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Getting along with Esterbrook Well (?)

Posted by Dirck on 26 May, 2010

I have today only a few observations today, regarding my current experience with the Esterbrook 444 Dip-Less desk well. Don’t expect the secrets of the universe.

I should start by mentioning that I am not one of the world’s greatest fans of Esterbrook’s pens. For the most part they’re very sturdy objects, and pleasant to look at, but the performance is not great. I am not a pen snob by any means, as I will use and enjoy pens which normal people, at least those below the age of 70, have never heard of and for very good reason. Packard? Remington? Champion? Cheap, cheap and cheap, but I rather like them. I suppose it’s the mere fact that Esterbrooks do have such a fan base that makes me expect a little more out of them. An unused point works reasonably well, but the used points seem to be profoundly used.

Such was the case with the pen I got for this well, which is fitted with a 5550 (fine firm) point. It needed a quantity of work to remove a sharp point it had developed, which would dig into the paper alarmingly. I can only ponder how long it will be before that point redevelops.

That aside, I do enjoy the fact that I can just sit down in the morning, yank it out and write without any nod in the direction of priming the point. This is a trick which even the Parker “51” full of blue ink can’t quite manage– it writes, but it’s a little thickened and sluggish. The Estie, by contrast, is writing at the first stroke with the ink at the appropriate degree of saturation. This is not a situation which I am utterly certain will continue, as there is not a seal as such between pen and well, and so inevitably there must be some evaporation happening. Until that becomes an issue, though, I don’t foresee the starting problem that infrequent use and goofy colours imposed on my previous high-lighting pen.

If evaporation isn’t a large issue, then it will be a very long time indeed before I need to refill the well. I get about 300 words to the dip (I write small) and seldom go that far as this pen is devoted to mainly check-marks and small notes which demand attention (“This is WRONG!”). The dish holds, I discovered through careful application of a graduated syringe, 30ml of fluid, which is coincidentally exactly the amount of ink in one of the little Herbin bottles. For those who remember and care, that’s about half as much as that Sheaffer box’o’ink I’ve got can take, which means Sheaffer was expecting their users to write a lot.

I have also discovered that getting the lid off for refilling, an effort I experimentally made, is less fraught than I’d expected, although one would like a very absorbent object on an impermiable surface to rest the lid on while pouring in the fresh ink. I had both hands to devote to not dribbling, as refilling wasn’t called for.

My personal and small dislike of the point aside, I’m generally pleased with this visitor from the past. I can, in theory change the point, but there is one other observation to make– while the threads are the same on all the Esterbrook points, the smaller Renew-Point units meant for the fountain pens don’t seem long enough to dabble in the ink. A 1550 (technically the same point, the first digit merely indicating which line of points it belongs to, but much shorter overall) remained high and dry until unscrewed to the point of nearly dropping from the holder, while a 9556 was adequate to the task. It’s not a big issue, but one should be aware that not ALL Esterbrook points will serve.

I see that lunch hour is over, so it’s time to go back down the well.

Today’s portable pen: Parker 45 Flighter (with an XF gold point fitted)
Today’s ink: Pilot Iroshizuki Fuyu-Syogun

One Response to “Getting along with Esterbrook Well (?)”

  1. […] demand. Banks had pens on chains back then, but the chain was attached to a well, not unlike my Esterbrook item. Schools had countless pony-tail dipping stations to fill. Big offices would supply their […]

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