Friday, July 2, 2010


I've involved in the creation of a new pen board for discussion/sales etc.

Please peek in

also as (because we'd have to be, and because the URL is shorter)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Found a Monster Sheaffer WASP collection at Raleigh

  Click on the pic to open in new page, then click on it (if your browser shrinks to fit) to see full size.

Had Great Time at Raleigh Pen Show

Thanks to Terry et al for a quite nice Raleigh Pen Show.

Embassy Suites continues to provide what I consider the best hotel environs for pen shows. Huge lounge space for downtime, nice unlimited breakfast incorporated into reasonable room rate. Unbelievable rooms (easily can house three roomies for the show), easy access to everything in the show scene, nice bar, pool, gym, etc.

The auction was great, figure a month hunting ebay compressed into two hours.

Had by far my best pen finding during the 5-6 years the show has run.  The WASP collection posted yesterday at the heart of it, I also found some killer Sheaffer Snorks and couple less-common TM Touchdown pens.

Added two items to my own collection:  1920-ish Parker metal pen in Brocade pattern and 1950-ish Sheaffer Crest Masterpiece (solid gold caps) lever-fill set with  charming inscription.

I look forward to next year

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 2010 Vacumania Website Update is Online. Snorkel Overload


The May 2010 website update is online.  50 or so Sheaffer Snorks and related pens (PFM, TM TD) in great shape, including high end models and "rare" colors.

Direct link to the new stock alone:

Direct link to the Sheaffer 1950's page, showing the above pens plus prior related stock, newly organized (albeit roughly by either model class or color)

The Vacumania home page

Thanks for peeking in. I doubt I'll do another 1950's Sheaffer update of this sort anytime soon, as this drains most of my lurking stock, though pens of this sort always trickle in.  I am at work on another Parker 51 update similar to the Dec 08 "230 pen" update and am at work on pendom's overwhelmingly most massive offering of 1940's Sheaffers, though both these updates are months off.

Happy to answer questions at and indeed shortly should for first time have an email at the address itself.

Boy, I'm tired.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PREVIEW: May 2010 Website Sales Update: "Snorkel Mayhem"

Well, the last Update took 4 months to get online. This one... merely a month. I'm catching up on "real life" and on pen stuff. Spent a few nights up last week sorting 1000 old pens either ready for updates, back from restorers awaiting focused updates, ready for shipment for restoration, or (sob) ready for the parts bin. The house gains order.

Anway, this update features a killer focus on 1950's Sheaffers, largely Snorks (including better models and colors of high cachet). The Peris already were claimed from want lists (two of four want lists with them now served).  I should have the update online in couple days and will announce.

Meanwhile, please peruse the image preview.


david isaacson

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What can I say, all in three weeks, and one on the way. Happy David.

None in couple-few years, then these in a month, with one more on the way. You know what they are, right?  Two Parker Vacuum-Filler true Demonstrators, and a Vacumatic "Crystal".    El Zorno does good work, though I shall have to give him some grief (cheerful grief) about the middle pen. Clearly, something needs trimming there. 

Yeah, everyone wants Maximas. No worries- I  too like Maximas. But this stuff is grand.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grand Time at Chicago Pen Show

No pics yet...

Been quite a week. Left work after long run of night shifts for flight two hours later. Brutal turbulence both to layover at JFK and final leg to Chicago for the big pen show. At least I enjoyed couple hours down time in Jet Blue's JFK terminal at Deep Blue, a quite nice sushi bar. Lack of sleep, Caffeine withdrawal, bouncing plane and funny sleeping angle in airplane seat left me well under weather when I arrived at the Westin O'Hare late at 6pm. Slept all night.

As always great to see the pen show crowd though a bit smaller this year than in years past. The most different Esterbrook wedding tonight marked a high point, and Joel Hamilton's work officiating raised the possibility that he missed his true calling.

Even having missed the earliest of early trading (Thurs, while still I was in the air), so far I've found that Chicago has held its own as a top notch source for pen hunting. I found a few for my collection and more than a few for other use down the road ;)   Might be my best hunting yet at Chi.

What sort?

Sheaffer OS Balance "super" Autograph with non-catalog extra wide solid gold cap-band.
Several OS Balances including Marine Green (mottled) Marine Green Autograph and Black with high flex nib.

Wahl OS Gold Seal flattop sets in Brazilian Green and in Black/Pearl
Wahl Coronet set (with Duobonnet inserts) in the best shape i've seen, never mind owned.

Oh, a bunch of Vacumatic Maximae, Red (water clear barrel), Blue, Black(s) and Green
Vacumatic Major and Junior with Flex Nib

Non-Catalog Parker 51 Vacumatic in Navy Gray (Vac era pens were catalogued as Dove Gray)... oh yeah, Near Mint/Mint

51 Demo

Black/Burgundy Streamline Duofold Sr.

Bit uncommon stubby Waterman 55-V with flex nib

Wahl Skyline Executive with broad stub nib.

Solid Gold Sheaffer Snorkel Masterpiece (finally)

all gold-filled Sheaffer Snorkel Triumph stickered near mint

Conway Stewart vintage 51 set in box. Candy Stripe pattern

Solid Gold late Sheaffer Masterpiece

Mint Sheaffer Oblique Broad Triumph nib

Many 1940's Sheaffers, Parker 51's, Vacumatics etc.

and about 70 others.

Having great time. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow will sell a few to replenish the devastated wallet ;)



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finally... A Website Update with Many Fresh Old Pens for Sale:

Not much more to add:  Do take a peek.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stylus Mag Treats Old Pens Well.


Just home from Atlanta Pen Show and had quite nice time. Picked up some remarkable old pens, and will discuss later, when have time to come up for air. Just about have the next website update up (finally having time again to play with website updates). Just finished text/pics for summer Stylus Mag article. Took more time than expected.

For Summer Stylus issue, I put together a few words on the Sheaffer-Lenox desk sets of 1959. To best of my knowledge, this is the first formal examination of these done in pendom. I recently learned I own all 8 bases, and all are shown in the article, along with significant fresh-to-me catalogue data courtesy of Roger Wooten and Sam Marshall. Here's a sample, one of 11 or so photos in the spread.

I just picked up my copy of the Spring issues, while at Atlanta. I've been doing photos for the mag since the inception, but started contributing a regular column- "Nitty Gritty" (the isaacson approach to pen collecting, I guess) with this Spring issue. Thanks kindly to Nancy for the editorial mentioning contributors including gang-of-four, Paul, Ron, Richard and me. The Spring issue has big article on Snorks by Paul, copiously photo-illustrated and captioned by yers truly. My wee article on Wahl's Equi-poised Purse Pen too I suspect is the first print treatment of that pen. Photos in that one including pens from my collection, Cliff Harrington's and Allen Besser's. Ron Zorn's article on pen repair triage is there too.

I credit Stylus. The mag has a *large* content oriented to the collector, including pen reviews, vintage collecting articles, ink/writing, etc. And, I'll make the push that subscription is a good thing. The website is

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update on Catastrophic Crash...


