Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sketching with Waterman Ideal 94 manifold nib, ESS Registrar's Ink

Fountain Pen
Company: Waterman
Model: 94-G / 94 Grey Chromium mountings
Color: Grey
Production Date: ? - ?
Nib type: Manifold
Condition received: User grade

Company: Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies
Model: Registrar's Ink
Color: Blue Black
Type: Iron gall

The pen
Information available on this pen is slightly confusing, with many authoritative sites stating data that contradicts with scanned copies of printed pen catalogs which I found. What I can say for sure is that this model appeared in Waterman's pen catalogs in the years 19331 and 19362, and was no longer listed in 1947.

One of the things that some sites seem to get confused about, is the believe that model "Lady Patricia" and model "94" are the same pens. In actual fact, the pens have different caps and lever designs, as seen in the catalogs.

Another item that is often confused about the pen, is the names of it's colors patterns. One of the most popular fountain pen online sellers, listed a pen for sale with similar pattern as "Steel Quartz", when the catalogs listed it as "Grey Chromium mountings" in 1933, and "94-G / Grey" in 1936.

The pen I used for this sketch was purchased as "user grade" (i.e. cosmetic issues, but working) with a loose cap and discolored manifold 14k nib. For those who have never heard the term before, a manifold nib is a "hard" nib which offers no flex, something which is not the normal in the era. Based on online discussions (taken with a generous pinch of salt), manifold nibs were used to write on carbon paper, for the writer to make copies of his/her writing. 


The ink
Yes I hear your screams, modern iron gall ink in a vintage, what was I thinking. To be honest, I tested the ink in another ink sac fountain pen before and it survived without a scratch. To do this with pen killer inks (I'm looking at you baystate blue (╬ Ò ‸ Ó) ) is murder, do not try this at home.

The ESS registrar's ink writes with a sapphire blue which quickly oxides to a dark midnight blue. It's pretty feather-resistant, slightly bleed-resistant, and I've used it on cheap office papers for quick writing with good results. 

As all iron gall inks, this ink dries with residue and requires extra care when used.

Drawing experience
For those taking the brave leap into vintage pens (i.e. any pen with a nib designed before ball points became popular), do note that writing styles and pen designs have changed greatly through the decades. One noticeable change is in the tipping of fountain pen nibs post-ball point era. Vintage nibs were designed to draw lines parallel and perpendicular to the nib face. Modern general purpose nibs, due to the influence of ball points, are often designed to draw in multiple directions. This vintage nib has that same design, and drawing with habits from modern nibs was a little vexing. 

Using a manifold was good for the quick sketch, as I needed to worry less about pressure control, though the lack of line variation is painfully obvious. The nib dries quickly when used in a "wrong angle", and trying to maintain the angle at the nib's sweet spot was a huge reminder of how weak my basics are. 

The nib felt coarse on the paper, due to the watery consistence of the ESS, this is a known issue to me, so it didn't bother me that much. As always, the ink dries quickly, and I had no issues with smudging.

Over all, the sketching experience was not as pleasant as some of my other pens (due to my own bad habits), will likely use this as a writing pen moving forward.




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