As my knowledge and experience with fountain pens has grown I am finding that my tastes have grown broader. Where before I would only consider a handful of the newest, modern pens I am now looking more and more at vintage models to add to my growing arsenal. Enter Esterbrook.
According to the article on Wikipedia (because everything you read on the internet is true), Esterbrook was once the largest pen manufacturer in the US, producing up to 600,000 pens a day at its peak. How that is even possible in the mid 1900's I have no idea, but we are all benefitting from that prodigious production now. Esterbrook pens provide one of the best values in vintage fountain pens today.
Entry price is one of the main reasons I wanted an Esterbrook. There are many, many options available in the $20-$30 range, and fully restored models go for as little as $40. But honestly, the design of Esterbrook pens is what got me, regardless of price. From bright colors and swirls, to solid black, to Cracked Ice, their range of designs has nearly everyone covered.
I wanted to start with one of the basics, so my friend Thomas sent me one of his to whet my appetite: The Esterbrook LJ Double Jewel in blue. The pattern and color are classic Esterbrook - you will see these pretty regularly in fact. But it was so good looking I went for a similar style when I made my first Esterbrook purchase at the Atlanta Pen Show.
While the vintage look and style would be enough to sell most people I left the best part for last. The amount of nibs available to customize an Esterbrook with is AMAZING! I asked Thomas to try out a stub nib, so he sent along a #9284 to try out. When I bought my own, Brian Anderson swapped in a #9550, an extra fine nib that I have enjoyed. My friend Ana, an Esterbrook junkie herself, sent me the chart in her post "Buying a Vintage Esterbrook", and I also used Brian's reference chart at Esterbrook.net to narrow down my choices. That was much harder than it seems.
Manufacturers today aren't going to go to the lengths that Esterbrook did to make "The World's Most Personal Fountain Pen". Sure, some customization options are available but barely a fraction of what Esterbrook was able to accomplish. If you are looking for a vintage fountain pen to fit you perfectly you need look no further than Esterbrook.