We are excited to announce that the Commonwealth Pen Show has been expanded to 2 days! We will be at the Holiday Inn Bunker Hill located at 30 Washington Street in Somerville, MA on Saturday and Sunday, Sept 17-18, Show hours are 10-5:30 on Saturday and 9-3 on Sunday. Admission is $10 for one day, $15 for both days. Please come by our table and say hello!!
We are making progress getting thru the Covid-19 pandemic as more of us are now fully vaccinated. With the onset of the warm weather we hope to resume “normal” activities. One of those activities is an in-person pen show. We are debating what to do about our local show and I have mixed feelings. On the one hand we cancelled last years show so it would be great to hold the show this year. On the other hand, we face some serious challenges. Do we allow a lot of people to crowd into a small space? And what about people handling pens? There is the financial aspect, i.e. we need so many attendees to recover the cost of putting on the show. What about in person pen club meetings? Could we resume meeting, perhaps outside? There are difficult decisions to be made.
Some good things are happening. The pen club has been meeting virtually in smaller groups on a somewhat regular basis. This has allowed us to stay in touch beyond email and/or text. For the first time in a very long time I met a friend for coffee last week. As we spread out pens across the table a couple walked by and said, “Beautiful, we haven’t seen pens like those in years!” A ray of hope during a very challenging time.
As we approach the end of a very challenging year, it is a good time to reflect on the good and bad during the last 12 months. I attended 1 meeting of our local pen club in mid-February and then came the lockdown. A few of us have been meeting via Zoom every few weeks albeit in smaller groups. 1 of the club members lives close by and we met for coffee outdoors during the summer. Of course, we brought pens with us to discuss and swap. Once the number of cases rose in the fall we went back to Zoom. In a way we’ve had more contact during 2020 than we do with our regularly scheduled meetings in past years. Our local pen show was cancelled, however, in speaking with our organizer, we may offer new resources to club members for things like pen repair. While it has been a year of challenges, it has been a year of adaptation and different opportunities for productive contact. Happy holidays to all and best wishes for the new year!
I recently heard that Parker is reissuing the iconic “51” sometime early in 2021. Immediately the conversation began regarding the filling mechanism, the cap and the clip. This got me thinking about where we’ve come from with the “51”. It went on sale to the public in 1941 and was a departure from the other fountain pens available at that time with its hooded nib and sleek design. The original “51” used the vacumatic filling system and the clip of the Parker Vacumatic, a popular pen in its own right. By the late 1940s an aerometric filling system was introduced along with the “feather” clip. Both the filling systems and clips went thru a number of changes over the years. Along the way the “51” was manufactured in North America, South America, the UK and France. Production ended in 1978. Demi models, desk sets, and matching pencils were produced which is why they are so collectible. In 2002 Parker issued a “51” with an Empire cap with a clip reminiscent of the early clips. The filling mechanism in this pen is a cartridge/converter. I blogged about the “51” a few years ago and touched on collecting “51”s with the variety of colors and cap designs. What does the future hold? While there has been some speculation, we will have to be patient and as Parker gets closer to the release date we will know more. For now, there are plenty of vintage “51”s available via eBay, Etsy and so forth. A great source of information is a book titled, “Parker 51” by David and Mark Shepherd. In the first photo which follows there is a vacumatic “51” on the left, an aerometric model in the middle and the 2002 model on the right. The second photo is what the new pen will look like.
Jinhao fountain pens from China are very popular and when I saw this one, I had to buy one because it resembles a vintage Parker Duofold “Big Red”.
I ordered a Jinhao Century 100 acrylic fountain pen in “reddish brown” via eBay. The total for the pen and tax (free shipping!) was $15.94 USD, a very nice price point.
I placed the order on June 19th, and it arrived on July 10th – not bad for a shipment from China. The pen arrived in simple packaging which is fine for me because once I take the pen out of the packaging it is either put away or thrown out. It measures 5 7/16 inches capped and it feels like an expensive pen. It came with a converter which I like because I prefer using bottled ink. The gold platted stainless steel nib is a medium and it is a very smooth writer. I have been writing with it for about 2 weeks and it is a pleasure to write with. For comparison I put it side by side with my vintage Parker Duofold “Big Red” and while there are some obvious differences, it is easy to see why this pen is so popular in this color.
In summary, this is a comfortable, smooth writing pen. You can’t beat the price point and they come in a variety of other colors. I give the Jinhao Century 100 acrylic fountain pen a thumbs upl
Kaweco fountain pens are very popular and I thought it was time to try one.
