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Pen Show Calendar

Updated as of May 20, 2024!


Platinum Clear Fountain Pen c. 1952-1955

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This c. 1952-1955 Platinum squeeze filler fountain pen has a clear plastic cap and barrel and a price band, indicating it was a production pen, not a sales demonstrator. The paper band shows a price of 550 yen, about $5.00 in today’s dollars. It reads "Gold plated Platinum pen" over "Platinum" over ¥550. This 4 7/8 inch long model would date from at least 1951 when nibs were marked with the Japanese Industrial Standards mark. The clip is stamped R14 at the top, indicating 14 karat rolled gold, above the name PLATINUM. The gold plated steel nib is stamped PLATINUM over 10 YEAR over IRIDIUM over the JIS symbol. The JIS number is unreadable in the section. This arrow clip style, with PLATINUM stamped down the top, is seen on pens dated as early as 1950. The cap and nib section are showing a lot of crazing, unfortunately.
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Yotubishi Kawari-nuri Sakura (Cherry) Bark Pattern c. 1955-1959

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This is a c. 1955-1959 Yotsubishi fountain pen decorated with a Kawari-nuri technique sakura (cherry) bark pattern. The free form artwork recreates the pattern using contrasting yellow/gold elements in the red urushi lacquer base. It’s 5 1/4 inches long with gold filled trim and uses a squeeze type filler, possibly aerometric (which would require a feed tube), that dates the pen to the 1950s, following the lead of the filler design in the Parker 51 Aerometric. The gold nib is stamped WARRANTED over 14K over the JIS mark over 3253 over 4.
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Criterion Fountain Pen c. 1923-1926

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This is a Criterion machine engraved gold plated lever fill pen and pencil set c. 1923-1926. The engraving pattern is repeating panels of lines and boxes running the length of the cap and barrel. The clip on the pen is an interesting design where the clip appears to have three parts: The flat, ball ended clip, the part that crimps onto the cap, and a wide band that appears to hold the two pieces together. The clip face and the band are stamped CRITERION down the face. The lever is cleverly stamped FILLER, in case the user just might be confused as to what it's for, making those the only two markings on either writing instrument. The nib is stamped WARRANTED over 14K, a nice gold nib on an obviously inexpensively made pen. It’s about 5 1/8" long capped, and the pencil is almost the same length.
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Yotubishi Raden Tanzaku Decorated Pen c. 1957

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This is a c. 1957 Yotsubishi ink shut-off eyedropper fountain pen decorated using a tanzaku style Raden mother-of-pearl shell inlay technique on red urushi lacquer done in two panels, one on the cap and one on the barrel. The pen was featured in the winter 2006 Pennant article “Collecting Japanese Pens” by Stan Klemanowicz. It was made by Ishi-Shoten Yotsubishi (literally yotu = four, bisi = diamond), a company from Osaka that made highly collectible decorated pens, but according to the article, sourced nibs and hardware from other pen companies. The four diamond logo can be seen at the top of the clip. The nib on this example is stamped WARRANTED over 585 over 14 KARAT over PEN over IRIDOSUMIN over the JIS mark flanked by 4 and 0.
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A Parker 51 Fantasy Trip - Part 2:
Sergio Kullock Engraved Sterling Silver c. 1990s

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When I pulled this pen out of the box, I was immediately struck by the cool touch of the sterling silver, combined with the sharp edges of the deep engraving. The piece is heavy and cool, like a Flighter, and warms up in the hand the same way, but no Flighter has the feel of this pen! This piece was made by Sergio Kullock, and is hallmarked "STERLING SILVER" and "SK" on the back of the cap. The Parker name is engraved on the cap front, as on the Parker 51 Aero-metric Signet all gold-filled pen. I've seen three examples of this engraved sterling silver pen, one of which had a chrome plated clip.
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Yotubishi (Attributed) Bamboo Look Pen c. 1955-57

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This is a Yotubishi black hard rubber fountain pen with a design carved and then lacquered resembling a shakuhachi 尺八 (Japanese bamboo flute), c. 1955-1957. The Ishi-Shoten Yotsubishi pen company consistently marked their pens on the clip top or cap band with the company’s four diamond logo. In some cases, the clip may be stamped YOTUBISI. Those maker's marks are absent from this example. A visually identical pen is shown on a page from the 1957 Ishi-Shoten Catalog, appearing on page 113 of Fountain Pens of Japan. The caption says “Chikoku (bamboo look), lacquered hard rubber,” though a literal meaning for chikoku 遅刻 may be slow carving.
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Yotubishi Shibayama Style Raden Decorated Pen c. 1957

