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The Journal of Writing Culture

VINTAGE INSPIRATION meet the family:

Armando Simoni, Wahl-Eversharp, Conway Stewart, and Bexley oh, Estie!

Esterbrook’s new look

FEBRUARY 2019 $6.95US $7.95CAN


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SEDONA The Indigenous Collection’s first model is inspired by the vibrant colors of Sedona Red Rock Country at early dawn and at dusk. While each pen is similar, each has uniquely different patterns that embody the feeling of Sedona as the sun glistens across the sandstone canyon of the Red Rock Mountains.

Ancient Anasazi cap band design with Malachite accents Ebonite fountain pen Rose gold metal reflecting the richness of the copper state of Arizona





Volume 32, Number 2 ON OUR COVER: Armando Simoni Club Il Gladiatore and Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Sedona fountain pens.

and fountain pens 42 friendship Armando Simoni Club and Wahl-Eversharp welcome Bexley Pen and Conway Stewart to the family.


pens and swords

22 Graf von Faber-Castell’s 2019 Pen of the Year Samurai honors the warrior and the poet.

academic 25 it’s What led pen repair expert Gerry Berg to Sheaffer plunger-fillers? The library.

NYC, pen in hand 29 touring New York City boasts a glut of pen shops specializing in new and vintage stock.


make a short story long 34 to Read the first in a continuing series on the history of long/short pens.

demonstration purposes 38 for Parker Pen Co.’s collection of demonstrator fountain pens is its own vintage collection.

Esterbrook 50 adapting Kenro Industries relaunches a vintage U.S.


writing instrument brand.

50 38



departments 6 8 10

view inspired by vintage

14 17

now new pens and accessories

19 55 60

news Pineider, Aurora, and Mickey D’s

62 64 14 17

mail our readers, noted date mark your calendars

show snapshots from Philly

the PW vault Thomas Edison’s electric pen network classified advertising source brand contact information how to… …use the Esterbrook MV Nib Adaptor


Armando Simoni Club, Wahl-Eversharp, Conway Stewart, and now Bexley: the new vintage-inspired family of companies.


From left—2018 Bexley Prometheus fountain pen in amber, Armando Simoni Club Il Gladiatore fountain pen, and Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Sedona fountain pen.


ver the past 25 years, we’ve witnessed the creation of a new sub-genre of writing instrument manufacturing: the vintageinspired fountain pen. It’s been the dream of many a pen lover to resurrect a favored brand that long ago suffered the ignominy of irrelevance, but it’s not an easy thing to do. Bexley, Wahl-Eversharp, Armando Simoni Club, and Conway Stewart are different. Like four siblings, the brands share certain commonalities while maintaining distinct identities, but there is one characteristic they all have: owners who are friends and business partners. Those who attend multiple pen shows through the year may have noticed the connection. Howard Levy, owner of Bexley Pen Company, generally stays married to his table at pen shows; the same is true of Syd Saperstein, who hovers over his tables of Wahl-Eversharp pens; and Emmanuel (“Manu”) Caltagirone of ASC Pens clearly enjoys the opportunity to show interested customers his new writing instruments with their vintage OMAS rod stock. But these three gentlemen also confab with one another in ways that have made pen enthusiasts scratch their heads for years. Saperstein and Caltagirone have a partnership dating back to 2013 and the relaunch of the Wahl-Eversharp brand. But what many people don’t know is that Caltagirone also has a long-standing relationship based on friendship and mutual respect with Levy and Bexley. “There are people in the pen industry who know there’s a connection but don’t know what it is,” says Caltagirone. “Here’s Syd at his table next to me and Armando Simoni Club, and then you’ll see us over at the Bexley table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a pen show and people have said, ‘What are you doing over here at these tables?’” The answer dates back much farther and involves Caltagirone’s father. Caltagirone grew up in Paris, France, the son of one of the most respected men in European pen making. Caltagirone explains, “My father was the technical director for Cartier and Waterman. I started working at age 10 in his workshop taking apart pens and getting ink on my fingers. From an early age, I knew how to sell and how to represent a brand.” In addition, Caltagirone learned the ins and outs of manufacturing and engineering. He put in years on his own as well, garnering a reputation through the decades as an expert on pen manufacturing and marketing in his own right.

Above—Il Gladiatore features an aerospace-grade aluminum ink feeder and is ASC’s first faceted pen. Right—the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Sedona’s color patterns vary from piece to piece. Below—Saperstein and Caltagirone pose in cowboy “duds” to celebrate the release of the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Magnificent Seven collection in 2017.

