Today I bring you my Esterbrook Estie review for United Inkdom. This is my own pen, received as a gift from my DH earlier this year. I used it as my pen of the month back in May, so it has had a reasonable amount of “road testing”. Mind you, given that this was at the height of the lockdown, I probably didn’t have that much to write about.
How could my first impressions not be “Wow”? Inspired by original 1930s designs, the Esterbrook Estie definitely has a vintage feel. The lilac acrylic body with its gold trim is stunning. Couple that with a gold nib, a comfortable size and shape, and what’s not to like? I’m very partial to purple and, despite my normal preference for silver, I think the gold trim sets the colour off perfectly. It is certainly an attractive pen with a vintage vibe.
One unique feature I rather like is the “cushion cap closure”. This is essentially a slightly strung cap, so when you untwist sufficiently (2 turns), the cap pops away from the barrel. There is something quite satisfying about the motion; also the action of pushing the cap back down before turning to close is reassuring. I believe it also helps to prevent the nib drying out.
The writing experience
The EF gold nib* has a bit of flex to it and, I suspect, will become softer with use. I do like a bit of give and favour finer nibs. You do need to press fairly hard to get any discernible line with though.
I perhaps should have flushed the Estie before first use, as it took a fair bit of encouragement for the ink to start flowing when I first used it. That said, I suspect that my choice of Sailor Shikiori Fuji-Sugata, whilst a perfect colour match, is rather too dry for the EF nib. I would recommend a wetter ink, certainly if you prefer a fine nib.
Since it has been a while since it was in daily use, I gave the Estie another test drive in my new Nuuna notebook, writing out a favourite Robert Frost poem. The Estie is not at all unpleasant to write with, although the EF nib can be a little noisy. It doesn’t feel that scratchy, but it certainly sounds it. It lacks the effortless smoothness of, say, a Lamy 2k nib. I have examined the nib with a loupe and can’t see any obvious reason for this. It is more likely that this ink is too dry for it, or simply that EF nibs are just prone to a certain scratchiness. I hate to waste inks so will attempt to address this when next it is empty. A change of ink and possibly smoothing the nib a little with micro mesh might improve matters. For all that, it is still a very nice pen, even with the Scriptorium sound effects.
*Technically it is a gold-plated and gold-tipped steel nib.
The Estie comes in a variety of colours, sizes and price points. As well as the lilac reviewed here, the standard Estie comes in cobalt, evergreen, honeycomb, also tortoise and ebony. All the colours are available with either chrome/rhodium or gold trim.
The nib options go beyond the usual F, M and B, offering EF and a 1.1mm Stub as options. The nib units are available separately, so you can swap the sizes without having to buy a new pen. Plus, rather excitingly, an adapter unit is available for use with vintage Esterbrook nibs (assuming you can find one). Now this I want to try!
I won’t list all the available model options since the Estie also comes in a Slim and an Oversized version, as well as some forthcoming Limited Editions. Some are even…Sparkly! Suffice it to say that there are plenty of permutations here and, unless your tastes run to extremes, you should find something you like.
With several attractive colours, a choice of gold or silver trim, 5 nib options and 3 pen sizes, there is something to suit most hands and nib width preferences. If you like an attractive, vintage style pen with the option of changing the nib unit, then this is definitely one for you. The facility to adapt to a vintage nib is also an attractive selling point.
Who is it for
- Stylish travellers on the Orient Express (all the colours)
- …and their butlers (Ebony)
- Marcel Waved Starlets
- Those who want an attractive pen with nib interchangeability
- Anyone else
Available at the usual specialist pen outlets, the Esterbrook Estie falls into the mid-range to upper price bracket. It retails at around £150 for the standard size (reviewed here), £140 for the Slim and £185 for the Oversized version . At the premium end, the Sparkle is £280 and some £300+ Limited Editions are coming out.