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This is a c. 1957 Yotsubishi ink shut-off eyedropper fountain pen decorated using a Shibayama style Raden mother-of-pearl shell inlay technique on red urushi lacquer. The pen was featured in the winter 2006 Pennant article “Collecting Japanese Pens” by Stan Klemanowicz. The pen was made by Ishi-Shoten Yotsubishi (literally yotu = four, bisi = diamond), a company from Osaka that made highly collectible decorated pens, but according to the article, sourced nibs and hardware from other pen companies. The four diamond logo can be seen on the top of the clip and on the cap band. The nib on this example is made by Platinum and is stamped PLATINUM over 14K. GOLD over 30 YEAR over 3 over PEN. The nib is likely a replacement.
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An Unbranded Peony Engraved Silver Pen c. 1923-1929

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This is a c. 1923-1929 silver eyedropper fountain pen with hand engraved double peony (botan 牡丹) panels. The base of the cap and the barrel are both marked SILVER. The look of the pen is obviously inspired by the Parker Jack Knife Safety with the same basic cap and barrel shape, similar washer clip, and similar hard rubber cap top and barrel end. The clip is stamped POCKET CLIP on the face and 18K for 18 karat gold plate at the top. The cap band is stamped K14 for 14 karat gold plate. The gold nib is stamped WARRANTED over 14K over RT in a hexagon over 9. It’s 5 1/16 inches long capped. It's an eyedropper filler with an ink shut off valve. The hard rubber barrel end cap is stamped with three patent numbers, 64039, 67423, and 126473.
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An Unbranded Peony Engraved Silver Pen c. 1915

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This is a c. 1915 sterling silver covered hard rubber eyedropper fountain pen with a hand engraved peony (botan 牡丹) design. The base of the cap and the barrel are hallmarked SILVER. The clip is a slip over type made of 18 karat rolled gold plate, marked RK18. The clip is similar to a Waterman design, and may be copied from it. The nib is a 14 karat gold semi flex stamped WARRANTED over 14K over GOLD PEN over IRI. NIBS. The nib stamping is typical of early Japanese gold nibs, dating it earlier than 1937. It may be the original nib, though nibs could be changed on pens over their life. The pen is a standard eyedropper type that is filled by removing the nib section and dripping ink into the barrel. It’s 5 5/8 inches long capped.
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Maruzen Athena Pens with Sheaffer Triumph Style Nibs c. 1950-1952

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These Maruzen pens were the first Japanese pens I have seen with a direct copy of a Sheaffer Triumph nib, but they were not alone. There are Navy brand and several unbranded pens with similar conical nibs. These post World War II Athena pens are examples of Maruzen’s return to making quality pens. One line is clearly inspired by mid 1940s Sheaffer Triumph fountain pens to the degree that they have a similar conical nib, ribbed nib section, and balance shape. They look like Japanese Sheaffer pens in the same way that many other companies copied Parker 51s. The second Athena line has a cap and barrel shape and style more like the 1940s Parker Duofold, though without the striped plastic. Removing the cap reveals the same Sheaffer Triumph style nib and section as on the balance shape pens.
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Sheaffer Gold Imperial, Model AS9G c. 1958-59

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No sooner was the original 2015 article on the all plastic cap and barrel Sheaffer Imperial model AS9 finished when more information became available on this very similar Sheaffer pen. At first, it looks like Sheaffer took the Imperial AS9 and stuck a gold filled cap on it. Taking the cap off reveals it’s a pull off type, not a threaded type as on the Imperial AS9. And then there is the palladium silver nib. Shouldn't it be a gold nib like on the Imperial AS9? Is this a Touchdown Skripsert? Another sleuthing adventure awaits!
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Sheaffer Imperial, Model AS9 c. 1959-60

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This is a mystery pen. If this is an Imperial, why is it nothing like the later Imperials that look like junior size PFMs? We need to work backwards from the introduction of the Imperial IV, the first Imperial that used an Inlaid nib, first mentioned in the January, 1961 Sheaffer's Review. There is limited original documentation on this early and mostly overlooked Imperial, but enough to identify and date it. The primary sources are a Sheaffer England Retail Price List dated April 7, 1959, undated catalog pages from 1959 or 1960, and the Sheaffer Repair Manual model description page.
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Classic Pens LB5 Madreperlato Prototypes c. 2012

