Adventures in Fountain Pen Repair and Restoration: Esterbrooks

Esterbrook J pens

Apologies for the lack of blogging, but since the Ohio Pen Show I’ve been extra busy with work — and the type of work that didn’t involve writing with pens.

But I have been working with vintage pens, a bit, because of my involvement with the Chicago Pen Show. Different vintage pens than usual. We all know that many vintage pens are rare, and many are gorgeous, and I love looking at those vintage pens. But that slice of the vintage market gets expensive. The pens I’ve been working with this month are mostly from the other end of the scale — they are vintage pens that are reasonably priced, and easy to find and get working again. Like Esterbrooks.

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14 thoughts on “Adventures in Fountain Pen Repair and Restoration: Esterbrooks

  1. The first pen I tried restoring was an Estie, a cute little pinkish one, a little less than perfect cosmetically, but in pretty good shape. I found the instructions for replacing the ink sac, and I did it! It was easier than I thought it would be and I was darn proud of myself. I have a small collection of Esterbrooks to go along with my other vintage fps that are all of the affordable type. I love the old Sheaffers, too.

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  2. I love all the pretty colors! I wish I could get my hands on some of those pastel “purse pens.” That would be incentive enough to get me into collecting and repairing vintage fountain pens. That’s something I’ve avoided, thinking it was fraught with difficulties. But it doesn’t sound so bad, the way you write about it. I may just look into it.

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  3. Hey, I’ve actually been meaning to do that – fix lever-fill pens I mean! but as it’s out of necessity rather than pure curiosity as the motivator (because I have a few pens lying around that I’m super curious to try but no pen repairer nearby), I’ve been a bit apprehensive, too. But you’re making it sound really easy!

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  4. Great post. I’ve always felt like the original Esties were akin to the Volkswagen Beetle: cute, economical, user-friendly, a car/pen for the masses. Your segue into doing repair on them is spot-on, as well, because I can’t imagine how many people who work on their own pens started with an Esterbrook. I’ll bet it’s a very high percentage and a group that I happen to be a part of. This pen is such a neat part of the history of American pens, thanks for a refreshing new look at it.

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    1. I think that’s a great analogy: it’s a less-expensive pen that was made to much more expensive standards. I don’t like to get on a soapbox, but quality like this is worth lauding. I’ve sorted through hundreds of Esterbrooks that are, on average 70 years old, and they look great and still work exactly as intended. I’ve bought cheapy pens (some not even that cheap) that don’t work or that come apart after a few days.

      Also, I can’t remember if I deleted this sentence or not, but I had a line in here, originally, that I think of these lower-priced, easy-to-fix, vintage pens as “people’s pens.” And you mention Volks-wagen, the people’s car. Spooky.

      I wasn’t sure you’d like all the pretty colors, though. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Their basic build quality *is* remarkable! You can grab a pile of unrestored Esterbrooks (at least the J and pre-J pens) and about the only thing that might be amiss is a chipped jewel or maybe the clip is loose. The threading, bodies of the pen, all the rest is always solid and the pens clean up very nicely. If only they hadn’t sunk to those washed-out pastels… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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