Posts Tagged ‘celluloid’

frankenpen; or, a pen reborn

Oh joy of joys! A frankenpen for my very own from frankenpen creator Tom Overfield!

The term “frankenpen” is used by fountain pen collectors to refer to a pen that incorporates parts from other pens – say, a cap or a barrel. The prefix “franken-” comes from the fictional monster cobbled together by Dr. Frankenstein.

Tom, an IT expert and a FP user and collector, makes entire pens from vintage Sheaffer parts. Like works of art, his creations have titles or names. This is “Thinenstein”. It has other siblings, all Sheaffer Snorkels – the first one he made was called “Frankensnork”, followed by “Son of Frankensnork” and “Bride of Frankensnork”, and all in the collections of Filipino penfriends.

Thinenstein is made from Thin Model (TM) parts and has a Touchdown fill system and a Triumph nib. The parts are of different colors – the cap burgundy, the barrel blue, the end cap green, the section dark amber.

“Sheaffer TMs were made for only a few years,” wrote Tom in an accompanying note. A Penspotters article says that the TM pens were introduced in 1950 and were fitted with the Touchdown system until the switch to the Snorkel filling system in 1952. For the bodies of their pens, Sheaffer used Radite (celluloid) until 1948, then brought in a new synthetic cast resin called “Fortical”.


Thinenstein’s section is a translucent or “visulated” dark amber plastic, which could not be used later on with the Snorkel “because of the need to house the Snorkel tube.”


The 14k two-tone gold Triumph nib is a marvel of design and engineering. It is a firm and sturdy nail, without the slightest hint of flex, making it more than robust enough for daily use.  Slightly upturned at the tip like a Turkish slipper, it lays ink in a consistent line.


It is is steady, reliable writer, one that can be counted on to perform day in and day out.

Its appeal also lies in its origin. Made from rare, old, and unusual but discarded parts joined to create an object of function that is at the same time an original work of art, Thinenstein is a perfect road warrior, combining the charm of vintage things, the attraction of beauty and exclusivity, and the practicality of performance.

Thank you very much, Tom, for this token of friendship that I will always treasure!

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bend it like wahl and moore.

Vintage fountain pens are highly-prized by many collectors not just for their unusual materials and designs. For those connoisseurs who actually use these pens, not merely keep them tucked away in protective cases, the nibs are the biggest draw of these oldies but goodies.

Older nibs, those manufactured up to the 1930s with higher gold content, tend to be more flexible than steel nibs. They are also resistant to the corrosion that may be a side effect of some types of inks.

These pens hail from the 1920s. One is a gold-filled Wahl, the other a celluloid Moore vest pen.


The Wahl has a Greek-key design. It is slim and perfect for ladies’ smaller hands. The notebook is a Ruled Pocket Moleskine.


Its 14k gold nib looks like a stub with most of the iridium worn off. A heart-shaped breather hole in the nib helps with the exchange of air for ink the pen’s reservoir. It’s a lever-fill.


A beautiful monogram on the cap tassie.

Moore is a lesser-known brand, yet the quality of this particular pen is admirable.


Celluloid body, lever-fill, 14k gold nib.


The name engraved on the barrel may be that of the first owner.


The Moore also has a heart-shaped breather hole.

No matter how agile and lithe David Beckham is, he can’t bend it like the nibs of these vintage pens can.


Writing samples – top, the Wahl in Private Reserve Shell Pink; center, the Moore in a plum color, a mixture of Shell Pink and Tropical Blue. The Moore’s nib gives more line variation.

Flexibility was an important characteristic for early 20th century pens because they suited the handwriting styles of the period – Copperplate and Spencerian.

Having used flexible pens, modern pens feel stiff and rigid. “Like a nail”, is how some collectors describe them. Many FP users have both a vintage flexible and a stiff modern writer in their everyday pen case for different purposes.

Photos taken with a Nikon D60.

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