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These are three of six Classic Pens LB5 Madreperlato prototypes, based on the Sailor King of Pen (or King Profit), made to test colors for the final production pens. During the prototyping process several customization decisions were made, including an increase in the overall length of the pen and choice of cap band and its decoration. The most visible customization would be the choice of material and colors for the cap and barrel. The color choice prototyping reveals some of the many decisions in how these pens came to be.
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Classic Pens LS Samurai Prototype c. 2001-2005

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This is a Classic Pens LS series prototype with a samurai design c. 2001-2005. The Lambrou Sunami LS Collection was launched in 2001 as artwork done on Parker Duofold Centennial pens and each was a very small edition of about 15 pens in successive designs. The first pen was the LS1 Kirara (geometric) in 2001. That design comprises more than 1,000 individual strips of blue pearl and pure gold by Maki-E master Tatsuya Tōdō. The final pen in the series was the LS12 Shimarisu (chipmunks), released in 2004 with artwork by Maki-E master Shogetsu Mitani. The samurai design shown here is on a Pelikan fountain pen, a prototype for a proposed series of 15 pens. This design was also prototyped on the Parker Duofold Centennial.
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Classic Pens LR Collection 2001

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The Classic Pens Lambrou Rossi LR collection was a collaboration between Andreas Lambrou and Paul Rossi to make a limited number of sets of five sterling silver overlay art pens. Lambrou and Rossi first met at the Los Angeles Pen Show in 1991. The relationship began with trading vintage pens with Lambrou discovering Rossi's skill for pen design and silver craft. When Lambrou moved to Los Angeles, California in 2000 he began his long time working relationship with Rossi to create art pens. It is very rare to see all of these pens in one place and it was a special opportunity to photograph them individually and as a set.
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Classic Pens LR Lighthouse 2001

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The Classic Pens LR Lighthouse is a one of a kind art pen following on the visual design of the LR series collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou. It was custom made to be a gift, and the artwork on the pen is based on a stained glass panel. The design is comprised of two views of the lighthouse as separate scenes on the cap and barrel overlay panels.
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Classic Pens LR5 Alaska 2001

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The Classic Pens LR5 Alaska fountain pen is the fifth and final pen in the LR series collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou. The scene cut and carved into the sterling silver cap and barrel overlay by Paul Rossi depicts a family of eagles with the cap overlay scene showing the male soaring in flight over a blue lake and against a blue sky with a mountain range in the background. The foreground shows tall trees and rocky shores lining the lake, with one tree dominating the view. The female, with two sleepy eaglets is shown at the nest, in an overlay scene on the barrel. The artwork is cut in a way to use the Lapis Lazuli Blue of the Parker Duofold Centennial pen as colorful background.
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Classic Pens LR4 Muse 2001

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The Classic Pens LR4 Muse fountain pen is the fourth pen in the LR series collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou. Andreas Lambrou described the cut and carved sterling silver artwork by Paul Rossi as inspired by the “muse of sculpture,” featuring the Muse’s head in profile with her long flowing flower adorned hair on the barrel panel. The cap panel features a lattice work of flowers with their stems and leaves. The overlays are on the Parker Duofold Centennial in Jasper Red, to highlight the artwork.
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Classic Pens LR3 Woodland Oak 2001

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The Classic Pens LR3 Woodland Oak fountain pen is the third pen in the LR series collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou. The cut and carved sterling silver artwork by Paul Rossi was inspired by the American oak tree, with a filigree of leaves and acorns in two panels, one on the cap and one on the barrel. The overlays are on the Parker Duofold Centennial in Jade Green, to compliment the natural forms.
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Classic Pens LR2 Harvest 2001

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The second LR collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou was the Classic Pens LR2 Harvest fountain pen, created by Rossi as a sterling silver overlay on the Jasper Red Parker Duofold Centennial. The overlay design is based on an original watercolor of golden wheat, grapevines, and morning glory flowers reminiscent of harvest time on the island Cyprus. Rossi’s design is an open, intertwining mesh of ripe seed heads of golden wheat and winding morning glory buds, leaves, and flowers leaving cutouts revealing the marbled Jasper Red acrylic of the cap and barrel as a background. Rossi evidently did not incorporate the grapevines and grapes from the original watercolor.
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Classic Pens LR1 Eagle Chief 2001

