Tim’s Thoughts

Thoughts are brief essays about vintage pen subjects of interest to me and which I think will be interesting to a reader. Feel free to enjoy them, ask questions, beg clarification, disagree!

March 2024

Does Pen Size Matter? 

In a few past Thoughts, I dissected the roles played by ink, clips, and feeds in the functioning of fountain pens. Now, it’s time to consider why pens are the sizes they are.  Pens are, first, sized to be sold, to fit the hands and writing styles of their owners. A pen can’t be too […]

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November 2023


I’ve written before about my interest and growing practice of parts fabrication for vintage pens. Over the past year, I’ve been devoting time to focus on fabrication, because I’ve discovered that one can’t multi-task when in a project. The fact is that there are no easy fabrication jobs: every one requires planning, design, usually some […]

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March 2023

Parker and Sheaffer

When faced with multiple Parker 51s and Vacumatics, Sheaffer Balances and Triumphs, as I have these past two months, one cannot help noticing the significant differences in manufacturing methods, in addition to these two companies’ very different designs and filling methods. By the advent of World War II, Parker and Sheaffer dominated the American market […]

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November 2022

Ink for Vintage Pens

Is your favorite pen not writing as well as it used to? If a good pen is just not working well, before setting it aside or or having it restored unnecessarily, flush it out and try a fill with different ink — the right combination of pen and ink may well be within your grasp! […]

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September 2022

Clips — Who Thinks About the Clips? 

I noted in my previous Thought that having retired from professional work, my pen shop was becoming my full-time/daytime activity. With the passage of a full summer, and my work now actually happening during the day, I’ve found that pen restoration has become far more deliberate, with my thoughts now focusing on the pen in […]

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May 2022


As everyone on the Timsvintagepens email list knows, this end of May update is my last inventory batch produced during evenings and weekends. What happened? I recently retired from my professional position, so Timsvintagepens will be moving to the daytime! No, I’m not expecting to close up the shop and move somewhere warm…New York City […]

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March 2022

The Case for Pen Cases

“Please treat this pen to a case to protect its finish” are words I often use to end a pen’s listing, and since I’m often asked for a recommendation of a case, this Thought is a good opportunity to make the case for cases.  Using a case is a healthy practice to protect both your […]

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December 2021

Why Do You Collect Fountain Pens?

No, this is not the usual note about collecting versus not collecting. This Thought comes from a number of conversations in recent months about the specific reasons underlying fountain pen collecting. I’ve noted many times that my small collection is a motley crowd of pens that I find interesting and love to use, although I […]

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August 2021

Ink Flow … the Feed

How fountain pens work has long fascinated me. The modern fountain pen is fundamentally a late 19th Century device with many upgrades but the same basic mechanism: a vessel that holds an ink supply, a means of transporting ink to the nib in a controlled manner and letting air supplant the ink that has flowed […]

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