As the year draws to a close and I decided to break my rule of leaving my pens inked until I wrote them dry. I’ve stuck to this rule all year, just a couple of exceptions for problematic fountain pens. Thursday evening I flushed out five pens and inked up over twice as many, bringing the total to 17 inked fountain pens. I’ll be posting a complete rundown, as soon as I can get some pictures.
My fountain pen usage was low to non-existent these past two weeks. I wrote a few lists, a few notes, not much more. I did use them more this Friday & Saturday, mainly the newly inked pens.
I’m breaking the every-other-week cadence of these Trail Log posts since it’s unlikely that I’ll get a post out next Sunday.
Another slow fountain pen week. I did manage to do some writing on a couple nights, simply to use my fountain pens.
It’s more of a tangent, but most of my fountain pen work was redoing my fountain pen records. I finally reached the limits of my frustration with Synology Note Station, which I have been using for years. It was that time investment, and the lack of an easy migration that kept me using it. I had stopped using it for anything other than fountain pens. I’m moving them to DevonThink. It’s going quicker than expected, thanks to a Keyboard Maestro macro or two.
One thing that the exercise made apparent was how long it’s been since I used many of my pens. The records were sorted by most recently inked, and it didn’t take long to reach fountain pens that haven’t been inked all year. It’s time these pens found a home where they’ll be used. So, of the 100 pens I’ve entered so far, I’ve marked over half to be sold or given away. My impulse is to start now, while it’s top of mind. But, it will probably be at the beginning of the year.
The Esterbrook Estie is my latest fountain pen acquisition. This Estie, along with a couple of TWSBI Go fountain pens, are my only pen purchases of the year. So, expectations are high. I also go the optional $40 MV adapter which allows the use of vintage Esterbrook nibs with the pen. For me, the MV adapter was the sole reason to get the pen. This made it a fountain pen with a street price of nearly $200.
What I Got
I bought the regular size Esterbrook Estie with the tortoise acrylic, palladium trim, and a fine steel nib. The pen comes with a standard Schmidt converter already in the barrel. It takes standard international cartridges & converters. An oversized version of the pen is also available, but only with the ebony acrylic.
I also got the MV (modern to vintage) adapter, which is only available in black. Black does work with any of the acrylics, but it would have been nice to have matching adapters. At $40 the adapter seems a bit expensive, so offering a variety of colors would probably be cost prohibitive.
The MV adapter comes in a cloth pouch that includes a converter that fits the adapter. The included international converter is a tad too long to screw the barrel and section together. It also seemed a little loose, so I’d recommend only using the converter that came with the adapter, even if you have a shorter standard international converter.
I like the classic torpedo shape of the Estie. This is probably a good time to mention that nothing about this pen reminds me of my vintage Esterbrooks. I could probably conjure a link, but I didn’t buy the pen because of nostalgia, so I’m not at all disappointed.
The acrylic has more translucence than I expected. This isn’t a good thing because the rings from drilling (or polishing) are visible inside the barrel. The solid lines around the barrel detract from the beautiful design of the acrylic. Once seen, they can’t be unseen. They’re slightly less visible once the converter is added and blocks some of the light. The other, less translucent, acrylics wouldn’t have this problem. Still, for a $200 pen, I would expect the polishing to be complete if the acrylic is translucent.
Overall, the pen made a good first impression. The incomplete polishing inside the barrel keeps it from being a great first impression.
Writing with the Estie
I decided to try the stock JoWo nib before moving on to Esterbrook nibs. I inked it up with Sheaffer red. The fine nib was a smooth writer. I left it stored nib up for over 24 hours, and it wrote immediately without any skipping. There wasn’t any skipping or hard starts from the time I inked it up to when I wrote it dry. Overall, the writing experience was delightful.
Then I switched to vintage Esterbrook nibs, using the MV adapter. My expectations were high, which probably amplified my disappointment., but it was a rough start. I picked the Esterbrook #8440 as my first nib. It fits in the adapter just fine, and I filled the converter through the nib. It failed to write, a total lack of ink flowing through the nib, even after spending over an hour nib down. The #8440 is a super fine cartography nib, so I switched to the #9550 extra fine nib. I again filled it through the nib, and there was a complete lack of ink flow. Both nibs worked fine and immediately wrote in a vintage Esterbrook J pen. Which annoyed me since I now had another pen to clean. I went up a couple nib sizes and installed a #9460 medium nib. It did take a little time, but eventually, the ink flow hit its stride after the pen spent a couple minutes nib down. If I pause and hold the pen nib up for even a few moments (~10 seconds) the line becomes very thin and requires some time nib down for the flow to return.
My uninformed guess is that the ink needs to collect between the converter and nib unit, and if it isn’t there the converter can’t get enough ink to in time. My Newton Eastman (which is customized for vintage Esterbrook nibs) is eyedropper filled and doesn’t have any flow problems (except so much flow that ink splatter inside the cap if the pen is jostled in a bag). There’s metal inside the Estie’s barrel, so eyedropper filling isn’t an option.
The Estie has a “pressure fit” cap which should prevent ink evaporation. The cap takes a little over one complete rotation to cap or uncap. The “pressure fit” aspect is noticeable when uncapping and uncapping. I haven’t used the pen long enough to judge this, but it sure seems like a tight seal. That said, I was a little annoyed by the cap, and it takes some getting used to. I often hold and fidget with, the cap in my left hand as I write and will, almost absent-mindlessly, cap the pen when I pause. I found this jarring when I did it with this cap. I did eventually become more used to it, but I still notice it, and it interrupts my thoughts. I will probably get used to it.
The clip easily slips over my shirt pocket material.
As a modern fountain pen, ignoring the MV adapter, this pen has a lot of competition at its $150 price point ($185 MSRP). If the pen appeals to you, then it would be worth getting. There’s nothing that stands out as superior about this pen. It’s a nice fountain pen, comfortable in my hand, and a good writer. I’d recommend a finish other than the tortoise acrylic unless you can inspect the quality of the interior polishing before purchasing.
Overall, I’m happy with my purchase, It will allow me to use my vintage Esterbrook nibs in a pen that’s comfortable to use.
Another slow fountain pen week for me. Considering the dearth of links below, I guess I’m not the only one. There’s still the usual product reviews, but I skip over those these days as I concentrate on using what I have and have little interest in new pens or ink. I do like reading about vintage pens which is obvious from my link selection.