On this side of the Atlantic, Levy, an engineer and pen collector, hatched the idea for a new U.S. pen brand that hewed closely to the style and standards of classic American brands of yesteryear. In 1993, he formed the Bexley Pen Company, named after the Ohio town where he resides. He drew inspiration from pens that were popular in the first half of the twentieth century. He insisted on keeping his new company small so he could engineer personally his new writing instrument line. Collectors immediately took notice, as this was a new kind of venture with multiple appeals: recognizable, classic looks with the most modern of technology—smooth nibs in multiple widths, efficient feeds, improved filling systems. With reasonable pricing, responsible manufacturing levels, responsive repair work, and the personal touch of Levy, Bexley has carved a respected name for itself over the past 25 years, and Levy, himself, became one of the most admired manufacturers in the writing instrument field. Bexley pens come in hard rubber, celluloid, and various plastics and sport a variety of filling mechanisms—button, eyedropper, sleeve, piston, and cartridge/converter. The designs are decidedly reminiscent of classic favorites: flat-tops, taper caps, and streamlined bodies. Some elegant models have solid gold and silver overlays.

Jack Leone has been a Bexley co-owner since shortly after its beginning and is intimately involved in the design aspect of Bexley pens. He picks up the thread of connection between Levy, Caltagirone, and Saperstein: “I met Manu 20 years ago through Howard Levy. We were at Paperworld in Frankfurt, Germany where I was living and working at the time. We shared a booth with Manu and his father. We just hit it off and had a really good time together.” Fast-forward to 2004. Saperstein was a collector of Wahl and Eversharp pens, and his website,, offered quality vintage writing instruments from the companies’ myriad incarnations. But Saperstein had a notion to do more with the Wahl-Eversharp brand.


ASC Bologna Extra Burkina celluloid with ruthenium trim, part of the Bella Italia set. Below—the ASC Il Gladiatore has Greek Key bands, an ASC cap medallion, a Magic Flex Nib, and an aluminum feed. Metal parts have a chocolate-colored PVD coating with rose gold accents.

He knew that someone in France had relaunched the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline model in the 1990s, but that was about it. Then in the early 2000s, that manufacturer contacted Saperstein through the message board at That man, Saperstein told me in a 2013 interview, was Caltagirone. Caltagirone had the manufacturing capabilities Saperstein needed to relaunch the Wahl-Eversharp brand. They started in 2013 with the Skyline, but Wahl-Eversharp truly captured the pen culture’s imagination with the launch of the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband in 2015. An oversize ebonite or celluloid fountain pen closely modeled on the original Decoband, the line has gone on to win multiple PW RCA awards, most recently a 2018 “Best Vintage-Inspired Pen” for the Wahl-Eversharp Magnificent Seven Decoband in Burkina celluloid. While Saperstein wowed his customers with stunning bodies, unique filling systems, and surprisingly responsive nibs, Caltagirone had plans for himself: “When OMAS went out of business, they split off the assets. I bought the pen stock: the unsold pens, the celluloid rods, the tools, the spare parts.” OMAS was the brainchild of Italian pen maker Armando Simoni, the “AS” in “OMAS.” While Caltagirone


now owned the assets of OMAS, a Chinese company still possessed rights to the name. “So I settled on Armando Simoni Club as a name,” Caltagirone says. “In the end, I invested so much time and energy and treasure that it became moot whether I had the name or not.” In the meantime, Levy continued to push the Bexley Pen Company forward. In 2006, he and Leone created the Bexley Owners Club. All one had to do was register one’s current Bexley pen, which also validated the warranty. In return, Bexley Owners Club members gained early access to an annual Bexley Owners Club limited edition pen. (Today, each of the four companies has some version of an Owners Club.) In addition to Bexley, Levy has provided made-to-order pens for retailers, other pen makers, or collector projects, and he will continue to do so. But at this point in his career, Levy was considering the best way to keep Bexley alive for decades to come. He recalled the technical tips and resources Caltagirone’s father provided him when he began Bexley. Levy wished similar success for Caltagirone. Beginning in 2019, Caltagirone will lead Bexley’s day-to-day operations, with Levy serving as president emeritus to ensure a smooth transition. (continued on page 47)

