Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium

Esterbrook #9460 writing sample with penNext up on my Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium Nib. The box also refers to the nib as a “Medium Manifold.” A 1959 nib chart specifically says the nib is for carbon copies. A more specific term for this nib would be “tank.”

The Osmiridium tipping (probably mostly iridium) gives it added durability, if not smoothness. Add to this the extra strength of a manifold nib intended for use with carbon copies and this nib could be used as a weapon and then be used to write a letter.

My particular nib is very smooth, one of the smoothest Esterbrooks I have. It’s almost too smooth, especially on smooth paper. I prefer a nib with at least a hint of feedback. But between the dull medium point (compared to a extra fine) and the tipping this nib glides over the paper.

I do experience some occasional skipping, especially on slick paper. It isn’t enough to be annoying, especially since I don’t use medium nibs very often. The nib tines are just slightly misaligned. It doesn’t really seem to be enough to matter but it might cause the skipping if I angle the pen just right. I hate to tinker with these vintage nibs and since I rarely use a medium nib I can live with the skipping.

The Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium is a nice nib, if you like medium nibs. I prefer extra fines and fines so it’s not a nib for me. It does put down a nice line. While these Esterbrook nibs can vary, even among the same nib number, this nib was too smooth, especially on paper that is also smooth. If you like a little feedback this may not be the nib for you.

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Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9450 Extra Firm Posting

Esterbrook #9450 top viewNext up on the Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #9450 Firm Extra FIne nib. At least that’s what it’s usually called by everone except Exterbrook (so it seems). I would consider it an accurate description of the nib. The box refers to it as a “Extra Firm Posting” nib, once with a hyphen, and once without. Both a 1955 and 1959 nib chart list the nib in the Extra Fine section and defines its use as “Posting 1–2–3”.

While I seen several definitions for a nib called “Posting”, the one that makes the most sense to me is that it’s for posting journal entries, as in accounting. The thin, consistent line would be perfect for that. I have no idea what the “1–2–3” refers to unless it also indicates accounting (as in counting). Anyone know?

Esterbrook #9450 writing sampleI was beginning to despair that many of my 9xxx series nibs wouldn’t be any better than the 1xxx or 2xxx series equivalent. These nibs were called Master DuraCrome by Esterbrook and were tipped with an alloy Esterbrook called Osmiridium. The 1xxx and 2xxx series nibs were just rolled over steel. I guess I hit a bad patch where some of my 9xxx nibs were a little rough and the earlier nibs were smoother. This #9450 is very smooth. There’s hardly any friction on smooth paper and the feedback on more fiberous paper comes from the thin nib and not the roughness in the nib.

When I took the pictures for this post I noticed the feed wasn’t aligned. It looks worse in the close-up photo, but it’s definitely misaligned. I had written with it for several problem-free days so I left it alone. The flow is consistent, without any skipping. As the nib’s name implies, it’s stiff as a nail. The nib quickly jumped into the favorite category.

The nib does well with a light touch, although it performs better with a little more pressure than I’m used to. Although it’s not so much pressure that it’s uncomfortable to use. My normal light touch resulted in a thinner, lighter line. In some cases this might be OK, but it made a weak line in my opinion.

The Esterbrook #9450 has “Esterbrook” and “9450” are engraved lengthwise along the nib. Each gets its own line.

The nib is on eBay with buy it now prices from $18 to $33.

The Esterbrook #9450 is a nice nib for those of us who like their nibs to be nails. My particular nib has held up well over the years (looked liked New Old Stock) when I got it although the box was very worn.

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Review: Sheaffer 300 Fountain Pen

Sheaffer 300 uncapped on mirrorIt’s no secret that I’m a Sheaffer fan. Although most are vintage, the Sheaffer 300 is the 31st 21st in my Sheaffer accumulation. The 300 is a modern Sheaffer at a reasonable price (about $80).

Why I Got It

I’d like to thank Rachel Goulet from Goulet Pens for sending this Sheaffer 300 along for review. While the Sheaffer 300 was one of the pens I expressed an interest in, along with a fine nib, I left the finish up to Rachel. The metallic grey with chrome trim would have been my first choice, The 300 is available in a variety of colors, some have gold trim while others have chrome trim.

What I Got

A metallic grey Sheaffer 300 with chrome trim and a fine steel nib. The pen gets just about everything right, both in looks and performance. The pen arrived in the typical Sheaffer presentation box that looks kind of classy. A converter was included along with both a black and blue cartridge.

Sheaffer 300 box and contentsThe pen has a classic shape with a slight taper to the cap and a more tapered barrel. There’s a lot of chrome trim but it complements the metallic grey so it isn’t overwhelming.

