Thursday, 10 October 2013

Two and a half wonderful Osmias

I'm a sucker for celluloid. I particularly love the Waterman Ink-Vue with its x-ray wavy pattern.

Now German pens, I always used to think, came in black, black and black. To some extent that's true; it's certainly the commonest colour in German pens of all eras, to a far greater extent than in the UK or France, or particularly Italy. There's something satisfyingly conservative, correct, professional, about a black pen. That's why in the 1950s the most colourful little pens were made in Germany and exported to more frivolous nations, such as the Netherlands - the lovely Merlin 33 and Merlin Merlina for instance.

But that's not really true. Look at the early history of the German pen and you find delightful colours of Soennecken and Mont Blanc, admittedly way out of my price range unless I get very lucky; and some zinging cracked ice Kawecos and Osmias. Of course there are also the Parker-Osmias with typical Parker colouring such as lapis and jade (I have one of the little lapis duofold-style pens).

And then there are these amazing Osmias which I've managed to pick up. Really op-art designs!

This mini-collection began with a Frankenpen I picked up at a vide-greniers for three euros. It's an Esterbrook, Jim, but not as we know it - the cap comes from a different pen. Well, it was fun. The nib was embuggerated, but Esterbrook nibs are not difficult to find.
Left to right: Half-Esterbrook Frankenpen, Osmia 66, Osmia 222

Then I saw a pen that clearly used the same celluloid as the mystery Frankenpen cap. The cap is larger, with a double band instead of the single. The barrel is also rather badly ambered. It's an Osmia 66. The pattern isn't really as sexy as the Waterman X-ray, though; it's more of a stretched fishnet, and it doesn't have the shimmering mother-of-pearl effect that the Ink Vues do. Still, it's nice to have put the two together. (Matching celluloids is something that I love doing - it can be quite fascinating finding out which brands used the same suppliers, in some cases.)

Then I saw a really unusual Osmia on eBay - far more like the Waterman X-ray. Okay, it had issues; there's a bit of the cap lip missing, for a start, and it's going to be a bugger to replace, given the pattern. No clip, either. And though unlike the other two pens it does at least have a genuine Osmia nib, it's only steel. It's an Osmia 222, really quite a tiny pen. But it only cost me 15 euros. And it's a darling.

Here are my three pens together. The start of an Osmia collection. I shall have to keep my eyes peeled for more, though sadly, 90% of them do come in any-colour-as-long-as-it's-black.
Which colour next? I wonder...

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