Learning of my new fondness for fountain pens, a friend gave me one of his, acquired in the early ’80s.
The pen is gold-plated with a pattern of closely-spaced parallel lines. It was in horrible shape – no nib (my friend had taken it apart when he had spread the tines pressing too hard), the aerometric-fill system was leaky, and the grip’s threads were loose. No nib. The clip was broken in half. The top and bottom tassies were discolored and showed brassing. No nib!
So today we took it to Luis Store at 375 Escolta. (Call them at (02)241-3484) I first learned of the shop from Leigh’s old blog and immediately wanted to visit. I asked my friend for landmarks; I was surprised when he told me he actually knew the shop founder and used to buy and have pens and lighters repaired there forty years ago. “Nandoon pa ba ‘yon?” he asked.
This friend of mine remembers going to the store when he was in high school (early ’60s) when all Mang Luis Pua had was a stall beside the road. Today, Mang Luis’s widow Mrs. Pua and their daughters Terrie and Rose carry on the business, now housed in a fairly new building; the shop is a haven for local pen connoisseurs in the know.
Once there, Terrie uncapped the pen, and went, “Where’s the nib?” My friend shrugged. “Lost,” he said. Mrs. Pua then came along, took a look at the pen as well, and said, “Where’s the nib? Gold ‘yun!” By that time he was red in the face and mumbling, “Saan na nga kaya ‘yon?”
The shop is a dream for collectors. They do adjustments and repairs, and have vintage and new stock of Parker, Sheaffer, Montblanc, Waterman, and others. I saw a Parker 51, which I really want, also a vintage Sheaffer ballpoint similar to what my mom has (she says it belonged to her mother, my grandmother Beatriz Ledesma Lacson).
So we left the pen for repair, mainly nib replacement. We asked Rose and Terrie a good place nearby to have lunch. “Turn right at the corner and look for the French windows,” they said. “Order the grilled pork chop.” Same thing they told Leigh. I’m glad I took their advice. The pork chop was great, along with sides of fried egg and potato salad. The place is called 9 to 6 Foodhouse, along Tomas Pinpin corner Escolta.
Back at the office, I checked Lih-Tah Wong’s excellent online reference Parker 75 Fact Book and found out that the pen is a Parker 75 Milleraies, made in France. (Milleraies is French for “a thousand lines”).
My friend has another Parker 75 which he identified as a Grain d’Orge (barleycorn pattern).
He says he used to own a Parker 51 which he found really annoying to use (it was skipping) so he took the nib apart. He couldn’t put it back together again the way it was so he stopped using it. (Rose and I, in unison: “Where is it?!”)
My friend is amazed that the pens he used when he was younger and took for granted as “just pens” are now worth a fortune. Well, a small one anyway. Luis Store’s cheapest Parker 51 is P28,000. ”And to think my classmates and I used to stab our pens nib-first into the tops of our wooden schooldesks,” he said. As I looked at him in horror he said, “Eh matibay naman kasi eh.”
Later that same afternoon, I visited Leigh ‘s office to pick up the Platinum and Sailor “21″ pens. It was our first meeting and I was so happy as Leigh is so sweet and friendly. The pens are in beautiful shape, and she even gave me a black Platinum Preppy and a Platinum pen box.
The highlight of our encounter was when she showed me her lovely pens (Omas, frog Danitrio) and let me try out her Piccolo Nakaya and gold Danitrio with a cursive italic nib, both loaded with lovely light brown ink. Now I feel that I have seen and tried out real pens, and know what I should be collecting.
Yay for pens!