The clip design is also a classic throwback, with the same profile as my Sheaffer PFMs. Unlike the PFMs the clip is hinged, but the hinge is built into the flat top of the cap, giving it the PFM clip profile. The open end of the clip is tapered so it can easily slide over material. The clip is spring loaded and securely holds the pen in place. The cutout in the clip gives it more character than a solid piece of metal. Naturally the Sheaffer white dot is at the top of the clip. “SHEAFFERS” is engraved on the front of the chrome cap band, just below the clip.

Not only does the slip on cap look great, it snaps onto the pen with a reassuring click. It’s a clutch cap but clips solidly onto the barrel. There’s no play at all in the cap. I’ve only had the pen for a month so even though it’s been used constantly I can’t comment on the durability other than to say it looks and feels solid.

The cap also fits firmly on the other end of the pen. The end of the barrel has a chrome nub that is both decorative and functional. There’s a ridge that snaps into the inner cap to hold the posted cap securely in place. Even though I don’t post my pens it’s the little things like this that gives the feeling that Sheaffer put a lot of thought into the Sheaffer 300 pen design. The pen does feel top heavy to me, but that’s from someone who doesn’t post his pens.

The pen is a cartridge/converter using Sheaffer’s proprietary system. There’s a collar where the converter (or cartridge) fits into the feed. This gives the converter a solid feel when it’s in the pen. This is unlike the Sheaffer Intensity where I’m paranoid that a careless twist will snap off the spike that holds the converter.

The nib is my least favorite part of the pen design. It looks nice enough, but in my opinion it’s to short and stubby, at least for the pen it’s on. The looks don’t remind me of the classic Sheaffer nibs I’m fond of. So to remind me, the nib has the classic “SHEAFFERS” engraved across it with the classic elongated “S” at each end.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.5540″ (141.07 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.7470″ (120.57 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.0640″ (154.02 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.8150″ (20.69 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3445″ (8.75 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below barrel): 0.4555″ (11.56 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3970″ (10.08 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5170″ (13.13 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.5140″ (13.05 mm)
  • Weight: 1.6 oz. (44 g)
  • Weight (body only): 0.8 oz. (22 g)

Writing With The Pen

Sheaffer 300 - uncapped on standSo, the pen has classic good looks. How does it write? I was in a hurry to use the pen, so I skipped the initial flush and went immediately for the included Sheaffer black cartridge. The ink had reached the nib by the time I closed up the pen and grabbed a pad of paper.

The pen is bigger than it looks, at least I thought so,although it’s not a huge pen. It fits comfortably in my hand without posting. The section is a comfortable size for me. The step between the section and barrel is smooth so it doesn’t bother me even though my fingers rest on it.

The nib is smooth with just a hint of friction that let’s me know the nib is on the paper. I wouldn’t call it buttery smooth, but there’s nothing to complain about.

The cap does add significant weight to the pen so if you post your pens I would consider the 300 to be on the heavy side. Personally, if I posted my pens the 300 would be uncomfortably heavy for me. Without the cap posted the pen is a comfortable weight.

Even though the section is not metal (it’s plastic) it can still be slick, especially on a hot humid day like today. It’s still not as bad as a metal section, but I’m pushing for something to criticize about this pen. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I had the air conditioning on.

While it depends on the ink, the nib had no problem staying wet and ready to write after being uncapped and unused for over 10 minutes. (Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun ink). I couldn’t bring myself to let this pen sit unused for 5 days like I usually do, so I can’t say how it would do if neglected for a few days. But I never had a hard start.

The pen is comfortable even for long writing sessions. I used it as my daily driver on more than one occasion which involved writing sessions of an hour or more. The best endorsement if the Sheaffer 300 is that it was the pen I reflexively reached for when I wanted to write, and it’s the pen that I always carried with me whenever possible. I used the pen so much it jumped the review queue having originally been planned for next week.

There wasn’t any skipping or false starts. The nib is also very forgiving of the writing angle. I often contort my hand when trying to write a quick note while reaching across things on my desk and the 300 handled it fine. I’m not a fan of using nibs upside down, but this one puts down a thin but consistent thin line, and it is scratchy. It’s a steel nib so there’s no flex to it. It’s a firm, fine nib which is what I like.

Inks Used

As I mentioned, the included Sheaffer black cartridge was the first ink in the pen. Then I switched to the converter with Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun. Both inks wrote flawlessly. The black flushed easily from the pen. The Fuyu-syogun still has a few drops left so I haven’t cleaned it out yet, but I don’t expect a problem.

Wrapping Up

Sheaffer 300 - uncapped on mirrorAgain, I’d like to thank Goulet Pens for providing the pen for review. That doesn’t affect my opinion of the Sheaffer 300. Although, I am a Sheaffer fan and I have to admit that this may be effecting my opinion. I’m probably a little more positive than most people because I’m so happy to see such a nice modern Sheaffer at a reasonable price point. I love this pen!

