Rare and unusual species of Esterbrooks spotted in the wild

Esterbrook secret stash

All you vintage Esterbrook fountain pen fans might want to take a close look at this collection. See anything unusual? These pens all belong to my friend Rob L. He has been squirreling away vintage fountain pens for as long as I’ve known him. This week, he brought his rare and unusual Esterbrooks to share with me — and as a result, with you as well!

If you’re not familiar with Esterbrooks, I’ll fill you in on what makes these so special. The first pen on the left is a lovely root beer color and is considered the early-1940s bandless $1.00 pen. What makes this one unusual is the lack of a chrome ring around the cap opening. The turquoise pen is a $1.50 super-rare cracked ice model that is difficult to find, and when you do, the auction prices get ridiculous. Rob wouldn’t tell me what he paid for it simply saying he got “a really good deal on it”. The middle pen is a early model J-series Visumaster (circa 1941 or so) which is so unique because of the striping pattern and a small clear plastic band around the grip to see your ink flow. The black pen is an early 30s V-Clip. The last pen is a hard rubber pen in the $1.00 style. According to the information I could find online, by the time the $1.00 pens were introduced, Esterbrook had switched to plastic. This one remains a bit of a mystery.

With Esterbrooks, you can easily collect the pen bodies separate from your nib preference. The nibs can easily be swapped out so that’s why I didn’t bother to show the actual nibs of these Esterbrooks. Rob squirrels away NOS Esterbrook nib units too, so as long as he finds a pen body he likes, he can put in his favorite nib unit. He kindly provided me with my 9128 flexible nib, mint in the box, so I say, “Keep squirreling those Esterbrook parts, Rob!”

Esterbrook Nib Chart Esterbrook Ad

If you’ve seen my Esterbrook collection, you’ll know that I have mostly J-Series Transitionals and Double Jewels which date from the 1940s to the early 50s so seeing Rob’s rare vintage gems was quite a treat. Sadly, he made me give them back.

Esterbrook Ad #2

(shoutout to Esterbrook.net for all the handy information, and to Rick Conner’s Penspotters, Anderson Pens and Ward-o-Matic for the vintage ads!)

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  1. I love my Esterbrooks. They are both the SJ dollar series pens; am considering an icicle next time. I keep buying/watching the same seller on eBay because I like his restorations.

  2. The hard rubber esterbrook shown in the picture above is the earliest version, ca. 1934. Esterbrook made these as late as 1938 (based on clip design), but also made early V clips in hard rubber as well (very hard to find!). So, they had both plastic AND hard rubber pens at the same time for this six year span from 1932-1938. Interestingly enough, I have never seen a black plastic pen with the early 1934 clip, but have seen plastic and hard rubber in all the other clip variations during this period.

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