Sunday, December 19, 2010

Antique Store Finds -- Esterbrooks, a Sheaffer's and a Parker

The first two pens I bought a little under a week ago were two Esterbrooks from a local antique store. I ended up paying $15 each for them. Both were functional from the start with pliable sacs. They passed the water test with flying colors, but I have yet to actually ink them. I'm trying to wait until I get some new colors to match the barrels. One is a blue "J" with a 9550 nib. The nib, cap & threads were stained with old ink so after some cleaning, soaking and flushing, it looks good as new. The other is a red "LJ" with a 2668 nib and looked to be cleaned before the previous owner stored it. That one did not require any cleaning, and the water I put in it for the test came out clear. Why can't all fountain pen owners be this courteous when they retire their pens? :) I have to say, I am impressed that the sacs are still pliable after over 50 years. Great pens. Here are some pictures of them (please note that these were taken before cleaning, so you will see the ink stains on the blue J):

Red LJ
Red LJ; 2668 Nib
Blue J
Blue J; 9550 Nib (before cleaning)

For the 2nd half of my post, I'll refer to my Sheaffer's Balance and Parker Depression Era pens that I bought while out of town at another antique store. I also bought two vintage ink bottles. One is from a Rexall pharmacy (Rexall Graph Blue-Black), the other is an old bottle of Blue-Black Sheaffer's Skrip.

The Balance has a Jade Green barrel from 1929-1932, which is slightly discolored and has a few small cracks that don't appear to affect the functionality of the pen. It has a Feather Touch 5 nib, which I do not believe is original to the pen and probably from the mid 30s. It also has the wrong cap, one from a 1930-1935 Marine Green Balance. I also purchased an empty bottle of Skrip Blue-Black from the same store. The ink has crystallized inside the bottle to create quite a work of art. It looks like bubbles and ice with some precipitates.

Sheaffer's Balance with an old bottle of Skrip ink
Sheaffer's "Feather Touch" 5; two-tone nib

The second pen is a Parker Depression Era pen with a black/green barrel and cap. The clip has considerable scratches and brassing to it, as do the three rings on the cap. Other than that, it appears to be in fine condition. The nib appears to be gold, and there is no indication anywhere on the pen as to what the actual model name is. The part that throws me off is the little rubber/plastic piece on the end of the barrel where the button filler is. I do not know if it came like that, or someone added it? I've never seen another one with that on there. I love the pen regardless, and can't wait to get it working.

Parker "Depression Era" cap with scratched/brassed clip & rings
Parker "Depression Era" pen
Parker "Depression Era" pen, uncapped.
I have to say that I love the color of the Parker, it really depends what angle you look at it for the marbling to pop out at you. If anyone has any further information on it, as to an actual model name and what the little rubber/plastic cap at the end is, I would greatly appreciate the information. Also, if anyone has information about getting a Jade Green cap to match the Sheaffer's, that would also be most helpful!

Edit 12/21/10 - I found out that the Parker is most likely a Challenger De Luxe from the 4th quarter of 1935 (date code on the nib/barrel is "45"). The little rubber cap on the end is likely a replacement fix for a missing blind cap. 

Edit 1/5/10 - Both the Parker and Sheaffer are restored. I'm using Quink Blue-Black in the Challenger and I will ink the Sheaffer with either Skrip Green or PR DC Supershow Green. The restorer (Phil Munson of Munson Pen Restoration) actually hooked me up with a new blind cap for it too, so it looks like it originally did. The 3 rings on the cap cleaned up nicely, and the only flaw with the pen now is just the scratching on the clip.

-Derek (ThirdeYe)


  1. Excellent find! Note Booker informed me that he has not taken advantage of the thrift store, so I think this will be the final motivator to spend some more time searching. Some places charge a ridiculous amount for a particular model, so it's great to be armed with a way to review prices as you shop. At any rate, it's very cool that you found these!

  2. Yes, Thrift Stores can be a good place to look but it's very rare that you find writing instruments there. I have better luck at antique stores, although they tend to overprice them or they're pretty beat up. This place had a Sheaffer's Calligraphy Set which I'm guessing was from the 70s or 80s and they wanted $30 for it, more than I could get a NOS one for, and more I could buy a brand new one for. Yikes! Needless to say, I passed on that one.