While $80 is a little steep for a first fountain pen, the out of the box experience would be great for a first time user. If you’re looking at pens at this price point (or more) then I’d highly recommend this pen. The one caveat is if you must post your pens you may find it too top heavy.

The Sheaffer 300 is a solid keeper.

Additional Reading & Viewing

sbrebrown video review

FPN Review

My Pen Needs Ink

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9314-M Relief Medium Stub

Esterbrook #9314-M nibContinuing through my 9xxx series Esterbrook nibs I’m up to my Esterbrook #9314 Relief Medium Stub. Like other Esterbrook Relief Stubs this is a left oblique stub.

Like all 9xxx series nibs this one is tipped with an alloy Esterbrook called Osmiridium. “Esterbrook” is engraved lengthwise on the nib and “9314-M” is engraved lengthwise next to it. I prefer the lengthwise engraving over the typical engraving since it’s different. On some days I prefer the clean look of these nibs over the sunburst nibs.

My particular nib is fairly smooth but has some noticeable tooth to it, but it is smoother than the Esterbrook #2314-M nib that I have. The #2314-M is the same Relief Medium Stub but without any tipping material. Both nibs were rougher than I expected so this may not be a fair comparison. The #9314-M isn’t unpleasant to write with although I do prefer thinner nibs.

I picked up my Esterbrook #9314-M nib at last years Washington D.C. show. A search of the usual places don’t have any of these currently available for sale. Recent eBay sales completed for $28 to $36 and Anderson Pens has it listed for $30 but it’s out of stock.

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Cross ATX Quick Review

Unknown Cross Chrome fountain pen uncappedMy fourth Cross fountain pen is another one that I don’t have a recollection or record of acquiring. Even worse, I had no idea what model Cross pen this is. As luck would have it I found that this was the Cross ATX. Once I knew what pen this was I searched my email and found a shipping notice for this pen in 2006, making it my first Cross fountain pen despite me thinking the Cross Verve was my first Cross. So this ended up being a completely forgettable fountain pen. Although it must have made enough of a good impression to convince me to later buy the Cross Verve.

The pen has a medium steel nib that’s very smooth. A look through a loupe shows perfectly aligned nib tines. It’s got a pull off cap that fits securely. The nib seems to have a smaller sweet spot than my other medium nibs, As I wrote I would sometimes get skipping if I turned the nib while writing. The skipping was always because I turned the angle of the nib, not because of any actual flow problems.

The pen cap posts deeply and securely. The inner cap grips the barrel and hold the cap firmly in place. Since it posts deeply it doesn’t add much to the length of the pen. The pen still feels well balanced when posted, but that is from someone who doesn’t post his pens.

The chrome (metal) section is a problem for me, especially today when it’s 90º here. It does give the pen a nice sleek look. When I uncapped the pen for the first time I thought the pen grew because the section makes the pen look longer.

The clip presses firmly against the pen. This makes it hard to clip into my pockets, but once there it stays firmly in place. Cross’s name is engraved vertically at the top of the clip. “CROSS” is also engraved around the back of the cap.

The “quick” in this quick review means I only used the pen for a day or so. I used a black Cross ink cartridge since Cross uses a proprietary filling system and I want to use these up. The Cross ATX has a lot of good points, the top one being the nib. But it has several points I don’t like, the top (or bottom?) one being the metal section which is also on the thin side, at least for me. I don’t find the pen comfortable to write with for more than a page. What I don’t like doesn’t really make this a bad pen. It is what it is, and others may like a metal section and not find the pen uncomfortable.

The only problem I had was a hard start after letting the pen sit unused nib up for a week. I let it sit nib down for about 5 minutes and is was fine without needing to force the ink.

I’ve no idea how much this Cross Chrome pen cost back in 2006. It’s currently on Amazon for $60. I cautiously consider the pen a fair value at that price, if you like the chrome look and chrome section. I’m cautious because I can’t believe Cross can consistently repeat the nib quality in a sub $60 pen. But it does seem solidly built. According to the Cross website a converter is not included with the pen anymore so calculate a few extra bucks for that ($5.25 direct from Cross). The parts have a solid fit and there’s no rattling when I write. Despite this pen being several years old that doesn’t prove durability since it wasn’t used until recently.

The metal section, along with it being slightly too slim for me, means the Cross ATX isn’t a keeper for me.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4910″ (139.47 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.0260″ (127.66 mm)
  • Length Posted: 5.5870″ (144.44 mm)
  • Section Length: 1.160″ (29.47 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3165″ (8.04 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below barrel): 0.4100″ (10.41 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3850″ (9.77 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.4865″ (12.36 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4865″ (12.36 mm)
  • Weight:  0.8 oz (24 g)
  • Weight (body only):  0.6 oz (16 g)

Additional Reading/Viewing

On FPN

Stephen Brown’s Video Review

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