New project – Wearever flattop

Wearever before repair
Wearever before repair

My latest project pen is a Wearever flattop pen that clearly takes design cues from the classic Parker Duofold “Big Red” 🙂

Wearever was a third-tier pen maker turning out masses of low-priced but serviceable pens. It’s interesting to see how they cut costs. Here, the threads on the barrel are few and shallow. The clip is folded from shape cut out of a metal sheet.

Spoon nib
Spoon nib

In lieu of welded tipping material, the tips of the tines have been stamped into a bowl to provide a curved surface area in contact with the paper – a “spoon nib” according to Richard Binder. The 14K gold plating, a sop to public tastes, was likely very thin. Most of it has worn off over the years to expose the underlying metal which looks like copper.

The pen is missing a J-bar and sac, but considering it probably dates from the late 1920s, it’s relatively clean with – best of all – no cracks. The repair job looks straightforward. Hope nothing untoward happens.

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Vintage Pilot pen (circa 1940) and a glimpse at a dark past

pilot-barrel

pilot-imprint

pilot-cap

As you can see from the pictures this vintage Pilot eyedropper isn’t in good condition. The once-translucent barrel has ambered so badly that I can’t tell what colour it used to be. There’s also a line that spirals around the barrel, like a toilet roll tube. Perhaps the celluloid was originally a strip that had been rolled into a spiral to form the barrel?

The cap, though retaining more of its translucence, is ambered and cracked. The plastic resembles algae in dirty water ;p It’s a mismatch with the barrel too.

pilot-nib

I was curious about the pen’s origins and type of nib. Thanks to Ron Dutcher (Kamakura Pens) and Stan (Ryojusen Pens), I’ve been able to date the pen to around 1940.

– The nib is a Pilot stenographer nib, as indicated by the rectangular breather hole.

– The date code stamped at the back of the nib — 2.40 — indicates it was made in 1940.

– The barrel was most likely made between 1936 and early 1938. It has the “Pilot Pen Mfg…” imprint with the “N” inside the logo.

– The sword clip was made between 1935 and 1954

To illustrate their points Ron and Stan also provided images of advertising cards from Pilot.

Courtesy of Kamakura Pens
Courtesy of Kamakura Pens
Courtesy of Ryojusen Pens
Courtesy of Ryojusen Pens


















Stan’s card led to another curious diversion down darker paths.The “2600” refers to the 2600th year since Emperor Jimmu, descendant of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, supposedly founded the Yamato dynasty from which the current Japanese imperial family claims an uninterrupted line of descent. This was identified with 1940 in the Gregorian calendar, and that year saw special rituals and events to commemorate this event.

One such event was the unveiling of the Hakkō ichiu tower. Situated at the site of where Jimmu’s palace was supposed to have stood, the tower was the architectural embodiment of the Japanese regime’s expansionist ambitions, fueled by militarist-nationalist beliefs of the Japanese being a divine, superior race via the imperial family.

I was surprised to learn that the tower still stands today in Miyazaki prefecture, even retaining its carved calligraphy of the imperialist slogan Hakkō ichiu. It’s now disingenuously named the “Peace Tower”.

Esterbrooks return!

Ever since the Other Half looked over my shoulder one evening and said she liked that pen on the computer screen, I’ve been looking for a Green Esterbrook J.

The irony is that I once had 8 Esties and sold them all :p A101s and a few Deluxe models. I only had one Blue Esterbrook J, and with a cracked jewel at that.

My eBay purchases were all unsatisfactory, so I decided to just stick with FPN and got lucky. And as several warn on FPN, once you get one it’s hard to stop…

Anyway, three recently purchased Esterbrook J pens just turned up:

– early Green (no registered trademark symbol) with a pleasant, equally early-looking 2284 nib;
– Olive-looking Grey with a 2668 nib, flat feed; and
– Blue, also with 2668. Needs lots of cleaning though.