The New Esterbrook J Series Pen
First of all, we need to emphasize that any opinions expressed today in this review are our own, as personal collectors and users of vintage Esterbrook pens. For full transparency and disclosure, we did contact the new Esterbrook company to inquire about a retail opportunity. Based on the images of the new pens, we did request to buy samples of one fountain pen and one rollerball, which we purchased at a wholesale cost, which was thoughtful of the company to do. We have since been told that the company will not be able to work with us, in a phone call that occurred last week, after an online exchange about the usage of an image on Brian’s Esterbrook.net site. They wished us well.
As long-time collectors, with a collection of Esterbrooks numbering at approximately 1000 (Esterbrooks alone), plus between the two of us, we have handled thousands more in our 17+ years each of pen collecting, we have seen a couple of pens. We were excited to hear that the Esterbrook pens were being revived. When we saw the pics of the “new J”, we were a little confused, and I have to admit, a little dismayed. We received the pens just before the Philly Pen Show this January.
There has been much debate about where these pens are being made. We have NO IDEA where these are made. The company is pushing the “America’s original pen company” reputation, and according to the company kickstarter page, “All Esterbrook Pens are made in various factories in which I have relationships with both domestically and internationally.”
First glance, the sleeve on the box clearly says made in China – so the box is made there. No big deal. Many decent pens are made in China, and most pen users don’t mind, as long as they know that. It’s basic economics regarding the cost of manufacturing. We carry products made in Taiwan, Thailand, Germany, China, India, Italy, and many other countries. In my personal opinion, the box is very nice!! I like it a lot.
Then we opened the box, to find the rollerball first. Not a bad looking plastic, but certainly NOT what Richard Esterbrook had designed, but nice acrylics nonetheless.
Rollerball – pen received brand new in the box had scuff in plastic, had to be exchanged. Very squeaky sounding refill (made by Yeetsen) when held at a higher angle, as some users do.
Fountain Pen – Does not post well and has a very big step between the barrel and the section. So much so that after only a few minutes there was a visible crease in my fingers from holding the pen. It would be more comfortable to hold the pen further back, but this makes writing awkward. Those who hold their pen towards the end of the section may have issues as well. The cap threads are at the barrel end of the section, not on the barrel. There is one nib option – medium – in the IPG nib. The nib is friction fit in the plastic section with a plastic feed. Interestingly enough, the nib does resemble the 3xxx series “sunburst” style nibs. I suspect this is a coincidence as no mention of this has been made.
IPG nib (Iridium Point Germany), which no longer necessarily means it is made in Germany, as a quick google search revealed. It means that the tipping material, which is probably not actual iridium, was purchased from Germany. They can be made anywhere. According to the Edison Pen Company, many IPG nibs are made in China or India.
The nib on the J is not the worst nib we’ve ever used, but not the smoothest either. Even with perfectly aligned tines, the nib had a lot of feedback. It could have benefited greatly from some 12000 grit micromesh and some mylar paper.
The pen bears no resemblance to the original Esterbrook J, rather a larger version of the Esterbrook CA101.
The converter is international sized with an agitator. The converter is a hair shorter than the standard Schmidt K2 converter, and holds slightly less than a standard short international cartridge. One blue cartridge is included with the pen.
Retail price on the J is $75, the Rollerball $65. At this price range there are several other good candidates to consider as well, including the Pilot Prera ($70 Retail, $56 Street Price) with three nib options, the Monteverde Prima ($70 Retail, $56 Street Price) with four nib options, the TWSBI Diamond 580 Rose Gold (Retail $70) with four nib options (six with the lower priced 580), the Sheaffer 300 ($75 Retail) with two nib options, the Noodler’s Neponset at $75, and the Kaweco AL-Sport ($80 Retail) with two nib options.
So there you have it, a first look into the New Esterbrook J pens.
Ink It Up!
Brian & Lisa