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J Series

Maker: Esterbrook.

When seeking Esterbrook pens out in the world, this is the sort that most often appears.  It was the final development of a series of changes made to the previous “Dollar” pens the company had made in the US since about 1934, and it was a corker.  While the higher ranked pen-makers offered more expensive pens using more exotic materials, the Esterbrook Js were vastly popular for the combination of affordability, sturdiness, and versatility.  The washer-style clip is a lot less likely to drop off in normal use than the tabbed clips more commonly used in low-cost pens.  The plastic is astonishingly resistant to scratches, and in most cases in patterned to conceal them.  The points can be swapped out, meaning that a change of inclination or an error in handling didn’t necessitate a new pen or a trip to the repairman.

I mentioned previously that the J was the end of a series of changes.  The earliest pens which are nearly Js start appearing in 1941, bearing clips unlike the previous models and of the same general shape as the J proper, and including such non-standard things as ink windows in the section and piston fillers (which several sources refer to as “twist fillers” based merely on the action to run the piston and local usage).  From 1944 to 1948 there was a pen which is known as a “Transitional J”, which mainly lacks the tail jewel that marks the standard J pens.  Thus, the dates below for production can, by an expansive mind, be considered overly restrictive.

At the end of 2014, a resurrection of both Esterbrook and the J Series were announced, and sales began in January 2015. The pen, however, has no lineal connections to the J’s original form, being a large, cartridge-filling, acrylic-bodied item. I mention it here only to acknowledge its existence; if I ever have a chance to examine one, it will appear on its own page.

Production Run: 1948 – 1960

Cost When New: $2.00 initially, up to $2.95 by the end of the run (for modern value, try this calculator).

Size: J (standard size) - 12.7 cm long capped, 15.4 cm posted, 11.6 cm uncapped; SJ (short version) - 11.9 cm long capped, 14.7 cm posted, 10.8 cm uncapped; LJ (slender version) – same as J, just thinner.

Point: Interchangible “Re-New” points.

Body: Celluloid (nitrate).

Filler: Lever, capacity approx. 0.9 ml

Silver Esterbrook J

The “icicle” colour pattern only appeared in LJ pens.



If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.

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