Arkansas Pen Club member EuGene Smith recently came across this fascinating Boston Safety Fountain Pen 53s and shared it with us at our September meeting. That protruding metal piece is why they're called "hump fillers." The hump on this one appeared to slide back and forth to unlatch the mechanism and allow it to be depressed, compressing the sac inside.
The mechanism on this one was a little stiff, and as EuGene had just purchased it, we decided not to push our luck and didn't try to force it. We found a post on a web forum that said Boston used two digit codes on their pens, the first digit being the type of filling mechanism, in this case the '5', and the second digit being the size of the pen/nib combination, in this case a 3. The 'S' at the end referred to the fact that this pen came with a slightly smaller nib than typical. So, this 53s would mean a 5-type hump filler, a 3-size pen, with the s indicating the nib was a 2 rather than the normal 3.
As you can see in this close-up, the Boston Safety Fountain Pen imprint actually runs beneath the metal band of the filler. EuGene speculated that Boston took ready made barrels destined for other pens, which had already been stamped with the imprint, and modified them for this line. Makes sense to us!
This close-up shows the four leaf clover pen clip, which we are almost certain is not original. We have seen this same add-on clip on other brands of pens, particularly a Manos we came across recently.
Thanks again, EuGene, for sharing this wonderful pen!
If you've ever wanted to play around with a vacuum filler without dropping a lot of cash, the Wing Sung 3013 may be just what you're looking for. New this summer, it's gotten mixed reviews, but we found it a fine pen for the money. And by money, we mean less than $10, or even less than $5 if you shop around on eBay a bit.
The pen has a really nice feel, heavier than any Wing Sung we've seen. We admit we're not a fan of the way the barrel tapers outward abruptly at the section end, and the pen doesn't post at all, but other than those two small quibbles, we're pretty impressed with it for a pen in this price range. There's a blue and green version available, we're told, under the Paili brand on Etsy.
We recommend a good cleaning before first use, to remove any oils left over from the manufacturing process. It disassembles easily, but be sure you have some silicon grease hand when reassembling after cleaning, as you'll want to put some on all four of those o-rings.
If you've never worked a vac filler, it's a really simple, really fun thing to see. First, you unscrew the tip of the plunger and extend it full length. Then, place the nib in your ink, being sure to submerge the breathing hole. Slowly depress the plunger, creating a vacuum in the empty barrel above the plunger. As it nears the section, it reaches a slightly wider portion of the barrel, causing the ink to flow up into the low pressure area of the barrel. Watch the video below to see it in action.
There are some nice stylistic touches as well. Shown here is the engraving on the cap ring, with the Wing Sung name 永生 on one side, and 3013 on the other.
All in all, a great pen, with a nice heft in the hand and a solid, well made feel to it. Of course, don't expect it to be comparable to a TWSBI Vac-700 or TWSBI Vac Mini, or you'll be disappointed, but at this price point, there's no reason not to give it a try.
In 1904, St. Louis held the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World's Fair. L. E. Waterman Co. was represented prominently with a magnificent pavilion, as befitted one of the leading fountain pen companies of the time. Four monumental fountain pens, each 20 feet high, supported a glass domed ceiling depicting a half-globe of the world. The above postcard, from the collection of Tim Joiner, is postmarked July 12, 1904 and is cancelled with "World's Fair, St. Louis."
Excerpted below is the "L. E. Waterman Company Exhibit" entry from "History of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition", published in 1905 by Universal Exposition Publishing Company, University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign.
Time and labor-saving devices are in great demand in this age of haste, and the world is quick in recognizing any worthy saver of energy. The general use into which the fountain pen has come in recent years is an example of this. Every unnecessary second, every unnecessary movement, is begrudged by the busy man and woman of today, and greater perfection is demanded in every line. Therefore a writing device which need not be dipped into an inkstand, and which produces the same kind of a line continuously, becomes popular. Such a pen is the Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen, now so universally used by men and women, boys and girls, in every walk of life. An Ideal Fountain Pen is a badge of industry and a passport to the realm of the intellectual.
To represent the importance of their production to the business world, the L. E. Waterman Company erected a booth at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which, for originality and appropriateness of structure, had no peer. It was a glass-roofed pavilion supported by pillars in the form of huge fountain pens twenty feet high, exact copies of their famous gold and silver mounted filigree holders in heroic size. These pillars projected above the roof and ended in shining gold pens three feet long, which sparkled in the light and caught the eye of the passer-by. The roof of this pavilion was of glass, inlaid with huge gold pens, and culminating in a dome which represented a portion of the geographical globe, with the continents and countries mapped out in various colored glass. This design seemed especially appropriate, embodying, as it did, the trade mark and motto of the L. E. Waterman Co.: "The Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen making its mark all around the world."
Within, the booth offered a luxurious place of entertainment where the visitor could rest in ease and enjoy at leisure, among rich hangings and rugs, the many interesting articles displayed there. Here was an exhibit of fountain pens ranging from the plain rubber pen of the school boy to the gold and jeweled pen for a lady's escritoire. A beautiful pen, incrusted with small diamonds costing one hundred dollars, was on exhibition. Here, too, the visitor could entertain himself by looking over the clever booklets "Points for Penmen" and "From the Diary of the Dip-no-mores, ...which were gotten up attractively and interestingly for distribution among the World's Fair visitors. From this little booklet and because of the pleasant hospitality accorded to visitors, the headquarters of the Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen was called the "Shrine of the Dip-no-mores," and numberless "pilgrims" wended their way thither to add their testimonial to the long list in the leather-bound book placed there for that purpose. The size of this book showed the popularity of the "Ideal" as well as the allegiance of the "Dip-no-more Pilgrims." A fine oil portrait of Mr. L. E. Waterman, who, as the inventor of this pen, is truly a public benefactor, was an interesting feature of the booth. Diplomas and medals obtained at the expositions in Chicago, in Paris, in Buffalo, in Atlanta, in Omaha, in Glasgow, and in other places, made an impressive showing. The furniture was mahogany and ebony.
There is a special feature of the Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen,of which the Company is justly proud; this is their latest patented device, the spoon feed. For years they have been carrying on experiments to secure an absolutely certain and uniform flow of ink from the barrel of the pen to the pen point, and have now succeeded by means of this patent. This insures, by its peculiar construction, a uniform flow of ink without the necessity of shaking, jarring or dipping, until the last drop of ink in the barrel of the pen is exhausted, and is the reward of twenty years of study and experience in the manufacture of fountain pens. The pen has become so clean and easy to handle that it has gradually been taking the place both of the pencil and the ordinary pen, and every school boy and girl, every man and woman, carries one with them-as necessary a belonging as a watch or pocketbook. It has entirely taken the place of the ordinary pen with professional people who have much writing to do and cannot afford the time consumed by repeated dipping into inkstands, and which, when full, produces a different kind of line than when almost ready to be dipped into the inkstand again.