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Esterbrook is back

There's a nice article up on usatoday about the revival of the Esterbrook brand. Does anyone here know if these new Esties are any good?
 
It's apparently being revived in the sense that somebody has bought the rights to the Esterbrook name and is producing pens with that name. From their website, they do not appear to be much like the original.

There has been a lengthy discussion on this over at FPN. Someone there linked this video from Anderson pens, reviewing the fountain pen and rollerball models.

[video]http://blog.andersonpens.com/pen-review-new-esterbrook-j-series-pens/[/video]

Bottom line, to me, is that the use of the Esterbrook name for these pens is almost irrelevant. You could decide whether they are, in fact, good pens at the price point, but they have none of the features which make classic Esterbrooks so attractive to users and collectors. In particular, they don't have the easily replaceable screw in nib units. If you wanted a pen with the Esterbrook name on it, then you'd be better off trying to find a nicely restored vintage one, or learning how to restore one yourself (it's easier than you might think). If you want a modern cartridge converter pen with a nice appearance, then you could throw these new pens into the mix. For myself, based on the video, that huge "step" would be a deal breaker on that one model
 

brianw

Moderator Emeritus
Oy...I remember the revived Conklin. Poor quality control, extremely poor customer service
 
I've been following the discussion about the "new" Esterbrook over on FPN. Hardware issues aside, the owner of the new venture seems to be a bit of a sleazeball. I wouldn't support someone who deletes legitimate FB questions, refuses to provide relevant information, and seems to be going out of his way to alienate the fountain pen enthusiast community. If you want an Esterbrook, buy one of the originals...they're inexpensive, easy to repair, and perform great.
 
I found this comment and reply particularly telling.
$EB.JPG


So basically, the new philosophy is to crank out as many high priced pens of unknown quality banking on the Esterbrook name. Then when that fails, introduce cheaper models? I'm not hopeful. Esterbrook pens were workhorses. Not show pieces.
 
I found this comment and reply particularly telling.
View attachment 546575


So basically, the new philosophy is to crank out as many high priced pens of unknown quality banking on the Esterbrook name. Then when that fails, introduce cheaper models? I'm not hopeful. Esterbrook pens were workhorses. Not show pieces.
Actually, they sort of have a point (the company that is; although the pens have points too). Esterbrook in its heyday did not have to compete with ballpoints. They had a very large slice of the fountain (and dip pen) market, between the cheaper third tier brands and the more prestigious ones. They were selling millions of pens, which helped them to keep prices down. Fountain pens were used by everybody; they were not a rarity used by a minority. Today, when fountain pens are a niche market, it would be harder for a startup to charge the same low prices as say, Pilot does for its cheaper models.

Even given that, however, that's no incentive for any of us to take a chance on these pens. Simply putting the Esterbrook name on a pen does not establish a connection to the old company. The pens have to stand or fall on their own merits, and they have plenty of competition at their own price level and well below it.
 
$25 for a fountain pen with replaceable nibs does not sound outrageous to me.

Of course we all know the brand revivals (or model revivals) that went wrong, so the name "Esterbrook" does not say much on its own.
 
I'm avid collector of Esterbrooks, I can attest yes they are great pens. Most fully restored can be bought for under $50. All of them have nibs that can be changed. Esterbrooks, were and are the everyday pen, doing the writing without be flashy.

Just because someone bought the rights to the name Esterbrook, it is doubtful he will be able to match the original Esterbrook pens.
They will be nothing but cheap imitators at a high price. I will standby the original Esterbrooks.
 

nemo

Cheaper than ink
Moderator Emeritus
I've used, repaired, restored, and finally collected Esterbrooks for over 40 years. This makes me gag ... looks like a Chinese pen sporting the hard-earned name. Insulting.

America's Original Pen Company. Yeah, right.
 
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I have been enjoying a restored Esterbrook J lately. IMHO a terrible job at reviving something iconic and extremely user friendly.
 
