I love red rubber. Mottled, woodgrain, ripple, it makes me think of bikers in flames.
It’s a classic material in pens, like vinyl in bondage wear. The earliest hard rubber pens came in any color you wanted, as long as it was black. Then manufacturers brought on the bling – repoussÃ© bands, filigree overlays, full shiny metal jackets. It was the Industrial Revolution. Nothing was impossible. Yes, rubber could be red.
What pleases me in particular about red and black pens isÂ the patterns are integral to the material. They’re not painted on. No two are alike.
From bottom to top:
Waterman 12. I found this in Tiendesitas, of all places. The lady I bought if from said, “Only engineers buy those.” Call me Engineer Leigh. It came with an incorrect nib – an Eversharp with a good amount of flex.
Conway Stewart 200. A rare early Conway Stewart I bought from Jonathan on eBay. I hope Jonathan is somewhere in heaven surrounded by the few Conway Stewart pens he didn’t have in his earthly collection.
Swan S.F. 130. I have its cousin in black rubber. I swapped their nibs. Now this one has a broad stub that lays down a wet, juicy line.
Wahl Eversharp Gold Seal in woodgrain. Fitted with a flexible nib that’s easily one of the stars of my collection.
Waterman 7 with a Pink nib. Another favorite writer.
Oldwin. A modern pen, crafted from fifty-year old ebonite.
I am very conscious of these pens’ age when I use them. That is a huge part of their appeal; that they remain so stridently, bravely red, two world wars and many revolutions after.