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The first collaboration between Paul Rossi and Andreas Lambrou was a series of sterling silver filigree overlays on Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pens that became the Lambrou Rossi LR Collection. Development work on the LR pens started in 2000 and by the end of that year, Lambrou and Rossi decided on five designs. The collection, numbered LR1 to LR5, debuted at the February, 2001 Los Angeles Pen Show. The first pen in the new collection was the Classic Pens LR1 Eagle Chief fountain pen. The prototype design by Rossi was based on some of his earlier silver filigree work that portrayed a Native American warrior with a single feather headdress.
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Sheaffer Legacy Demonstrator Section c. 1995

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Sheaffer often made demonstration models when the company introduced unique filling systems or nib units so that Sheaffer sales representatives and dealers could show how the new features worked. I could find no evidence that this clear section was ever produced to provide to Sheaffer dealers to demonstrate the new Legacy pens and therefore the few I have seen may have simply been model shop samples.
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Parker True Blues: True Beauties 1928-1931

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In 1928 Parker introduced one of the most sought after low-priced pens, known today by collectors as the "True Blue." This new slender blue and white swirled Permanite celluloid pen was called the "Three Fifty" in early Parker advertisements and the 1929 Parker catalog. The color was called "Modernistic Blue" in 1929 ads and the 1929 Parker Catalog and "True Blue" in 1930 ads and the 1930 Parker Catalog. The new "Three Fifty" was announced in a short article, "Parker Pen Fall Advertising Plans" in the September, 1928 Geyer's Stationer. The article indicates that the new pen line will be available in the fall of 1928. The earliest Parker advertisement I could find showing this new pen line is in the May 19, 1929 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. The True Blue does not appear in the 1932 catalog, indicating that the line probably ran from 1928 through 1931.
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Another 1940s Conklin Glider-like Pen c. 1942-46

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This recent pen show find looks a lot like the 1944-1946 Conklin Glider, with some very distinct differences. This 4 15/16 inch long Conklin pen is similar in shape and size to the slender size Glider and the cap and barrel can be swapped between the two pens. The cap and barrel ends are rounded rather than the more pointed ones on the Glider. And then the differences start to show.
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A Fountain Pen Depicting Seishi Bosatsu In Chôshitsu Style c. 1930

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This is a Japanese ink shut off eyedropper filling fountain pen by an unknown pen maker from c. 1930 carved using the Chôshitsu technique. The inscription panel on the barrel reads Seishi Bosatsu, one of the two primary attendants to Amida Buddha. Seishi Bosatsu is the protector deity and provider of strength and wisdom for those who were born in 1930, the Year of the Horse. This symbolism, along with the Chôshitsu artwork dates the pen to or near 1930.
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Marukin Six Sided Eyedropper Fountain Pen c. 1920s

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This unusual clipless six sided hard rubber Marukin eyedropper filler brings to mind eyedropper pens made in the United States and England from the early 1900s to 1920s. A review of very early Japanese eyedropper pens from the 1910s shows a variety of round cap and barrel pens with short friction fit caps that post onto a knobbed barrel end, a design evidently copied from early Onoto and Swan eyedropper pens imported to Japan. Many variations of the round barrel type can be seen in the catalogs of several Japanese pen makers into the very early 1920s.
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Marukin Two-Piece Cap Fountain Pen c. 1930s

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This is a Marukin mottled red hard rubber eyedropper pen with a shut off valve made in the 1930s. It operates as many other Japanese eyedropper pens by removing the nib section, filling the barrel with ink, putting the section back on, and then slightly opening the end cap to allow ink flow to the nib in order to write. What makes this pen stand out is the very unusual two piece cap. The cap can be removed as a single two piece unit as would normally be expected. The user could also separately unscrew and remove only the top mottled red hard rubber section of the cap, with the WARRANTED stamped clip, so the pen could be held using the black ebonite part of the cap as a wide grip. It’s not clear that this was the intended purpose of the two piece cap, but the black hard rubber bottom section can function in that way if a wide grip is desired by the user.
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Conklin Chicago Enduras c. 1939-1941

