It is made of black chased hard rubber (BCHR) and shows significant signs of sun damage plus the nib appears to have some damage. The nib is an oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd opposed to a Waterman #2 nib. The nib is over a Waterman feed with what appears to be the letters “ST” above the numbers “17 16.” I determined that this design is detailed in patent 1,201,951A and the mysterious markings are the patented date Oct 17, 1916.

It looks really ugly above, but it cleaned up nicely. Just click the link to read all about the process and see the refurbished pictures.

Comments have been turned off. If you feel so inclined please comment on the original post. Thank you!

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Restoration

WTH Happened – Beware of Your Ink Choice

Back Story

The Waterman Expert was introduced circa 1995, as a lightweight plastic-bodied pen featuring a distinctive two-tone, beveled steel nib. The Expert I nib has a little piece of plastic going through the nib which maintains the nib in relation to the feed. The trademark “W” is aft of this plus “Waterman Paris” is engraved on the underside of the nib diameter.

On the cap between the trim rings is their trademark script “W,” with “Waterman Paris” on the opposite side. The jewel atop the cap is solid plastic embossed with “W”. The first generation of Experts had a much more robust and durable snap cap system than its predecessors.

Circa 2000, Waterman introduced the second-generation Expert. The body is now made of lacquer over brass much like the Hemisphere which dramatically increased the pen’s weight. The Expert II also sported a redesigned yet inferior nib. The clutch was also redesigned in the cap however, it failed to engage the barrel securely.

My Pen

Is Bordeaux in color (sounds so much better than burgundy) with gold trim accents. When I acquired the pen the nib was heavily crusted with dried ink, but the barrel and cap were free of scratches and tooth marks. Plus, there was no brassing of the cap rings or the clip.

The feed used in generation 1 Experts is unique. There is a small piece of plastic that protrudes through the nib, henceforth known as an anchor block. This piece of plastic sits atop of the fins of the feed. In this picture, the anchor block is facing in the wrong direction. It is so small I could not determine which direction it was facing. It is very easy to lose, especially on a carpet – experience speaking x2. The anchor block is about the size of an uncooked grain of rice.

Now things get interesting, where do I begin? I bought the pen knowing the tines needed some TLC. The tines bowed outward yet coming together at the tips. This I could correct and I did.

But when I removed the nib and feed from the section – SURPRISE! The diameter portion of the nib was heavily damaged. It appears the owner was an ignoramus having inked the pen with some sort of gallic ink and failed to clean the pen.

Damage caused by Gallic Ink

Welp iron-gall inks should only be used in dip pens, they contain gum arabic or maybe Ferro-gallic to increase the permanency of water-based ink. These chemicals are corrosive and both increase the already corrosive level of the ink. Resulting in damage to the nib and pen. I’m now looking for a gently used Expert I beveled steel nib and a feed.

With all this damage, I suspect the pen will have issues holding a vacuum inside the ink reservoir. However, I am considering making a go at repairing the nib using silver solder – what do I have to lose? The lesson to learn is this, Gallic ink is bad, while the pen is good. The previous owner used the wrong ink, did not clean the pen, and welp I now have one or two new topics to blog about. I look forward to the day when I can use the pen.

Posted in Pens, Stories

Lifetime Guarantees and FTC

In the mid-1920s, the major US pen manufacturers began offering competitive and comprehensive warrantees on their top-line models. The warranties or guarantees are reflected in model names such as Lifetime (Sheaffer), Endura (Conklin), and Eternal (Mabie Todd). While some manufacturers created special symbols denoting their guarantees like Sheaffer’s White Dot, Parker’s Blue Diamond, and Wahl-Eversharp’s Gold Seal.

Sheaffer

Walter Sheaffer was known to personally inspect every pen and place a small white dot on each that passed his quality inspection. In 1924, Sheaffer launched its Lifetime Warranty, symbolized by the white dot guaranteeing quality. The Lifetime Pen, launched in 1920, retailed at three times the price of competitor pens, yet Lifetime guarantee repairs were 4% of sales.

No Ifs, Ands or Buts!

By the early 1940s, Sheaffer, Parker, and Waterman were suffering the effects of their lifetime guarantee. Having found that honoring the lifetime guarantee without a mitigating service charge was eating away at their profits, thus they began repair service fees. Naturally, their customers filed complaints with the government.

Federal Trade Commission

It is commonly believed that in the later 1940s the FTC outlawed “lifetime guarantees” – this it did not do.

The FTC’s 1945 ruling forbade “unconditional” warranties if there is an associated fee (shipping, insurance, etc). Waterman and Parker challenged the ruling, with Waterman withdrawing its challenge a year later. Parker didn’t win nor did they lose. In 1948, the courts agreed to allow such warranties but only if the fee was conspicuously detailed in writing within the warranty statement itself – so much for the “fine print.”