The site rather died about a week ago.  Having now aimed my domain name at a highly reliable server recommended by Richard and Ron, I'm nearly done reloading the entire site, happily backed up save for a couple hundred long-sold pen image that were lost from backup with a drive crash couple years back, though might yet be hiding on another drive (i'll check when home this week).

Please be patient. In day or three the site should be up fully again.



Monday, March 29, 2010

The Vacumania Website... Crashed ;)

Well, my website seems down for solid day or more now. Been way busy at work, but looks like it is time to move my site to a more solid host. Hope to do that at end of week. Hope the darn site is up anyway before then.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Off-Catalogue Double-Capband 1930's Sheaffer Balance

Picked this one up at the Ohio Pen Show. 

Again, Sheaffer catalogued Balance with with single smooth capband,  mostly gold-filled and fewer solid gold.

The double capband is quite uncommon.  This one is a "stubby" (a short standard-girth pen) in mottled Marine Green.  A clean example, this is the first I've seen in this size/color mix, although when hunting items that in total show up couple-few times a year, one will slowly  find "new" color/size variants, no doubt.

Sorry not been around much lately...

My jump to 12 hour night shifts at hospital and some politics of late have kept me swamped. Life now sorts itself out, and I hope to post blog notes more frequently.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A most unusual 1930's (?) - 1940's Sheaffer

Picked this up a while ago. Goes well with my *striped* gray non-WD version. Daniel has a WD brown striper. A most unusual Sheaffer, one most here perhaps have not seen before. It is imprinted "Sheaffer"

Think about what makes it a bit off the beaten path for Sheaffer from that era.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An anomalous Sheaffer Balance

Sheaffer's Balance is the second most prevalent pen in my own collection, following Vacumatic. While I do not hunt it with the same completist bent seen with my Vac collection, I nonetheless greatly enjoy finding "better" pens  and of course unusual variants. Catalogued Balances feature a single cap-band usually of (variable) medium girth, save for the wider solid gold "autograph" band.

My wee hoard of pens with uncatalogued cap-bands includes those with the wide "jeweler's" milled band, double and triple deco band,  and fish-scale band. The double, triple, and fishscale pens are far more uncommon than the other cap-band patterns.

So, I was very happy when at the recent Philadelphia Pen Show, during my final minutes there, I found a variant Sheaffer Balance I'd never seen before.  The contour is that of the humble petite Balance, the slender extra-short model.

This is the first pen I've seen in Jade celluloid to have a double cap-band.

And, amongst pens I've seen with the double cap-band, this is the first i've seen with smooth bands, the others having decorative pattern.

A neat find, no doubt.



Monday, January 25, 2010

An email with a Vacumatic question

This email arrived today:

Hello David,

Is it possible for  a 2d. generation 'Made in Canada' Burgundy Pearl Senior Max. to be correct with 2 black jewels?

Your assistance is appreciated,


It is... unlikely, though always hard to have absolutes, especially for Canadian pens.

USA Pens by mid 1939 all at first glance seem to have black bottom jewel, which really is not that. Rather it is a pseudojewel actually with target pattern, as by this time Parker no longer (in USA) made true bottom jewel with removable tassie, instead cutting the blind cap to a point to look like a jewel and press fitting a tassie over that.  In good light the blind cap fake jewel shows concentric target stripes just as if you looked edge on to smooth later blind cap.

USA high line pens had striped top jewel still (except blue of course) through mid 1942, so all 2nd gen pens through 1941 should have matching top jewel on high line pen.

It is not clear that Canada ever went to the pseudojewel. I have seen late 1941 pens and even early 1942 double jewel pens from there with removable bottom jewel.  Most Canadian pens I see, even late 1941 have striped/matching top jewel. But, again I have seen even early 1942 Double Jewel pens from Canada (unlike USA) and sometimes they have black jewels both ends, even on high line pens.

I'd be curious about your pen's date code, but generally if before 1942, a matching jewel on top (and probably both jewels for Canadian pens) would be expected... at least to some degree.

That the pen is Canadian removes some of the sting from the lack of matching jewels, because unlike pens from USA, particularly for late issue double jewel pens, the rules are a bit less clear.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Pen Find. 60 more land in Syracuse

This pile landed in Syracuse same week as the somewhat heftier pen pile I posted yesterday.

Some nice stuff by Chilton, Sheaffer, Parker, Waterman and others.  Lots of humble material, but when a collection arrives, one usually grabs the bunch.  Best pen in bunch is the big Chilton Black Lined with red end plugs.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

I found some pens.

I used to wish I could find old pens in... quantity

These days it happens time to time. Always fun.

This bunch plopped onto my desk. What could I do?  I bought 'em. 120 or so.

Then there's the other 60 or so from a third collection, but that's a tale for another day.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

WEBSITE UPDATE: 50 Old Pens Freshly Listed at

Yes, I know. No posts here in ten days.  Well, my newly upgraded hospital shifts have been clobbering me. But, I did manage to get the latest website update online. 50 grand old pens.  Gem Vacumatic, Balance, Lady Sheaffer, Snorkel and more.

Have a peek at a bit of what's been added.




Oh yeah... even a modern-ish Omas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

VIDEO and Pic. Happy Red Sheaffer David.


Just picked up a truly grand wee pen set, a 1920's Sheaffer flat-top "Cherry Red" celluloid Pygmy. Have wanted one a long time. Hard to find clean. This one pops.

Details and shmooze in this very rough rushed video shot with my usual 7MP Sony, just before  I raced out the door to work. The video should open in your browser, though you likely will need a fast connection and time for your buffer to... buff.

LINK To Sheaffer Red Pygmy Video

 And, the Pgymy set on a Sheaffer Cherry Red Secretary (Senior) Pen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My 25th Azure Blue Vacumatic Senior Maxima

Just received back freshly restored by Joel Hamilton my 25th Parker Vacumatic Senior Maxima in Azure Blue celluloid. Thought I'd use the occasion as chance to chat about this neat pen.

Blue Maxes are somewhat more difficult in double-jewel trim to find than other colors, at least with typical cap-band, as the color was introduced mid 1940, while most Maxima colors appeared late 1937. Since the bottom jewel was discontinued by the end of 1941, DJ pens in blue ran only about a year and a half. Amongst single jewel Sr Maxima from 1942-1947 (or so) there is much less disparity.

In ten years hunting Vacs, I've grabbed- obviously- 25 Maxes in this color. Sold about 20 with a few in the collection for the long haul. While Blue Maxes in general are nowhere near as scarce as "Vac-Band" Maximas in any color and probably are similarly uncommon to "Jeweler's Band" Maxima from 1939-40 (or so), they are impressive pens. As is often the case with colleting, finding my first posed the greatest challenge. It's all been downhill since then. Not so hard to find the pens, if one is willing to pay the ticket price ;)

Making the collecting task easier (is that a good thing?) the late introduction of Blue minimizes the number of variants one can seek, as we need not worry about clip evolution. Too, there is well less cap-band evolution, and well less jewel evolution. The key (a somewhat subjective claim) forms are shown here:

L to R:

1) Typical 2nd Gen Sr. Max. shows expected "late" features, black bottom pseudojewel, cap-band indicia with vertical borders, blue diamond clip.