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At first glance the two Conklin pens in this article could be Endura Symetrik pens from 1930s. They have all the elements shown in the A. Bienenstein Symetrik design patent, D83,592, awarded March 10, 1931: a rounded balance shape, a spring loaded clip, two cap bands, a crescent symbol on the cap, and a crescent symbol on the nib. The clip, the 1936 Conklin patented type, and nib, a Cushon Point type, could date the pen possibly as early as 1936. The barrel imprint tells a different story. It’s stamped THE Conklin PEN CO. over CHICAGO, ILL. U.S.A. over ENDURA – D- 83592 over REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. This is a Chicago Conklin. A Chicago syndicate consisting of A. J. Parrson, M. H. Jacobs, and Max Horwitz purchased Conklin on July 13, 1938, and moved existing stock of unfinished pens and parts to Chicago. This dates it no earlier than mid 1938, and likely later as there would have to be some amount to transition time from Toledo to Chicago operations and production.
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The Other Conklin Gliders? c. 1944-1946

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If you see and collect enough 1940s Conklin pens you will eventually run across a few that look just like Gliders but not made with striped celluloid. Examples of these Glider-like pens can be found in both the standard and slender Glider size and have the same or a very similar Conklin stamped crimp on clip, the same single 1/16 inch wide plain cap band, and the same type of lever. The caps of these pens will swap onto the barrels of same size striped Gliders. These pens also show the same poor fit and finish and the same lightly gold plated trim that easily wears off. Nibs are inconsistent and many have gold plated stainless steel nibs. This example has the same barrel imprint as the Glider, "THE Conklin PEN CO. over CHICAGO ILL. U.S.A. over REG.US.PAT.OFF". Are these pens Gliders? Find out more in the article!
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Conklin Glider 1944-1946

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The Conklin Glider was the last quality pen made by the venerable company and describing it as a quality pen is something of a stretch. Roy Conklin and the Toledo, Ohio pen company that bore his name are probably most strongly associated with the first successful self-filling pen, the Conklin Crescent Filler. Conklin was established in 1898 by Roy Conklin and C. B. Gundy as the Self-Filling Fountain Pen Company in Toledo, Ohio and in 1901 the name was changed to Conklin Pen Manufacturing Company, the same year Roy Conklin’s crescent filler patent was awarded. Conklin crescent filler pens sold well, propelling the company into the majors of pen manufacturing. Gliders were cheaply made, compared to the earlier Conklin Toledo and pre-Glider Chicago pens, with lightly gold plated trim that wore off easily, cap bands that easily worked loose and poor fit and finish. The two best things about the pens were the 14 karat gold Cushon Point nibs and the interesting striped celluloid, described in Conklin advertisements as having "dichro-plastic striped inlay patterns.”
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Stratford Stud Filler Fountain Pen c. 1940

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At first glance this Stratford fountain pen looks like a c. 1940-1943 Stratford 77 with different trim and nib stamping. The pens use the same celluloid, have a similar shape, an ink view section, and use what looks like the same button filler mechanism (Stratford called this a stud filler), which has a metal threaded base. Is the 77 simply the same pen with different decorative parts? A side by side inspection shows that they are quite different, in spite of being very similar in appearance.
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Mabie Todd Top Filling Sacless Blackbird 1937-1940

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When Mabie Todd introduced the Visofil VT series as the replacement for the Swan Visofil V series pens in September 1937, the company also introduced the shorter “top-filling” sacless BT200 Blackbird pen equipped with a very similar plunger filling system. “Top filling” indicates the barrel end is the “top” of the pen when the pen is inverted for filling. Interestingly both the Visofil VT and the Blackbird BT200 were advertised as “sacless” though both use a rubber sleeve in the mechanism that can come into contact with the ink, especially when the pen is pocketed. The Top Filling Sacless Blackbird is very uncommon and has two of the most beautiful and difficult to find celluloids on any Mabie Todd pen.
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Stratford Warwick Fountain Pen 1948-c. 1953

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The Stratford Warwick fountain pen came in three versions, spanning 1947 to c. 1953. The most common version dates from 1948 was was designed to resemble the 1947 $8.75 Waterman Taperite Citation and featured a hooded nib and a two piece cap with a plastic derby top and a wide metal base. This 5 1/4 inch long version of the Warwick pen went through two decorative changes, primarily with the cap design and choice of barrel colors. Value priced at 50 cents for the fountain pen alone, $1.00 for a boxed fountain pen and pencil set, and $1.50 for a boxed fountain pen, ballpoint pen, and pencil set, first offered in 1951. Cheaply made and value priced.
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Stratford Wonder-Fill Fountain Pen 1955

