MxMJ's Pen Blog

Vintage Fountain Pens

Union 68 ‘Topaas’

This is why you shouldn’t disregard a vintage pen just because you haven’t heard of it. I picked this up on eBay recently and the fit/finish and nib are fantastic. Union is a maker from the Netherlands and isn’t super common in the US. The nib is a 14k full flex EF. One thing to look for is branded 14k nibs, most lower quality makers used ‘warranted’ nibs if they had gold nibs at all. A branded nib suggests some measure of pride in the product and this one is no exception.

001 002 007


Conklin Nozacs!

These two pens popped up at like 1 am on eBay as buy-it-nows for bargain prices, I can’t wait to get them! I am thinking I will keep the emerald green v-line and sell the other one to (more than) pay for them both. These are the seller’s pictures, they were very dark so I adjusted them a little bit.

Currently Inked

Here are the 3 pens I currently have inked

  1. Sheaffer Jr Balance – Black with wide milled Jeweler’s Band. The nib has just a bit of flex.
  2. Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign – Burgundy, two tone nib. This is actually the first time I have inked this since I restored it and the firm, fine nib is pretty nice
  3. Lamy 2000 – I got this second hand, it is nominally an extra fine nib but writes more like a medium. Still, it is very smooth and the ink capacity is huge (for me at least).


My Collection

I thought I would show how I display the better part of my collection.

The case is a 26 pen case that I got on Amazon, I’ve outgrown it a fair bit since I bought it as you can see. The hanging pen displays (holding the Esterbrooks) I designed myself and had laser cut from acrylic. The binders are both Global Art pencil cases.

Parts pens and projects are in various boxes and drawers in a closet while the pens I currently have listed for sale on eBay or /r/Pen_Swap are in the cigar box.


My Start with Fountain Pens

I haven’t been collecting pens for that long, at least relative to many people in the hobby. I bought my first fountain pen somewhere around March of 2012. I have always liked Zebra ballpoints and I stumbled onto a Zebra V-301 for a few bucks at a Walgreens and decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a pretty terrible pen but it was just good enough for me to be interested in a nicer fountain pen. I more or less immediately ordered one of the most commonly suggested beginner pens, a Lamy Safari. It is a decent enough pen but didn’t really work for me. It was too big and not quite interesting enough. I have always been interested in old or vintage things (lighters, knives, coins etc.). I decided to see if I could find some old pens and make them work. I started going to flea markets and estate sales and trolling eBay for pens.

On one of my first trips to the local flea market, I found a tackle box full of pens and drafting supplies that had belonged to a former Boeing engineer


Most of it didn’t interest me but it came with a fantastic Esterbrook SJ that I fixed up and started using. I found out that the other stuff was actually worth a bit of money and realized I could pay for my hobby by selling pens and pen related stuff (yay capitalism!). I ended up quintupling my investment in the lot and the rest is history. I’ve purchased and restored somewhere around 500 pens, many of which have since been sold. This has allowed me to own pens that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. My collection right now is somewhere between 100 and 200 pens, maybe 50 of which I am too attached to to ever sell.

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