“First” Fountain Pens

The theme for our FIRST meeting of the New Year was… your “first” fountain pen (FP).  This could mean the very “first” FP you owned (however acquired), the “first” FP you purchased as an adult, or it could mean the “first” FP you chose as a collector, after becoming “hooked” on this hobby.  The notion of “first” in “first” FP was limited only by our small brains.

One of our most distinguished members wrote the following about his “first” FP:

I still have it and it is still one of my most trusty workhorses.  No sequestering it away in a glass case, it is usually stabled in my shirt pocket next to my heart.  In the same fashion as many an infantryman (so I have read) has had his life saved by a musket embedded in his trusty bible, I would expect a bullet aimed at my heart to be deflected by my loyal Sheaffer.

No matter that it has long since destroyed its cap (I have it carefully stored so that when technology advances sufficiently I or a descendent will restore it), I fitted it out with a beautiful classic black one, that fits perfectly.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it looks rather more aristocratic than the original.
My Uncle Phil gave it to me when I started high school and I have been training it ever since.  It has learned to respond to my every touch in a way that can only be achieved over a lifetime.  I would guess that if all I ever wrote with this pen was stretched out in a continuous line it would reach from here to the sun!  It is too late for me to be ever able to train another although I do continue to explore vintage pens in the (probably vain) hope that some literate connoisseur may have had a similar relationship resulting in a perfectly molded writing instrument.

I will bring it to the next meeting of the LPC and if you swear to treat it with appropriate tenderness and respect I may even let you write a couple of words.

I don’t think you will find it too hard to pick out this “hybrid” Sheaffer in the picture that follows below!

As for me, I brought three “first” FPs to our meeting.  My very “first” FP, a tortoise Waterman Laureat that I purchased to sign my name on my firm’s correspondence (I used Waterman Florida Blue ink, of course!).  Next, I brought the “first” FP that I purchased online, from Levenger, a beautiful blue Visconti Pericles.  Both the Laureat and Pericles are pictured below.  Last, I brought the “first” vintage FP that I purchased, under the direction of a certain LPC member – a red Parker Duofold Streamline Senior.

Here is a picture of the “first” FPs that were shared at our meeting on January 2, 2010.  From left to right, they are as follows:

  1. Parker 51 Special – the “first” FP given by a daughter to her father (very Special indeed!),
  2. Uncle Phil’s Sheaffer – as described above,
  3. Parker Slimfold – the “first” (and only) FP used by a member’s mother,
  4. Parker 75,
  5. Esterbrook,
  6. Sheaffer Balance in carmine red,
  7. Sheaffer Snorkel,
  8. Parker Duofold Jr.,
  9. Waterman Laureat – as described above, and
  10. Visconti Pericles – as described above.

Let us know about your “first” FP!

Striped Duofolds

The Duofold was retired in 1932 (while it was removed from the Parker catalog, American production continued until 1937) and reintroduced in 1939 as the Geometric Duofold (aka the “Toothbrush” because of the black patten).  The Geometric was quickly replaced in 1940 by the Striped Duofold, which was eventually discontinued in 1948.  The Striped Duofolds were manufactured using a material that Parker called Laidtone in four colours – blue (blue, silver and black), maroon (pink, silver and black), green (green, brown and black) and black – and eight models (Button filler – Dufold and Lady Duofold, Vacumatic filler – Junior, Sub-Debutante, Major, Debutante, Senior and Ingenue).  Black was not available in all models, e.g., Vacumatic – Major, Debutante, Senior and Ingenue.

I was talking to another pen collector a week or so ago about my set of three striped  Senior Duofolds.  I have a set of three Seniors (Blue, Maroon and Green).  The Seniors can be identified by the Blue Diamond on their clips.

Striped Senior Duofolds owned by MAW
Striped Senior Duofolds owned by MAW

When I mentioned that I owned a complete set of three Striped Duofolds, the other collector told me that there was a fourth colour (the black one) and thus, my set was not a complete one.  I had never heard this before, so the completist ( a collector who attempts to collect an example of every item in a particular field) in me began to hyperventilate.  The anxiety subsided (eventually) and I started researching the matter, beginning with the Parker Duofold book by Shepherd and Zazove.  While the book mentioned black as one of the colours, it did not specify whether it was used in all of the models.  A few searches on Google were not helpful so I turned to the smart people on the Fountain Pen Network, where I posted my picture and asked for help.  David Isaacson of Vacumania.com came to the rescue and provided me with the information concerning the models that used black.  Phew, my Senior set is complete!

Of course, there had to be a bit of a twist as David mentioned that a blue diamond black Duofold does exist – a rather scarce high line desk pen was made in black.  Now, where can that one be?  If you have any information concerning this pen, please send me a note.