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The Stratford Wonder-Fill fountain pen was the first of three capillary filling pens introduced in United States in the 1950s, a type of pen that fills by dipping it in ink, wicking ink into a chamber inside the pen filled with an absorbent medium to store it. The concept simplifies filling the pen to dip, wait, and wipe. Introduced in 1955, this 5 7/16 inch long pen is similar in concept to the later Waterman “X-Pen” which also filled by dipping the nib into ink and waiting about twenty seconds for it to fill by soaking up the ink into an absorbent medium, probably cotton, inside the barrel. The Stratford Wonder-Fill even preceded the most successful capillary filling pen, the Parker 61, which was test marketed as early as 1953 but not officially released until 1956.
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BIC Vermeil Silver Anniversary Pen c. 1975

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In the twenty-two years I’ve been writing about pens and the eighteen years since first posting this article, it continues to be one of the top generators of questions and comments. They range from “My dad had one of those!” to “I just found one of those!” to “How much do you think they are worth?” What’s also interesting is the very little additional information I’ve been able to find out about them in all those years. Given some recent questions and sales valuations, I thought I’d give the article an update. Find out more in the article!
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Unbranded Gold Plated Engraved Leaf Pattern Fountain Pen c. 1954-57

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A final stop on this journey visiting leaf engraved Japanese pens is this bright gold plated example. At first look it’s as if the pen maker took the cap and barrel from a rare 1930s era Platinum silver hand engraved leaf pattern lever-fill fountain pen and dipped it in gold. It’s so bright and shiny it’s almost gaudy and I had to check it for hallmarks. Could it be gold over silver vermeil? Lacking any silver hallmarks makes me believe it’s gold plated brass. Find out more in the article!
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An Unbranded Silver Engraved Leaf Pattern Fountain Pen c. 1949-53

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At first glance this pen appears to be a rare 1930s era Platinum silver hand engraved leaf pattern lever-fill fountain pen. The engraving on the cap and barrel is a very carefully executed copy, but after the initial surprise, certain details quickly show it was not made by Platinum. The gold plated clip is a nearly exact copy of the arrow clip on the Parker 51 Aerometric pens, where the Platinum version, admittedly also a Parker homage, but of the earlier Parker Vacumatic type, at least has some distinguishing characteristics, such as the featherless silver arrow clip or the later gold filled PLATINUM stamped feathered arrow clip seen in my article (link below). Just below the tip of the clip arrowhead at the cap band is stamped simply SILVER, not the more complete Platinum company stamping with PURE SILVER.
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Platinum Silver Engraved Leaf Pattern Fountain Pen c. 1930s

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This is a Platinum silver hand engraved leaf pattern lever-fill fountain pen c. 1930s. Platinum’s design copies some of the identifying attributes of the Parker Vacumatic, including the arrow nib and arrow clip. The 14 karat gold filled clip, marked R 14 at the top, has PLATINUM stamped on a raised bar down the center of the arrow feathers, the primary difference from the Parker Vacumatic clip. The 14 karat gold nib has an arrow stamping identical to the Parker Vacumatic with 14K over PLATINUM over the Platinum logo. It’s a lever filler and with a silver lever. An identical pen is shown in Fountain Pens of Japan by Andreas Lambrou and Masamichi Sunami on page 295 with a silver clip that has no Platinum stamping. It’s not known if the clip on this pen is original to the pen or a replacement. The cap band is stamped with the Platinum company branding and PURE SILVER.
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Swan Japan Daruma Carved Fountain Pen c. 1930s

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This is a c. 1930s Swan Japan eyedropper fountain pen with a carved image of Daruma, the Indian monk Bodhidharma, who is believed to have brought Chan Buddhism to China in the 5th or 6th century and would later be exported to Japan as Zen Buddhism. The clip has the Swan Japan logo at the top and SWAN is carved in the barrel just below the image. The clip and trim are gold plated, though the plating is heavily worn off in many places. The owner's name, Iida, is carved on the barrel. The pen has a gold nib stamped PERFECT over 14K over 4 over HARDEST. The gold nib dates the pen to before the Second World War, probably c. 1935-1938.
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An Unbranded Possibly VANCO Peony Engraved Silver Pen c. 1930s

