osodecanela: (cam capture)
I promised myself not to buy things I don't really need and honestly, I don't need more pens.

I've been good about this. It's been about a year since I acquired anything new. Well, I take that back. I was given a really gorgeous Parker this past year, the one I write with just about daily. It's a Parker 75 Cisele and a patient I'm extremely fond of gave it to me. It had been half of a set he was given by his grandmother about 40 years ago and while he always uses the roller ball, he never used the fountain and knowing my love of fountain pens, he decided I should have it. He is currently battling cancer (and doing reasonably well in the face of a potentially lethal disease), and so the pen is all the more important to me. There are a number of pens in my collection that were gifts, interestingly mostly Parker's, and every one of them from a patients I treasure.

So, last week I got onto eBay to shop for a pen to give as a gift. Beto (one of my employee's) has fallen in love with fountain pens, in particular Sheaffers from the 40's and 50's. Last year I gave him a couple of Esterbrooks which I suspect he is not keen on as I never see them here with him, while I see the Sheaffer touchdown from Xmas before last all the time.

This year I snagged him a Sheaffer snorkel circa 1952, just restored. It's black, with a gold clip and band and a Triumph medium fine point nib in 14K gold. It writes like a dream. All and all a very classy and classic pen. And the seller, G-d bless him, when he found out this was a gift enclosed both a case (vintage 1955) and a matching mechanical pencil (circa '49-50) as well a details as to what inks to use in it and which brands to avoid, and details as to the instruments care. It was incredibly generous, especially given the auction closed with my winning it at a price I think was below the pen's true value. I was flabbergasted by his generosity, but as a fellow pen geek, I see in the seller a kindred soul.

I did log on to eBay to give the seller the highest rating I possibly could, as well as a heartfelt thank you note. I only wish I had had my camera at hand when Beto opened it. It was a look of sheer delight.
And this morning he had it with him when he came to work and he's been writing with it all day.
Meanwhile, I have made the seller a favorite and will periodically check what he's selling. I imagine I will give into temptation again at some point and splurge on another pen or two. It's always good to send business the way of someone so deserving.

Meanwhile, it is the giving season and while I have not finished with the gifts I still need to find, I have been touched by the kindness of others in the past week. We have a giving tree at the hospital every year. A local Jewish family that built the largest local hardware store in the county (now a small privately owned chain of 5 stores), spearheaded the establishment of the giving tree project here in the county. Each tree is decorated with plastic hearts, each with the name and age of a person facing hard times, a brief description of who they are and what they would like for Xmas. I've take an ornament or two for the past several years. Last Monday I pulled Becky, a single mom of 3 in her early 30's who wanted a sewing machine or a blender. I was 6 years old when my grandfather, the tailor, sat me down behind a sewing machine. That was an ornament I could not say no to.

Thursday I was on my way to the hospital and I had planned to hit a couple of the local sewing stores to see what I could find, when I passed a charity thrift store. It hit me I should stop and look; this is the sort of thing that they do get at times. Well there were two machines there in good repair, a recent Brother, and a somewhat older Singer. I went with the latter - they're easier to repair if needed and easier to get bobbins and other notions for. It was marked $30, but when the dude asked why I was buying a sewing machine all he would take for it was $5. Put the rest of it towards another gift he said. I couldn't thank him enough. Saturday, I hit Joann's to stock her up on sewing notions, needles, pre-loaded bobbins and the like. I spotted a Singer notions kit; decent scissors, seam ripper, pins, thimble, 20 medium spools of thread, 20 small spools, and more. No price on it, so I took it to the cashier and asked the price. Why is it everyone seems to assume no man knows how to sew? She looked at it as asked who I was buying it for. Actually what she said was, "I'm assuming this isn't for you." I smiled and told her I had no need of another one, that this was a gift for the giving tree. She didn't know what the giving tree was, so I explained about it and Becky. When she heard, she said that the kit was $40, but then with a very helpful smile, produced a 40% off coupon for me, which sealed the deal. So Becky got what she wanted for Xmas, or will this coming Friday. I dropped the machine and notions wrapped at Friedman Brothers on Saturday afternoon. There was a steady stream of people arriving with armfuls of gifts, which made me smile. However the number of unclaimed ornaments on the tree was quite disturbing, and sadly Saturday was the last day for gifts to be dropped off there. There were at least another two ornaments there asking for sewing machines, so I think I will keep my eyes open for them this coming year.
osodecanela: (Default)
EBay has my number.

By something on eBay, earn some eBay bucks. Once a quarter, you either use 'em, or lose 'em. Monday morning I got a little reminder, an automated call on my cell phone no less, that I had eBay bucks expiring on Tuesday. That's usually a reminder for me to buy some ink.

I've posted previously that I collect antique fountain pens. Actually, fountain pens are pretty much all I write with. I pretty much go through a bottle of ink every 2 to 3 months. (Yeah, I write a lot.) I have an assortment of colors that my disposal, but what I mostly go through is black, blue-black & blue. Mostly what I use are Waterman & Parker inks. As a general rule of thumb, those two brands work quite nicely. They flow well, never seemed to gum up the nib, and are nicely colorfast. The going price per bottle is generally 10 bucks, plus either shipping or sales tax or both. Staples sometimes has the Parker brand (Quink) in black only if I want to pick it up locally, or I can go into one of the local high-end stationery stores and drop anywhere from $15 on up for a bottle of ink. Me, I would rather buy it online.

