Vintage Find: Telescoping Dip Pen

Vintage Telescoping Dip Pen

I don’t often share vintage purchases on the blog. Partly, this is because a vintage pen I purchase might be a dud (or a gem) but you, my fine reader, might have the exact opposite experience depending on the quality of the item, where you purchased it and how reputable the seller was.

I make an exception in this case because I want to introduce you to a type of pen rather than a very specific make and model. This is a telescoping dip pen. This was a traveling dip pen that was designed to retract the nib into the barrel by way of the  ring around the barrel and the length could be extended by extending the rear finial.

Vintage Telescoping Dip Pen

The model I purchased had no hallmark or branding on it and the nib said “SIGNATURE 6 Made in U.S.A.” I don’t think the nib is gold but rather is probably gold tone steel. The barrel, if it was gold was only gold plate and very thinly coated. I purchased it for about $30 on ebay via an auction (not a “Buy It Now”). The nib, which I suspected was probably bent or damaged actually writes quite well. I had planned on replacing it with a Zebra G or Nikko G but the matching SIGNATURE gold nib writes well enough for me to use for ink testing purposes for the time being.

Vintage Telescoping Dip Pen

I love the detail etching on the barrel and ring. The whole pen is very delicate and pretty. It’s about the width of a standard pencil so it’s much slimmer than most fountain pens. It is comparable to a lot of the pocket dip pens I’ve collected over the years.

Vintage Telescoping Dip Pen

I would compare the nib to a European medium nib. I tested the nib with the best vintage pen ink available — Waterman Inspired Blue (my bottle just has a weird label) on and Elia Note Tomoe River A5 notebook (totally sold out).

The slide mechanism is a little stiff so I am going to apply some silicone grease and see if that helps lubricate it a bit though the internet searches I’ve done suggest I look to other grease or oils so if any of you are experts in this area, please give me some suggestions.

I just wanted a chance to introduce you to a pen style you might not have seen or considered. It’s the kind of thing that in a flea market tray or pen show display, might look like a broken pen, weird mechanical pencil or some other freaky Victorian tool but might end up being something that with a little cleaning and a couple dollars for a dip nib could become you new favorite ink testing tool.

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11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I restored a very old typewriter, and the oil of choice for the moving parts is a sewing machine oil or valve oil used on wind instruments. Mineral spirits are also often used to clean the parts prior to oiling.

  2. Very interesting looking!
    Would you be able to share a picture with it fully extended? You mention that the length can be extended by using the finial, but both shots of the full length are of it fully retracted.

    Thanks for all you do!!

      1. for some reason, the first picture was not showing when I originally read it… but after I hit submit on comment, it refreshed with the 1st pic…

        1. That happened to me, too. I wondered why Ana had shown it only with the nib retracted, then pop! there was the whole pen.

          Computer gremlins. They’re everywhere.

  3. If it is steel-on-steel then I’ve found bicycle chain lube works incredibly well. May be somewhat heretical suggestion, though.

  4. I have a similar dip pen that’s also an eBay find. It is very like yours, but the non-nib end has a lead holder in it. I haven’t found the right lead yet (maybe when I feel it’s safe to go back to a show and would somebody please put a stop to all these COVID variants?), but the nib (as you found) is surprisingly decent. I like it too well to travel with it, though. If I did, the pen would be doomed to get lost in the depths of my purse or bag or pocket or just plain old LOST. SO it stays safe at home.

    1. My telescoping dip pen did not have a compass but if you have one or see one, please send me a photo!

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