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This is a c. 1930s sterling silver eye dropper fountain pen with a scene of hand engraved peonies (botan 牡丹), a butterfly (chō), and a dragonfly (tonbo) on the cap and barrel. The cap top is stamped (SILVER). The gold plated cap band and clip, stamped POCKET-CLIP, have no hallmark. It’s 5 1/16 inches long and has a gold nib stamped WARRANTED over 14K over FOUNTAIN over GOLD PEN over 5. As it does not have a JIS mark, the nib pre-dates 1954.
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An Unbranded Possibly VANCO Crane Engraved Silver Pen c. 1930s

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This is a c. 1930s sterling silver eye dropper fountain pen with a hand engraved crane (tsuru 鶴) flying over blooming marsh grasses on the cap and barrel. The cap top is stamped (SILVER). The gold plated cap band and clip, stamped POCKET-CLIP, have no hallmark. It’s 5 1/16 inches long and has a gold nib stamped Special over 14K over gold over Iridium. As it does not have a JIS mark, the nib pre-dates 1954.
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VANCO Landscape Engraved Silver Fountain Pen c. 1930s

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This sterling silver eye dropper fountain pen from the 1930s has a hand engraved Japanese landscape scene featuring Mount Fuji on the cap with foothills, trees and a sailboat, and a house in the hills with trees, tall grasses and a walk path on the barrel, signed by the artist Ikkou. The cap top is stamped with a VANCO trade mark, a V inside a diamond next to SILVER. It’s 5 3/16 inches long and has a semi flex gold nib stamped 14 KARAT GOLD over IDEAL over 4 over IRIDIUM over PEN. As it does not have a JIS mark, the nib pre-dates 1954.
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An Unbranded Possibly VANCO Floral Engraved Silver Pen c. 1930s

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I go through a fundamental set of questions whenever I approach writing about a pen. Who made it? What is it made of? When was it made? Where was it made? Why was it made? And, how was it made and how does it work? Sometimes the answers come years after I started working on it. Sometimes I run across a pen where I am just unable to get all the answers. This is one of those times. Since I reached a stopping point, I decided to write what I know and hope that a collector will contact me and say, "I have more details about that pen!" This is a Japanese sterling silver flat top eyedropper fountain pen with a Steady brand nib with a flowing hand engraved floral design that runs the length of the cap and barrel.
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Ikoma Silver Eight-Sided Fountain Pen c. late 1930s

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This silver eight-sided Japanese lever-fill pen was made by Ikoma, a famous jeweler, watch, and clock seller in Osaka, Japan. The clip is stamped Ikoma-sei, “Made By Ikoma,” in Japanese kanji characters. It’s about 131mm long and has a long tined flexible steel Falcon type nib stamped WARRANTED over HARDEST over IRIDIUM over POINTED. It’s possibly from the late 1930s because gold nibs were not used in Japan after about 1937 due to government wartime restrictions on gold for commercial purposes. The cap and barrel are each made as a silver outer cover attached to a hard rubber core, leaving a wide hard rubber lip at the base of the cap and where the section meets the barrel. SILVER is stamped near the cap lip on the front face.
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Parker Vacumatic vs. Sheaffer Vacuum-Fil: Sheaffer Wins

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An interesting conversation at the 2023 Washington D.C. Pen Show prompted me to revisit this article, originally written in 2003. That year I discovered an undated Sheaffer sales brochure titled, “Fountain Pen Selling Facts: Helpful Information For Retail Salespeople” probably released as early as 1934. Parker got an early start in the vacuum filling game with the release in late 1932 of their new Vacuum Filler, actually the second name used for their new diaphragm filling “sacless” pen which would eventually be called the Vacumatic. Sheaffer was late by a year before offering its own vacuum filler, cautiously offering their new Vacuum-Fil pen as a sub-brand by early 1934. The Vacuum-Fil system was moved to Sheaffer's top Balance pens later that year. But how to compete with the popular Parker Vacumatic? Sheaffer armed their dealers with fact sheets and sales brochures to equip retail sales people to show why that new Sheaffer was better!
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Wearever Zenith With Sterling Silver Cap Band c. 1943

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Since I started collecting fountain pens I have accumulated quite a few Wearevers. David Kahn, Inc., of North Bergen, New Jersey, the maker of Wearever, Pioneer, and other brands, according to the company’s own advertisements and catalogs, started business in 1896. In many ads in the 1940s the company declares itself “America’s largest fountain pen manufacturer.” It focused on the value priced segment, where volume production and low costs matter. I don’t have fountain pen production numbers for the USA in the 1940s, but just from the number of Wearevers I have turned up over the years, the company must have certainly made a lot of pens. And most of them were cheaply made and it shows in fit, finish, and how well they survived. Many Wearevers are junk pens and it shows. On the other hand, some are actually decent and write well. Then there are the curiosities. This Wearever Zenith is one of them.
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Conway Stewart No. 28 Tiger’s Eye c. 1949-1955