"All" Blue Maxes have black end jewel(s), though I have one which challenges that notion, but that photo will await another day.

2) "Jeweler's" Cap-band Blue Max with wide lined cap-band. The intent behind this cap-band remains shrouded, but the band is far less common than the typical cap-bands found in catalogues. Blue + Jeweler's Band makes for a bit of a special pen.

3) 3rd Generation Sr. Max, single jewel. The thin cap-band is correct on this 1942- 1947-ish pen. One might expect them to be more common than the first pen given the longer prodution run, but it is not clear that this is so. SJ Maxes are uncommon, perhaps because by 1942 those who would pay the cost to get a Maxima made the jump to the ascendant Parker 51.

4) Canadian 3rd Gen Max. Canadian pens essentially always show some differences from USA-made pens, and I often don't lump them under "key variants", but for 3rd Gen Max the key difference warrants attention. Unlike in the USA, Parker in Canada appears to have continued to use the wide cap-band (similar to pen #1) throughout the 3rd Generation, making a wide band single jewel pen wholly correct when found with Canadian markings.

I picked up a mint collection (yah, really) of Sr Maxima 3rd Generation pens a couple years ago, including a stickered blue.


I probably need to format this brief note and to shoot couple more images for a formal website essay, but figured finding my 25th pen made good excuse to post.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Interesting Vacumatic.

This set is heading for the pending website update.  I'm letting it go only because I have another.  It was not a trivial effort to get both. The pencil is more rare than the already scarce pen.

More than one thing about this set should hit one's radar for unusual Vacs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PREVIEW for Nov/Dec Sales Update is online.

Welcome to this pictorial preview for the upcoming website update.

"Real life" events of late have kept me diverted from completing the latest sales update, but the darn thing nearly is ready to upload. All the pens I've shot for this update are shown below, along with some that are targeted for subsequent "focused" updates.

While I likely will hold the 1940's Sheaffers and some of the Parker Duofold pens for later updates, and while a couple of the prototype Lady Sheaffer pens have not yet met their nib assemblies, most of the other pens below will be up for grabs in a few days.

This group sees a nice range of Burgundy Parker Vacumatic pens including an early and scarce full-size Vacuum-Filler, and a late and more scarce Canada-only Junior set. Sheaffer Balances see a significant array of oversized pens, and some Snorkels of the quite high cachet are present too.

You can click the pic at the left to load it as a new page (then click/magnify it again to full size) 

The link below will take you to the actual preview page.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey, the "sold" pens are disappearing from the website. You know what THAT means...

I am in the final approach to the next website update. I've shot and (mostly) detailed 120 pens or so, probably with 80 or so to go on the next update.

Besides having perhaps 350 pens  ready for or already in the repair pipeline- keeping me quite busy- I also have had quite the hectic time in "real life" of late.  My hospital has seen some... politics... happen the last few weeks, and while it seems my own role and opportunity there will grow yet again in my work as Hospitalist, I have been... distracted. Sorry if I've been slow to answer emails. Certainly, I would have liked to have the latest update online a couple weeks back.

I hope to maintain updates roughly every six weeks for the next few months. I might do some mini-updates as well with 10-20 pens per pop.  I do have a nice spread of Burgundy Parker Vacumatic and Carmine Sheaffer Balances for the website update to be online in less than a week.


David Isaacson

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Quite Neat 1931-ish Parker so-called "Thrift" pen

After the recent mayhem with my hospital group (sparing me, at least), I'm starting to catch up with couple weeks of email and with work on the next website update.

I shot the following pen, a neat find at the Ohio Pen Show.

Often lumped under the "Thrift Pen" label, this one is of the same style shown in the inspiration for that term, a Parker ad that offered affordable sets- more or less- "in these thrifty times". That set showed cream-and-bronze. This one is black-and-bronze, a color used also for the scarce Parker Combo. Parker also issued some pens in a Conklin-like black/bronze (with more bronze)

This one is in superb condition, with code/pirce  sticker. Given how few of the (usually) un-catalogued "thrift" pens are found  with stickers, perhaps purpose would be served examining catalogues from that general era for code correlations. But, I don't have time now ;)



Monday, November 16, 2009

A "Cherry Red" 1930's Sheaffer Balance "Loaner"

Just some show and tell from my own collection, posted for fun while I sort the pen finds from my the Nov, 2009 Ohio Pen Show.  The red celluloid Sheaffer Balance "Loaner" pen is un-catalogued, unlike some earlier flat-top era red pens of this sort.  Found (so far) only in long-slender form, for it's era the chrome trim is a bit unusual (though not unique) for a non-"Junior"-marked pen.   Far less commonly found than catalogued colors, it often is heavily discolored and often packs rather ugly trim, as the chrome trim- once worn- does not take polish as well as does gold-filled.  This one is rather the gem, still with nib-grade sticker and in superb condition.

A Sheaffer Set from the Ohio Pen Show

I continue to recover from both an intense and successful Ohio Pen Show and from the subsequent week of political tumult at my hospital, back in "real life".   I have yet to complete sorting the very many pens purchased at the show, and I am overdue to ship a couple or three hundred interesting raw pens out for restoration.

My bargain for the show no doubt is the set shown at left, and this one goes right into my personal collection.

Sitting on a dealer's desk was this slender (short-ish, thin) Sheaffer Balance set. The price was more than right, despite my pointing out it had uncommon cap-band,  because, "it's just a small black set".  It packs the un-catalogued and quite scarce "fish scale" wide cap-band.  The set indeed is just "small" and in common color, but for me the cap-band rings the bell. 

While I have not counted of late, I doubt I have more than ten pens with this cap-band amongst my couple hundred Balances, and have not seen more than twenty in the six years or so I've hunted them since becoming aware of their existence.

This set is very clean and is the first I've seen in this color/size.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chilton Chopsticks from the Ohio Pen Show

Has it really been nearly two weeks since my last post?  What can I say?  Hospital has been crazy, and I'm still recovering from the Ohio Pen Show.  One of my grand finds (I picked up about 80 pens and had 80 more return to me there from the pen restorers) was this pair of Chilton desk pens.
Chilton was a relatively small volume manufacturer of very high quality fountain pens during the "golden age".  IIRC starting in Boston it eventually moved to Long Island City, NY.  While the pull and push of "smaller collector base" vs "smaller supply of pens" relative to the Big 4 can balance, nice Chiltons today out-price similar size/niche pens from the Big-4 in many instances.

The color of the desk pen "chopsticks" is considered.. . "Clown"... as in Chilton Clown Pen.  I've seen short clip pen, probably short ringtop, ringtop pencil and... desk pen, that one perhaps in two sizes.  Clown Pens are cherished items of high cachet in the Chilton universe, itself a desirable arena in which to play.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy David Finds an Un-Catalogued Sheaffer (Balance Era) Golf Pencil

All pics in this thread can be enlarged via a click. 

