A Wearever Returns and a Parker Goes Home

Part of being a collector, even a bit player like me, is keeping track of the pens that got away. No, I don’t mean the the decisions to not buy the Hundred Year Waterman or the lapsed ebay bid — not those pens. I’m talking about the ones I owned and let leave, only to regret the loss. This past weekend I bought a green-grey striped 1940’s Wearever Deluxe 100 and filled one of those holes. It was sold at a Wearever price, barely a fifth of the way to $100, coincidentally the same price its predecessor earned a few years back. Why is it special? Wearever, like many other long-closed companies, used its design capability to copy others and sell at a very low price point, and a few of their models were close enough to make one momentarily think “is it really? could it be?”.  In this case, the Deluxe’s vertical stripes aped those of the far better Parker Duofold and even the Waterman InkVue of the ’30’s — the stripes lent elegance to an otherwise ordinary, and clearly not as durable pen.
The question that remains is why I’m interested in the copy, rather than the real thing. First, I do like the originals. Even if it is a copy, it is its own reality and brings its own magic as an unheralded icon of wartime America, a time when people were cutting back on what they bought and the materials they used, a time of utilitarian goods that carried the scent of an earlier, perhaps happier day. I have always liked nicer Wearevers, because they filled an important need for a working person. I do hope it’s one of the Wearevers that is not filled with corrosion under the clip and jewel…

For several months, I have been working on a friend’s Parker 51 we have named The Grey Lady. Truth be told, it’s my second, nope third, sentence with this pen. Parker 51’s are normally not considered cranky pens, but there’s always an outlier. This is a beauty of an aerometric model, with a smooth broad nib, in Dove Grey with a brushed stainless steel cap. The trouble has been that it just didn’t let enough ink out and a broad nib needs ink flow. I flushed it, disassembled it, changed the breathing tube, made sure every little nook and cranny wasn’t plugged or somehow impeding flow. Not the problem. I opened the nib a bit. No again. I reset the nib against the hood. Nope. All of this is months apart, since both he and I needed to confirm that it just wasn’t right yet, and we’re of course on opposite coasts and I’m a lefty and he’s not. I did two things that I hoped to be determinative:  first,  I found a recommendation to replace the little plug that hold the the collector open in some 51’s. Not having a plug to use, I cut off a 1/4″ piece of 26 gauge suture wire (don’t ask…) and inserted it into the collector slit in the hope that that would increase ink flow. I lined up my own three 51’s and his and did some tight measuring, and decided that even though there were different amounts of nib showing at the end of all of the four hoods, his pen showed the least by a good 3/64″, which I decided was causative. So I pulled the nib out a teensy bit, more a creak than a pull, reassembled the pen (it practically closes up by itself at this point), and so far three right-handers have said it works. It returns to its owner, one hopes finally, this week and we’ll see.