Emmanuel Caltagirone: Collaborator Extraordinaire The Italian heritage of Armando Simoni, who originally founded the OMAS brand in 1925, is something that Emmanuel Caltagirone takes seriously. One of ASC’s first series, the stately Bologna Extra, is named for the Italian city OMAS called home. With the new, limited edition Il Gladiatore fountain pen, ASC tries its hand at another trait of pen-making heritage: the faceted pen. The hand-turned body of vintage OMAS Arco Bronze celluloid features 12 subtle facets, harkening to the Colosseum in which Roman Gladiators fought. The pen’s metal trim—from the Greek Key cap and barrel bands to the ASC cap medallion to the roller clip to the nib—is treated with chocolate-colored PDV coating, then etched and plated in rose gold. Il Gladiatore features a classic piston-filling system and an 18 karat gold No. 8 Magic Flex nib, but in a fun twist, the feeder is composed of aerospace-grade anodized aluminum. According to Caltagirone, the idea came from talking to aeronautical engineers: “It seems to perform very well, and it’s got the cool factor. As far as we know, it’s the only aluminum feed.” And speaking of venerated brands, Caltagirone recently entered into a very unique partnership with Visconti, another pen company with a decidedly Italian heritage. Nevertheless, ASC Pens and Visconti are partnering in an exclusive, two-pen gift box—a “Made in Italy” set, as Caltagirone brands it. Leone explains that it’s quite simple: Caltagirone is a collaborative person by nature; he has great respect for the Visconti brand; therefore, a collaboration made sense. Recalling the initial meetings, Leone remarks, “I think it surprised [Visconti]. It was kind of counter-cultural. But it’s Manu’s mindset. His passion for creation comes first.” For this partnership, Visconti chose its iconic Manhattan body style, reinterpreted for this pairing in OMAS Arco Brown celluloid and rose gold-plated trim. The depths of the Visconti double-reservoir are visible thanks to an ink window in the barrel, the end cap showcases a Visconti medallion, and the traditional Manhattan clip is on full display. The fountain pen has an 18 karat gold Visconti nib. ASC is represented with its flagship Bologna Extra line in finely-textured Burkina celluloid and rhodium trim. Like all ASC Bologna Extra fountain pens, this one features the brand’s Chilton-style pneumatic filling system and oversize ink reservoir. Not to be outdone in size, the nib is a 14 karat gold No. 8 ASC Magic Flex nib. The set, limited to 70 editions, is called La Bella Italia, and is presented in a lovely gift box. Fine accessories shop Chatterley Luxuries is featuring its own exclusive ASC Bologna Extra, Blue Lucens, a transparent body with splotches of lagoon blue. The series is limited to 60 fountain pens total: 30 in rose gold trim, 30 in ruthenium black trim. Leone believes there is method to Caltagirone’s collaborative nature. “One of my friends calls it the abundance mentality rather than the scarcity mentality,” he says. “If I sell a pen, it doesn’t mean that you won’t sell a pen. That’s really Manu’s mentality on many things.” Visit

Top—La Bella Italia gift set includes one Visconti Manhattan fountain pen in OMAS Arco Brown celluloid (left) and one ASC Bologna Extra fountain pen in Burkina (right). Middle—Visconti Manhattan’s ink window, iconic Manhattan clip and cap medallion. Above—ASC Bologna Extra Blue Lucens fountain pen, exclusive to Chatterley Luxuries.


Syd Saperstein: Pen Maker, Historian, Museum Owner Before Syd Saperstein was owner and hands-on manufacturer of the Wahl-Eversharp brand, he was one of the leading experts in vintage Wahl-Eversharp writing instruments. He still operates Pensbury Manor, where he sells vintage Dorics, Skylines, and Decobands. “Syd is very in touch with people who appreciate a classic design,” Leone says. Recently, Saperstein added a mid-level pen at a mid-level size: the Wahl-Eversharp Signature. The ebony body is about 2/3 the size of the original Decoband, and the body is composed of a rich, black resin and matched with the same gold-plated finials as its older sibling. The piston-filling fountain pen has a 14 karat gold No. 6 flexible nib. The Wahl-Eversharp Signature is available in jet black and rosewood; two more colors, red and yellow, will feature black ribbons on the body. Of course, the Gold Seal Decoband holds a special place in Saperstein’s heart, as does Saperstein’s home state of Arizona. Saperstein unites those loves in the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Sedona collection. The cap bands feature an Anasazi Capo etching pattern and malachite accents; the barrel colors are vibrant strata of pinks and purples. The rose gold fittings harken to Arizona’s proud history as the “Copper State.” Like all Decobands, the Sedona has a 14 karat gold flexible nib and a Chilton-style filling system. “The colors of this pen reflect its namesake, Sedona Red Rock country, at early dawn, or the look of the rows of red rock hills at dusk,” Saperstein says. “This is the beginning of our ‘Indigenous Collection’ of pens, probably an annual.” Saperstein explains that no two pens are the same—the way the rod stock is cut reveals a variety of patterns, “and yet each one embodies the feeling of Sedona.” And for those living in or visiting Scottsdale, Arizona, Saperstein is proud to announce the opening of the Writing Instrument Museum, the new Wahl-Eversharp headquarters and workshop as well as Saperstein’s private museum. “This museum is not about ‘see the pretty pens,’” he says. “It explores the development and popularization of writing instruments through the 20th century and beyond from an industrial design, manufacturing, production, and fashion/marketing standpoint. While the exhibits contain many examples of how these topics were managed and marketed through the lens of the Wahl-Eversharp company, there are many exhibits from other makers.” Visit, and see pictures of the new Writing Instrument Museum on page 48.


