January 25th, 2009

geek time

Let me tell you a story about a boy and his Esterbrook.

Years ago, I bought an Esterbrook pen, nothing fancy, just a black J series -- the company made millions of them in the 1940's, but many experts believe that this represented the height of fountain pen quality. Certainly the Esterbrook's producing so many pens knew everything there was to know about the mechanism. These pens were writers, they wrote forever. Mine wrote wonderfully, better than any fancy $300 Montblanc I owned, and I used it for years. In 1998 or so, the barrel cracked and I mentioned on line somewhere, that I was looking for a replacement pen. I got an email from a guy in Virginia who said "don't replace it, it's still got life in it and that's a wonderful pen, it has a 9000 series nib on it, it would be a terrible shame to throw it out." -- His heartfelt enthusiasm touched me. I didn't know any pen repairers so I packed it carefully in a cardboard tube and mailed it to Virginia with a note that said "I'm moved by your sentiment. I can't fix the pen, but I'd rather give it to you rather than throw it out, maybe you can use the nib."

Well, a couple of months went by and one day, there was a package in the mail for me. It was my pen! He had completely and laboriously repaired it! drilling out the inside of the barrel to make it thinner, and constructing a metal band that went inside and held the cracked barrel together. I was amazed that someone would take that kind of time to fix a $10 pen. But that made it more special.

I used it for years and in 2004 the barrel cracked again, much worse this time, a chip of bakalete (or maybe it's hard rubber) came off revealing the initial repair.

I went to the Philadelphia fountain pen show this month to see if I could find a replacement barrel in the collection of $10 cigar boxes.

Oh geek dream! A ballroom filled with thousands and thousands of pens. Treasures waiting to be beheld, novels waiting to be written! and in this feast of unwritten words, I found the parts I needed.

So she lives again, to write another day.

And while I was there, someone came up to me and said "aren't you that famous photographer?" -- which made my day. I think she said she had a blog called "snidegirl" somewhere. She was looking for a flex-nib pen. I'm glad to know that some of y'all share my pen-geek sensibilities, cause otherwise I'd feel mighty weird posting all these pictures of pens.

I got trillian_stars a pretty cool present. She'll probably post about it in her lj.
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