Sheaffer- to best of current hobby knowledge- never catalogued its Balance-era golf pencil in colors as late (era) as Ebonized Pearl. Indeed, the latest color I consistently find (and it is uncommon, though possibly- i must double check- catalogued) is Gray-with-Red Veins.

Given that Balance is the second most prevalent pen in my personal collection, I was quite charmed to spot for auction  this Ebonized Pearl golf pencil. It was part of a set of four items all with same personalization, the other three being of the relatively uncommon "Stubby Standard"  size.

This was the first Ebonized Pearl golf pencil I've seen.   Of interest, the MOP chips run all the way to the ferrule, unlike in other Ebonized Pearl pencils.

Internet chat revealed- and I was not surprised- that a couple other active collectors of Sheaffer have seen such pencils here and there.

Here are all four pieces found at once.  All- again- personalized. All in very clean condition.    The image shows two "Stubby" pens, one with white dot. Note the excellent color preservation. While originally I planned to keep only the golf-pencil, given that all four items have the same name and are quite clean, I likely will keep the set together, even though I have- i believe- both of the "Stubby" variants already.

Just for kicks, below I've shown my current collection of Sheaffer Balance-era golf pencils. The "Autograph" with solid-gold trim (longer pencil) might also be un-catalogued. I am aware of  a similar black pencil, but do not yet own that one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prototype (?) Lady Sheaffer FP's.


Picked up recently a few Lady Sheaffer FP's, purportedly prototypes. Yeah, I know the baggage that goes with the term.

In any case, price was right even if a regular issue pen. Mint condition. Metal contruction (i believe). Patterns I'd never seen before. Working on a mini-essay (incorporating some shots of more common patterns and a shot or two of some Lady Sheaffers Ron Zorn had acquired, apparently made for foreign market.

You might need to hit the magnifier if your browser shrinks the image to fit screen.




Monday, October 26, 2009

A Vacumatic Question from (waaaaaay) Southwest. Cap-band on Single Jewel Sr. Maxima

 Jose, wrote...
hi, david--was wondering if you could comment on the possibility or the likelihood of a single-jewel but wide-banded silver-pearl senior maxima i got being the real thing instead of a frankenpen, given the apparent fact (from your own examples) that SJ senior maximas had thin cap bands. here's the pic (which you can reproduce on the vac blog, if you'd like, to help in the discussion). many thanks!

just to add to my previous post, my SJ sr max has a date code of .2.
Hi Jose,

Ya mean these answers are not already all over the internet discussion boards?  :)

Keeping in mind that most of our expectations regarding this subject are based largely on observation, I... observe... the following:

1) USA-production single-jewel Vacumatic Sr. Maxima appears in first quarter 1942. The pens  appear to pack- as you note- the thinner cap-band previously seen in the Major, having dispensed with the 1937-41 "fat" Maxima band as shown on your pen.   I have plenty of first quarter (including mint stickered... yes at least four mint stickered) 1942 Maxes with the thinner band.

2) Canadian pens, however,  appear to pack the wide band through the end of the run for Vac Maxima there.  I have handled many post-1941 Canadian Maximas;  all have the wide band. Many came from the (relative) wild.

3) Again, as we lack preserved (and likely imagined) memos from Parker explicitly stating,  "We will start using thin band Jan 1, 1942, we will start stamping barrels "2" the same date, we will toss all remaining "1" code barrels (for 1941) and toss all remaining fat cap-band stock", and given the hobby (perhaps again imagined) view, that parts vats abounded with last month's and next month's parts  mixing readily, allowing some fuzziness at the edges of parts change, it would be a bit concrete to insist one could not find a last-quarter 1941 thin-band pen or first-quarter 1942 fat-band pen that indeed came from the factory, though I am somewhat uncomfortable even with those.

Where to run with this?

Well, if your pen is Canadian... problem solved.

If you pen is of USA origin, my "comfort zone" (i'm hesitant to claim absolutes) would be stretched at best even finding a last quarter 1941 or first quarter 1942 pen with a mix of parts not meeting expectation, but I have hard time picturing a second quarter 1942 pen still with an "original" fat band, given  that the thin band was overwhelmingly (absolutely?) prevalent by first quarter. If your pen has a lurking third date dot (for first instead of second quarter 1942), one can at least make some sort of  argument for originality. Still, strange things... happened.

Some claim parts repairs at factory could so account for the mix.  Who knows?  However, my recollection is that the 1947 parts catalogue (repair catalogue) still shows jeweled blind caps available.

For kicks, here is a Single Jewel Sr. Maxima (with expected thin band) sold on the website couple years back.

Your pen leaves me... suspicious.

Friday, October 16, 2009

PENnant Magazine from Pen Collectors of America. Giving Credit where due...

PENnant Magazine is the publication of Pen Collectors of America.  While I gave up around 2003 my membership for a few years due to disagreement with certain behavior of its board, I've enjoyed participation with the group again for the last couple years, after the board fixed that behavior.   The magazine of course is an excellent resource for collectors of old pens.  I've had an ad for the website in PENnant for the last year or so. Did so primarily to support the organization, not with any great expectation it would lead to significant business dealings.  Guess I was wrong ;)
The ad clearly sent the occasional customer to my website leading to pens sold. But, last month a new-to-me collector emailed with interest to grab 20 pens in one fell swoop (always wondered, I did, just what is a "fell swoop").  Mostly high-cachet Snorks and other 1950's-1970's Sheaffers.  The pens are shown in the attached pic.

I asked how he found my website. Too my pleasant surprise,  rather than from my usual internet noise, it was my wee ad in PENnant led him my way. 

Guess I must credit PENnant.

The website for PCA is



Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Parker Lucky Curve "Big Red" NON-Duofold. Plastic pen with "Medium" imprint

Click on Pic at left for large image (and will have to hit your "magnifier" as it fills more than a vertical screen on many monitors)  
I just picked up an interesting 1920's Parker "Big Red" sort of pen.   Is it a Duofold Senior with anomalous (NON "Duofold") imprint? Or, is it a red  Duofoldesque Lucky Curve (itself thus anomalous and certainly uncatalogued) that looks quite like a Duofold? 

Here is some information about 1920's plastic Duofolds, about Duofold-like pens without "Duofold" imprints, and about this pen in particular.

1) non-Duofold imprints are known on otherwise Duofold style pens (often have non-DF nibs along with the non-DF imprint)

2) Green non-DF-marked  "Lucky Curve" pens otherwise like DF  are known to have been advertised without the Duofold name. I believe i've seen similar Lapis and maybe Yellow pens, although we can but speculate as to whether they too represented a hypothesized test marketing of "scary new color" before allowing the "venerable Duofold name" on the pen. I've never seen a red before, though one book on Duofold does show some imprints of this general sort (lacking "Duofold").

3)  IIRC, all the lucky-curve-sans-Duofold imprints so far cited are of the "small" variety, as one would expect since the progression from Large to Medium to Small imprints took place during the Hard Rubber era (pre-plastic) and since the pens we discuss are plastic.

