An unexpected Conversation!
A week ago I attended a meeting of our local pen club. We all brought a variety of pens and swapped stories about finding, restoring and collecting vintage fountain pens. It was a fun meeting and I enjoy sharing my passion with like minded people. Last night, my wife and I had dinner at a cozy restaurant in Salem, MA. The young waiter approached and after a brief exchange of pleasantries he asked, “Is that a Pelikan M200 and an Esterbrook J series in your pocket?” I broke out in a wide grin and a conversation about pens began. He was carrying, and taking orders with, a beautiful Delta Dolcevita. Clearly he was invigorated by the conversation and told me he wanted to add to his pen collection. We placed our order and no sooner had he walked away when the woman at the next table leaned over and said, “I couldn’t help over hearing your conversation.” She told us she was an architect and was always looking for pens. Furthermore, she told us her niece liked writing with fountain pens. It was pleasant and an unexpected surprise to have these conversations in a restaurant while eating delicious Italian food. I expect to have these conversations with my fellow pen aficionados at pen shows and club meetings. It delights me to realize that there is a whole world out there of pen lovers just like me who appreciate fine writing instruments. Based on this experience I can truly appreciate the attraction of pen collecting and how it permeates all walks of life. This taught me to be on the look out for pen people in places other than pens shows and meetings. Who knows – your next conversation about pens might be in the supermarket, an airport or a gas station!
Some years ago when someone graduated from college or got a promotion at work, a wonderful gift to celebrate those occasions was a fountain pen and pencil set. In the 1930s it might have been a Parker Vacumatic set, in the 1940s a Waterman Taperite set and in the 1950s it might have been a Sheaffer Snorkel set. Fast forward to the 1970s and 1980s and it was probably a Cross ballpoint pen and pencil set. While much is written about the pens, the pencils are sometimes forgotten. That’s too bad because the vintage pencils are just as decorative and interesting as their counterparts. There are practical uses for those pencils as well. Draftsmen, architects and mathematicians use pencils routinely. To an artist a pencil is an invaluable tool. There are some mechanical pencils which are collectible on their own such as the Norma multi color pencil. Norma was in business from the 1930s to the 1960s (as far as I can tell) in New York City and I am lucky to have one of their models which has 4 different color leads. If you would like more info on the Norma pencil please visit Roger Russell’s Norma Pencil Page at
Another great source of information is Jonathan A. Veley and his website at
I bought a copy of one of his books titled, The Catalogue of American Mechanical Pencils which is an excellent resource. With regards to modern mechanical pencils, go into any pen shop, stationery store or even the big box stationary stores and you will find mechanical pencils galore. Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t end the post by saying I would welcome a mechanical pencil or a pen and pencil set as a gift any day!
Neil and Vicky Lander are happy to share their thoughts and news here!