The purpose of the Esterbrook Project is to generate a complete list of dip pen nibs manufactured by The Esterbrook Company over the years. Contributions of information to further this are greatly appreciated.
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Production Bottleneck
in WWI

In November, 1918, the Esterbrook Company announced in trade journals that for the duration of the war they would reduce the manufacture of steel pens to only thirty styles. Esterbrook advertising prior to this period boasted of having over 250 styles of pens. Nine Radio pen styles were kept in production as they were copies of the styles that would remain in production. There is no mention whether production quantities would also be reduced for each pen style. Esterbrook stated that this selection should give "every width or point and degree of elasticity (that) can be secured and the pens named ... will meet every requirement of the trade."

The same advertisement also mentioned that Esterbrook would discontinue manufacturing the Mark Ferth, the Columbia, and the Cooper line of pens. This could be a fascinating area for those interested in collecting Esterbrook custom manufacture imprints.

Here is a list of the pen styles Esterbrook kept in production during WWI:
  • 9 Commercial
  • 14 Bank
  • 048 Falcon
  • 127 Double Spring
  • 128 Extra Fine Elastic
  • 130 Easy Writer
  • 135 Double Elastic
  • 182 Ladies' Falcon
  • 239 Chancellor
  • 284 Blackstone
  • 312 Judge's Quill
  • 313 Probate
  • 314 Relief
  • 322 Inflexible
  • 442 Jackson Stub
  • 444 School
  • 453 Business & College
  • 460 Manifold Pen
  • 531 Flyer
  • 556 Advanced School
  • 570 (no pen name listed)
  • 654 Barrister
  • 702 Modified Slant
  • 717 Federal
  • 761 Natural Slant
  • 788 Oval (Ball) Point
  • 794 Modified Slant
  • 805 Oval (Ball) Point
  • 815 Interstate
  • 1000 Freehand

The Radio pens kept in production during WWI were:
  • 912
  • 913
  • 914
  • 920
  • 922
  • 930
  • 939
  • 942
  • 988
Curiously not making the cut are crow quills, drawlet, and text writer pens. These would probably have been used in drafting offices at least. That would seemed to have been important to the war effort.

Several implications seem apparent here.
  1. This production bottleneck would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Esterbrook to clean house.
  2. What pen numbers permanently disappeared during WWI?
  3. What pen numbers were brought back after WWI?
  4. Were any new pens introduced after WWI?
  5. Was there a similar bottleneck in WWII?
  6. This could explain why certain pen numbers are found more readily than others and why other pen numbers seem to exist in legend only.
  7. Did the Mark Ferth, Columbia, and Cooper pen lines disappear during WWI never to be made again, or were they brought back?
  8. The pen styles listed above existed for a considerable period before WWI to become popular enough to survive the production cut.

The American Stationer and Office Outfitter, Vol 84, #18, Nov 2, 1918

Geyer's Stationer, Vol 66, Dec 12, 1918, P 18

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