4) The actual pen under discussion is Canadian, which tweaks the game a bit, as often we recognize that Canada did not always follow Parker USA "rules", but this finding does not obviate the question as to the significance of the imprint variation, as one still wonders- in either country- what is suggested by the finding of a non-DF "Sr-DF-size non-DF  Lucky Curve"

5) The actual pen under discussion has a larger imprint that the other non-DF-imprinted pens of this sort. I must pull up some pens and/or images to decide if it is utterly different from typical "Medium" imprint or if it represents "simply" a Medium imprint sans "Duofold". In any case the medium-ness of the imprint raises new questions as one would not expect a medium-size imprint on a plastic pen, though perhaps here the Canadian origin of the pen has something to do with this second anomaly.

So, was the pen ever meant to be a Duofold?  I don't know.

At what passes for my stage of collecting (and I know others share this trait), finding pens that surprise can be as much or more fun than "just" finding big, glitzy or even valuable pens.  Anomalies offer a peek away from the main sequence of collecting.  I don't ascribe high dollar value to this pen, but that it packs a constellation of findings that I have not before seen and cannot readily find in texts, adds charm to the game. Speculation as to significance no doubt is part of the fun.   Should it turn out this finding is more common than I expected... so be it ;) 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Question on Parker Black Giant. Excuse to post a photo.

I received an email day or so back--- "IIRC, and if I recall anything at all, I remember seeing either on Zoss or FPN about two years ago a very worn Parker Black Giant with a name engraved on the cap or barrel that you made a spread into. I wanted to know a. If you still have it, and b. if you would be willing to part with it."                  (Photo shows standard and short Black Giants to scale with a Parker Vacumatic Senior Maxima)

I no longer have that pen. Strange, when I bought it, I thought I'd be owning for the longest haul.  An item of significant cachet, the giant Parker Lucky Curve fountain pen from the 1910's always makes a strong impression.  The example I'd purchased had no fatal flaws. It did have the correct clip (full washer ring, not split in back to suggest adaptation from a smaller pen's clip, though some argue those were original, too). It had significant wear.   I traded it a couple years ago. The recipient was tickled pink to have it, and I was quite content with the material I received in trade.  So it goes.

The pens do turn up. Watch for recoloring (impact on value is... debatable). Check the clip for the "split back".  Look for cracks in rubber or in nib.

  The spread at left shows my Black Giant in  detail. Clicking on image will load it to its own page and then can be magnified to full size.

The #12 nib on the Black Giant always impresses.

BITS AND BUCKETS: Week of Sept 29, 2009

Open thread for your questions/observations (if any).  Drop a note. I'll try to turn each post into a thread.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hunting Sheaffer Balance with Anomalous Cap-Band: Part 2

A couple posts down, I showed my personal collection of 1930's Sheaffer Balance fountain pens with uncatalogued decorative double and triple cap-bands. Not so many pens after more than several years hunting.

In this post I present my very limited collection of uncatalogued Sheaffer Balances, this time featuring the "fish-scale" cap-band.  The earliest color I've seen to feature this band is the Ebonized Pearl, along with Black pens from similar era. The pattern made it all the way to the striated pens, which are the final Balance plastic patterns.

The pen at right is an odd-ball, though I tossed it in with this bunch. A Canadian Balance with a cap-band unique to this actual pen (not to a pen era, etc)  in my experience, with la ook that to me evokes some 1940's Sheaffers.    Over the years I've passed on purchasing some of the fish-scale pens due to price, but the selection above represents more than half of my total exposure to this style cap-band. They are not common.

A Nice Ending to a Grand Collecting Career... though not of Pens.

This post is a bit of a tangent to the collecting of pens, per se, but it touches on a core subject to collecting in general; when, how,  and why will we cease to collect. There must be an endpoint or... endgame?  How to stop?  What if the kids don't want the toys (pens in our case, but toys literally in this case).   Can we say "enough", "good-bye", "i'm done"?  I just spotted this article and believe the three pages make for a worthwhile read.

A Toy Collector Winds Down His Collection

The weird thing... I believe I've been in this fellow's home, no joke.  Friends with a local Chabad, shul services have been hosted at their home. My parents' vacation cottage (See the Vacblog's  4 Pen Friends at the Lake ) is not far away, and I believe Dad and I met there once on Saturday morning for services.  Small world... at least if my recollection is correct.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hunting Sheaffer Balance with Anomalous Cap-Band: Part 1

1930's Sheaffer Balance pens can be found with relatively (or absolutely) scarce cap-band patterns which appear in no known catalogue.  These include a wide milled cap-band,  the well more  scarce   double and triple cap-band,   and the single "fish scale" band.   Amongst these, the milled cap-band by far is easiest to find. The others are... tough.
Unlike Parker Vacumatic,  I do not collect Balance in a completist fashion, though I grab Balance with these cap-band styles when I can.  For the double, triple and fish-scale bands, I try not to pass on any, only occasionally having skipped one when cost was relatively prohibitive.

Shown in this image is my entire collection of double and triple band Balances, representing probably 7-8 years hunting (I believe I was a couple years into the hobby before encountering my first).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Parker Vacumatic "Purina"

A recent happy find was this Parker Vacumatic "Purina".  One of the most bold of the "logo" Vacs to feature a well-known company, the Purina Vac is a charming find  for Parker collectors. I've seen these crop up occasionally during the last ten years. Finally grabbed one, quite clean.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Email Crossed My Desk: Questions about Collecting...

The following email arrived a day or so back.  I will post the note in red, with my intercalated answers in black.

Hello David
I live in Western Australia. Congratulations on your website.
Thanks.  The website truly is the result of simple hobby run amok. But... I enjoy it :)
I decided to email you to seek some advice from you, but first I should tell you about my own pen experience. I am fanatical about fountain pens and have used them for about 40 years, and over those years I have been attempting to find the perfect pen;  a pursuit I must say that has cost me a lot of money and to date and I have not found that elusive pen. As such, I have acquired many nice  ( and valuable) pens, including Parkers, Montblancs, Conway Stewarts, LE Watermans and Pelicans, only to find that on a particular pen I have the perfect nib, or conversely, I have the most beautiful pen but the nib is a nail. What I have found fascinating is that no nib is the same, and as I became more interested in nibs, the part that in my opinion is the most important because it does the writing, I have enjoyed experimenting with various nib styles. Thus I use now mostly stubs and obliques. (By the way I do a lot of hand writing, mostly note taking)
This is a common- indeed charming-  conflict of sorts within collectable pendom and within- to one degree or another- each pen collector; is the hunt for old pens driven essentially by the desire for  objets d'art or is it a drive to find nice old writers with perhaps pretty wrapping? 
I posted an article on the VACUMANIA website on just this subject a few years back. That webpage desperately is in need of format freshening but the content does, i believe, hold up.
Most of us of course have mixed drive. We hoard a bit, but we like to write with the darn things too.  And, obviously, this is one of the appeals of collecting old pens. Unlike many collectables, for the most part we can use the items we hoard without grossly devaluing them in the process. Try that with a rare coin ;)
I haven’t set out to be a pen collector, but in reality if I think about it seriously, that is precisely what I am. 
 You, me and many others.
Therefore I have decided to become more active as a collector, but in doing so, every future pen that I acquire  must be a usable pen for me. So I have some very nice pens to sell, and I will be looking for nice pens to buy. I have also decided that I will look for good quality vintage Parkers, i.e. Duofolds and Vacumatics only, because all things considered from my personal experience, Parkers seem to come up trumps, and perhaps pelicans a close second. 
Clearly, given my collecting focus, I'm not going to disagree about the grand appeal of Parkers. Pelikans certainly are great pens too, and I am happy to be quite friendly with a major seller of those old birds.  Parker pens from 1920's- 1950's are of solid construction and today maintain a large collector base. The nibs tend (especially for pens from the USA) to be a bit mundane regarding point, though of course well made. Most pens have fine or medium firm points. Pelikan more often features flex and more exotic cuts. Indeed, to find a Parker with a "special" point is to have  a pen with added value.  Sheaffer very well parallels Parker during the involved period, making pens of extremely fine quality.  Parker's Duofold was met by Sheaffer's flat-top pens, Vacumatic by Balance, "51" by Snorkel.
Having gone around the long way of leading up to my question for you, could you tell me your opinion in terms of brassing on the hardware as to the value or collectability of a Parker. 
There really are two levels to this and subsequent related questions.  
On the one hand collecting is a personal choice. There is nothing  wrong, per se, with enjoying and appreciating the most cosmetically flawed pen, if one happens to like it (for any reason) or in particular if one likes it as a writer.