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This a Conway Stewart Number 28 lever fill fountain pen with the eye catching Tiger’s Eye celluloid, c. 1949-1955. It's just over 5 inches long and has a pointed black cap top jewel and gold filled trim. The washer type clip has the Conway Stewart logo stamped at the top face and a diamond shaped tip. The lever tab is stamped with the Conway Stewart logo inside a diamond. The trim is bright but shows typical signs of light plating loss. The barrel is stamped Conway Stewart 28 over MADE IN ENGLAND. The 14 karat gold nib is stamped Conway over Stewart over 14CT GOLD over 5.
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Conway Stewart No. 22 Floral 1955-56

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The Conway Stewart No. 22 Floral lever fill fountain pen is one of those pens that appears on many collectors “most wanted” list. Steve Hull notes in his book Fountain Pens for the Million, The History of Conway Stewart 1905-2005 that the pen was released to coincide with the company’s 1955 Golden Jubilee, having been founded fifty years earlier in 1905. It's noted for the design on the cap and barrel, decorated with red roses, yellow, and blue flowers on an ivory colored background. It’s just over 4 3/4 inches long and the cap band has a cut out pattern similar to a Greek Key design. There also was a controversy over how many of these pens were made.
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Osmia Progress 66G c. 1957

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Sometimes a pen catches my eye because it’s really outside my wheelhouse. This is how I’ve managed to accumulate several interesting European and Japanese pens, primarily because of specific interesting features, including the filling system, design, the nib, and the materials used. As a result, a few Osmia pens have made their way into my collection, and I’ll admit there are a few Osmias I don’t yet have that I have my eye on. The Osmia Progress 66G was one of the last piston fill models to use both the Osmia and Progress names on the same pen as Faber-Castell phased out the Osmia brand in the early 1960s.
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Élysée Dragon Special Edition 1998-2000

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The run up to the year 2000 inspired many commemorative pen designs. There were the upcoming millennium celebrations, or fears, depending on if you were in the IT business, giving birth to millennium year limited and special editions. It also coincided with the Chinese Year of the Dragon, the fifth of the twelve-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac calendar. Each year also includes an elemental sign, from the five elements earth, metal, water, wood and fire, with 2000, from February 5, 2000 through January 23, 2001, being a year under the sign of metal. This Élysée Special Edition honors the year and mystical image of the Chinese dragon.
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Universal / Empex Aqua Pen c. 1959-1967

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The Aqua Pen, the patented brainchild of Max Goldman and Alex Goldman of the Universal Fountain Pen & Pencil Company, Inc., is actually an ink making pen idea that goes back to the Trench Pens of World War I. Trench pens were eyedropper pens that stored dry ink pellets in a small compartment in the end of the barrel. When the user ran out of ink, they would drop one or two pellets in the barrel, fill it with water and give it a few shakes to make ink. The idea was revisited several times since, with the Waterpen in the 1930s and the Grieshaber Graph-O-Matic Inkmaker pen in the 1940s, both using dry “ink batteries” or “ink sticks” that were put in the ink chamber and made ink when the pen was filled with water. The Aqua Pen modernizes these ideas by combining them with a modern cartridge pen concept.
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Empex Squeeze Filler Fountain Pen c. 1963

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Collectors who are familiar with the name Empex will immediately associate it with the Aqua Pen, introduced c. 1959. I was working on an update to my Aqua Pen article when I discovered this Empex labeled pen. Aqua Pens look very similar and differ only by the trim and clip stamping. This is either a nicely done squeeze filler retrofit starting with an Aqua Pen and adding an ink sac and squeeze filler frame that fits the section and barrel or it was an attempt by the manufacturer to also offer a squeeze filler option in the same pen format. What did I find? There's more in the article!
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Victor Victapen c. 1932 to 1949

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Victor Victapens are tiny bulb filling fountain pens that with the matching pencil can be converted into a full size pen / pencil combination by unscrewing the cap of the pencil and the end cap of the pen and screwing the pencil tip onto the end of the pen barrel. The bulb filling system was awarded a patent! They are well-made and an interesting pen design with the convertible feature giving it added interest.
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