As a college student, I was enamored by professors who would pull out a beautiful fountain pen (usually Mont Blanc) and make a note on my paper. As laptops were emerging in our classrooms and disposable Bic pens were ubiquitous, the idea of carrying a pen that meant something was endearing. After purchasing my first Mont Blanc rollerball, I quickly found my interest turning toward vintage fountain pens. On a graduate student budget, I wasn’t able to afford the more “fancy” varieties, so the mid century modern pens – manufactured by the Esterbrook Pen Company – captured my attention.
Although they are somewhat scorned by collectors who are enamored by more glamorous pens, Esterbrook fountain pens have come into their own in recent years – due in part to a surge in the popularity of mid century modern decor and lifestyle. In fact, some collectors have begun to exclusively focus on Esterbrooks. Made for the economy market and a favorite among students, Esterbrook pens (and the scarcer pencils) were consistently well-made and innovative – almost all of them constructed with a stainless steel nib.
Esterbrook Fountain Pens For Sale
Scroll over “Esterbrook” items on eBay to check out what’s currently available. Buying Esterbrook Fountain Pens is an economical way to start a pen collection that goes along with your mid century modern decor.
History of Esterbook Fountain Pens
Richard Esterbrook was a Cornish Quaker from England who saw an opportunity in the United States to manufacture Steel Pens. In 1856 R.Esterbrook traveled to the US to set up shop as ‘The Steel Pen Manufacturing Company’ where Richard made these steel pens by hand using special tools and machines (mostly that Richard had to invent). In 1858, he was able to establish himself as the sole pen manufacturer in the USA and he changed the company name to ‘The Esterbrook Steel Pen Mfg. Co.’ The company settled down in Camden, New Jersey. Quality was a key factor in his success. His steel pens were versatile, long lasting, and came in many different styles to fit the varied writing styles of the public. Sadly, Richard Esterbrook didn’t see the ‘empire’ his company was to become as he passed away in Atlanta on October 12th, 1895.
The company wasted no time after Richard’s death to expand the company. Just one year after his death, in 1896, they started an Esterbrook branch in England to join the ranks of the other main pen manufactures in Birmingham. In 1912, the company had gotten so large that they erected a 5 story building, just to continue manufacturing pens. By 1920, the fountain pen was fast becoming more popular amongst people who were tired of ‘dipping.’ To meet this demand the company manufactured its first fountain pen. In 1930 the company sought less expensive means of manufacturing pens because gold and ‘jewel’ tips were too expensive and in this same year they began selling fountain pens in England . The Esterbrook Company began using the metal Iridium which they called ‘Durachrome.’ To meet the fountain pen demand the company reformed as ‘The Esterbrook Hazel Pens Ltd.’ In 1940 war had come to strike a blow at the Esterbrook company. On November 19th 1940 their England location was hit by an incendiary bomb destroying half of the location. To make matters worse, when putting out the fire using a human water bucket chain, someone accidentally grabbed a bucket of paraffin and set the place further ablaze. Oddly enough, the company was able to rebuild the structure during the war. However, the government had placed a stipulation that 50% of its capacity was to be used for government related purposes.
In 1947, the company bought out John Mitchell and the American branch had already acquired Hazel Pen co. The company re-formed again as ‘The Esterbrook Pen Company.’ The company continued to thrive until the beginning of 1960 when the company started to see a decline in export trades with England. In 1967 the Esterbrook Empire was bought out world wide by the Venus Pencil Company and thus the name changed to Venus Esterbrook. Venus Esterbrook continued to produce the renew points for fountain pens. There were numerous administrative changes and moves and eventually their final base of operations was vacated in 1972, though the building still stands today. The end of the empire was gone. The company, in one fraction or another can now be traced to Berol Ltd. Berol, as you may or may not know is one of the major ball-point-pen manufacturers. (source of history)