An eBay vendor up in Oregon, had Waterman's Florida Blue on marked down for $8.50 a bottle, Waterman's black for $9.50, & washable blue Quink for $9.95. Shipping was free for purchases 50 bucks and up. My office manager who is as much of a fountain pen lover as I am (we both learned how to write with fountain pens as kids, me in this country & she has a generation later in Eastern Europe), and she generally wants a bottle or two whenever I buy ink.


Above is a sample of the Florida blue. The pen is a 1940 Parker Vacumatic in silver pearl with a fine point nib. The ink is a bit darker than I'd expected, but I didn't rinse out the pen, prior to filling it and I believe I last had black in this particular Parker.

Incidentally, this particular pen generally draws children's eyes. Whenever I use it, invariably some kid
will comment on it during the course of the day. Last year a seven-year-old was hanging on my every move while I examined his 12 month old kid sister. As I was writing up her physical exam, I suddenly hear him comment, "cool pen." I responded by handing him the pen to look at.

"Wow, I've never seen a pen like this before."
"That's because it's an antique," I responded.
"What's an antique?"
Switching into Spanish, I looked at him and said, "Como antigua."
"Oh! It's old!" That he now understood the word antique, clearly pleased him. Furrowing his brow, he looked up and asked, "how old is it?"
"That particular pen was made in 1940." I sat there and watched the wheels turning as this seven-year-old did the calculations in his head.
"That's 70 years old!" I smiled and nodded. He continued,"wow! And it still has ink?"

I had to stifle my laughter. The idea of a pen isn't something disposable, but refillable was something entirely new to him. No real surprise, given that he's grown up in the era of the disposable Bic pen. . His mother, who's an exclusive Spanish speaker, looked on, puzzled by my apparent mirth. When I explained all this to her in Spanish, both of us were biting our lips not to laugh.

It's a 51

Oct. 6th, 2010 01:20 am
osodecanela: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] grizzlyzone turned me on to a web page on Parker 51's.

So I knew enough to ID the make, but I was off on the date by a few of years. I thought '48 or 9; that was the year they switched the filling system from the complicated vacumatic to the simpler aerometric. Thanks to the web page, I found out where to look for dating.

It's a 51, made in '51. It's not moss, but teal. The cap is indeed gold fill. They did make them in 14K as well. Back when this was made, it sold for $7.50. Restored ones I've seen listed for $150.

Oh my.
osodecanela: (Default)
A month or so back, as I sat writing in a patient's chart, the woman (someone I've known for almost 20 years) remarked that had been forever since she'd seen someone writing with a fountain pen. She then asked where I bought my ink cartridges.

"Cartridges? I think not," I responded.
"Don't tell me that pen takes bottled ink!"
"Absolutely. I'm happier using bottled ink. There's a much better range of colors available and in the long run, it's much cheaper than cartridges."

The conversation continued for a few minutes about each of us having first learned to write using fountain pens as schoolchildren, my finding the act of writing with a fountain pen a physically sensuous experience, and it ended with both of us bemoaning that the schools no longer teach kids how to write in cursive script. At the end of her appointment I walked her to my front desk, at which point she turned and said, "you know, I'm fairly certain I have an old fountain pen somewhere, one that belonged to my sister. I should look for it."

Yesterday she was back in to see me and at the end of her appointment, started rummaging through her purse. "I'd like you to see this."



"My, that looks like a Parker 51."
"Good God! You even know the pen model?"
"Hon, I collect antique pens."
"Good. I'd like you to have this."

My jaw dropped.

"I can't accept that."
"Why not?"
"It was your sister's."
"So? She's not using it & for that matter, neither am I. You will."

Now I have to confess I was laboring under the impression her sister was deceased, which (Amen) is not the case. I'm now the new caretaker of a Parker 51, which I suspect is circa late 1940s. It has a deep moss green barrel, a hooded medium/fine nib, likely iridium, and a gold filled cap. It drew up ink easily and writes like a dream.



I'm absolutely blown away by her generosity.
osodecanela: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Fountain pens, especially antique ones.

There is something sensual about the act of writing. For me, using a fountain pen makes it all the more pleasurable. I have about 3 dozen, dating from as early as teens and as recently just last year.

Favorites? I have several. To look at, I'm really enamoured by a 1940 Parker silver pearl vacuumatic, & I love the elegance of my 1920 hard black rubber Waterman 42 1/2. However, the three I write the most with are a '44 green transitional Esterbrook, a blue level fill Sheaffer from the early '50's & a '57 black piston fill Mont Blanc. The latter two are the only pens I have with windows, a handy feature that let's you know when your ink is running low before you run out.
osodecanela: (Default)
I'm a bit of a pen geek. Given my druthers, I prefer to write with a fountain pen. I like the feel in my hand most fountain pens have and conversely, most ballpoints lack. It's a personal preference that I started to honor again about a year ago, digging out my old fountain pens. There were four, all made by Cross, 2 of them gifts and 2 I had gotten for myself shortly after finishing med school. Getting those sorta fit with getting the "black bag" and yes, I actually do have one of those and when I make a house call, I really do use it.

Behind the cut, stuff about fountain pens (with pictures!). )

Before heading home, I stopped to use the bathroom. On the way back through the living room was an oak Parker display cabinet, like you might have seen in a stationary store circa 1930. It was filled with antique pens, from the 20's thru the 40's, easily 150, if not more. I recognized at least a dozen oversized Parker Duofolds. Only one of his vacumatics was in that case, an oversized gold one with jewels on either end, dating it to somewhere in the 30's. I had to be looking at over $50K in antique pens. My jaw dropped. Saul put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "I should show you the rest of my collection some time."

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