On the other hand, there are generally accepted aspects of cachet, rarity and condition that contribute to generally recognized valuations within the overall collector population.
One need not subscribe to those generalities, but they will matter when it comes time to buy or to sell within the community. And, of course, this note cannot quite be a primer on all the challenges to buying well. 

All that said, brassing impacts value. The more brassing, the more value is impacted. Pens still are collectable (even trashers have value for parts), but clearly a clean pen with original and unbrassed trim will be valued more highly- all else equal- than a brassed pen. Minor edge brassing usually is not so much an issue.

Grading is complicated. Many variables: trim, plastic, imprint, color, etc.
 I  personally like my pens to be pristine in every way, but the difficulty as I see it is obtaining an absolute pristine pen that is say 50 / 60 years old. 
Yes.  It is a good thing I listed some mint and near mint Vacumatics on the website just yesterday, September 16, 2009 in the "newly listed pens" section.  :)
Seriously, while I am happy to find essentially pristine pens, what sets our hobby apart from, say, numismatics is that hobbyist focus  on our old collectables does not obsess over "mint/pristine", but generally addresses pens that are  clean (or can be made clean) and are usable.  Mint pens carry added value, but generally nowhere near the percentages added to coins for clean mint vs clean used.
If all in all, the pen is nice,  the nib has plenty of iridium and suites me and the hardware has some minor brassing, it is a good pen.
I quite agree.  A pen can be good, or better than good, even wonderful, using of course general descriptors and not the formalisms of pen grading.   Minor brassing is common to most vintage pens, even those most of us agree are "quite nice".  Major brassing is another matter, but even then, we deal not with an absolute cutoff between "ok" and "not OK". Rather, value drifts gently downward as flaws accrue.
But as I like my pens pristine, would  professionally gilded or gold electro plated hardware, be acceptable for a vintage pen and would in your opinion such restoration devalue / ad value to the pen?
TOUGH issue. Generally, I consider original to be best. I'd rather have original trim with minor brassing than a plated pen. I'd rather have moderate brassing (at appropriate price) than plated pen heavily priced up as result.  Those with good eye for pen grading usually can recognize plating, and some platers plate far better than others.  Color might not be right. Poor prep work can show the step between brassed and unbrassed portions, now all plated. Pens with... complex... trim can be particularly problematic. Indeed, for a pen of great rarity, I believe even more strongly that original is best.

However... for a nice basic pen or a pen that is in great shape save for (it happens) disproportionate brassing (eg. a pen with spectacular color and sharp imprint but with weak trim)... I am amenable to plating work.  The best case in my view is that of Sheaffer. Having a smooth cap-band on most pens and with many Balances having smooth clip or one with simple letters, Sheaffer's plate nicely. And, with chrome trim on some colors, Sheaffers do turn up with disproportionate trim flaws, such as a  gem gray/black pen can have trashed pitted trim. I would have such a pen plated.

Generally, though, I stay away from plating.

If you are to have a pen plated, I highly recommend Daniel Kirchheimer; justdon't tell him I said that. He doesn't need more ego.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
With kind regards

My pleasure



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Website Update Sept 2009. 40 Fresh Old Pens for Sale

Well, this is the first major sales update to the website since I started this blog for announcements and such, so I guess it's time to announce...
The September 2009 Vacumania Vintage Fountain Pen Sales Update
40 freshly listed old pens can be found- no shock- on the "Newly Listed" page
This time  I have some high cachet Sheaffer Snorkels,  a few quite high grade Parker Vacumatics, fancy Sheaffer Imperials meant for the Japanese market, an oversized Wahl Doric.... and more.
Do peek in. Feel free to ask questions, here or backchannel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No More Bloody British Burgundies...

Lacking awareness of a formal name for the color, i tend to call the  burgundy-ish aerometric Parker "51" from England by name "British Bloody Burgundy".  I'm not sure offhand that pens from England ever were made in the typical-to-USA "Burgundy".  These BBB Pens have more red in 'em than do the USA-made pens and are well less commonly seen, at least on this side of the pond.

So, with the "Parker '51' Insanity" offering I did last December (230 Parker "51" pens at, I was happy to have five of these Bloody Burgundy pens.

Four sold fairly quickly. The last one was claimed this weekend.  I'm plum out (though that might be a poor choice of words. After all, I still do have some Plums).  Even if I manage another "51" offering this winter, so far I've no more of the British Burgundy.

The "51" Page.

The Weird World of Ebay Ads... A Striped Duofold

One only can wonder what is meant in the following quote...

Indeed, I s'pose, why buy a pen that has been professionally restored when you can have one that doesn't need it. Doesn't need it?  A magic pen no doubt ;)

Be careful on ebay, folks

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Special Parker Find. 1930's "Toothbrush" Duofold with a Twist.

I was happy to acquire this set at the DC Pen Show this year-- a nice Parker "Toothbrush" Duofold set. Often called this by collectors as the geometric shape of the black pattern on pearlescent background evokes... well.. toothbrushes, this one-year model has a healthy collector following.

This set is scarce. It packs the uncatalogued so-called "Jeweler's" cap-band, a lined wide cap-band found amongst: this model, "Striped" Duofold and Vacumatic. This cap-band is by far most infrequently found amongst the "Toothbrush" pens.

While it is in decent condition, this slender set has a bit more ambering to the pale gray celluloid than is shown in the image. But, the trim is very clean, not easy to find on pens with chrome trim, and of added benefit when found on an uncommon variant such as this.

I doubt I've seen or handled more than ten total wide-band Toothbrush Duofolds amongst all four colors, both sizes, and both modes. And, I hunt with great intensity. This one will stay with me for a bit :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sheaffer Snorkel: The High Cachet Colors

Strange how I "fell into" Snorkeldom.

