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St. Louis Art Supply

Esterbrook #314 Relief Pen, English Model (Vintage)


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About This Product

An English Esterbrook?

The Relief Pen #314 was an iconic model for Esterbrook, the most important American producer of dip pens in the early 20th century. So it's pretty strange to see a Relief Pen stamped "Made in England"! The reason for this midcentury model is that the U.K. government had restricted imports from the U.S., leading American companies like Esterbrook to set up licensing arrangements with English manufacturers.

Esterbrook's partner in England was none other than John Mitchell, a highly respected and well-established penmaker in Birmingham. These Relief Pens were made to Esterbrook's specifications by Mitchell's workers on Moland Street, and they are just as well-made as the American version of the same era.

We've imported these antique pens back to the U.S., continuing the circuitous trans-Atlantic path traced by these lovely writing instruments.

More about the Relief Pen:

Made from brass, not the usual steel, Esterbrook Relief #314 dip pens are broad stubs with  a unique look and feel. The use of brass gives the #314 a striking and unusual appearance, and it also makes the pen's action a bit smoother. Esterbrook highlighted this ease of use in almost a century of advertising, with many spots proclaiming "what a relief!" it is to use a #314.

In our tests, we found that the Relief Pen is, in fact, very easy to use compared with other dip pens, with a broad, smooth stub tip that makes sketchy, playful lettering without getting messy. The Relief Pen has a little flex, but it's definitely on the stiff side—as with many stubs, you're meant to achieve line variation by changing direction, not changing pressure.

Thanks to the protective coating applied to all dip pens (even new ones produced today), these pens are in excellent vintage condition. They've been checked for rust and other defects by our experts and are ready to return to service on your desk.

As with any dip pen, you will need to remove the protective coating so that ink will stick to the nib consistently. To remove the coating, simply dip your new pen in ink a couple of times and wipe it off. Repeat until the ink coats the nib completely and doesn't bead up. This process takes about 15 seconds and only needs to be done once, before you use the pen for the first time.

Sold individually.

About R: Esterbrook & Co.:

Founded in 1856, R. Esterbrook & Co. was the United States' very first manufacturer of steel dip pens. Formerly, these important 19th century tools had to be imported from Europe, but Richard Esterbrook brought expertise and craftspeople from England and opened a factory in Philadelphia.

For over 100 years until the company finally went out of business in 1970, Esterbrook produced the finest steel pens in the country, with a level of quality and a range of shapes that would put contemporary nib manufacturers to shame. Whenever we're able to get our hands on a vintage batch of Esterbrook pens, we're excited to offer them to you. Supplies, of course, are limited.

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    St. Louis Art Supply