Above, left to right—Wahl Eversharp Skyline Technik in copper and Mars Red and Skyline Classic in black resin with etched, gold-plated cap. Skylines come with a ceramic-coated, stainless steel, semi-flex nib that writes from fine to medium; a 14 karat gold nib upgrade is also available for some models. Below—the Wahl Eversharp Signature in black with gold-plated appointments and 14 karat gold flexible nib.

(continued from page 44) For Caltagirone, it means the acquisition of a brand entirely manufactured in the United States. He says, “Bexley has always been a very well-made pen, and I want that to continue.” Levy adds, “Manu has strengths on the marketing and design side that are not my strong suit.” Caltagirone and Levy are planning a special Bexley pen to mark this passing of the baton. Work on this Bexley Owners Club pen is underway as we go to press. Caltagirone’s team in Europe is crucial, too. Cristina Guida, based in Italy, is responsible for sales and project oversight across Europe. Jean Luc Richard, based in Switzerland, is the master engineer, and master engraver Marc Murelli brings decades of skill to the team. A legendary British pen brand, Conway Stewart, is also joining this family of brands. Caltagirone purchased the Conway Stewart rights and materials after it went out of business. Expect big things from that name later in 2019. Common values unite these people and brands: the joy of writing by hand, the satisfaction of collecting writing instruments that speak to customers in a personal way, the generosity of gift giving, and a thirst for historical connection. In addition, each brand fills a common need in the marketplace. Bexley makes pens in the United States that utilize various substances: new acrylics, hard rubber, and metal filigrees. The body styles all harken to something from the past, but they are also something entirely new. A variety of nib types and sizes are available. Prices range from $200 to beyond $2,000. Wahl-Eversharp, on the other hand, is an old name with very current innards. The popular Decoband line

features vibrant bodies of colorful celluloids or rich hard rubber married to a reliable, one-touch, pneumatic filling system with a 2.1-ml reservoir and either a flexible, stainless steel nib or 14 karat or 18 karat gold nib options as well as rollerball models. The Super Flex gold nib allows for line variations from fine to extra-broad. Price points often reach four figures, but the Skyline and a new line of Wahl-Eversharp Signature pens (styled like the Decoband but about 2/3 the size) hew closer to entry-level and mid-level prices. As for the design philosophy, Saperstein simply says, “Wahl-Eversharp’s greatest hits,” but that also undersells the standards of a Wahl-Eversharp pen. Saperstein is a true pen collector and a student of pen history as a whole. His new Writing Instrument Museum, a long-dreamed side project, carries a vast array of exhibitions from a number of companies, all of which, he says, “represent how manufacturing, distribution, retailing, and writing patterns evolved.” He brings that same level of care and thought to the brand he resurrected. For its part, ASC offers the best of Italian pen making, including that desirable OMAS rod stock and the same technical capabilities available in a Wahl-Eversharp fountain pen. The company’s flagship pen, the oversize Bologna Extra Arco Brown, was recently reissued even though the original is only two years old, premiering on the cover of Pen World in April 2017. Expect ASC pens to remain in the luxury market category. With Conway Stewart, the United Kingdom’s long heritage of pen making augments ASC’s presence as a European brand while also appealing to U.S. collectors who appreciate that company’s pedigree: the brand of choice for Prime Minister Winston Churchill, among many others.

Left—close-up of the Decoband Sedona’s 14 karat gold Super Flex nib; the cap features a gold-plated roller clip and cap band with Anasazi Capo etching pattern and malachite accents. Above—Sedona capped.