During my first seven years pen collecting I had purchased with intent perhaps only three or four of this venerable vintage pen from the 1950's, one which went head to head with the vaunted Parker "51", and which perhaps outsold that great pen, according to some.

Aside from the occasional basic pen mixed into some pen collections I'd purchased, I had not sought out the Snork. Then, in fairly short order I was presented with a couple terrific Snork-focused collections. What could I do... I bought them. I found particularly charming a bunch of the "tough" colors mixed into the collections. Six Snorkel colors are far harder to come by than the others, and while the six in turn can be stratified, all carry far more cachet than the five common colors and than the two intermediate colors.

During the subsequent three years I have more aggressively hunted Snorks. I've come to appreciate the series. I do not hunt them with completist goals, but do have ten or so gems in my personal collection, and dozens on the website.

The photo above probably is the only shot out there to show all six of the "tough" colors together, especially with all having matching plastic caps, which are a bit more desirable in this color range than are metal caps, even if the metal capped pens did cost more when originally sold. A scarce Demonstrator makes for seven pens in the image.

Another Topic from Bits/Buckets: Anomalous Vacumatics

Jose Dalisay said...

and can we have a full list of all the uncommon, offbeat, "anomalous" and "uncatalogued" vacs to keep an eye out for--eg, the senior, the overmax and reverse overmax, the three-banded single-jewel, the long canadian major, etc. etc.? thanks!

Well... maybe... I s'pose it is possible. ;)

On other hand, the material covers major chapters and each anomaly asks for exploration. This could get... wordy. And, as you suggest, even some catalogued models are not so common and are of high cachet.

Where would we start? Listing regular models of interest? ID'ing anomalies relative to their closest documented sibs?

I s'pose I could just toss up a pic of a pen that probably meets your criteria. Like the one at top of this post :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

A fresh 1930's Sheaffer Balance set for my collection

As many know, the second most prevalent series in my pen collection- following Parker Vacumatic- is Sheaffer Balance. I have particular fondness for scarce, anomalous and uncatalogued models.

The double cap-band pens are quite uncommon and tend to be found in relatively early colors, though exceptions exist.

I've had oversized pens with this cap for some time in black and in early Marine Green (mottled). Finally completed the early color range in this size by adding the double-band Black/Pearl. The pen is a bit rough, though the pencil is quite nice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From the BITS/Buckets: Collectability of big Vacs

(another) David said...

Re collecting Vacs: What is the generally accepted order of collectability of the big vacs (OS, maxima, major) ie what's the cachet order? And then the same question re colors?
I don't know that I can (or wish to) in this small space attempt a comprehensive answer. One could write a long chapter/section on this topic. Still- I will toss out a few ideas. If anyone cares to comment, we can expand on in the comments section.

First, I am impressed and pleased to see people citing cachet, not just price or rarity. This indicates awareness that desirability or allure of any given pen variant perhaps overlaps but also transcends simple prevalence or dollar value.

Second, keeping in mind the usual bromide that one can like/collect whatever he darn well wishes, still there are general tenets of pendom that give some overall structure to views of cachet and value. Rarity adds some cachet. Generally, large model pens carry more demand than medium or small (hmmm...). Scarce and/or appealing colors rate more "oomph" than does basic black. Excellent condition brings more value than does poor. Still, caveats abound. Some scarce pens are appreciated by those who know, but are not widely sought by the hobby. Those can well underprice far more common pens. They probably have more cachet to the cognoscenti, but not to the average collector (oh, the horror to be just an average collector LOL).

Third, if I read your question right, you largely self-answered. Bigger Vacs tend to outvalue Medium or Small. There are some uncatalogued extra-short Vacs though that have added value due to their charm, rarity... cachet (aggh, it's all mixing together!).

Fourth, for Vacs, there are different generations of pens, so we have models of a few sizes for different eras. Oversize has more value than Standard (1st Generation). Senior Maxima has more value than Major (2nd and 3rd Gen).

Crossing generations? It does get fuzzy. I find clean OS harder to find than later Sr Maxima, but Sr. Maxima appeals to many collectors for its fancier cap-band. All else equal (and often all else is not equal) I figure the OS should sell for bit more than Sr. Maxima, Standard a bit more than Major, Slender a bit more than Debutante. There are many caveats.

Fifth... colors?

Generally value ascends from Black to Silver Pearl to Golden Pearl to Emerald Pearl to Azure to Burgundy Pearl, for those years that all the colors existed (really just two years). Blue Sr. Maxima is so scarce that it tops Burgundy in value. Probably should do so as well for Major but in practice does not.

Oddly, while Burgundy today is not that prevalent (why? Another discussion there and maybe no good answers) it saw a long production run and in some models was produced for more years than were other colors.


Monday, September 7, 2009

BITS AND BUCKETS: Week of Sept 7, 2009


This thread invites direct posting of... well... whatever ya want. Pen questions in particular would be appropriate, indeed saving readers from having to email questions my way, as has been the usual way I receive info/questions/etc. I will try to turn then each post into its own thread. Each week I'll renew the Bits/Buckets, unless of course the concept proves not to be of any interest ;)

So... if you have a question about pens or the website, if you have comments or suggestions about pens or the website, if you have criticisms about the pens or the website... drop the note here.

Reviewing the Goals of this ol' VacBlog...

Well, I started this thing about 9 weeks ago to host announcements, latest news, etc. It's easier to use this blogware than to have to generate a new webpage on my website, proper, just to post announcements. I figured, too, that I'd toss some info tidbits out by answering some of the daily stream of back channel questions via this front channel.

Most websites have a "latest news" page. This just seemed an easy way to approach it.

The "back channel questions" thing seems to be playing a bigger role, perhaps because I've been way too swamped with "real life" to post as many announcements as I'd like, or even to finish the next major sales updates for the website. I do have some nice stock in the pipeline, no worries. Might even do another "51 Insanity" this winter.

Believe it or not, it generally is easier to answer specific pen questions than to come up with original ideas.

I'm amazed that people have signed up to follow the blog, beyond just peeking in here and there. I do appreciate it.

I suspect the next step is to offer a weekly "open thread" realizing of course that "open" is bit of a limited concept as the site is moderated. It won't be real time. But, a weekly note to invite questions can provide fodder for subsequent posts... if anyone bothers to post anything that is ;)

Perhaps I'll try that for couple weeks, just on a lark.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Well, it's been more than a year since I bothered with Ebay. I've sold pens there going back to about 2000, but really, it's more fun and easier to deal with my own website, which of course is

However, I figured it was time to see if good ol' ebay still has some activity left in it. Too, as I've been playing with some new website layouts- aiming for elegance with simplicity (yah, right), it seemed Ebay would be a good place to try out the layout.

So... I put up a few nice pens Sept 6. Mint Esties, Mint Snorks in rare color or with great nib, and a Mint Vacumatic

Do take a look



Saturday, September 5, 2009

Vacumatic Slender Maxima Question arrives...

This email crossed my desk. I added the photo to illustrate what is discussed.

