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Stand By that Switch, Ygor!

Posted by Dirck on 18 September, 2012

Today’s pen has me thinking about parts.  The notion of a “frankenpen” is very common amongst the vintage pen fanciers.  While there are some pens from which the vital spark cannot be returned, it is a good deal easier to revitalize them than it is a human.  The pen I’m using right now is made of parts from at least three other pens, spanning at least a decade of production, and it’s this that has me thinking.

If I were to go and stitch myself up a homunculus out of professional sports players (I understand hockey players may be surplus to needs for the next little while), whether or not my bumbling half-wit assistant got the brain of a criminal lunatic for it or not, I think there’s little doubt that people would notice that it was not quite right.  Today’s pen, though, does not provoke villagers to flee for the pitchfork and torch repository; except to an uncommonly knowing eye, it looks like what I call it.  Indeed, I’m comfortably certain that the parts all come from the same model, just different years.

Where, then, is the cut-off?  Is it right to call the ink-filled pastiche in my pocket a frankenpen, or is it short of cut-off?  I’ve another Sheaffer from the Balance era, whose point and body are at odds with one another; the price code on the barrel indicates the next step up the model ladder from the point.  And yet, from the degree of patination, it’s clearly been in there for a long time.  Frankenpen, right?  Sort of?  How about the various Parker “51”s I’ve owned, all but one of which have had several years between the date codes on point and barrel?

There is also the question of at what point making a frankenpen becomes culpable, when the villager’s recourse is not only appropriate but almost a moral obligation.  A Waterman Commando with the cap off a Sheaffer Imperial crammed down onto it.  A wretched chimera composed of parts from four different makers’ pens, with the finishing horror of a dip pen crushed into the section.  Dr. Frankenstein fled in terror and revulsion from his creation, and if it had not been merely somewhat malformed (or, as the book appears to have it, just slightly distasteful in complexion and hair texture), but had been made from a condemned criminal, a ballerina, a hairless cat, and the wrong end of an armadillo, he would have been entirely justified.  I won’t hold up a hand and say, “Never!” but I’m certainly intent on making sure that the parts actually belong in the same frame, even if they might not be quite contemporary.

The last thing I need is to be trapped in a burning windmill by the wretched creatures of my own creation… although now that I think about it, even sticking to all-original parts, I might occasionally touch on the error of Herbert West.  Uh oh.

Today’s pen (has never thrown a tiny German girl into a pond):  Sheaffer 8C
Today’s ink (the use of which probably doesn’t offend the heavens): Diamine Majestic Blue

5 Responses to “Stand By that Switch, Ygor!”

  1. Maja said

    Brilliant blog post! Now………when are you going to review the pen you won in the FPGeeks.com contest (the “Tree Ring” pen)?

    • Wait… is my wishful thinking amending reality? I’d thought some chap in the US had gotten that, but I’ll happily accept it if there’s been a revision!

      There is a Franklin-Christoph Model 27 from the previous round that I’m slowly getting space arranged on my site for. Slowly. Painfully slowly.

      • Maja said

        My bad. I thought it was the Tree Rings pen you had won; I see (based on today’s new blog post) that it was a Franklin-Christoph pen…which is very nice indeed. Congratulations!

  2. The only Frankenpen I have is a FrankenSnorkel. It’s a Sheaffer Admiral with a Touchdown Sovereign cap. Fortunately everything else is correct.

    • I’m almost in favour of cap-swapping on the various TM Sheaffers, since it’s essentially what Sheaffer did to make a broader range of models. With but a simple twist of the wrist, a humdrum Valiant becomes a dazzling Crest!

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