The sheer economy of scale by this group venture means new options in terms of pricing and manufacturing. The group, as a whole, now has representative models within most price points. Each brand has individuated appeal, but there’s a clear theme that runs throughout. And each brand representative believes in hands-on management and creating a near-perfect product. The combined family of Armando Simoni Club/Wahl-Eversharp/Bexley/Conway Stewart creates a whole that is bigger than any individual. In fact, this family of writing instruments all but ensures that the vintage-inspired writing instrument is here to stay. Visit,, and

This page: walk through the doors of the new Writing Instrument Museum, and one is met with the Wahl-Eversharp company headquarters as well as a vast collection of vintage Wahl, Eversharp, and Wahl-Eversharp fountain pens, desk pens, and marketing material. Visit the Writing Instrument Museum: 4739 North Scottsdale Road • Scottsdale, Arizona • 480.426.2648 • email The Writing Instrument Museum is currently open by appointment only.


Bexley Mania: Howard Levy’s Greatest Hits Below—the 2017 Pocket Pro, shown here in Lava, is the company’s newest pocket pen, equipped with a removable accessory clip. The 2005 Tuckaway, shown here in Red Pearl, revitalized the “pocket pen” market; see Richard Binder’s article on p. 34.

Left—Bexley’s first fountain pen, c. 1993, a button-filler inspired by 1920s Parker Duofolds in a root beer color never offered for sale. Right—the Jungle Green acrylic in this 2005 Submariner Grande was originally used in 1990s Sheaffer Balances and has a similar but modernized body style.

Left to right—a 1998 Pen World Bexley custom fountain pen in black in honor of PW’s 10th anniversary; 2016 Bexley Demeter in blue, a body style reminiscent of the Conklin Endura and still available today, and 2002 American Artist series fountain pen in Cardinal Red custom acrylic—meant to match vintage Parker “Big Red” pens—with sterling silver overlay by master engraver Ray Cover. 49

Visconti has always had a special place in the heart of pen connoisseurs for its innovation and creativity since 1988. More recently, Armando Simoni Club has also struck the hearts of pen aficionados by using the best celluloid material ever created. Their attention to detail is another hallmark of the brand. Its founder, Emmanuel Caltagirone – himself an avid pen collector – marks the ASC brand as one “by collectors, for collectors.” These two writing instrument brands share something in common: true Italian craftsmanship, recognizable by all fountain pen collectors. It is hard to find a collaboration of this caliber between two unique pen brands. The concept: look deep into the DNA of each company, and find the essence. The iconic Visconti “Manhattan” pen was chosen to be re-interpreted and to represent this exclusive partnership with ASC. Designed in an oversize version, even more appealing, this piece will come with the Visconti 18kt gold nib and will have a prestigious double reservoir filling system. Ink level will always be visible, thanks to a transparent window on the barrel. The Arco Brown celluloid is the icing on the cake, enriched by the elegant rose gold-plated trims. As for Armando Simoni Club, the “Bologna Extra” is the definitive pen, chosen to represent the already iconic brand. Fitted with the huge number 8 flex nib, and made from the fabulous Burkina Africa celluloid with rhodium trims, it will be the perfect companion to the new Visconti Manhattan. These two writing instruments undoubtedly represent a highly collectible set. One that will mark the ever-changing pen industry. Two of the best "Made in Italy" brands, spanning three decades, meet and join their passion for beauty and creativity. Only 70 limited-edition treasure chests, presented in beautiful luxury boxes with their own number.


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The Journal of Writing Culture

past meets present: the future of

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repurposing history:

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how to ...use the Esterbrook MV Nib Adaptor.



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Equipment: Esterbrook Esties are equipped with a stainless steel No. 6 JoWo nib in extra-fine, fine, medium, or broad. The Esterbrook MV Nib Adaptor is purchased separately at an MSRP of $40 (1). An included second grip section will hold a vintage Esterbrook nib and fits the Estie securely (2). Instructions: First, remove the barrel of the pen from the grip section. Use the second provided converter for a secure seal (3). For the best grip, attach the MV Adaptor section to the barrel first.




Hold the top and bottom of the base of the nib as shown in image 4. Line up the base of the nib unit to the MV Adaptor section and turn it clockwise. Be sure to line the threads correctly. If the vintage unit is too tight, use a dab of silicone grease (5). Strong threading on the MV-Adaptor ensures that the vintage Esterbrook unit will hold true (6).




Once the vintage unit is secured, you can unscrew the nib section and fill your Estie like any other converter fountain pen (7). You now have two nib units, pictured in image 8: the supplied JoWo nib (top) and the MV Adaptor with vintage Esterbrook nib. The cushion-closure cap seals the nib from the base of the section (9), which prevents older and finer vintage nibs from drying out too quickly. Repeat these steps to remove and replace one vintage Esterbrook nib with another.


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