Dear David,
It was very nice to see you in DC. I have a quick question: I re-read your article about the slender maxima debate, and have recently examined some slener-max-like pens. The ones I saw all have the "correct" wide cap band as explained in your article, but all have the smaller nib as in the major. Is it necessary to have the larger nib? Is the correct nib for slender maxima the same size as that for the senior maxima? Must the correct slender maxima have a slightly wider section (compared to major) in order to host a larger nib? If the cap band + nib size are the definition of the sldender maxima, why do you need to write so much about "confusions"? All other confused modeles seem not to have the large nib -- so isn't that a simple criterion? Am I missing something?


A good range of questions. This model still then generates at least .... hmmm let us say... challenges... if not confusion for you, though given the number of non Slender Maxima pens I see offered on line AS Slender Maxima I would assert that for many it does generate confusion, which is, i guess, better than disingenuousness.

Let's go sequentially. I'll give you my best views, recognizing that pen companies tended to make things... challenging... for collectors-in-retrospect.

The ones I saw all have the "correct" wide cap band as explained in your article, but all have the smaller nib as in the major.

Yes, that no doubt raises concerns. One generally expects to find the 9-feather Max-ish nib (often with more steep cross sectional arc to accommodate the narrower gripping section of the non Senior Max section). Too, I note that by 1939 the Major had identical barrel length (and cap length) to Slender Max which was not so during earlier years. It is possible that Major barrel assemblies or even just gripping section/nib assemblies were swapped at later date for Slender Max assemblies. Can one rule out that as (or before) the Slender Maxima ceased production during 1941 that Parker "blew out" some caps with Major nibs? Well, one cannot prove the negative, but as I believe I've seen even late date Slender Max with proper nib, I have doubts. Upshot is that if the pen has the proper proportions and the key cap-band, it is- at least- "mostly there". The nib difference impacts value, but the key defining trait is the cap-band.

Is the correct nib for slender maxima the same size as that for the senior maxima?

The predecessor to Slender Max, the "Senior", had an OS nib. To my eye and at first glance, the Slender Max nib appears to be same as the OS/Senior-Max nib but wrapped more tightly (steeper arc) to fit the tighter gripping section. It has the 9 feathers on each side of arrow shaft as does Senior Max. I concede I have not weighed both types of nib or measured peak length/width to confirm nibs are identical save for the steeper arc imposed on cross section of the nibs meant for Slender Max. But, they clearly differ from Major nib (7-8 feathers, generally shorter arrow shaft promixal to breather hole).

Must the correct slender maxima have a slightly wider section (compared to major) in order to host a larger nib?

No. Indeed, the Slender Max has identical outer diameter section to that of Major and to Junior and to Streamlined Standard, etc. The inner diameter is larger, giving thinner wall, to accomodate larger feed and nib. All the sections (with some subtle style caveats related more to year of production than to model per se) can be swapped from pen to pen as the threads for the section to barrel are identical in all the pens that some confuse for Slender Maxima.

If the cap band + nib size are the definition of the sldender maxima, why do you need to write so much about "confusions"?

Yet, here we are, many sentences into discussion about what constitutes proper findings for Slender Maxima :)

All other confused models seem not to have the large nib -- so isn't that a simple criterion?

Pens grow confused, collectors grow confused, the literature is limited...

But, yes, barring the possibility of late pens lacking the "proper" nib, even from factory (which I doubt, but I like to keep open mind), one would expect that the two defining criteria- even if some of that definition is done in retrospect- would be enough. The... challenge... comes from the fact that when Slender Max was released, it was the only pen of its size, but over the years a number of other pens were released of the same cap/barrel size: Streamlined Standard, 2nd (and early 3rd) Generation Major- for awhile-, Canadian Juniors, Jeweler's Band pens, etc. Many collectors took to labelling any pen of this size with the Slender Maxima name. The confusion perhaps then is less about the pens than about the way many collectors have treated the name. This is not uncommon in pendom.

Am I missing something?

You seem to have sound handle on it. I leave it as follows. To call a pen a proper Slender Max, it should have Slender Maxima proportions, double jewel status, proper nib, proper cap-band (four criteria). Again, a Slender Max cap will fit several other models' barrels, some of which have and some of which lack proper barrel proportion and all of which will lack Slender Max nib. Major- far more common than Slender Max- changed size over the years, sometimes as long as Slender Max, other times not. Barrel swaps with Major would be a concern. It is possible to see how confusion arises.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mini Update Online Sept 2, 2009 Sheaffer Connaisseur.


While I am of course hard at work on the next 50-pen (or so) sales update for vintage pens (have some NICE stuff this time), i will take advantage of the delay in listing that bunch to offer a tray of mint out-of-production Sheaffer (and Levenger-branded) Connaisseur. Big fountain pens mostly in transparent plastic, most from this bunch are fitted with "special" nibs: broad, oblique, stub, etc.

You can find these by hitting the sales link in this blog's sidebar.

As always, email is

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Question Regarding Duofold Date Code, Country of Manufacture, etc...

The following question arrived in my emailbox today...


I was going thru your website' which I found were interesting. I am a collector of pens & have a small collection. The purpose of my writing to is particularly regarding a pen listed under 'Ref No. 1438

'PARKER STREAMLINED DUOFOLD JUNIOR 1934 CANADA'. As per the image the barrel shows number 44 after "Made In Canada" if I am not wrong. I have a similar Parker Duofold Orange colour, Made In USA which also mentions the same number 44 on the barrel as well as the nib. This pen belongs to my grandfather but cannot date the actual year.

The query was did Parker manufactured Duofold pens with similar model numbers in different countries and particularly why a particular number on the barrel where none of the other models are without any model numbers? Kindly advice. Awaiting your reply

This question range probes a couple core issues of 1930's-40's Parkers, including Duofold, Vacumatic, "51", Challenger Family, Parkette Family and more.

Parker of course did manufacture pens in the USA and in Canada, with great similarity but still with some differences, and did manufacture pens abroad, in England. In many cases, England was served by Canadian production.

The "44" is not a model number, so whether or not Parker made similar pen models/variants in different countries (which it did), that number is not the key reference.

The "44" is a date code. It is believed to indicate the time of production (or perhaps of issuance in the case of parts stock) of barrel and of nib. From appearance in third quarter of 1934 through mid 1938, the two digits of the date code represented, respectively, "quarter" and "year". Thus a "44" indicates fourth quarter production 1934. Your pen was produced then. Often there is some variation on date code between barrel and nib, often a couple quarters. The date code system was modified in 1938 to a one-digit code with adjacent dots and was modified again to a different 2-digit system in 1950.

You asked why none of your other models (you mean actual pens you've seen?) are without "model" numbers. Noting again that these codes are not model numbers, it is likely that your other pens lack them because they were manufactured before the date codes were instituted in-- again-- mid-late 1934.

Streamlined Duofold ceased regular production (we believe) in 1935 and is last shown in USA catalogues in 1934. A 1934-dated Duofold is very late production. Most Duofolds were produced before late 1934 and thus have no date codes whatsoever.