I undertook almost a month ago to write only with vintage pens I had collected. The principle objectives were simple enough and this, is that, process.
First, see if they could hold up to daily use. Now I must say that I am not of the "They are too fragile to use everyday" camp. To which I say Bunk, Tripe, Poppycock, Balderdash. My reasoning goes like this. These pens were created to be used in their day as we use a keyboard today. As tools used in every situation and circumstance, relentlessly twirled, dropped, chewed upon and drummed to Benny Goodman. They were the only game in town, so they had to be tough, reliable and able to withstand all of the rigors of day in and day out use. So they are far more stout than they seem at first blush. I admit, that my vintage pens only date back to the 1940's and early 1950's, and are not turn of the century items. Of these I have no knowledge and make no assertions as to their viability or usability for daily use. Let us say then I shall confine and constrain myself within the period inclusive of Pearl Harbor to Ike's second inauguration. There, nice and tidy.
Second, was to see if they would be comfortable enough to use all day every day. I do not write letters or tomes or anything, so you don't get the wrong idea, but I write as much as the average desk jockey and probably uncap the pen 40 or 50 times a day for a few words, some numbers etc. I must say that the vintage pens feel small in the hand. They are the only pens that I own that I actually post. Posted, they feel "normal" to me. Of the pens I inked up for the trial run, I ran one completely out of ink, the other two should be close now, but have not yet run out. There was not a single failure or misstep among the pens.
Lastly, I wanted to see what the writing experience was like for my forefathers. I don't own a Grey Flannel suit or a fedora, for that matter I don't like martini's for lunch, but I do really like their pens.
There is once concession that I will make. In doing my research to be able to call these pens out correctly, I think it is a very very murky pool of vintage identification water. There are a great many really good sites and the fault is not with anyone slacking on their detailed descriptions of vintage pens. Rather it seems that for the same reasons I spoke of above, these pens were , dare I say, commodities. Think about your great grandchildren trying to look up the details of what made a Pilot Metropolitan different than the Metropolitan Retro Pop? It seems so inconsequential as to be beyond asking. But to your distant heirs who find one of yours in a drawer and want to research it to better understand it... well you get the idea. So I have done the best I can to name these pens correctly and accurately.
First and arguably my favorite is the Parker 51 (This is the Vacumatic, I also have an Aerometric filling system), in my case the Dove Gray. What a great pen! It is a joy to look at and even more exciting to write with. The feel and balance (again for me posted in this case) are just right. You can see it above in the center. Yes I know the clip is bent, all the better it's charm I say.
Second was my Parker Vacumatic, in Golden Pearl. Again I must say it feels very small and as a result less than comfortable for a ham fisted oaf like me. I did not post this pen as I was concerned about putting scratches in the barrel. Yes Yes Yes I know I said above that it was to be used and it's robust I know. But I spent a long time polishing out the scratches and quite frankly when I tried it posted, it was not better enough to continue. Please hear me when I say this is not a fault of the pen. This is also very enjoyable to write with, fills without incident and performs as a daily writer beautifully.
Finally was my Waterman's Crusader. Ditto both of the above in re: size. But what a great pen to use and look at. In this case mine is dented and shows all the classic signs of a life well lived and is the better for it. Also as above it was a great writer, convent to fill and use and presented no problems in any situation it which it was called to action. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the only of the three that was noticed by the "public at large", actually twice. That says a lot for the look and style of the pen, which I find the most interesting of the three from a purely visual interest point of view.
So you may ask, "Which one goes to the desert island with you?". That has to be the Parker 51 Vacumatic. Like the Eames Chair, Willies Jeep and John Wayne, stick with what survives the test of time.