The Esterbrook M2 Fountain Pen Review
My Esterbrook fountain pen was made in England and was a very reluctant purchase in 1961. Initially the only impression it made was just how expensive it was for what looked remarkably like a Platignum pen but around three times the cost and it didn’t even have a gold nib.
When I started on a commercial course at school, shorthand was a required subject, no matter that I would be unlikely to use such a skill as I was really there for the other subjects. At first we had to use the old dip in the ink pens for learning the different outlines and if we wanted to use a fountain pen the only the Esterbrook pen with a shorthand nib was permitted. So I became one of the forty Esterbrook shorthand pen users in my class. In total there was probably around a hundred of these pens being used at the school and I wonder why there seem to be so few around on places like Ebay. Originally, it was supplied with a Gregg shorthand nib, goodness knows why as hardly anyone in the UK wrote Gregg, it was always Pitmans. I have never used the Gregg nib, maybe I will before the end of this review. In practice I have used this pen on and off since school as I found shorthand is very handy for writing notes for myself and actually I found it lead to getting quite a few very useful positions at work over the years
Above, Esterbrook shorthand pen users who in a couple of years would descend on an unsuspecting City of London to become the secretaries and shorthand typists of the 1960’s. We put the swing into swinging London and it was never going to be the same again! We all could do over the ton meaning a 100, not miles per hour but words per minute!
The pen is fitted with a 9128 nib which has been described elsewhere as an extra fine flexible nib, no argument there. Another review on Youtube reported that the nib was rather scratchy. There was nothing wrong with the nib it is just the way they are. We never used them for longhand because they were unsuitable for that. For writing shorthand they were fine, but longhand, no. At first we used the pens for practising the shorthand outlines and then for writing. They were fine for writing up to speeds of 80 words per minute and there is a video on Youtube which although shows a different pen, the Esterbrook is very similar and you can see what writing at 70 words per minute looks like, all rather slow and leisurely! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgqimduDWd8
I used my Esterbrook to gain my London Chamber of Commerce Shorthand Elementary Diploma with honours at 50 wpm, a tribute more to the pen than me. Later on I gained the industry standard requirement at 80 wpm, again with the Esterbrook. Getting over the 100wpm is another thing and using a fountain pen makes it more difficult and by that time one is less dependant on whether the outlines are precise as regards thick and thin lines. Like everyone else in the class at school, the Esterbrook was ditched in favour of the dreaded Bic ballpoint although I never achieved more than 110 wpm even then. There are limitations when using a fountain pen for shorthand and speed is one of them. I did use the Esterbrook at work for dictation, especially as the outlines were clearer and easier to read back later.
The pen has proved itself over the years to be perfectly performing pen, never too wet, always started straight away, even after not being used for a few days and always kept up just the right amount of ink no matter how fast I wrote. Until recently I have never had any other shorthand pen to compare it with since the Esterbrook has never given any problems in half a century of ownership. I now have a Platignum Silverline fitted with a Pitman’s Shorthand nib. It writes shorthand extremely well, better than the Esterbrook, especially with regard to horizontal thick and thin outlines. The flexible nib also produces very nice longhand lettering. If we had been allowed to use the Platignum it would have been a lot cheaper and now I know was a better and far less expensive pen.
If you have any interest in shorthand which is well worth a try then I recommend you take a look at http://www.long-live-pimans-shorthand.org.uk and the blog, long-live-pitmans-shorthand.blogspot.