About Pen Descriptions

When it comes to describing antique and vintage items, there are no standards. This is both a blessing, and a curse. For example: the term wet noodle. This term is used by some to describe a pen which writes with a high ink flow, and whose nib is extremely flexible. But there are some real difficulties with using terms like this, because it is so subjective.

Wet, compared to what? Flexible compared to what? Someone who has handled dozens of pens will have a completely different definition in their mind than someone who has handled hundreds, or thousands. And someone with a specific range of interests will often simply not pay attention to pens outside their chosen range. In contrast, a repair technician has no choice as to the pens they handle, and will thus have a wider range of experience. This may be vastly different from someone to whom they are speaking on the subject.

So, to avoid the problem of making subjective assessments, we don’t. We have a simple standard: we only make objective assessments. We get out the calipers, and the rulers, and we measure. Often to the tenth of a millimeter.

For example, when describing a nib, we might say:

stamped “parker | lucky [lazy S] curve | pen ”, fine width (0.4 mm). Flexible, to about 1.5 mm.

This description means:

Parker Duofold - "Lazy S" Nib

Parker Duofold – “Lazy S” Nib

  • that the nib has the words in quotation marks stamped into it, in three tiers (the vertical bars indicate a new line, and the words in square brackets indicate our description of something graphic in nature; this is a convention used in bibliography, when describing things that have been printed).
  • that we have actually measured the width of the tipping at rest, and it is exactly 0.4 mm wide.
  • that we have flexed the nib to it’s safest pressure point, and measured it at 1.5 mm. Does this mean it can’t be flexed further? No. But some folks who make claims of ‘super’ nib flexibility flex their nibs past the point of safety. We have had to repair enough nibs which have been sprung out of shape that we know when to stop. So if we say that this “lazy S” nib can only be safely flexed to 1.5 mm, take it as our professional advice not to exceed that threshold, others’ opinions about these nibs notwithstanding.
  • that it has a fairly high ink flow. Any pen which writes when flexed to 1.5 mm has to have a high ink flow, or it will not be able to provide enough ink for a line that wide. If it was a dry writer, we would either adjust the pen itself, or adjust our description to downgrade the maximum thickness of writing line. Some things go without saying, and this is one of them: if it doesn’t write properly, it’s not listed on our site.

Is this nib a “wet noodle”? Some might say so others might not. We don’t use the term. It’s just not accurate.

This principle follows in a number of areas. Is it an “over-sized” pen? Is that box a piece of “treenware”? How is the barrel clarity? Is it a “BBB”? All subjective questions, and guaranteed to get a seller in trouble.

So, if you have a question, read the description carefully; both what’s in it, and what is left out. If a photo is needed to clarify, we have probably provided it. If not, we would be happy to.