Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope that all our American friends had a great Thanksgiving holiday. We didn't do any traveling this Thanksgiving, and played host instead. So if we've been a bit slow in getting back to you, whether by phone or by email, our apologies -- we'll be catching up this week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Waterman rarities

We stayed pretty close to home this summer, and we're now back from our one week end-of-summer break. Much to catch up on (as usual!) -- not least, one of our most notable catalog updates, featuring some incredible Waterman rarities. Most have been sitting for years in a private collection; there are some models which we have never seen before, and many which we have not seen examples of in years.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Washington DC pen show

We'll be closing up shop this week to attend the pen show. As usual, we'll be taking only a small selection of our inventory, so if you'd like to see a particular item, let us know right away so we can be sure to bring it along.

Our main focus will be displaying and selling newly-made celluloid and hard rubber stock. You can read more about it at the American Art Plastics website.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Parker Newhaven closure

This has been expected for a good long time, with great fear and trepidation. The property has become very valuable, and Parker's current corporate masters don't care a whit about tradition.
Plans to close the Parker Pen factory in East Sussex, resulting in the loss of up to 180 jobs, have been revealed. Newell Rubbermaid said it had started a consultation on the closure of the site in Newhaven following a review of its fine writing business. Local Norman Baker MP said it would be a "bitter blow" for the town and urged the firm to reconsider its decision.
If the proposal goes ahead the factory, which has been open since the 1940s, will shut by the autumn of 2010.Newell Rubbermaid said work that was carried out in Newhaven would be shifted to its site in Nantes, France.
From the BBC.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer plans

In years past, summer has been a slow time.  This year has been different -- partly because of kids getting older, and ever more time devoted to their activities, but also because of our new/old plastics venture, American Art Plastics.  We aren't fully up and running yet; we have managed to get some fantastic celluloid rod and slab stock made to our specs, however, and are looking forward to being able to make it available to penmakers and other artisans very soon indeed.  It's been a long, hard road with more delays, pitfalls, and setbacks than you can imagine.  Yet what a thrill it is, to see such wonderful materials re-created at last, after so much time, money, and work!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy holiday weekend!

It's Memorial Day Weekend here in the USA , so we'll be off until Tuesday. Summer is just about here, and we still have a big backlog of items to list -- so expect to see some catalog additions once we get back.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chicago pen show this week

Alas, we won't be at the Chicago pen show this year, for the first time in nearly 20 years (can it really be that long?!) thanks to a family scheduling conflict. Luckily we have no shortage of pens awaiting repair, photography, and cataloguing, so we shall do our best to put our extra time at home to good use.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seals for Waterman safeties and Conklin Nozacs

We've been experimenting with substitutes for traditional seal materials for some time. In many cases, cork seals can be replaced with O-rings -- though finding the correct and almost always special-order sizes can take some doing.

After considerable trial-and-error, we've found what we believe to be the perfect seals for Waterman safety repair. The pen itself requires no modification, and the seals can be installed with minimal effort (cork seals in this case have to be cut very thin, with a high discard rate in both cutting and installation). The seals are listed here (scroll down), with a link to illustrated installation instructions.

Coming up very shortly are sets of seals for Conklin Nozacs. The Nozac is not like most piston-fillers, in that the Nozac piston does not come apart to allow a new washer-type seal to be slid into place. Replacement seals either have to be stretched over the piston head, or -- if made of cork -- sliced and glued around it. We will shortly be listing kits of O-rings that can be installed in pairs to provide a better-than-original seal with minimal effort and cost. Since Nozacs come in different sizes and with some variation in internal dimensions, our kits include four sizes of O-rings that should fit all Nozacs from 5000 to 7000-word size.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Los Angeles show recap

We got back from the LA pen show Tuesday night, totally exhausted. It was a good show this year, with lots of great pens on offer and consistently good crowds. Despite concerns about the economy, there was a real buzz throughout the whole event. Many dealers reported particularly active buying of cheaper pens, but whether this was the result of purse-tightening or the impact of new collectors making their way to shows after discovering pen collecting online is impossible to say.

A big show like LA is usually tiring enough, but this year it was nonstop, at least for me. Not only was there the usual vintage pen hunting and trading and networking -- this show was also the occasion for the soft launch of a new venture, American Art Plastics, with partners Mark Hoover and Lynn Sorgatz. Our aim is to offer a range of old-time plastics for penmakers and restorers, of the sort that are now for all intents and purposes unfindable. We are starting with that queen of vintage plastics, celluloid, and the response has been overwhelming. We had samples on display at the show, with delivery of the first batch of colors expected within the next couple of months. The Art Plastics website has only just launched, and is still rather rudimentary. It too should be coming into shape within the next several weeks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yet another snow day

What a winter we've had! No sooner had all the ice begun to melt, than another snowstorm arrives. We shut down the office early today and will be working at the repair bench, but we did manage to get several Parker Vacumatics posted to the catalog this morning -- overdue, since we'd come perilously close to selling out on the more common varieties of single-jewel pens from the 1940s.

Next featured update should focus on Waterman, with some notable pieces. We will be away at the Los Angeles pen show next week, by the way, assuming no weather delays at the airports!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Through snow and ice . . .

We stayed home yesterday after a rather messy snowstorm, followed by freezing rain. Everything was covered with ice this morning, but we'll be venturing out to catch up on packing and shipping this afternoon -- as well as restocking on salt and sand.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Pen Profile: Waterman overlay patterns

It's still a work in progress, but I've just posted the beginnings of a Pen Profile covering the various Waterman overlay patterns. The initial focus is on variations of the "Filigree" pattern, but I'll expand on this base as time permits.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It takes one to know one

I've complained before about all the undisclosed flaws that one ends up finding after the fact -- not just with pens and pencils from flea markets, general antiques dealers, and eBay, but also from regular exhibitors at established pen shows.

This morning I pick up my customized 51 mentioned in my November post and I realize the cap jewel is missing. A closer look, and it is clear that the clip bushing is a mess, and that the jewel's top had been twisted off its stem and then glued back in place. The glue had failed, and the jewel's top fallen off. On vintage pens, one runs across such makeshift repairs pretty often. Usually there's no way to know when they were done, since one doesn't normally remove the jewel unless the clip needs to be replaced or tightened. In this case, however, the cap was newly-made, fitted out by the maker with vintage clutch, inner cap, clip, clip bushing, and jewel. So the use of worn-out and broken parts was deliberate, and especially outrageous given that the maker also does a considerable side business in selling reproduction 51 jewels!

I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the workmanship to a friend and veteran collector who is very keen on this maker's customized pens. Interestingly enough, he was more or less dismissive -- a response I've seen among other collectors who find it hard to believe something so attractive externally could be hiding so many problems beneath the surface. Those who work on pens don't find it hard to believe, though -- but it may take another workman to know and appreciate bad work, whether it is in pens, building, auto repair, or medicine, for that matter.

This afternoon I will replace the bushing and the jewel. Once that is done, I will have replaced or modified every component of the pen save for the clip, the inner cap and the clutch.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009: Slow Beginnings

A belated Happy New Year to you all!
It's been an unusually hectic holiday season here, in large part due to our recently-complete switch to a new hosting company and all the associated changes and updates to the site that ended up going with it. That looks to be mostly done, though there's still more back-end software and database-related stuff pending, and we're still tracking down broken and outdated links. If you have any to point out, let us know.

The weather has also kept us out of the shop for several days this winter. A couple of good snowfalls, and today, a mess of slush and freezing rain. We have a lot to catch up on, I'm afraid, so do bear with us.