Except as noted

FTC stated that pen manufacturers could offer long-term guarantees if they did not say they were “unconditional” when a service (shipping, insurance, etc) fee applied. If the guarantee included a service charge, the charge had to be more prominently displayed in advertising.

Cross offered a lifetime guarantee then and still does today. Sheaffer has returned to offering lifetime guarantees, though not on all pens and, were offered, with qualifications.

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30 1945

(pg 41) C. UNFAIR PRACTICES OTHER THAN MISREPRESENTATION OF DRUGS, DEVICES, AND COSMETICS

Fountain pen manufacturers.–W. A Sheaffer Pen Co., Fort Madison, Iowa (4337); The Parker Pen Co., Janesville, Wis. (4338); Eversharp, Inc., Chicago (4590), and L.E. Waterman Co., New York (4617), were ordered to cease making unqualified representations that their fountain pens are unconditionally guaranteed for the life of the user or for any other designated period, when a service charge, usually 35 cents, is made for repairs or adjustments. The respondents were ordered to discontinue using such terms as “Lifetime,” “Guaranteed for Life,” “Life Contract Guarantee,” “Guaranteed Forever,” or “Guaranteed for a Century” to describe or refer to their pens, and representing that the pens are unconditionally guaranteed for any designated period of time, unless the respondents, without expense to the user, make repairs or replacement of parts which may be necessitated during the designated period by any cause other than willful damage or abuse. The orders did not prohibit the respondents from (pg 42) representing truthfully that the service on their pens (as distinguished from the pens themselves) is guaranteed for life or other designated period, even though a charge is imposed in connection With such servicing, providing the terms of the guarantee, including the amount of the charge, are clearly and conspicuously disclosed in immediate conjunction with such representations.

Posted in Pens, Stories

Happy Nurse’s Day – Pen Sets

At the end of the 19th century, “The Lady With the Lamp” — or as she is more widely known, Florence Nightingale — founded modern nursing. Each year, in recognition of the importance nurses, play in our lives, a week is dedicated to all things nursing beginning on “Nurse’s Day” and ending on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. I’m highlighting specialty pens used by nurses before the digital age.

“Nurse’s Pens” are a genre of fountain pens that were marketed to nurses throughout the 1940’s and 50’s, mainly by Waterman and Esterbrook. Scheaffer also had a minor role in the nurse pen market.

Why did nurses need a specialized fountain pen? Because hospital medical charts were written by hand in different colored inks designating the shift. These pens came with different colored top jewels, in black, green, and red – representing all three common nursing shifts at the time: 7am to 3pm (BLACK ink), 3-11pm (GREEN ink), 11pm-7am (RED ink).

Waterman’s made different varieties of nurse’s pens, their standard set came in “lustrous satin Pearl of white.” They offered the most diverse options, including sets with one pen and a pencil, sets with two pens for two different colors of inks, and sets with a pen case that included a thermometer inside!

Esterbrook manufactured a series of small, white Nurse’s Pens based on their J-Series. Their pens had colored cap jewels, in the familiar black, green, and red to coordinate with the nurse’s work shifts, The green jeweled pens are the least common, while black jeweled pens are the most common.

My Esterbrook Nurse’s Pen Set

I picked up an Esterbrook Nurse Pen set (a pen and pencil) which clearly involved a mix and matching of various pens. The cap of the pen matches the pencil while the barrel is noticeably more white, but that’s ok. I haven’t begun their restoration. It doesn’t appear much is needed. The pencil works, and I believe a new sac is installed. We shall see.

I imagine different pens for different work shifts seem archaic, but how can we appreciate where we are today if we don’t know where we’ve been. At one time, the pen was a necessary nursing tool and the color of ink on the paper patient chart could be vitally important with respect to patient diagnosis and care.

Let’s add some perspective, in 1946, a Register Nurse could expect to earn $170-$175 per month and pay $8.50 for a Waterman Nurse pen set (5% of her monthly salary). That same pen today would set a nurse back $130, which is way more than the cost of a decent stethoscope.

Pen Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 121mm
  • Uncapped length. 110mm
  • Barrel diameter 11mm
  • Cap diameter 12mm
  • Weighs in at 12g
Posted in Pens, Stories

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

So this month I am going to continue with the Zenzoi eco-friendly bamboo pen. Overall the pen has really impressed me. I did a quick review of their entire online catalog and they have some attractive pens at an affordable price.

