why i prefer antique waterman pens

Author Stephen King called the Waterman fountain pen “the world’s finest word processor”. He used one to write the first draft of  his novel Dreamcatcher, after an accident on 19 June 1999 that left him unable to sit in front of his computer for the four to six hours (or 2,000 words, presumably whichever came first) that was his daily self-imposed writing discipline.

Intrigued by this assertion coming from one of my most admired fictionists, I acquired a Preface and a Hemisphere. Both are handsome and well-made pens, reliable and robust; but the modern Watermans don’t compare to the antique models of this brand.

Take this Waterman #52 1/2V. Made circa 1910-1920s, this one’s made of black hard rubber and has a  lever-fill system, state-of-the-art during that time. The cap is adorned with a decorative gold band that has space for the engraving of the owner’s initials. The deep-cut flourishes are art nouveau-inspired, a genre of art that sends me into paroxysms of delight because it is rare and otherworldly.

Yet this pen’s crowning glory is the gold flex nib that gives a wide range of line variation, from very thin to very thick.

The nib is a marvel of metallurgy; they don’t make them this way anymore.

The clip is also heavily engraved.

It’s fortunate that many pens like these have survived to the present time, for us to enjoy as functional art. Stephen King would have liked this one, I think, to marvel over and write into one of his stories, if not draft a best-selling novel with.

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4 Comments on why i prefer antique waterman pens

  1. Chito Limson
    15 June 2010 at 7:16 am (3538 days ago)

    That decorative band is known as repoussé band, made by a quaint metalworking technique where “the malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side” — quoted from a Wikipedia entry. Chasing on the other hand is the opposite of repoussé. So your beautiful Waterman 52½V pen has both of these techniques implemented on it.

  2. Mona
    15 June 2010 at 10:16 am (3538 days ago)

    I love my Waterman 52 and 52 1/2v :) The latter has the repousse band and comes with a lovely flexible stub.

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