Guest post: Vintage pens

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Guest blogger Kate Marshall of K’s Notebook went to the Philadelphia Pen Show last weekend and came back with a gorgeous antique Waterman. If you’re not jealous after reading her description, check out these photos on Flickr.

So it’s probably been well established that I like fountain pens. Me + fountain pens = TRU LUV 4 EVAH!

I’ve almost always stuck to modern-day pens until last week at the 2012 Philadelphia Pen Show, when I stumbled across a Waterman pen so old that it was probably around when Edward Cullen was still a human. I’m not quite sure what made me stop and notice this relic of the Woodrow Wilson era — was it the oxidation of the black hard rubber? The Waterman No. 2 nib with its jaunty, heart-shaped breather hole? The clear and crisp imprint stamped in the middle of the pen’s chasing? The ringtop cap, which may or may not be original to the pen? Who knows, but at the end of the day, I came away with a black hard rubber Waterman No. 12 PSF pen in reasonably good condition, and my contemporary pens all felt slightly jealous that they were still 60-odd years away from collecting Social Security benefits.

After doing some quick research on sites like Fountain Pen Network and Richard Binder’s website, I learned that my 12 PSF was the precursor to Waterman’s famed Ideal No. 52 fountain pen (still in high demand on the vintage pen market). The thing to remember about flex nibs is, they aren’t magic like unicorn horns. They won’t automatically turn one into a professional calligrapher any more than a new…scrub brush…will turn a someone into a master…scullery maid…whatever, there are a lot of analogies that could work here. But sometimes, a nice flex nib can add a certain je ne sais quoi to a person’s handwriting, because the nib responds to changes in writing pressure. Plus, the idea of writing with a 97-year old pen is pretty cool. My great-grandparents (or maybe even my grandparents) could have used a Waterman No. 12 back in the day. What sort of adventures did this pen’s previous owners get into during the past nine decades? How did the pen finally wind up among Susan Wirth’s wares at the show? Most importantly, what might the future hold for it?

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