Monday, 26 June 2017

Big game Safari - hunting pens in the wild, so far this year

Last year wasn't a great hunting year. I didn't find much, and some of the usual waterholes seemed to have dried up.

This year started with a bang. The first sale I went to, one exhibitor had a couple of nice Rotring pens on his stand. And while I was paying for them, I saw a couple of Parker boxes... and I left with one of the best hauls I've had in ages, and for not a whole lot of money.
A nice haul
So here we have; a lot of nice Rotrings - piston filling. Neatly, the piston mechanism is made in red plastic to form the red ring ('rot ring' in German), and I particularly like the way the pens have the size in white letters around the barrel, as well as on the cap, so that however you keep your pens you can quickly see which one is which. These pens tick all the boxes for me that the Lamy 2000 does - they're functional, they're beautifully designed to be functional, there are no bells and whistles, every bit of the design does its job and does it well. And as a bonus, if you don't like the stylographic nib, you can replace it with an Esterbrook Reform nib and feed (I've done that on two of mine).

Then on the left, from the top: a mismatched Waterman glass cartridge pen, gold nib; not sure what the next one is; Waterman Laureat; Waterman gold nib pen in thuya lacquer; Parker mixy (I think these were only ever made in France), Waterman hemisphere; Parker 35 (I think -  very similar to the 75) in thuya lacquer, and a little mechanical pencil in celluloid.

Even better, I now have a friend - last time I bumped into the seller, he actually gave me something I'd been looking at and refused to let me pay for it!

That weekend left me feeling this could be my year... I was quickly disappointed. The next two months had other rewards but in terms of fountain pens, just a couple of common Waterman Kulturs and one nice but anonymous red mottled hard rubber pen. Where is that Waterman Man Patrician I'm looking for? Where is the Waterman 20? What about the tarnished Aztec in a tray of Jotters? Why are the miracles not happening?

Okay... Saturday, I had a rehearsal for a concert I'm playing next week. Drove there, and decided we'd take the scenic route home, along the river valley, through little villages and woods, instead of along the main route through the wheat fields. It was cooler, if slower. There are some water mills along the route - one still working, one derelict (I keep dreaming about buying it), and one that has been turned into an antique centre, so of course I had to stop.

Nothing in the glass cases. I was about to give up when my eye fell on a pen stand with four dip pens on it.

On my safaris I see lots of rubbishy dip pens - cheap plastic ballpoints. So I prepared to be disappointed. But these weren't ballpoints. They had nibs. On closer inspection, they also had the 'Aurora' stamp in its little shield. Picked up - gosh. They're ebonite - at least, the sections are, I'm pretty sure. Into the bag they went at ten euros each, which for four pens, three gold nibs and one broken nib, ain't at all bad.

Four lovely Auroras. Globus nibs. And one of them is also a Rotring... at least in spirit

And then yesterday, we went off to a number of sales, and suddenly Lady Fountain-Pen Luck was with me. It started with a blue Waterman Kultur, a nice pen - one of my favourite models, though this is a common one. Still at fifty cents, I'm happy! Then a nice purple moire Reynolds box, though the pen inside it wasn't the one that came with it - an 'AA' cart filler. Came with a free bottle of Waterman Blue ink as a present.

The next to appear was a Reform. At first, I thought it was a Creeks - rather cheap French pens that crop up fairly regularly. But the clip is different, and it's quite a nice little pen, from a German brand that I have some respect for - the Reform 1745 was the first piston filler I ever owned. It's in a swirly green plastic - I thought it might be printed, but when I opened it up, I can see the pattern runs all the way through.

Oh look! a big bucket of pens! They're almost all sure to be felt pens or ballpoints, but ... a good handful of Pilot V-Pens at ten cents each? How could I resist!

Wallet empty. Heart full. Yesterday's haul
So far, cheap but interesting pens. Next came a little oddity; a lovely dip pen stand with a gorgeous crystal ink well. Green marble, bronze, and crystal - and in the shape of a heart. Just gorgeous. I don't really collect pen stands but I had to have this one.

And then a stand that had ink. A huge bottle of Waterman Red which I decided I didn't really need and rather wish I had bought. A packet of Waterman glass carts which will come in useful, though the ink in them has gone to powder. (Maybe I can revive it with water.) And a lot of dip pens... but no fountain pens at all. What a pity.

Oh look. There's a little pen case on the same table. I don't suppose there's anything in it. Oh, there is. Probably rubbish pens - Marksman, Daniel Hechter, ballpoints. Let's take a .... oh. Parkers. Lacquer. Okay, let's ask... how much? well, that's a bargain, let's snap it up!

Turns out to be Parker 75s, fine nib fountain pen and matching mechanical pencils. That's a great set for me, as I don't really use ballpoints at all but I do use pencils. Absolutely stunning condition - the pen's a bit dirty but just needs a flush, and the pencil has lead in it still.

Two stands on, I see what I think is a Parker 45 and it turns out to be a second generation Pelikano. Metal cap with a 'Pelikan beak' clip, dark blue ink window, nice.

The day would have a couple of surprises still in store. We went to one last sale which for the past couple of years has had marvellous things in store. This time; nothing at all, except a Waterman Gentleman cigar box, which unfortunately I forgot to photograph (and was too expensive). Inside, a cartoon of two gents in their riding coats, one with his pen and the other with his cigar. I must definitely look up this byway of Waterman history!

Disheartened, I knew it was time to head home. Some of the stallholders were packing up. But there's a little antique shop near where we parked, and it was still open. No pens, but there was a nice lacquer pen box... of course, as a great game hunter, I know that you have to look inside.

And there was my last pen of the day, one of my favourites - a Bayard Excelsior in marbled celluloid. That's the bottom one on the left in the picture, with the characteristic chevrons on the clip and lever. It's just gone to the top of my repair queue.

Okay, I still haven't found the red Man Patrician. But I really have got a lovely little haul and had some fun along the way.

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