We have previously written about the Waterman 20S – a flask disguised as a pen. See the original post here! Visconti has just launched the Speakeasy – a modern take of that prohibition era pen, representing the Speakeasy establishments in the US. The back of the pen harbors a sanitized compartment for the beverage of your choice. This pen, like many other Visconti pens, is quite large.
Waterman has been around for a long time, being one of the first companies to produce fountain pens (arguably even the first!). That’s one of the reasons I love vintage Waterman pens: they’ve been around for so long! My Watermans are definitely the oldest pens in my pouch.
If I really had to pick a few pens from my pen case to call my favorite, these four would be among them: a Waterman 12, a Waterman 94, a Waterman 42, and a Pelikan 400NN, all with flex nibs (to various degrees). I think they’re beautiful, interesting pens, and the nibs are out of this world.
Waterman’s licensed Italian distributor used to add stunning overlays to some Waterman pens. In this case, a 1920s Safety Pen. Waterman procured such unique pieces by sending pens to major jewelry houses and allowing the artisans carte blanche in creating overlays.
I have a Waterman 12 that is a simple, straightforward pen. It doesn’t have a fancy, complicated filling system or an ornate nib. It’s as simple as a cap and barrel, a nib, and a feed. Fill the barrel with ink and you’re good to go. I love the simplicity. Easy to clean, easy to disassemble and maintain, and writes beautifully.
I thought this post would be fun to show some flex while listing a few of the pen brands. My favorite happens to be Waterman, because my first vintage pen was a red ripple Waterman 52V with a F-BBB wet noodle flex nib. I’m still crazy about it. I later added a few Mabie Todds (Swan, Swallow, Blackbird), a Wahl-Eversharp (Skyline, Doric), Pelikan (400NN x 2), Montblanc (220, 22, 344), and in the Waterman range: 52V, …
It’s interesting to compare vintage flex nibs to modern flex nibs. My preferred, unmodified modern flexible nib is the OMAS extra flessible nib (in this case, an extra-fine). The OMAS nib is a 14KT gold nib, just like the nib on the Waterman 94 I compared it with in the writing sample below. The vintage nib felt softer, bounced back faster, had better feedback (i.e., it let me know when I was pushing it far enough), and …
Aside from interesting ephemera and useful tools like the Signagraph, Waterman created some other handy items. The Waterman 20S was a prohibition era flask from the 1920s. It was supposed to look exactly like a Safety Pen, but was an innovative and sneaky rubber flask! Considering the average size of other vintage pens, the Waterman 20S was comparatively huge. Below, the Waterman 20S next to a Waterman 420 and Waterman 20.
Some interesting vintage Waterman ephemera: Waterman tokens! These chips have been found in red, white, and blue. It also appears there may be a black. From 1910, they were handed out as good luck tokens, for example, with the purchase of the Secretary model Ideal fountain pen (see advertisement below), but they have also been used as poker chips.
What nib do you use? Just one? Or many? Vintage Waterman pens offered “color coded pens” that were matched to specific nibs. The Black model 94, 7, and 5 had color coded disks inserted into the bottom of their barrels. The Ripple Model 5 and Model 7 (seen below) had as many as ten different color bands, visible below the top of the cap (the Model 5 had fewer “colors” than did the Model 7). All of the …