The Esterbrook Pen Company was founded in 1858 by Richard Esterbrook in Camden, New Jersey. The original iteration of the company was in operation until 1971. In 2014, the name and rights were purchased by Harpen Brand Holdings where they had limited success in reviving the brand. In 2018, Kenro Inc purchased and “re-birthed” the brand. The new line up is currently comprised of two models, the Esterbrook Estie and the newly released Esterbrook Phaeton. There was a lot of thought put into the relaunch of the brand and how it would pay tribute to the colorful history of the brand while still setting itself apart. Cary from Kenro graciously sent me one of the new Esties for review, as well as their MV adapter, which lets you use a vintage Esterbrook nib on your new pen. Thanks go out to the great people at Kenro, and you can find out more about the rebirth of Esterbrook at http://www.esterbrookpens.com/.
Packaging: The pen comes in a red textured cloth box with “Esterbrook Est 1858” in white lettering on the lid. The ends of the box are white felt and one end has a product information sticker. My version’s sticker read, “E146-F Estie Cobalt Blue Chrome Trim Fountain Pen.” The lid closure is a magnetic flap which opens to reveal a white felt interior which matches the ends of the box. On the inside of the lid flap, embossed in red is “America’s Original, Reborn.” I think this is a great way to acknowledge the long history of Esterbrook, while boldly stating that this isn’t the same company your parents or grandparents got their pens from. There is a small information booklet which gives a brief explanation of the company and warranty info. The pen rests on a small felt pillow with an elastic band holding it in place. Also included are a converter and spare ink cartridge.
First Thoughts: Wow! Nothing more, nothing less, just wow.
Design: The pen has a classic cigar shape that tapers at both ends into rounded finials. It weighs only 15 g, which is great for longer writing sessions as you barely feel the pen. The clip is chrome on this model and tapers to a rounded end as well. The only branding on the body is the word “Esterbrook” engraved in white lettering below the clip. I love when companies allow the pen to speak for itself and don’t over-brand their products. There is a very small step-down from the body to the grip section, which has a small finger stop behind the nib. A chrome ring sits at the back of the grip section, and there is a matching chrome ring behind the threads on the body. The cap unscrews with ¾ of a turn, which is great for taking quick notes. The cap is interesting, as there is an inner cap which feels like it is attached to a spring. As a result, you need to give a little pressure to engage the threads when you cap your pen. This inner cap works well at keeping the pen from drying out or having hard starts from lack of use.
Nib Performance: The nib is a simple steel nib, simple in design not in performance. It has “Esterbrook 1858” engraved, as well as an “F” for fine and a bit of decorative scrollwork. The nib wrote beautifully out of the box and laid down a nice wet line. One of the coolest features of the new Esterbrook is the modern/vintage (“MV”) adapter they offer for an additional $40 USD. The MV adapter allows you to use your vintage Esterbrook nibs in your new pen. At the initial release, a vintage nib was included when you purchased an adapter, but they are no longer included. Mine came with a fine stub nib, but I did not include a test of that nib since it wasn’t made by the current company.
Filling System: The pen is filled via a standard international cartridge/converter.
Value: The retail price of the pen is $196 USD and is typically found around $156.
Overall: I am glad to see what Kenro has done with the Esterbrook name. The first fountain pen that I ever restored was an Esterbrook J series, with some help (explanation of how to do it) and parts from Brian and Lisa Anderson. When I heard that the brand was going to be “reborn”, I was initially worried about how the final product would look. I think Kenro did a wonderful job designing this product and respecting the legacy of the Esterbrook brand. It has a vintage look and feel, and it looks like what Esterbrook may have produced today if the original company had never closed. I feel that Richard Esterbrook would be very proud that his company is being taken care of and that his legacy lives on.
Name: Esterbrook Estie Cobalt Blue with Chrome Trim
Design: Screw cap, cigar shape
Length: 149 mm (5.9 in)
Posted: 170.3 mm (6.7 in)
Diameter: 13.3 mm (.5 in)
Weight: 15 g (.5 oz)
Nib: Stainless Steel
Filling System: Standard international cartridge converter
Pros: ¾ turn to unscrew the cap, ability to use vintage nibs with the adapter, beautiful material, inner cap keeps the pen from drying out
Cons: I honestly could not find any
In the same price range:
Pilot Custom 74
Platinum Century #3776