Have you heard the fountain pen myth “don’t lend out your fountain pen to the others because the way a person writes can cause changes to the nib.” Well In January I inked up a used Waterman Lauret I. The pen wrote well with one exception – the sweet spot. Unless I held the pen at a 45-degree angle to the writing surface then turned the pen to the left 45 degrees it would skip. Must be some truth to the myth.

Waterman Lauret I

Overall, I enjoyed using the Waterman Lauret and as it is still inked I’ll continue. Some people will not like how thin it is, or mention the lacquer makes it slippery but hey, I have short stubby fingers and it suits me well, It definitely brings back memories of the Waterman Hemispheres, which I still have. I think one needs to make the rotation later this year.

Posted in Collection

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

What is old is New again.

Let’s start the new year off with an old friend, we’ll sort of. I’m inking up the Waterman Lauret I, which is new to me in 2021 but is 30 years old. By old friend, I mean this pen feels just like the Waterman Hemisphere in hand. If you recall, the Hemisphere is the pen that got me started down this rat hole. Also, I adding a little excitement and opened the Papier Plume ink Cafe Diabolique which I picked up on Fountain Pen Day.

Papier Plume‘s special FPD ink: Cafe Diabolique which was blended to be an exact match for Cafe Brulot, a trance-inducing after-dinner coffee ritual which is still being performed by a few old-school waiters skilled in the flaming at-table ritual.

What did Santa bring you?

Posted in Restoration

#ThrowbackThursday

The Backstory:

Waterman began production of the Ideal fountain pen in the 1880’s, with production lasted to the 1950’s. The most popular model being the Ideal #52. Waterman began producing lever-filed pens in 1915, when they devised a lever box mechanism to circumvent Walter Sheaffer’s lever-filling patent. Waterman apparently believed “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” thus making few to no improvements to the Ideal #52, much to their detriment, including the continued use of hard rubber when the competition was manufacturing beautiful pens in celluloid. They finally made the switch in 1934, nearly a decade behind the competition.

The Pen:

This refurbishment is the first Waterman I’ve purchased in 10 plus years and the first one that is vintage. I purchased the pen from a seller in Frederick, MD. I’m placing the age of the pen at about 96 years. It is made of black chased hard rubber (BCHR) and showing significant signs of sun damage plus the nib appears to have some damage. Capped, the pen measures a mere 4.25” long and doesn’t contain a pocket clip or a lanyard ring.

Waterman “Patented” Lever Box

Based in part on the manufacture code, the pen dates to around 1925ish making it the oldest pen in my collection. Waterman began phasing out the model codes in 1927. This pen contains the code 0852V;

  • 0 – gold filled,
  • 8 – broad 14k gold cap lip band,
  • 5 – Lever Filler,
  • 2 – nib size,
  • V – vest.
Model Code

The nib is an oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd opposed to a Waterman #2 nib. The nib is over a Waterman feed. Now the feed is very different when compared to Parker, Esterbrook and others. The ink channel contained groves running the length of the said channel and is known as the “Three Fissure Feed” system, patented initially in 1884. The design regulates the flow of ink, preventing blotting. On the underside is a divot, creating a secondary ink reservoir with an access hole to the feed fissures. The feed contains what appears to be the letters “ST” above the numbers “17 16.” After a Duck-Duck-Go search that called google.patent…. I determined that this design is detailed in patent 1,201,951A and the mysterious markings are the patented date Oct 17, 1916.

The feed

Refurbishment:

The nib and feed were easily removed, but the section wasn’t budging. Since the pen is BCHR there was no way I was soaking it in hot water. Instead, heat was applied lightly until the section just popped out – surprise. The old dried up ink sac came out with little effort, but removing the residual ink sac attached to the section was a different story. To clean up the section, sandpaper was used beginning with 1,000 grit paper working to 7,000 grit. The sandpaper also removed ink stains or some odd discoloring on the section.

Focusing on the cap, it soon became evident that there was green ink stains on the band and in the chasing. Initially, a Sunshine cloth was used on the cap which seemed to be of benefit. But, there was residual green grime along the cap band so a soft bristle toothbrush was used. Afterwards, I applied a very light coat of mineral oil which removed more green based grime. The teeth and leaver box on the barrel were also brushed then minimal mineral oil applied and immediately removed. Guess what, more green grime. On the cap, there is a small crack and a piece is missing. I considered adding some glue to the inside of the cap in the hope of adding stability but haven’t as yet.

The nib is the oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd nib, I assume it is not the original nib. The nib cleaned up well and yes it is damaged. The right side of the tip is missing and there is definitely an outward bend in the nib. Regardless, I measured and attached a #16 ink sac, the correct size is a #15 but I don’t have one. After the shellac dried, the pen was reassembled and I debated if I should ink it up, but as the nib is not in the best of shape why bother.

Nib Before and After
Refurbished pen
COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.