Actually, they sort of have a point (the company that is; although the pens have points too). Esterbrook in its heyday did not have to compete with ballpoints. They had a very large slice of the fountain (and dip pen) market, between the cheaper third tier brands and the more prestigious ones. They were selling millions of pens, which helped them to keep prices down. Fountain pens were used by everybody; they were not a rarity used by a minority. Today, when fountain pens are a niche market, it would be harder for a startup to charge the same low prices as say, Pilot does for its cheaper models.

Even given that, however, that's no incentive for any of us to take a chance on these pens. Simply putting the Esterbrook name on a pen does not establish a connection to the old company. The pens have to stand or fall on their own merits, and they have plenty of competition at their own price level and well below it.
This pretty much sums up my viewpoint on it. While I think it's a bit unfair that the community is completely trashing the new company and bringing up Esterbrook's pricing from the past, the new company also isn't doing itself any favors by just slapping the name on the pen and expecting us to buy based on the name alone.

Simply being a "Chinese revival with the Esterbrook name" isn't *insulting* the heritage of Esterbrook IMO. Esterbrook is long dead. These people bought the rights, they're making pens...they can do whatever they want. But since their success ultimately depends on us, a niche community, they should be making more effort to court our interest or they will die out too.
 

nortac

"Can't Raise an Eyebrow"
Contributor
I too will probably pass on the new Esterbrooks, at least until the dire predictions are proven wrong. I have just recently delved into collecting the vintage Esterbrooks and I cannot see how they could be produced in today's market as they were back then. Certainly not at that price point, even adjusted for inflation. Not having seen the new product, it is hard to believe that any rendition resembling the vintage product could be worth today's premium prices. But we shall have to wait and see what actually comes forth from the new company.
 
This pretty much sums up my viewpoint on it. While I think it's a bit unfair that the community is completely trashing the new company and bringing up Esterbrook's pricing from the past, the new company also isn't doing itself any favors by just slapping the name on the pen and expecting us to buy based on the name alone.
I don't think we're generally trashing the company. And if they can sell a good "user level" fountain pen with replaceable nibs for $25, I think that is great.

However, in the past 25 years I have seen various resurrected classic brands, and seen reintroductions of classic pens (remember the "cracking" Balance LE pens?) where the reputation of the brand name is used to sell inferior products. Not only in the area of pens, but also musical instruments (Italian brand names being bought by investors who then use them to sell cheap Chinese instruments).

I wish Esterbrook all the luck, but they'll first have to prove themselves.
 
$25 for a fountain pen with replaceable nibs does not sound outrageous to me.
It's not. But on the other hand, they have yet to show us this model for sale. So far there's one costing $75, which looks like questionable value for the money. And it has a single nib option.

Of course we all know the brand revivals (or model revivals) that went wrong, so the name "Esterbrook" does not say much on its own.
And of course, that's the other problem.
 
I'm sorry, but those pens look like garbage to me. They smack of Jinhao and the revived Conklin pens. The latter are OK at best and not very good value for the money, imo. Every revival of a storied American fountain pen company from the past has been a huge disappointment. Consumers who are interested in fountain pens are far better off saving their pennies and buying Pelikan, Franklin-Christoph, Edison, Pilot, Lamy, Sailor, Kaweco, or any number of other well-made pens that are available in prices ranging from $10 on up. I'd take a Pilot 78G over that "Esterbrook" any day.

-Andy
 
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I'm sorry, but those pens look like garbage to me. They smack of Jinhao and the revived Conklin pens. The latter are OK at best and not very good value for the money, imo. Every revival of a storied American fountain pen company from the past has been a huge disappointment. Consumers who are interested in fountain pens are far better off saving their pennies and buying Pelikan, Franklin-Christoph, Edison, Pilot, Lamy, Sailor, Kaweco, or any number of other well-made pens that are available in prices ranging from $10 on up. I'd take a Pilot 78G over that "Esterbrook" any day.

-Andy
Well, although I do think that Yafa is seriously overcharging for the "Crescent-Fill" Conklin models and the Stylograph, I got my dad a Duragraph for Christmas and I was stunned at the quality of the pen for the $44 price. And really, all the Conklin designs I've seen from the new brand have been handsome.

But I agree with the rest of what you say.
 
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