I ordered a Kaweco sport fountain pen in green and a package of 6 cartridges via Amazon. The total for the pen and the cartridges was $27.22 USD, a nice price point.
The pen arrived in simple packaging. It measures 4 1/8 inches capped and 5 ¼ inches with the cap posted. Once the cap is posted it fits my hand nicely. I’ve had the pen for a month, and it is very comfortable writing with it. (For comparison I put it next to a Parker Duofold Juniorette.) The pen came with a cartridge which appears to be the equivalent of a short international cartridge which are easy to obtain. I doubt the pen could be fitted with a converter; however, I have not investigated that. If anyone knows, please respond and let readers know. The gold color stainless steel nib is a medium and it writes smoothly. Although it doesn’t have a clip the multifaceted cap prevents it from rolling off a desk or table.
In summary, this is a comfortable, smooth writing pen. You can’t beat the price point and they come in a variety of colors. I give the Kaweco Sport fountain pen a thumbs upl
I want to start by wishing everyone well during this trying time. While we are all heeding the warnings regarding washing our hands, social distancing and staying at home as much as possible, we can take some time to indulge in our hobby. There are many fun pen related things to do:
1. Catalogue your pens – It’s good to know what you have, and you may uncover some pens that you forgot you had. Some keep their pen records in a notebook, others use an electronic database – use whatever works for you.
2. Clean and test your pens – I periodically go thru and flush my pens with water. This prevents the buildup of old ink, and you can test the filling mechanism at the same time.
3. Write letters – Since we cannot visit friends and family, sending a letter is a great way to stay in touch. Take the opportunity to write letters with some of the pens you haven’t used in a while and perhaps try new ink with a bold color.
4. Start a journal – Record your experiences, thoughts or perhaps make it a diary. It will be interesting to look back a year from now to read what we went thru during this time.
5. Hold a virtual pen meeting – Since we cannot attend our local pen meetings in person, arrange a virtual pen meeting. It’s a great way to stay in touch and share information.
6. Join on-line pen groups – There are many on-line pen groups on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. There is a lot of information shared in these groups and you can make new pen friends on-line.
Have no doubt, we will get through this crisis. In the meantime, we can enjoy our hobby and expand our horizons.
Once you start collecting pens of any vintage you will be face with storing them when not in use. Given that we spend our hard-earned money on these pens we want to store them in such a way that they are protected from potential damage. How to store our treasures? One way would be to keep them in their original boxes. That works for new pens, however, vintage pens and gently used modern pens often do not come with a box other than what they were shipped in when purchased. I have seen some beautiful wooden boxes built especially for storage of pens. Some have glass so you can easily see what’s inside. I have seen old wooden cases with drawers which were used to store maps or prints fitted with slotted pen trays. I have such a piece of furniture fitted with slotted pen trays I purchased from Gary Lehrer at gopens.com. I used Elmer’s glue to secure them into the drawers. I have pens organized by manufacturer such as Parker, Sheaffer’s and so forth. In this way if I want to write with a Parker 51 I go to the third drawer from the top, for example. Regardless of how you store your pens be sure to flush thoroughly with water if you plan on putting a pen away for an extended period.
Happy Holidays and Happy Collecting!
More and more I speak with people who write in a journal daily. I recently spoke with someone who writes in journal as part of a college course she is taking. One of the people in our local pen club writes in a journal daily and uses a variety of pens each filled with a different color of ink. I take a journal with me when I travel to record my experiences. This goes for both business travel and vacations. Recently I needed surgery and spent 4 days in the hospital. I started a journal to keep a record of my experiences and have continued to do so while I am at home recovering. I have a very nice journal with fountain pen friendly paper that someone gave me to try out to record my experiences. Some people use leather bound books and some people use ordinary notebooks. Does anyone else out there write in a journal on a regular basis? If so, what are you using for the journal? I would love to know!
I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone by. Living in the northeast portion of the US my entire life, I am still amazed at how long winter lasts while summer flies by. On a positive note I had the good fortune to return to China, visiting Shanghai and Beijing. Fountain pens and ink are plentiful in both cities. You can find them in book stores and art supply stores. I did buy several pens & some interesting bottles of ink which I will be selling at The Commonwealth Pen Show on Sunday, September 15th. This is the sixth year in a row that we are holding the show at the Holiday Inn in Somerville, MA located at 30 Washington Street. Hope to see you there! Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the summer 😊.
Neil and Vicky Lander are happy to share their thoughts and news here!